Back in the 2013-14 offseason, the Yankees signed both Jacoby Ellsbury and Brian McCann, and they played together for three years before McCann was dealt to the Astros last November. During their time together, McCann was a witness as Ellsbury accomplished one of the most unusual feats in baseball history.
It was just last year that Ellsbury broke Roberto Kelly's single-season record for most times reaching base on catcher's interference. He took it a step beyond by shattering Kelly's mark of eight, tallying nine by the end of July. Ellsbury finished 2016 with 12 -- only one other active player in the Majors (Edwin Encarnacion) even has 10 in his entire career.
So it stands to reason that McCann should be aware of Ellsbury's odd skill, no? Well ...
In the bottom of the fifth inning of Thursday night's game against the Astros, Ellsbury clipped McCann's glove, with the bases loaded, no less. A run scored and Ellsbury moved within one of Pete Rose's all-time catcher's interference record of 29.
It took Rose 3,098 games to reach his 28th interference, which he did in his age-41 season. Remarkably, the 33-year-old Ellsbury has 28 in 1,152 games -- less than half as many. In fact, it was just last week that Ellsbury tallied No. 27.
Perhaps Ellsbury is going after his own single-season record in the process of chasing Rose.
McCann spoke last season about why other catchers sometimes simply have to accept the risk of his then-teammate's penchant for interference. "You still have to frame the baseball," McCann said. "The further you get back, the harder it is to present strikes."
So when he manned the position with Ellsbury at bat, McCann took this idea to heart. Sure enough, he was victimized by the interference, but the long-term strategy paid off, as the Astros won, 3-2. McCann even got to enact a small bit of vengeance by tagging Ellsbury, the potential tying run, out at the plate to end the game.