Greatest Cardinal Moment Tournament: First Round, Branch Rickey Regional, 3-14 Matchup

Hopefully you were around this morning as we kicked off the Greatest Cardinal Moment Tournament.  (Or #BestCardsMoment on Twitter.)  If you’ve not voted in that yet, go ahead and do it after you vote in our next matchup.  Also, feel free to check out our tournament preview podcast!

#3 Mark McGwire hits #62 (1998)

vs.

#14 Allen Craig scores winning run via obstruction in World Series Game 3 (2013)

As you probably are aware, given the numerical association, I’m a big fan of McGwire’s run at the record in 1998.  I still remember watching his grand slam on Opening Day via ESPN’s GameDay-like page.  I remember vividly seeing the ones up to the record, especially #59, #60, and #61.

I also remember going out to my parents’ house on a Monday night in September to watch a rare evening game on FOX.  I remember watching this moment and seeing history unfold.

It’s a night that resonates with folks. Yes, I know it probably is discounted by a number of people given the revelations that came out afterwards, that McGwire was using steroids during this time. However, stepping away from that, the home run race in 1998 was the most exciting, most fun thing that baseball had seen in a long while.  With McGwire and Sammy Sosa going at it (and Ken Griffey Jr. as well, for a time), every night there was something happening, every at bat something big.

For it to come down to this, when McGwire ropes a laser to left and takes the crown while Sosa stands in right and watches, defies logic.  How could something like this happen unscripted?  It happened in his first game after #61 as well, which meant not drawing it out, not letting people get impatient.  It was a huge, huge moment.

The rest of the run to #70 was quite remarkable, especially after Sosa passed Big Mac for a few moments.  That final homer will wind up over in the Jocketty Regional over at Redbird Rants eventually, but as great as that was, the perfect storm that was 62 will never be forgotten.

Going up against a major baseball moment, not to mention a huge part of Cardinal history, isn’t easy for anyone.  However, the challenger also occurred on a national stage and will be something not many will ever forget.

With the Series against the Red Sox tied at one game each, the Cardinals had runners on second and third with just one out in the ninth inning.  The score was knotted at four, so the runners were extremely valuable to the idea of St. Louis victory.  Jon Jay was at the plate.  Then, well, this happened.

It’s baserunning that, frankly, wouldn’t be that out of line with what we’ve seen out of the 2017 Cardinals.  However, thankfully Will Middlebrooks couldn’t come up with the throw from Jared Saltalamacchia and, in his dive for it, tangled up with Craig.  Obstruction was called, the run automatically scored, and the Cardinals went home winners.

Thanks to this play, Cardinal fans for a generation will know what obstruction means.  It was also the last game the Cardinals won in the Series, showing that perhaps they needed every trick in the book to compete with the Red Sox.

So, which one is the bigger Cardinal moment?  Vote below and be sure to talk about it on Twitter.  As mentioned this morning, voting will stay open for three days.  Check out The Intrepid STL tomorrow for the first round kickoff of their regional!

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