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October 25, 2002

by Bill Hogan


The comedic irony of assembling Billy Crystal, Bud Selig and Pete Rose on the same 'stage' for baseball's 10 most memorable moments presented by MasterCard: priceless.

Baseball's 10 most memorable moments presented by MasterCard: meaningless.


Crystal's wisecrack to a partisan Giants crowd about not having anywhere else to go for the first time in five years (since his Yankees weren't playing): humorless.

Baseball's number one most memorable moment presented by MasterCard - 'Cal Ripken breaks Lou Gehrig's record': senseless.

The drawn-out presentation of baseball's 10 most memorable moments presented by MasterCard: endless. (A made-for-tv publicity stunt presented by MasterCard designed to boost sagging World Series ratings.)

Reminding us that every facet of the World Series is "presented by MasterCard" every thirteen seconds throughout the broadcast: shameless.

Trying to write an entire column like it was a MasterCard commercial: fruitless.

I love Cal Ripken. I was breathless and teary-eyed that fateful night in 1995 when he broke Lou Gehrig's consecutive games streak. It was a great achievement. It was a magical night. But the most memorable moment in the long and storied history of Major League Baseball? There's plenty of room for argument.

How does one choose a 'most memorable moment' anyway? My memory doesn't go back as far as someone in their sixties or seventies. And do I actually have to remember the moment to vote it as the most memorable? Could it be something I read about, or did I have to experience the moment?

I wasn't around when Joe DiMaggio hit in 56 straight games or when Ted Williams became the last player to hit over .400 (numbers seven and eight on the list). So are those achievements less 'memorable' because I saw Pete Rose break Ty Cobb's all-time hit record (number six)?

Is 'the moment' supposed to carry any real historical or social significance? If so, Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier - number three on the list – should have been number one.

And I don't think even Cal himself would put his workmanlike record ahead of Hank Aaron's 715th home run in 1974.

If you're going to put Mark McGuire's record-setting sixty-second home run of the 1998 season at number four, where's Maris' sixty-first? And Babe Ruth's sixtieth? Both seemingly unbreakable records at the time. In fact, the sixty homers Ruth hit in 1927 were four more than any American League team hit that year.

And how does MLB and MasterCard justify unveiling this list in San Francisco without having a single Willie Mays memorable moment among the top ten? Willie had plenty of memorable moments. (I'd list some, but I can't remember any off hand).

The concept of 'most memorable' is so subjective and generation oriented that the whole pre-game ceremony (presented by MasterCard) seems frivolous to me.

On some level, I think MLB executives were shooting for frivolous; a way to draw an otherwise largely uninterested audience to the television. The fact that there really is no conclusive way to rank the greatest moments in baseball history was of no concern – the ultimate goal was to boost ratings.

Times are tough when Major League Baseball has to resort to the same gimmicky tactics used by marginal sit-coms during sweeps week. "Get me Charo!"

Why else would Pete Rose be allowed to attend a MLB sponsored event? A great television moment would have been a close-up of Bud Selig biting through his bottom lip as the crowd gave Charlie Hustle a standing-o while chanting "Hall of Fame, Hall of Fame". Now that's what I call memorable.

(Nobody gets more mileage out of playing the banished martyr than Pete Rose. Having the ban lifted and being elected to the Hall of Fame is his worst nightmare.)

I know I'm going to get a couple of hateful, expletive-filled emails from the Baltimore area denouncing my comments regarding Cal Ripken. To which I will reply: "you spelled #$%@& wrong and there's no hyphen before 'hole'".

On October 8, 1956, Yankee pitcher Don Larsen tossed the only perfect game in World Series history. That doesn't crack the top ten?

This topic makes much better bar room banter than it does pre-game entertainment.

The argument over what is baseball's most memorable moment: timeless.

By the way, the over/under for how many times we'll read or hear the words "presented by MasterCard" during the game six broadcast is eight-hundred and thirty.


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