Thursday, April 19, 2007

A Moment of Grace

One of the things I love about baseball is the fact that over the course of a season, there are so many chances for those perfect, crystalline moments. No other sport allows for this in the way that baseball does, with its intricate series of individual confrontations and actions woven into the larger tapestry of the team effort. And because the season is so long, because everyone gets in the batter's box or on the mound sooner or later, there's a chance for a near-endless cast to do something spectacular, and produce a moment of pure joy.

Take tonight's no-hitter by Mark Buerhle. Buerhle's a guy who's taken the first few slippery steps onto the downside of his career, a guy whose walk and hit rates are going up every year, and a guy whose first start of the year ended less than two innings in after he took a liner off his pitching arm. While he's not quite Bobo Holloman, he's up there on the list of semi-unlikely no-hitter candidates, particularly pitching in a bandbox against the homeriffic Texas Rangers. And yet, it was 27 up, 27 down, and his clearly gleeful teammates dosing him with beer in celebration as he did a post-game interview.

The White Sox probably aren't going to win their division, regardless of whether you believe in PECOTA or not. Mark Buerhle's probably not going to be on the mound in another World Series. But tonight, at least, he seized the chance to make magic. Tomorrow, it will no doubt be someone else - every pitcher's failure means a batter's success, every stolen base hit means a fielder's moment of glory - and that, is in large part, why I love the game.
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