I ♥ Baseball

About a week ago was laying around on a lazy Saturday afternoon watching a Cardinals game on TV. All of the sudden I got the overwhelming desire to play a baseball video game. Despite the plethora of video game systems laying around the house, I did not own one. Now, maybe if I was on my Adderall that day the desire would have just passed and I could have enjoyed they game I was watching, but I was not and as it turns out I am glad I hadn’t.
So, I hopped up and asked my lovely wife for permission to follow-up on the urge to purchase a used game from Replay, a local shop owned by some friends of mine. Permission was granted and took off before she had a chance to change her mind. Replay’s vast selection offered me 2K Sports’ MLB 2K9 and grabbed a copy up. That’s not something I recommend doing because the game is buggy as hell, but it is the best baseball simulator available for the XBox 360 and I prefer authenticity to the ludicrous numbers put up in a game like The Bigs. But, I digress before this becomes a video game review.
When I got back home I immediately dropped the disk into the console and dropped my buttocks on the couch for a marathon gaming session. Remember, I still hadn’t taken my meds. A few hours into the deluge of hi-def graphics, I finally get to play my first game. I have this nasty habit of spending endless amounts of time setting up line-ups and creating players before my fingers ever touch the field of play. Of course, you already know that I wasn’t exactly impressed. Yet, there was one feature among the vast amounts poo on the game that caught my attention.
I am a fanatic about baseball history. Ever since I was a kid watching Dale Murphy and Bob Horner on the Superstation WTBS, I have been hooked. Santa brought me a baseball card collection of the All-Time Braves Greats and I had everything about Rabbit Maranville, Eddie Mathews, Warren Spahn, and Hank Aaron memorized. Soon I had books on top of books about the history of Major League Baseball.
That thirst for knowledge was awakened again after I discovered the option to download rosters to use in your game that other players have created. Some people had gone back and made All-Time Yankees or All-Time Red Sox teams, but to my disappointment, no one player had gone the whole nine yards and created an All-Time Greats league. Well, the baseball historian in me could not left this malfeasance go unresolved.
Over the next five days, I spent hour after hour creating the best All-Time line-up and starting rotation for each Major League team and I don’t think I’ve ever enjoyed working on a project more in my life. Yes, I fully understand how boring and completely pointless this may sound to some of you, but to me it was exhilarating.
During the week in which I was enveloped in my task, baseball gave us enthusiasts a couple more statistical oddities that seem to only occur in our quirky National Pasttime; both of which invovled the perinnial NL East bottom-dwelling Washington Nationals.
Alan Embree, of the Colorado Rockies, wrote his name in the record books alongside B.J. Ryan as the only pitchers to win a game without throwing a pitch. Embree entered the game in the top of the eighth with two out and the Nationals’ Austin Kearns on first. Embree promptly picked-off Kearns at first for the third out. The Rockies scored in the bottom of the eighth to bring the final tally to 5-4. Huston Street came on in the ninth to close the game out and get the save.
Not to be outdone, the Nationals provided what might be an even more peculiar finish when their winning pitcher wasn’t even at the ballpark whe the game ended; hell, he wasn’t even in the same state. In fact, when Joel Hanrahan became the winning pitcher for the Nationals on Thursday evening, he was asleep in a hotel in Philadelphia as a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Hanrahan was the pitcher of record for the Nationals when their May 5th game with the Houston Astros was suspended by rain in the bottom of the eleventh and the Nationals’ Elijah Dukes on first.
When play resumed on July 9th, the Nationals had to have a pinch-runner for Dukes who had been sent back to the minors. Nyjer Morgan, who was the player who came over from Pittsburgh when Hanrahan was dealt, stepped in and after a Miguel Tejada error, scored the winning run.
It’s because of zany facts like those that I love baseball so much.

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About Richard Howk

Fiction author with my first novel, Pariah, available December 2nd.
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