After watching the SportsCenter and Baseball Tonight crews on ESPN pimp Jose Reyes' diving catch-and-tag play to end the first inning yesterday, I had to say something. Yes, it was a great play, and Jose Reyes deserves full credit for some amazing foot- and glovework. But it was also an incredibly
play, one that first-baseman Chris Woodward should not have attempted to make!
With one out in the first inning, Adam LaRoche came to bat with Rafael Furcal on third and Brian Jordan on first. LaRoche hit a hard grounder up the middle that ricocheted off the pitcher to third-baseman David Wright, who made a good play to get LaRoche at first for an RBI groundout, advancing Jordan to second. But Jordan didn't stop there, because Wright going for the ball had left third base uncovered, and Jordan smartly went for the extra 90 feet.
Shortstop Jose Reyes saw this and was running alongside
Jordan, on the third-base side of him, and first-baseman Chris Woodward fired the ball at the runner
, forcing Reyes to dive for a shorthop in the dirt and tag Jordan in the same motion. It was truly a great play.
But what the "experts" are ignoring is that Woodward's throw was not a smart one, as it was not worth the risk of throwing the ball! With a string of .200-ish hitters coming up, chances were good that Jordan would be stranded on third, but that throw stood several chances of getting away from the potentially uncovered third base to allow Jordan to score:
- his throw could have hit the runner
- his throw in the dirt could have been misplayed
- his throw to a teammate in motion could have made a tag impossible
- the slightest difference in location where Reyes caught the ball could have made a tag impossible
- no one else was there to backup the play!
All of these risks meant that simply throwing the ball to try to get Jordan at third before someone was actually standing there ready to take the throw was risking a higher probability of giving the Braves a 2-0 first-inning lead, or at least allowing Jordan to be safe at third, which still means the risk wasn't worth it.
As it turned out, Reyes made the incredible play, and again, I give him full credit for that. But I can't believe no one thought to criticize the first-baseman for making that throw. It worked this time, but all the odds were against him, and it was not a smart play!