Friday, June 15, 2012

Baseball is a Game of Inches

Some sayings become cliches because they're true. Baseball is a game of inches and boxscores don't usually tell us the full story of any game. There is no differentiation between a fabulous diving catch at short and a routine pop up to short when it comes to the boxscore. And a 399' smoked line drive that is caught in front of the 400' sign in centerfield is still an out no matter how well the ball was hit.

That's why I like to watch as many minor league games as I can, either in person as I've been able to do at Lexington and Corpus this season, or on the computer. I even try to listen to some of the Lancaster games out in the California league, but having to get up at 5:00 on many days doesn't really allow me that luxury very often. Watching or listening to a game tells you so much more than simply reading a boxscore can.

Last Friday, I was in Corpus for the beginning of four days of baseball. When I got back to the hotel, I started writing my minor league recaps for the next day. When I pulled up the Corpus Christi boxscore, I was struck by something. RF Adam Bailey was one-for-four with an RBI and an outfield assist. It was a respectable night on paper, but not something you would think about twice.

But that's not what I saw that night. Bailey crushed a ball 399' to dead center right in front of the 400' sign for an out. Inches. Bailey made an acrobatic diving tumbling attempt in right field that had the crowd around me literally gasping. Unfortunately, he didn't come up with the ball. Inches. And Bailey was caught off of third base on a fielder's choice that was actually a foul down the third base line. Keith Bodie argued the call to no avail. Inches.

Adam Bailey is an interesting player. Despite being second in the entire Astros minor league organization in RBIs in 2011, he has largely flown under the radar. But as Corpus Christi Manager Keith Bodie described him to me, "He's a gamer. He's a bulldog out there." That's what I saw.

Two games later, Bailey again crushed a ball 399' to the exact same spot in dead center. This time it was a double. Inches.

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