Pick off plays always carry a prime opportunity for embarrassment, either for the pitcher — if his throw is too high or off line — or the runner, if he happened to stray too far from off base. Still, few pick off plays have ever been more embarrassing than the trick attempt employed by the Delano (Cal.) High baseball team in the video you see below.
As noted by the blog It's Always Sunny in Detroit, with two outs and the bases loaded, Delano desperately needed a way to get out of an inning without allowing any more runs. Rather than risk giving up a game-changing hit, Delano coach Dan Paulson called for a trick play the team calls "El Black."
Now, let's walk through the crafty piece of baseball be-devilment known as El Black, shall we? First, pitcher Davy Aguilar faked a pickoff throw to second base. As soon as he did so, the second baseman rushed over as if he was covering the bag and preparing for a throw.
The trick, of course, was that the throw never came. While everyone in the field reacted as if the ball had soared into the outfield, the pitcher himself still held the ball in his glove. Not knowing this, the runner on third base skipped his way toward home assuming that he could practically trot in with an easy run … only for the pitcher to swivel and gun him out at home with a bullet of a throw from the mound.
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The play is a terrifically executed elementary trick play, perhaps second only to the hidden ball trick. While the fake to second certainly isn't unheard of, it's rarely pulled off as cleanly as it was in Delano.
Of course, the bad news is that the Tigers' success with the trick play in such a key situation will almost certainly raise other people's awareness about the risk of the fake to second play, which will in turn decrease the chance of it being successful again in the future.
That takes nothing away from Delano's successful foray with El Black, not to mention the guts it took to call such a play in a key moment of a game.
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