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Thursday, May 27, 2021

Javy Baez fools Pirates into the dumbest baseball play of the season

With a runner on second, Baez hits a ball to Pirates third baseman Erik Gonzalez. The ball is fielded cleanly by Gonzalez, who throws it to first baseman Will Craig. Gonzalez’s throw takes Craig off the bag, so Craig decides he’ll just tag Baez instead.

Recognizing this, Baez starts running back toward home plate. He remains in the base path, so he hasn’t broken any rules. As Baez gets close to the plate, the runner who started on second sprints toward home to try and score. Craig throws the ball to the catcher, but is too late. The run scores, giving the Cubs a 2-0 lead.

Baez, who was never tagged, begins to quickly sprint toward first base. In the confusion, no Pirates player is covering first. A member of the Pirates sprints over the first, but the throw from Pirates catcher Michael Perez is just slightly off target. Baez slides into first, but then quickly gets up and makes it all the way to second base.

The Cubs dugout — primarily Anthony Rizzo — erupted in cheers and laughter following the play.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: May 27, 2021 at 11:57 PM | 125 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: cubs, pirates

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   1. Walks Clog Up the Bases Posted: May 28, 2021 at 12:04 AM (#6021257)
Said it in the omnichatter, but I had to watch the clip several times just because I literally couldn't process what I was watching.
   2. vortex of dissipation Posted: May 28, 2021 at 02:38 AM (#6021270)
The best part of this play is Baez giving the "safe" sign while standing about five feet from home plate after Contreras had scored, and then taking off for first base!
   3. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: May 28, 2021 at 04:09 AM (#6021271)
Craig's Boner?
   4. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: May 28, 2021 at 04:12 AM (#6021272)
Someone pointed out the following play that Ty Cobb pulled off in 1911:

In the seventh inning, trailing 5-3, the Tigers got two runners on base: reliever Tex Covington and shortstop Donie Bush. Cobb came up and promptly laced a gapper that went past the center fielder and right fielder. Both Covington and Bush came around to score, Bush sliding in spectacularly in a cloud of dust and colliding with Sweeney at the dish. When Donie was called safe, Sweeney and the Yanks took offense. New York manager Hal Chase, who was also the team’s first baseman, came to home plate and started an argument with the umpire. Sweeney and two other Yanks also joined the brouhaha. Meanwhile, Cobb, who had stationed himself at second with a double, danced off the bag and took third, which was unguarded. With time not having been called by the Yanks, Ty kept eye on the situation at home. As the argument grew louder and louder, Cobb started to holler at Chase and Sweeney, agitating his opponents.

“Quit your bellyachin,” Cobb barked. The Yankees waved him off, turning their attention toward the umpire, who was giving it back at Chase as bad as he was getting it. The spit was flying. Finally, Cobb stalked down the third base line to point his finger at the Yanks, pointing out their folly. When the New Yorkers failed to pay attention to his advance, Cobb deftly avoided Sweeney, who was holding the ball in his mitt, and gingerly stepped on home plate. Sweeney finally realized that time hadn’t been called and he recognized what Ty was up to. But his tag attempt was a split-second too late. Cobb scored and the crowd roared their approval. The Detroit star had scored from second on consecutive steals without ever drawing a throw. It was the 14th steal of home in his young career, and the third of the ’11 season.

The play was not only daring and devious, it was clutch – Cobb had given the Tigs a 6-5 lead. Covington made it hold up, retiring the frustrated Yankees in the final two innings.
   5. Ben Broussard Ramjet Posted: May 28, 2021 at 06:08 AM (#6021274)
My non-baseball-watching brother in England sent me the clip of this play. That's how bad it looked.
   6. Cooper Nielson Posted: May 28, 2021 at 06:42 AM (#6021275)
The best part of this play is Baez giving the "safe" sign while standing about five feet from home plate after Contreras had scored, and then taking off for first base!

There were about a dozen "best parts" of this, but I definitely enjoyed that part. It's a good thing the Pirates threw the ball away at first or he still would've been out and the run wouldn't have counted.

I see in the ESPN play-by-play and box score that the Pirates were assessed two errors on that play, one on the catcher (for a bad throw), the other on 1B Craig, either for "fielding" or for "catch" (he made a second error on another play that inning -- bad day at the office!).

Does anyone know what Craig's error was for? I didn't think mental errors were ever counted as "E" errors in the scorebook. The original play at first, where he caught the ball off the bag, would typically be called a throwing error on the 3B (though the throw wasn't that bad), and his flip to the catcher, while extremely stupid, was not wild or mishandled so I don't see how it could be an error.
   7. Starring Bradley Scotchman as RMc Posted: May 28, 2021 at 07:31 AM (#6021277)
Q: "How do you score that?"
A: "You don't."
   8. RickG Posted: May 28, 2021 at 07:44 AM (#6021279)
I highly enjoyed sharing this clip with the other parents at my 9 year old's game, one by one, and getting some variation of "Geez, our kids would have gotten THAT right" over and over.
   9. Starring Bradley Scotchman as RMc Posted: May 28, 2021 at 08:19 AM (#6021281)
   10. KronicFatigue Posted: May 28, 2021 at 08:43 AM (#6021284)
There were about a dozen "best parts" of this, but I definitely enjoyed that part. It's a good thing the Pirates threw the ball away at first or he still would've been out and the run wouldn't have counted.


Funny, that part ruined the whole play for me. It showed that Baez didn't outsmart anyone, as he too thought the run scored. He had no way of knowing that the 2nd baseman hadn't casually strode over to 1st and that he (Baez) was about to be an easy out at first.
   11. Eddie Gaedel Posted: May 28, 2021 at 08:47 AM (#6021286)
Correct me if I'm wrong... but there was a force out at 1b, right? Nobody had to chase Baez back to the plate; they just needed to tag the bag before the runner at 2b crossed home plate, right?
   12. SoSH U at work Posted: May 28, 2021 at 08:50 AM (#6021287)
Correct me if I'm wrong... but there was a force out at 1b, right? Nobody had to chase Baez back to the plate; they just needed to tag the bag before the runner at 2b crossed home plate, right?


