I am proud of my sport. Baseball is a great game; in my opinion it is the greatest—feel free to challenge this belief in the comments section, though I think I’m in good shape, given my SEO weakness. In asserting this claim, I am not limiting my belief to the college, professional or Little League ranks. Sure, Minor League Baseball has its tremendous moments. Nowhere else can a fan watch a fellow fan launch life-size French fries at a life size French fry holder (which is an actual competition chronicled in a great, yet slightly offensive to Minor League Baseball players, Grantland article about Manny Ramirez’s return to the Minors). And the level of team play in college baseball is immensely inspiring, to say the least. Still, what I am talking about goes far beyond any level of baseball. Baseball, as a sport, is the grandest.
Merely one of the many reasons why the game is great: If you watch any ballgame closely enough, you may just see something that you have never before witnessed. Sometimes you don’t even have to watch closely. For a $7 ticket to the Tucson Padres game tonight, a fan could have reveled in a(n almost certainly) previously unseen sight.
One of my teammates started the third inning with a perfectly executed bunt single. The next batter stepped to the plate and also bunted; another single! If you’re still reading this post, you know that I have just described back-to-back bunt base hits! Bear with me, as I’m not quite done. With runners on first and second and none out, the third batter of the inning received the predictable sign for a sacrifice bunt. The ball left his well-positioned bat and headed slowly for third base. So wonderful its roll, the third baseman had to let it go, his only hope in the possibility of the ball rolling foul. It didn’t roll foul! Back-to-back-to-back bunt base hits to start an inning!
If you are less than enthused, let me also point out that a nearby teammate (who has likely been playing baseball for 20 years) commented that he had never seen three bunts in a row, let alone three that were singles. In the dugout I was taken aback by a feeling of momentary astonishment. Though far from the wonder of beholding the Grand Canyon for the first time, I am comfortable putting what I felt in the same family of such feelings of marvel. I was hoping we would win today; I wasn’t expecting to marvel.
Sure, this rare spectacle did not require the nearly-superhuman movements of a Michael Vick-esque football player moving down the gridiron. Nor did it take the unbelievable, dunkalicious hops of His Airness, Michael Jordan. Nonetheless, if no fan, player, coach or radio guy in attendance had ever before witnessed what happened to start the third inning, then tonight’s baseball game in Tucson, AZ created a moment that had, prior to that inning, never been seen by anyone watching.
That’s pretty cool. And in my opinion, it is but one reason why baseball is the greatest sport.