I know a lot of words, but I’ve got nothing in the mental Rolodex to adequately describe what Javier Baez just did. There was some unintelligible yelling at the TV when it happened and I think I might have formed something akin to “Stop!” and “No!”
With two out in the 6th, Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto laced a ball to the gap between short and third that Baez, playing at the hot corner, had to range to his left to knock down. The ball took a little hop as Javy slid to his knees, kicking off the heel of his glove and popping several feet above his head. Never taking his eye off the ball, Baez snatched it out the air with his bare hand and fired to first from his backside.
First base ump D.J. Reyburn initially called Realmuto out, but the Marlins challenged the call and it was eventually overturned. Under the old rules, this would have stood as an out and would have been one of the greatest plays anyone has ever seen. Well, everyone but the guy on Twitter who was telling me that professional athletes are expected to do stuff like this once in a while.
No, sir, no they are not.
From the presence of mind to stay with the play and locate the ball in the first place to the arm strength to even make the play close, this is something you won’t see again if you live to watch baseball for another hundred years. As such, I feel like Don Mattingly should have just kept that challenge in his pocket and tipped his cap to the superior effort. Or that the folks back in New York should’ve just stared in awe at the magnificence of what was unfolding before them and refused to overturn it.
It might sound hypocritical for me to be lobbying for the call on the field to stand in this case, given that I’m generally in favor of getting it right. Can you really get more right than what Javy did though? Oh, man, that is just some sweet, sweet action. It’s so beautiful, like seeing Michelangelo’s David or Boticelli’s The Birth of Venus in person. It’s also a little depressing when you realize that you’ll probably never create something so magically perfect.
I’m going to choose to focus on perfect as I gaze longingly at that Vine loop for the next couple hours.