They just needed to retire Baez before he reached first, regardless what happened with the other runner. As Kronic notes, even after the runner had crossed home plate, the run would not have counted had the Pirates still managed to retire Javy at first (and I agree with him; the fact Javy was signaling the runner safe tells me he didn't realize the run didn't count yet).
   13. winnipegwhip Posted: May 28, 2021 at 09:12 AM (#6021289)
That was the cherry on the top of the Browns 28-0 first quarter in the playoffs and the Islanders 3 goals in 5 minutes to eliminate the Penguins on Wednesday night.
   14. cardsfanboy Posted: May 28, 2021 at 10:15 AM (#6021292)
Correct me if I'm wrong... but there was a force out at 1b, right? Nobody had to chase Baez back to the plate; they just needed to tag the bag before the runner at 2b crossed home plate, right?


Yep. If they get the force out, the inning is over.

Sadly I'm not up to snuff on the rules of tagging someone out, but I think that if they tagged Baez after the runner crossed, the run would count, but if they would have thrown the ball to first and got the force after the run crossed, it would have negated the run (I know the second part is true, not sure about the first part)
   15. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: May 28, 2021 at 10:19 AM (#6021293)
Cfb - The run wouldn’t have counted if they tagged Baez out before he reached first base. The rule is the same. I looked it up yesterday, it’s any out before the batter reaches first base.
   16. Itchy Row Posted: May 28, 2021 at 10:19 AM (#6021294)
I thought Baez would either stand on the plate and convince the Pirates he was safe because that's how bases work, or he would pick up his bat and go back into his stance to convince the Pirates he'd never hit the ball to begin with. He'll do both the next time the Cubs play the Pirates.
   17. bunyon Posted: May 28, 2021 at 10:21 AM (#6021295)
I asked in the chatter and was told (I forget who, sorry!) that tagging a forced runner is the same as forcing them. So if they tag Baez before he gets to first, the run doesn't count, no matter how many minutes have passed.

So, yeah, if the throw to "first" isn't wild, the inning ends with no run scored and this is funny but not damaging. I said in the chatter and stand by it that the second baseman, while not tremendously guilty, had plenty of time to be planted on first screaming for the ball. I think, basically, once Craig started chasing Baez back, no one in the park (or later watching on replay) had any clue what the situation was.

I also mentioned in chatter that Craig went 0 for 4 and the Pirates lost by the two unearned runs on that play. Just a brutal day. I hope he got some sleep last night.
   18. cardsfanboy Posted: May 28, 2021 at 10:26 AM (#6021298)
Cfb - The run wouldn’t have counted if they tagged Baez out before he reached first base. The rule is the same. I looked it up yesterday, it’s any out before the batter reaches first base.


Thanks.. I wasn't sure of that, tagging rules are different than force out rules sometimes. At least that is the imrpession I got, (in regards to sac flies or something... who knows, I could be completely idiotic when it comes to this)
   19. SoSH U at work Posted: May 28, 2021 at 10:30 AM (#6021299)
Thanks.. I wasn't sure of that, tagging rules are different than force out rules sometimes. At least that is the imrpession I got, (in regards to sac flies or something... who knows, I could be completely idiotic when it comes to this)


Your confusion is understandable, because outs that require tags are the types where the run counts.

But, Jose is correct. As long as a runner is forced to reach a base (which Javy was), then it doesn't matter how you retire him. If he's put out for the third out before he reaches the bag he has to acquire, then the run doesn't count.

Runs can only score if they proceed the third out when advancement is optional. This also includes appeal plays (either live-ball or after). Say you have one out and runners on first and third and the runner on first takes off with the pitch and the batter belts one to deep left field which is caught at the warning track. If the runner on third tags up and scores, and the runner from first is subsequently retired before he gets back to the base (either by tagging him or by touching first base), the run still scores.

   20. cardsfanboy Posted: May 28, 2021 at 10:31 AM (#6021300)
Ultimately this play boiled down to the first baseman probably not knowing the number of outs in the inning. I imagine if he had processed the number of outs, he reacts differently.... Baez basically convinced him that there were less than two outs, it was still a bad play even with that assumption, but at least at that point in time it's explainable.
   21. cardsfanboy Posted: May 28, 2021 at 10:34 AM (#6021302)
Runs can only score if they proceed the third out when advancement is optional. This also includes appeal plays (either live-ball or after). Say you have one out and runners on first and third and the runner on first takes off with the pitch and the batter belts one to deep left field which is caught at the warning track. If the runner on third tags up and scores, and the runner from first is subsequently retired before he gets back to the base (either by tagging him or by touching first base), the run still scores.


Thank you, that explains the discrepancy in my thought process here.
   22. SoSH U at work Posted: May 28, 2021 at 10:34 AM (#6021303)

Ultimately this play boiled down to the first baseman probably not knowing the number of outs in the inning. I imagine if he had processed the number of outs, he reacts differently.... Baez basically convinced him that there were less than two outs, it was still a bad play even with that assumption, but at least at that point in time it's explainable.



