10 MLB Moments We’ll Always Remember from 2022
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When we look back five or 10 years from now on the entirety of 2022 in Major League Baseball, what will we remember the most?
Will it be the lockout that threatened to rob us of an entire season?
Maybe the literal billions of dollars spent during a bonkers free-agency cycle?
Or, you know, the actual baseball and the historic home run chases that developed along the way?
Most likely, it will be the latter, so that’s mostly what we focused on in our list of the 10 biggest, most memorable baseball moments of the past calendar year.
But we also had to include “The Slap,” and a few other diamond-adjacent moments that tried to break the internet.
Honorable Mentions: The lockout, Julio Rodríguez in the Home Run Derby, Alek Manoah mic’d up while pitching in the All-Star Game, Timmy Trumpet playing in Edwin Díaz against the Dodgers, Rodolfo Castro’s phone falling out of his pocket, Reid Detmers’ no-hitter (including Anthony Rendon’s left-handed home run), Mets come back from 7-1 ninth-inning deficit vs. Phillies, Mariners rally from seven-run deficit in AL Wild Card Series vs. Blue Jays, 111-win Dodgers losing to Padres in NLDS, Rhys Hoskins’ bat slam vs. Atlanta and this whole Carlos Correa free-agency saga.
‘Big Dumper’ Ends Mariners’ 21-year Postseason Drought
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Seattle finally ending a postseason drought dating back to 2001 was easily one of the biggest non-milestone-home-run-watch stories of the 2022 campaign, in part because of how rapidly the Mariners went from “No chance in hell” to “So, uh, is this the best team in baseball?”
Per Baseball Reference, the Mariners had a 3.7 percent chance of making the playoffs on June 19. But after winning 22 out of 25 games heading into the All-Star break, they had vaulted all the way up to an 81.4 percent chance of making the playoffs in less than a month’s time.
By the end of September, it was much more a matter of when they would clinch than if they would do so.
But it still went down in dramatic fashion.
One day after getting one run in the bottom of the 10th inning and two runs in the bottom of the 11th inning for a walk-off victory over the Texas Rangers, Seattle was tied at 1-1 in the bottom of the ninth inning against the Oakland Athletics when Scott Servais called upon Cal Raleigh as a pinch hitter.
The slugging catcher fondly known as “Big Dumper” worked a full count before demolishing an off-speed pitch from Domingo Acevedo into the right field seats to clinch a wild-card spot on September 30.
Bryce Harper’s Clutch NLCS Homer
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It was Game 5 of the National League Championship Series. The Philadelphia Phillies led the San Diego Padres 3-1 in the best-of-seven series, but trailed 3-2 in the bottom of the eighth inning.
After J.T. Realmuto led off the frame with a single, Bryce Harper strode to the plate for the exact situation the Phillies had in mind when they signed him to that 13-year, $330 million deal four offseasons ago.
In late July, the Padres had traded for Josh Hader—aka the most dominant left-handed reliever over the past half-decade—but Bob Melvin made the indefensible decision to leave Robert Suarez on the mound instead of calling upon Hader to preserve the lead.
Harper swung straight through a 96 mph fastball before honing in on Suarez’s go-to pitch. He fouled off 98, 100 and 98 and laid off a great changeup below the zone. Then he took a 99 mph heater the opposite way for what proved to be the series-winning home run. (Though, the Phillies bullpen sure made things interesting in the ninth inning with a pair of David Robertson walks.)
Bryce’s big blast would have been even more memorable had it been Game 7 instead of Game 5, though it did feel a bit like a do-or-die moment for the Phillies. Lose that game and they would’ve needed to go back to San Diego to win the series on the road.
Instead, Harper got to be the hero at home in easily one of the biggest moments in the history of Citizens Bank Park.
Yordan Alvarez’s Walk-Off Blast
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Yordan Alvarez batted just .192 during Houston’s World Series run, but each of his three home runs was massive.
Trailing by one run in the sixth inning of Game 2 of the ALDS against Seattle, Alvarez flipped the margin with a two-run homer. It proved to be the game-winning run.
It was the same situation in the sixth inning of Game 6 of the World Series against Philadelphia, with the only difference being that he mashed a three-run tater instead of a two-run shot.
But the biggest one was the walk-off job in Game 1 against the Mariners.
