With this year marking 150 years since the beginning of the Civil War, the popular fiction genre known as “alternative history” is receiving some attention. The genre works by posing a “What if?” For example, “What if Booth missed?” or “What if Lee’s battle plans had not been lost?” etc.
What’s this got to do with baseball, other than the fact that a couple of days ago, 150 years ago, Abner Doubleday was one of the surrendered Union officers at Fort Sumter?
Well, let’s look at the top of the 4th inning of yesterday’s game. The Bulls were ahead 3-1. Gonzalez was on the mound, Charlotte’s Dallas McPherson was at bat. On an 0-1 count McPherson hit one that ticked off the top of the right field wall, into that screwy fencing they’ve got there, and came back on the field. Ground rule double. Now, what if it were just a scootch (good ol’ southern word, scootch, a bit more than a smidgen) higher and had been a home run?
We’ll never know, of course. But whatever might have happened it could not have been much worse than what did. And therein is a tale of the role of luck in baseball, because surely luck had as much to do with what followed as skill.
Back in the real world, McPherson went to second. When the next batter, Lastings Milledge, put down a sacrifice bunt, Gonzalez tried for a play at third and it failed. Runners at first and second. Charlotte’s Donny Lucy singled to left and a run scored. Runners on first and second, score 3-2. A sacrifice bunt moved runners to second and third, one out. Our first baseman (Russ Canzler) botched a grounder. Run scored, runners on first and third, one out. Bulls-Knights tied 3-3. Next batter, Eduardo Escobar whacked a triple into the right field corner. Two runs scored. Runner on third, score 3-5. The next batter flied out, but Jim Gallagher hit a double to drive in yet another run before the Bulls’ Gonzalez struck out Viciedo to end the inning. Score 3-6.
Ugly to read about, ugly to see. But in the end, what if...
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Tomorrow and Friday are the last two days of this nine game home stand. Thus endeth the only Durham Bulls ballgames in the DBAP in April, 2011. Have I mentioned that this year’s schedule does not make sense?