This weekend has been newsworthy in Miami already with president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest getting the ax and former Marlins star Miguel Cabrera returning to town with the Detroit Tigers. But that didn’t stop Miami's current third baseman, Placido Polanco, from trying to steal the headlines with one of the season's finest defensive efforts.
It happened in the eighth inning of Miami's first stunning victory over Detroit, which was the 3-2 game on Friday night. Left-handed hitting Don Kelly skied a foul ball down the left field line just beyond the dugout that Polanco cautiously pursued. As he approached the warning track and then the wall, Polanco measured his steps while eyeing the baseball. Then he decided to go for it.
One problem, though. Polanco quickly realized his longest possible reach wasn't good enough. Committed to making the play, there was only one thing he could do in the tenths of a second he had left: He had to give himself a little boost by leaving his feet.
A dangerous move considering there was a short wall with concrete steps and a railing waiting on the other side. But he did it, and then he caught the ball with just enough room to brace his fall with his left arm.
Great catch, better landing.
Of course the first play that comes to mind when you see an infielder dive into the stands is Derek Jeter's incredible play from 2004. We will not be comparing the two, because there is no comparison. But Polanco's effort for a team with 100 losses is certainly worth a pat on the back and an acknowledgement. You better believe the Oakland Athletics appreciated it, because it helped them earn home-field advantage over Detroit when those two teams meet in the ALDS.
That's a big part of what makes baseball so interesting, even when games may not matter to everybody. It's the little things that make a difference late in September and into October. And sometimes the little things are as simple as a bad team playing hard for nine complete innings to trip up a good team.