It was a 7-5 ballgame with two outs in the bottom of the ninth. With runners on first and second and Houston’s left-handed slugger coming to the plate, the M’s turned to some left-handed power of their own, calling upon Robbie Ray for a rare relief appearance.
It, uh, didn’t go well for Ray and the Mariners.
On the second pitch, Alvarez annihilated a no-doubter into the upper deck in right field for an instant winner for the Astros.
He drove in five of Houston’s eight runs in the comeback win that sparked an 11-2 run through the postseason.
Miguel Cabrera Gets His 3,000th Hit
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Though not quite as exclusive as the “700 Home Run” club or the “60 Home Runs in a Single Season” club, getting into the “3,000 Hit” club will always be one of the most revered feats in Major League Baseball.
Prior to Miguel Cabrera reaching that milestone with an opposite field single on April 23, there were just 32 members of the 3,000-hit club, each of whom is either in the Hall of Fame, well on his way to a first-ballot induction once eligible or infamously not in the Hall of Fame for some sort of scandal.
And if Cabrera indeed retires after the 2023 campaign, he, too, will be going into the Hall of Fame in 2029.
Yes, the past six seasons have been rough for Miggy. (And even rougher for the Tigers, who have had to pay copious amounts of money for a star long past his prime.) But it has been pretty awesome to watch Cabrera get to 500 home runs in 2021 and to 3,000 hits in 2022.
He is now one of just seven players in both of those clubs, along with Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Eddie Murray, Rafael Palmeiro, Alex Rodriguez and Albert Pujols.
Ken Rosenthal’s $440 Million Tweet
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Juan Soto getting traded from the Washington Nationals to the San Diego Padres was a months-long saga, fittingly culminating in a window of about two hours in which we didn’t know which prospects were in the deal or whether Eric Hosmer’s no-trade clause might blow up the entire trade.
But by the time the trade finally happened, it felt like a foregone conclusion that Soto was on the move. It was just a question of where he was headed and how much of another team’s farm system Washington would be able to get for him.
The real memorable moment of the whole thing was on July 16 when The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal tweeted out his story that Soto had turned down Washington’s very lucrative offer of what amounted to a lifetime contract:
$440 million over 15 years?
After months of hearing that Soto might get traded (with two-plus seasons remaining until he hits free agency) and an equal amount of time spent thinking “I’ll believe it when it happens,” Rosenthal’s tweet was the “Oh s–t, this is actually going to happen” moment for a whole bunch of people.
Fernando Tatis Jr.’s Suspension
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Like Charles Schulz’s Linus Van Pelt waiting out in a field for the Great Pumpkin’s arrival, so, too, did MLB fans pine for months for the return of Fernando Tatis Jr.
The young man with the $340 million contract finished fourth in the NL MVP vote in 2020 and came in third in 2021 with a league-best 42 home runs. But a broken wrist suffered in a motorcycle accident during the offseason—which frankly could have been a moment on this list all by itself—postponed his 2022 debut until at least early June.
It was then delay after delay after delay until he finally went on a rehab assignment in early August, lasting four games in San Antonio before getting slapped with an 80-game suspension on August 12 after he tested positive for Clostebol, a performance-enhancing drug.
Tatis claimed it was something he took inadvertently while treating a case of ringworm, but it didn’t matter. His season was over. He’s going to miss the first 20 games of the 2023 campaign, too.
For a player of Tatis’ star power to get suspended was going to be a bombshell no matter what, but it was even more earth-rattling less than two weeks after the Padres went all-in on winning in 2022 by trading for Juan Soto, Josh Bell, Josh Hader and Brandon Drury.
There was this air of “And just wait until Tatis gets back” that got completely sucked out of the room in an instant.
Considering they were only a game ahead of the Brewers for the NL’s final wild-card spot when the suspension happened, it’s kind of incredible that the Padres not only made the playoffs but eliminated both the 101-win Mets and the 111-win Dodgers.
The Slap Heard ‘Round the World
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It takes a lot for something in Major League Baseball to hang around in the national headlines for a week, let alone a month.
But Tommy Pham slapping Joc Pederson upside the head over a fantasy football dispute was the furthest thing from a run-of-the-mill baseball story.
And it just refused to go away as we gradually found out more and more details about the infamous league of which Mike Trout was the commissioner and Alex Bregman was the champion.
