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The Play's The Thing
2008-07-09 13:46
by Will Carroll

I didn't happen to watch Tuesday's Yankee game. I saw the score, I'm sure, but aside from this, I didn't know much. I didn't read the recap, there were no noted on-field injuries in the game, and the Yankee that interested me yesterday was Brian Bruney, who was nowhere near the Bronx. With that circumstance, I missed Derek Jeter's diving play.

If this were thirty years ago, I might have seen something about it in the morning paper. Today, I don't get a morning paper and checking, the Indy Star didn't even have a wrap. Just a box in the agates.

If I happened to have access to the New York Times, it would have been a day late but I would have seen Tyler Kepner's game story with the money line of "Jeter ranged far to his right for a dazzling play that preserved Pettitte's shutout and punctuated the Yankees' 5-0 victory."

Ballbug says the most discussed article is Kat O'Brien's Newsday gamer where the play is described as "Derek Jeter raced to the ball just in time, but it seemed he would have no play and the Rays would score their first run. Then up popped Jeter with an in-air throw to second for the forceout."

The two accounts give me a mental image. I can see the sharply hit grounder get past Rodriguez, diving to his left, looking all the world like a single. Then flashing into the picture comes Jeter, barely snagging the ball in his glove as he dives flat to the ball. He pops up, setting his right foot and firing a strike to Wilson Betemit on the stretch. I can imagine that Jeter pumped his fist or acknowledged some kind of gesture from Andy Pettitte for having made such a great play. He's got grass-stains on his pinstripes, but he somehow seems cleaner even with it, as if they belong on his uniform.

Except you might already notice that my mind's image doesn't match up. Jeter never dove. He made one of his patented hopping throws the short way to second base (guess I missed Kat O'Brien saying that very thing.) If you watch the video (available by clicking on the link to the top of the seventh in the linescore and clicking then on the "Jeter's Leaping Throw" highlight), the play comes off like this: Aybar hits a bouncing slow roller towards the gap. Rodriguez awkwardly moves to his left, flailing and cannot make the play. Jeter is seen crossing over, taking five steps to his right, then planting, hopping, and throwing back to second base to get a plodding Dioner Navarro by an eyelash.

Has our on-demand, YouTube, world taken away the ability of the writers to not just describe the action but to create mythology? Maybe a little, but if the truth shall set us free, someone else will make a t-shirt the first link on Google.

2008-07-09 20:30:54
1.   Cliff Corcoran
"Pettitte's only remotely tough inning was the seventh, when with Rays on first and third and two outs, he induced Willy Aybar to hit a grounder towards the gap between third and short -- at which point Derek Jeter made a terrific play (you heard me), ranging far to his right to snag the ball, then executing his patented twisting jump-throw to nail the runner at second and end the inning." --Alex Belth, Bronx Banter
2008-07-11 08:03:17
2.   jgpyke
It's a great play, no doubt, but this is a great illustration of how the fawning NY media have mythologized Jeter into something he's not. He is a great ballplayer, a lock for the HoF, but if you asked 100 people for their Field of Dreams roster, only a NYY fanboy would put Jeter at SS. He's got a great bat, but his fielding range is below league average. He has a great highlight reel, but I do think Jeter is slightly overrated. He's not even the best SS on his own team.

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