erik lundegaard

Friday July 24, 2009

Anatomy of a Catch: DeWayne Wise

Seriously, if you haven’t seen DeWayne Wise’s catch with nobody out in the top of the ninth inning to preserve Mark Buehrle’s perfect game yesterday—only the 18th perfect game (including the postseason) in Major League Baseball history—you’ve gotta see it.

As I said before, I may have seen better homerun-robbing catches but never in that kind of situation, never to preserve that kind of baseball history. Not even close. It’s the catch of the year.

Watch where he starts from. I mean he’s dead centerfield and not particularly deep. He has to run a long way to get to that thing. He has to run at a sprint to be exactly where the ball is heading.

He runs so fast, in fact, that it allows him to slow down at the warning track. That’s key. If he’d been running faster when he made his leap, the ball probably would’ve jarred loose from his glove when he hit the wall. Or he might’ve injured himself. Instead, because of his earlier speed, he’s able to slow down and go into the wall relatively softly.

OK, over the wall. Because it’s obviously a homerun. Kapler hit a homerun. Until Wise brought it back.

But even going over the wall relatively softly, the ball is still jarred loose from his glove. So, coming off the wall, falling down, he is able to bare-hand the ball (both hands, kids), roll over on his back, and stand and raise the ball in his fist. I mean...goddamn.

Then he does a very baseball thing. With his gloved hand he points at Buehrle. I love that. I’ve written articles about “the point” in baseball and how it compares favorably to the antics in other sports, particularly the solipsistic celebrations of football, which are all me me me. Pointing in baseball means: “Good job, you. Good work. We’re a good team.” But why does Wise point at Buehrle here? Because Buehrle kept Kapler from hitting it deeper? Because Buehrle’s pitch, and Kapler’s hit, have just made DeWayne Wise a household name? Of course not. He’s just on automatic. I’m sure he’s pumped. But in baseball, particularly in the field, you maintain cool while the game is going on. You maintain nonchalance. Wise does. You can see his adrenaline almost overwhelming his nonchalance but he keeps it tamped down. After all, there are two outs to go.

Then he taps gloves with the left fielder and goes back and retrieves his sunglasses. Unsmiling. He’s serious. After all, there are two outs to go.

It’s beautiful. Everything I love about baseball is in this moment.

Posted at 09:55 AM on Friday July 24, 2009 in category Baseball  
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