Baseball, like life itself, has a funny way of reminding us that we are never in control
All Cheslor Cuthbert wanted to do was catch the ball. It's simple enough, right? A foul popup near the third-base dugout. Catch the ball, get the second out. Almost done with the inning. It's easy.
But what if it isn't?
The above describes the confusing scene in the ninth inning of Thursday afternoon's A's-Royals game. Corban Joseph lofted a simple popup near the A's dugout. Cuthbert, manning third base, ranged over and made a catch. But then the A's scored a run anyway. It was weird:
And I mean SUPER weird. I, personally, cannot recall seeing a play like this happen in my two-decades-plus of baseball watching. I'm sure it has happened before, maybe, but it definitely doesn't happen very frequently.
It was so confusing, even A's pitcher Tanner Roark didn't know what was going on. Here he is, sitting on the top bench in the dugout, throwing his arms up into a "safe" position, as if to say "no, that's not a catch!" after Cuthbert tumbles down the steps:
It was a catch, though. The run scored because Cuthbert left the field of play or, in this case, fell down the dugout steps after making the play. Roark's confusion is understandable, as he wasn't the only one thrown off by this sequence. The A's radio broadcast team sounded bewildered, as was Cuthbert and, visibly, some of the other players on the field. It was a bit of a mess.
After emerging from the dugout, Cuthbert had a stunned look on his face when it him that yes, the run had scored despite his fine effort:
Cheslor, I feel for you, man. We all want to do what's right. It's instilled in each of us beginning when we're tiny little babies and, later, toddlers, told to share and get along with each other in school.
Professional athletes do everything under intense scrutiny and a microscope of expectation the rest of us can't begin to fathom. On the baseball diamond, this translates to world-class players doing everything they can to impress their teammates, coaches, front-office staff and fans, as well as anybody else who might be watching.
But what do you do after "doing the right thing," only to have it all go wrong? In this case, Cuthbert's strong defensive play was rewarded by ... the other team scoring a run, which in this case loomed large as the A's held on, 9-8, to win the game.
If I'm Cuthbert, I'm feeling pretty confused even now, well after the final out was recorded. Not only confusion stemming from this obscure baseball rule coming into play, but also that gnawing sense of "I made the play, but got burned for it? That's not fair."
Frankly, it isn't fair, but such is life. A lot of what happens to us on a daily basis isn't "fair," but we just go on anyway. It doesn't mean we shouldn't continue to do the right thing whenever possible.
So, Cheslor Cuthbert: Go ahead, make this play next time it happens. I really doubt this bizarre sequence will befall you a second time.
Adrian Garro joined MLB.com in 2016. Throughout his travels, both Bartolo Colon and Vin Scully have placed their hands on his shoulders. Not at the same time, though. That'd be amazing.