Every baseball game is different, no great wisdom there, but sometimes one comes along to remind me why I still believe it is the greatest game ever invented.* Me and my friend AJD took in the White Sox-Pirates game on Friday night. Two teams not doing particularly well, in front of a small crowd (though official attendance was at 23,000!) on a brisk night did not promise much. Instead it was one of those rare games that was extraordinarily well-pitched by both teams leading to the un-baseball like playing time of 1 hour 51 minutes. Gavin Floyd carried a no-hitter through 4 2/3, only surrendering two hits for the entire game and Zach Duke scattered six hits over eight innings. Duke gave up one manufactured run and one home run in the eighth. Neither team committed an error and there was only one (unnecessary) pitching change. Of course that only tells part of the story, the part you can look up (just like I did) and get from god knows how many websites. So many other parts of the game experience were perfect. The first, owing to the pace of the game, was the fans seemed more into the action on the field than usual, or at least I did. When a game is clipping along at that speed it just pulls you into its rhythm and you get caught up in the pitch and catch game the pitcher and catcher are playing. You can almost hear the pitcher’s mantra, “get the ball, throw the ball; get the ball, throw the ball…” and when something comes along to slow that rhythm down it is kind of weird. Being more absorbed in the game also affected the conversation that AJD and I had during the game. We talked a lot more about pitching than I can remember and a lot less about our fellow patrons. I’m not saying we didn’t talk about the crowd, but the game was too good to ignore. Another great fringe benefit of a short game is caloric intake. AJD copped out of our gentleman’s agreement to eat healthy at the game, but I decided to try it anyway, well no meat anyway. It’s hard to call nachos and ice cream a healthy diet. Without that third hour, however, the extra food that I always seem to take in didn’t materialize. Nope, I steered clear of the second hot dog (or third), french fries, churros, and usually something else might catch my eye for a change of pace. (like a cheeseburger, or italian beef.)
I know that I’m in the minority, but I enjoy a well-pitched game to a slugfest any day. It feels like a throw back to how games were played in the fifties and sixties, like I’m getting a peek at what a trip to the ball park was like when my dad went to games as a kid. Somehow on a night like Friday, all of the bells and whistles of the modern stadium experience melt away and what is left is what makes baseball everlasting.
*yes, invented. Not evolved or any other crap like that. Yes, everything has its influences, but as the rules were set down in the nineteenth century a completely new game came about that may look like rounders and cricket but it is entirely different. Same goes with soccer, just because you inflated a sheep’s bladder or chopped somebody’s head off and kicked across a field doesn’t make it the same game that was put to paper in Victorian England.