My Tennessee vacation is over. I have returned to my home (and my regular job) in Maryland after a very pleasant eight hour drive.
And while I was on the road I missed one of the greatest plays in all of sports.
I have been watching or listening on the radio for a lot of home runs, including McGwire’s historic shot in 1998. I have seen or heard some triple plays, and was even in the stands when Felix Pie started one from the warning track in center one evening in Nashville. I have listened to no-hitters and marathon games, pitchers hitting grand slams and sluggers beating out bunt singles. Name the play and I have probably either seen it or listened live as Pat Hughes described it.
Except for the steal of home.
In my book a straight steal of home is pretty much the pinnacle of sports. Basketball has nothing to compare with it (and I say that as a Hoosier raised on that sport). Football offers the 109+ yard kickoff return, or possibly a well executed fake punt, but I think both fall short in terms of total epicness. Hockey, soccer, tennis, curling… all the other second tier sports come up short. The straight steal of home is among the rarest plays in the game. It is one of the toughest. It is one of the most unexpected. It is among the most exciting. It is among the most stunning.
And it is the play Arismendy Alcantara completed last night. Twenty four hours earlier and I would have been in the park to see it. Fortunately, even though I missed it live, we can all enjoy it via YouTube, thanks to the Tennessee Smokies. It’s only 15 seconds long, so don’t feel guilty about watching that clip seven or eight times in a row. I did. Boom:
And so my quest continues. One day I will finally witness, live, in person or otherwise, a steal of home. In the meantime I can watch Alcantara and ponder what might have been had I been able to stay in the mountains just one day longer.
Scores From Yesterday
This is the last day of the vacation-shortened single page links. The usual game scores will be back next week. For now, though, box scores and recaps are just an extra click away from this page.
- Josh Vitters is again injured and possibly on his way back to the disabled list, and that is a significant disappointment. He only recently reached the 100 plate appearances plateau for the season, and his numbers are quite good. His line currently reads .295/.380/.511 with 11 walks and 19 strikeouts. Roughly a third of his hits have gone for extra bases, including 4 doubles and 5 homers. Those are good numbers. Even with these injuries, I think Vitters could be a factor in the battle for the Chicago left field job next spring … if he’s still with the organization.
- Speaking of players who will be getting a long look in spring training, as of last night Javier Baez‘s page on Baseball Reference had the following numbers: .274/.333/.575 with 47 strikeouts in 159 plate appearances. When I turn those figures into a K%, I get 29.5597%. That places Baez under 30% for his Double A season, and the trend line is still downwards. I do not think he will open the year in Chicago, but I suspect he will arrive on the North Side sometime in the middle of the 2014 season.
- Kris Bryant has also been drawing a lot of speculation lately, but I do not see any way the Cubs vault him from Daytona to Chicago in one winter. I’m not yet convinced he will even start next year in Tennessee, and that would almost be a requirement for Bryant to arrive in Chicago in 2014. For now I still have the slugging third baseman arriving about a year behind Baez, at best.
- And that, in turn, could give the Cubs a chance to look at Mike Olt in the second half of next year. Yes, the same Mike Olt who has an OPS of just .479 for Iowa. That is not the important number with this guy. We know from his career rates that Olt can draw walks and hit for power; those skills are not really in question. His problem was making contact. Through 76 Plate Appearances his K% is only 26.3% with Iowa. Given his power, that is an acceptable (if still a little high) rate for Triple A. We do not want to ignore the rest of his season, but progress is progress. Olt should be among the young Cubs under scrutiny in Arizona in the spring.
- Something to get on your calendar now for the (minor league) offseason: Kane County is hosting a Craft Beer Fest on Saturday afternoon, September 21 from Noon until 4 p.m. at Fifth Third Bank Ballpark. Tickets, including special VIP packages are now on sale here, or you can purchase at the Cougars’ box office during business hours or by calling the Cougars at (630) 232-8811. The 21-and-over event also has a designated driver package with unlimited soda and water as well. You can see more details on the delicious-sounding event here.