I don't know if he did. My guess is when the throw pulled him off the bag, he saw Baez in front of him and just decided to tag him, which is pretty common. But the further away Baez moved from him, the incongruity of it just clouded his thinking entirely.
   23. cardsfanboy Posted: May 28, 2021 at 10:38 AM (#6021304)
We can call it the fog of war if you want, in theory, you imagine that everyone who plays the game knows that a third out ends the inning no matter what... I just think somewhere during the play he forgot this was a potential third out. I mean he was closer to tagging Baez than he was at getting the runner tossed at the plate.
   24. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: May 28, 2021 at 10:46 AM (#6021305)
Ultimately this play boiled down to the first baseman probably not knowing the number of outs in the inning.
That was my conclusion as well.
   25. Ned Garvin: Male Prostitute Posted: May 28, 2021 at 10:46 AM (#6021306)
I could have sworn that there was a rule against running backwards when going to first base. There is no actual reason for the batter-runner to ever need to go back, and I thought that running back toward home was equivalent to running out of the base path - you are out. Why did I think this? I am pretty sure someone once explained this to me. Is there some adjacent rule I am thinking of?
   26. Nasty Nate Posted: May 28, 2021 at 10:47 AM (#6021307)
If it's 1 out, he made a mental error too of course. In that situation, you run Baez back towards home but throw to the catcher much sooner, so you at least get the lead runner out and maybe even a double play.

My guess is he started the play knowing there were 2 outs, and then as SoSH U says, his thinking got clouded. But it wasn't just Baez' incongruous actions, it was also the other runner that clouded his thinking. Because his actions suggested less than 2 outs also.
   27. SoSH U at work Posted: May 28, 2021 at 10:56 AM (#6021309)
I am pretty sure someone once explained this to me. Is there some adjacent rule I am thinking of?


You can't run back to a base if you previously occupied a base and a pitcher has subsequently assumed the pitching position (Jean Segura, who should have been called out). You also can't retreat if you've previously reached a base if your intent is to deceive the defense or make a mockery of the sport (the rule created after Germany Schaeffer stole first from second). Neither condition applied here.
   28. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: May 28, 2021 at 11:04 AM (#6021310)
A few things:

1) The narrative in the media on this play seems to be that "Baez figured out a way to fool the Pirates". I guess that's possible, but when I saw it, my immediate reaction was that Baez just stopped instinctually - there was a first baseman with the ball in his glove, and you instinctually stop running towards him starting at like six years old. I don't think he was like, "I'll see if I can create chaos here!". I think when he continued back towards home plate, he was basically being a goofball.

2) Let's assume that point #1 is wrong, though - let's say Baez actually was trying to create chaos. It would suggest to me that it is Baez who doesn't understand the rules, and that he thought if the runner from third could get home before he got tagged out, the run would count. (Look at Baez signal the safe sign five feet from home plate when the slide happens - that is not choreography. He actually thinks the runner is safe at that point. Actully, the runner at third who ran home also thinks his run will count if he can get home before Baez is tagged. Hell, the umpire even went along with it! The umpire shouldn't have called him safe...because he is not safe until Baez touches first base. I actually think most of the actors here thought that the run would count, irrespective of if Baez made it to first base safely.

3) I'm sorry, Will Craig, but this potential situation has occurred thousands of times in MLB history, and I don't believe this has ever happened quite like this before. If this happened in a playoff game or something, it would be a career killer - it is dumber than the Merkle play in 1908. It is worse than Buckner in 1986, because Buckner knew what to do...he just made a physical mistake, an error. Maybe it is just a hot take, but I think you could make the argument that this is the dumbest play in major-league baseball history. This may be dumber than Jim Marshall returning a fumble into the wrong endzone, or a high school basketball player taking an inbounds play and laying it into the wrong hoop. It is dumber than Chris Webber calling timeout when Michigan didn't have any left. This is the dumbest thing I have ever seen in a high-level game (not Little League or something).
   29. bunyon Posted: May 28, 2021 at 11:19 AM (#6021313)
#3 is why the press is praising Baez. Their only alternative is to call out a professional for being incredibly stupid. It's one or the other, they have to write/say something. So Baez is clever.

   30. John DiFool2 Posted: May 28, 2021 at 11:26 AM (#6021314)
Again, to defend Merkle that was how the umps handled such plays de facto for many previous seasons. All of a sudden they decide to enforce the rule on the books.
   31. Eddo Posted: May 28, 2021 at 11:26 AM (#6021315)
I saw a question regarding what would have happened if Baez had retreated completely to home plate and stood there - would he have been un-taggable? I'm quite confident the answer there is "no, he'd still be out, you can't occupy home plate", but it got me thinking of this scenario.

Runner on first base, less than two outs. Batter hits a ground ball to the first baseman, and instead of advancing, the runner there retreats and stands on first base.

The fielder then tags the runner standing there, then steps on the base. That's a double play, right? As long as the batter still is forced to run to first base, the runner in front of him can't safely occupy the base, and is therefore eligible to be tagged out?

(And of course, if the fielder had stepped on the base before tagging the original runner, then the runner is safe at first.)
   32. cardsfanboy Posted: May 28, 2021 at 11:29 AM (#6021317)
#3 is why the press is praising Baez. Their only alternative is to call out a professional for being incredibly stupid. It's one or the other, they have to write/say something. So Baez is clever.


Baez is clever, it's pretty clear, he just didn't give up on a play and forced it to happen. #3 is also accurate, and heck number 2 and 1 are also pretty accurate..

Ultimately Craig should get the blame he deserves, but at the same time, Baez should get credit for refusing to turn a routine play into a routine play. This is the narrative. Baez doesn't just play the game like everyone else, where he assumes the routine is routine, he has a well deserved and recognized reputation in the game as being the guy who does the non-routine, from his tagging, from his slides, from this... he just doesn't assume the routine.
   33. Ron J Posted: May 28, 2021 at 11:30 AM (#6021318)
#30. Including same ump, same play earlier in the same season.
   34. Ron J Posted: May 28, 2021 at 11:33 AM (#6021319)
I'm reminded of an old Bill James comment about Willie Aikens at first. Apparently any time a throw pulled Aikens off the bag he'd try to tag the runner. Leading James to comment that he'd never seen first base take evasive actions.
   35. SoSH U at work Posted: May 28, 2021 at 11:41 AM (#6021320)
The umpire shouldn't have called him safe...because he is not safe until Baez touches first base.


