What is the sweetest way to win a game of baseball against your closest rival? Is it dominating your opponent in their own backyard? Maybe it’s through an impressive individual performance, perhaps coming from an unlikely source. Or is it a gutsy come-from-behind win, culminating in a walk-off hit in front of a full house of partisans?
If it’s the latter, then it’s difficult to imagine a happier set of fans than those of the Los Angeles Dodgers in June of 1974 after one dramatic series versus the rival San Francisco Giants.
Andrew Benintendi had the most excruciating plate appearance of last night’s World Series Game 2. It wasn’t because he was over-matched against Ryu Hyun-jin’s pitching; there were no Stanton-esque hacks at diving curveballs. Nor was there the nervous tension of accumulating foul balls, piling on the pressure for batter, pitcher and fan alike.
No, the at bat merely took an absolute age.
Last week Anthony Rizzo, first baseman for the Chicago Cubs, hit leadoff for the first time in his seven year career. Before Rizzo’s first at bat, Cubs’ color man Jim Deshaies recalled:
Big Riz did it a couple of times in spring training, and on one occasion he went out there and ambushed the first pitch and hit a home run.
Two pitches into the regular season version of this experiment Rizzo hit a leadoff home run. The next evening Rizzo, still batting in the No.1 spot, made an impact one pitch sooner by hitting the first offering of the game over the outfield fence.