Terrence Long had made the catch before off of Jason Varitek in August of 2000. A deep shot to the right of center-straddling that waist high bullpen wall between extra base hit and out. Between hero and goat. He did it again last night in an effort that my roommate claims, "gives him a week of reprieve".
In the bottom of the 9th Manny Ramirez strode to the plate with Johnny Damon on second via walk and Trot Nixon's single. Ramirez waited and pounded a cut fast ball over the plate just before tapping his batting helmet and beginning a slow trot.
This shouldn't be news to anyone, but, Manny likes to go the other way. He hit a cheap homerun earlier in the game that snuck around the right field foul pole (Pesky's Pole). During the Manny at bat I told my roommate that they should pound him inside and if they hit him, they hit him. There were two outs and having Cliff Floyd bat with the bases juiced might be a better scenario. Floyd is 0 for 6 with a walk in two games against the A's.
Long ran down the fly ball and was then tackled in right center by Jermaine Dye. Koch and the rest of the A's joined them.
There are differing accounts to the catch:
This AP writer claims Long called it the catch of his career, yet there is no quote from T Long.
This AP article claims Long caught the ball backhanded, which he didn't, he caught it a little sideways, but certainly not backhanded. Long caught the ball in right-center, he is left handed, so his glove is on his right hand. He caught the ball with his forehand, or front hand.
They are both written by the same writer!
This article says Long leapt and caught the ball back handed. If you use a little visualization, any catch you have to reach for is technically a back handed catch because you are not receiving the ball within the frame of you chest. About 40% of all balls caught in the outfield are considered backhanded catches.
What they are trying to convey is that the catch was good, a definite web gem, and something that will be remembered for a long time. Not specifically for the effort itself, rather than the meaning. Long grabbed a ball that saved a game. That game pulled the A's into a virtual tie for second in the Wild Card race with Boston and only a game and a half behind Anaheim.
If the A's lose today, then the catch loses a lot of it's luster, a little of it's reverence and puts it onto the reel of A's highlights for the year next to the play Chavez made on Tuesday night to end the game. If the A's win tonight, then it goes into the pantheon of great moments in A's history.
ESPN's (and former Royal and A's catcher) Mike McFarlane mentioned on both Baseball Tonight's that if the A's can take off and get into the post season, the catch T Long made would be remembered as the point where it all came together. During the 7:00 pm (PST) broadcast he made the statement referring to winning the World Series. The later version had him referring to just making the playoffs.
During the first broadcast, Dave Campbell was describing the effort Trot Nixon made, going into the crowd to snare a foul ball. Asked what would happen if he did that in Yankee Stadium, "he'd come out with a few shiners and something sticking into his neck." The later edition had a different description and a reference that Campbell was in trouble for his earlier remarks. Boo, ESPN Baseball Tonight producers, boo. You should have things stuck in your neck.
Long certainly needed to do something:
OAKLAND 3RD: T Long singled to right center. R Hernandez grounded intofielder's choice to catcher, T Long out at second. M Ellis singled to right,R Hernandez to second. S Hatteberg flied out to shallow center. M Tejada struckout swinging.(0 Runs, 2 Hits, 0 Errors) OAKLAND 0, BOSTON 0.
Great! He got on base to lead off an inning. A solid single to right center.
OAKLAND 4TH: D Justice struck out swinging. E Chavez flied out to shallowright. J Dye walked. J Mabry singled to right, J Dye to third. T Long struckout looking.(0 Runs, 1 Hit, 0 Errors) OAKLAND 0, BOSTON 0.
OAKLAND 7TH: T Long grounded out to second. R Hernandez walked. M Ellisstruck out looking. S Hatteberg singled to shallow center, R Hernandez tothird. M Tejada singled to right, R Hernandez scored, S Hatteberg to third.A Embree relieved J Burkett. D Justice grounded out to second.(1 Run, 2 Hits,0 Errors) OAKLAND 3, BOSTON 1.
T Long tried to pull a ball that was screaming, 'please hit me off the green monster'.
BOSTON 7TH: B Daubach grounded out to second. R Sanchez flied out toright. J Damon tripled to left center. R Rincon relieved J Mecir. T Nixonstruck out swinging.(0 Runs, 1 Hit, 0 Errors) OAKLAND 3, BOSTON 1.
In another example of official scorers officially watching a different game, Damon was given a triple on a ball T Long misplayed. It was a single, Long took a bad angle and it went to the wall. If John Mabry wasn't backing up on the play, people would have been talking about Long's error, that wasn't scored an error that lead to Damon's inside the park homerun. Art Howe inserted Byrnes to pinch hit and take over in left in the 8th.
OAKLAND 8TH: E Chavez struck out swinging. J Dye singled to center.E Byrnes hit for J Mabry. E Byrnes struck out swinging. T Long struck outswinging.(0 Runs, 1 Hit, 0 Errors) OAKLAND 3, BOSTON 1.
Embree was throwing some heat around, but only Dye knew better than trying to pull a pitch. He slapped it up the middle for a hit. Byrnes looked awful. But, he would feel worse in about ten minutes.
BOSTON 8TH: E Byrnes in left field. C Bradford relieved R Rincon.N Garciaparra struck out swinging. M Ramirez singled to left. B Koch relievedC Bradford. C Floyd struck out swinging. J Varitek walked, M Ramirez to second.R Henderson ran for J Varitek. S Hillenbrand singled to left, M Ramirez scored,R Henderson to second, R Henderson to third on error by left fielder E Byrnes.B Daubach grounded out to first.(1 Run, 2 Hits, 1 Error) OAKLAND 3, BOSTON 2.
Eric looked like he was amped from the moment he left the dugout to pinch hit. The qualifier? Mike Quade, the A's 1st base coach and outfield coach consoling Byrnes after the inning. Byrnes had a hang dog look that would melt a third world dictator. My roommate wanted to storm the field and chastize the Red Sox for making Eric Byrnes cry.
Long went 1 for 4 with 2 strikeouts and left 3 on base. He made a great catch to end the game and an error that could have cost the A's dearly.
Dye Swinging Away
Jermaine Dye looks like he is feeling a little more comfortable at the plate. So far in August he is 5 for 18 with an OPS of .825.
Zito Excitedly Low Key
Barry Zito seems to have problems expressing himself. The San Jose Mercury News says Zito Excited by Matchup with Boston's Lowe Today. Meanwhile, the Contra Costa Time says Zito Downplays Matchup Against Lowe.
Whatever the case, it looks like a great matchup and it would be nice if Zito could assert his strangle hold on the Cy Young race by beating Lowe head to head.
Pappa Was a Rambling Fool
On last night's Fox Sports Net broadcast, Greg Pappa made a disparaging remark about Shea Hillenbrand's defense. After Hilly's error in the sixth, Pappa mentioned that was his 13th of the year. Well, Eric Chavez already had 13 and should have had a 14th when a ball ate him up in the eighth. They both have the same fielding percentage of .955. Not that errors and fielding percentage mean anything, anyway.
I don't care for announcers that are 'Homers', rooting for their team when they are paid to just announce the game. Hey, that smells like another segue.