I don't know really how to put into perspective what happened last night. But I'll try....
There are a ton of collapses we could look at, so we're going to do that and see if we can try and compute in our heads how rare, insane and incredible last night was when looking at the history of Major League Baseball. Plenty of people have "collapses" ranked, but I don't see them ranked correctly whatsoever so I'm going to put mine up here. I'm going to stick to straight September collapses, because they're definitely the best.
5 - The 1987 Toronto Blue Jays. Toronto held a 3.5 game lead on the second to last Sunday of the season and were up 1-0 in the ninth inning on the Detroit Tigers. Detroit tied the game (Kirk Gibson homered of course) and ended up winning in 13. The Blue Jays tanked and lost every single game the rest of the year. Detroit swept them to end the season with three straight 1-run victories. Toronto finished 2 games back. I don't know about you, but that has to be one of the most demoralizing collapses ever. Losing by 1 run three straight times to get knocked out of the playoffs is cruel.
4 - The 2009 Detroit Tigers. Detroit held first place in the division from May 10th until the end of the season. They held a 3 game lead over the Minnesota Twins with 4 games to play. They lost to the Twins then lost two out of three to the White Sox to end the season. They had a one game playoff against the Twins in Minnesota which the Twins won in 12 innings in an absolute classic game to complete the epic collapse. The Tigers are the only team in history to blow a 3 game lead with 4 left to play.
3 - The 2007 New York Mets. The Mets led by 7 games on September 12th. A roller coaster ensued with the Mets losing five in a row, winning 4 out of 5, then losing their last 6 out of 7 games to finish one game behind the Phillies. The back breaker was on the final day of the season, when Tom Glavine came out and gave a clutch performance against the Marlins by giving up 7 earned runs in one-third of an inning.
2 - The 1964 Philadelphia Phillies. The ultimate collapse in the sports history belongs to the 1964 Phillies. They were the gold standard for this type of scenario, here's what theirs looked like: Phillies were in 1st place by 6.5 games with 12 games remaining. They lost their next 10 games and finished in a tie for second place in the National League, the Cardinals swept them in a crucial three game series, took over first place and eventually won the World Series.
With all those being brought to light, and you having them fresh in your mind - we witness two teams fall apart even worse within the last 4 weeks of this season.
1a - The 2011 Atlanta Braves. The Braves were 8.5 games up on the St. Louis Cardinals on September 6th. They were swept by the Cardinals in St. Louis which didn't seem like much at the time. Last Friday, on September 23rd, with a win over the Nationals the Braves were still up 3 games with only 5 to go. They lost all five, and were beat by the Phillies in 13 innings last night to knock them out of the playoffs. More than likely done in by the Joe Torre method of using your relievers every single game of the season, the bullpen was the main cause of this collapse, strong all season - but couldn't finish a game when it mattered most, blowing a 9th inning lead again in the last game of the season.
1 - The 2011 Boston Red Sox. Nothing really gives me more joy than writing this little recap. Maybe the curse is back? The Red Sox, in the race for the division, took 2 out of 3 from the Yankees and actually led on September 1st by half a game. They had a 9 game lead on the Tampa Rays for the Wild Card. They then went 7-19 to finish the season and ended up 7 games back of the Yankees. In September the Red Sox went 1-6 against the Rays and 1-4 against the Yankees. They had a favorable schedule down the stretch with 7 out of their last 10 games against the Orioles, and went 2-5 against them.
It was a collapse unlike baseball has ever seen. And it got two of them, on the same night. The Braves had to go into extra innings, and the Red Sox endured a rain delay - yet, the Braves and Red Sox were both eliminated from the playoffs within 22 minutes of each other. It was a night baseball fans will remember for as long as they live, and they should - because they'll never see anything like it again.