Thursday, May 15, 2008

Game 43: Manny Ramirez, Fielding Superstar

Final Score: Boston Red Sox 3, Baltimore Orioles 6

Last night, while I was brooding over the results of this ridiculous game and wondering how I was going to write yet another post on how our bullpen is terrible and needs to be beaten with sticks, a sign out of the heavens (or off the TV) appeared: the clip of Manny's ultra rare 9 to 6 to 3 double play showed up on the local ABC news sports recap.

A sign, you say? How so? Remember that I live in Brooklyn, NY, far away from the confines of non-playoff New England sports news, where there are four baseball teams: the Yankees and the Mets and whoever they're playing that night. Showing a clip from a Red Sox game vacillates between the irrelevant and the indignant for most people down here - or so I would think. However, perhaps because he's a native son (of sorts), or because there really are more Red Sox fans down here than one would suspect, or maybe just because the play was so damn spectacular for anyone - let alone a guy whose slugging-first reputation proceeds him - to catch, there it was, in all its glory, on the small screen in New York City, giving me a sign.

If you haven't seen the catch yet, go watch it. Marvel at how the ball left Kevin Millar's bat, how it looked like a sure thing home run until it got to left field. Watch Manny, his dreadlocks flying, tracking that ball at a dead run. Watch him reach out, snag that ball on an exaggerated curve and hold on like it was most natural thing in the world. Then watch him, with the unique flair we've
come to know and love from Manny (particularly in the past two years) take this play from really special to super-freakin'-memorable (and more than worthy of becoming the sole focus of a blog post) by letting him momentum take him to the wall and then up the wall where he high fives a guy in a Red Sox shirt.

Oh, and then he throws the ball back into the infield, where Cora and Youkilis combine to nail Aubrey Huff and end the Orioles' half of the inning.
That's a level of cool so unbelievable that the only comparison I can think of is if in one those old Bird versus Jordan commercials, one of them had used a random fan to help ricochet the ball on its way to the net.

So enjoy your day off, fellas (Lord knows you need it); I'll be thinking back to that catch all day and grinning when I think of the sequence: off the bat, in the glove, off the fan, off the shortstop, nothing but out.