The Baseball Desert

Friday, September 10, 2004

Go figure

It's probably easier to guess the winning lottery numbers than it is to predict what will happen on any given day in Major League Baseball. Yesterday was a good case in point: the Royals scored 26 runs in the first game of their doubleheader against the Tigers, and were then promptly shut out by Jeremy Bonderman in Game 2.

Meanwhile, the Red Sox - having won 8 of the 9 games in their crucial series against Anaheim, Texas and Oakland - stumbled against the Mariners, whose 7-1 victory over Boston broke a seven-game losing streak. Given the Red Sox hiccup, the Yankees did themselves a big favour by winning both games of their doubleheader against the Devil Rays, the first 9-1 in front of an Expos-like crowd, the second 10-5, in front of a far more respectable 41,230 fans. The two wins coupled with Boston's loss allowed New York to stretch its lead in the AL East to 3 1/2 games.

I'm not a great advocate of playing baseball games in front of tiny crowds, but I watched a good part of the first game, and it was nice to hear the little details of the game that you miss when there are 50,000 fans in attendance: the crack of the bat, the umpire's ball / strike calls and the fans' encouragement of different players. The atmosphere was almost a kind of batting practice one, and, for once, it felt like I had my own private major league baseball game going. I can't claim to have gained any kind of major insight into the game (except maybe the discovery that Gary Sheffield's mighty swing is even scarier when it's accompanied by a vicious crack of the bat), but for a couple of hours it at least felt like being a true baseball insider.