On Thursday afternoon Javier Baez hit a routine ground ball to third that 999 times out of 1,000 would result in an out. This was that one outlier.
The Cubs shortstop turned futility into brilliance as he danced along the foul line back towards home plate. It was enough that fans and announcers chuckled at the silliness of it all — until it stopped being a joke.
While the Pirates were fixated in tagging out Baez, they totally missed Wilson Contreras stealing home. By the time the Pirates finally noticed what was happening it was too late, and then everything got even funnier. Taking their attention off Baez, he was able to easily take first. Then, somehow, Pittsburgh forgot about him AGAIN, allowing him to take second.
Flabbergasted announcers could only react, imploring him to try and take third, because obviously he was “invisible.” Now look, this is definitely some brilliance on behalf of Baez, but make no mistake: This is also one of the most embarrassing defensive plays in MLB history courtesy of the Pirates. It’s like the entire team forgot the most rudimentary rules of baseball, instead flailing around the field like the Keystone Cops in a vaudeville movie.
It’s the kind of play that can’t even be forgiven in little league, let alone the bigs — and that’s what makes this all so great. It’s so refreshing to see millionaire athletes screw up so badly they look human. Not to mention that baseball is at its best when it marries incredible player skill, with utterly ludicrous screw ups, and that might make this one of the best plays I have ever seen in my life.