Anyway, kids, the moral of the story is that headfirst slides are bad, mmmmkay. But if you do happen to develop a hankerin’ for those most dangerous of dives, do it like Javy Baez does. No, wait, don’t. I hate to be Buzz Killington, but there’s just no way you can ever hope to replicate the magical unicorn powers possessed by Mr. Baez. You can’t pull off a veritable game of second-base Twister, or maybe the hokey-pokey: he put his left hand out, he took his left hand back, he put his right hand on, he put his right toe on, then the ump called him out.
Baez, however, knew that he had not been tagged and was channeling Dikembe Mutombo with an emphatic wagging of his left index finger as soon as the call was made. Then he was smiling coyly, shaking his head as he explained to the umpire that the tag never got him. You knew from his reaction that he was safe, and the replay bore it out.
Speaking of replay, I had to wait until late in the evening to see the magic unfold because I was at the Rangers/Yankees game Tuesday night. Even absent live viewing, the descriptions on social media had gotten me pretty wound up to see it. But there’s just no way words can do this play justice. So let’s watch it a couple dozen more times and we’ll meet back up on the other side of the video.
Woow, it just hit the underside of the desk. Again. My first thought is to chalk this up to freakish athleticism, but that’s doing Javy’s presence of mind an incredible disservice. Like the Rizzo slide from last year, this is the kind of move you really can’t teach. I mean, sure, you work on sliding and trying to avoid tags, but it’s one thing to practice a general technique and quite another to execute something with as many moving parts as whatever it was Baez just did.
At the risk of wearing a hole in this already well-worn narrative, this is why this kid is so important to the Cubs. It’s not the majestic swing and the light tower power, though I’m not discounting either, it’s the overall skills in every facet of the game. Certainly arguments could be made for Kris Bryant or Jake Arrieta, but Javier Baez is absolutely in the conversation as the overall best baseball player on this team.
Lest you get the wrong idea, that was not an invitation to open debate, though I’ll gladly engage in some intelligent discourse on the subject. My point is that Joe Maddon has at his disposal a good number of players who can win games in a variety of ways and that Baez is right at the top of that list despite almost looking like a lost cause a couple seasons ago.
Wait, does that mean we’ve got to start rumors about PED use? I think it does.