I am not a big man. About 5’8″, maybe 120lb soaking wet. But I’m big enough to admit that a dumb bit of baserunning by me helped cost the Raptors today’s game at Braintree.
There was one out in the eighth inning, and the Raptors needed to pad a 15-12 lead to be safe. With maybe a 2-2 count, I lined the ball exactly where I had wanted to, over the head of the first baseman and into right field. I was running hard to first and as usual looking to make the turn. The right fielder was a big guy, moving only slowly to the ball. So although I was vaguely aware of the base coach telling me to stop, I went for two. Off I went, full tilt. And I was out by about six feet, I think, clattering into the second baseman as he fielded the throw and tagged me out.
So instead of us having one out, one on, it was bases empty, two down. A world of difference. If I had to analyse the decision right now, I’d maybe say I was sticking too closely to my original plan. Having hit it where I wanted it, I therefore ran for what I had hoped to achieve. In fact, the right fielder was slow but was pretty much standing next to the ball. And I would have had a decent chance to steal second, anyway.
To be fair to myself, I will add that mine was the second baserunning mistake of the inning. The first out had been Tak stealing third after hitting a brilliant double. He didn’t really need to do it, and he wasn’t really close to getting there. But we should make no apologies for playing aggressively, and — until recently — we didn’t steal third anything like often enough. I should have learned from Tak’s experience, rather than compounding the error.
I remember writing an article a couple of years ago, coincidentally also after a losing game at Braintree, about how your final play can colour your view of an entire game. On that occasion I had enjoyed one of my best days fielding at shortstop, but my final at-bat was poor and had helped to snuff out our rally. That was what I chewed on all week. Today’s could be my last game of the season, so I will get to chew on it all winter!
Of course, I will admit to being able to find something to kick myself about after any game. How else can I hope to get better?! After we blew out the Tonbridge Bobcats last week for our maiden victory, I spent much of my time arguing with myself about whether I should have caught the flare into shallow right field which ultimately ended the game (when Will came in from right field, and made the throw to tag out the aggressive base runner heading for second…. somehow that all sounds familiar … anyway…). Victory was very sweet, but I still found something to grumble about. Ridiculous.
And therefore I should stop being ridiculous and finish this post on a more upbeat note. First, I should of course say that lots of plays go to make up a baseball game, that’s part of its beauty. Yes, some are key, some are routine, but they all play a little part. A glance at the scoresheet shows the Rays also made unnecessary outs on the base paths. And I also know that I hustled to beat out a throw to get a single earlier, and ran for home hard and alertly to score when the Rays attempted a play on someone else at first. So if I hadn’t done that good stuff, we wouldn’t have had as many runs as we did when I did the dumb thing. Does that make sense? The upshot is that we can all take pride in something after a game, but also find something to learn from.
The real good point today was the fact that the Raptors turned in another strong performance. That’s four good games in a row — we competed with the Old Timers before blowing the game in one inning; then we lost 16-15 on a walk-off; then we beat Tonbridge; now we go down 16-15 again on another walk-off. Those are proper baseball games, not like the silly blowouts from earlier in the season. Guys made good plays today. Senna made good outfield catches; Ken made intelligent plays at third; and I can’t remember Oz letting through a single passed ball. And I have to mention Glen’s inside the park home run. More of that in the match report, to follow shortly, but for now let’s say well played Raptors, and let’s keep learning.