I have a semantic bone to pick with the all-time Top 10 Web Gems I saw on SportsCenter last night. The #1 defensive play in Major League history (or, at least since they started recording the games), according to ESPN, belongs to Ozzie Smith’s ad-libbed, bare-handed grab of a redirected bad-hop grounder back in 1978. Better than Willie Mays robbing Vic Wertz at the Polo Grounds in ‘54, and Gary Matthews pirouetting to take away a home run earlier this year.
It’s indeed a brilliant play, and no one made more of them than the Wizard of Oz. But, seeing as it’s, ya know, Web Gems and all, as in the web of a glove, I don’t know that it qualifies. After all, what made the play so unique was that Ozzie didn’t use his glove.
And if we’re opening up the competition to bare-handed grabs, as SportsCenter obviously is, how is it that Mets third baseman David Wright’s gloveless, back-to-the-plate snag of a popup in short left last year failed to make the list? Like poor Brian Giles, who hit the blooper in Pittsburgh that day, Wright wuz robbed.
By Michael Malone