Last week, as I watched Ben and Zach, the sons of my friends George and Julie take the field in their little league game, I tried to reassure Julie that I understood what I was watching.
Julie knows what I do, so she was making apologies for her six-year olds and their teammates during their first season of organized ball.
"It is ok," I said. I understand what level I am watching, and it does not really matter anyway. The beauty of baseball is that Ben and Zach are playing the same game that Alex Rodriguez and Tim Lincecum do. True, there are different levels of skill, but, on any given day, on any field, the percentages are exactly the same that you will see a bonehead play, or a jaw dropping one.
Sure enough, a couple of plays later, one of the kids hit a screamer that the first sacker speared and then stepped on first for an unassisted double play. Which did indeed drop everyone's jaws.
Cut to this morning, as I got my stuff together and toddled off to the Coliseum to score the Athletics game against the Rays on Mother's Day.
Just another day at the yard, in fact with Dallas Braden facing James Shields, I was giving the advantage to Tampa.
I did not notice till the fifth inning that Braden was tossing a no-no, but, I do get so into making sure I have pitches correct and pitch counts down and such, that well, the score is kind of secondary. Still, there was suddenly a bit of a buzz in the booth, and all the writers around me were tossing around no-hitter and perfect game trivia as they were framing the articles that would be due when the game ended.
Braden, after a 12-pitch at-bat to Gabe Kapler, had a good seventh inning, but I found myself wanting Oakland to stay at the plate so the magic in the air could continue.
Braden got a one-two-three eighth, with a huge help from Kevin Kouzmanoff who risked his body, catching a pop foul at the edge of the dugout, then continuing down and in.
Then came the ninth, which I really did not want to come, because a walk would be one thing, but a hit, hell, anything could ruin it.
But, a soft liner to first.
Then a fly out to left.
And then a 63 shot to sure-handed Cliff Pennington and that was all she wrote.
19 in MLB history, and I got to see and score #19. Not a bad way to spend a Sunday, honoring our mothers, at the yard.
And, as I suggested to Julie, you never really know what is going to happen at the game. Truly.