Tal's Hill in Minute Maid Park in Houston is one of baseball's most unique ballpark features, as there's literally a hill by the warning track in center field. A hill with a flagpole on it, we'd like to point out. Yeah, unique is the right word.
At the very least, that's in the running for the defensive play of the year at this point. Just a ridiculously great catch.
It is far from the only great catch in Tal's Hill history, though, and I think it's time to establish a Tal's Hill Degree of Difficulty scale -- similar to a scale from 1-10, except we'll reference past plays instead of simple numbers. Here is the three-part scale.
The Michael Bourn (Easiest)
A legitimately great catch, no doubt about it, but Bourn had the ball sized up before he ever set foot on the hill. Bonus points for catching the ball while sitting on his backside. In terms of Tal Hill's catches, this one is at the bottom of the totem pole.
The Carlos Gomez (Medium)
Tuesday's catch, which you can see all the way at the top of the post. Over the shoulder, halfway up the hill. Would have been a great catch had he done it on flat ground.
The Lance Berkman (Most Difficult)
Now we're talking. Over the shoulder and to almost the very top of the hill, plus the center fielder really had no business playing center field. That catch happened in 2002, and I love Berkman as much as the next guy, but there's a reason that was his only season as a full-time center fielder. That dude was built for a corner spot or first base. Easily one of the best defensive plays of the 2000s.
Keep in mind that the game situation does not affect the Tal's Hill Degree of Difficulty scale. One-run game, 10-run game ... they all count the same. Going forward we have the Bourn, the Gomez and the Berkman to reference, though I reserve the right to make unannounced and arbitrary changes pending future catches.