The Cleveland Indians made remarkable plays all over the field on Friday, but one in particular stood out. To start with, let's enjoy the video together.
A few thoughts:
• I adore Tom Hamilton's ability to go from quiet patter to shouting in a single word. "Swing and a miss Gomes THROW TO FIRST AND THEY GOT HIM OH WHAT A PLAY."
• What on Earth is Avisail Garcia doing so far from the base? I understand the importance of taking a secondary lead after the pitch; a good jump makes it easier to cruise from first to third, or all the way home for a run. A player ought to get a couple of extra steps in, but nineteen and a half feet? As Hamilton points out, it's not even close. He's wandered too far from the campfire and paid the price. Garcia knows it: he lays on the ground for a second or two after being tagged out, and I can't help but wonder which language he's using to swear at himself.
• I've also finally figured out who Yan Gomes reminds me of. He stared down the first base line like he caught Garcia trying to sneak off with the treasure in Arch Stanton's grave. "Next time, you will not live to regret your mistakes, Garcia. I will make sure of it. Ask around the league. They know it to be true."
• The ball goes from Gomes' glove to Napoli's in 1.48 seconds. Traveling 78.1 miles per hour for a total of 90 feet, the ball cruises through the air for only .79 seconds. This puts Gomes' total reaction time — from crouch to throw — at .69 seconds. With reflexes like that, I wonder who Rosenhaus ought to be comparing to a cat (although the answer is probably "nobody" because these are grown men). Hamilton compares him to Johnny Bench; I'm not sure Bench could ever pop so quickly.
• Danny Salazar describing the play, according to MLB.com: "That was amazing. I know he gave Napoli an eye or something, to be there. It got me. I was surprised. I didn't think he was going to throw there, but he did and he got the out. That was huge."
• It's interesting to consider the chemistry between a first baseman and a catcher. According to Jordan Bastian, Tito Francona said that "Gomes and first baseman Mike Napoli have been discussing and strategizing pick-off plays since Spring Training." Has Gomes been able to build this kind of rapport with other first basemen with whom he has played? I would be fascinated to hear them talk about it. We always hear about the kind of unspoken rhythm that a pitcher and catcher develop, or the unconscious connection of a double play duo. Shouldn't it make sense that the guys who catch things all season have a similar kinship? Many catchers move to first base when they die age. Regardless, it's clear that the work they've put in will continue to pay dividends, and I hope that Roberto Perez is involved as well.
• It's wonderful to see Gomes making excellent plays like this in April. Let's hope the Tribe reaps the benefits of Gold Glove talent behind the plate all season.