the squeeze is on
8 April, 2006
The squeeze play, when a runner breaks for home with the pitch and a batter must successfully execute a surprise bunt or the runner will easily make an out, is often called the most exciting play in baseball. I would not argue with that, although to be fair, nothing really hinged on this one, which came in the fourth with the Cubs already well in the lead; when people call it that, they're thinking of late-inning game-determining situations when a high-risk play can really pay off. Honestly, this time, it looked like Dusty called for it just because he could, and thought it'd be fun. And there is a history of LaRussa liking this play, and also of course a rivalry between our two clubs, so….
The bunt wasn't completely perfect–the play failed because the ball rolled foul (baseball novices, note that the pitcher is not going for the ball in the middle pic–he sees what it's about to do and is waiting to touch it until after it crosses the foul line). But Pierre then hit a single which scored Cedeno anyway. Oh, we like having Pierre on our side. I once saw him get two bases on the first three pitches of a game: when the Cubs hosted the Marlins on the Wednesday before my graduation last year, Pierre surprise bunted the first for a hit, and then promptly stole second. Cubs lost that one by, I think, two touchdowns.
…I had forgotten the setup, the Sun-Times sports page reminded me: Cedeno got a leadoff double his second at-bat (his first being an RBI triple thankyouverymuch), and after showing bunt, Maddux grounded out to the right side, which advanced Cedeno to third. Re baseball narratives, there are stories even within that, about Cedeno and Maddux and the kinds of players they are…but this is enough baseball rhapsody for one post, no?