Wednesday, August 30, 2006

When Jeter's Face Broke: Requiem In Two Parts

You may know that it is my contention that the "famous" Derek Jeter catch from July 1st, 2004 (one of the best Red Sox or Yankees games played so far this century) was not even the most spectacular catch of that game.

Jeter's catch was, and still is, played over and over, while Pokey Reese's catch is overwhelmingly ignored. Yes announcers, and plenty of other people, acted at the time like it was the difference between the classy Yanks and the disheveled Sox. The "winners" will sacrifice their bodies, the "losers" (meaning Nomar sitting out that game) won't even try. In one of the happiest moments of my life, that theory was proven to be total horse shit. It was Pokey who made the better catch, and our band of "losers" with their abnormal hair and attitude won it all that year, while Jeter and his big phony production number went home. I'd never trade what happened in October of that year to see the Pokey catch be recognized for its greatness. But I'll always argue it was the better catch.

Tonight, the Yanks game was rained out, and that fateful game from 2004 was shown on Yes Network. I was at the ready with my (Chan's) little video-capturing machine. I now ask you to take a look at both catches, so you can judge for yourself. Many people reading right now may even be saying, "What's this other catch you speak of?"

First, Pokey Reese's catch:

What did you see? The guy hit the wall right as he caught the ball. He went head over heels, unconcerned with his own well-being. This is a guy who played second base most of his career, playing shortstop, going full-speed toward and into the stands in a hostile environment. Look, I don't even need to tell you this stuff. It was a better catch regardless of anything else. At the very least, I would think both catches would always be shown together. But I'm just adding the truth to this great travesty.

Can you believe Michael Kay actually suggested Pokey dropped the ball and secretly picked it up? And then Murcer breaks into a story of how he himself once did that very thing?! You can hear, at the moment he admits to cheating, that he can't quite say "put the ball in his glove." He says "next to the glove," before saying that the ump saw the ball "in" the guy's glove. And then they laugh about it like, well, like it's me doing an impression of them. That's not fake. That personification of evil-style laugh is really Michael Kay.

Now get ready to see a not-quite-as-good catch, and get ready to barf up all you've eaten today at the severe ass-kissing you're about to experience:

First let's get it out of the way: Jim Kaat did reply to Kay's "the Yanks don't want to lose," by saying the Red Sox didn't either. There is a good side to Kaat. It dwindles each year, but it does come out on occasion. But, now, about that catch: It came at a later, more important time in the game, but does that make it better? No. He got blood on him. Does that make it better? No. They were both really good catches. Jeter went into the stands that way because it's a really low wall. He actually was trying to save himself from injury. And that's natural. He had time, even if it was only a half-second. Pokey, however, had no time to think about that, as he caught the ball at the moment of impact. Had there been a sharp object down there, he would've been bloodied up, too. He truly gave up his body. The actual Jeter catch was good, but nothing special, it was all about the aftermath. He simply made a similar catch, but with a cooler-looking aftermath. Who knows what Pokey would've done if he'd had a few steps before he hit the wall. He may have done a handspring over it. He had no time to do anything that would add anything to the entire experience of the catch.

I just think MLB is missing out on a great chance to have a catch they can show all the time, which actually was by the team that won it all. "2004: The year of the comeback, and the catch." Instead, they go with Broadway Derek and his blood. Hey, maybe he quickly smacked a ketchup packet against his eye when no one was looking, huh, Kay? Like the way everybody's favorite "class act" Joe Torre accused Schilling's blood of being fake?

You can almost feel the announcers realizing "Hey, we can get a lot out of this. We need to show this and hype it as much as possible." Pokey's catch got one replay, and then two more when they came back to it the next inning so they could accuse him of cheating. Jeter's got five replays in a row. All because of the blood, and Jeter's inability to avoid putting his face into a chair. And what about Sterling at the end there? I actually have to pause it, go barf, and come back to the computer every time I hear him say "winner." And at the end, unfortunately it got cut off, but it gives you a chance to predict what he said. "It's a catch that will be talked about and shown probably for the next..." What do you think he said? For the next few seasons? The next five years? The next decade? Few decades? Nope. "...for the next fifty years"! So that's what I'm in for, I guess. Maybe Pokey's will be shown for the fifty after that.

