When looking back at the 2008 Major League Baseball season, there are three monumental moments that immediately jump out at you. Number one is that the last game ever played at the old Yankee stadium took place. We are talking about “the house that (Babe) Ruth” built! This stadium personified baseball! It was arguably the single most important ballpark in the history of the MLB. Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle, Lou Gherig, Joe DiMaggio, Yogi Berra, Reggie Jackson, Bernie Williams, and even current players who are all-time Yankee greats like Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera donned the Yankee pinstripes on that field. After a transcendent 85-year run, the Yankees had a new home, the new and improved Yankee Stadium.
Number two was the last game being played at Shea Stadium, the home of the New York Mets for 44 years. It was not nearly as momentous as the closure of Yankee Stadium, and it was completely overshadowed it, but it was still a memorable moment. The Mets then moved to Citi Field.
The third most meaningful moment (and the one Los Angeles Dodgers fans remember the most) is the July 31st trade deadline deal in which Manny Ramirez came to the Dodgers from Boston. It is still considered one of the biggest trade deadline deals of all-time. Ramirez brought his dread-lock rocking, free-spirited, stoner persona to Los Angeles. And yes he was extremely “roided” up as he tortured National League pitching (he later tested positive for performance enhancers, which was no surprise). Manny was being Manny.
MLB was certainly in a state of transition with players moving teams and teams moving stadiums. The Yankees actually failed to make the playoffs in 2008 in what was a complete shocker considering their roster full of expensive superstars. But the Philadelphia Phillies did not care one bit. They returned to prominence winning their first World Series since 1980. That automatically puts them in the top spot. These are the top five teams of 2008:
5 Milwaukee Brewers
The 2008 Brewers were a fun bunch to watch. They had poster child Ryab Braun hitting home runs and stealing bases. And they had Prince Fielder following him hitting monster home runs. Torrance’s own Jason Kendall was the starting catcher. They had two legitimate aces in CC,Sabathia and Ben Sheets. These fun Brewers played the Phillies in the first round and it was not a good time at all. They were eliminated in four games.
4 Boston Red Sox
Going into the playoffs, most considered Boston the team to beat. They went 95-67 in the regular season and had the best team on paper. They had the hitting, pitching and experience that it took to win it all. But the best looking teams rarely win and that is what happened here. After the trade of Manny Ramirez these Red Sox just did not look or seem the same. They were shocked by the Rays in the American League Championship Series four games to three. Although the Sox got in as a wild card and finished behind the Rays in the AL East most expected them to prevail.
3 Los Angeles Dodgers
Los Angeles Dodgers- 2008 was the year of Manny Ramirez. He was traded over from Boston and made an immediate impact on and off the field. The Dodgers were winning games (they went 84-78) and the stadium was full every game. Ramirez’s personality and play dominated Dodger Stadium. But, something else happened. Something more important than “Mannywood” — a young stallion emerged. Matt Kemp! In his first full season with the Dodgers, Kemp shined. He batted .290 with 18 home runs, 35 stolen bases and 76 RBIs. Kemp and Ramirez led to the Dodgers to a first round sweep of the Chicago Cubs. They were then eliminated by the Phillies in five games in the National League Championship Series.
2 Tampa Bay Rays
The 2008 Rays had the second best record in baseball at 97-65. After beating the White Sox in four games in the first round, they upset the heavily favored Boston Red Sox in the second round, four games to three. They had the youngest starting lineup in baseball and were not even expected to make the playoffs. But their young arms and fresh legs on offense carried them all the way to the World Series where they were clearly overmatched by the Phillies and lost four games to one. The Rays had young guns Evan Longoria, BJ Upton, Carl Crawford, James Shields, Matt Garza, Edwin Jackson and Scott Kazmir carrying them (all 26 and under). Unfortunately, the Phillies were just too much for these Rays.
1 Philadelphia Phillies
Philadelphia Phillies – Amazingly, the Phillies went 11-3 in the postseason en route to their World Series Championship. They had the fifth best record in baseball, so it came as quite a surprise when they dominated the postseason. Their starting lineup resembled that of an American League team with Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Shane Victorino, Jimmy Rollins, Jayson Werth and Pat Burrell ripping through National League pitching. Their pitching staff was led by World Series MVP Cole Hamels who was backed by veteran Jamie Moyer. The hitting was there but many questioned the depth of the pitching staff. These Phillies got hot right at the end of the season, when it mattered most and they carried that momentum all the way to the championship.
2008 was truly a memorable season for baseball. The Yankees would miss the playoffs but it would not be long before they were getting comfortable in their new field and be back on top. The Mets, well they are the Mets, they still suck. These are the Top 5 teams of 2008. Wouldn’t you agree?