I don’t…I just…huh? Normal humans can’t move that way, can’t react in that manner.
All standard reactions to watching Ednel Javier Baez conduct his daily regimen of wizardry on the diamond. First it was the slide-to-flip-to-barehand-to-throw-from-butt play that might have been the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen. Even more amazing than the time I saved those old people from that nursing home fire. Or the time I ate my weight at Godfather’s pizza.
Then, in the very next game, he went diving into the stands to retire J.T. Realmuto, who was the hitter in question during the first insane play. Wait a minute, this is all starting to make sense. MUTO (Massive Unidentified Terrestrial Organism) are the fictional antagonists in the recent Godzilla reboot. But if J.T. is the real MUTO, that means…JAVY BAEZ IS GODZILLA.
And here we’ve been calling him a unicorn this whole time. Eh, I guess one mythological creature’s just as good as another, right? If you need a few moments to let the magnitude of this revelation sink in, I totally get it. Just be sure to keep reading so you can get to the video of this most recent jaw-dropper.
Baez was back at it again Wednesday in Cincy. This time he was making magic from second base, as he turned an unlikely double play to end the 5th inning. Joey Votto had walked to open the frame and was still on first when Jay Bruce came up with one out (Brandon Phillips lined out). Bruce chopped one weakly to the left side and Baez’s path to the ball took him right to an advancing Votto.
Because the runner was passing him, Baez had to turn to his right in order to apply the tag, which he did. But that also meant he had to pirouette so he could make the throw. What’s the big deal about that, you might ask. Second basemen have to pivot all the time on double plays. Yeah, but a right-handed player would be able to turn into the throw and square up in those circumstances. In this case, Baez had to do a 360 — while still moving forward, mind you — to get himself in position to fire to Rizzo.
He took just a split second to plant his right foot after spinning so that he could prevent all the movement from transferring into the throw and forcing it to sail wide. Seeing him stop for that fraction of an instant and then lay out was almost like watching a pole vaulter. I can’t think of any other way to describe it. The resulting toss wasn’t perfect, but Anthony Rizzo didn’t have to go digging it out of the dirt either.
Here, just watch for yourself:
I’m running out of new things to say about this kid, but I’m sure not getting tired of watching him play. It’s like watching a great artist or musician at work; even if you have a good working knowledge of their craft, to see it performed or created at the highest levels is just…wow. The confluence of innate talent and body control with years of practice is something to behold.
All you can do when you see something like this is smile, which is exactly what Javy did as he lifted himself up and jogged to the dugout. If I didn’t know any better, I’d say he even amazes himself from time to time.