just watching baseball tonight, and they ran down their top ten defensive plays of all time – and i guess i agree with most of their choices; but i must say, their selection process is a bit skewed. first off, honestly, i don’t know if you could have picked a larger category to pick from – the ten greatest defensive plays, as they put it, “ever caught on tape”, so meaning from about 1954 on. but let’s break that down. if they really meant that, it means that they were probably looking at about 25-30 games per year until about 1980, then about 60 games a year until the 90s, and then every game since then has pretty much been broadcast.
so, of the hundreds of thousands of games (just for the record, in this 2006 season alone, somewhere around 2,000 baseball games will be played, not counting spring training and the playoffs) that have been played since the dawn of baseball broadcasting on television, Baseball Tonight is probably looking at maybe 5%. and it’s probably a lot less than that. really, do you think that you could get a fair sampling of the “best defensive plays ever” if you only looked at 5% of the games? how about if you only watched 5% of the games this season? would you be able to fairly judge the best defensive plays of the season? i think not.
secondly, the list is populated with about 70% plays from the last ten years, which is patently ridiculous, of course. of the thirty plays on the list of each team’s best web gem (found here) only eight are defensive plays were made before 1988. in fact, there are almost just as many plays from the last two years as there are from before 1980.
i know, i know, ESPN isn’t the best source for an objective view of things, but i really think they’re off on this one in their method. who’s to say there wasn’t a fantastic play that wasn’t on TV? and as much as i love ozzie smith, there really shouldn’t be repeats for two teams.
that said, i did agree with their choices, for the most part. they chose willie mays’ catch in the ’54 Series as the top, and really, while i can’t argue too much, i would have definately gone with jim edmonds catch back in 1997. when i saw that catch, i knew that it would probably be the best catch i’ll ever see. and gary matthews jr. can try all he wants, but nothing for me will ever match up to that edmonds catch.
that is the best defensive play ever, no question.