Last night I saw the finest play made by a second baseman in my young 34 years. My beloved Reds were precariously clinging to a one run lead in the bottom of the ninth. They had two outs, but there was a runner on second. Pirate Nate McClouth – who is reported to be a BIG Saved by the Bell fan – blooped a single into shallow right-field; no-man’s land, just beyond the reach of the first-baseman and in front of the right-fielder.
Brandon Phillips, the best second baseman you’ve never heard of, was hustling to back up the play. He bare-handed the ball on the bounce, and in one motion turned and rifled a throw home. Javy Valentin had to hop only a little bit to catch the throw and tag out the runner (see picture to the right).
Here is what Junior thought about the play:
“From second basemen, I’ll probably rank that the No. 1 play I’ve seen. When it started, then it bounced and then I see BP and the ball floating, it looked like it was in slow motion. Then Javy to get up and make the tag. The whole play was unbelievable. It was inches from being caught and inches from being safe.”
Here is why ESPN has lost its mind. That play was not one of the Web-gem nominees on Baseball Tonight, and it wasn’t even replayed! This is akin to President Bush announcing air-strikes against Iran and CNN replaying Anna Nicole Smith coverage. ESPN is in the sporting news business. Brandon Phillips’ play yesterday evening was easily the best play by a 2B all year. Not to mention that the play came at clutch time: two men out, a man on second, the Reds leading 5-4. I guarantee that if Jeter or A-Rod or Jose Reyes or someone from the Bo-Sox had made a similar play, you would see the replay non-stop for weeks.
I understand that the Reds are 10- games below .500, but they are still one of the hottest teams in MLB. They play in the weakest division in baseball, and they even have an outside shot of winning the Central. Besides all that, the play was stellar and deserved be recognized.
Not only does the play need to be recognized, but so does Brandon Phillips. how this guy was left off of the All-Star team I will never figure out. Check the stats, not only does he rank near or at the top on his team, but compare him with the other NL second-basemen. BP is one of, if not the best second-basemen on the senior circuit.
I’ll give the man his props. BP, you’re the best. (Just learn how to wear your cap straight!)