I worked the Athletics/Cubs game on the Fourth of July and like any other game, it had its idiosyncrasies.
It was a game where the winning team--Oakland--conjured a victory on an unearned run with no RBI.
To me, though, the best part was this was the first 1-0 game I have seen this year. Because, my favorite score when watching a baseball game is 1-0.
In fact, my very favorite is 1-0 with a lead-off home run, something I have witnessed once in person (Rickey Henderson hit the dinger, if memory serves).
Now, I know there are those who love a lot of runs, and it is not like I don't appreciate that, either.
In fact, a wild 11-9 game where the lead changes hands four or five times is a great thing to watch (though not so much fun to score, let me tell you).
But, there are a few things about a 1-0 game, and particularly the lead-off homer variety, that pique my intrigue with baseball even further.
First, a lead-off homer makes me think the game will be one of those 11-9 back-and-forth affairs.
Second, as the game progresses, the significance of that one run increases with what seems to be some kind of geometric progression.
Third, it means the game boiled down to one pitch. Now, this is really true of any one-run game. And, it can be true in any shutout where one hit scores all the runs of the game.
It also means with every pitch the balance of the game hung in jeopardy for at least a microsecond. For, one more mistake and everything changes even more dramatically. As in, a homer for the team behind means suddenly the game is tied, and a dinger for the winning team means 2-0, a lead that can seem insurmountable when there is a dearth of runs.
Even more in line with the strange beauty baseball offers, as observers of said 1-0 game, we did not know just how important each pitch would really be until we can see the completed contest and look back upon the opportunities offered, and most likely missed.
And, in the Cubs and Athletics contest on Thursday, that pitch boiled down to a swinging strike wild pitch, an odd combination to start with, let alone for a winning run to produce. As in, no one even hit the ball and yet the game was won.
Still, in the scheme of baseball, where so many games are played, and the winning percentage of a good team is 55%, and, is also an environ where one at-bat can make or break one game, and thus the season. The same can be said of that one pitch in a 1-0 game, and there is something so strangely mystical and yet totally fatalistic about the possibility of an entire season being won--or lost--on one pitch.
It is also just another reason why baseball will keep me engaged to my last breath.