Though he’s preaching to the choir in this instance, the New York Sun’s Tim Marchman delivers some soothing words Friday morning, describing Endy Chavez’ rip job on Scott Rolen as “perhaps the greatest defensive play I have ever seen, and if in the end it didn’t matter, it was no less brilliant for that.”
It was a no-doubt shot, a searing line drive toward the left field fence, the dead part of the Shea outfield; no cheap home runs are hit there. Rolen, with screws in his damaged shoulder and days removed from a cortisone shot, should not even have been able to reach the pitch, but he did, and it was no less likely than what Chavez did, turning and breaking like a wideout clearing the secondary, hurling himself back with his whole forearm braced over the wall, snaring the ball, hauling it back in, and heaving it back toward first base, off which Edmonds was caught. By the time the out was made at first he had just rounded back past second and what would have been, with Cardinals starter Jeff Suppan’s mastery of a cold Mets lineup, a nearly insurmountable 3“1 lead remained a 1-1 tie.
If Derek Jeter’s Flip against the Athletics years ago was a 10, this was a 12.
Of all people, Perez and Chavez were the last two who were supposed to have saved the Mets’ season, which they almost did. Perez, owner of a 3“13 record this year, came to the Mets in July as part of a minor trade, not only two seasons removed from a campaign in which he’d established himself as one of the game’s most brilliant young pitchers, but so far removed from the pitcher he’d once been that his continued viability as a major leaguer was in question. From mechanics and conditioning to desire and health, nothing about him wasn’t doubted.And Chavez, on his fourth stint with the Mets, was signed as a 25th man ” a brilliant defender whose inability to hit much better than Rey Ordonez made him little more than a luxury. Willie Randolph put faith in them, though, and didn’t expose them, and they turned into assets. Down the stretch Perez showed every sign that he could with time become the dominant starter he had once promised to be. Playing every outfield spot and left alone near the bottom of a powerful lineup, Chavez was one of the very best reserve outfielders in the major leagues, working his way on, stealing bases, and playing wonderfully in the field. Still ” this?
As a complete aside, if you’re the sports editor of one of New York’s 3 other dailies (4 if you include Newsday), at what point do you completely cede traffic/cachet/cred to the Sun due to Marchman’s solid work, and when do you take decisive action (like, y’know, either hiring him away or having him killed)?