There’s a new center fielder in town.
Jackie Bradley Jr., through his considerable skill set, is now entrenched in center field for the foreseeable future. Out with the (relatively) old, in with the new, as they say. Bradley, however, has a tool that seems to be lacking with many a center fielder in this day and age. To go along with his plus-plus defense out there in the great green expanse, JBJ has himself a cannon.
So hold on to your seats, people. This is a story of love and hate, of shock and awe, of strong arms and pool noodles. This is how you save a run.
Our story begins in New York City, where Felix Doubront has gone full-on Felix Doubront and is trying to cough up a lead in the first inning. Alfonso Soriano, the once and future Yankee, is trying to tie this game up. I use the word “trying” lightly – he really doesn’t have to try to make Doubront beat himself. Nevertheless, Soriano jolts a fly ball one out to center, where our hero awaits.
Jackie Bradley Jr. positions himself under the ball – which is drifting slightly toward the left-center field gap – and doesn’t get a running start, despite Carlos Beltran and Jacoby Ellsbury tagging up at their respective bases. You’d think that a mistake, right? Yeah, not for him. It’s more of a mistake for any Yankee who dares run on him, as we’ll soon gloriously see.
Oh man. This is just so, so precious. At this point, the ESPN commentators are just assuming it’s a run scored for the Yankees since JBJ didn’t throw home. NEWS FLASH: nope. Ellsbury gets nailed at 3rd in what’s essentially a massive TOOTBLAN. Also, Ryan Roberts diving for a tag. Does he dive for everything? Sure seems like it.
And the great inverted exodus of Red Sox players back to the dugout begins. AJ Pierzynski knows the run didn’t score, so he’s walking off like everyone else. The only people who stay on the field are the Yankees, who are dumbstruck as to what happened. And, strangely, Jonathan Herrera, who really shouldn’t be on the field unless Brock Holt ceases to exist.
The reactions might actually be better than the play. Dan Shulman is slowly getting excited in the booth while I just lost all sanity and started laughing maniacally at this point. Of course something like this happens. Murphy’s Law strikes once again. Honestly, that statement comes up so much, Edward Murphy should get tickets to every single one of these games.
For a celebration, the Red Sox dugout sure is somber. I mean, look at Jon Lester! Dude, you’ll get paid soon enough, don’t sweat it! You have the customary high fives and stuff, but c’mon, guys! You just made Jacoby look like a fool! That’s worth a few smiles, right? Geez. Tough crowd tonight.
What lesson did we learn? Don’t bet on beating out a Jackie Bradley Jr. throw. You just don’t run on JBJ. Sure, he’s not Josh Reddick or Yasiel Puig with the ridiculous throws, but JBJ gets the job done. “Death to running things” should be his motto.
That’s the story of Jackie and Jacoby. It was an adventure a couple years (and a $150 million contract) in the making, and we all ended up with a few laughs in the end. Some people – me included – had sore sides because we enjoyed it too much. But isn’t that the point of stories like this? To enjoy them until your sides hurt and then go to MLB.com and re-watch it like 20 times? You can never love baseball too much, especially when so many great things happen at once. It’s what we watch for.
One more for the road: