There’s no crying in baseball, but apparently there is kicking.
During the eighth inning of Wednesday’s American League Central battle between the Indians and Royals, Cleveland designated hitter Franmil Reyes drilled a four-seam fastball from Kansas City relief pitcher Josh Staumont right back up the middle. In almost any other instance, Reyes would have added a single to the box score but, whether out of incredible awareness or total luck, Staumont stopped the ball with his foot.
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The ball bounced off Staumont’s left cleat, flew into the air and landed in Carlos Santana’s glove. Santana then tagged Reyes out before he could slide safely into first base.
To borrow an old hockey phrase, this was “a kick save and a beauty!”
That may go down as the most bizarre out of the 2021 season, but it isn’t the best kick in MLB history: That honor goes to former Reds outfielder Paul O’Neill, who angrily booted a ball back toward the infield during a 1989 game against the Phillies.
“(Lenny) Dykstra hits me a ball, it’s wet, and I’m thinking it’s a do-or-die play,” O’Neill said (via MLB.com). “I come up with it or we lose. … I kicked straight-on, George Blanda-style. I thought the game was over. I thought I’d lost the game.”
O’Neill didn’t lose the game in that moment, but Cincinnati did eventually fall to Philadelphia. Staumont was solid in 1 1/3 innings of work, striking out two batters and not allowing a hit, but similar to O’Neill, his team ultimately lost.
Hey, at least we’ll always have those sweet kicks.