No, he needed to call him safe. It would let the Pirates know that no play on Baez needed to be made at that point. And just because he ruled that runner safe would not mean the run would count.
   36. Random Transaction Generator Posted: May 28, 2021 at 11:41 AM (#6021321)
No matter what else happens in his career, Will Craig is going to be remembered for this play.
There is a very good chance this is the ONLY thing that Will Craig is going to be remembered for other than possibly being a bad 1st round pick for the Pirates.
   37. SoSH U at work Posted: May 28, 2021 at 11:43 AM (#6021322)
The fielder then tags the runner standing there, then steps on the base. That's a double play, right? As long as the batter still is forced to run to first base, the runner in front of him can't safely occupy the base, and is therefore eligible to be tagged out?

(And of course, if the fielder had stepped on the base before tagging the original runner, then the runner is safe at first.)


Yes to both. If you tag the runner and then step on the bag, it's a double play. Once you step on the base, the force is removed and the runner can legally occupy it.
   38. Nasty Nate Posted: May 28, 2021 at 11:46 AM (#6021323)
No, he needed to call him safe. It would let the Pirates know that no play on Baez needed to be made at that point.
Calling him out would have been necessary and would have let the Pirates know that no play on Baez was needed.
   39. SoSH U at work Posted: May 28, 2021 at 11:46 AM (#6021324)
Ultimately Craig should get the blame he deserves, but at the same time, Baez should get credit for refusing to turn a routine play into a routine play. This is the narrative. Baez doesn't just play the game like everyone else, where he assumes the routine is routine, he has a well deserved and recognized reputation in the game as being the guy who does the non-routine, from his tagging, from his slides, from this... he just doesn't assume the routine.


I agree with this. While I think Baez was confused on whether the run counted (and, frankly, given how odd the play was, I imagine a lot of people were), and thus it shouldn't be suggested this was some kind of 4-D chess he was playing, it is still to his credit that he didn't give himself up, recognizing that the longer he keeps the play alive, the more likely the defensive team can make a mistake.

   40. SoSH U at work Posted: May 28, 2021 at 11:48 AM (#6021325)
Calling him out would have been necessary and would have let the Pirates know that no play on Baez was needed.


Yes, of course. But a call needed to be made. The information is required.
   41. tonywagner Posted: May 28, 2021 at 12:06 PM (#6021327)
But it wasn't just Baez' incongruous actions, it was also the other runner that clouded his thinking. Because his actions suggested less than 2 outs also.


Regarding the lead runner: if less than 2 outs, he should just stay at third, right? It would be a stupid risk to run home on that play, with the catcher standing on home and the first baseman jogging down the line with the ball, with less than 2 outs. (The runner could break for home if the first baseman turned around to touch first base with less than 2 outs, of course, but that didn’t happen.)

It only really makes sense to run home if you know there are 2 outs and Baez is almost certain to be the third out. In that case, there’s no real risk — heck, he has to go that direction anyway to get back to the visitor’s dugout in that stadium.
   42. Nasty Nate Posted: May 28, 2021 at 12:16 PM (#6021328)
Regarding the lead runner: if less than 2 outs, he should just stay at third, right? It would be a stupid risk to run home on that play, with the catcher standing on home and the first baseman jogging down the line with the ball, with less than 2 outs. (The runner could break for home if the first baseman turned around to touch first base with less than 2 outs, of course, but that didn’t happen.)

It only really makes sense to run home if you know there are 2 outs and Baez is almost certain to be the third out. In that case, there’s no real risk — heck, he has to go that direction anyway to get back to the visitor’s dugout in that stadium.
Good point. You are right.
   43. phredbird Posted: May 28, 2021 at 12:18 PM (#6021329)

lots of blame to go around on this one. the catcher was close enough to tag baez when craig threw him the ball, wasn't he? that would have ended the inning and negated the run too.

they had ONE job. tag or force baez at first, forget the guy at 3rd.
   44. Steve Parris, Je t'aime Posted: May 28, 2021 at 12:19 PM (#6021331)
Baez deserves a lot of credit for being creative and not giving up on a routine play, but a little love for Wilson Contreras is in order. He stole second earlier in the inning (he should've been picked off, but Craig fumbled the ball a little and didn't make a clean throw to 2B -- what a horrible inning for Craig). Then he scores all the way from second on a sharp grounder to third. Yeah it's two outs and the runner should be going hard, but for a catcher that was pretty impressive baserunning.
   45. Russ Posted: May 28, 2021 at 12:30 PM (#6021333)
This play pretty much sums up the last 30 years of being a Pirates fan.
   46. phredbird Posted: May 28, 2021 at 12:34 PM (#6021335)

it's not that uncommon for players to forget some of the rules, even basic ones.

i remember frank robinson having to come out of the dugout to yell at his own players when a couple of infielders messed up on the tag up rules surrounding the infield fly rule.

i think one of them let a ball drop after the infield fly rule was called, or dropped it and then did nothing, thinking its a dead ball anyway. A runner tagged up and scored, then they argued with the umpires. robbie stomped out and told them all to STFU.

i'd love to see what went down in the pirates' locker room after the game. 'OK, let's go over the f---ing rules again.'
   47. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: May 28, 2021 at 12:44 PM (#6021339)
i'd love to see what went down in the pirates' locker room after the game. 'OK, let's go over the f---ing rules again.'
Or “OK, let’s all practice counting to f***ing three. One…two…f***ing three. Again! One…”
   48. SoSH U at work Posted: May 28, 2021 at 12:48 PM (#6021340)
i remember frank robinson having to come out of the dugout to yell at his own players when a couple of infielders messed up on the tag up rules surrounding the infield fly rule.

i think one of them let a ball drop after the infield fly rule was called, or dropped it and then did nothing, thinking its a dead ball anyway. A runner tagged up and scored, then they argued with the umpires. robbie stomped out and told them all to STFU.


