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Baseball — I love this game

August 31, 2009

by Matt Kane

Last week, I was reminded of why I love the game of baseball so much.

The end of the week, I would rather forget, as my Loretto Larks teammates and I were eliminated from the Class C state tournament with a 7-5 loss to the St. Cloud Snappers. But the beginning of the week was awesome.

It started Sunday night when the Larks opened the state playoffs with a 4-1 win over Stewartville-Racine in the first round.

Until the final out of the game was made on a diving catch by center fielder Brandon Scanlon, the game was hanging in the balance. The catch came with Loretto ahead 4-1, but the bases were loaded, meaning, if the ball drops and all three runs scored, the game was tied. Good players tend to make great plays when they need to, and that catch by Scanlon was awesome. Just look at it on this page to the right a little bit. Scanlon is flying through the air well before he gets his glove under the ball.

The catch put a period on a well-played game by both teams.

Riding the high of winning a close game like that Sunday night, I stayed up until the early morning hours that night, and relaxed by watching the late-night baseball highlights on television.

Watching those highlights made a great night of baseball even better. The main play of the day was the unassisted triple play made by Philadelphia Phillies second baseman Eric Bruntlett.

Bruntlett’s three-out play was the 15th triple play in Major League Baseball history, but, more impressively, it was only the second such play to end a game.

That in itself was awesome, but what made the play even better was that it came in an inning the Phillies defense was falling apart.

The Mets, Philadelphia’s opponent that night, had already scored a run via errors by Ryan Howard and Bruntlett, and had two runners on thanks to Bruntlett, who couldn’t handle a ground ball up the middle.

The triple play avenged the leaky-glove syndrome the Phillies caught that inning, and it gave Philadelphia a 9-7 win.

And, oh yeah, the win that night went to Pedro Martinez, who was making his return to New York to face the Mets for the first time.

Martinez is one of those pitchers who was on top of the world at one point in his career only to vanish into thin air. The same could be said about John Smoltz.

After struggling mightily in his first season with the Boston Red Sox, Smoltz was released Aug. 18. The St. Louis Cardinals, led by pitcher-revitalizers Tony LaRussa and Dave Duncan, signed Smoltz, and his debut coincided with Martinez’s return to New York.

Smoltz, like Martinez, showed everyone that the old guys are not done yet. At one time, Smoltz struck out seven straight San Diego Padres’ batters. He gave up three hits and no runs in five innings that night.

At the other end of the experience spectrum, Delmon Young made me realize why I love baseball Tuesday night when the Twins hosted Baltimore.

Young, whom fans have been waiting for to start hitting, went 4-for-5 at the plate, and drove in the game-winning run in the bottom of the ninth to give the Twins a 7-6 win that night.

I’m not a huge fan of Young’s, but when a guy who has struggled all year comes through like that, it has to put a smile on your face.

Baseball has been known to put a lot of smiles on people’s faces. Especially mine