The Baseball Desert

Monday, January 02, 2006

Don't Look Back In Anger

One of the beauties of baseball is that - like chess - it has a very rigid framework within which there exists an almost infinite number of possible situations. That old cliché about coming to the ballpark and possibly seeing something you've never seen before is a cliché because it's true. This is due in part to baseball's obsession with statistics - once you reach a certain level of detail, almost every statistic is new and exciting ("in a May 24 game against Chicago, Bartolo Colon became the first ever 250-pound Dominican right-hander to strike out 6 or more White Sox on his birthday") - but it is also due in part to there being some really weird stuff going on in ballparks around America. I can think of no other sport where the chances of seeing something new over the course of one game are so high.

I couldn't begin to round up the weirdness that was 2005, so I'll leave you in the very capable hands of ESPN's Jayson Stark and his Strange but true feats of 2005. My favourite was this gem from the Chicago Cubs:
Don't Try This At Home Dept.: The Phillies scored two runs on a line drive back to the pitcher in their May 6 visit to Wrigley Field. Here's how that happened: LaTroy Hawkins caught it and tried to double the runner off first base (Jose Offerman) -- but hit him in the helmet. Next stop for that baseball? A trip into the stands. That allowed the tying and winning runs to score in the most unusual blown save of the year.
My own personal favourite play of the year happened in a Red Sox / Twins game on July 29: with runners on first and second, Johnny Damon hit a single to right which, thanks to a series of Minnesota errors, scored three runs, including the final one scored by Damon when a throw to the plate hit him in the head.

What a great game - you couldn't make a play like that up even if you tried. May the 2006 season prove to be just as fascinating and inventive.