To me, the most beautiful thing about the game of baseball is that each of the 162 games played by 30 teams every year offers the opportunity to see something that has never happened before. On July 1st, the Indians turned a triple play against the Dodgers in Chavez Ravine. Triple plays are rare, so it was a cool thing in and of itself. The Indians have only turned 33 triple plays in franchise history. This, however, was the first triple play to take advantage of baseball's fledgling instant replay system. Twice. Now, I'm no statistician, but I'd be surprised if I see something like that again in my lifetime. Ain't that beautiful? But there were 49 other outs recorded that game, so maybe a little context is worth discussing.
Actually I'm going to zoom out even further in terms of context. As many of you may know, I currently live in Vancouver, BC. That means I don't get to watch too many Indians games in person unless I'm back home visiting or make a point to travel to see a road game. So when I first saw the Indians were playing back-to-back road series in Seattle - a three hour drive from me - and LA - my former home and frequent travel destination - you have to believe I was stoked. Time for a summer vacation!
I started my trip down in Seattle on June 30th, where I had the pleasure of downing a few pints at Pyramid Brewing Co, before the game with my fiancee and her folks. Oh, I also got to watch Josh Tomlin throw a one-hitter. That was pretty cool, too. But after a one-night stay in a Sea-Tac Travelodge and back-to-back one-hit losses by the Tribe, I found myself in the left field seats of Dodger Stadium with a helmet full of carne asada nachos ready to watch Justin Masterson take on a potent Dodgers lineup. I didn't expect much from our boys but hell, who can't enjoy a sunny day in LA?
Masterson started out shaky and was gone by the fourth inning having miraculously only given up three runs. Also miraculously, a slumping Tribe offense managed to score five runs off of a reasonably hot Josh Beckett. But more than anything, this was a game of missed opportunities. The Indians couldn't break the game open despite getting to Beckett. The Dodgers likewise kept helping thing Indians get themselves out of jams. Even I missed out on the opportunity to grab a glorious bacon-wrapped jumbo hot dog, opting instead for a soggy and depressing Dodger dog because I was too lazy to walk down to the lower concourse. But I digress.
Like so many other times in the earlygoings of the game, the Indians found themselves in a jam with runners on the corners and no out in the bottom of the 4th. Adrian Gonzalez hit a routine flyball to Michael Brantley, shallow enough to hold almost any runner in MLB on third base, except for maybe Dee Gordon. Gordon took off, and Dr. Smooth fired a strike to Yan Gomes who tagged Gordon out on a very close play. A doubler! But wait, Yasiel Puig, always eager to disrespect the game, took off from first base as Gomes celebrated the double play. Eventually, Gomes woke up and fired a dart to second, but not quite in time to get Puig. That's where the weirdness started.
It was very close, but Puig appeared to be out, so Tito threw the red flag. The review came back - triple play confirmed! For a minute, at least. Dodger manager Don "Donnie Baseball" Mattingly decided to challenge the play at the plate. Just like the second base umpire, though, Donnie Baseball was wrong. Triple play confirmed! Again! Have a look for yourself:
Yes, the classic 7-2-4 triple play, only the second such triple play in MLB history and of course the first to be subject to any instant replay review, let alone two replays. It was the first triple play the Indians had turned since Asdrubal Cabrera's unassisted triple play in 2011. It was the first triple play ever to involve instant replay, though probably not the last. And as weird and flawed as the instant replay system is, it was still a hell of a cool piece of history to see in person.
But yeah, the rest of the game also happened. In a battle of bullpens, wherein the Indians bullpen was great and the Dodgers bullpen was terrible, the Tribe would go on to win 10-3. Just another game in along season. There were no real implications or overarching storylines, save for maybe Justin Masterson's waning days in a Tribe uniform. Aside from the triple play, there wasn't really anything remarkable about this game. But isn't that remarkable enough? Baseball offers us so many opportunities to see something we've never seen before. Something weird, something random, something crazy, something inspiring, and almost always something amazing. Just make sure your face isn't buried in a helmet full of nachos when one of those amazing things happens.