Last night in St. Louis, the Chicago Cubs were playing the St. Louis Cardinals. In the second inning, Jedd Gyorko of the Cardinals hit a pop foul that was drifting towards the stands. The Cubs shortstop Addison Russell raced all the way across the field to the short brick wall and gave up his body, diving into the stands to try and make the catch. (All the more notable to Cubs fans since he had just come off a six-week stint on the Disabled List with plantar fasciitis in his right foot.) The ball ended up out of his reach -- though he did come up with something: his arm covered in nachos. A fan, Andrew Gudermutch, had carefully pulled his tray out of the way when he saw the Cubs shortstop barreling towards him -- what he didn't count on, though, was Russell leg go flying, after which the nachos did, as well.
At the time, I thought how fun it would be if Russell, after getting back to the dugout between innings, had word sent to the guy that he'd pay for a new order of nachos. Russell took that idea and ratcheted it up several notches.
The second inning ended, and the Cubs went to the dugout for their turn at bat. They scored three runs in the top of the inning, and then took the field in the bottoming of the third. But when all the Cubs ran out on the field to their positions...Addison Russell headed over to the stands, like a waiter -- holding a tray of nachos and cheese sauce, which he delivered to Gudermutch!
While the delivery has gotten all the attention, something else impressed me more. While you'd think it would be the fan who'd be so pleased that he'd thank the ballplayer first, it's actually Russell himself who took the initiative of reaching out and offering his hand to shake with the guy. Not shabby. And when Gudermutch asks to take a selfie with Russell, he happily agrees and poses and waits for the guy to set up the shot with the nachos and his girlfriend in frame -- now that may not seem much, and just a normal, polite thing to do...but remember: there's a baseball game going on, and Russell's team has long been on the field warming up. So, it struck me as exceedingly thoughtful of Russell to stick around for the shot.
It turns out that the Cardinals management had bought Gudermutch a new order of nachos. He was, after all, trying to get out of the way. So, he ended up with a double serving. The Cardinals' came fully loaded, Russell's with cheese sauce only...
As for the Cubs' delivery, that turns out to have been the team manager Joe Maddon's idea. Russell later explained why. "You don't get in front of a man and his nachos," he said.
What's fun, too, is that announcers for both teams began referring to Andrew Gudermutch as "Nacho Man" through all this. At one point, the Cubs announcer noted how his girlfriend, "Nacho Woman doesn't seem all that pleased by this." And clearly, word of all that got back to the guy, because by the time the game was over, he'd already created a new Twitter account for "Nacho Man" and tweeted the photo.
Russell told the Cubs website about the play. "Initially off the bat, I was thinking I could make the play. I really didn't get a sense of where the fence was. It looked like [outfielder Ben Zobrist] wasn't anywhere close. I didn't see the fence and collided with it and got all nacho'ed up."
As for stopping to have the photo-op with Gudermutch, he added :
"Normally, I don't do that but being the case of me being nacho'ed all over and my cleats even, so I was like, you know what, why not? Once in a lifetime experience."
And now that you're up to speed about all that happened, this is a video of the entire sequence edited together. It begins with the aftermath of Addison Russell's dive, so you can see the messy result, and then goes into an instant replay that got things there. Eventually, they add in later the part with Russell making his food delivery appearance.
And best of all, the Cubs won 10-2, clinching at least a tie for the National League Central Division title.