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Top 10 Memorable Moments - 2004 Season

Our initial list went past 10 moments, but we liked our clean bunch of the 10 best. We'll call our omissions "Moments Worth Mentioning." And those were: Vlad to Angels, Clemens unretires, Eckersely & Molitor make Hall, Nomar's trade to Cubs, Junior's 500th HR, Jeter's "catch & dash" vs. Boston, Mueller's walkoff homer in the brawl game, the Expos' move to D.C and finally - the passing of Marge Scott. And now our Top 10:

1) Bosox Beat Angels, Yanks & Cards for 1st Title in 86 Years

In one of the most magical seasons in MLB history, the wild-card Boston Red Sox nixed "The Curse of the Bambino" by winning their first World Series since 1918. Making the feat more impressive was that the Sox stormed back from an 0-3 deficit to the bitter rival New York Yankees to win the ALCS. Next came a stunning four-game sweep of St. Louis - the majors' best regular-season squad.

2) A-Rod Becomes a Yankee

They had Derek Jeter. They had Hideki Matsui. They even added Gary Sheffield. But Yankee owner George Steinbrenner had never been shy in "over-acquiring" talent (or payroll), so the Boss sent Alfonso Soriano to Texas for reigning AL MVP & a player many considered the best in the game. The shortstop-turned third baseman would have an OK year, but not a typical explosive A-Rod campaign. Some criticized his lack of clutch hitting during the Yanks' postseason collapse vs. Boston.

3) Barry Blasts #700

When I first saw Barry Bonds, he was a skinny 21 year old Pittsburgh Pirate, who I thought could maybe hit 300 homers someday. Well, Bonds has hit 300 longballs - plus 403. Bonds became the third member of MLB's 700-homer club this season, ending the '04 campaign with 703 round-trippers. He'll surely pass no. 2 Babe Ruth next year and Hank Aaron is just 52 away. Unless Bonds has a monster homer season in '04, we'll have to wait until 2005 to see him break sports' most cherished record (755).

4) Ichiro's 262 Hits

We all heard about the great Ichiro when he played in the Japanese League. Then, he came to the states in 2001 and continued his remarkable hitting. The Seattle right fielder amassed 262 hits this season, breaking an 84-year-old mark held by St. Louis' George Sisler.

5) Randy's Perfecto

How does a pitcher with a 2.60 ERA and 290 strikeouts land a record of just 16-14? Answer: by playing for a lousy Arizona squad. On the night of May 18, however, things were far from lousy for D-Backs lefty Randy Johnson, as he pitched MLB's 17th perfect game and became the oldert hurler (at age 40) to accomplish the feat. Johnson struck out 13 in the contest, a 2-0 road win against Atlanta. The lefty is currently on the verge of being dealt to the Yankees.

6) Maddux Gets 300th Win

Greg Maddux was a combined 8-18 in parts of his two first seasons with the Cubs. But Chicago knew it scored a gem when the righty reversed his record one year later, going 18-8. Starting with that 18-win season back in '88, the crafty right-hander would win 15 or more games an MLB-record 17 straight seasons. After spending his best years with Atlanta from 1993-2003, Maddux returned to the Cubs, winning 15 games this past year. His 300th victory came in an 8-4 win at San Francisco on August 7.

7) The Steroids Scandal

Only one player, the late Ken Caminiti, had ever admitted to steroid use. In March '04, papers reported that other MLB names, some as big as Bonds, Sheffield & Giambi, may have used the drug. Accused players were shady in their responses, but nothing was proven. Later news reports claimed that Sheffield unknowingly used a steroid he thought was a cream. News also came out about Giambi, who admitted he knowingly took 'roids, and Bonds - who claimed he didn't know his supplements were steroids.

8) Finley's Walkoff Slam Gives NL West to L.A.

In the final weekend of a wild regular season (which saw several playoff spots wait to the very end), L.A.'s Steve Finley hit a walkoff grand slam off Giants reliever Wayne Franklin with the score tied, 3-3 in the ninth. The blast capped a seven-run inning for the Dodgers, who clinched the NL West on the swing - and made the playoffs for the first time since 1996.

9) Rose Finally Fesses Up

Pete Rose no longer plays baseball. As a matter of fact, he can't even be involved with the game (at least for now). But he had to crack our top 10 given the importance of the record he holds. Rose, MLB's all-time hits leader, cleared the air in January, admitting on "Good Morning America" that he bet on baseball, and even placed wagers on his very own team. (He was a player-manager for Cincinnati in the mid to late 1980s). Despite coming clean, Rose remains ineligible for the Hall of Fame.

10) Veterans Stadium Comes Down

I was at "The Vet" in 1992, and honestly didn't think much of it. But Philadelphians, who came to know the building as a second home, showed up to say farewell to the ballpark when it was demolished on March 21.

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