The unexpected plays a large role in my baseball fandom. One of the reasons I gravitated so hard towards loving baseball was the suddenness of unexpected plays or moments that happen during games. I never truly experienced this while watching other sports. I’m not sure why because clearly there are moments in other sports that come out of nowhere. Yet, those moments never resonated with me as similar occurrences have in baseball games.
Recently I was watching a Serie del Caribe game between Toros del Este, the Dominican Republic representatives, and Vaqueros de Montería, the Colombia representatives. The Toros had been in control for most of the game and up by four, they turned to their set-up man, Jumbo Díaz. Everyone reading this knows Díaz, or at the least remembers him from his time spent in Major League Baseball. He garnered the nickname Jumbo because, well, he’s a big dude. That nickname has become even more suiting as he’s grown throughout his time away from affiliated ball. Make no mistake though, jumbo-sized as he may be, Díaz is a great athlete.
Díaz got himself into some trouble and the Vaqueros had runners on first and second with no outs. It seemed as if the game was about to get more difficult for the heavy favorites to win this season’s CWS until suddenness happened. A light tapper right in front of the mound, Díaz pounced on it and made a very awkward throw to first. The first baseman, Peter O’Brien, stepped on the bag and threw to third where a runner ended up caught in a rundown and was tagged out. The inning was over just like that, but wait, why the heck was the inning over?
Replay showed that Díaz had gotten underneath the tapper and snagged it before it hit the ground. The batter was out, then the runner on first was out when O’Brien stepped on the bag, and the tag of the second base runner caught in the rundown was the final out. The play and ensuing replay happened in under the span of three minutes. It felt so fast that I had a hard time figuring out what was going on initially. When I realized what had actually happened and that Jumbo Díaz of all people had just initiated a triple play I was practically giddy.
So sudden, so rooted in the moment of what I was experiencing and watching. There’s no other sport that hits me like that. Baseball is amazing for a multitude of reasons. Often times it is amazing for the rush of unexpected events. Even now I can watch the clip and smile remembering how fun it was to all of a sudden be in the middle of a Jumbo Díaz triple play. It happened unexpectedly and the Díaz triple play will stick with me for the rest of my life, just like the very best of the game of baseball.
Lead photo courtesy of Unknown – El Fildeo