Niagara Gazette

Sports

May 20, 2013

Base Paths: Went to a baseball game and this broke out...

Niagara Gazette — Extending a scouting report by Woody Allen, bad baseball is the fourth best thing in the world. And Base Paths enjoyed a lot of it last week on sabbatical to Buffalo’s city series.

The players were Middle Early College and Buffalo Performing Arts, their stage the Cy Williams diamond at Delaware Park. Middle Early College is a downtown school affiliated with Erie Community College, striving to get good young people on an academic track; Performing Arts pretty much defines itself, although no ballet shoes or makeup were in evidence.

Middle Early College committed 11 errors, allowed 14 stolen bases, was outhit 7-6 and won, 9-7. Base Paths was consulted twice for affirmation of the actual score. Pitchers were so unmindful of base stealers that several had reached their destination before the ball crossed the plate; once, the batter swung into a popup, resulting in a double play.

When Middle College’s catcher suffered a thumb injury, it took 10 minutes to solicit a volunteer, gear him up and teach him the rudiments, all while the umpires, with infinite patience, bade the game slow down. Most blue will concede that a well-played game can umpire itself; in this one, they’d never have gotten out of the second inning.

But when a curfew approached and they moved to end the game, giving Middle College the win after 5 ½, it was Middle College that argued for play to continue. And as Arts rallied, its fans cheering in in a United Nations cacophony of tongues, a ground ball was hit to third, where the sore-thumbed catcher had taken refuge.

He clutched it like a football, eyes blazing eagerness and fear. Mighty Casey would have been more likely to let that ball go by again. Then he ran toward first, shot-putting a lob which bounced three times into the first-baseman’s glove. Out. Mike Schmitt never completed a play with such intensity.

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