The bases were loaded in SF. There was a popfly right in front of home, and about four Expos converged on it but none caught it. The infield fly had been called, but the Spos' third baseman (Tatis maybe) picked up the ball and stepped on home plate. Neifi Perez had been on third, and followed Tatis down the line, as no one was covering third so was at no risk of him being put out if the ball had been caught (since it wasn't, he didn't need to tag up). After Tatis stepped on home, Perez snuck around him and tapped his foot on home, signaling to the ump, "I'm safe, right blue?" which indeed he was. In that case, Neifi knew exactly what the rules were.

The Expos started arguing when old Frank came out and told them to knock it off and get back to their positions.

It was wonderful.

   49. Itchy Row Posted: May 28, 2021 at 12:52 PM (#6021342)
Here's the Expos/ Frank Robinson play. I'd forgotten who hit the popup.
   50. CFBF's Results are Certified Posted: May 28, 2021 at 12:54 PM (#6021343)
Would the run still have counted if the Pirates had thrown out Baez as he tried to advance to second?
   51. vortex of dissipation Posted: May 28, 2021 at 12:57 PM (#6021345)
i remember frank robinson having to come out of the dugout to yell at his own players when a couple of infielders messed up on the tag up rules surrounding the infield fly rule.

i think one of them let a ball drop after the infield fly rule was called, or dropped it and then did nothing, thinking its a dead ball anyway. A runner tagged up and scored, then they argued with the umpires. robbie stomped out and told them all to STFU.

i'd love to see what went down in the pirates' locker room after the game. 'OK, let's go over the f---ing rules again.'


The infield fly rule was called on a Barry Bonds pop up - the ball dropped a few feet in front of home plate. The Expos didn't realize that Bonds was out when the infield fly rule was called and runners could advance at their own risk, and tagged home plate, thinking the runner at third would be a force out. The runner at third stepped on home with the Expos not trying to make a play on him and the run scored. The Expos got in an argument with the ump, and Frank Robinson came out of the dugout and didn't say a word to the ump, but told his players to shut up. Here's the play.

Edit: SoSH U and Itchy Row beat me to it while I was looking up the play and writing the comment...
   52. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: May 28, 2021 at 12:59 PM (#6021346)
#50: Yes, the run counted as soon as Baez touched first. After that point, it was no longer a force play situation.
   53. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: May 28, 2021 at 01:05 PM (#6021347)
Also, if you look at that Expos/Giants video, it becomes clear who:

1) Definitely knows the rule;
2)Who definitely does not know the rule; and
3) Who sorta knows the rules, but things feel kind of weird, don't they?

1) Frank Robinson, the baserunner, and the Expos second baseman (I think it their 2nd baseman - it is the player who is motioning to the runner tiptoeing home right before he crosses the plate);
2) Tatis and the pitcher;
3) Barry Bonds.Look at Bonds on the replay of it, where he stands there until he sees it probably won't get caught. Then, he starts running hard down the line...which is unnecessary, because he is out.
   54. BillWallace Posted: May 28, 2021 at 01:10 PM (#6021348)
Here are my votes:

1) Craig probably initially knew that there were 2 outs, but got his wires crossed when Baez retreated and they just kept getting more crossed

2) This isn't a Baez master plan, but he gets credit for 'playing to the whistle' as it were

3) The catcher also takes a lot blame because he could just tag Baez. Hell he could have just walked away from home plate yelling at Craig to walk back to first with the ball. But instead the catcher helped bait Craig into making a pointless throw home. He must have had wires crossed too.

4) I do think this is right up at the top of the dumbest professional sports plays ever. Maybe it's #1, maybe it's #2-3, but it's not much lower than that.

   55. BillWallace Posted: May 28, 2021 at 01:16 PM (#6021351)
Jon Miller's call of the Frank Robinson infield fly play is just so great. He catches so much of it in real-time, including noting that the only reason Perez was standing 10 feet away from home is that he didn't know the rule either.
   56. Moses Taylor hashes out the rumpus Posted: May 28, 2021 at 01:20 PM (#6021352)
Funny, that part ruined the whole play for me. It showed that Baez didn't outsmart anyone, as he too thought the run scored. He had no way of knowing that the 2nd baseman hadn't casually strode over to 1st and that he (Baez) was about to be an easy out at first.

Of course not, this is wrong. He knew the rule even though it seems to me he got caught up in the moment because who would have expected the Pirates to mess that up so spectacularly. The fact that he immediately sprinted for first shows as much. I also am not sure why you'd assume he didn't know where the 2b was; say what you will about his terrible approach at the plate but Javy consistently demonstrates that he knows where the other guys are and is always thinking about the possibilities. He does #### like this all the time - it doesn't always work, but he is the one guy that I never question his baseball awareness (he obviously makes mistakes, and has been bitten several times by the not running hard out of the box - no one's perfect of course except for Trout and Ohtani I guess).
   57. Moses Taylor hashes out the rumpus Posted: May 28, 2021 at 01:24 PM (#6021353)
#3 is why the press is praising Baez. Their only alternative is to call out a professional for being incredibly stupid. It's one or the other, they have to write/say something. So Baez is clever.

Maybe, but again, Baez demonstrates time and time again how smart and clever of a player he is.

EDIT: or what CFB said:

Baez is clever, it's pretty clear, he just didn't give up on a play and forced it to happen. #3 is also accurate, and heck number 2 and 1 are also pretty accurate..

