Don't Forget About Defense

by Ben Burns

"Chicks dig the long ball." Remember that Nike commercial? It was on the air back in 1999, so perhaps not. It featured Glavine and Maddux, a couple of Cy Young pitchers, trying to learn to hit like Mark McGwire, in order to get noticed by women. Google it.

While that commercial aired more than 20 years ago, home runs remain the current rage. That's because teams which hit more "long balls" than their opponent have won nearly every game this postseason. 

While hitting home runs is clearly very important, it doesn't mean that teams can forget about the little things. Like playing defense. 

That was evident when watching Game 2 of the ALCS. I had liked what I'd seen defensively, from the Rays, in Game 1. In Game 2, the Rays took their defense to another level. Margot's highlight reel catch was only one of many high quality defensive plays. 

On the other side, Altuve's mindless throwing error extended Tampa's first inning. (Gurriel was originally given the error but they changed it and gave it to Altuve, who would go on to commit another.) The Rays made the most of it, their next batter (Margot) making the Astros pay with a 3-run home run.   

Remember, home runs may get you noticed. But pitching and defense still win ball games. 

All photographic images used for editorial content have been licensed from the Associated Press.

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