By now you’ve probably seen the video, if you weren’t up early this morning to witness it live on MLB Network.
Orioles center fielder Adam Jones made the play of the World Baseball Classic tournament Saturday evening in San Diego, leaping high over the wall in the seventh inning of a two-run game to rob a sure homer off the bat of his Orioles teammate and Dominican Republic third baseman Manny Machado.
The fans behind Jones had their mouths agape watching an incredible feat of athleticism. Team USA pitcher Tyler Clippard screamed “Oh my God.” And Machado could only smirk at his buddy’s heroics while rounding first. Machado took off his helmet and extended it toward Jones in a sign of deference.
Team USA went on to score two more, win 6-3 and head to the Final Four to play Team Japan on Tuesday in Los Angeles. They sent the defending champion Dominican Republic team packing; Machado and catcher Welington Castillo will be back in Orioles’ camp soon.
At the postgame news conference: Jones said this about the catch: “I’m still in kind of shock that I even got to that ball. I mean, off the bat I’m just like this ball’s hit really far, so just keep going, keep going. You know this California air’s going to slow it down, and just never quit. That’s just the style I play with. I don’t mind running into a wall or two. I just kept going after the ball.”
And he said this about doing it to Machado: “We’ve got six months to be next to each other and close to each other, so I’m pretty sure I’m going to give him some ribbing about it. And he robbed me earlier in the first inning too. So, it was just a little payback just on a different situation.”
Jones also was asked to compare Saturday’s catch with the one Los Angeles Angels’ center fielder Mike Trout made against J.J. Hardy at Camden Yards in 2012.
“I remember that catch Trout made on J.J. It was pretty impressive, but that was the (first) inning of just a random game,” Jones said. “This was on a different scale, different magnitude. Unbelievable catches, both of them. Just showing the athleticism that we both have. ”
Here’s what manager Buck Showalter had to say:
“Oh my goodness. Unfortunately, I saw it live (because he was still awake after midnight in Florida). It was a great moment. I loved the way Manny handled it. If you didn’t know they were teammates before the game, you know it now. I don’t know about ribbing. It’s one of those things sometimes life’s greatest moments show themselves in the silence. The thing I loved about it the most was that there was a Yankees fan that was trying to get into the field of play that (Jones) took it away from. That was probably the highlight of it for me. … I think we’ve all seen as good if not better (from Jones).”
I also asked a bunch of Jones’ teammates about it this morning. Here are the responses:
Reliever Darren O’Day:
“When I watched it this morning I had goosebumps. I actually fell asleep with the phone in my hand. I was watching the game. Middle of the night, checked the score and I saw they won. I was pretty excited about it. I got to see the highlights today. It was ridiculous. It’s pretty cool he did it to Manny and it was kind of a momentum thing there. It was pretty awesome.”
On how long Jones will rib Machado about it: “Boy, I think it’s something he’ll always have. Just the chances of two teammates facing off like that in a decisive moment of a game where both sides clearly care so much, the passion is written all over these teams. I’m sure he’ll joke about it for a long time, especially for that personality, playing center field, and to have done that to his buddy. So I’m sure we’ll be hearing about it for quite some time.”
On whether it was better than Mike Trout’s catch a few years ago at Camden Yards against J.J. Hardy: “Athletically, I think you’ve got to interview Mr. Statcast for that one. In terms of how much it meant to the game, it doesn’t compare. Adam’s was way bigger.”
First baseman Chris Davis
“It wasn’t that cool. It really wasn’t. I’ve seen way better. I’ve seen him do way better. I thought it was awesome that it was Machado that hit it. I’m sure there won’t be any trash talking for the next, oh, four years.
“I mean they were talking trash before they even left. With those two, there’s no telling. It was a good catch. For Jonesy, he does stuff like that all the time. In my opinion, he’s the best center fielder in the game, not just because of that, but the way he plays balls off the wall, the throws he makes.
“He made a play earlier in the game with runners on second and third, shallow pop fly, caught the ball and threw a two-hopper in. A lot of people would have been like, ‘Man, that guy might have been able to score on that throw.’ But what you don’t realize is how smart he actually was to throw that ball low. He bounced it twice because he didn’t want to throw it high, didn’t want to take a chance on it sailing. Little things like that.
“I hold a little bit higher bar, the bar is set higher for Jonesy, because of his history and what he has done since I have been here. That catch was maybe like a two or three, tops (on a scale of 1 to 10).”
Outfielder Michael Bourn
Bourn didn’t see the game. Here was his reaction when he saw the highlight:
“Ooooh. He’s a gangster on the field. A gangster on the field. That’s all you have to say. Tell him I said that.”
Outfielder Chris Dickerson
“It’s not your home ballpark, but Jonesy has every stadium mapped out. He knows exactly how many steps he has in that case and where that ball has to be. It’s not by luck. He doesn’t just happen to be in that spot. There’s no coincidence. That’s all mapped out and calculated to make that catch. It was no surprise. It’s a low wall. He knew exactly where he was and what he is capable of in that moment. Probably got a great jump off the bat.
“It’s very difficult. Maybe for Adam it’s not as difficult as it looks … For him, it’s almost routine given that low wall and probably the trajectory of it, but that’s how good Adam is. It probably felt more routine than it really looked.”
On Jones ribbing Machado: “It’ll be nonstop. Knock them out of the tournament and do that? Yeah, Adam will hold that in his back pocket. So, if there is any trash talking throughout the season, he’s always gonna pull that card, for sure.”
Infielder Robert Andino
One of Jones’ best friends., Andino didn’t know what had happened until he came into the clubhouse Sunday morning – “I have three kids, man. I was asleep.”
As soon as he saw the video, he grabbed his phone and texted Jones.
“Hey man, you like playing in San Diego, eh? That’s cold-blooded. On Manny, too. Cold blooded.”
Catcher Caleb Joseph
“Sadly, it didn’t surprise me. He does it all the time. He’s the most underrated center fielder in the game. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a ton of great center fielders out there, but you don’t see Jonesy making highlight catches on TV because he’s not diving. He’s getting to them even faster and at a more efficient route than all the others. So, he is catching them standing up. You rarely see him dive, and if you do, it’s always on the Top 10. But he doesn’t have to dive on most of them because he gets such incredible jumps.
“You see the ball go up and I just watched how Jonesy was running to it. I felt like he had a bead on it, that he was going to make a leaping catch. It was kind of expected, I know it sounds terrible. But when you play with Adam, it’s a fluke if he doesn’t – not make that play – but make a tremendous effort to catch that ball. That would have been a fluke.
“I think there will probably be some serious banter about that, not just for the first two or three days back, but for months, for weeks. This could be something that is brought up throughout the course of the entire season, which will be fun for us Americans.”
On whether Joseph will rib Machado about it:
“I didn’t play. I’ll nudge Jonesy to bring it up, but I won’t bring it up.”
On the fans’ reaction in the stands: “You’re seeing this white thing coming in and, out of nowhere, you see this large man jump and swoop and grab it. It’s almost like an animal grabbing a piece of bait in front of the tourists at the lion’s cage. Seriously, (the fans are) not able to focus on both at once. They see the ball and they probably just stick to the ball and then, out of nowhere, here comes Jonesy, and he just grabs it. It’s got to be impressive. You’ve seen the look on their faces, it’s pure amazement. Yeah, (teammates) are amazed about it, but some of these people (in the stands), it’s like their hearts are about to stop.”