Today is the day that Seattle Mariners pitchers and catchers report for Spring Training in Peoria, Arizona. It is also the day that the Yankees pitchers and catchers report so today is an ideal day for a What If? card based on a significant play involving recently retired Yankee great Derek Jeter.
It is Game 1 of the 1996 ALCS, the Orioles are up 4-3 over the Yankees in the 8th inning and Yankee Captain Derek Jeter is up to bat. Orioles reliever Armando Benitez winds up and the pitch… Jeter smacks the ball deep to right field. Right Fielder Tony Tarasco backs up to wall and lines up beneath it to make the easy catch but a 12-year old boy, Jeffrey Maier, reaches over the wall and grabs the ball mere inches above Tarasco’s glove.
Right Field umpire Rich Garcia rules the play a homerun instead of the correct ruling of fan interference. This tied up the game and in the 11th inning Bernie Williams knocks a walk-off homer to win the game, the Yankees go on to win the series 4-1 games. Garcia later admitted that he made the wrong call but it didn’t matter.
To Orioles fans this is a deep open wound to their heart so what better way than to add to the pain with a What If? triple relic card. The pieces are Jeter’s bat, Tarasco’s glove and the ball caught by Maier.
Don't worry Cubs fans, I didn't forget your missed interference call but you will have to wait until another day for that What If? card.