Run it out: How a Cardinal minor leaguer hit an infield pop up a -

Run it out: How a Cardinal minor leaguer hit an infield pop up and ended up on third base

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ST. LOUIS ( -- In Little League, everyone is told to run everything out. Little roller back to the mound? Sprint out of the box. A soft pop up? You better be hustling.

This is primarily designed to teach kids to play the game with hustle and respect their competition, but it’s also because eight-year-olds are one of humanity’s most hilariously incompetent groups when it comes to athletic consistency, and make mistakes all the time in the field.

By the time players reach the majors and sign million-dollar contracts that are based on the premise of them being healthy, wholesale sprinting on every batted ball usually goes out the window. The chance of an MLB player botching a routine play is roughly the same as calling the right number in roulette, so players don’t want to risk the injury for nothing.

But Thursday night, in the perfect confluence of events, baseball gave us one of the most cartoonishly bizarre plays in recent memory.

It happened in Double-A, where players have nothing to lose and everything to prove, and disorganization can still find a foothold in the field.

That’s Randy Arozarena, a recently-promoted outfielder on the Springfield Cardinals, lofting a seventh inning infield pop up that traveled roughly 65 feet and somehow reaching third base. It was a baffling comedy of errors exacerbated by a very fast young man giving every ounce of effort in his body. Let's look at how it happened. 

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As you can see here, the ball was up long enough for four different Midland RockHounds (Oakland Athletics) infielders to close in. They appear to have it surrounded, and by the looks of it, have enough redundancy to guarantee an out.


Take a moment to appreciate the three other infielders in this shot.

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The guy on the right looks like he just saw an old lady trip on the sidewalk, and wants to help her up, but is just too nervous around strangers to really commit to anything.

The guy in the upper left of the frame has the exact body language of a parent who just told their child to stop running and is now watching them cry about their scraped knee.

No. 32 is shaken to his very foundation. That’s a man who had a dream about this moment last night and is wondering how he’s going to face the world now that his true power has revealed itself.

All the while, Arozarena is hauling. Maybe he knew it would fall. Maybe he had the same dream.

Our intrepid infielders have collected themselves, and now realize Arozarena is heading toward second base. Notice how close the second baseman is to the bag, and notice Arozarena isn’t anywhere in frame. You can’t even see his shadow yet.

No. 32 is still grappling with the realization that time may be an infinite loop, and that he may have lived this moment thousands of times before.

Impossibly, Arozarena beat everyone to the bag with ease. The second baseman hasn’t even made it to the dirt yet. This is the moment that elevates this from a quirky outcome perpetrated by hustle to baseball high art.

Arozarena is going full-tilt into second and never even thought about a slide. Number 30 initially is shocked, but look at his body language in this picture. It’s a combination of frustration, and fatalism and that’s because he just realized what Arozarena has known since he rounded first.

There’s no one anywhere near third base.

I’m not sure what the guy with the ball was thinking he was going to do, but given how disorganized this play has been to this point, it’s hard to blame the umpire for looking like he just saw the Luftwaffe fly into view.

I know this looks close, but that guy doesn’t even have the ball. That’s how ahead of everyone Arozarena was. He shocked the RockHounds into forgetting you need a baseball to record an out in the sport of baseball.

Finally, hats off to Johnny Rodriguez, who though his player wasn’t even looking at him, continued to point at third to tell him to hold up there. Who can blame him? It’s entirely possible Arozarena could look up and notice the third baseman was looking away and just take off for home. He’s already proven Mad Max-ian levels of abandon on the basepaths. Anything is possible.

Arozarena would eventually score from third to tie the game, and the Cardinals won 2-1. The 22-year-old Cuban has just one hit in four games at Double-A, but he should already be proud. He managed to travel 270 feet on a ball that went 65.  

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