Weekend Debate: Most Memorable Title
As many of you have seen, our first “Fowl Poll” on the blog (bottom-right of the page) asks “Which of the Ducks three championships was most exciting?” Long Island has won the second-most Atlantic League titles ever, taking home the trophy in 2004, 2012 and 2013.
While several votes have been cast, and 2012 is currently in the lead, it seems like a great topic for discussion and debate. Let’s take a look at why each was so truly memorable:
The first championship in any franchise’s history is always going to hold a special place in the heart of an organization. Each title will always be special, but the feeling of doing it when no one else on that team has done it before cannot be duplicated.
The 2004 Championship Series featured many exciting moments, with the biggest highlights being the back-to-back waddle-off wins in Games One and Two at the Duck Pond. Justin Davies won the opener with an 11th inning single and followed that up with another walk-off hit in Game Two, en route to winning ALCS MVP honors. Long Island completed the sweep in Game Three, another one-run game, with the winning run scoring when now-Ducks manager Kevin Baez was hit by a pitch.
It was a memorable series indeed, but some would argue that it wasn’t at the top of the list. Biggest reasons: It lasted just three games and was won on the road. The arguments make sense, but let’s not forget, it was not three blowouts or a lopsided series. Three one-run games, including two walk-offs, have to count as memorable in anyone’s book. And when you factor in that it was not only the first championship, but the Ducks first time ever qualifying for the playoffs after four years of close calls…
There’s no doubt the Ducks were huge underdogs in this series, going up against a Barnstormers team that just set the Atlantic League wins record with 88 in the regular season. Not to mention, the Ducks had struggled mightily in the second half and had nearly lost a 2-0 series lead in the Liberty Division Championship Series.
There is also no denying that this series had the best ending to any of Long Island’s three championships and one of the best in Atlantic League history. No one will forget Dan Lyons and the “bunt heard ‘round the world” in the bottom of the ninth inning of Game Five at Bethpage Ballaprk. NO ONE saw it coming…except Lyons, that is. It was the kind of moment that fans will talk about for generations. Not many saw Lyons’ three-run double in the ninth inning of Game Two coming either. Facing the league’s best closer that year in Tim Hamulack, with two men out, down 4-3 on the road, down 1-0 in the series, who would have predicted that comeback and eventual 9-4 win? It was hands down the turning point of the series. You also cannot forget that it’s the only Atlantic League championship won at the Duck Pond.
Again, we play devil’s advocate. Games One, Three and Four were not tight games by any means. Each was decided by four or more runs and more or less decided by one big inning. It was a back-and-forth series, but the games were not the tight nailbiters that you saw in 2004 and 2013.
Once again, the Ducks had the label of being ‘underdogs’ in 2013, big-time underdogs. Somerset won 90 games in the regular season, second-most in league history, while the Ducks had won just 63. But the Flock had a chance, and they certainly took advantage.
This series had the glamour of seeing two teams that had faced each other 265 times before but not once in the playoffs. They had combined to win seven of the league’s first 15 championships, and one of the two teams had appeared in all but four of the first 15 Atlantic League Championship Series. It wouldn’t disappoint. The first four games were decided by just one run, with the finale decided by only two. Long Island won the first two games on their home field with dramatic, late-inning home runs to stun the favored Patriots. However, Somerset answered with two extra inning walk-off wins in a pair of incredible nailbiters at TD Bank Ballpark. The cherry on top of the cake: The greatest Duck in franchise history, Ray Navarrete, providing the biggest hit of the series. His three-run home run in Game Five put the Flock up 4-1 in a game they eventually won 6-4 to take the series.
2013 had the makings of what you would want in a classic five-game battle. However, the series was won once again on the road, so it lost the excitement of a celebration in front of the fans at Bethpage Ballpark. It also saw a Ducks team lose a pair of clinching games in which they had plenty of chances to win. Would the celebration have been more memorable had they swept the series rather than an almost ‘sigh of relief’ that they didn’t lose a series which they had led 2-0?
So, the debate is yours. Leave your comments below on which you feel is the most memorable championship in franchise history and why. It’s a great argument to have, and a case can undoubtedly be made for each of the three. In fact, is it even possible to say that one is truly more memorable than the other? Let us know how you feel!
Posted on October 25, 2013, in Weekend Debate and tagged 2004, 2012, 2013, Atlantic League, Bethpage Ballpark, Championship, Dan Lyons, Justin Davies, Kevin Baez, Long Island Ducks, Ray Navarrete. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.