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Baseball oddities

Bleacher Views

Chevrolet is currently running an ad which uses a voice over of James Earl Jones doing his “Baseball” speech from Field of Dreams in which he calls baseball, “The one constant through all the years.” It is a fine speech, given in that Jonesean rumble that no one else has ever duplicated.

But I have to disagree with it, at least to a minor degree. What I remember over the years is the weirdnesses that happen in baseball games that are unexpected, completely novel, and just plain, well, weird.

Take this year’s Mets home opener on April 8. It was a day game, not all that strange. It was low scoring: for the traditionally run starved Mets — not strange at all. It was won by the Mets 3-2 in walk-off fashion in the bottom of the ninth. OK, that’s a bit unusual.

But to first tie with a home run by Mets second baseman, Jeff McNeil, and then to force in the winning run with a “hit by pitch” with the bases loaded,  now that’s getting firmly into the baseball twilight zone.

And there’s more weirdness to follow. The batter, Michael Conforto, not only didn’t make an effort to get out of the way, he seemed to deliberately stick his elbow in the way of what would have been a called third strike, ending the rally and sending the game into extra innings.

Initially the call against Conforto was “Strike Three,” but that call was reversed, sending him to first and the winning run home. 

So, the umps go to the video tape and review the play, right? Nope. No can do. The play is not reviewable. Really? Don Mattingly, the erstwhile Yankees first baseman and current Miami Marlins manager, was just about jumping up and down in frustration. Can you blame him? If you can’t review a game winning situation, what is the point of having the review process at all? Or you might ask why am I asking all these rhetorical questions?

Mattingly’s objection is that the rule states that being hit by a strike while not trying to get out of the way is just a strike. So the ruling should have been strike three, according to Mattingly, and I think he has a solid point.

Keith Hernandez, one of the commentators, said, “I have never seen anything like it.” Now Hernandez has spent his life in or around the game. If he hasn’t seen something, it definitely belongs in the “too weird to believe” category.

So that’s the category we will put the 2021 Mets opening day into, one worthy of even a James Earl Jones rumble.

Millerton resident Theodore Kneeland is a former teacher and coach -— and athlete.

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