Games » Seattle MarinersJul6
Zack Greinke may have thrown seven innings, given up one unearned run and struck out nine, Wilson Betemit may have had three hits, including a homer, and driven in three, but for game MVP, it’s hard to beat the Seattle fan who reached on the field in the eighth inning to interfere with a ball in play. It was a double that might’ve allowed the Mariners to score the tying run.
The kid went from sitting in the front row at a Mariners game to being ejected in a heartbeat…and all because of bad planning.
Baseball is a reaction sport. When things happen, they happen too fast to do anything but react. You can’t think your way through it. You have to decide what you’re going to do before the ball’s hit to you. It’s true for the players and it’s true for the fans…at least the ones close to the field.
So let’s do a little planning: if you’ve got great seats, BRING A GLOVE.
(Russ Morman once got me seats that had my right elbow hanging in the Florida Marlins dugout. When Russ came out on the field I asked him to bring me a glove. He laughed at me and refused. I pointed out that I was closer to home plate than the third baseman, who I was almost positive would not be holding a beer. I also argued that his family, including his grandmother, was sitting behind me and that his grandmother had lived a long, full life. Being taken out at the ballpark was not the worst way to go…especially since I had no intention of getting in the way of a smoking line drive unless he BROUGHT ME A GLOVE! He refused on the grounds that he’d seen me field and it really wouldn’t help.)
OK where were we?…Oh yeah…BRING A GLOVE. Of course, even if you have a glove and you’re all lined up to make that great snag that will have the stadium cheering, there’s still a good chance that some idiot will reach up and deflect the ball in a new, lip-finding direction. So always BE PREPARED TO DUCK.
(Here’s an interesting fact: the players don’t want their families seated anywhere near the field unless they’re behind the backstop. So those great seats right behind the dugout? They not so great in a player’s mind; they’re a little too familiar with how quickly a baseball moves. When a ball is hit into a crowd you can tell which fans have played the game, they’re the ones getting out of the way.)
OK, third piece of advice: KNOW WHICH TEAM IS BATTING. If you’re going to insist on being a hero, you’ve gotta know who’s at the plate. Forget the line drives unless you’ve got people you love more than yourself in the vicinity and for most of us, that’s a short list. Concentrate on pop-ups.
If your team is batting, go ahead and try to catch one. If you interfere with a player, at least you helped your team and will be cheered as you get thrown out on your ear. If the other team is batting, clear space for the player trying to make the play and you still might be a hero.
So, to sum up: BRING A GLOVE, BE PREPARED TO DUCK, KNOW WHICH TEAM IS BATTING.
And if this all seemed like a waste of time, remember: there’s a kid in Seattle who wishes he’d read this yesterday.
The actual game…
The Mariners pulled off a perfect suicide squeeze in the third inning. Here are the rules for suicide:
There’s usually one down. If you have a runner on third and nobody out, you’ve got two chances to score that run without a hit and those are pretty decent odds. Two down and the defense picks up the ball and throws the batter out at first.
There’s usually a right-handed hitter at the plate. If it’s a lefty, the catcher can see the runner breaking for home.
The runner breaks and the hitter squares to bunt when the pitcher’s front foot comes down, too late for the pitcher to redirect his throw. If someone breaks too early and the pitcher reads it, he throws the ball at a right-handed hitters head. That dumps the hitter and allows the catcher a clear path to tag the runner. If it’s a left-handed hitter (rare, but I’ve seen it), the pitch throws the ball into the same vicinity. It becomes a pitch out.
The suicide looks great when it works, but I’m not a big fan. Any time you ask players to do something they haven’t been doing regularly, the odds of correct execution go way down. (Remember Callaspo pulling the bat back and letting Aviles get tagged out on the Royals most recent attempt?…By the way, Alberto was also the one that missed the sign on the attempted bunt the night before. When a teammate is making YOU like bad because HE’S missing signs, it gets old quick.)
On the other hand, the time you might want to attempt a suicide is in extra innings or against a great pitcher that can limit balls in play. Maybe the Mariners went over this in anticipation of facing Greinke. They knew he’d be tough and the ‘pitcher vs. batter’ match up wasn’t favorable. When you find yourself in that situation, you try to change the match up to ‘batter vs. defense’ (bunting for a hit), runner vs. defense (stealing a base) or batter & runner vs. defense (suicide squeeze).
You gotta give credit to the Mariners, it worked perfectly.