These clips have everything. Everything I've been sickened by my whole life with these Yankee people, plus a bunch of other stuff that symbolized that era of the rivalry:

Kay making fun of the Red Sox and laughing at us like a mad scientist.
Jeter appearing somehow greater than he actually is.
Murcer's half-wit shenanigans.
Yankee cheating praised or dismissed as a joke while Sox legitimacy passed off as cheating.
A Bellhorn strikeout.
Jeter's parents. (So funny how YouTube put the still frame of them as the cover of the clip. I don't choose that, it's just a random point in the video. Possibly the exact midpoint.)
Sterling acting like he is a better human being than us for being the Yanks' announcer and acting like Jeter and the Yanks are god's gift to humanity.
Kay misleading the audience. (Not only with accusing Pokey of cheating, but, not shown, him saying that Pedro had, in the past, "threatened to throw at Posada," referring to Pedro pointing at his head, which could've meant anything.)

And seeing some other parts of that game again (mainly I watched that Katrina show. Really good, told the whole story from the people's perspective, and was really sad, too. And now watching tonight's Sox game, down one going to ninth...and now it's over, we lose. Again.), all the old memories came back. I forgot about Kay's orgasmic "triple play" call on a double play. As well as all of their constant criticizing of Pedro and the Red Sox, as they were clearly threatened by our style of play, which ended up beating their button-up style when it counted. Oh, and they mentioned Pedro's career under 3 ERA and 10-8 record against the Yanks. (Pedro "just never can beat the Yanks," right?)

I've timed how long each ball was in the air. Pokey's had a little less time to get to the ball, which landed right at the wall, whereas Jeter's was at or to the fair side of the foul line. Again, talking just about the catch, Pokey's was better. But please, judge for yourself.


Um, catch was on a foul ball that came in the middle innings with nobody on base, the other was a fair ball, and came in a tie game in extra innings with the potential winning run in scoring position.

I think that's all it is. That's why Jeter's catch is remembered. Are you seriosuly suggesting the Red Sox don't get as big a media fellating as the Yankees?

I live in Boston--Jeter's catch got all the attention no NESN and NECN too. Not beacuse of bias, but because the CATCH SAVED THE GAME! It was a potential one or two run double. Pokey made a really great but fairly inconsequential catch on a foul pop.

Please stop embarrassing yourself.
Switch the innings in which the catches happened. Then ask yourself if the Jeter catch would be completely ignored, and Pokey Reese's catch would be shown "for probably the next fifty years."

I am not embarrassed. I am very proud to be defending the guy who gave a better effort, and gets no credit for it. He can't control what inning popups take place in. A great catch is a great catch. It shouldn't be overshadowed by another catch just because it happened later in the game. What if Pokey had literally flown and hovered over the crowed to make his catch? Still ignored, because Jeter's was in extra innings? I just don't see these cacthes as so different that one would be shown all the time and the other completely ignored.

And if I was embarrassed, I wouldn't worry about how you feel about it. God forbid the great "Dan" has to live in this horrible world where Jere embarrasses himself! "Dan," ladies and gentlemen. Dan!


All hail the great Dan!

The Red Sox and Yanks are the same, right? The almight Dan says so! This post is the damn proof, right here, that Jeter gets all the credit because he plays in New York! Yeah, the Red Sox get called the "greatest franchise in the history of sport" all the time, right Dan? People just constantly talk about the "mystique" of the Red Sox, and how you get that special feeling when you put on the uniform, right, Sir Dan?

And when they talk about baseball's holy church, they're talking about Fenway Park, right, Broadway Danny Rose?

