Ben Zobrist’s Impromptu visit to the Renegade
If you saw any of the highlight on ESPN’s Sportscenter, or even on Baseball Tonight, you saw an incredible play by Tampa Bay Rays outfielder Ben Zobrist in the sixth inning of a blow-out game against the Oakland A’s. The play was an incredible play by Benzo to get a foul ball heading for the right field stands. But what you might not know is that the play was happening right in front of the Rays Renegade.
That is right, I was about 3 inches to the south of that fantastic play, and you can see me on the video from both angles reaching down to be sure that Zorilla is okay right after his tumble over the wall. So people have wondered where my seat was at Tropicana field, well last night you got a video shot of the action I get to see sometimes from my little blue seat. The play seemed to start as a routine fly ball down the rightfield line that might be caught in fair territory, but the ball then started to curve towards the stands and I had to make a momentary decision to either pick up my camera or try and reach for it.
Because of the recent problems with Rays fans not giving ample amount of space to the defenders I took the alternative route to my usual ballkhawking and picked up the camera. I did not however even begin to film as I saw that the ball was coming faster towards the rightfield foul line that originally anticipated. Well, Zobrist, being the hard-nosed player he is then starts to spring full out towards the wall just beyond the Checker’s Bullpen Cafe area.
It by and far the play of the year so far for the Rays, and I truly think someone will have to almost dive into the crowd to get a better awe from the fans than that awesome catch last night. So about two minutes after all of this had happened, I looked to the wall and saw that the wooden baseboard had cracked about 8 inches and might have absorbed the blunt of the blow. But then I looked about 3 inches to the west of where he hit and there was a steel pipe extending from the floor mount to the top of the wall that he missed when he hit it at full speed.
Thank goodness he just glanced the other direction, or the effects of that pole adding in the force of the collision would have had a far different effect on Zobrist and the Rays. Also a great factor in all of this was the added rubberized matting put down by the Rays two season ago to help the players get a grip on the painted surface of the passageway back beyond the rightfield line. This is a area for the players to mingle and stretch before going in from the Bullpen.
The mat was originally put in after several players took a ice skating type fall after their sharp metal spikes did not get a firm grip on the painted concrete surface. This also added in a more comfortable landing for Zobrist during his catch. It might have been a play that was not needed in the game because of the current 11-2 Rays lead at the time. But this Rays team has taken it upon itself to not give the opposition any more outs than possible this season. I am glad that the play was the third out of the inning and Zobrist could relax and get treatment if he needed it before heading back onto the field.
But most of all I am glad he was okay and can again be the vaccum cleaner of the Rays outfield. It is that kind of heads up play that has defined this team in the last year. Zobrist is a great example of what can be done with sheer emotion and the will to get any ball hit towards you. If you have not seen the video, I have it on my sidebar, and will also include it here: