The SPORTS PHILOSOPHER says: “Isn’t it about time we all buckled down and learned the count?”

July 10, 2011
Share this story:

     Having lived a good long time (and being, after all, the Sports Philosopher) people have asked me many times why—in this age when football is king and with so many other wonderful sports to choose from—that I still consider baseball to be the greatest game on Earth.

     Despite my eloquence (or perhaps because of my lack of it) I have been largely unable to convey exactly why.   I’ve tried.   I’ve tried to explain to people how baseball is so thoroughly woven into our overall history in this country, how our nation grew up with the game, I’ve tried to explain how you can’t really understand baseball until you’ve learned to understand and appreciate the subtle nuances of the ball-strike count, etc, I’ve tried everything, often, far too often, to no avail. image001

(My sister-in-law, Elena, had the greatest quote ever about the count.   I tried to explain it to her, my brother has tried to explain it to her, but she refuses to learn.   And doesn’t care.    Her quote?  “I know I don’t understand the count.   But I’m okay with it.”    Good god….how do you respond to that?)

     Anyway, let’s try this: They played a seemingly innocuous, meaningless game in Chicago’s storied Wrigley Field the other day which I think may, perhaps, illustrate to you non-believers what I am talking about, as far as baseball being able to stir up emotions and instill a sense of wonder in grown men that no other sport can.   Ergo, I now reprint the email I sent out to my friends and family immediately after the game in its entirety.   Unedited.   Word-for-word.

     Please keep in mind that I am in my mid-fifties, have never been committed to a mental institution, and, under normal circumstances, am a pretty calm and reasonable guy:



dear family and friends….


   The Giants’ 5-2 loss to the Cubs today was not only the most frustrating, odds-defying, sphincter-tightening, gut-wrenching loss during the regular season I have ever suffered through as a baseball fan (which is code for Giants fan), but also had more weird and wacky quirks in it than any game I can remember.


In no particular order, they are:


1   Brian Wilson allowed his 1st home run ALL YEAR LONG (blowing the save in the 9th and ruining a win for Matt Cain, who never gets a break).


2   The Giants did the near-impossible—they BLEW TWO SAVES IN THE SAME GAME!   You know how hard that is to do???  It means you must take two separate and distinct leads into two different sections of the 9th inning and beyond, not just be tied and lose, and then blow them both.  One by one.


3   The guy who hit the walk-off homer, Geo Soto, was the last available Cubs player off the bench….had the game continued, they would have started pulling able-bodied drunks out of the stands.


4   In that fateful 13th inning, three Cubs, count ’em, THREE, got hits with two strikes, Two of them after being down 0-and-2 in the count.


5   One of those three guys, Darwin Barney, swung and missed 0-2, checked his swing, offered at it and committed at it, knew he had swung at it, everyone was walking off the field and heading for the post-game buffet, but the ump refused to punch him out….jerk.



6  After the great Mr. Barney singled, Jeff Baker (another future Hall of Famer) was coming around third and heading home from second base to tie the game, like a rickety old ice wagon, and Cody Ross’ job was to throw him out from left field.  I won’t say Ross fielded the ball in shallow left; it was more like deep short, only 15 feet or so beyond the dirt of the infield.  All he had to do in order to throw him out by 20 feet and end the game was not throw the ball over the catcher’s head.  Just don’t throw the ball over the catcher’s head.  He threw the ball over the catcher’s head.  Ten feet over his head.  Maybe fifteen feet over his head.  Maybe more.   (maybe I’ll kill myself)


7   The powerful Giants batsmen—from one out in the 3rd till two outs in the 13th, did not get a hit.  31 outs, no hits.  A 10 & 1/3 INNING NO-HITTER WITHIN A 13-INNING GAME!   Sandoval’s go-ahead homer in the top of the 13th was the only hit they got in the final four hours of the game.  And they STILL were in position to win it in the bottom of the 13th.  Three times.  Twice when the Cubs were down to their last strike.  Once when Ross air-mailed his throw.   (my fingers almost refused to type this particular paragraph)


8.  This no-hitter wedged in the middle of a very long game was pitched by 6 Cubs relievers.  The struggling starter, temperamental (emphasize mental) Carlos Zambrano, left the game in the 2nd, due to a back injury.  Which is probably what cost the Giants the game in the first place….


9  The only time the Cubs led in the entire 13 innings was the micro-second when Soto’s drive cleared the wall to end the game.




10  The Cubs scored more runs with two out in the bottom half of the 13th inning, a whopping four runs, than both teams scored combined during the previous 25 half-innings encompassing 77 outs; only three runs.   Chew on that.

It felt like God did this to me personally.   All I wanted was to settle in for the afternoon, get over my son taking off camping for a whole week, nurse my annual sunburn, eat some tasty bowls of Cap’n Crunch, and watch my favorite team play an old-fashioned day game under the sun, in the friendly confines of Wrigley Field….





     Does this clear things up???

meet….The Sports Philosopher!image003

Brad Eastland is an author, historian, film buff, undiscovered fictioneer, and baseball fan nonpareil.   Brad’s other recent columns for LaVerneOnline can be found in Sports under ‘The Sports Philosopher’ and also in Viewpoint under ‘Brad Eastland’s View’.    Brad has also written 4 novels* and over 20 short-stories.   

*To pick up a copy of his recently published novel of life at the racetrack, WHERE GODS GAMBLE, a tale of American mythology, simply search for it on,, or…it’s easy!



Leave a Reply