Deke Appropriately, WBC

Oh, China: Runner Dekes Himself in WBC Action

WBCAs a method of last resort, dekes can be an infielder’s best friend. They’re most frequently enacted in an attempt to slow a baserunner’s progress by making him think that the ball is somewhere on the diamond other than where it actually is–and can end up saving runs .

They are deceptive by nature, but, done right, are entirely by the book. (They’re especially by-the-book if the fielder plays no part in deking a baserunner who has clearly just been deked.)

Some explanation: In WBC action on Monday in Japan, Chinese baserunner Fujia Chu swiped second base following Cuban catcher Eriel Sanchez’s botched transfer of the ball to his throwing hand. Chu pulled into second as Sanchez was trotting toward the backstop to corral the ball, then, near the end of the play, inexplicably started jogging back toward first. (Watch it here.)

The initial impression: One of the Cubans told him it was a foul ball.

The more likely scenario, especially given the language barrier: Chu caught a glimpse of the ball in foul territory and made the assumption all on his own.

These are the kinds of things that happen to an inexperienced squad. (China was mercy-ruled, 12-0, in this game. Say no more.) The reason one never sees this happen in the big leagues is that runners are trained to look in to the catcher mid-stride to see the result of the play. Had he been aware of his surroundings, Chu might even have tried for third.

As it was, Cuba gets credited for a heads-up baseball play it likely had nothing to do with.

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5 thoughts on “Oh, China: Runner Dekes Himself in WBC Action

    1. This is where the box score comes up woefully short. Tough to tell on the video, but 2-3-1-6? A line that doesn’t begin to describe what actually happened. And who you calling a nerd?

      1. Haha I definitely meant both of us as a nerds. Imagine what would happen if he made it back to the 1st safely. Does he get credit for the stolen base?

        Reminds me of keeping score in Little League games.

      2. The most famous instance of this happening occurred in 1911, with the great Germany Schaefer. From SABR’s bio:

        On at least one occasion Schaefer stole first base. On August 4, 1911, in the bottom of the ninth, Schaefer stole second, hoping to draw a throw and allow teammate Clyde Milan, who was on third with the potential winning run, to steal home. White Sox catcher Fred Payne didn’t fall for the gambit, however, so Schaefer, now on second, took his lead toward the first-base side of the bag and promptly stole first on a subsequent pitch. Sox manager Hugh Duffy came out to argue, and while Duffy jawed with umpire Tommy Connolly, Schaefer scampered for second again. This time Schaefer got caught in a rundown, as had been his intention, and Milan dashed for home, where he was nipped to end the inning. Schaefer and his teammates then argued unsuccessfully that the play should be nullified because the White Sox had ten players on the field, although Duffy hadn’t been an active player since 1908. The official scorer credited Schaefer with only one stolen base, but he “had a perfect right to go from second back to first,” umpire Connolly insisted after the game.

        Guess that means, no he wouldn’t get credit for the steal. Unless I’m reading it incorrectly, which could well be the case. 2-3-1-6? Come on!

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