February 23, 2024

It was a big moment for Ronald Acuña Jr.

When the Atlanta Braves slugger stole second base in the bottom of the 10th inning Wednesday night against the Chicago Cubs, he became the first player in Major League Baseball to hit at least 40 home runs and steal at least 70 bases in a single season.

But it was also a crucial moment for the visiting Cubs, who are fighting for their playoff lives. Acuña had just helped the Braves tie the game with an RBI single and now stood in scoring position with the chance to deliver another potentially devastating blow to Chicago’s postseason aspirations.

It was not the moment to stop the game and recognize Acuña’s accomplishment — at least not as far as Cubs TV announcers Jon “Boog” Sciambi and Jim Deshaies were concerned.

Acuña was allowed to remove the base to save for posterity, while another was put in its place on the field. The crowd at Truist Park stood and cheered as a video honoring Acuña played in the stadium.

Meanwhile, Sciambi and Deshaies voiced their displeasure on the Marquee Sports Network broadcast.

Sciambi: “We’re really stopping the game to do a highlight montage?”

Deshaies: “Can we get the base after the game? This is pretty absurd. I mean, it’s a hell of an accomplishment, but …”

Sciambi: “Totally, but you can’t stop the game to run a highlight montage.”

The Times reached out to Marquee Sports Network for comment from Sciambi and Deshaies and did not receive an immediate response. The Braves declined to comment for this article.

After the game resumed, Ozzie Albies singled on the second pitch to bring Acuña across the plate for a 6-5 Braves win. With the loss, the Cubs dropped to 82-76 and into a tie with the Miami Marlins for the final National League wild-card spot with four games remaining.

Braves' Ronald Acuna Jr. holds up a bag after stealing second base against the Chicago Cubs.

Braves’ Ronald Acuña Jr. holds up the second-base bag after swiping his 70th stolen base of the season.

(John Bazemore / Associated Press)

Acuña has 41 home runs this season. No other 40-home run hitter had stolen more than 46 bases the same year (Alex Rodriguez in 1998).

MLB players have 3,418 stolen bases this season. That is the third most in the league’s live-ball era (since 1920), behind only the 3,421 stolen in 1999 and the 3,585 stolen in 1987. Base runners this season have been helped by a new rule that allows pitchers to step off the rubber only twice during a plate appearance. Also, the bases are bigger at 18 square inches, up from 15 in previous seasons.

Acuña and the Dodgers’ Mookie Betts are considered to be the front runners in the NL MVP race, and a milestone moment in the final week of the regular season might have been enough to put the Braves star over the top.

Acuña seemed to appreciate the opportunity to soak it all in.

“It’s really an incredible moment,” he told reporters after the game through an interpreter.

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