No Triumph of Good
Baseball games are not children’s stories. Good does not always emerge victorious; the plucky underdog, coming back from long odds, does not always triumph.
Friday and Saturday, the Buffalo Bisons played the Norfolk Tides. In any work of fiction, the Bisons would be the bad guys. Their lineup is populated with the best players outside of the major leagues; standing at the plate, players like Mike Hessman, Valentino Pascucci, and Mike Jacobs resemble defensive tackles. In contrast, Tides Matt Angle, Paco Figueroa, and Blake Davis resemble middle-schoolers. The Bisons are the Gashouse Gorillas to the Tides’ Tea Totallers.
The Bisons jumped out to a 6-0 lead after the top half of the fourth. It would have been easy for the Tides to fold, but they battled against crafty control-pitcher Tobi Stoner. When overpowering right-handed relief pitcher Bobby Parnell — he of the 96-mile-an-hour fastball — came in the seventh, it didn’t look good. But the scrappy Tides pecked away at the physically dominating Parnell, and tied the game at 6.
In any work of baseball fiction, the Tides would complete the comeback, winning the game against overpowering odds and being an inspiration to us all. Unfortunately, this wasn’t a work of fiction. Relief pitcher Mike Hinckley loaded the bases and then walked Russ Adams on a 3-2 count. Cla Meredith came in; after a strikeout, Pascucci roped a bases-clearing double off the left-center-field wall. The final score ended up 11-6.
More proof of the unfairness of baseball was presented Saturday night. The Tides’ major-league partner, the Baltimore Orioles, ordered that the Tides not start Jake Arrieta, on the off-chance that they would want him as their thirteenth pitcher. So, naturally, Andy Mitchell, on about five minutes warmup, started and gave up seven runs in two innings. Once again, the Tides refused to give up. They fought back and closed to within one run at 8-7. And once again, their valiant effort went for naught, as the Bisons-Gorillas scored four runs in the ninth inning. Had they not done so, the Tides two runs in the ninth would have been enough for a win; as it is, the Bisons won 12-9.
Somewhere, there must be an underdog who climbed back from insurmountable odds to triumph. Somewhere, a Little Engine That Could is proving that he could not merely think he can, but proves that he really can. Somewhere, a Butler beats Duke. But there is no joy in Norfolk.