Xavier Avery: Controversial Photo Up Close and Personal

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Xavier Avery: Controversial Photo Up Close and Personal
Rob Carr/Getty Images

Every so often, a photo emerges that is truly worth a thousand words. The image of Baltimore Orioles rookie outfielder Xavier Avery’s failed wall-hopper against the New York Yankees is one of them.

This image was a by-product of a controversial play that occurred between the Yankees and Orioles on May 15, 2012 at Baltimore’s Camden Yards.

With New York trailing 4-0 in the top of the seventh inning, Yankees star center fielder Curtis Granderson smacked an opposite-field long ball to the threshold of the ballpark’s left-field seats.

Avery, who had recently made his major league debut, darted gracefully to the warning track, kept a beat on the baseball and leaped to catch it.

But what could have easily been Avery’s first national highlight of his career turned out to be a two-run home run for Curtis Granderson.

So what caused Avery to spit expletives after this play?

"I don't know if it was somebody in midnight blue or black and orange there," Buck Showalter said via the Associated Press (h/t ESPN.com). "I've got an educated guess."

Well, Mr. Showalter, the following evidence suggests that your educated guess was correct.

As the image reveals, the Yankee jacket-wearing fan in the blue and white striped polo shirt reached out and slapped the ball from Avery’s glove.

This unknown man is officially a hero in New York.

Also notice the woman in the black shirt next to the Yankees fan. She too has her hands in play, looking for a parting gift.

The man wearing the black shirt in the background is the co-founder of the Basebook Baseball Social Network. He, too, witnessed the interference and also witnessed the terrified looks on the faces of the fans on the far right.

That alone gives this image a priceless tag.

Now, I understand the play was not a show-stopper, as Granderson’s homer put a minor dent in what would eventually be a 5-2 victory for the Orioles.

But it points to yet another reason why Major League Baseball needs to fully expand instant replay.

Because this may very well happen to the Yankees one day.

And if it does, there will be hell to pay.

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James Morisette covers Major League Baseball for Bleacher Report. He is also the Founder and President of the Basebook Baseball Social Network. He can be reached at basebookme@gmail.com.

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