As 2014 winds to a close, TSN.ca looks back at the stories that made the year in baseball memorable. Producer Shane McNeil reflects on the greatest finish we never saw and Bryce Harper crushing bombs.

Originally published on TSN.ca – December 24, 2014.

The Greatest Finish We will Never See

The Giants’ 2014 World Series title will be largely remembered for Madison Bumgarner being nearly unhittable in three appearances. But here’s the rub: The one hit he did allow could have cost the Giants the series or at least forced extras in Game 7.

Bumgarner had retired 14 straight before Alex Gordon stepped up with two outs in the ninth. He solved Bumgarner with a soft liner to left-centre. The ball bounces past Gregor Blanco giving Gordon an extra base before Juan Perez boots the pick-up.

Gordon hustled his way to third, but by time he gets to the bag, the relay is already on its way into the infield and any thought of coming in to score is quelled when he’s held up at third.

Now, I’m not for a second suggesting Gordon should have been waved home. He wasn’t gunning it the entire way and if the relay from shallow left were anywhere close to on-line he’d have been out by a substantial margin.

But isn’t that a play you’d love to have seen unfold to potentially decide a Championship?

Bryce Harper can Clearly Hit Hunter Strickland’s Heater

Let’s start this out with the fact that Bryce Harper is kind of a punk. A lot of people have problems with his attitude, swagger or whatever it is you want to call it.

I have gone on the record before with the fact that I clearly do not.

That said, he is possibly the most exciting player in baseball and proved it during the NLDS against the San Francisco Giants.

Giants fireballer Hunter Strickland earned some Game 1 kudos for escaping a bases-loaded jam by whiffing Ian Desmond on four pitches, the last three (strikes, all) hitting 98, 99 and 100 mph on the gun.

Problem is: Bryce Harper can hit a fastball.

Leading off the very next inning, Harper hit a bomb that justified the very existence of vines. The kind of shot that you would believe just never came down.

Strickland, though, took exception and stared Harper down as he took his victory lap around the bases.

So, what was Strickland’s response? Serving up another one in Game 4; an AT&T splash landing to tie the game. Harper watched the bomb. Then he watched Strickland. Then he chirped Strickland some more from the dugout.

He may not be classy, but good lord is Bryce Harper a lot of fun.