Just back from Busch. Another gem by Carpenter, and mercifully short--it was hot!
The most exciting moment was Gall's double that put us in the lead. What was exciting about it was that the right fielder dived for it and missed, and the ball squirted away. It wasn't clear how far it would roll and I didn't know how fast Gall is. Could it be a triple? Even an inside-the-parker? Two runs scored, and Gall took third on the throw home.
But that got me thinking. To my mind, a triple is just about as exciting an offensive play as you'll see in baseball. Except for an inside the park round-tripper, but how many of those ever occur? I think ballpark designers have been doing a disservice by shortening the fields and narrowing the foul territory. I don't have any stats, but I'd bet the number of triples and inside the park homers has declined in recent years. Sure, everyone likes a homer, but I'd like to see more balance: move the fences back and give `em room to run. I think that would put a lot of excitement into the game.
Of course, one way that modern parks get such excitement is by having the stands jut out at odd angles in the outfield. A shot down the line, if it curls into foul territory, might hit the stands and change directions, bouncing into shallow outfield. If the fielder has been expecting it to go into the corner, he can be way out of position, and the runner can grab a couple of extra bases. It's a great concept--straight out of the miniature golf course playbook. I suggest taking this approach a little further: put some holes in the field, and if the ball rolls into one, it comes shooting out of a hole halfway across the field. Perhaps a windmill somewhere, too.
On another point: the last couple of innings were the weirdest I've seen in quite a long time, and a lot of this won't show up in the box score if you missed the game. First, in the bottom of the seventh, Jimmy turns to bunt and the pitch comes close to hitting him in the head. Come on! What kind of a cheap shot is that? Throwing at a bunter's head? Actually, it probably was an accident--there was a man on third, after all--but as two Birds had already been hit in the game, we weren't in a forgiving mood. And neither was Jimbo. He glared at the pitcher for quite some time, then took his home run tomahawk on the next pitch. At first I thought he'd done it, but no such luck.
I told the wife that I wouldn't be surprised if Carpenter hit someone in the next frame. Sure enough, he did--with a slow curve in the butt. The ump didn't even issue a warning.
When was the last time you saw a 4-8-6 put out? Think about it.
Then in the bottom of the 8th, the same pitcher hit Rodriguez on the hand (hope he's ok). Tony came out and gave the umps an earful, then got into a shouting match with their catcher. The fans started chanting, "Tony, Tony," and gave him a standing O when he walked off the field. Somehow, at the end of this discussion, I believe the umps warned both benches, bringing Tony back out again, and more cheers.
Finally, after a sacrifice and an intentional walk, Carpenter came up with the bases jammed and one out. I was wondering if they would squeeze--after all, it was a force at home--but on a 1-0 pitch, they tried. And madness. It was down and in; Carpenter tried but failed to hit it, in the process put himself off-balance. With the runner barreling down on the plate, Carpenter tried to get out of the way. Wrong move! You're supposed to stay where you are (I believe David Green screwed that up, too, in the famous Glenn Brummer incident). In trying to do so, Carpenter clearly got in the way of the catcher. Since he didn't stand pat, I think by definition it was his fault, and that's the call the ump made (rightly, in my mind). However, I didn't realize that the result is that the batter is called out; I thought the runner would be out.
All in all, an odd couple of innings.