Friday, April 20, 2007

Intricacies make Baseball a Game of Life

On April 19th, 2007, the St. Louis Cardinals were in San Francisco to play a day game with the Giants, a few hours after a 12-inning affair the evening before.

The Cardinals had Kip Wells on the mound while the Giants countered with lefty Noah Lowry.
Through the first four innings Wells was masterful on the hill as he was changing pitches beautifully and just doing whatever necessary to keep the Giants' hitters out of rhythm. If that wasn't frustrating enough, in the top half of the 5th inning, he even managed to rip a Lowry hanger into the left-field stands. Cardinals 2-0, have a day Mister Wells!

But in baseball you have to make plays. What may seem routine is only routine if the play is consummated entirely. Catch the ball, throw the the ball to a teammate who must also catch the ball. If any of that falters there's a baserunner as a result of the failure to execute. You try to shake that off but a few pitches later you have to remind yourself that there are no outs and that's a mind game that could take you out of yours.

In the bottom of the 5th inning, Ray Durham hit a routine grounder to Aaron Miles, the Antioch native, he gobbled it up and flipped it to Albert Pujols for out number one, uh, Pujols dropped the ball. Durham, hustling down the line was on first with nobody out. You cannot tell me this sort of thing doesn't rattle someone on the field. On the next pitch Ryan Klesko rapped one into triples alley, Durham scores from first and Klesko, well he got a triple. Next batter is Randy Winn. He battles Wells and eventually hits a ball up the middle and Miles going to his right snares the ball but in turning and throwing all in one motion throws a one-hopper to Pujols and Albert waves futilely at a ball that really wasn't that hard of a play. It bounced knee high and yet the error was given to Miles. (This may explain why Albert got the 2006 gold glove for National League first-baseman. The scorekeepers like him so much it affects their judgment when it comes to ruling a mishap that involves Senor Pujols.)

Klesko scored from third and the game was tied 2-2.

The entire complexion of the game changed because of a routine grounder that was not taken care of by the fielder and his teammate on the receiving end. It breathed life into a team that for four innings was befuddled and bamboozled at the plate. More importantly, for the hometown Giants, it rattled Kip Wells enough to take him out of the magical groove he had been in until that lapse.

When you hear sports being referred to as a game of attrition this is what they're talking about.
A Yogi Berra quote is usually apropos. "90% of the game is half mental."