The idea for Sunday Shenanigans was to cover the weirdest play of the week. Covering possibly the dumbest play in Major League Baseball history was not expected, but instead welcomed. We knew the Pittsburgh Pirates would be bad, but this Thursday brought them to a whole new level.
You can find past entries of Sunday Shenanigans here.
Javy Baez earned his nickname for a reason, and he certainly created some magic on the field this day. Cubs catcher Willson Contreras stood on second base thanks to a stolen base on a pickoff attempt. With two outs, Baez had a chance to drive in a run. He did that… kind of. On a pitch from southpaw Tyler Anderson, Baez grounded the ball towards third base. Erik Gonzalez fielded the ball cleanly, and while his throw was up the line, Baez was still out by a country mile. Then, El Mago decided to get creative.
Instead of being tagged out by Will Craig a few feet in front of him, Baez decided to run back towards home plate. The idea was for Craig to chase him and get into a rundown, potentially leading to Contreras, who moved to third, to score. Somehow, this worked. Right before Baez was at home plate, Craig flipped the ball to catcher Michael Perez, who was too late to tag a sprinting Contreras.
Baez was a spectator to the last part and even played umpire for a second, signaling “safe” before sprinting to first base. Luckily for him, second baseman Adam Frazier was not covering the bag and had an even chance to get to first before Baez. Perez’s throw was behind Frazier and into right field, allowing Baez to dash to second base.
There are endless possibilities of how Pittsburgh could have avoided this. The main one is obvious: There were two outs on the play. If when Baez runs towards home, Craig decides to turn around and step on the bag, the inning is over, with no damage done. Instead, he chased the runner.
Another critical mistake is a matter of seconds. As Craig throws to Perez, Baez was running out of space. Since the runner has to step on first base for the run to count with two outs, there is no point in trying to get Conteras out at home. It seems like everyone forgot how many outs there were. The catcher should know better, and even tag out Baez himself, who seemed to forget he was a live runner as well.
Lastly, Frazier was watching the play too. If he realized that Baez needed to be safe first, then he should have covered first base the second Craig got halfway down the line. Of course, he should not be expecting his teammates to absolutely mess up, but awareness is still key.
The real loser here is Anderson, the pitcher. He did his job, which was to get Baez out. A weak groundball to third did exactly that, and his fielders completely screwed it up. Worse, Ian Happ was able to single Baez home from second base, to make it a 3-0 ballgame.
At the very least, this brought back the amazing “C3P0” score.
— Drew (@PittMich12) May 27, 2021
Of course, the Pirates lost by two runs, two runs that should not have happened. The final score was 5-3. You could argue that the Cubs would win anyway, but this was a failure for the ages. At least it gave us an answer to the question, “Can things get worse for an awful team?”. Yes. The answer is yes.
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