I watched a good bit of the Yankees 3-2 win over the White Sox on Monday, a game with interesting incidents and completely lame commentary by Jim Kaat and Company. One play which had me startled was Sox LF Scott Podsednik's fine running catch of a foul ball. On the replay, it looked to me like a fan in the front row threw a haymaker at him! Cue the second replay, and it was clear that the fan's hand was balled up in a fist, an intentional punch to be sure, and likely made contact. This was apparent to any couch potato with half an eye on the ballgame, but not to Kaat & Co.
One of my colleagues and I got to talking about lame commentary yesterday, on the heels of another Joe Morgan moment on Sunday night. I was directed to the existence of the fine Fire Joe Morgan blog, which focuses on the highs and lows, mostly lows, of the ESPN baseball crew. Then I brought up the Podsednik incident. How could a commentator miss what was going on there? Well, not everybody missed it. My well-informed colleague pointed out that there is a picture available in an obscure corner of the web, but wondered like myself about the lack of commentary on the incident. Here's the picture:
Make up your own mind about what you see, but do ask yourself what would have happened had Gary Sheffield been involved? In this case, Podsednik bent over a bit (I first thought he was hamming), then sucked it up and threw the ball back into the infield. Incident over. Or no incident, the way the press is playing it (save at the bottom of this column I found by Jay Mariotti).
More should be made of this, I think. Was Yankee security engaged or asleep at the switch? The Red Sox fan who lost his season tickets for mixing it up with Gary Sheffield wants to know. But more importantly, in a period when athletes get plenty of bad press for loutish behavior, Scott Podsednik deserves a commendation. Bravo, Scott, for ignoring the provocation and just playing the game.
Update: Sportsfilter picked this up, and a commenter there linked to video on Mlb.com that has several replays from various angles (see links below the picture on the right). These angles may differ from replays I saw on Monday; at any rate, the fan's hand travels down at first, rather than in full roundhouse right fashion, which is the way it looked to me originally. Several comments at Sportsfilter suggest that the fist may have been an instinctive defensive maneuver, which might be the most likely interpretation. Regardless of that point, full marks to Podsednik, whose facial actions after the catch reveal the need to straighten out gums, lips and teeth from each other.