Ultimately Craig should get the blame he deserves, but at the same time, Baez should get credit for refusing to turn a routine play into a routine play. This is the narrative. Baez doesn't just play the game like everyone else, where he assumes the routine is routine, he has a well deserved and recognized reputation in the game as being the guy who does the non-routine, from his tagging, from his slides, from this... he just doesn't assume the routine.
   58. SoSH U at work Posted: May 28, 2021 at 01:32 PM (#6021354)
Jon Miller's call of the Frank Robinson infield fly play is just so great. He catches so much of it in real-time, including noting that the only reason Perez was standing 10 feet away from home is that he didn't know the rule either.


I don't agree. He was never at risk of being put out. There was no one covering third, so if the ball had been caught, he could have retreated. That he snuck in and tapped home plate after Tatis had touched the plate, and looked over at the ump suggests he knew what he was doing.

It's possible there was a brief moment of confusion on his part when the ball just dropped to the ground, but he understood the situation when he touched home.
   59. Kiko Sakata Posted: May 28, 2021 at 01:35 PM (#6021355)
One point of clarification (apologies if I missed this up thread): Contreras was on second base when this play started.
   60. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: May 28, 2021 at 01:35 PM (#6021356)
I agree with #58: I think Perez was very aware of what was going on, or he wouldn't have been so close to home.
   61. EddieA Posted: May 28, 2021 at 01:36 PM (#6021357)
So hilarious because Will Craig is college-educated and has played a lot of baseball. At least he has a memorable moment in his career that may keep his name known.
   62. Don August(us) Cesar Geronimo Berroa Posted: May 28, 2021 at 01:44 PM (#6021359)
I agree with #58: I think Perez was very aware of what was going on, or he wouldn't have been so close to home.


Thirded. Say what you will about Neifi but he was pretty great on that play. As the Expo goes to tag home Neifi appears to put his head down and slows to a crawl like he is out, but, just keeps on stepping toward home and as soon as the expos turn away from looking at him he gets in and touches the base.
   63. Mefisto Posted: May 28, 2021 at 01:44 PM (#6021360)
@61: He may want to have a word with Fred Merkle on that score.
   64. phredbird Posted: May 28, 2021 at 01:50 PM (#6021362)

thanks, 48 & 51.

it occurred to me a second or two after i posted that i could find this on youtube or something in mere seconds.

in fact, i find myself doing this all the time with people my age. we're talking, trying to remember some news event or something, then arguing about it, then realizing that the factual information is right there on our phone or nearby laptop.


'i'm tellin ya, it was richardson who caught the popup.' 'no, it was martin.' 'ah, yer dreamin.' ... and on ...
   65. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: May 28, 2021 at 02:08 PM (#6021366)
Funny, that part ruined the whole play for me. It showed that Baez didn't outsmart anyone, as he too thought the run scored.

Not really. Just like the home plate umpire signaled safe even though he presumably knows the rules and didn't think the run had scored yet. He needs to signal something, because if the runner is out at home then the inning is over. The runner had safely reached home plate, but the run didn't count until the forced runner safely reached first base.
   66. SoSH U at work Posted: May 28, 2021 at 02:20 PM (#6021368)
Not really. Just like the home plate umpire signaled safe even though he presumably knows the rules and didn't think the run had scored yet. He needs to signal something, because if the runner is out at home then the inning is over. The runner had safely reached home plate, but the run didn't count until the forced runner safely reached first base.


But the home plate umpire did need to signal something. Javy didn't. He just needed to reach first, and that wasn't expediting the process.

To me, the safe signal suggests he was at least momentarily confused about the run scoring. And honestly, I don't blame him. The play was so unusual, so completely removed from any of their shared experiences that I'm sure most of the players there entered a little fog about just what was unfolding and what needed to be done. There were no reference points for their normal baseball instincts and understanding to take over.
   67. sunday silence (again) Posted: May 28, 2021 at 02:23 PM (#6021370)
LIke a lot of people, I didnt realize that he just had to tag Baez and the run wouldnt count. I think as the play unfolded and Craig got further from 1b he didnt realize this or didnt know this.

The PIT announcers did know the rule (as did the announcer, MIller? on the Nefi Perez play) as they are shouting "Just tag him" as Craig closes in on home plate.

On the Perez play, of course he knew what he was doing. He became almost motionless and wary as the players took their eyes off him. But doesnt he leave the basepath just for a moment right there? He sort of shuffles a foot or two to his right and then darts for home.

Great pt. about the PIT catcher he could have just waved Craig back to 1b. Wow.

Also there must be interviews with these players after the game. What do they say their thoughts are?

There's a play in CHI Cubs history where three cubs end up on 3b. I think. But yeah this one will go down all time for sure.
   68. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: May 28, 2021 at 02:26 PM (#6021371)
Have you guys ever gotten out of your spreadsheets and played a sport?

Stuff happens in the heat of the moment, and you do crazy things on the ballfield, that in retrospect you know didn't make sense. So, I wouldn't be so quick to assign "who knows the rules and who doesn't." As viewers, we have had hours of time to get this play straight in our heads. It happened to the participants in the blink of an eye.

MLB players are super lazy and don't make nearly enough of an attempt to back stuff up. Frazier should have gone to first as soon as Contreras past third. The right fielder should have been at first to accept the throw instead of Frazier. Both Frazier and the CF covering second had super lazy attempts to catch the throws to them.

   69. Howie Menckel Posted: May 28, 2021 at 02:28 PM (#6021372)
He knew the rule even though it seems to me he got caught up in the moment because who would have expected the Pirates to mess that up so spectacularly. The fact that he immediately sprinted for first shows as much.

I think it's as or more plausible that:
- Baez didn't know the rule;
- hence his "safe" call because he thought his gimmick had succeeded;
- he then ran to first hoping, as a bonus, that somehow he might reach base safely - and believing that if not, well, he had given the Cubs a run at least.

the fact that he sprinted to first doesn't tell us that he knew he had to reach or the run wouldn't count. why wouldn't he run to first either way?
   70. SoSH U at work Posted: May 28, 2021 at 02:31 PM (#6021373)

There's a play in CHI Cubs history where three cubs end up on 3b.


Dodgers. Babe Herman, one of the game's most entertaining players of all-time, tripled into a double play. It led to the likely apocryphal joke:

"How are the Bums doing?"

"Great, they've got three men on."

"Really, which base?"
   71. sunday silence (again) Posted: May 28, 2021 at 02:36 PM (#6021374)
Baez sez: "WHen I called safe. I remember I had to go to first. I was pretty tired."

Most of the other Pirates took a lot of heat of Craig saying they should have called him back to first.

I havent found an interview with Craig.
   72. sunday silence (again) Posted: May 28, 2021 at 02:37 PM (#6021375)
Dodgers. Babe Herman,


yes of course. But Herman once played for the Cubs right? I think that why i messed it up. Good catch.
   73. Howie Menckel Posted: May 28, 2021 at 02:41 PM (#6021376)
71 is the accurate quote, and pretty much a third explanation

he wasn't playing 4D chess. but it also isn't that other extreme of just going for dessert after he had finished his entree. by the time he starts running to first, he knows what's at stake. I don't see any reason not to accept his version.

such a weird, weird play.
   74. sunday silence (again) Posted: May 28, 2021 at 02:42 PM (#6021377)

MLB players are super lazy and don't make nearly enough of an attempt to back stuff up. Frazier should have gone to first as soon as Contreras past third. The right fielder should have been at first to accept the throw instead of Frazier


another good pt. Almost the entire PIT team suffered lapses here.
   75. sunday silence (again) Posted: May 28, 2021 at 02:44 PM (#6021378)
71 is the accurate quote, and pretty much a third explanation

he DID screw up, and wasn't playing 4D chess. but it also isn't that other extreme of just going for dessert after he had finished his entree. by the time he starts running to first, he knows what's at stake. I don't see any reason not to accept his version.


BUt Howie your own post 69 pts. out that there is no way to know if Baez really knows the rule or was just running out of instinct.

Either way, after Contreras crosses the plate you have to run hard to first. the real question is did Baez know the rule? Im not sure he was asked.
   76. Howie Menckel Posted: May 28, 2021 at 02:47 PM (#6021380)
I think "When I called 'safe,' I remember I had to go to first" tells us that he didn't remember until then - and that he did know after that.

if he had claimed that he had called 'safe' to try to further confuse the Pirates, I might be a little skeptical of that. but he admitted that he didn't, so I believe his version.
   77. bunyon Posted: May 28, 2021 at 02:53 PM (#6021381)
I wasn't trying to deny Baez any credit he deserves. I just didn't think it was "clever". It was hustle and competiveness and that's laudable. Play hard.

As dumb a play as it was by Craig - and I'm on record suggesting he had the worst game in MLB history - I'm not saying HE is dumb. Smart folks do dumb things sometimes, especially when they have to think fast. As a MLB first baseman, tagging first on a ground ball should be second nature but once he got a little confused, further confusion seems inevitable.

And, yeah, the whole Pirates defense #### the bed. Craig just rolled around in it a bit.
   78. SoSH U at work Posted: May 28, 2021 at 02:55 PM (#6021382)
I think BLB hits on something. I'm sure most every guy on the field knows the rule that a run doesn't count if a player is forced out for the third out behind him.

The question that arises is whether the player is able to accurately apply the appropriate rule in question at the moment, particularly in a situation like this that is so foreign to their experiences. To me, Baez was likely momentarily excited by the run beating the throw, thinking the run scored. He may very well have quickly realized that he needed to beat the throw to first for the run to score, or he simply ran because he hadn't been put out yet and he wasn't even trying to process everything.
   79. Brian C Posted: May 28, 2021 at 03:04 PM (#6021383)
he simply ran because he hadn't been put out yet and he wasn't even trying to process everything.

I think this is most likely.
The question that arises is whether the player is able to accurately apply the appropriate rule in question at the moment, particularly in a situation like this that is so foreign to their experiences.

I think this is precisely it. All of us know the rules, but how many of us would have been able to watch the play live and process it all in instantaneous real time? I suspect very few. Keeping one's head and processing information quickly in confusing situations is a genuine skill that very few people have.

All that said ... Craig should have still been able to initially realize that he should just step on the base. It didn't really become a weird and confusing situation until after he made the decision to chase Baez. I think he deserves a break for everything that happened subsequent to that - as noted, the whole team sort of failed here - but that initial decision to chase is really hard to cut him slack for.
   80. EddieA Posted: May 28, 2021 at 03:05 PM (#6021384)
As dumb a play as it was by Craig - and I'm on record suggesting he had the worst game in MLB history - I'm not saying HE is dumb.


The fact that he is not dumb and not inexperienced (more accurately, not playing his first game of his life at any level at first base) makes it so hilarious.
   81. bunyon Posted: May 28, 2021 at 03:16 PM (#6021385)
Eddie, right. If this was an 8 year old, it's a chuckle and a teaching moment. If he's a high schooler, it's maybe a sign he should do something else. That it was a MLBer with years at the position makes it one of the five things I'll probably remember at the very end.
   82. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: May 28, 2021 at 03:21 PM (#6021386)
But the home plate umpire did need to signal something. Javy didn't. He just needed to reach first, and that wasn't expediting the process.


I mean, when you're invincible for a play, there's no rush, is there?
   83. pikepredator Posted: May 28, 2021 at 03:25 PM (#6021387)
I showed my baseball-loving friend and he was also confused the first couple of times watching it. I gave him no guidance except to say "two outs, runner on 2b".

On the third watching he goes "wait, why didn't 1B just run back to the bag. There are two outs!"
   84. The Duke Posted: May 28, 2021 at 03:44 PM (#6021390)
69. You are exactly right
   85. The Duke Posted: May 28, 2021 at 03:48 PM (#6021391)
77. You are also right
   86. GregD Posted: May 28, 2021 at 03:49 PM (#6021392)
I think BLB hits on something. I'm sure most every guy on the field knows the rule that a run doesn't count if a player is forced out for the third out behind him.
Yes. This happens almost every game, right? Happened last night at As-Angels. Runner on third two outs running on contact, slow grounder to left side, runner crosses plate, throw beats hitter to first. No one even thinks about this. So I think it's unimaginable Baez didn't know in the rational part of his brain that a force eliminates the run. It's likely he forgot that he was still in a force out for a second, in the confusion, then remembered. Once he clicked, I doubt he thought first was dessert. They know what happens if they're thrown out at first as a run scores because they've done it many times.
   87. McCoy Posted: May 28, 2021 at 03:53 PM (#6021393)
I'm sure somebody asked Baez but for me I think Baez got caught up in it all and after waving the safe sign realized \"####, I'm still a live runner". Either that or the dugout was yelling at him.
   88. McCoy Posted: May 28, 2021 at 03:55 PM (#6021394)
And apparently cokes.
   89. McCoy Posted: May 28, 2021 at 03:58 PM (#6021396)
I've seen major leaguers get sucked into attempting to apply a tag when stepping on the bag would work. I've also seen plenty of times the fielder not falling for it and the fielder fall for it a bit and then realize there's a force.

It happens. That doesn't mean anything more or less about the fielder and whether or not he should have a job.
   90. BillWallace Posted: May 28, 2021 at 05:10 PM (#6021399)
I don't agree. He was never at risk of being put out. There was no one covering third, so if the ball had been caught


58 + 60 + 62

I'll be damned I think you guys are right! I had to go back and watch it a few times. I guess the key tell is that when the Expo brings the ball and touches home, Perez gives off the perfect body language not to raise suspicion while also leaving himself enough space to retreat if needed. And even when he was 10 feet from home he was still closer to third base than any Expo on the field. I assume if the Expo with the ball had realized what was up and charged him, he would have just sprinted back safely to third.

And he was clearly trying to figure out if they were asleep enough for him to sneak past and they were. I know there have been many threads on this play, but assuming that's all true it's gotta be one of the smartest baserunning coups of all time. A buzzkill might note that he could have been called out of the basepath. Anyways, thanks for pointing that out.
   91. sunday silence (again) Posted: May 28, 2021 at 05:57 PM (#6021403)
It happens. That doesn't mean anything more or less about the fielder and whether or not he should have a job.


I agree but what does it say about the Pirates in general? They seem like a dispirited team. There's no hustle. No one's covering 1b. No one's talking to each other. They're losing ball games. Ownership doesnt care to put a good product out there. Nothing has changed in many years. Its a sad take
   92. Gold Star - just Gold Star Posted: May 28, 2021 at 06:16 PM (#6021404)
Dodgers. Babe Herman, one of the game's most entertaining players of all-time, tripled into a double play.
Another great line to emerge from that incident: "Babe Herman never tripled into a triple play but he did double into a double play, which is the next-best thing."

But my favorite line about Herman, and one of my all-timers from the game: "Babe Herman is in right field, wearing a glove, as it is a league custom."
   93. Walt Davis Posted: May 28, 2021 at 06:27 PM (#6021405)
Moot at this point but Craig's actions until he tosses home are pretty typical in that situation. The Pirates were of course at virtually no risk but that infinitesimal risk is still lowered walking Javy back to the plate. He's got nowhere to go and either has to leave the baseline (wrong side of the plate) or stand there waiting for the 1B. If Javy somehow double-dekes him and gets past him, then he can still throw to 1B. This is (or would be for me and I played a good bit of 1B) less awkward than back-pedalling to 1B and slightly less dangerous than turning your back for a second on Javy to return to the bag. Anyway, regardless of whether the initial decision should have been to go back to the bag or to pursue Javy, once he started moving towards Javy, the safest thing to do was to just keep walking him back. So he was doing things correctly (or correctly enough) right up until the moment he threw the ball.
   94. sunday silence (again) Posted: May 28, 2021 at 06:58 PM (#6021407)
well sort of but not really. Craig is non chalanting it and not really going hard at Baez. That's ok I guess, but then halfway down the line he starts looking at the runner on 3b, and he's got his glove sort of held up high, and he's just jogging at Baez and still looking at the runner. He's already confused before he makes the ill advised throw.
   95. SoSH U at work Posted: May 28, 2021 at 08:05 PM (#6021408)
But my favorite line about Herman, and one of my all-timers from the game: "Babe Herman is in right field, wearing a glove, as it is a league custom."


And Babe wouldn't argue.

When informed by a local bank that someone had been impersonating him and passing bad checks, he reportedly said, "Hit him a few fly balls. If he catches any, it ain't me."

He's an easy starter on my all-time favorite team.

   96. EddieA Posted: May 28, 2021 at 08:12 PM (#6021410)
Trying to figure out for myself if Will Craig or Randall Simon will have the funniest play to me of all time. Of course Randall Simon's wasn't a baseball play and he could have hurt somebody but it was so absurd to think a grown man would do what he did.
   97. phredbird Posted: May 28, 2021 at 11:31 PM (#6021452)
   98. phredbird Posted: May 28, 2021 at 11:31 PM (#6021453)

sorry double post
   99. Joyful Calculus Instructor Posted: May 28, 2021 at 11:43 PM (#6021457)
The weirdest part to me is that Craig chased him at all. He was in position to tag Baez going to first and Baez started retreating. Why chase a guy, when you can just step backwards a step for the force out?
   100. sunday silence (again) Posted: May 29, 2021 at 01:11 AM (#6021465)
Its still not clear to me. For both principles: Craig and Baez. Did they know a tag would cancel the run from scoring? Very simple question, everyone seems to assume that they know. BUt I dont see where either of them have flat out said that.

thanks for link: Phred.
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