Last week, Jacoby Ellsbury stole home on Andy Pettitte when the Yankees were playing at Fenway. Joe Buck, Jon Miller and the other guy were all ecstatic in their usual "unbaised-announcing," "highly-professional," ways to such an extent that I could actually hear the "high-fives," slaps between them. Comments to the degree of "Only Jesus Christ himself could do what Jacoby Ellsbury has done today," were noted by me, although the actual wording may have been different...
Stealing bases. Stealing home. Never heard of. You're so wise and insightful, Joe Buck.
I would imagine Ty Cobb would enjoy being left alone in a dark alley with Joe Buck.
During the 1912 season Ty Cobb successfully stole home eight times, setting the single season Major League (and American League) record. From 1905 to 1928, Ty Cobb stole home 54 times, including stealing home in the 1909 World Series.
However, it is my firm conviction that Jacoby Ellsbury was inspired and motivated to steal home last Sunday from one example he beheld as an eager, impressionable, and idiotic youth. I am certain Jacoby Ellsbury learned how to steal home from one man, and one man only: Carl Crawford of the Tampa Bay Rays.
In 2006, Carl Crawford stole home against Boston. It is my theory that Ellsbury allowed that energy, zest, and vigor of Crawford to penetrate his evil little heart to such an extent that he just could not control himself last Saturday and he broke for home. Kind of like Tourette's Syndrome but different. He just had to do it, and Carl Crawford was his muse.
"I didn't have a signal or anything, I just said, 'It's going to be do-or-die, I'm gonna take this chance,'" said Crawford, "If I'm out, I'm out. If I'm safe, everybody will be happy about it. I figured I could get more positive than negative out of it."
Well, Jacoby, I strongly suggest a full night of sleep, my dear lad. For today's example of what Carl Crawford is capable of stealing cannot be duplicated by most.
Carl Crawford stole six bases against the Boston Red Sox today, bringing him to the helm of stolen bases in the league with 17, leaving Jacoby Ellsbury high-and-dry and mumbling to himself with his mere 13.
Two players in MLB history have stolen seven bases in one game. George Gore did it in 1881 and Billy Hamilton in 1894. In the modern baseball era, Otis Nixon stole six bases in one game for the Atlanta Braves in 1991 and Eric Young stole six bases in one game for the Colorado Rockies in 1996. And, guess what, Jacoby Ellsbury? Carl Crawford stole six bases against your team today while you were forced to watch.
Haw. Haw. Haw.
For a team who presently holds the league leaders in RBI (Longoria, 30), and Homerun's (Pena, 11), and now Crawford with Stolen Bases (17), it boggles the mind to discover the Rays are merely 11 -15, playing .423 baseball.
Good pitching and defense have always been espoused as invaluable weapons against big hitters, but this was Boston. At the start of today's game, the Boston Red Sox's pitching was the best in the league with a 2.60+ ERA as a team. Youkilis and Pedroia, Lowell, Ellsbury—not exactly inept defensive players. So, what gives?
Carl Crawford was amazingly successful in taking control of the field, the diamond, home-plate, and the hearts of even the most cynical anti-fans.
As I watched Crawford with each steal, my mind raced for a solution for Boston. After removing Penny, Francona opted to bring in Manny Delcarman. Before today's game, Manny Delcarman was sporting a 0.00 ERA for 14 innings pitched.
Not any more.
When Carl reached first base with each at-bat, it was clear he was going to try and steal second. Pick-off attempt after pick-off attempt only served to break the concentration of pitchers and batters, alike. The work-load of the pitcher's was doubled, as was the flow of the game. In fact, Manny Delcarman was so out of sorts from his 0.00 ERA norm, that he actually allowed two singles, hit Carlos Pena with a pitch to load the bases, and then hit Pat Burrell with a pitch to walk in a run.
Needless, Crawford simply could not be stopped. And, the funny thing was, even when he successfully landed on second base, he would repeat his behavior on the baseline toward third. Clearly, "Fielder's Choice," wasn't an option, as given his history with the Red Sox, I am certain Crawford would have gladly stolen home if the situation presented itself.
Carl Crawford was able to single-handedly create an offensive arsenal against the Boston Red Sox today, to which the Red Sox had no answer.
To the Tampa Bay Rays, I tip my cap. Good playing and genius tactics are simply awesome...even when one is a Yankee fan: rained out, lethargic, and rooting for the enemy.
"Be extremely subtle, even to the point of formlessness. Be extremely mysterious, even to the point of soundlessness. Thereby you can be the director of the opponent's fate." -Sun Tzu