Sunday, February 25, 2007


You know, it really is timeless.

One thing about baseball that makes it the greatest game in the world --- not that one needs a reason --- is the absence of a clock.

Unlike those other sports, baseball's finale is earned the old-fashioned way. Twenty-seven outs. That's what it takes. Keep hitting and you can play forever. You can't hold the ball. You can't slip into a prevent defense.

Tennessee didn't have much trouble earning wins against Indiana Purdue Fort Wayne at Lindsey Nelson Stadium yesterday. In the second game, they didn't even need 27 outs, as the nightcap was shortened to 7 innings.

James Adkins pitched a beauty in game one. He allowed only four hits and struck out 12 in eight innings of work. Too bad the bullpen blew his shutout.

But the Vols found their bats, beating the deliciously named Mastodons 12-1 and 9-1 to sweep the series. Here's hoping this is a watershed moment for this offensively-challenged squad.

Lance McClain lived dangerously in the second game, walking five and constantly getting behind in the count. But Lance has this incredible pick-off move to first. It catches two Mastodons napping and helps his cause.

I ate a hot dog midway through the first game and chatted with the usher between innings.

"The Vols found their bats today, huh?" I say.

"Yeah," he replies. "But when you're throwing junk like that, you're going to get hit."

The guy sitting next to me is bothered by walks. He kept yelling at McClain whenever he'd lose the batter, and muttered, "Those bases on balls," over and over.

I tend to dislike the inane betweeen-innings promotions that have become part of the modern game. But UT pulls out a good one today.

Two guys race to see who can unravel a frozen t-shirt, strip their shirt off and place it on their shivering torso. The winner gets a gift card from Weigel's.

"You can imagine how much fun that was last week when it was 20 degrees," somebody behind me says.

What draws me to baseball is its leisurely pace. There's time to think, to chat, to do almost anything.

The batter steps out of the box. He swings his bat a time or two. You look out to right field, where Andy Simunic stretches his back.

The guy behind you leans up to comment on the batter's tendencies. You glance down at your scorebook to make sure your pitch count is correct. Then you lean over and take a swig of Sprite.

You look back up in time to see the next pitch. It's a ball.

The other sports do not allow this. Football is marked by vicious spurts of action, "violence punctuated by committee meetings," as George Will says. Basketball is a constant blur. I still don't understand exactly what soccer is, so I won't comment there.

But the national game is another story --- literally. It unfolds much in the manner of a good novel. Maybe that's why they call it the writer's game.

Me? I just call it heaven. Or something pretty darn close.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

The correct spelling is Purdue. Perdue is the chicken guy.

5:27 PM  
Blogger Jake Mabe said...

Good catch --- thanks.

6:30 PM  

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