Thursday, October 15, 2015

Major league playoff game in sports bar (between Rangers and Blue Jays) looks like kids in a backyard

I was sitting in a True Food restaurant with a vegan supper as the seventh inning of the American League ALDS  (from Toronto’s Rogers Center, artificial turf and all) played on a screen above the bar, on TBS.

It was a little hard to tell what had happened in the top of the seventh.  A routine throw back from the catcher to the pitcher had nicked the batters bat, rolling away and allowing a go-ahead run to score, putting Texas ahead of Toronto 3-2.  The umpires spent ten minutes checking the rules on this one.
Fans started throwing stuff onto the field, raising the specter of a possible forfeit.  And Toronto played the game under protest.

But in the bottom of the seventh, "the wheels came off" with three consecutive infield errors on routine plays by the Texas Rangers.

If that wasn’t bad enough, the next batter hit a pop fly which the Texas second baseman misjudged and allowed to fall into short right center field, allowing the tying run to score. But the craziness continued as the runner from first was forced at second, a rare play.

In Dallas, sportwriters provided a requiem for what had happened so far.

Moments later Jose Bautista crushed a monster home run (like one of Harper’s) and then put on a bat flipping spectacle, that even businessmen objected to, here. Toronto would win the 3-1/2 hour game 6-3 (the seventh inning lasted 53 minutes, and ended just in time for me to get to my movie at Angelika.)  Somehow, I’m reminded of the fact that it was in Toronto in 2012 that Nationals role model teen player Bryce Harper indeed chided reporters about a “clown question” as to whether he would take advantage of Canadian law and celebrate a homer by drinking when he wasn’t yet 21.

The whole sequence reminded me of our own “backyard baseball” back in the 1950s, particularly 1958.  We had large lawns, and would invent softball games for two man teams.  With kids 10-14, a 140 foot fly ball for a home run over a wire fence wasn’t unreasonable.  But with two people on a team, that meant that if a runner was at first, he had to score if a ball hit the ground or he could be forced out even at the plate (not just the next base).  My father had said that in Iowa, the kids had invented a form of “cross out”, where throwing a fielded ball in front of a runner going to first made him out.

We even had a “league”, of individuals playing softball games in big yards.  Generally, you could be forced at the plate, so most runs were scored by homers (or a few balls hit into distant “outfield” corners), but final scores tended to be reasonable, averaging about seven runs total a game.
Later the need for a “league” would be replaced by chess.  (Playing with the White pieces is like home-field advantage.)

I also saw the second-base collision in the Mets-Dodgers game Saturday night.  Since the runner was deemed safe, it’s hard for me to believe that the suspension could stand, late-slide argument or not.

Wikipedia attribution link for picture of Rogers Centre, by Marcus Obal, under Creative Commons Share-Alike 3.0 license.

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