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Nelson Cruz's "Historic" Walk-Off Grand Slam

by Photo of Andrew Lontos

Cruz has had a historic postseason career, but was he the first to hit a walk-off grand slam in the playoffs?

Nelson Cruz's

Nelson Cruz has been stellar during his postseason career. In 22 games (all in 2010 and 2011), Cruz has hit 9 home runs, driven in 17 runs, and has an OPS of 1.045. Only Carlos Beltran and his $119 million postseason hit more home runs (11) through his first 22 playoff games. Last night Cruz was particularly historic, via Elias Sports Bureau

Nelson Cruz hit a game-tying home run in the seventh inning and then beat the Tigers with the first walk-off grand slam in major-league postseason history. The only other player in MLB history to hit a game-tying and game-ending home run in a playoff game was, ironically, Magglio Ordonez, who was replaced on Detroit's roster earlier in the day because of an ankle injury. Ordonez did it in Game Four of the 2006 ALCS against the Athletics. That victory at Comerica Park clinched the American League pennant for the Tigers.

First, can Ron Washington move him up in the order? Cruz and his Boom Stick deserve to hit better than seventh.

But I also have an issue with last night's home run being called the first walk-off grand slam in postseason history. 

Cue a rainy October night in 1999. An 11-year old Andrew Lontos sits in the loge of Shea Stadium watching the Mets take on the Braves in Game 5 of the NLCS. Facing elimination and down a run in the 15th inning, the Mets tie the game before Robin Ventura comes up with the bases loaded, one out, and the winning run on third.

Last night, Nelson Cruz came up with the bases loaded, one out, and the winning run on third.

In both cases, a sacrifice fly was all that was needed to end the game.

In both cases, the batter more than delivered. Ventura and Cruz hit rockets (one to left, one to right) that because they were deep enough to be sacrifice flies, immediately ended the game.

In both cases, the ball cleared the wall. Grand Sla-

But wait, here's our difference. While Cruz's teammates allowed him to round the bases and touch home before mobbing him, the Mets were not as nice to the new White Sox manager. They jumped on Ventura before he could even reach second base, resulting in the moniker The Grand Slam Single. Ironically, the guy with the fifth most grand slams of all time was jipped out of what would have been his most famous. While the play is now more notable because he wasn't awarded the home run, it still just goes down as a one RBI single.

Was it October? Were the bases loaded? Was the ball hit over the wall? Did the game end as a result of the play?

That's a postseason walk-off grand slam.

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What is the significance of a home run trot? Sure, it's more aesthetically pleasing than immediately retreating back to the dugout. And yes, this way the player technically scores the run by touching home plate. But do you celebrate when your team hits the ball over the fence, or do you nervously wait to make sure he hits home before it officially counts? Because 20 guys who had nothing to do with the play jumped on Ventura while he was rounding the bases, it's not a home run? By the letter of the law, maybe it should not be considered a home run. But in the spirit of the rule, that was most definitely a grand slam.

Hey, if we're trying to speed up games, why not eliminate the home run trot altogether? (And force Tony La Russa to resign). The average circle around the bases in 2010 was 22.02 seconds; David Ortiz put together a league-best (worst?) 30.59 seconds during one trip. Those times add up- especially during Ortiz's four-hour battles against the Yankees. 

I don't really want to the home run trot eliminated- but hey, it's an idea- and the point is it's a trivial ritual. 

Sorry Cruz, but you'll have to "settle" for the second walk-off grand slam in postseason history. At least in my book.


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