Out of Shape for Baseball

For the first time in years, I tuned into Opening Day yesterday.

My Detroit Tigers were hosting the BoSox, and it was on the tube.

Saw Justin Verlander hurl the last six outs of his 2 hit, 8 shutout innings. He was as masterful as last season when he clearly established himself as the best pitcher in baseball.

Boston’s Jon Lester was almost — but not quite — as good. He gave up a single run in the 7th, and only 6 hits in seven innings.

Detroit closer Jose Valverde notched 49 saves in 49 save attempts last season. Yesterday he blew his first opportunity this season on Opening Day. But got the W, when the Tigers saved his butt in the bottom of the 9th.

But here’s when I knew I was out of baseball shape.

Valverde takes a lot of time on the mound. Fidgets between pitches, adjusts things way too many times, etc, etc. I found myself getting antsy in my chair as I watched. Were I not still in basketball viewing mode, I’d have been more acclimated to the bucolic pace of the sport f/k/a as the national pastime.

The rhythm of the game is more than a century old. There is no time clock. It is what makes the game an immutable experience.

I became more anxious the longer he took between pitches, instead of slipping into the gentle pace. I even left the room to fold laundry for a minute or two, despite the fact that the 9th was back and forth and back again in the Tigers’ favor.

It’s early. The tension of the Final Four still lingers. I’m gearing up for the pace of NBA playoffs. But I’ll get there. Baseball on a summer’s day is too good to miss.

* * * * *

Other than Verlander, the star of the game was Tiger leadoff hitter, Austin Rivers. He went 3 for 5 and garnered the game winning RBI with one out in the bottom of the ninth.

Rivers is the most unusual of leadoff hitters, but manager Jim Leyland has stuck to his guns. The center fielder led Detroit in strikeouts last season. Not a normal stat one might find for a guy at the top of the lineup.

* * * * *

When I tuned in the game, it was scoreless.

Ah, I said to myself, a classic pitcher’s duel. Then, for some reason, I thought of a couple friends who love the game of baseball and were probably savoring that situation. Those same guys dismiss soccer at every opportunity. “No scoring,” they say.


– Seedy K

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