Wednesday, April 3, 2013

It is a cruel, cruel game

Last night in Houston, Yu Darvish stood on the doorstep of baseball history. The Texas Rangers $56 million dollar man was one out away from tossing the 24th perfect game in baseball history.

In his first start of the 2013 season, Yu had breezed through 8 2/3 innings striking out 14 batters. His pitch count was barely over 100 pitches and there was no chance the Rangers were going to take him out. He simply had to collect that 27th out, against the worst hitter in the worst lineup in the majors.

If he was a player on any other franchise, Marwin Gonzalez would be toiling in the minors rather than serving as the backup shortstop for the Houston Astros. The man has a career .662 OPS in the minors. Prior to last night, in 80 MLB games, Marwin had reached base only 28% of the time in his 219 career plate appearances. He has a -0.1 WAR (Wins Above Replacement) -- which technically qualifies him a shade below a "replacement player". I have nothing against Marwin Gonzalez, but he really has no business sitting in a major league clubhouse wearing a big league uniform.
Unless you play for the Mets, I will always root for the pitcher once a no-hitter reaches the ninth inning. The accomplishment is just that special. However, something changed last night for me. From the moment I received the breaking news update on my phone, I was openly cheering against Yu Darvish and this sham of a perfect game. Maybe it is because we had all gorged ourselves on too many no-no's last season... maybe it was the ridiculous number of Rangers fans that had made the trip down IH45 to Minute Maid Park for the second game of the season. Perhaps it is my belief that tossing a perfect game against the Houston Astros is the major league baseball equivalent of beating up a special needs kid (I'm looking at you Matt Cain).

No matter the reason, I was yearning to see any of these "Walking Dead" Astros to break this thing up. As the bottom of 9th inning was starting, I tweeted a prediction that Jason Castro would be the man to do it, but he grounded out to the shortstop. I couldn't bring myself to publicly predict that Carlos Corporan could do anything as he quickly grounded out to second. With two out, as Marwin Gonzalez walked up to the plate I resigned myself to the fact that this was going to happen.

Then Gonzalez quickly reminded me why there is no other game like baseball. Instead of working the count, he aggressively swung at the first pitch -- smacking his 49th career major league hit through Darvish's legs and safely into center field. In one moment Marwin restored my sense of fairness and joined David Freese on the "it really is a cruel, cruel game" list as compiled by Texas Rangers fans.


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