Wait, you thought the New York Yankees were actually going to hold a first inning lead?
That’s unfortunate, because Gary Sanchez did literally everything in his power to undo Brett Gardner’s electrifying triple and subsequent run.
In the bottom of the first, Javier Baez ripped a single into left field off Jordan Montgomery, and Jonathan Villar, a notoriously aggressive baserunner — sometimes to a fault — decided to test Joey Gallo’s rocket for an arm.
The play went about as you expected, for a second. Gallo fired a bouncing strike and Villar was dead to rights…by about 20 feet.
The only problem?
Sanchez delivered arguably the worst play by a catcher we’ve ever seen, stepping out of Villar’s way and tagging him on the helmet while the Mets infielder slid in safely, albeit after a lengthy replay review.
Gary Sanchez cost the Yankees a run with an embarrassing tag attempt.
The slowed-down version makes it look so much worse.
There’s just no rationalizing what Sanchez was thinking here. You’re a fully-padded catcher and Villar probably would’ve given himself up had you stood your ground. Why did he step out of the way?
MLB rules permit catchers to block home plate if there’s a runner charging full speed at them. That’s the real kicker here. Villar wasn’t even running full speed! He was baiting Sanchez to give him an excuse to slide under the tag and the two-time All-Star did exactly that, en route to becoming a meme on Twitter.
If that isn’t a microcosm of the Yankees’ 2021 season, then nothing is.
In poetic fashion, Gallo bailed out Sanchez’s mistake by restoring the Yankees lead with a laser of a solo home run to center field in the next inning.
However, thats not going to be what’s remembered from this game. There’s just no escaping a gaffe of this magnitude. Sanchez deserves to wear this.