After an always exciting, often euphoric weekend, I have so many thoughts jumbling around my head that it has taken a while for me to distill them into some reasonable, conveyable thoughts. There are two in particular that I would like to share about the greatness of baseball.
1) I was at the game last night, and the Stadium was electric from about the 4th inning forward. Once Pettitte got Jason Varitek to fly out with the bases loaded in the fourth, the buzz in the building began to slowly grow, to the point where the fans were just ready to explode each time the Yankees came to bat. When A-Rod homered to lead off the 7th, the ballpark got as loud as the I ever remember the old place across the street getting. When Phil Coke served up a two run bomb in the 8th, some of the euphoria dissipated, but there was still a buzz in the air, as if the fans knew that the game was far from over. Then came the bottom of the 8th, and the moment I realized how amazing this game is.
Daniel Bard mowed down the first two hitters, and despair was starting to spread through the stands as the Yankees looked hopeless. And then, with one swing of the bat, everything changed. Johnny Damon lined one over the wall in right-center, and the place went bonkers. Baseball is a game that toys with your emotions, with large lulls in the action punctuated by amazing crescendos of drama that can rip your heart out and then make you jump for joy minutes later. As the excitement and noise in the stands continued to build, Mark Teixeira took his own powerful swing at the second deck in right, and the Stadium got louder than any sporting event I have ever been to. It was positively amazing, as the crowd was still cheering the Damon home run when they forced to find another gear to recognize what Teixeira had just done. The Stadium remained incredibly loud for the remainder of the game, erupting as Mariano Rivera notched the final out. All I could think of us the sound engulfed me is how great this sport is.
2) My second point is more of a technical issue. From ESPN:
Teixeria evaluated his at-bat against rookie Daniel Bard. After watching Damon homer on a fastball, Teixeria thought to himself that Bard likely wouldn’t want to throw another one right away. Teixeria guessed right: curveball, called strike one.
Teixeria remembered seeing a few curveballs from Bard on Friday night. He surmised the rookie might throw another one. He did, and it was in the exact same location as the first pitch.
“I was kind of looking for it again,” said Teixeira, who was 6-for-17 in the four-game series.
“He timed it as good as you can; he was sitting on it,” Bard added.
A novice fan looks at the sport and sees a guy throwing a ball and another guy trying to hit it. Yet there is so much more there. Look at the incredible intricacy of strategy that went into the dramatic denouement of last night’s game. Teixeira made a strategic decision based on the situation and the pitch that Damon hit. How often does Daniel Bard throw back to back curveballs? I doubt it is very common, yet Teixeira read the situation and tried to get into the head of the enemy, and was rewarded for it. Baseball is a game fraught with strategy on every pitch, as pitchers attempt to set up hitters while the batter attempts to predict the pattern and react properly. There is so much depth there if you know where to look. This hidden intricacy is another thing that makes this game great.
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