Baseball is the most polarizing sport – you either love it or can’t understand how people could ever like it. Sports like basketball and football, you still have the die-hard fans, but it doesn’t seem to have the opposition calling it boring and refusing to watch that baseball has.
It’s been said that to be a baseball fan, you have to appreciate history, numbers, and statistics. It’s not so much that any given pitch is exciting, rather it is what happens over the course of an entire at bat, game, season, and many decades.
ESPN finished their year in review, in which they look at everything unbelievable that happened in major league baseball in the past year. I think this is a good litmus test to determine whether or not you have the potential to like baseball. If you are fascinated by any of these blurbs, you are in danger of becoming a baseball fan:
- In an Aug. 30 game against the Padres, Andre Ethier did something that ought to be impossible: He got the Dodgers’ first AND second hits in the same inning. How’d that happen? It wasn’t easy. In between Ethier’s hits, those other Dodgers helped make this nugget possible by going walk, strikeout, walk, walk, sacrifice fly, walk, walk, walk.
- Eugenio Velez went 0-for-37 this year, the most hitless at-bats in a season by any non-pitcher Zero Hero in the history of baseball.
- The Mets went 299 games without hitting any grand slams – and then hit two slams in a span of six hitters.
- In an Aug. 14 game against the Cubs, Braves rookie Arodys Vizcaino marched out of the bullpen, faced three hitters, struck out all three and still, somehow, succeeded in A) blowing a save and B) pitching only 2/3 of an inning. Those strike-three wild pitches make all sorts of strange-but-true feats possible, don’t they?
And the postseason was even a little crazier:
- The Cardinals have played 19,387 regular-season games in their history. Not once had they won a game in which they trailed five times. But that’s the mess they overcame to win Game 6 — when all that was riding on it was losing the World Series. That’s all. The Cardinals trailed in this game by scores of 1-0, 3-2, 4-3, 7-4 and 9-7 — and won. Unreal.
- Never had both teams homered in extra innings at any point during an entire Series. Then, naturally, each team homered in extra innings just in GAME 6 (Josh Hamilton in the 10th, David Freese in the 11th).
- In back-to-back-to-back at-bats in Games 6 and 7, David Freese hit a game-tying triple, game-winning homer and game-tying double. How incredible was that? Only one other time in World Series history had a player gotten game-tying or go-ahead hits in three consecutive trips to the plate. And naturally, it was Allen Craig, earlier in this same World Series.
- In Game 1s of this postseason, the Yankees, Tigers, Rangers, Phillies, Cardinals, Brewers and Diamondbacks started pitchers who had been around long enough to make a combined 1,469 regular-season starts in the big leagues, plus another 30 postseason starts. But the Rays had other plans (as always). They started Matt Moore in Game 1. How many big league games had he started in his life before that game? That would be one. So, naturally, Moore went out and threw seven shutout innings (giving up two hits), the first time any rookie starter had done that in a postseason game. So it took 107 years for it to happen once. It then took four days, of course, for it to happen a second time — thanks to Arizona’s Josh Collmenter.
- Finally, there was Albert Pujols’ picturesque little box-score line in that very same Game 3: 6 AB, 4 R, 5 H, 6 RBIs, with three majestic homers and 14 total bases tossed in there just for fun. Feel free to stare at that line for as long as Albert stared at his long home runs, because in the entire live-ball era — all nine decades of it — there has been only one regular-season 6-4-5-6 three-homer game, by Dave Winfield against the Twins on April 13, 1991.
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