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The 5 most memorable plate appearances of the 2021 Cubs season, ranked

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This year’s Cubs weren’t a team you’ll want to remember. But these 5 moments, you will.

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Normally, an article like this would be headlined “The 5 most memorable Cubs plate appearances of 2021.”

You’re probably surmising, then, that I have a specific reason for headlining this post the way I did, and you’d be right about that.

These five were the ones I remember most from the 2021 Cubs season, and the first involves a player batting against the Cubs... against a guy not normally a pitcher.

5) Anthony Rizzo strikes out Freddie Freeman, April 28 [VIDEO].

The reigning NL MVP was laughing his head off at being struck out by what Gameday called a “61.4 MPH curveball.” (Hint: I think not.)

Turned out we could use the laughs. And remember, this came only 10 days after Rizzo caught Freeman in a rundown at Wrigley, yelling “Frederick! Frederick!” at him:

There will be more laughs to come in this article.

4) Andrew Romine homers off Craig Kimbrel, August 6

Situation: The White Sox are leading the trade-depleted Cubs 4-1 in the bottom of the eighth. The Cubs have lost seven of their last nine and the Sox are leading the AL Central by 9½ games. The just-traded Kimbrel is making his first appearance at Wrigley since the deal. He’s given up two singles but also struck out two Cubs when up comes Romine.

Entering that at-bat, Romine has a total of 10 career home runs in 1,341 MLB plate appearances.

So naturally, he runs the count full and takes Kimbrel deep [VIDEO], and ties the game 4-4.

That was perhaps the funniest Wrigley moment of 2021, coming completely out of nowhere. Since Romine announced his retirement (on Instagram!) after the season, that was his last MLB homer. I hope he got the ball, which bounced out of the bleachers. It was one of just 11 hits he had for the Cubs in ‘21.

Befitting the 2021 season, the Cubs lost the game anyway, 8-6 in 10 innings.

3) Patrick Wisdom singles after a 15-pitch at-bat, June 20

The Cubs rookie was having himself a month. He’d been named NL Player of the Week the first week of June for batting .435/.458/1.261 (10-for-23) with seven runs, six home runs, nine RBI; and a 1.719 OPS.

He’d cooled off a bit by June 20, but still had a .960 OPS and six home runs in June entering this game, which he didn’t start.

In the fifth inning, the Marlins pulled starter Zach Thompson and replaced him with lefthander Ross Detweiler, so David Ross sent Wisdom up to bat for Jason Heyward.

Then this happened [VIDEO].

Wisdom ran the count to 2-2, fouled off five pitches, took ball three, then fouled off four more pitches before singling to shortstop.

That turned out to be fairly important. Wisdom eventually scored the Cubs’ second run of the game, an insurance tally in a 2-0 win over the Marlins.

2) Anthony Rizzo homers after a 14-pitch at-bat, June 11

This game was highly anticipated. It was the first Wrigley game of 2021 with full fan capacity, and 35,112 paid on a gorgeous summer Friday afternoon to see the Cubs play the Cardinals. Entering the game the Cubs and Brewers were tied for first place in the NL Central.

St. Louis scored three in the top of the fifth off Kohl Stewart to take a 5-1 lead. In the bottom of the inning the Cubs matched that with a three-run frame of their own.

So the Cubs trailed by one going to the bottom of the sixth. Rizzo stepped up to the plate against Daniel Ponce de Leon with one out and no one on base.

Then this happened [VIDEO].

Ponce de Leon got a 1-2 count on Rizzo, who then fouled off six pitches in a row. Rizzo took ball two, fouled off three more pitches, then smashed a ball out of the yard to tie the game 5-5. It wasn’t “Montero grand slam in the NLCS” loud, but the roar was awfully loud.

The Cubs took the lead on a two-run double by Joc Pederson in the seventh and added one more on a Willson Contreras homer in the eighth and won 8-5. All seemed wonderful in Wrigleyville.

Sigh.

1) Javier Báez pulls El Mago tricks on the basepaths, May 27 [VIDEO]

I don’t know what I can say about this El Mago magic that hasn’t already been said. Not only is it the Cubs play of the year, it could be the play of the decade and we’re only two years into the 2020s.

Jayson Stark summed up this play just perfectly in The Athletic:

He went forward. Then backward. Then somehow tricked Pirates first baseman Will Craig into a highly regrettable throw home. Then actually took time out of his incredible journey to give home-plate ump Ryan Additon some invaluable assistance by calling Willson Contreras safe at the plate.

Then our man Javy shifted back into base-running mode and somehow or other ended up at second base, apparently because he’d mysteriously hypnotized our entire planet — obviously including everyone else on the field — into spinning in reverse.

Javy! He’s the David Copperfield of baseball. I will be laughing every time I see this for the rest of my life.

So will I.