Pham was immediately suspended for three games for the altercation but told USA Today three weeks after the fact: “You know what, I’ve got no regrets. None at all. Joc deserved to be slapped.”
And Pham was still peeved about it another three months later, telling the Boston Globe in early October, “If anything, he’s lucky I didn’t hurt his ass even worse.”
The most ridiculous part about the whole thing is that it happened in late May 2022, allegedly because Pederson was stashing a player on IR during the 2021 NFL season.
Like, it’d be one thing if the slap happened near the end of the MLB regular season over a dispute that arose early in the NFL season. Tempers flare sometimes with money on the line. But Pham held his fantasy football grudge for several months, which is just wild.
Dusty Baker Finally Wins a World Series
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AP Photo/David J. Phillip
After 25 seasons of managing, taking five different franchises to the postseason a combined total of 12 times, Dusty Baker finally got his first managerial World Series ring at the age of 73. (It’s his second World Series ring overall, though, as he did play for the champion Dodgers in 1981.)
Naturally, he made sure to pencil Nick Castellanos’ series-ending foulout to Kyle Tucker into his scorecard before joining the celebration on the field.
It was a World Series that could’ve put at least half a dozen different memorable moments in this top 10:
- J.T. Realmuto’s game-winning, 10th-inning home run in Game 1
- Justin Verlander winning Game 5 after going 0-6 in his first eight World Series starts
- (Also, Verlander’s “greeting” to the fans in Philadelphia before Game 3)
- Houston’s combined no-hitter in Game 4
- Chas McCormick’s clutch catch while crashing into the wall in the ninth inning of Game 5
- Yordan Alvarez’s massive go-ahead and ultimately series-clinching home run in the sixth inning of Game 6
But let’s just sum it all up in the moment that the big smile crossed Baker’s face at the end of Game 6.
Even most of the people who will always loathe the Astros for the cheating scandal had to admit they were pretty thrilled to see Baker finally win one.
Aaron Judge Hitting No. 62
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Aaron Judge hit his 60th home run of the season in the Yankees’ 147th game. At that point, he was on pace to finish with 66, which would have broken Roger Maris’ American League record of 61 home runs in 1961 by quite the convincing margin.
But then the waiting game set in—much to the chagrin of college football fans, we might add, as ESPN repeatedly interrupted football broadcasts for live look-ins at just about every Judge plate appearance for a full two weeks.
Judge lingered on 60 for seven homerless games before finally tying Maris late in game No. 155. And then he went through another five-game drought before doing the deed as the leadoff hitter in game No. 161.
The monumental home run came off Jesús Tinoco, which is just the ultimate pub trivia factoid. Tinoco has pitched 66.2 innings in a four-season career with zero wins and one save, but he was an unwitting participant in a piece of history.
And we would be remiss if we didn’t also mention the “Arson Judge” free-agency chaos here.
That autocorrect for the ages came in a tweet from MLB Network’s Jon Heyman, when he led the world to believe for seven minutes that the San Francisco Giants had landed Judge as a free agent. Instead, Heyman deleted the tweet, apologized for jumping the gun and had to eat a whole lot of crow when Judge re-signed with the Yankees the next morning.
Albert Pujols Hitting No. 700
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Far too often, great baseball players go out with a whimper.
The final appearance of Randy Johnson’s career was a blown save, as he had a 4.88 ERA in his age-45 season. Ken Griffey Jr. had more controversial clubhouse naps (one) than home runs (zero) in his final campaign. Derek Jeter batted .250 and hit five home runs over the course of his final two seasons, but at least that was better than Alex Rodriguez’s .200 batting average in his last ride.
But arguably the greatest player of the past quarter century got a storybook ending, as Albert Pujols found some sort of second wind/fountain of youth to reach an incredible milestone.
Through St. Louis’ first 87 games, Pujols was batting .198 with four home runs in what looked like yet another forgettable finish to a Hall of Fame career. But he hit .320 and slugged .702 the rest of the way on a most unexpected surge to 700 career home runs.
Pujols got there on Sept. 23 against the mighty Dodgers in what was the 65th multi-homer game of his illustrious career. They came in consecutive at-bats, too, going deep against Andrew Heaney in the third inning for No. 699 before taking Phil Bickford yard one inning later for No. 700.
(Just for good measure, he had three more down the stretch to finish at 703.)