Once upon a time, Danys Baez was known as “2005 All-Star Danys Baez.” Representing the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, he successfully saved 30 games in 33 chances before boarding a freight train and traveling the next town he was needed, in this case Los Angeles.
And then for a while, nothing happened. One morning, Danys woke up and it was May 25, 2011. He put any thoughts of his pretty abysmal previous appearances out of his head. He tried not to think about the city of Philadelphia performing a collective face palm if he trotted out to the mound. He tried not to give up any two-run doubles while brushing his teeth. It was a very standard Danys Baez kind of morning.
A funny thing happened at the game that night. Not only did it go 19 innings, but Danys pitched five of them. And not only that, he didn’t allow any runs to score. There was another team playing, they remembered their bats, and they had plenty of players. One of them was leading the league in home runs. Another one was the defending NL MVP. And yet, Danys refused to allow them to score.
For five consecutive innings, he chose to pack a career’s worth of spectacular pitching and luck into the middle of the year’s longest contest. Sure, we all had a chortle at Wilson Valdez coming out in the 19th and winning the game, but Danys’ performance was so groin-grabbingly terrific they couldn’t stop him from grabbing his groin.
Speaking of groins, Jamie Moyer has one. He may very well injure it, as he has many other parts of his body through the close to a half century he’s been alive. And yet, he’s out there, prepared for more baseball–this time in Colorado. Danys, however, is convinced his most effective days are behind him, and has chosen to pack it in.
If there is a Danys Baez moment more memorable to Phillies fans than the five inning firestorm of May 25, I do not know it. I feel like it may not exist. Sometimes I wonder if the one we know about even exists. However, Danys is keen on letting us enjoy those five innings forever, as he retreats to a life of physics and animal-loving.