Not long ago, before I turned 21, I used to enjoy going to Yankee games early to catch batting practice and all the other pre-game sights and sounds. Now I have to do things like "go to a bar" and "drink beer" and "stand aggressively close to other sweaty dudes who are reaching over me to get the bartender's attention on a 95-degree July night in the Bronx." I swear life was way better when drinking was not a thing.
Anyway, my favorite part about the pre-game was watching Derek Jeter and Robinson Cano play catch just before first pitch. They'd start out close to each other, Jeter to the right of first base in foul territory and Cano in the grass behind home plate. Then Jeter would get farther and farther away with each throw, to the point where he'd be on the warning track in right field and Cano still behind home plate. They would each effortlessly flick the ball from a long distance, landing it directly in each other's gloves without a hop. It was mesmerizing, particularly the way in which Cano would transfer the ball from his glove to his hand, almost as if you couldn't see it happen because it happened so fast.
That's exactly what this viral video of Omar Vizquel playing catch at the MLB All Star Futures Game on Sunday reminded me of. Vizquel, now 52, might even have faster hands than Cano ever did in his prime. Feel free to spend the next few minutes watching this on repeat, which is an ideal way to pass the time on post Fourth of July Monday:
Absolute sorcery. No wonder he won 11 Gold Gloves and is among the best fielding shortstops to ever do it. Those are the hands of a baseball wizard. He looks like he could be of assistance to a few teams in need of a late-game defensive sub with that glove.
This video of Vizquel playing catch at the 2006 World Baseball Classic is worth a watch as well, specifically the slowed down part around 2:30, which literally looks like a magic trick:
It almost looks as though he's catching it with his bare right hand, but he's really just deflecting it off the glove and into his throwing hand. If any of us went outside and tried this right now, I'd set the over/under of drops at a billion. What a legend. I know what I'll be watching for the rest of the day: