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Baseball: The Best Sport on Earth

Baseball: The Best Sport on Earth

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Someday I hope every man and woman reaches this epiphany.

Here are just some of the things that happened today in a Major League Baseball game in Detroit between the Twins and the Tigers.

Bear in mind this is one random game out of 4860 that takes place during the course of one MLB season, and that doesn’t take into account the countless contests that occur daily in the minors, independent leagues, and overseas.

Twins pitcher Jose Berrios, arguably the best on staff, clearly didn’t have his best stuff today. Which happens, it’s baseball. Similar to star NBA players having cold shooting nights. Nothing is guaranteed, not even at the professional level.

But he channeled his inner Charlie Leibrandt, got crafty out there, and somehow left the game after 100+ pitches after 6 gutty innings with the score tied 2-2.

He walked 5 batters, hit another, and gave up 6 hits in that time. The first batter he faced went yard and his only strikeout came with runners at the corners and two outs in the bottom of the 6th…The last batter he faced.

Meanwhile, here are some of the things that happened behind him…

The Tigers had runners on every inning. In one of the earlier innings, with runners on 1st and 2nd, a Tigers batter hit a line drive to Sano at first base. He speared the ball from his knees and had all day to throw to second or get up and jog back to his bag to ensure a double play, but instead he lazily gets on one knee and side-arm guns it over to Simmons covering second. The throw was about 3 feet wide and low. Simmons was able to dive off the base and snare it. Then he literally crawled back over the second to touch the base with his glove. All this with the runner having given up and never coming into the picture. So ridiculous. I can’t think of a more appropriate time to set your feet and make the throw, or to jog over there and secure the out yourself.

I wish I could say that was the worst Sano looked all day but unfortunately 4 out of 5 of his at bats were probably more embarrassing.

In another inning the Tigers had a runner on third with nobody out. They hit a fly ball to center that Cave had to charge to catch, upon doing so the runner tagged up and Cave gunned it towards home. For some insanely odd reason, the Tigers runner, who was sprinting hard, hit the breaks about half way there and decided to head back to third. Sano cut the ball and threw him out by three feet back around the bag. I watched the replay three times and still have no idea what the runner was doing. If he would have kept going home he might have been safe. At the very least it would have been a much closer play.

Rookie back-up catcher Ben Rortvedt threw out a would-be base stealer in the 5th inning and you could tell it really pumped his confidence level up. In the sixth inning he called time and ran out to Berrios to talk him after he walked a guy. He was slightly animated in his pep talk. Fun to watch a sequence of events like that. I’m pretty sure if he hadn’t thrown that runner out an inning before the meeting at the mound wouldn’t have even taken place.

The Twins had to go to their bullpen to start the 7th, always bad news. But, once again, I’m going to make excuses for them. It’s not their fault that Polanco decided to pull the same ‘ole bullshit’ he pulled last year in the playoffs against Houston to start the inning off. Routine grounder to 2nd, doesn’t bother to get in front of it or set his feet for the throw, add in a bobble in the exchange process and you got the leadoff hitter safely on for the Tigers. Two hitters later, with runners on 1st and 2nd, the Twins defense was in ‘the shift.’ Somebody is seriously going to have to explain to me how the shift works…because I didn’t realize on a routine ground ball to the second base side in that situation no one is responsible for covering 2nd. Simmons fielded the grounder, looked to start the double play with a throw to second and nobody was there. Odd. You’d think a professional team would want to go over everyone’s responsibilities in that possible sequence before applying the shift. That put runners on 2nd and 3rd with one out. You know what happens next I don’t need to go much further.

Only I will, because now comes another thing of beauty…Finding themselves down 3-2, with the bases loaded, 2 outs, the Twins decided to bring in Derek Law from the bullpen to get that third and final out of the inning. Why is this significant? Law was literally just called up from AAA earlier that day to join the team for the first time all year. The Twins apparently had no plans to ease him in slowly. Law quickly got the count to 1 ball 2 strikes, and on his fourth pitch got the Detroit batter to think about chasing and check his swing on a curveball in the dirt. The first base ump said he didn’t go. It was close. Could’ve gone either way. The next pitch he gave up a two run single, and the Tigers added a few more after that. Welcome to the big leagues.

The Twins offense was even more interesting.

Because of a plethora of injuries, Twins outfielder Trevor Larnach made his major league debut. The 24 year-old left hander batted 5th and played left field. He found himself batting in the exact situation of runners on 1st and 2nd and two outs three of his first four at-bats. He finished the game 0 for 4 and was hit by a pitch.

But the funny thing about this guy was he kept fouling pitches off the very end of his bat. The ball would hit the little nub on the end of his bat and roll slowly toward the dugout and die several times. The type of thing you usually see happen once or twice total in an entire baseball game…Larnach managed to do four times in his first two at-bats alone.

Maybe he left the bats he uses down with the AAA club and no one had one long enough for him.

It looked like he simply needed a bat that was 1 to 2 inches longer on all his swings.

Nelson Cruz singled twice in this game. Both times his lack of speed on the bases cost the Twins. The first time Polanco hit a double that rolled slowly enough to the gap in right center that I believe he would have tried for a triple if anyone beside Cruz was running in front of him. Problem was Cruz wasn’t fast enough to score from first on the play, so Polanco settled for a two-base hit. The second time was a fly ball hit deep enough to score a runner with average speed on a tag from 3rd, but Cruz was forced to stay put.

Utility player Jake Cave, who has basically played every game because of all the injuries and has hit around .100 this season, had a ridiculously good game. Was all over the place in the field, had a lead-off double, and a single with runners on 1st and 2nd. Unfortunately the runner on 2nd at the time was Cruz and there was a zero percent chance he was going to score.

It’s a catch-22 with Nelson Cruz. He’s one of the few players on the team capable of hitting a home run at any time and hitting over .300 on the season. Many other players on the team don’t have the ability to be on base as much, but when they are they score easily from second on a single or from 3rd on a sacrifice fly. Cruz gets on base way more often but doesn’t have that ability.

Speaking of bases, the Twins found themselves down 7-3 in the top of the 9th and they managed to load ’em up for Max Kepler with two outs.

He goes up there and swings at the first pitch. Ballgame.

The Tigers bullpen has been terrible all year, and the guy pitching had just walked back-to-back hitters to load the bases. In what world do you go up and swing at the first pitch, which looked borderline by the way, in that spot?

The best commentary from the announcing crew came before the start of the top of the 8th. Trailing 7-2, Twins announcer Justin Morneau said, “The odds of the Twins hitting five solo home runs here are pretty low…”

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At the end of the day the Twins had 13 hits and scored 3 runs, an unheard of ratio in the modern game era.

I enjoyed all this stress free.

I was able to take it all in while I was drinking a beer and prepping dinner.

when an infield single gave the Tigers a 3-2 lead, it stung for maybe 10 seconds.

When I was waiting in anticipation in the 7th inning to see what was gonna go down, I knew no matter what happened it wasn’t a big deal. They play 162 of these. The creme will rise to the top.

How many other sports can you bob in and out of the action, completely take care of something else meaningful (in this case dinner for the family), and not get too invested in whether your team wins or losses while watching?

Baseball.

Unbelievable.

Can’t wait for tomorrow’s game.

Let’s go Twins.

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