Sunday, July 13, 2008

To Error is Divine

Blowfish Chronicles: To Error is Divine





To Error is Divine




Aspiring to be a bona fide baseball writer, I have
these days been reluctantly relinquishing the solipsistic pleasures of a
private field of dreams, the better to cultivate at the Cap an empirical interest in fielding—pitching and
batting still being skills beyond my comprehension. So, after bearing witness
on June 7 to a 10 – 6 Blowfish loss, I thought a lot about a bad throw by short
stop Sean Sullivan, which occurred during a third-inning meltdown when the
winning Tobs of Wilson collected half their runs. 

First, a little background. Before their Fish-fry
in the third, the Wilson visitors had scored one run and one run only, that in
the opening inning. With the bases loaded and zero outs, a Tobs batter grounded
a runner home. That ball sped its way to Sean Sullivan, who caught it and threw
it well enough to second-man Larry Perry, who in turn threw it well enough to
first-man Jesse Barbaro, who unambiguously caught the ball to complete the
double play.

Two innings later, with the bases again all
occupied, though this time with one out, Sullivan again fielded a Tobs grounder
and again forced the out at second. But this time Perry’s throw for a double
play was off the mark, and the Tobs runners from second and third burned home.

The next Tobs hitter sent another grounder to
Sullivan, who collected it smoothly, and made the play at first. His throw was
smack-accurate but the ball failed to nest in the palm of Barbaro’s low-held
glove. It popped out and rolled across the ground. Runners were now on first
and second, and though two outs were in the bag the hopes of Fish fans took a
hard hit when the next Tobs batter safely chipped a shot into short right

Sullivan, covering second, took the throw back in,
and, with Barbaro, caught the Tobs chip-shotter in a run-down, taking a tiny
step or two in his direction, ball in hand, as if to make the tag. But, as the
Tobs lead runner passed third to make a claim on home, Sullivan turned
abruptly, to reorder his priorities. His throw to the plate, fast and furious,
came in wild over the upraised glove of catcher Sid Fallaw and runs four and
five for the Tobs came home, with the now unhassled chip-shot hitter pausing
for refreshment at third, then slipping in for number six, when the next Tobs
batter bashed a harsh grounder almost past Larry Perry, who managed to stop the
ball but not to make a throw. During the next at bat, this runner, attempting
to take a second base, was pegged out in a nice throw from the plate by Fallaw,
and the chaos was brought to a close.       

I have said in this space that baseball at the Cap
is for me a certain kind of beholding, first of a tranquilizing field of green,
and then of each game as it unfolds, in both slow and frantic motion. This
certainly was true when I carried to each game a big bag of books that had
nothing to do with baseball, and read in them, and thought thoughts about them,
and watched the game as well. But these days, as a diligent monitor of the
field, I seem compelled to compose action narratives that convey occasional
sensations as if they were continuous.

the action here reported has upon its recollection left some agitating
questions. Must I condemn the home team for making errors, or grieve, or even
regret, their commission? Should fans take umbrage—ever, over errors? I find
myself on this point a fatalistic commentator. Errors happen. Moreover, I
report that Sean Sullivan’s wild throw in that terrible inning against the Tobs
was for me a thrilling disappointment.
I could never root against the Fish but that thrilling disappointment includes
another feeling I am also obliged to confess, schadenfreude, pleasure in the misfortune of others, which leads to
a feeling yet worse than that, a lurking desire, in the absence of the mercy
rule, to see the whole show blow up in a sad but somehow comical profusion of

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