Saturday, February 12, 2005

What is a "Good" Baseball Game?

The above question came to me courtesy of someone who is usually my nemesis, one Timothy J. McCarver, former Cardinals catcher, and current national color man for FUX Sports. (Note: I do not actually know what McCarver's middle name is, and J just sounds right. Like Homer J. Simpson.)

Anyway, tuning in to MLB.TV the other day, I had the good fortune to catch the rebroadcast of the Sox-Yankees faceoff of July 24, 2004. Otherwise known as the "Fight Game", otherwise known ( to me anyway), as "The Game Where Billy Mueller made Mo Rivera His Bitch". While most Sox fans remember that clash as one of the most exciting and watchable games of the year, McCarver made the statement, roundabout the 6th inning, that "this is not a good baseball game." Which started me thinking.

What is a "good" baseball game?What do we look for when we watch a baseball game? I mean, not just our own team's game, where we obviously have a rooting interest coloring each and every DP, each foul popup off the third base line. I mean, when you sit down to watch a random, mid-June, non-pennant face off, with say the Rangers and the Twins. Do you want a perfectly played game, where one team does everything right, and it's 7-0 from the 3rd inning on? Or do you want a game like the Fight Game, dramatic, competitive, where the score goes back and forth, even though the play might be ugly at times? What might be "good" for the baseball purist, might be mind-numbingly boring for a casual viewer.

Using the example of the Fight Game, the leads went back and forth, you never knew what was gonna happen next. The 6th inning alone was an hour long, had about 18 total baserunners, and 6 pitchers ( 3 for each side.) Neither pitching staff could find their spots. or occasionally the strike zone. Without the 9th inning implosion of the Fruitbat, the patience of Mr. Kevin Millar,and the hitting heroics of one Bill Mueller, the Yankees could have easily come out of that game the victors. And though as a Sox fan I found that personally nerve-racking, looking back on it now it was a really fun game to watch. Had I been, for example, a Royals fan, I think that would have been a good game, an interesting game to just sit down and get absorbed in.

So, I guess, the debate is one of definition: is good "perfect baseball", or is it "entertaining baseball"? It's a debate which is renewed each day.


A tidbit of Patriots news in this otherwise basebally-post:
The Hoodie has found his new D-Man, and ( as expected) in his own back yard. Obviously, this is very good news for the Patriots, but I think it's also a very smart decision on the part of Mangini. Sure he could have made more money in either Miami or Cleveland, but there's also the question of future money, future head-coaching jobs. Even if he did his damnedest in Miami or Cleveland, I think those clubs are still several rebuilding years away from contending, and they will still lose a good portion of their games. While those years won't hurt the prospects of Saban or Crennel, ( unless they continue much longer than expected), Mangini would have used them to advertise for a future head coaching job, and the losing years would have ( however unfairly) either hurt his chances, or at the very least postpone them. With the Pats, there is a similar chance to prove himself, but more material for him to work with. Though people might argue that Mangini will be hurt by Belichick's shadow, I disagree. The new question for the Patriots is "Yeah, they got three, but can they win without Crennel and Weis?" Proving that he is able to follow as tough an act as Crennel's will go a long way towards solidifying Mangini's future prospects.


The Truck rolls on...4 days till pitchers and catchers.......