Tuesday, June 27, 2006

A moment without time

Of all the elements that make the game of baseball simply fascinating, the most unique of them is that the end of the game is dictated by the players, not a clock.

This simple trait of America’s pastime has created unbelievable moments that aren’t seen in other sports.

Sunday night was one of those moments.

At game time, the Chicago White Sox were a half game behind the Detroit Tigers in the A.L. Central standings. A few hours later, heading into the bottom of the 8th inning, they were one and a half games back.

They began the bottom half of the eighth down, 9-2, to the Houston Astros. The rain was falling and for all intensive purposes, the game was over.

Then the White Sox found new life. Who knows what provided the spark on such a night. It could have been the exit of Astros hurler Roy Oswalt, who put the Sox in a daze, allowing only two runs on five hits through seven. He was lifted because his pitch count was hovering around 120.

It could have been the championship mentality instilled in the team by skipper Ozzie Guillen.

Or maybe, just maybe, it could have been something else. Something beyond the Astros power, something the St. Louis Cardinals were grumbling about after their series at U.S. Cellular Field.

Whatever it was, it was incredible.

Sox shortstop Alex Cintron started the momentum with a base hit to right field.

Two batters later, following a Scott Podsednik walk, Tadahito Iguchi cashed in with a three-run homer to left.

9-5, Astros.

After allowing the three run shot, Russ Springer quietly sat down the Sox sluggers in order.

Iguchi’s blast merely made the game respectable again, with everyone, including myself, firmly believing that the Astros still had a stranglehold on the game.

Closer Brad Lidge, who has struggled this year, took the mound in the ninth to “get some work in.” Lidge had supposedly put his early season struggles behind him, going 7-7 in his previous 7 save opportunities.

That work quickly became increasingly tougher as the Sox loaded the bases with two outs in the ninth and Iguchi at the plate.

In a 1-1 count, Iguchi tagged Lidge’s 99 mph fastball to deep left center field, which eventually disappeared into the stands above Billy Pierce’s retired number.

And it was the first inning all over again.

A seven run deficit erased in two innings, on two home runs, by one player.

Even with all of Iguchi’s heroics, the White Sox still could not muster out the victory. The Astros scored in the 13th on a Willie Taveras single, and won, 10-9.

The game wouldn’t even reward the Sox for their unthinkable comeback.

Football has last second field goals, hockey has overtime thrillers, and basketball has buzzer beaters.

But magical comebacks like these do not exist in other sports, because the team is not only battling their opponent, but they are battling the clock as well.

It’s games like Sunday night’s that put the game’s beauty into perspective.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Why are you even talking of the white sox Hector? WHOS YOUR TIGER. DMAC OUT