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?