An early-regular season game between the Cubs and Pirates is the kind of thing that usually passes with little notice. But a defensive miscue for the ages made Thursday’s affair one to remember.
With two outs in the top of the third inning and Chicago up 1-0, the Cubs’ Javy Baez hit a routine ground ball to third base. Erik Gonzalez fielded it cleanly, but his throw to first was slightly off target, pulling first baseman Will Craig a bit off the bag — at which point a T-ball-league level of wackiness ensued. Just watch:
Baez is known as “El Mago” (The Magician), and his base-running prowess here is impressive. But why didn’t Craig didn’t simply back up a couple feet and step on first base to end the inning? (Remember, there were two outs.) And once he decided not to do that, why didn’t he simply lunge forward and tag Baez rather than chase him sluggishly down the line? Why?? This is the overarching question Craig will be facing today, and for many future days.
The play was ruled a “fielder’s choice,” which, as Defector’s Barry Petchesky noted, does not exactly convey the absurdity of what happened.
Baseball has been around for more than 150 years, but it will always find ways to surprise you.