One of the not-so-secret joys of baseball is the fact that there is enough raw material that even the most routine plays can have a spectacular twist. Sometimes the result is merely aesthetic, like when Kolten Wong managed to get beaten to first base by the catcher on a groundout. But sometimes the grind can polish up some meaningful — insofar as baseball can be meaningful — gems. The most notable example is The Matrix Slide:
Rundowns are one of those defensive plays that look much easier than they actually are, of course. It takes years and years of training to look competent enough that a rundown becomes an inevitability. Josh Fuentes has presumably applied thousands of tags in his life, both in practice and against real opponents. A professional third baseman in possession of the ball with a runner bearing down on them would, one imagine, be entirely confident of success.
But when you’re against some of the best athletes in the world, inevitability is always an illusion. Because sometimes the runner bearing down on you is someone like Tony Kemp, and sometimes someone like Tony Kemp inaugurate himself into the Matrix Slide Club on your sorry ass. Fortunately for Fuentes, there’s no Matrix Slide Victims Association. His role in this will be forgotten. But Kemp’s will not.
The Matrix Slide Club is not very big, but it’s growing, mostly because baseball is slowly remembering how to be Cool and Fun. Now that Ichiro has retired, the President of the Matrix Slide Club is, of course, Chicago Cubs shortstop Javy Baez, who is perhaps the most all around Cool and Fun player in the game:
And my favorite ‘slide’ transcends slide-dom altogether:
Kemp’s entry isn’t nearly as spectacular as Chris Coghlan’s leap against the Cardinals, but it’s a worthy entry nonetheless. Anytime you can remind the opposition that they’re playing against folks who can and will make you look like a chump is worth taking. What is the point of auras if not to be punctured? These are not just events in a team game; they’re heroic victories against a better-armed foe, personal triumphs that will be remembered long after the actual score is lost to everyone but Alex Rubenstein’s scary brain.
Oh, speaking of looking like a chump, is there a pitcher equivalent to the Matrix Slide Club?
Brent Suter … thank you.