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What is the most exciting play in baseball?


Over at Fangraphs today Meg Rowley writes about how it’s hard to enjoy baseball sometimes, what with all of the outside, real world distractions, the times when the real world intrudes upon baseball in ugly ways and when the grumps and cranks of the world crap on the good things that do happen in baseball. It’s a good column and you should go read it.

Her intro, though, definitely got me thinking:

I asked a few friends a question: what is your favorite sort of baseball play? One said a well-placed bunt for a hit on the third-base line. Another, preferring defensive highlights, elected for a smartly turned 6-4-3 double play with the shortstop going to his backhand, or else a home run robbed. One described the thrill of watching a pitcher who, after finding himself facing a bases-loaded, no-outs situation, manages to wiggle off the hook. Strikeouts swinging on a 100 mph fastball, and long balls that thump the batter’s eye, and outfield dances and coy smiles at a job well done, each answer was different, making up a tableau of the game’s joys.

She didn’t ask me, but my answer would be a triple. Not just any triple, but one where power, speed and defensive prowess come together in a single play. One in which the batter smokes one to a corner or a gap and immediately busts out of the batter’s box with three bases on his mind. One in which the fielder plays the ball as perfectly as he can, turns and throws as hard as he can and sends a bullet to the cutoff man or, possibly, even directly to third base. One in which the batter makes a perfect slide and just beats the throw right as a crowd is about to go absolutely nuts with joy, anger or amazement, depending on their rooting interests.

Which, now that I think about it, the play could be a putout if it unfolds exactly that way too. I don’t care. I’m going for the kinetic energy and the execution of the whole deal, one way or another.

I tweeted about it a bit ago and someone asked me about an inside the park home run. I understand the impulse there but in reality that rarely lives up to the excitement of a triple as so many inside-the-parkers are caused by misplays, bad bounces or in some cases guys simply getting hurt. I suppose a speed-powered insider-the-parker with no defensive miscues or random acts of God would beat out that triple I described, but those are rare beasts. Indeed, I can’t remember the last time I saw one.

So, that’s mine. What’s yours? A triple-play? A 500-foot blast? A knee-breaking strikeout via an otherworldly bender? A fan catching a foul ball in her beer and chuggin’ that bad boy? There are no wrong answers here. I wanna hear yours.

Fans allowed at NLCS, World Series in Texas

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NEW YORK — Fans can take themselves out to the ball game for the first time this season during the NL Championship Series and World Series at new Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas.

Major League Baseball said Wednesday that about 11,500 tickets will be available for each game. That is about 28% of the 40,518-capacity, retractable-roof stadium of the Texas Rangers, which opened this year adjacent to old Globe Life Park, the team’s open-air home from 1994 through 2019.

The World Series is being played at a neutral site for the first time in response to the coronavirus pandemic. It will be played at one stadium for the first time since the St. Louis Cardinals defeated the Browns at Sportsman’s Park in 1944.

Some of the seats will be included in presales for Texas Rangers season ticket holders on Friday and subscribers on Monday, and others are set aside for MLB and players.

Tickets are priced at $40-250 for the NLCS and $75-450 for the World Series, and 10,550 seats in the regular sections of the ballpark and 950 in suites will be sold in “pods” of four contiguous seats.

Each pod will be distanced by at least 6 feet and a checkerboard pattern will be used, with alternating rows of seats in the middle or rows and at the ends. Unsold seats will be tied back.

No seats will be sold in the first six rows within 20 feet of the field, dugouts or bullpen. Fans will not be allowed to the lowest level, which is reserved for MLB’s tier one personnel, such as players and managers.

Masks are mandatory for fans except while they are eating or drinking at their ticketed seats. Concessions and parking will be cashless, and the team’s concessionaire, Delaware North, is planning wrapped items.

The NLCS is scheduled on seven straight days from Oct. 12-18 and the World Series from Oct. 20-28, with traditional off days between Games 2 and 3 and Games 5 and 6, if the Series goes that far. The Division Series, League Championship Series and World Series all will be being played at neutral sites because of the coronavirus .pandemic.

MLB played the entire regular season without fans and also the first round of the playoffs with no fans. For the first time since spring training was interrupted on March 12, club employees and player families were allowed to attend games this week.

While Texas is allowing up to 50% capacity at venues, MLB did not anticipate having government permission for fans to attend postseason games at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles or Petco Park in San Diego, where AL playoff games are scheduled.

Globe Life Field has been the site of more than 50 graduations, but the Rangers played their home games in an empty ballpark.

The Rangers will recommend to MLB that the roof be kept open when possible, executive vice president of business operations Rob Matwick said, but the team understands it will be closed in the event of rain. Matwick said MLB made the decision not to sell seats for the Division Series.

Other than 1944, the only times the World Series was held at one site came in 1921 and 1922, when the New York Giants and Yankees both played home games at the Polo Grounds. Yankee Stadium opened in 1923.