One floating knuckler from Wakefield to Boone, one “shot heard ’round the world” from Bobby Thomson, and one leaping, game saving catch by Granderson. Baseball. One game. One play. One champion. We sit around all year, many of us bored to death by the constant statistics and uber-long season, only to be lifted up by the wonder of what October brings. New hero, new legend, new superstars. In football, mistakes can be fixed, like Revis making a pick to even out Mark Sanchez stinking. That floating knuckler that Wakefield mistakingly threw to Boone can’t be brought back. That foul ball that was taken away from Moises Alou by Steve Bartman can’t be brought back. That is what makes baseball so different. It is a story that has the ending on the last page and you just need to sit back and read the first 300 pages before taking a look. Some people have put it down and never come back and they are really missing out right now. Just ask those who came back and saw the Rays and Cardinals take over for the Braves and Red Sox on the last day, or those thousands of fans who showed up at Tropicana Field for game four of the ALDS yesterday after not being there all season. It all matters now. And…one play is all it takes to win your heart back or to win the championship.
If you haven’t seen “the catch” or catches that Curtis Granderson made on Tuesday night, the link is above. To say that after 162 games that one play can prove to make your season is an understatement. Bases loaded, two outs, A.J. Burnett just about to implode and the first inning jumping catch saves the season. With Don Kelly’s speed, that could have been an inside-the-park homerun, at least a base-clearing triple that would have put the Tigers up 3-0.
Needless to say, Burnett may have allowed another 2-4 runs after the implosion was finally complete, but he can thank Granderson for the effort and look in the mirror today and see a man who threw 5 2/3 innings in a game that he was a goat to start with. The leash was shorter than Britney Spears’ first marriage and New York and the media was waiting for his eventual failure. Instead, 81 pitches later, they can all breathe a sigh of relief and wait until the next series for that.
Granderson is just looking better and better to those who are going to be voting on the AL MVP. Although I said that Miguel Cabrera should win, it wouldn’t be shocking to see Granderson grab it. He does, after all, garner the spotlight that comes along with the pinstripes. If only the .262 batting average and 169 strikeouts weren’t so damning…
The Yankees live to see another day, and probably another series, as the momentum goes into their favor for game five in Yankee Stadium. Granderson could add to the legend of Yankee centerfielders, following DiMaggio, Mantle and Williams to the greatness of titles and legacies from the position. If nothing else, he did his part this season and in this series.