Bottom of the Fifth, 1Out, 1-0 Count
Tonight I learned what a sick, magical tool my television is. I think it’s been going on for a couple of months now. It presents a philosophical quandary; a question of ethics and cost-benefit analysis. Is what I choose the outweighing good, in balance with the so-called karmic return that comes as a constant lesson for my choices? I can call crucial hits or home runs, scoring plays that shift momentum in my team’s favor.
Yes. I’m sure of it. I called a home run for Logan Morrison during last Friday’s game between the Seattle Mariners and the Oakland Athletics. A game that the Mariners won 4-2, keeping Wild Card berth aspirations breathing. Granted, breathing like that fish at the end of that one Faith No More video, but breathing.
I’ve called a total of 5 home runs off the bat of David Ortiz this season alone. Not that it has really helped what has become a disastrous, abhorrent-to-look at season for the Red Sox.
But the Morrison donger, a no-doubt-about-it ball crushed to the high corner of right field, I have witnesses to that one. I can verify the call with eyewitness accounts from two mildly drunk graduate students, tweets, and text messages to a close friend. The homer was the go-ahead run for the Mariners, who would never trail again.
It came in the bottom of the 5th inning, nobody on, one out, on a one ball no strike count.
Shit, I even called that Anthony Rizzo homer just now. Granted, I thought it to myself, alone in my living room and it didn’t change much of the playoff picture. But still, I’m a home run soothsayer. That’s what I’m telling myself.
Today was my reckoning, however. I learned that my joyous, greedy even, calling of shots has its dire consequences. The fourth inning of a Detroit Tigers-Minnesota Twins game had gotten underway and I gave the boxscore a cursory glance. Max Scherzer was perfect through three innings. Sure, that’s a long, long way from pitching a perfect game, or even a no-hitter, but I was intrigued. I swooped up the controller for my PlayStation and switched on over to that game. I’m such an asshole. The very second the game stream loaded up, I was treated to Danny Santana stroking a hit into left field to break up the perfect game. I immediately felt that I owed Scherzer a spiritual debt. The Baseball Gods had doled out my penance for the Morrison homer.
Or so I thought. Shortly after that, I became aware that Jacob deGrom, a young phenom pitcher for the New York Mets, had tied a Major League record by striking out the first eight batters he faced and had 12 strikeouts through five innings. I needed a glimpse of a dominant pitching performance once again. It’s a tough thirst to slake; homers and runs and hits are fun, offense is fun, but a real fan’s appreciation of the game is in watching dominant pitching.
Two innings later, the Florida Marlins scored three runs to begin their comeback. They wound up winning, handing deGrom the loss. This was surely my fault. Even though both teams are out of the playoff race, I’d give back one of those Big Papi homer calls just to see (potentially) a 20-strikeout game. deGrom was well on his way and I fucked that all up, royally.
How long will I possess this cursed power?
The last text message from my friend concerning the Morrison home run call on Friday night read, “Call some more.” Trepidation is creeping over me.