Slate's Robert Weintraub, like many of us, loves the old purple prose of early 1900s sportswriting, the Grantland Rices, the men who painted epic tales of warriors, grizzled combatants and lardywarks too manly to wear gloves. In an occasional series, Weintraub writes about the week's best baseball game in the style of the vaunted sportswriters of yesteryear. This week: The Brewers' win over the Twins on Saturday.
One of the Pastime’s great lures is the likelihood that all attendees, even a jaded regular like this reporter, will witness an occurrence he or she has never before seen. This temptation was on full display during the final game of a Deviant Series (stop bastardizing the game, people!) matchup between the Beery Nine from Milwaukee and the Siamese from the West, Minnesota.
Both sides were on the receiving end of Serling Style happenings involving strikeouts. But one was mere Chadwickian oddity, while the other was as a result of deliberate action by Blue, and as such, was met with outrage and brickbats rather than applause. Excepting the forty thousand or so Good Friends in the grandstand, of course, who were delighted by the incident, as it came in assistance of a 4-2 triumph for the Mixmasters.
Before describing the Prestige, however, a word or three about the Turn. Ahead by a tally courtesy of a Russ “3TO” Branyan safety in the opening innings, Milwaukee’s Finest came up for their third at bat against Twin City twirler Scott “Captain Shreve” Baker. Down they went, 1-2-3-4. And all via the 11th Letter. Unpossible, you declare? Not so, dear Reader. With The Hebrew Hammer, Ryan Braun, already retired after errant swings, the Porky Prince of Pop took his turn in the rectangle. Appropriately, given the holiday, Fielder failed to Honor Thy Father, and he too missed badly on a troika of swings. However, Mike “Smell Those RBI’s” Redmond, backstopping the Chang and Engs, failed to corral a wide one from his batterymate, and the pill bounded so far into the distance that even the Portly Prince was able to reach the Right Sack.
Officially, according to Sir Chadwick himself, that chain of events is recorded as a Whiff, giving the good Captain a brace in the innings. In short order, he regripped the wheel and caught 3TO and Mike “Black Cat” Cameron browsing. That gave Baker a quartet of K’s in the innings, despite the seeming numerically impossibility of the act. While not an event as rare as the Javan Spotted Rhino, it was sufficiently unusual to earn Baker his own bust in the North Star record book. No other Minnesotan in the long history of the franchise has accomplished a Fantastic Four (Flame On!)
Inspired by the Mound Mark, the Fraternals stuck their collective nostrils in front. Jason “The Beautiful Fork” Kubel stroked a Long Sock in the Middle Frame, and a Kamikaze Out by Alexi “Stomp The Yard” Casilla unWindsored the contest. But those feats of raptor-eyed batsmanship were immediately offset in the home half of the sixth innings, when The Black Cat reversed his curse, at least with a small ‘r’, and powered a drive into the left-center cheapies with 3TO watching from the Gilded Path. 3-2, Brew Crew.
The Big Fly turned an historic afternoon for Captain Shreve into a Day of Disappointment. "It came down to one pitch," Baker said. "It went from a great outing to an average one." Alas (and alack), Sir Shreve, that’s the very nature of base ball, and, as with your trip into history earlier in the day, a Shining Example of why we cannot live without the Game, despite repeated entreaties by the Better Half to kick the habit…
Meanwhile, FonzieTown hurler Seth “Joystick” McClung justified his skipper’s faith on this Sabbath Day. Field General Yost was tempted to remove the game gamer from his rotation, but stuck with him for another go against the Junior Circuiters, and was rewarded with six quality frames. Enter the Welfarers, who slammed the door on the Frigid State Nine. But not without a little aid from the Chief Adjudicator.
Guillermo “Sister Christian” Mota toed the slab in the eighth innings, and set down all three Twins who dared wave their ash in his direction by strikeout. It was the middle whiff that had tongues wagging afterward. Brandon “The Marquis” Harris was scoffing at Pentagon Solomon Brian Runge’s warnings to hurry up and hit, rather than dawdle with his foot outside the rectangle. When Harris didn’t respond with alacrity, Blue waved to the Night Ranger to stand and deliver, which he did for Strike Three.
The Hit and Run Hun, Skip Gardenhire, promptly aired his grievance of the ruling at great volume, and in extreme proximity to Runge’s grille. He was ordered from the premises, forthwith. Don’t blame Blue on this one. Indeed, the Blue Collective has been directed to take such steps in order to install an internal combustion engine to an often horse and buggy sport. The Marquis was gumming up the works, and didn’t like the taste of the Drano that came down the pipe.
Bernie’s Boys tacked on a Prudential Tally in their turn at bat, and salvaged a V from an otherwise emptyhanded set. But Rushing Runge was the day’s Takeaway Platter. “If he gets hit in the head, what are we going to do then? That's embarrassing. I don't get it at all. That's wrong," opined the Hun. "'Call the league,' that's what I was told." Far be it from me to question the Commish of Gilles Hot Dogs (duly noted—his Pride and Joy were beneficiaries of the Dubious Decision), but why bother trying to bring a hasty and unnatural end to these Glorious Afternoons at the Park? This reporter’s Typing Brethren are responsible for much of the barracking about length of play. Ticketholders are free to leave at any point. Those who stay are presumably sanguine with the proceedings. So why hurry them from the fresh air and glad tidings? Given the seldom seen action earlier in the day, the Drive ‘Em Out Directive was truly Irony Unbound.