If you asked J.J. Hardy, he would say he’s happy his team got the win. Because the Baltimore Orioles did, in fact, beat the Los Angeles Angels by a score of 3-2 tonight. The O’s pushed across the go-ahead run in the 8th inning and then held the Angels from scoring with two on in the bottom of the ninth.
But if you asked J.J. Hardy if, in his heart of hearts, he wasn’t a little peeved with the Angels outfielders, he’d be lying if he said anything other than “yes.”
Tonight, for the second time in less than one year, the center fielder for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim stole a home run away from J.J. Hardy. Servicable as he might be, J.J. Hardy is not the kind of man who can afford to give home runs away willy nilly. They’re crucial to his “excellent defense and surprising pop” two-pronged attack. Manny Machado is breathing down his neck, trying to steal his job, man. He needs these homers, homey.
The play you see above took place in the first inning of Tuesday’s Orioles/Angels game in Baltimore. Peter Bourjos, the Halos’s defense-first (and second. and third.) outfielder ranged straight back over his right shoulder, leaping to made a spectacular catch; stealing a sure homer from the Orioles shortstop.
Flashback to June 27th, 2012 when Mike Trout famously did this with Hardy at the plate in the first inning of a game between the Angels and Orioles:
Two of the nicest, nay, greatest catches you’ll ever see. Let’s compare.
- Went straight back, away from the plate. Added degree of difficulty
- Actually struck the wall before catching the ball, which is slightly insane.
- Made a strong throw back to the cutoff man, nearly doubling off Manny Machado at first base.
- May or may not have had his BACK TO THE PLATE when he made the catch
- Total hang time of Hardy’s 2013 drive: a shade over 5 seconds
Seriously, back to the field!
- Appeared to cover more ground
- Nearly jumped over the wall
- Fully extended when he made the catch
- Extra style points for pounding the chest
- Is probably the best catch I’ve ever seen
- Total hang time of the 2012 shot: approx. 4.75 seconds.
That hang time was for the ball in the air, not Trout. He clocked in around three seconds, I imagine.
It’s tough to choose. Luckily, we don’t have to! We just get to enjoy two tremendous plays.
J.J. Hardy isn’t so lucky. When asked about the deja vu moment by Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun, he offered only the Seth & Amy defense before paying deference to the two tremendous plays:
“Really?” Hardy said he said to himself. “With a big question mark.”
“They’re both tied for first,” said Hardy when asked which was better.
What more can he say? If he finishes his career two homers short of 200, at least he knows who to blame…