Today isn’t the worst day to be a Cubs fan. In the grand scheme of things, this is still the same team that won the World Series in 2016, has been to the postseason in three (about to be four) consecutive seasons, has reached three straight NL Championship Series, and is currently the owner of the best record in the National League with only five games to play.
Of course, this is also a team that has lost four of six, a team on the precipice of blowing what was a 5.0-game lead on September 2nd, a team that’s already lost their big free agent starter, Yu Darvish, and closer, Brandon Morrow, to injuries, a team whose MVP, Kris Bryant, was finally getting back into the swing of things before getting beaned in the wrist last night, and a team, whose starting shortstop is almost certainly going to be suspended any minute.
Can I interest you in some Javy Baez highlights to cleanse your pallet? I thought so.
Last night was brutal for the Cubs, no doubt, but even in losses, El Mago finds a way to bring some magic into our lives. This time, it was three absolutely beautiful defensive plays. Let’s start with the sweet and unconventional double play turned in the second.
With a man on first and one out, the pitcher, Chris Archer, squared up to bunt, but popped it straight down into the plate. Willson Contreras, never settling for the easy play, fired to second base, which gave Baez the opportunity to do something pretty special:
Not only Baez complete the double play, he came off the bag to field Contreras’ throw, audibled to plant a tag on the runner (instead of getting the force), spun in a circle, and made a strong, accurate throw to get Archer *just in time* at first. That is seriously one of the more impressive and smooth plays you’ll see from him – even if it required a somewhat slow sprint to first from Archer.
Two innings later, Baez decided to show off his arm:
Although the glove work on this play was just fine (it was well-executed, of course, but it was nothing special), Baez reminded us all why his arm may be the best (infield arm) in baseball. That throw was made just a step off the outfield grass, closer to third than second, and as Baez was running away from first, but he still managed to sling it across his body to Anthony Rizzo in time. Unbelievable.
But of course, Baez needed to do something with his glove – less people think he’s only elite and tagging and throwing – so in the eighth inning he did this (at a different position, naturally):
That is a rather beautiful – well, impressive – diving stab by Baez, which ends with a full on face plant into the outfield grass. Give some credit to whoever told him to stand there, but boy did Baez come through.
He also gave me the opportunity to make this, which the world obviously and desperately needed to see:
— Michael Cerami (@Michael_Cerami) September 26, 2018
Yeah, I think you can say what I do is art. For sure.
Now, I understand that these defensive adventures may not do much to calm your nerves regarding the division, but you can still enjoy them, right?