Thursday, May 26, 2011

That's what's great about baseball

AP Photo
Phillies infielder Wilson Valdez was the winning pitcher
in Wednesday night's 19-inning marathon win over
the Cincinnati Reds.

I stayed awake Wednesday night/Thursday morning to watch the Phillies' 5-4, 19-inning victory over the Cincinnati Reds.

While I'm feeling the effects of that decision today, it was worth it. It's games like that one that make baseball the great sport that it is.

First, there's no time limit. In basketball, if your team is down 5 points with 10 seconds left, the clock will tick to 0:00 and you lose. In baseball, your team could be trailing by runs with 2 outs in the bottom of the last inning, but your chance to win doesn't end with the sound of a buzzer.

And when baseball games last as long as that Phillies game did, you never know what you might see. Last year, Phillies pitcher Roy Oswalt ended up in left field for a few innings in a 16-inning lost to Houston. On Wednesday night, playing 3rd base in the 19th inning was starting catcher Carlos Ruiz. The winning pitcher in the 19-inning marathon? None other than Phillies infielder Wilson Valdez, who started the game at second base.

Valdez became the first position player to start a game in the field and be the winning pitcher since 1921, when a guy named Babe Ruth did it. And that's probably the only time you'll see Wilson Valdez and Babe Ruth mentioned in the same sentence.

Unfortunately for the players, today's game was scheduled for 1 p.m., less than 12 hours after Wednesday's game ended. Phillies' shortstop Jimmy Rollins, third baseman Placido Polanco and Ruiz were not in the starting lineup for Thursday's game. And manager Charlie Manuel has to be hoping that starting pitcher Cliff Lee can pitch deep into the game, since the bullpen is wore out from the 19-inning marathon.

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