I’m not a big fan of tape-delayed sports, particularly now that it’s so easy to gain access to scores and highlights through so many different outlets. In fact, I’ve only recorded two games with an intent to watch them later, and one of those was a contest I was still able to watch the conclusion of live. One involved a VCR and several dire warnings to my parents that I not be made aware of the outcome. You can imagine my disappointment, then, when I got home from work to find that the MLB Network broadcast of the Cubs/Angels game was only in the 2nd inning.
Wait a minute, it was in the 4th when I left work. Did I Donnie Darko my way through a wormhole somewhere on 62nd St? When a quick look in the mirror failed to reveal Frank the Rabbit, I knew that it was a simple case of a delayed start. My disappointment quickly dissipated, however, when my kids got home from school just as Addison Russell was digging in after a wild pitch had allowed Javy Baez to advance to third.
“Ryne,” I yelled down to my son.
“Get up here, Addison Russell’s about to hit a home run!”
Clomping feet up the stairs.
“The Cubs are playing?!”
“Yeah, buddy, it’s Spring Training.”
“Check it out.”
“Wooooooo! Addison Russell! How did you know that?”
“I’m just awesome.”
These games don’t mean anything, but it sure was nice to see the kid get into it. And I’m speaking of both my own son and Addison Russell. Having the former excited about Cubs baseball makes me happy, as does seeing the latter doing things to make all of us excited for his future. I’ve written plenty about his potential and I’m very much looking forward to seeing his lithe power on display at Wrigley. Seeing him his this against the Angels got me all jazzed up for Opening Night too, as I’ll be in Anaheim for those first two games.
If you missed it Friday afternoon, or if you just want to watch it a few dozen times more, here’s Russell’s blast:
Before I move on to David Ross and his fantastic play in the top half of that same inning, I need to discuss Javy Baez a little bit. He looked a little rough in center on Thursday, though that’s pretty much to be expected given the situation. Baez appeared to be more at ease Friday, despite playing yet another new position. He has been putting in some extra work in an effort to back up Anthony Rizzo and made a nice dig at first on a spinning throw from Ben Zobrist.
What I really love about Baez, though, is his athleticism and his understanding of the game. This guy can play all over the field because he’s very physically gifted and is possessed of the baseball IQ to properly utilize those gifts. Baez was on first when Russell came up to bat, but was able to steal second before moving to third on the aforementioned wild pitch. Everyone loves to talk about the swing, and for good reason, but Javy can impact the game in so many other ways and I love it.
You know what else I love? Grandpa Rossy laying out for a foul pop, then seeing the runner breaking for second and firing a laser to nail him. This guys, what, 56 years old and he’s still making plays. You practice how you play, and Ross is going to go all-out here in his swan song of a season. The fact that he even attempted the move at all shows that he cares little for playing it safe. The fact that he actually made it shows that he’s still got value despite his advanced age.
That’s some good stuff, right there. This is my favorite time of the year as far as sports are concerned. Baseball is back and the NCAA conference tournaments are right around the corner, to be followed immediately by the Big Dance and the start of MLB’s regular season. I feel as though I’m waiting in the midst of the growing crowd for the doors to open for Magic Hours at Disney World and it’s beautiful.