Joe Posnanski on Tony Gwynn, the artist

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Since the sad news of Tony Gwynn’s passing came down this morning, we have heard countless tidbits and anecdotes about his brilliance as a hitter. If you’re like me, you can’t get enough of them. Joe Posnanski wrote about Gwynn’s legacy and artistry in his latest piece for NBCSports.com:

See, for most Major League hitters – even the best of hitters – hitting is some brew of instinct and technique and muscle memory and something unspoken. It’s a physical act and it’s a mental act, but it isn’t generally an application of imagination. The cliché is irrepressible, you’ve heard it a million times: Nothing in sports is as difficult as hitting a baseball. The greatest hitters have reduced the difficulty to platitudes because, well, you don’t talk about batting. You DO it.

“See the ball, hit the ball,” Tony Perez used to say.

“Empty your mind,” George Brett used to say.

“You can’t think and hit at the same time,” Yogi Berra used to say.

Gwynn did, though He thought and hit at the same time. He would not empty his mind. He did not only see the ball (and hit it), he would see the pitcher preparation, see the smallest hitch or twist in his delivery, see the openings in the defense, see the ball release from the pitcher’s hand, see the way the baseball turned, see angles and lines and geometric shapes like parabolas. I once asked him how closely he noticed the defensive alignment. “If the second baseman was one inch more to the left or right,” he told me, “I knew.”

It’s a wonderful tribute. Make sure to set aside a few moments and read it.

Remembering the great Tony Gwynn

Rangers turn the sort of triple play that has not been done in 106 years

Associated Press
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Triple plays are rare. Triple plays in which only two players touch the ball are even more rare. But last night the Texas Rangers turned a triple play that was even more rare than that. Indeed, it was the sort of triple play that had not been turned since a couple of months after the Titanic sank.

Here’s how it went down:

With the bases loaded and nobody out in the fourth inning, David Fletcher of the Angels hit a sharp one-hopper, fielded by third baseman Jurickson Profar. He stepped on third, getting the runner on second base in a force out. He then quickly tagged Taylor Ward, who had been on third base but had broken, thinking the ball was going to get through, and who froze before figuring out what to do. Profar then threw to Rougned Odor, who stepped on second to force the runner out who had been on first. Watch:

Like a lot of weird triple plays, not everyone was sure what had happened immediately. Odor, for example, had already made the third out when he touched the bag but he still attempted to tag out the runner from first, likely not yet having processed it all. The announcer wasn’t aware of it either. Understandable given how fast it all happened. It took me a couple of times watching it to figure it all out.

The historic part of it: according to STATS, Inc., it was the first triple play in 106 years in which the batter was not retired. The last time it happened: June 3, 1912, turned by the Brooklyn Dodgers against the Cincinnati Reds.