This goes to the most exciting, exhilarating, exhausting game that involved a New England team. It doesn’t have to necessarily be a victory for the good guys. It just has to be an amazing contest.
I originally started the process with about 20 potential nominees, there were that many thrilling games this season. But those were narrowed down to 5 contests. Here are the nominees:
2/3 - Super Bowl XLII: Giants 17, Patriots 14
4/19 - Stanley Cup Conference Quarterfinal Game 6: Bruins 5, Canadiens 4
5/30 - NBA Conference Finals Game 6: Celtics 89, Pistons 81
6/8 - NBA Finals Game 2: Celtics 108, Lakers 102
10/16 - ALCS Game 5: Red Sox 8, Rays 7
This was a really tough choice. The Super Bowl, as painful as it was, was historic. The back-and-forth 5-4 game between the Bruins and Canadiens was the most exciting hockey game I've ever seen. The Celtics comeback in Game 6 against Detroit catapulted them to a championship. The Celtics also stymied a Laker comeback in Game 2 to take a 2-0 lead to LA. But the 8-7 come from behind win in an elimination game was one of the most amazing things you'll ever see.
That's why the winner is...
Game 5 of the ALCS, when the Red Sox came back from a 7-0 deficit to force a Game 6!
TBS announcer Chip Caray before the bottom of the 7th in Game 5: "They're dancing in the streets of Tampa Bay and St. Petersburg."
With 2 outs and 2 on in the bottom of the 7th, down 7-0, Dustin Pedroia hit a single that scored a run and extended the inning. Then David Ortiz did something he hadn't done in 61 postseason at-bats: hit a homerun. A 3 run shot that made it an interesting game again. JD Drew homered in the 8th, Crisp added an RBI single to tie it. Youkilis reached on an infield single in the 9th, advanced to 2nd on an error, and Drew bounced one over the right field wall to win the game.
It was the biggest postseason comeback since 1929, and the biggest comeback in an elimination game.
The Red Sox took Game 6 4-2, but came up short 3-1 in Game 7. The Rays went to the Series and were destroyed by a real team with real fans in a real city. With hindsight, a pessimist might look at the miraculous Game 5 as merely cheating death or postponing the inevitable. But to me at least, Game 5 was special. It was so amazingly thrilling and unbelievable. It was so surreal that it had to be real, no screenwriter or author would dare pen such a story for fear of losing the suspension of disbelief.
Had the Rays won Game 5, the Red Sox would have been embarrassed. Losing to a "team" like the Rays in 5 games and in Fenway would have flat out sucked. This game extended the series and allowed the Sox to lose with some dignity.
Red Sox fans have some optimism for 2009, and this game is one of the reasons why. There's just something about this team.