The Charm Of Baseball

Buck Showalter Obscure Rule
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The bottom of the 6th inning was so enthralling and fascinating that it probably would have bored the hell out of Rob Manfred’s target audience.

I understand the need to quicken the pace of the game and make it sustainable to a younger crowd so that it remains relevant in the increasingly crowded battle for your entertainment dollar. But the charm is in the details. And the bottom of the 6th inning had enough details for Keith Hernandez to write a sequel to Pure Baseball.

So let’s set it up: It’s 0-0, and the Mets struggled to get anything going against Humberto Castellanos, which sounds like a made up name in MLB The Show. David Peterson pitched shutout ball for 4 and 1/3, and the bullpen was called in for the rest. Starling Marte, who was playing right field so you know he’s in the natural sun field at Citi, and also dealing with some strong winds, had two fly balls drop on him. But was saved both times by the pitching staff, and in the case of the top of the 6th some excellent defense by Luis Guillorme at second base.

So we get to the bottom of the 6th at 0-0, and Francisco Lindor leads off with a single. Pete Alonso then pops the ball up to third base. Yonny Hernandez is under it, peeks to see where Lindor is, and then lets the pop up drop to trade Lindor for Alonso on the basepaths. That’s a next level baseball move. Did it help, ultimately? No. But it was still smart, and a detail of the game that gets lost when more and more people consume the game through short bursts on social media.

Eduardo Escobar made that move moot as he looped one to right field for a double. Alonso, lack of speed and all, scored anyway as Pavin Smith threw the ball to Jagrhaus Biergarten in Whitestone, sending Escobar to third base. Escobar was barely, but clearly safe at third. But having Joey Cora unintentionally obstructing the umpire, calling safe and forcing Chad Fairchild to take his word for it was delicious.

So in comes Oliver Perez and he throws an uncompetitive walk to Dominic Smith to put runners on first and third. Now Buck had a decision to make. Leave in Kid Rock Jankowski to bat and keep his defense in the game with the lead, or make the solid offensive move and pinch hit for him with a righty. J.D. Davis was the obvious move, but with Ollie not being able to find the plate against Dom, I thought maybe Buck would think “well why waste Travis when Ollie can’t find the plate anyway?” Turns out Buck made the right move as Davis singled home Escobar for a 2-0 lead while Dom, in a key move, went first to third on a ball that was in front of him.

It was key because James McCann drove him home with a sac fly with Davis staying at first to make it a 3-0 game. So after this the Diamondbacks decided to appeal the play, to see if Dom left third too early. He didn’t, and it wasn’t even close. And I can’t remember an appeal play on a sac fly in the last ten years where the play was even close, much less the runner actually leaving early. But it’s the Arizona Diamondbacks and Torey Lovullo is probably thinking that this is his chance not to lose 95 games, so why the hell not. So Perez steps off to appeal the play, but Davis breaks from first because it’s a live ball. It’s a calculated risk, and one that very few people realize that you can even make. If Perez makes a play on Davis, then the team can no longer appeal the sac fly. So if Dom had left early, the Diamondbacks couldn’t do anything about it. Of course, they could ignore Davis and appeal anyway. But if they don’t get the call, Davis is on second base easily. Turns out, Ollie took the bait because of course he did, and the appeal play never happened even though Dom clearly left the base on time.

Remember when Dom Smith told us that Buck was spending time going over ground rules with the team? Well guess what? You just saw the Mets take advantage of a rule in a manner that I’ve never seen before, and I’ve watched baseball since I was nine. (I’m ten now, but still.) Although the move didn’t lead to a run or affect the outcome of the game in any way, this is the kind of thing that Dom was talking about. And it’s a stark difference in how previous managers did things and, and now you saw it in a tangible way. I bet it won’t be the last time.

Pete Alonso added a two run homer to make it 5-0, and that’s how it ended. But don’t forget how subtly charming that 6th inning was, and don’t forget that those little plays are going to add up and show us how a manager can actually win games and not lose them.

Today’s Hate List

The damn commercial with the kid singing “i wanna eat, eat, eat, apples and ba-na-naaaaaas”.

Can we get the kid some apples and bananas before I cry my eyes out???

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