Rays #3 Moment of 2009: “Carl Crawford- Master Theft”
When I was a kid it was pressed upon us at a young age that you should not take things that were not yours. And it was not right to try and deceive or fake your way into getting things under false pretenses. But in the game of baseball, the art of stealing bases is not only legal, its is a right of passage. For if you can gain the speed, the quick jump, and possess the right angles to slide in safely into the bag, you are a valuable weapon in your team’s arsenal.
And for this reason, the stolen base has been considered an art form in the game of baseball. Some can get extra bases because of simple pitching mistakes, but the rare few can also use their minds, bodies and their gazelle-like speed to transfer the game into another dimension. And that is why my Number #3 Rays Moment of 2009 has to be the base stealing display put on by Carl Crawford on May 3,2009.
And for years, the Tampa Bay Rays have had one of the Major League’s best at this art form. Carl Crawford has always been known for his quick speed out of the batters’ box to first base, but he truly holds court between the base paths in the American League. And if you have the pleasure to watch him do it game after game, you are watching someone who has not only given his team an instant advantage, but someone who take the chaos of his wild swinging arms and legs flailing as he runs, and combine the action with his tongue just outside his lower lip to bring a unison of movement while stealing a base.
He is considered to be a tick faster then Stolen Base King and Hall of Famer Rickey Henderson, and to see him run from first to third on a play, you would be banking on him falling. But rarely does he make a mistake running on the base paths, and even stole 30 straight bases this season before finally being caught stealing second base.
But on May 3, 2009, not only did Crawford tie the modern day record for stolen bases in a game with 6 stolen bases on the day, he also went 4 for 4 with a walk to set up his record tying feat. Proving once again that he is a deadly offensive weapon for the Rays. Only 4 players had equaled that feat since the 1900’s, and now Crawford’s name would be remembered among them.
Crawford sent the spikes he used that day to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York at their request. So if you get a chance to go to the museum this off season, you will be able to see the footwear he wore during that game against the rival Red Sox. Also during that game he became the first major leaguer in 97 years to have 6 steals and 4 or more hits in a game. The last one to post that feat was Eddie Collins on the 1912 Philadelphia Athletics.
At that point in the season he was already the fourth best All Time in steals with 391 stolen bases in 383 attempts (83.3 percent rate). His 83.3 rate ties him with former Royal great Willie Wilson for the all time AL mark. And he is still young. Considering he is not even near his 30th birthday and he just might set a few more records before all is said and done in his career.
I have to tell you, I was in the stadium on that day, and I was probably as nervous as everyone else wondering if he was going to try and steal a seventh base that night. With Evan Longoria at the plate you ached and arched your back with every pitch wondering if he was again going to sprint off of first base and try and set a new record. But he never did.
And it was not learned until after the game that Crawford did not even know the importance of the event, or he might have tried for a seventh base. But that is the glitz and glamor of Crawford. He was thinking about the team first, and not thinking of personal gains or records for himself. And that makes him more valuable to this Rays team.