Phillies 5, Reds 4

A pop-up to Wilson Valdez
To lead off the game, start the top.
A two-run homer in the bottom
Forgotten by the time they’d stop.

The online box preserves its shape:
Room for innings, just one through nine
(What did the real newspapers do?)
One clicks to move along the line.

One needs two clicks to see the start.
Or one to see the reviewed play.
Homer for Bruce, play stands as called–
But Ryan overshadowed Jay

Homering in the bottom half.
The Reds responded, out of kind
Loading up the bases, but
Baserunners proved harder to find

After Valdez’ eleventh-inning
Single. Twelve, thirteen, fourteen, came
And went with zeroes. Hits at last.
But on the linescore, just the same.

Fifteen, sixteen, seventeen. When
To take the risk? No guidebook says
When to bring in Wilson Valdez
Or to take out Danys Baez
Fingers crossed tight for Martinez
Grateful cheers for Raul Ibanez
In the morning, somehow it’s done
And Valdez the unlikely hero
Rises to plateau, one and zero–
While Fisher falls to oh and one.

Cincinnati: no runs, no hits

Normally, you don’t pull guys in inning two. If it’s just an opportunity out of 162, you can say, “Okay, you and I won’t win today, but throw on and work through this.” You can admit that today is not your day. In spring, you might think “possibly it’s still our month”, though fall a long way down and it will sink in that this campaign is probably not yours. You might find out which squad is probably going to win. And, probably, it will win.

This rationalizing is not okay in a playoff, though. You can’t say “not today, but how about Friday?” You must think that any day is, possibly, yours.

This is what Cincinnati did, saying, “You guys want to win this, point, but our guys do also.” 2010 is not, so far, anybody in particular’s; in a month, you could say “oh, this or that squad won”, but as of now you don’t know who will win.

But still, pundits want to slap summarizing tags on 2010. “It’s for mound guys! It’s for youth!” On such an important night, though, anybody up to bat blocks all that out. You can’t win it all in your NLDS’s first night, but you can hold your own, ignoring past triumphs from your rival. You should try to.

So Halladay’s win is particularly amazing.

His skin was half-blank-and-oozing, half-in-cap-bill’s-shadow. It was a quick win, not far into a triad of digits for pitch count. Which is good–you don’t want to say “oh, it’s going to go this way, it is 2010 you know” in a bad or good mood at such an assumption. Don’t go for a brilliant night just for a brilliant night; go for a win, and find glory too.

A month or so will still occur. But now, I too am (slowly) inching towards that claim that 2010 is truly outlandish.

Top Nine Win Probability Graphs

It’s a sad duty to pay a yearly homage to the Atlanta Braves, but their comeback win against the Phillies was pretty impressive. To see just how impressive it was, check out this graph. It shows the likelihood of a Braves victory plotted against how far along the game was. As you can see, the Phillies almost had it in the bag; they led by 3 with two outs in the ninth. However, Troy Glaus hit a two-run homer, Jason Heyward hit a solo homer to tie the game, and then Nate McLouth homered in the tenth inning to win.

But that doesn’t tell the whole story. See that tiny uptick just to the left of the Heyward home run? That was Troy Glaus’ homer. It only increased the chance the Braves would win by 2.8 percent. Come on, 2.8 percent? It’s gotta have been a bigger deal than that!

In order to make up for the lack of information presented by the graph, I have created nine more graphs, that lack different information. Click and zoom for full size!Graphs

Beyond Devotion?

I have watched them at close of day
Streaming from distant places
At my desk, the computer would play
And I could see distant faces.
I have muted the broadcasters’
Trite and meaningless words
Ignoring purported masters’
Trite and meaningless words,
And thought, when I heard sound
Of a commercial I could mock
It was rather strange, I found
What they said when they would talk.
I am certain that L.A.
Is a place where many are cheered
They change, but they still play
Even when things go terribly weird.

And so I spend my days
In ignorant naivety
My nights in the same ways
As happy as I can be.
What voice more shrill than those
Who, over the web or air,
Tell tales of bygone woes
And expect me to care?
This team had won last year
And looked as if on course
To win again right here.
This other came into their force
They might have won fame, it seemed,
At least, that was the fans’ thought.
This other team, I had dreamed,
Were content with what they had got.
They’d been successful for long
But were not satisfied at heart,
For trying can never be wrong,
Each season’s a brand-new start.
So once again they spent,
Although they’d won the most.
This other, their opponent,
Played as if cheered by a ghost.

Hearts with one purpose alone
Through summer and autumn seem
Enchanted at each pitch thrown
As they cheer on their team.
We’ll always cheer just as loud
Although the roster’s names range
From rookies to veterans proud
Season by season they change.
The ballgame is cancelled by rain;
We say we’ll get them next season
That one loss will lead to some gain
Without asking if that’s true reason.
The players work hard and strive,
We all try to fend off the fall;
Assuming we stay alive,
The game’s in the midst of it all.

Too long a sacrifice
Can make a farce of the mind.
Irrational or nice?
That’s for another to find.
Our job’s to cheer all the same
Whether we lead or trail.
If you rally back each game
But nothing more, you’ll fail.
What’s autumn but the fall?
No, not night, but defeat.
Was the death needless after all?
For even when they’re beat
The fans might still keep hope
Even when all’s said and done
Even when the cynics mope:
They know who dreamed and who won.
And what if hope, in excess
Bewildered them till they lost?
Is it just a gambit like chess?
Does every win come at a cost?
I cannot know if I’m right
But I’ll write it out anyway–
Losers dream only by night.
Winners dream also by day.

Phillies 9, Mets 7

Our memories of heroes go in chunks; months of success in Boston, triumphs in New York, exploits elsewhere. But every so often, they return to their old fields. Emotion is distorted; we’re unsure how to greet them. Time folds into flukish intersections; we lose trust in simple dimensions.

But before even this repetition comes offense. Two trinities of runs bring up the pitcher, bringing out noise while he steps in. He is still in the box, not needing to swing. In the end (but it is just the beginning), he endures while his opposite number exits. 3-0…but he is retired.

The pendulum jerks over to the hosts without stopping for even one out. Most homers go over the outfield fence. This one goes under it. Victorino tries to surrender, but this sport will not condone such hopelessness. The runner keeps running. The left fielder continues fielding, but is left with no good throw. The Mets score; the competition goes on.

Two runs echo two runs. Then more come, one by one. With the Phillies up by just three runs, Bruntlett hits it into the outfield. The umpire’s unsure, Bruntlett motors on to triple. The Mets’ skipper fights it–more impressively, wins. How often does disputing such rulings work? It’s flukish, weird, but oddity is needed from time to time.

So Bruntlett is out. So too, quickly, is his boss. To the end. Even then, it’s not over. The first hitter gets to third. The next pitch is hit to Bruntlett. E4, one run in, one on. Nobody out.

The next pitch is hit to Bruntlett. He knocks it down. Two on, nobody out.

Then lined to second. Bruntlett’s got it, momentum pushing him through second for out number two. He turns, going for Murphy, who tries to bounce out of the defensive zone. But it is no use–the field too is folded through impossible dimensions. Forever here, forever welcoming the weird.