There are different kinds of catches in Major League Baseball. Atlanta Braves outfielder Jason Heyward is now responsible for one of the best overall catches of the entire season and the play of the year for the Braves. It wasn’t just okay or simply a good effort; it was unbelievable. Everything about the catch made by Heyward made it that much better from before the crack of the bat until the ball hit leather.
To begin with you have to understand the situation. Braves fans know that Heyward is a great right fielder but he isn’t playing right field right now, he is in center filling in for B.J. Upton. Monday night was only the fifth time in his MLB career that he had played center field. Next understand that the Braves had been no-hit through six innings and had only tied and gained the lead in the game during the top of the ninth inning. At the time of the crucial at-bat there were tying and go-ahead runners on base for the New York Mets.
The Braves had Kimbrel on the mound so Heyward was playing him towards the right-center field gap. The ball then flew towards the wide open left-center field gap. Braves fans will also note that Heyward had only come back on Monday from a tender hamstring that kept him out of the final few days before the all-star break as well. Reports were that he was going to ‘take it easy’.
With his closer throwing pitch and the game on the line, Heyward then took on an attitude that makes him the gold-glove major leaguer he is. He wanted the ball hit in his direction so he could catch it and end the game; wanted to game in his hands. He got his wish. On the crack of the bat he forgot all about the tender hamstring injury and was in an immediate all-out sprint towards the perfect spot to dive for the ball. I think the only person in the stadium that expected Heyward to catch the ball was Heyward himself.
The rest is just instant replay gold. The rainy weather and the all-out dive were perfect. Fist pumps, disbelief on the part of the Braves closer and the Mets players; it was an electrifying play to say the least. That is what major league baseball players are made of and Heyward put yet another star by his name last night. Don’t let me hear a word about him not going all-out ever again. If there were ever an excuse or a reason for him not to, it would have been that play last night. But he didn’t slack up at all and he saved the game with the catch of the year.