When I tell you that there have been 721 triple plays in MLB history, the normally prestigious event loses a little bit of its luster.
That's a lot of triple plays: it's less of a rarity than, say, a walk-off grand slam, of which there were fewer than 200 in between 1950 and 2020. The Cubs actually achieved an "ultimate" grand slam in 2018, defined by Baseball Almanac as a grand slam that comes when the home team is trailing by three runs in the bottom of the ninth. It was David Bote who did the deed, one of only 18 in National League history.
Sorry for that tangent. Back to triple plays.
The Cubs added triple play No. 721 to the all-time list on Wednesday, and though that's newsworthy in itself -- there are normally only a few of these trifectas in any given season -- this one was special. More special than the unassisted triple play, of which there have been only 15 since 1900. Perhaps the only other triple play occurrences that rival what the Cubs did were when Eric Bruntlett recorded a walk-off unassisted triple play to end the game against the Mets, or when the Twins turned two triple plays in the same game -- and lost.
That's because the Cubs may not have actually turned a triple play, but were credited with one all the same (via MLB.com).
It's obviously really hard to tell, but from multiple angles available via this ESPN video, you can pretty clearly see that the ball hit the ground a split-second before settling in the glove of third baseman Kris Bryant. We can't blame the umpire for missing this -- it's hard to tell even with a replay. However, the play isn't reviewable according to the MLB rulebook.
The Cubs and the Reds, the opponent on Wednesday, had some social media fun with the odd occurrence.
Bryant reacted exactly how you'd expect someone to react after potentially getting away with a faux triple play.
“I was 100% sure I caught it but looking back at it, it was really close,” Bryant said (via USA Today). “I guess I can put that on my list of things I've accomplished. I don't think I've turned a triple play in my life so that was pretty cool.”