If you are so in love with the Yankee organization and Derek Jeter, there are plenty of brand spanking new Yankee hats you can buy. You'll feel better once you admit it.

All bow to King of Yankee Universe and determiner of all people embarrassed, Dan. Your ego will fit right into Yankee Universe, Dan The Man Levitan.
Three letters in Dan. Three letters in God. Coincidence?

I for one will be ready with gold pieces and exotic tapestries to present to Dan when he arrives in his ship on our humble planet.
Well said. You crack me up!
Every time I see it, I feel like I change my mind on which is better. Pokey's was a longer run and showed more range, while being a tougher ball to hold onto considerng his proximity to the wall/ stands.

Jeter's ball was farther from his body and required a longer stretch to catch, which undoubtedly had something to do with his losing control of where he landed (more or less).

As for who and why got more coverage- the Jeter catch was a ready-made story and was, at the time, emblematic of a lot of things. Not surprising at all they ran with it. There are a lot of instances like this in baseball, where a famous and easy story is remembered. Like, for instance, Bernie Carbo's 3-R HR in Game 6 of the 1975 Series. That was obviously the more "dramatic" and "important" HR in that game- but it's sort of hard to blame people for remembering the other one.

Or even Dontrelle Willis winning the ROY in 2003 over Brandon Webb. Webb was better in nearly every capacity- but Willis was really good, and a ton of fun to watch. So he won.
Goog call on Carbo. While Sox fans all know the importance of it, and seriously, look into the details of that game if you don't know about it, the nation definitely mainly only knows of the Fisk.

My whole point abou thtis is that Pokey's was a better catch regardless of anything else. And for people that think Jeter's was better, I respect that, but I would hope they'd say that it was only a little better, and that it definitely wasn't "totally ignore the other one"-better. And like I said, they could've run with the other story--"Jeter's catch was great, but Pokey's was better, and the Sox went on to win it all." But, no chance of that, and I think it's because of the blood and the hectic-ness (hecticity?) of the Jeter catch. Not the inning, not the importance in terms of the game, just the visual.

This post has been linked at baseball think factory, and all the comments from Yankee fans are just BS, like, "We're better than you." No one can even admit that based on the catch alone, the Pokey one is even close to the Jeter one.
Nice job as always on this subject, Jere. And thanks fgor providing the visual evidence.

In the book I'm writing, the part about the 2004 regular season has a simple chapter title:

"Pokey's Catch Was Better."
I went over to Baseball Think Factory and saw the responses from the schmucks who call themselves "Yankee fans." What a bunch of hyenas, and the discussions dissolved into worthless drivel about who's pizzas better. Ugh.
haha, nice. Thanks, Quinn.

Tell us when this book comes out.
Yea, I think at the time it caught on because the "Red Sox were the fading, selfish losers and the Yankees were the majesterial dragon slayers that were going to win again, especially because THEIR guy cared (as opposed to BOSTON'S guy who OBVIOUSLY didn't)."

Of course, what happened was a lot more complicated, including another catch during the game that was, at worst, it's equal.

Even setting aside judgement of which was better, it's an interesting discussion of what and why we remember from games like this.
I'll let you know when it's done, Jere.

I put up a post on my site today alerting everyone to your discussion about the July 1, 2004 game.

Good job, as always.
Yeah I was just over there and saw you linked this. Thanks!
The Consumate "Drama Queen", Derek Jeter:

Pokey doesn't star in commercials;

Anyone notice the s--- stains on Michael Kay's Nose?
Y'know, I just discovered your site, and this is the very first post I read. I have to say that as a Red Sox fan, this post summed up everything that is wrong with and about the Yankees over the last sixty years.

And I agree - just comparing the two catches - not the circumstances, but the catches themselves - Pokey's is the better of the two.
Wow. Maybe I should end this blog on that high note. Thanks for your comment. Awesome.

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