'What if … ': Wondering what could have been

10/24/2008 - MLB

What if? Every baseball fan can quickly come up with a dozen of them.

For example, a long-standing Royals fan might pass the time by wondering …

• What if Mark Littell had thrown a different pitch to Chris Chambliss?

• What if George Brett didn't have hemorrhoids?

• What if John Schuerholz hadn't traded David Cone for Ed Hearn?

• What if Schuerholz hadn't spent millions on Mark Davis?

• What if the Royals had protected Jeff Conine in the expansion draft rather than David Howard?

• What if they hadn't wasted their first-round draft pick on Colt Griffin?

Or a Cubs fan …

• What if that ball hadn't gone between Leon Durham's legs?

• What if Steve Bartman hadn't tried to catch that foul ball?

• What if, moments later, Dusty Baker had gone to his bullpen before Mark Prior gave up the lead?

This stuff will drive you nuts when it's your favorite team, repeated again and again like a recurring nightmare that ends the same way every time. Fortunately, most of the greatest what-ifs can be observed safely from a distance, an academic exercise rather than an emotional ordeal. In the spirit of intellectual curiosity, then, we've chosen six moments in recent postseason history that might easily have gone the other way, and wondered what would have happened if they had.

Click on each moment in the right column, and then suggest your own alternative endings if the situations had turned out differently.

Rob Neyer writes for ESPN Insider and regularly updates his blog for ESPN.com. You can reach him via rob.neyer@dig.com.

Mark Simon is a researcher for ESPN.