Derek Jeter made better plays on the diamond. He even made at least one play that is more famous. Still, it's likely that no other moment in his career whips Jeter fans into a frenzy like his running catch and head-first dive into the stands against the hated Red Sox at Yankee Stadium on July 1, 2004.
Three years earler, Jeter had made a similar but tougher catch with bigger stakes against the A's in the 2001 playoffs, in the same series where he also made a famous flip home to nail Jeremy Giambi at the plate -- which is widely regarded as Jeter's finest moment on the field.
What was so special about The Dive? Well, it was against the Red Sox. And Jeter shed some blood and needed to be checked at a hospital. That probably gets to the bottom of the primal reaction from many fans.
The Yankees were 7 1/2 games ahead of the Red Sox in the AL East at the time, and still held psychological dominion over their foes because of Boston's meltdown in the playoffs in 2003. Grady Little, Pedro Martinez and Daddy. So it wasn't like all of that was at stake if Jeter doesn't make the catch. But it was agains the Sawx...
The Jeter catch happened in the 12th inning, with the Yankees and Red Sox tied 4-all, after Trot Nixon stayed alive with a one-two count by fouling off a pitch against right-hander Tanyon Sturtze. The ball would have dropped in for hit and, with two outs, two runs would have scored, except for:
The Associated Press reported in its game story -- a 5-4 Yankees victory in 13 innings -- that "The All-Star shortstop made one of the greatest plays of his championship career."
Jeter left the ballpark with the face of beat-up boxer, a bloodied chin and a red, swollen cheek. He also had a bruised shoulder. X-Rays were negative.
Jeter's catch on pinch-hitter Trot Nixon's popup with runners on second and third stunned the 55,265 fans and also scared them. They gasped when the replay was shown on the video board of him flying over the photographers' well and into the seats.
"When he went into the stands, you knew he's going to get hurt," Cairo said. "You just hope it's not bad."
Jorge Posada was among several teammates that walked off with Jeter.
"He says he's playing tomorrow. That's the way Derek is, he has that intensity," Posada said.
Jeter, already revered nearly beyond compare with the Yankees, had sealed an unbreakable allegiance with his own blood. Nobody makes Jeter bleed his own blood except Jeter!
His flip against the A's in Game 3 of the ALDS is more famous.
And his tumble into the stands against the A's in Game 5 of the same series was a better play than the one against Boston.
As a reader pointed out on Twitter, a case could be made that this catch by Pokey Reese -- in the same game! -- was better than that of Jeter. It just didn't bleed.
But none of those plays has such an extensive list of reactions railing against the extensive praise of The Dive. Like this post on Bleacher Report that's laid out like Jim Garrison bringing Clay Shaw to trial in "JFK." It asks questions such as:
• Was it a "diving catch" so much as a running catch and a dive?
• Did Jeter really need to dive into the stands?
• How important was the catch?
• Aren't we going a little overboard across the board?
In a way, the discord even factors into what makes a play "great." Jeter surely made greater plays, he just didn't make them against the Red Sox, and he didn't bleed for his trouble.
If you'd like an even deeper look into The Dive, and most of you probably do, watch this video: