‘What did I just watch?’ Cubs reflect on anniversary of Javy Báez’s wildest play
“It literally took me a full minute to re-process what just happened.”
That’s how David Ross remembers the aftermath of Javy Báez’s most incredible magic trick.
Two years ago Saturday, Báez pulled off an absolutely mind-bending play in Pittsburgh, where he got into a pseudo-rundown between home plate and first base on a routine ground ball. He delayed the Pirates long enough to let Willson Contreras score and then Báez himself wound up on second base after a throwing error. He scored later that inning and the Cubs wound up winning by 2 runs.
(Check out the video above for a refresher of the entire play.)
That’s one of the wackiest plays you’ll ever see in baseball and of course it was Báez who orchestrated it. Throughout his Cubs career, he had a knack for eliciting mistakes from the other team on the basepaths.
Two years later, that play still stands out to Ross, who has been in professional baseball for 25 years.
“That’s probably one of the crazier ones I’ve ever seen,” Ross said. “That’s gotta be in the top 3-5 for sure and I can’t put anything above that in my mind right now. When you watched it transpire, you forgot about Willson running. You totally forgot about that.
“It was just Javy extending things and the manager brain goes, ‘please don’t get hurt.’ And then he runs up and you see him start doing what Javy does, being a ghost like he is on the bases, elusive. Willson comes around and you see him throw home and he’s safe and they yell ‘safe’ and then Javy goes to first and they throw it away and he gets to second and you’re like, ‘what did I just watch?'”
Justin Steele was in the midst of his rookie season and watched in awe with the rest of his teammates in the Cubs dugout.
“I remember I couldn’t believe what I was watching,” Steele said. “I couldn’t believe that it was happening. Everybody that was in our dugout, we were like, ‘just touch first.’ It’s just crazy how electric Javy is and the kind of chaos he can bring to a baseball field. That’s why he’s so special.
“I just remember watching that with hands on my head and mouth to the floor like everybody else. Like, ‘what is happening?’ And then he calls Willson safe and then he takes off for first, bad throw, he goes to second. It’s just a circus.
“I think that was the most chaos I’ve ever seen on a baseball field.”
Nico Hoerner didn’t know how to react when he first watched the play transpire.
“I just sat back and laughed,” Hoerner said. “We play the game every day and you see something you’ve never, ever seen before and probably will never see again. Definitely a memorable moment.
“I remember guys just laughing. I’m in amazement of the things that he can do and his creativity and the way he enjoys playing the game.”
Báez got traded a couple months after that play but he left a lasting impression on his teammates and coaches — not to mention the fanbase in Chicago.
His baseball IQ and natural instincts made for some spectacular theater at times on the diamond.
“Your brain turns off sometimes when you’re playing,” Ross said. “That’s what Javy does — he gets people caught up in his actions.
“He’s one of the more dynamic players we’ve probably ever seen — or at least I’ve ever been around. That’s what makes him fun to watch. That’s his love for baseball — calling him safe and then, ‘oh yeah, I gotta run.’”