I coach my son and a group of 6-8 year olds in rookie Little Leauge and I’m also an avid work-league softball player, so I know my way around some creative and unorthodox baserunning. Actually, it’s not so much the running as it is the poor throws and inability to field them cleanly.
While the Cubs of 2011 might have been somewhat on par with a group of beer-bellied dudes waxing nostalgiac about the perfectly rolled bats that they’d broken in home run derbies or that had been outlawed by various Communist governing bodies, this squad is legit. But that didn’t stop perhaps the most legit of all of them from hearkening back to Billy Badass hanging around the diamond all night just looking for games in which to play the role of ringer.
In the 7th inning of a 1-1 game, Kris Bryant dug in and turned a 99 MPH 4-seamer from Pittsburgh’s Arquimedes Caminero into a 103 MPH liner to the base of the wall in deep left-center, driving in both Jorge Soler and Anthony Rizzo. I don’t have a strong grasp of antiquated mathmatics, but I’m guessing Bryant altered the shape of the horsehide sphere when he struck it. Anyone care to determine the area under the parabolic arc it cut through the air?
While the hit was scored as a double, Bryant took third on the throw home, which skipped past catcher Francisco Cervelli. Never one to let an opportunity pass, Bryant took a big turn toward home and drew a throw.Caught in a pickle, Bryant channeled his inner Benny “The Jet” Rodriguez and took off for home. By all accounts, he should have been dead to rights, but Cervelli mishandled the throw home and The Natural slid in safely.
This wasn’t the first time the Cubs had been aggressive on the bases either; Rizzo had earlier stolen a base and even made an unsuccessful attempt to beat a throw home. There’s a fine line between aggressiveness and recklessness, but I don’t think the Cubs are even close to toeing it and I love what I’m seeing from them so far this season. This isn’t Dusty-Ball, in which you just try to get guys on in front of mashers and home you get a couple home runs.
The Cubs are out there trying to make things happen, to force their opponents to make plays. That kind of stuff doesn’t play when you’re worried that you might not have another chance to score, but this lineup has got both thunder and lightning throughout. And it helps when you’ve got Jake Arrieta doing what he does best, painting the corners with his smooth-as-butter slutter.
Bryant’s play was just so fun to watch, it almost had me wanting to imitate Ric Flair like the three dozen fans who were still around in the 8th inning. See if you can keep yourself from mindlessly crying out, “Woooo!” when you watch the hit again. I’ve included both the GIF and the actual video for your consideration.