Baseball — Even the Mediocre Can Be Exciting
The difference between casual baseball fans and dedicated cranks like me is that a crank can be excited by a mediocre game. Everyone can get drawn into a tense pitchers’ duel between two dominant aces. A game with lots of sharply hit balls and great defensive plays, every one seemingly preserving the game, has obvious appeal. Last night’s Pawtucket – Norfolk Tides game, which the Tides won 4-3 in thirteen innings, wasn’t like that. Most of the game was not played well — not played really badly, either, but just plain mediocre.
The hitting was bad, with lots of lazy fly balls and routine grounders. The defense was fair, with two or three good plays balanced by just as many sloppy errors. The best thing to be said about the pitching is that it wasn’t bad enough to be overcome by the mediocre hitting.
Pawtucket probably feels that they deserved to win. They probably feel their offense was better — they scored their three runs on a three-run home run by Brent Dlugach. In the tenth, the lead run was thrown out at the plate when the runner on third base broke on contact; the ball was a medium-speed grounder right at the shortstop.
The Tides’ offense was more lucky than good. The Tides’ three-run fifth inning featured one hit, a well-placed (but hardly well-hit) single. Pawtucket made two errors in the inning — Dlugach fumbled a grounder on a hit-and-run play and pitcher Kyle Weiland made a pickoff attempt at first base with no first baseman covering the bag. There was a balk in that inning. The winning run scored on a single by Rhyne Hughes, who had struck out in his previous five at-bats and not been pitched a ball in the last two of those.
If Pawtucket had played well, then I could agree that they were done in by bad luck. But they didn’t play well, they were just as mediocre as the Tides. If you’re not playing better than your opponent, then you can’t say you deserve to win. At least not if you want credibility.