Saturday, August 04, 2007

Interesting baseball moment

Random Detour:
With the Rangers down by four, Jason Botts and Nelson Cruz absolutely rip back-to-back line drive doubles, and all is right in my world. Botts and Cruz each have a chance to be better than good - they each have a chance to be special. They could conceivably anchor a future World Series line-up. As long as Botts and Cruz each get a double and a single(or a walk) in a ballgame, I don't really care if the Rangers win or lose.

Second Detour - note on Saltalphabetica:
He is kinetically wonderful - both at bat and in the field. Yet, at bat, he swings at everything. It's a bad sign. Pitchers are taunting him with pitches off the plate, and he cannot buy a hit.

The interesting baseball moment:

2:00 PM in Toronto, high on the North American continent. High and fierce sun blinding RF. Pop fly to short right - behind the second baseman. It's clearly Nelson Cruz' ball, and he is fighting the menacing sun with everything he's got, and it's clear he is good at fighting sun. He is focused, concentrated, and brave. You don't see that from every major league OF. Marlon Byrd charges in from CF, stopping 5 feet short of Cruz, and watches Cruz make the catch. The two immediately begin an animated conversation, and I realize Byrd wanted the fly ball b/c he (Byrd) had a better sight angle re: the sun. I also speculate, from something in the body language of the conversation, that the routine pop fly was in great danger of being missed in the fierce sun - right up until the actual moment it went into Cruz' glove. That sun was truly fierce.

To me, it's an interesting moment. It reminds of my own participation in a zillion routine plays which almost went awry. Maybe a funky hop happened at the last second, or the stadium lights got in my eyes, or a ball was momentarily lost in a white shirt in the stands. From the distant stands, the plays look completely routine. Only the player realizes how very near the play was to disaster.

Once, with bases loaded runners moving on a 3-2 count; I made a sprint from SS to short right-center; to catch a pop-up which a frightened 2B, CF, and RF were afraid to call for. We were all 15 years old. It was a Mickey Mantle League elimination game in Las Cruces. Pop ups did not come straight down in that elevated and thin air, and all of us were having trouble judging them. I intentionally ran beyond where all my instincts screamed the pop fly would've come down in Ft. Worth. It was still progressing. I ran beyond where beyond was. There was a cognitive dissonance party happening in my head. My acquired baseball memory was going crazy - jumping up and down and demanding that I stop and wait for the ball. Intellectually, I knew I had to go deeper.

The pop fly traveled on. I kept running. I was now beyond beyond where beyond was. I knew this was my ball. The 2B, CF, and RF were not confident defenders. They would be too terrified to try to catch this ball in this situation. On an absolute sprint, I sno-coned the ball into my webbing. I should've done a half-dive, so as to catch it fully in my webbing, but everything happens fast in that situation. I was considering going beyond beyond beyond where beyond was, when suddenly the ball was down, stuck partially in my webbing.

From the stands, this looked like a nice, yet semi-routine play. My manager, who watched us fight thin-air fly balls during every batting practice, knew different. He met me on the way to the dugout, and pronounced it "one of the best catches I have ever seen." He was right about the difficulty of the catch. Yet most of the people in the stands never knew it.

Jason Botts just ripped another line drive base hit - this time batting from the right side. A very good sign for that young man.

What is Nelson Cruz going to do?... ack: Cruz got ripped off when the RF made a shoe-top catch of his looping line drive. Botts made it back to 1B just ahead of the attempted double play throw.
It's waaaaaaay early in Botts' and Cruz' careers, but my baseball eyes like them. They could be better than "good". They both look far better than the last time they were in the major leagues.

Saltalphabetica now at bat, and looks terrible: he swings mightily at a curve in the dirt. He then tops a grounder in front of the plate for the second out.

Laird at bat. The Rangers send a stream of young, good looking hitters to the plate. Laird's having a rough season at the plate, yet I believe he will have a good offensive career. I believe Laird will be a championship quality hitter. And Laird is a leader. I like that - especially in a catcher. Laird now fans on high and outside heat. Sigh. Botts dies at second base.

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