My baseball predictions at mid-season are proving to be only partly right. I am no prophet regarding the future, that much is for sure. But now we have entered the most interesting part of the long, long season—the last four weeks. Who will come on, who will fade? Today I go to Wrigley Field to see the Dodgers play the Cubs. My long time Dodger friend, David Moorhead, is taking a train from Michigan to meet me and enjoy the old ballpark and the outdoors. It will be a fun day to root, root, root for the visiting team.
Yesterday something very unusual happened in the Major Leagues. (Yes, Alex Rodriguez hit two home runs in the same inning, a rare feat for sure.) But I refer to the way the Atlanta Braves, who are all but out of the race now, beat the Philadelphia Phillies, who are not quite out of the race. The real surprise here was how the Braves won in such an amazing fashion. In 517 previous baseball games this year, when one team entered the eight inning up by six or more runs, they always won the game, every single time. 517-0. Yesterday, the unthinkable happened. The Phils lost to the Braves by giving up seven runs, three coming in the bottom of the ninth with two outs and no one on base. Even the Phillies manager, Charlie Manuel, said he had never seen anything like it.
Was it luck? Yes, for sure. But this is what makes the game so interesting to the real fan. As Yogi always put it, "It ain’t over until it’s over." Baseball has 27 outs, no clock and no time limits. Until you record the last out you can still win or lose a game.
The scenario in Atlanta was surreal. Almost all the fans had left. The Braves were down 8-2 in the eighth inning. They blooped three hits to the outfield that just "found a spot" and dropped in. They hit another single off the center of home plate that bounced high in the air and the pitcher could not throw a fast runner out. The Braves also got a bases loaded walk to score their sixth run, bringing up Chipper Jones who flied out easily and ended the inning. Then in the ninth, ahead 8-6 with two outs and no one on base, the Braves got two infield singles and another walk. Up comes Matt Diaz, a great situational hitter. (Matt is a fine man and a wonderfully committed Christian.) He hit an 0-1 pitch to right over the outfielders head and three runs scored, winning the game on a close slide at home plate. Amazing. Truly amazing. Will this make the Braves a contender again. Very unlikely. But you never know about this game. Will this kill the Phils? I doubt it.
Two comments. You watch this game long enough and you learn, as in life, to expect the unexpected. Second, the media all reported this as a "Phillies Meltdown." Well, was it? Depends on your view I guess. As in life the headlines are what people remember. I think some lucky bounces were a major part of the way this game ended but then the Braves kept playing and swinging and didn’t simply quit. Life is like this too. The bounces sometimes do not go your way but you should never stop swinging and give up, not until the last out is recorded.