Triple Stealin’: Who did it best?
King of all
Vanderbilt Baseball visual media, Will Hinson (AKA @TheVUCount) Vanderbilt media, Brandon Barca (@BrandonBarca), delivered this morning with the Youtube clip for Vanderbilt’s triple steal against. The video raises the question of “who did it best” between the Xavier Turner-led called triple steal against Lipscomb or the Anthony Gomez-led “go if you got it” steal against Florida 10 months ago.
The triple play is something you don’t see every day. It has only occurred twice on the Major League level in the last 26 years, and even then the last instance (by Cleveland in 2008) was on a blown pickoff pickle in which the runners merely beat the throws. So let’s take a look at the two times Vanderbilt pulled off the feat (intentionally, at that).
Jump inside for thoughts and to vote.
Anthony Gomez, Conrad Gregor & Spencer Navin vs. Florida, May 2012
Facing Austin Maddox during a huge 9th inning comeback, Coach Corbin gave Anthony Gomez the freedom to steal home if he thought he had it. Vanderbilt racked up, if I recall, an SEC record 6 or 7 steals off Maddox in the 9th inning and the Gators were rattled. With Maddox going from the windup and with righty Will Cooper at the plate, Gomer broke for home and slid in with ease ahead of Mike Zunino’s tag.
Conrad Gregor followed pretty quickly in stealing third, but Spencer Navin was nearly gunned down on a delayed steal of second (Navin had to be sure that both Gomez and Gregor were really going, so as to avoid a pickle). This was not a called triple steal, so much as a straight steal of home followed by reactionary steals of third and then second.
On the “why it was best” scale, you have to note Gomez accomplishing this on the biggest stage in NCAA baseball other than Omaha (the SEC Tournament at Hoover), and for the relative ease and style with which he nabbed the base. Adding to it is the fact that, while all three are athletic, none of Gomez, Gregor and Navin are known as true burners.
Xavier Turner, Jack Lupo & Tony Kemp vs Lipscomb, March 2013
Perhaps emboldened by the success of the Gomez-led triple steal, Coach Corbin actually put the triple steal on last night against Lipscomb. With the bases juiced and two out, the Bison’s Jacob Knott went from the windup. Corbin asked Turner if he thought he could steal home. With a clear “yes” in reply, the fates were set and all three runners were affirmatively given the steal sign.
Unlike Gomez’ theft, Turner came sliding in hot and with a tag coming immediately. As you can see on the video, this was not a call without dispute. As with Tony Kemp’s attempted steal of home earlier this year (and I might add that I thought Kemp avoided the tag there), the catcher was ready for Turner and the play was bang bang. But while Kemp was called out, Turner got his hand just on the plate before the tag got his arm. The umpire was in good position and had a perfect view, though the Lipscomb coach disagreed with the result heartily. On the play, both Lupo and Kemp easily nabbed second and third, respectively.
On the “why it was best” scale, you primarily have to look at the degree of difficulty. With Mike Yastrzemski up, the catcher had a clear view of the play and was able to get out in front of it to lay on the tag, a luxury not afforded Zunino against Gomez’ slide. On the other hand, the collective speed of Turner, Lupo and Kemp exceeds that of the Gomez-Gregor-Navin tandem. You also have to respect the audacity of not just giving the guy on third the green light, but actively telling all three runners to steal. On top of that, Turner not only gets into home, but he also executes a perfect take out slide on Yastrzemski.
What Say You?
Now’s your chance to vote. Who did it better? Anthony Gomez, et al, or Xavier Turner, et al? Leave your rationale below in the comments section.