04 April 2012

D is for Double-Play

is for double-play.

I was shocked when I realized I haven't written about baseball on this blog yet. This is far from a sports blog, but the great American game was a large part of my history, so I will remedy its absence today.

If you're not a baseball fan, first of all I'm sorry, second I think you can still appreciate the double-play. During my years as a ballplayer, I played middle infield - that is, either shortstop or second base - and the majority of that time at second. Any baseball fan will tell you that a team is as good as its middle: catcher, pitcher, short, second, center.

This game of ours, the American pastime, is beautiful in so many ways, but the play that is most like poetry in motion is the double-play - especially if Vin Scully calls it (D could just as well have been for Dodgers). If you don't watch or listen to any baseball this year, at least listen to Vin one time; he's been with the Dodgers since the Brooklyn days, and is a great storyteller.

But back to the double-play.

The conditions have to be just right. With at least a runner on first, the middle infielders squeeze toward second base in anticipation of a ground ball. The pitcher then has to keep the ball down in the strike-zone - he's also hoping for a ground ball. When that ground ball does come, it has to be hit rather hard so the "turn" can be made at second base; thus the phrase "turn a double-play."

My favorite double-play is the 6-4-3, that is: short-second-first. In all my time as a second baseman, making the turn of the double-play was more thrilling than anything else. The middle fielders have to move with one another, trusting the other to get the ball to the base - and it was an unspoken rule that the middle infielders warm up together to learn how the ball leaves the hand of their teammate.

Don't tell the ballplayers, but it's similar to a dance. All the right players have to be in the right spot at the right time, and the completion of that dance is exciting to watch:


It's hard for me not to smile when I see that. Beautiful no?

***

Read more about my theme this April in my intro to the A-Z Blogging Challenge. Or visit the home page here.

10 comments:

Lynn Proctor said...

baseball is one of the sports i kinda understand--love the way you compare it to dance!

Jessica Bell said...

To be honest, I've always been fascinated by baseball. It's the only sport I enjoy watching ... well ... in the movies ;) lol

Judy said...

There is nobody better than Vin Scully (and Jerry Doggett, back in the day)! I have loved baseball since forever and even worked for the California Angels scouting director way back when. Love this post!!

DeniseCovey_L_Aussie said...

I've always enjoyed baseball movies. So inspiring.

Denise

Alex said...

I'm trying to like baseball. Certainly helped when my home team (the Rangers) were in the World Series.
I guess what I can appreciate is the emphasis on one player, at least a time, against the whole other side. It's quite exciting!

Stephen Tremp said...

First time visitor and great to meet you! I love Vin Scully as I live just south of L.A (but I'm a Tigers fan first and foremost). Scully is the best!

Man O' Clay said...

Baseball movies are great; just watched Moneyball last weekend and really liked it.

Margo Berendsen said...

I have a new appreciation for Baseball - love the double-play poetry in motion. I also really enjoyed the movie Moneyball; I wasn't keen on another baseball movie but that one really pleased me! I'm a visiting A-Z blogger and new follower.

David Wagner said...

That... was a beautiful double-play.

I notched nine seasons of little-league myself, but I was such a terrible hitter, I never really got out of the "three innings in the outfield, one strike out, then sit out the rest of the game" cycle... that's a hard way to spend a decade on the diamond. You'd think someone would be able to teach me how to hit the ball... well, I guess some kids are worth the effort and others aren't...

Gee, thanks for reminding me of all that! Sheesh! Now I need to go eat some chocolate or somethin'...

Dave the Goof

Man O' Clay said...

Gee Dave, sorry to bring that up!

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