This year, my interest in pro sports waned I think because of some combination of the late season collapse by the Red Sox, the loss in the Super Bowl by the Patriots, and the refusal of Tim Thomas to join his Stanley Cup winning teammates at the White House. I don’t watch much TV but there’s a small one perched next to the computer which I do watch often enough and so sometimes the TV get turned on as background noise. But not to sports. At least not very often.
Last night was an exception. ESPN Sunday Night Baseball from Wrigley Field with the Red Sox v Cubs with Terry Francona doing color commentary: that was worth reaching for the clicker. It didn’t take long to understand why both teams are currently at the bottom of the standings in their respective divisions. There was a lot of sloppy play. (The Sox won, 7 to 4)
One play that wasn’t sloppy occurred in the seventh inning with the Red Sox at bat. Ryan Kalish was on third and Daniel Nava was at the plate. As the pitcher cocked his arm to throw, Kalish broke for the plate and Nava squared around to bunt. Nava made contact, the ball dribbled out in front of the plate. I had just seen one of baseball’s most exciting plays – the suicide squeeze. It’s called that because if the batter fails to get his bat on the ball, the catcher ends up with the ball well in advance of the arrival of the runner coming from third base who will easily be tagged out. The photo below (which is NOT of last night’s game) shows pretty well the alignment of the various players in a suicide squeeze. In the play depicted in the photo, the batter missed the ball, the catcher has it in his glove and the runner is soon to be out – hence the term “suicide” – you run yourself into an out unless the batter gets down the bunt. Last night, the Red Sox worked the play to perfection.