Chicago Cubs: Breaking down the swim move slide
The other day I watched several clips of Baez’ slide in slow motion so I could understand his technique. It’s not that complicated, however, trying to execute it in a full sprint is another story.
It begins with Baez running toward the base with a good head of steam. Baez looks at his opponent to understand the positioning and where the tag might come from. Baez then begins his slide head first on his stomach with both arms outstretched toward the base or plate like Superman.
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As he comes within five feet of the base, Baez changes from lying on his stomach to lying on his right side. As Baez makes that turn onto his side, his left arm automatically lifts off the ground and away from the baseman trying to tag it. This is also the point of the move that reminds me of Jordan. Just as Jordan flicked the ball out of reach of a defender, Baez pulls his arm from out of the reach of the tag.
From there, it’s like a game of tag as he maneuvers his outstretched right arm and hand around the baseman and toward the base to tag it. His instincts keep him from getting tagged as he reaches the base safely. Chicago Cubs skipper Joe Maddon told the Chicago Tribune’s Paul Sullivan:
"…“you can never coach instinct,” adding Baez “sees things” no one else does. “We kind of have this sign language communication going on during the game,” Maddon said. “He sees things and I’m back with him. I would not mess with that kid’s head. He plays on the highest level mentally, and you don’t want to interfere with that.”"
Baez has stolen 19 bases so far this year. That’s more than he stole in 2014, 2015 and 2016 combined. However, El Mago has another trick up his sleeve: modesty.