Before yesterday, the Chicago Cubs had caught some really tough breaks over a couple of weeks (the baseball world just rolled their collective eyes at a writer (me) feeling sorry for the best team in baseball).
But they did.
Until last night, for example, the Cubs had gone 4-8 in their last twelve games, losing multiple times to less competitive teams like the Padres and Brewers in a series of very close games. Given that I’m an unashamed, die-hard Cubs fan (and a fan of the Oscar-snubbed feature film, ‘Die Hard’), you won’t be surprised to learn that I was overjoyed with the start they got off to against the Cardinals.
In the first inning yesterday, the Cubs scored six runs off Michael Wacha, a pitcher whose number they seem to have had for about a year now. But it wasn’t just the runs that excited me so. It was how they were scoring them. Jorge Soler walked with the bases loaded, 39-year-old catcher David Ross doubled out to center field (on a ball that bounced off Randal Grichuk’s mitt), and pitcher Jason Hammel hit a double of his own that scored two runs.
Luck, the Cubs had all of it …
… until it temporarily transferred back to its original spawning location: St. Louis. In the second inning, Kris Bryant hit a one out single on a line drive to left field. Then, Anthony Rizzo stepped up to the plate and hit a blooper into shallow left center that looked like absolutely no one would get, and Bryant was already cruising around second on his way to third. Of course, in the home of luck, Cardinals shortstop Aledmys Diaz (who was supposed to be a fringe bench guy, by the way), made an absolutely phenomenal catch and quickly doubled off Bryant at first:
This play is equal parts skill and luck. I’ll start with the skill. Credit where credit’s due, Diaz ran a really long way to get to that spot. That’s one of the deepest (into the outfield) catches you’ll ever see an infielder make. He did get there and he got there quickly.
Okay, that was skill.
HOWEVA, the catch itself was unbelievably lucky, right?. Looking back over his shoulder, Diaz wasn’t really sure where that ball was going to end up. In a last ditch effort to make the play, he swipes the glove across his body and the ball just falls right in. At that point, doubling off Bryant was a piece of cake, because, like everyone else, no one thought Diaz had a play on that ball.
Un-freakin-believable, but good for him.