Boone's botched steal a golden missed opportunity
Posted: Wednesday October 27, 1999 01:34 AM
Bret Boone's ill-fated attempted steal of third in the fourth inning epitomized Atlanta's missed opportunities in Game 3. AP
By John Donovan, CNN/SI
NEW YORK -- Years from now, when the Atlanta Braves look back on this all-but lost World Series, they'll remember Game 3 pop-ups that became home runs and a lead that vanished like a pickpocket in Times Square.
But, mostly, they'll remember missed opportunities. And none was more blown than an ill-timed, ill-executed steal attempt of third base in the fourth inning that cost the Braves a run that could have turned the Series around.
"Boonie [second baseman Bret Boone] is an aggressive player, and I don't fault him for being that," Braves slugger Chipper Jones said after the 6-5, 10-inning deathblow that the New York Yankees laid on the Braves on Tuesday night. "In that situation, obviously, you'd like to hit with a runner in scoring position. But hindsight's 20/20. If he's safe, it's a great play. He's not, so it's not so good."
The Braves had jumped on the Yankees early in Game 3, something they had not done in two impotent outings in the first pair of games in Atlanta. Boone doubled in another run in the top of the fourth, getting the lead to 5-1, and stood in scoring position with one out.
Jones, the team's best RBI man, came to the plate.
Instead of giving Jones a chance, though, Boone took off for third on an 0-1 count. Yankees catcher Joe Girardi wheeled and threw a bullet to third baseman Scott Brosius to nail Boone sliding headfirst into the bag.
"When I slid, I kind of stuck in the dirt," Boone explained. "Joe throws very well. The ball beat me there -- no question."
There actually was some question as to whether Brosius actually put the tag on Boone, who lifted his left hand and tried to slip the right one into the bag. But even Boone admitted that, if the ball beat him there, the call was probably the correct one.
"We were going to steal third base all night long against [Yankees starter Andy] Pettitte. That's the one base you can steal against him," Braves manager Bobby Cox said. Pettitte is a left-hander, so keeping runners close at second base is a difficult job.
"I thought when I took off I had it," Boone said.
Still, the decision to go immediately became a bad one when Jones laced a single to left center two pitches later. The hit would have easily scored Boone and pushed the Braves' lead to 6-1.
Afterward, no one in either clubhouse second-guessed Boone's gutsy decision to steal the base.
"We're going to play our game when we can," Cox said. "We can't steal second off him but we can certainly steal third. We were gone."
Correction: Down 3-0 after Tuesday's loss, the Braves are gone.
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