It happened on Tuesday night, during a game that I wasn’t even watching.
But Twitter lit up (or at least like, six people tweeted about it) with wows over a slick play in the field by Rangers’ shortstop Elvis Andrus.
I, of course, am well-versed in watching Texas Rangers baseball on my cellular device, and I knew that the delay on the FoxSportsGo app would allow me to catch the play live. I closed Twitter, opened FSGo, and found Mike Minor with one on and no outs facing Jonathan Lucroy in the seventh inning.
*owen wilson voice*— Texas Rangers (@Rangers) April 17, 2019
Immediately, before the play was even over, the baseball alarm in the back of my brain was buzzing. I had a momentary flashback to 2011, to the second game of the fateful Rangers/Cardinals World Series.
The Rangers had, if you recall, lost a tight Game 1 to St. Louis by a score of 3-2. Game 2 was equally tense, scoreless through four innings with Colby Lewis on the mound for the Rangers.
Elvis and our old pal Ian Kinsler had turned a nifty double play to get the Rangers out of the fourth, where Andrus fielded a well-placed Matt Holliday grounder and shovel-passed the ball to Kinsler at second. Kinsler barehanded it, touched and turned, and got Holliday by a full step at first base to end the inning.
Lewis was great that night, but in the fifth inning what originally looked like an innocuous 0-2 single by eight-hole hitter Nick Punto turned into some trouble for Lewis after he then walked pitcher Jaime Garcia to bring up Rafael Furcal at the top of the Cardinals’ order.
Furcal had doubled in his previous at bat, and with an 0-1 series deficit and the Rangers’ bats having been fairly quiet thus far in the series, we were well into butt-clenching territory for Rangers fans.
Furcal took a pitch for an iffy ball one, then fouled one off to the left side, putting the count at 1-1.
Then this happened.
Furcal roped a one-hopper that looked like it would surely get up the middle and into center field, which would have almost certainly scored Punto from second and given the Cardinals a 1-0 lead.
Instead, Elvis Andrus comes out of nowhere and dives for the ball behind second, then offers a perfectly-placed, straight-from-the-glove flip to Ian Kinsler, who was led to the bag by the toss and beat Jaime Garcia by a fraction of a second.
The play was very similar to Andrus’ play from Tuesday night against the Angels, but it was a more difficult version of such, not to mention it was a play that largely impacted a World Series game.
Take a look at where 2011 Elvis was compared to 2019 Elvis at the moment the ball touched their glove.
You can see a difference in degree of difficulty. 2011 Elvis had to range deeper behind second base and finished his dive in the outfield grass, and with the angle he had to take he wound up facing centerfield.
Where the 2019 Elvis could just kind of flop up and flip to second, 2011 Elvis had to add an extra crawl/shuffle just to orient himself more towards the bag. Then he had to heave a Hail Mary of a glove-flip to Kinsler, a longer toss than what was required on Tuesday, which was timed and placed so perfectly that Kinsler caught the ball and stepped on second almost simultaneously.
Just an epic play, the greatest of Elvis’ career thus far when you take into account degree of difficulty and overall significance. The slow motion replay makes it look as though he just flipped the ball into nothingness, before Kinsler sprints in from the right side of the screen and finishes the play. Fifty million Elvis fans rejoiced.
The Rangers would end up allowing a run to the Cardinals in the seventh inning that did indeed give St. Louis a 1-0 lead. But the Rangers would rally back in the top of the ninth with a pair of sacrifice flies, the second of which scored our man Elvis Andrus and gave the Rangers a 2-1 lead.
Neftali Feliz would close it out in the ninth to finish off a stunning, nauseating, desperate, exhilarating, wild-ass Rangers win that tied up the 2011 World Series at one game a piece.
And then, oddly enough, they just called the series. Nothing else happened. That was the end.