Monday, October 17, 2005

Baseball the Way It Oughta Be

That was the slogan of the 1986 Mets. It is problematic in that context, given that cocaine-induced frenzy is usually not an essential ingredient in quality baseball. But in the context of today's top of the ninth inning in Houston, it is exactly apt. That half-inning was the best baseball I have seen in a long time.

Astros lead 2-1 to start the inning, with their superb closer Brad Lidge on the mound. Pujols falls behind 0-2 but fights a base hit into center, which caroms off Tavares but Lane in RF is backing up to keep the runner at first. Walker also falls behind, but battles until he singles to right, moving Pujols to third. Reggie Sanders grounds to Ensberg, who charges the ball and makes a nice throw to Ausmus to get Pujols at home, keeping the lead. But then, Walker, who had gone to second, sneaks over to third when the Astros don't confirm the timeout, as Ensberg had to leave his post to get the out at home. A great defensive play followed by a great baserunning play. So there's 1 out with runner on first and third. Then, to cap it off, Bruntlett, Everett and Berkman combine for a 4-6-3 double play off a slow ball hit by John Mabry that is just in time -- if it was a hair slower the game is tied. If you have access to a replay, watch Berkman on that play. He was playing in to cut off the run, went to his right (away from first base) to start to field the grounder, but then reverses field to get back to first in time to stretch and complete the twin-killing.

What makes a great inning? To me, when every player plays to his best with no mistakes, and it combines for a high energy, tense finish. That one had it all.

Congrats also to the White Sox, who not only displayed the best starting pitching anyone has seen in decades, but have also endowed A.J. Pierzynski with mind warp powers that can make opponents (or maybe just the Angels) do really dumb things. (SuperNoVa is justifiably enjoying himself right now.)


At 12:47 AM, Blogger the wolf said...

How does one celebrate a pennant? I'm not used to it!

At 1:36 PM, Blogger El Gran Color Naranja said...

The take-out slide by the pinch runner was pretty good to.

The only thing I don't like is the post-game criticizing of Pujols going on the grounder. It just goes to show, you'll get praised if you try to make something happen and force the other team to execute...unless the other team executes and nothing happens.


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