Let’s meet our heroes
As I began to watch the player highlight videos, I quickly recognized some of my favorite plays of last season. However, it was refreshing to see them all compiled into a series for each player. I was hooked like a large mouth bass right out of Lake Michigan. I thought I’d give some of the memorable players some nicknames (their super-names) based on the extraordinary feats in their videos. Let’s meet our heroes:
EL Mago – The first amazing player, was, of course, current shortstop, Javier Baez. Video highlight after video highlight showed the Cubs superstar stealing bases and using his patented “swim move.”
Baez has taken his slide to a new level by calculating where a tag might come from and moving those parts of his body away from the tag. A magician on the field, pulling trick after trick out of his hat. Very few players have been able to catch our hero when he steals, his elusiveness is a typical characteristic of a superhero.
The Bunt Bandit – Ok, I stole the name from my brother Steve, ‘Beer Bandit,’ who was notorious for lifting six-packs off the porches of homes throughout Calumet City in the ’80s. The Bunt Bandit superhero is lifting bunted balls within seconds of them hitting the grass. He is none other than first baseman Anthony Rizzo.
If you have not seen Rizzo’s collection of videos, watch it now. It is just amazing. No one plays the bunt as bravely and daring as Rizzo. Showing no fear, Rizzo moves so close to the batter in bunt situations; you almost feel like he can grab the ball off the bat before it hits the ground. Rizzo’s second sense of when and where the ball is coming off the bunt is a classic superpower and let’s not forget the trademark courage of our hero, playing tight field position on explosive batters.
The Flying Catchman – Every super team needs someone who can fly. If you can’t full on fly like Iron Man than you better be able to jump high like the Hulk or stealthily like the Black Panther. The Chicago Cubs very own Flying Catchman is none other than Albert Almora Jr. Play after play in Almora’s video highlights shows him diving, leaping, and stretching out for the most amazing collection of catches I’ve seen for a long time.
I challenge anyone to show me a single season of better outfield play. Almora takes a pounding as his head and body bounce off the ground, walls and whatever gets in the way of his catch. Almora’s ability to fly, concentrate and recover are all classic superhero characteristics.