The Baseball Desert

Wednesday, November 19, 2003

Baseball, the Internet & me (Part III)


When it’s played well, baseball is a game which has an almost balletic quality to it. I’m not saying that other sports don’t sometimes have that same quality, it’s just that it seemed to me that baseball had more of those graceful, athletic moments than other sports that I had seen up to that point. There are lots of extraordinary examples that can be cited – Willie Mays’ amazing catch in the ’54 World Series, Brooks Robinson’s amazing plays in the 1970 World Series – but what amazed me the most were the ordinary aspects of the game – I watched pitchers throw curveballs which defied the laws of gravity, I watched hitters react to having a projectile thrown at them (sorry, to them – Pedro Martinez wasn’t pitching…) from 60 feet away by hitting it over a fence 400 feet from home plate and, my favourite thing of all, I watched teams turn ‘routine’ double-plays which left me speechless. If there’s one baseball play I love above all others – whether it be at Little League or Major League level – it’s the double-play. There is a level of co-ordination required to get the ball cleanly from shortstop to second base to first base before the hitter runs those 90 feet that still amazes me even today. The overriding images that stayed with me from my initial exposure to baseball – outside of the look of despair on Bill Buckner’s face when that ground ball got by him – were those of a shortstop leaping in the air to avoid the runner charging in, whilst making a perfect throw to first base to retire the hitter. For people raised on baseball there’s possibly nothing extraordinary about that play (for it to be extraordinary it needs a behind-the-back flip from the second baseman), but to my foreign eyes, it encapsulated everything that I found exciting in baseball – speed, strength, grace, agility and perfect timing…

Part IV