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.