Tuesday, April 6, 2010

(Not) In the Stars- retitled at 11:02pm

I keep hearing about the superstar moment I witnessed Sunday night. No one's talking about Neil Diamond singing Sweet Caroline. Or Steven Tyler and his doting daughter singing God Bless America.

They're not even referring to Youkilis's three extra-base hits, *the first time this happened on Opening Day since Carlton Fisk in 1973, remarkably against the Yankees and in Fenway Park.

The superstar play wasn't even made by a Sox. During the fourth inning, Derek Jeter started stealing second, and new Sox catcher Victor Martinez threw down (threw the ball to second). Brett Gardner took the opportunity to steal home.

Stealing home doesn't happen that often. In fact, only 38 players have done so more than 10 times in a career, and most of these players appear to have played in the early 1900s. The record for most steals of home in a season (8) and in a career (54) is held by Ty Cobb, but Jackie Robinson is also known for stealing home due to a game-changing moment during Game One of the 1955 World Series. (Younger Sox fans might just think of Jacoby Ellsbury.)

Most steals of home are delayed double steals where a player steals second and the runner on third takes off. Remember, double doesn't always mean two times as good (think double the "superstardom" of Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen). A pure steal of home, when a runner goes from third without the distraction of another player stealing or a squeeze play, is like witnessing a supernova. Oh geez, what is a squeeze play?**

And while we are talking about rare occurrences... the last time a player stole second, third, and home in one inning was 1996. (Thank you, Baseball Almanac).

Tonight's superstar? Most notable play? In the first inning I thought it might be Jon Lester, but his pitching fizzled in the second and burnt out by the fifth. It's not looking good for Ortiz, who's 0 for 6 this season or Marco Scutaro who just made the first error of the season for the Sox in the eighth, eventually allowing the Yankees to take the lead (both notable, but not in a good way). Youkilis made a beauteous catch at first during the sixth. Hopefully something stellar happens soon. Your nominations?

*Pinkhats, an extra-base hit is any hit that gets the runner past first base (double, triple, homerun). It's not an extra-base hit if the runner advances past first on a throw or a fielding error.

**Bluehats, if only you understood how overwhelming this all is. Maybe you should all fan the pages of a nuclear physics or astronomy (too far?) textbook, put your finger on a word, and try to define it without using a single scientific term.

1 comment:

  1. That really was a pretty impressive play by the Yankees, even moreso because Girardi later said that he didn'te ven call for it, Jeter and Gardner just decided to wing it and went for it and stole a run.
    Also, I don't know how old your baseball almanac is, but Jayson Werth stole 2nd, 3rd, and home in the same inning last year.