Upon visiting my blog for the first time, an avid Brewers fan (and fellow Mayville High School alum) named Kelly sent me an email asking me to set up an RSS feed. Fortunately, we had recently rolled out this technology at work, so I at least had some idea of what he was talking about but no clue how to make it happen. Kelly then sent me an email to FeedBurner, and I'm at least somewhat optimistic that I followed the directions correctly. Anyhow, if you are interested in subscribing to my blog, just click on the icon to the right under "subscribe now." With this RSS feed, you'll get an update via email anytime I post something new. I suppose it's a bit presumptious of me to assume anyone would even care to subscribe to my blog, but dammit--if one of my four readers makes a request, I'm coming through for him...
Kelly had another request in the same email, which read:
"Discuss why the triple is the most exciting play in all of sports. You are a sports genius, so I know you agree with me on this "
Well, let me just say, Kelly is right: I do fancy myself a bit of a sports genius. And I certainly have heard the adage that the triple is the most exciting play in sports. Unfortunatle, however, I just can't agree with it. As a matter of fact, I wouldn't even consider the triple to be the most exciting play in baseball.
Now, I love the triple. The triple has been very good to me in my softball career. And as fun as it is to watch the real burners like Rickie, or Reyes of Devon White in his prime motor around the bases, what I really enjoy watching is when the guys carrying a plow rumble into third. There's nothing sweeter than watching a right fielder misjudge his dive at a blall and, as the ball slowly rolls to the outfield fence, watching Joey Meyer roll himself into third. That, my friends, is entertainment.
But since the ultimate goal of this game is to touch home plate, then how can something that finishes at third be the most exciting play in the game? After all, I find it just as exciting (maybe more) to see Rickie Weeks score from first to home on a J.J. Hardy double. Just as many bases are touched, you still get to see Rickie fly, and the end result is more rewarding. Perhaps this perspective has something to do with the fact that I've witnessed far too many Brewers' triples left stranded at third when the final batter is retired. So here is my list of the top 7 most exciting baseball plays, leaving the triple to finish at #8...
#7-- The inside-the-park homerun.
This just seems logical to me. It's an extra base and it results in a score. Unfortunatley, with the modern day tiny ballparks, you see inside the parks less and less these days. But I used to love watching Molitor tear around all four, and the rarity of the event makes it all the more exciting. The last Brewer to produce an inside the parker was EY in '03.
#6--Strike three with the bases loaded.
I'm referring, of course, to when your team is in the field. A lot of my love for this moment has to do with the Brewers as well--after all, for years our pitchers always seemed to be in bases loaded situations. The other part of the excitement factor is listening to Uecker. My adrenaline still takes off the moment you hear Uek yell "Heeeeeee struck him out swinging!" It's a rush. I hear a lot of people talk about how tough it will be for Aaron Rodgers or whoever ends up replacing Favre. Personally, I feel a lot more sorry for the sap who attempts to replace The Ueck.
#5--The suicide squeeze.
Why isn't this done more? Seriously. If you're struggling to score runs, such as the Brewers were for the past two weeks, why not do it? If you get the bunt down, it's a run. And in many ways it's easier than trying to drive the ball deep enough for a sac fly. If the opposition recognizes that it's coming, throw the bat at the ball. I'd also include the straight steal of home in this category as well. Aaron Hill of the Blue Jays just did it this week. Incredibly tough to do. Pretty much impossible on a right hander, Hill picked on the lefty Pettite:
Here's another play Molitor mastered on several occassions.
#4--The home run denied.
There are so many variations of great web-gem plays: the third baseman that dives and throws from his knees, the second baseman who starts the double play with a behind-the-back flip, etc, but none of them are as artistic or as meaningful as the leap at the wall to bring back an opponent's long ball. Some of todays ballparks have such short fences that Vern Troyer could reach up and pull shots back, so let's emphasize the stipulation that the outfielder has to leave his feet for it to count. Tori Hunter, Otis Nixon, Robin Yount, Devon White, Kirby Puckett were some of the masters at this play. Billy will get there eventually...
Preferrably the home run variety, but any game winning hit has to be considered more exciting than your standard triple. There's nothing better than coming through in the clutch, and the frenzy it creates is the equivalent to a buzzer beater in basketball. I also enjoy watching the hero's teammates beat the snot out of him when he arrives at home plate. Now that's fun.
#2--The play at the plate.
The exception is if the bases are loaded and it's merely a force play. That's not as fun. But seeing a guy motor around third with the ball coming in is baseball adrenaline at it's finest. A fancy slide to avoid a tag is nice, but add bonus points if the play ends with a Prince Fielder forearm sending the catcher into the on-deck circle. Who says baseball isn't a contact sport?
#1--When two Cubs fight each other in the dug out.
Seriously, how can any die-hard Brewers fan not watch this over and over again?
It's easily as entertaining as Uma and Vivica's fight in Kill Bill vol. 1. The only thing better would be if Piniella had gone after Zambrano the way he did with Rob Dibble back in the early 90s.
The fact is, America loves baseball fights and brawls. When I told my wife what my topic of my blog was going to be and asked her what her favorite play was in baseball, you know what she said? "When they fight."
I know there's a segment of the population that questions why baseball fans have no problem with brawls while NBA players are constantly called "thugs" anytime they mix it up a little. There probably is a race issue there that should be looked at, but it might also have something to do with the proximity of the fans at the two venues. And don't get me wrong, there's a limit to what I want to see in my baseball brawl. I don't want to see a baseball flung into the stands that knocks out a second grade teacher, I don't want to see Rangers relievers tossing chairs, and I don't want to see drunken Milwaukeeans leaving their seat to tackle Billy Speirs. That's going too far.
But I still belive that a little brawling is good for the game. I think the fight the '82 Brewrs got in with the Twins was a turning point in their season. And I'll never forget the brawl between the Brewers and Indians that started with a Albert Bell blow to Vina's head and errupted further when Matheny took on Tavarez. Brawls fuel rivalries. And I think they're pretty damn exciting.
And man am I hoping the Cubs hold off on any punishment to Zambrano. Because his next scheduled start would be Wednesday at Milwaukee...
...and that could be really, really exciting.