Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Wasn't Even the Second Best Play

I was bouncing all over the dials today with the admission by Alex Rodriguez of his outing last Saturday. I found myself on YES watching Mike Francesa (which I only do in small doses). I was actually agreeing with most of the things he was saying, which is a rare event indeed.

But as his show was going on, there was a crawl at the bottom of the screen for "Yankee Classics," which shows old Yankees games. (I'm still waiting for Game 7 of the 2004 ALCS. I guess that will be a long wait.) Anyway, tonight they were showing the Red Sox-Yankees game from July 1, 2004, which they identified in brackets as the "Jeter dives into the stands game."

Let's get one thing straight about that game. While Jeter's catch was very good, it wasn't the best defensive play of that game. And it wasn't even the second best play of that contest.

Pokey Reese made a sensational catch in the 5th or 6th inning (I don't remember which). He was playing shortstop (remember Nomar sitting on the bench and appeared to be pouting that night?) and ran over to the stands in short leftfield and reached in among the Yankees fans and pulled a ball out that for sure looked like it was going to be a souvenir. It was better than Jeter's catch, only Reese didn't have to dive into the stands for it. It is almost totally forgotten.

And it is the second best defensive play of the night. So who made the best play of the night? Yep, The Last Honest Man Left in Baseball: Alex (I Had No Idea What I was Taking or If It Really Was Illegal) Rodriguez.

The game was tied in the 11th inning, and the Sox had bases loaded and no outs. (I was changing channels tonight and it was the 11th inning, so I hung around to check it out again.) Kevin Millar hit a ball that looked like it was going down the line to score two runs, but Rodriguez made a dive for it near the bag, managed to put his foot on third base, and then from one knee flipped the ball over the charging Gabe Kapler, who was tagged out at the plate for a double play. (Jorge Posada didn't realize A-Rod touched third and fired it back to him at third, and he tagged Manny Ramirez out, who had just been forced. Slappy actually thought he had a triple play, and Michael Kay went apeshit in the booth thinking the Yankees were out of the inning.)

Despite Slappy's goof at the end, it was still a sensational play. It was still better than Jeter's play one inning later. But of course, A-Rod's not the captain of the Yankees (and never will be), and can't walk on water like his shortstop counterpart, so he never gets the credit for that play.

I've heard this game in 2004 called the "Jeter game" and such, which is just plain wrong. Pokey's catch was better, and A-Rod's play in the 11th was even better than that.

It's just too bad the best plays of that game are all but forgotten. Maybe it's because neither player shed any blood making their play...

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