Saturday 21 April 2012

2 on, Nobody out. Line Drive

I could have called the blog 'Man, I Love Baseball', but that seemed to obvious and/or generic. Of course I love it. Hundreds of hours of my life spent thinking about it, voluntarily, make that apparent. There are times, though where I LOVE baseball. I watched Doc no-hit the Reds in a playoff game. Loved every minute of it. I had never sat down to watch a game before, and had it become a no-hitter. Nobody knew that would happen, and I watched it unfold with a mix of nervousness and excitement. That was cool.

There are a lot of things that you see very rarely in baseball. Fans hope that they see a player have a three or four home run game, or a no-hitter, or an outfielder starting a double play. An inside the park home run is always memorable. This post, is about a play that is one worth waiting for, the triple play.

Baseball has its most exciting moments when fortune smiles on one team or other. There are a few seconds of tension created after the pitcher releases the ball, before it is touched by a fielder, where nobody is sure what the result will be. When a fly ball heads deep into the corner with two outs and runners on, the fielder gives chase. That moment, where all eyes are waiting for a huge swing in the chances of winning the game, that encapsulates the reason baseball is unique and worth watching. Either runners score, fulfilling their purpose, or they disappear, representing only the opportunity unrealised.

The ultimate reversal of fortune is the triple play. The circumstances that bring one about require specific kinds of failures on the part of the defending team. There must be two or more runners on base. There must be none out. Thousands of innings go by without either of those first two criteria being fulfilled. The runners must be aggressive, with there first move being to advance to the next base. A pop-up or fly ball will not work. The ball must be hit sharply, again, the pitcher must fail again. Everything seems to be going wrong for the defence at this point. It really is. The run expectancy for runners on first and second, nobody out, is around 1.5 runs. Teams score all the time with this setup. About half the time they go on to score two!

And then, once in a very long while, chance says no, throw out your expectations. Magic happens. The sharply hit ball finds a fielder's glove, he's close to a base, and his instincts take over, telling him to get as many outs as he possibly can. Which is just what happened to Adam Lind last night.
Shout out to Blue Jay Hunter for the GIF action.
Simple enough, catch the ball, quickly to first, fire to second. Walk off the field. Suddenly everything has changed. Adam was interviewed by Jerry Howarth, and kept emphasising "It happened so fast, and we were back in the dugout." Yes, because if you had time to think about it, you wouldn't have had time to do it.

Ricky Romero thought it was significant enough to tweet about after the game.

When a team turns three, the Internet has a ripple sent through it, every website that follows baseball has the highlights, and one team is famous for fifteen minutes. Its a special moment, and one that stands apart from the results of the game.

It feels special to be able to say, yes, I saw that happen. I shared that with all the other fans who were hoping for something magical. I hope that you feel the same way too, when you watch your team. I hope that the magic moments are many and varied, and that they don't take 32 years to come around again.

As I write this, the Blue Jays are still diving and grabbing baseballs like men possessed, so I'm going to lean back and hope for more magic. When I see something special, I'll put it up here again.


  1. The first triple play I ever saw watching a game live was Asdrubal Cabrera's unassisted job against the Blue Jays a few seasons ago. It took 10 or 15 seconds for it to sink in, and for me to realize just what I'd seen. Even though it was crushing (the Jays hadn't been getting good offensive production and it looked like they were finally going to have a big inning) I was absolutely giddy for the rest of the game. Still have a video clip of it on my computer that I watch a few times a year.

    1. Stunning moment, I remember it well. I'm pretty sure that was 2008, and the same series where Wells broke his wrist. Same with Verlander's no-hitter. Sometimes you're a fan of the winner, sometimes the loser, but always the game.