The pair of sterling defensive plays turned in by Javy Baez of the Cubs last night brought back fond memories of all the great plays the shortstop position has provided through the years. And while no one is suggesting either of his stabs are anything transcendent, they do conjure up ghosts of Rey Ordonez, one of the flashiest to ever don a glove, and other greats like Omar Vizquel and Ozzie Smith.
One forgets how good these guys were before going down a rabbit hole of their finest plays. The logical end place of this deep dive — and high-water mark of infield defense — is Smith’s insane barehanded snag made on April 20, 1978 while a member of the San Diego Padres.
I mean, come on. Still the best of all-time. It’s a fun thought experiment to imagine what the real-time reaction would be to the play today. There’s a small chance baseball could get into the A-block of a sports highlight show.