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Boston Red Sox — The Boston RED SOX

May 2, 2006

I don’t know why a certain-broadcaster-I-admire wanted Sox fans to cheer turncoat Johnny Damon’s return to Fenway, but I wasn’t at the game to participate one way or the other.

Yeah, Damon was part of that team. But the Red Sox didn’t trade him away. He chose to go — to New York of all places. He brought the fans’ reaction upon himself.

Still, I feel a little bad for him. Somewhat. Go figure. He just seemed uncomfortable— out of sorts —as he tipped his hat to the once-adoring, newly-booing Fenway crowd.

Could have been worse, Johnny. You could have been the president, and the Fenway crowd could have been Steven Colbert!

Baseball fans, read on, I have a question for you…

What the fuck is up with the “neighborhood play” — where, in Major League Baseball, the defense doesn’t have to actually touch second base in the course of turning a double play — they just have to be in the “neighborhood” and it’s called an out?

Is it that double plays are exciting and the league wants more of them to give the fans a show?

Is it that double plays speed the game up?

Now that most of the games are televised on cable, do they really need to be sped up anymore?

Real double plays are exciting, but the “neighborhood play” cheapens them. What is also exciting is an offensive rally. When do double plays happen? When someone has reached base, and their teammate has successfully made contact… Is it a fielder’s choice? Or a double play? Or an inning ending double play, even? Does the offense get to continue the inning with a runner (or runners) on base? Do they get to continue the inning at all? Could this be the start of an offensive rally? The drama!

Ok, so the batter’s made pretty good contact, but he hit the ball right at an infielder — the bum. But still… say the infielder bobbles the ball, or the guy covering second is too far off the bag, or it’s a bad throw and the cover-ers foot comes off the bag before the ball gets there… shouldn’t the poor sap running down to first be afforded the extra time it takes the defense to make sure to actually touch the base? Would actually tagging the base not also afford the runner approaching second a better opportunity to break-up the play? (Ok, so maybe the “neighborhood play” is a safety thing… But safety is for chumps!)

Case in point: last night, Red Sox-Yankees, tied with three runs each in the bottom of 6th inning, Red Sock, Wily Mo Pena had singled and was on first base.

The next play reads like this in the game log:

Mirabelli grounded into fielder’s choice, third baseman A.Rodriguez to second baseman R.Cano, Mirabelli to first, W.Pena out.

But here is what really happened: Mirabelli hits a double play ball, third baseman A.Rodriguez makes a shitty throw that pulls second baseman R.Cano off the bag — the runner is called out anyway, Cano’s throw to first is in the dirt and the runner is safe, Mirabelli to first, W.Pena out.

So here is a case where both legs of the double play attempt failed, but the Yankees still got the benefit of the “neighborhood play.” Yes, it was the hated Yankees. Yes, Your Montag is biased. But the Red Sox would go on to win the game 7 to 3 — won on a Loretta RBI and iced when David Ortiz’ pounded a square-peg three-run homer into the round-hole of a strong head-wind (off side-winder, leftie-killer, leather-faced psycho, Mike Myers.) So the play in question was of little import to the outcome of the game. Just take my word for it, would ya? I hate the fucking “neighborhood play!”

If it can’t be gotten rid of it, can’t the “fucking thing” at least be tightened up a little bit?

PS: ever try to explain baseball to someone from overseas? Or to a kid? This type of shit doesn’t help.

  1. May 4, 2006 1:18 AM

    “ever try to explain baseball to someone from overseas?”

    That’s crazy talk.

  2. May 5, 2006 7:59 AM

    It’s fun! So long as you don’t mind being humbled by a surprising lack of ability to communicate what you hadn’t realized was an innate knowledge of the game gained through years of childhood play, for which your companion has no frame of reference.

    It’s especially fun if your companion’s imperfect knowledge of English is far outstripped by your own pitiful knowledge of their language.

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