“Deke” is a cool, made-up baseball word. The deke — short for “decoy” — is a play (or maybe it’s better called a “ploy”) that takes advantage of a baserunner who has either a) let his mind wander off, or b) has gotten “lost” during a play and assumed — wrongly — where the ball has gone. Then, trying to just get back into the moment, he acts rashly, assuming where he hopes or thinks the ball is, rather than knowing where it truly is. A crafty fielder can take advantage of that baserunner’s unfortunate momentary lapse.
I have my own version. It’s the Yoga Deke. I’ll get to that another time. First, back to baseball …
In a well-executed deke, a player (usually an infielder, but occasionally an outfielder can get in on things), pretends he either has, or doesn’t have, the ball. He tries to fool the baserunner.If an infielder pretends he has it in his glove — when it actually got past him and is now somewhere in the outfield — a baserunner can get confused, hold up for a precious moment, and lose his chance to take an additional base. If an infielder pretends he doesn’t have the ball — when actually he has hidden it in his glove — a baserunner might idly step off the bag and be tagged out. Outfielders can pretend they cleanly caught a fly ball, when in fact they trapped the ball in the grass, so the play is still “live”. Oh, the possibilities are endless!
My longtime baseball friend Jim Johnson, NTP (Not The Pitcher) reminds me that dekes can also lead to injury, if a baserunner slides aggressively into a base because he thinks he must avoid a tag. He’s right on that count. Although the argument is, of course, had the baserunner been paying attention … well, he would have known better.
(Why is it that when a player is deked, he feels the need to blame someone else for his lapse?)
Dekes don’t pan out very often — at least in the majors — because most players are paying attention and are fully aware of where the ball really is. The deke only works if a baserunner has lost his present moment and starts acting on assumption rather than fact.
OK … here’s one that worked. From just last week, the Reds vs. the Cubs, the Cubs’ Starlin Castro gets lost in the play and does a huge double-take when he thinks the 2nd baseman is fielding the ball for the “out”. It comes up about midway through this clip at about the 1:30 mark. Starlin Castro Gets Deked (I kinda feel bad for the poor guy … )
I think we all lose our focus and then act on assumptions from time to time — in the name of efficiency or simplicity or impatience. We space out in the middle of running our own bases. Well, I do anyway.
Yoga and baseball remind us to be ever-present — right here, right now. To stay in the present moment is to be fully aware and ever-ready. We are more likely to act wisely and appropriately. We are far less likely to fall for a deke.
And, we won’t end up like poor Starlin Castro, who clearly had one very deke’ing bad day.