Walk-off madness

It is a strange day, indeed, when we are referencing Lesley Visser – and it is actually in a positive light, with no mention of her crazy hats or her omnipresent husband, Dick Stockton

More on her in a moment, but first, did you hear about the New York Yankees’ 3-2 victory over the Minnesota Twins in 10 innings this past Sunday?  It was capped off by a Johnny Damon walk-off home run, which was the Yankees’ third straight walk-off win in the series, representing the first time that New York had three consecutive walk-off wins since August 27-29, 1972 and the first three straight walk-off losses for Minnesota since 1973.

All sounds good, right?  Well, sort of.  See, the problem is there was no such thing as a “walk-off” anything in the 1970’s.  Sure there were games ended by homers and other hits that gave the home team the victory in the final inning.  But this obsession with “walk-offs”, including a Wikipedia entry specifically for the walk-off home run,  is a new phenomenon.

Sadly, it appears that the term “walk-off” can be traced back to the Oakland A’s of the late 1980s.  The same team that brought us the noxious Bash Brothers and Manager Tony LaRussa‘s (ahem) “genius” also contained reliever Dennis Eckersley, a future Hall of Famer who coined the term “walkoff piece” to refer to his departure from the mound on the rare occasions that he allowed a home run in the last at-bat of a game.

Heavy use of the term has only come about in the last decade or so, and Lesley Visser believes that the term cheapens these game-winning moments.  And, guess what?  I agree with her completely.  It’s a good read, re-imagining some of baseball history’s greatest moments from the perspective of the way that we characterize these victories today.

Joe Carter of the Toronto Blue Jays celebrates his series-winning home run in the 1993 World Series as the Philadelphia Phillies "walk off" the field in defeat

Joe Carter of the Toronto Blue Jays celebrates his series-winning home run in the 1993 World Series as the Philadelphia Phillies "walk off" the field in defeat

Sure, there are more important things going on in the world today, but giving props to Lesley Visser supercedes all of that for the moment. 

Didn’t see that one coming, did you?  Don’t expect a repeat anytime soon.

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~ by acm213 on May 19, 2009.

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