javier baez defenseThanks to Dr. Buth (or BN’er Jeff, if you prefer) for having me yesterday at Mount Union to speak to his class of bright, attentive students, whose lives have undoubtedly been set upon an entirely new course after receiving and processing the highest truths of life, courtesy of yours truly.

But seriously, it was an enjoyable experience speaking with the class, and hopefully you folks didn’t miss me too much during the day.

  • In a huge moment in last night’s game in the 8th inning, the Pirates were down one with runners on first and third and nobody out. Josh Harrison bounced one to shortstop, and Javy Baez (who keeps showing off his glove) was going to have no real chance at turning two, so he elected to throw home. It was a bullet that cut down Pedro Florimon at the plate thanks to a nice play by Miguel Montero (more on that in a moment). Statcast looked at the play, and, among the incredible items … the throw was nearly 95mph:

  • Did you catch Anthony Rizzo screaming in excitement in the background? There was a lot of discussion about the plate-blocking rule on that one, and, frankly, I thought Miguel Montero was blocking the plate. Although you’re allowed to “block” the plate if the thrown ball takes you into that position, you’re not allowed to block the plate without the ball before the throw occurs. To my eyes, that’s what happened on the play – Montero was blocking, and then the throw came and put him in an even more blocking position. I now accept that I do not understand the rule, or the rule is not being applied clearly and correctly. In any case, it was a great effort by Montero to track that throw, hold his ground, and get the tag down quickly.
  • By the way, a reminder on Baez’s throw: he’s left-handed.
  • Believe it or not, there is a statistical argument – not just a “it’s gotta come from a playoff team” argument – that Anthony Rizzo should win the MVP over Bryce Harper, as laid out here at ESPN. Short version? Harper’s done more overall, but Rizzo’s done more when it mattered the most.
  • Jake Arrieta was awesome again last night, but he’s not letting himself off the hook for the airmailed throw to first that gave the Pirates their first run (CSN, Cubs.com). It’s a reminder that, no matter how good Arrieta gets, he’s never going to be satisfied. It’s an admirable quality.
  • If you missed it last evening, the Cubs revealed their rotation plans for this weekend against the Cardinals.
  • The latest episode of Limited Range with me and Sahadev Sharma.
  • Stan Croussett spoke with Joe Maddon about the value of playing Winter Ball.
  • This is fairly crazy:

  • Also crazy, and good for MIKE OLT!: