Please welcome Wrigley Faithful to our writing team. He lives in Lexington and will be bringing us first-hand looks at the Legends going forward. Check his stuff out on Twitter at @TheGrandOldGame and at his website here.
On Tuesday night, I was at The Bank watching our Legends put another win IN the bank. While it may not have been a spectacular game, statistically, this game was a fair example of what differences there can be between seeing a game first-hand and piecing together the action simply by reading a box score.
For those of you who are veteran baseball fans, you probably know what I mean when I say that. Little things might never show up in a box score, a recap or even the story of the game itself. Things like well-placed sac bunts, amazing glove work or a timely double play may show up as stats in the paper, but the real story is in seeing them all up close and personal.
Tuesday's game saw RHP Jonas Dufek take the mound, he of the hard curve, whose bulldog determination is quickly evident in both his approach and his expression. Dufek's game is notable for that curve, as it is definitely a swing-and-miss pitch at this level (more on Dufek to come in a post on The Crawfish Boxes, coming soon). Anyway, Dufek had reasonable ease dealing with Augusta's batters, spreading 8 hits over 7 innings and striking out 8 while only walking one batter and allowing 3 runs (2 earned). But it takes more than a strong pitching performance to win a game.
First example of a notable play which would be only glossed over in the box score: CF Justin "Go Go" Gominsky made what can only be described as a "HOLYCRAPDIDYOUSEETHATCATCH?" kind of play, turning his back on home plate in deep right-center to run down a long fly off the bat of Augusta 3B Jose Cuevas and invoking shades of Willie Mays in the process. For an encore, Augusta's Kelby Tomlinson singled to CF and Brett Krill, who had singled to lead off the inning, was gunned down at home by (you guessed it) the cannon that Gominsky calls a right arm.
Here's what the game recap said about it:
"Jose Cuevas flies out to center fielder Justin Gominsky."
"Kelby Tomlinson singles on a line drive to center fielder Justin Gominsky. Brett Krill out at home on the throw, center fielder"
Well, yeah. That's what happened. But from reading that, you don't know if he flew out right behind second base or if he had a homer robbed by a well-timed leap. Nor do you get the image of Go Go firing from deep center and beating the dumbfounded Krill by two steps. It's just the facts, and that's fine because that's all it's supposed to be.
Another example of this type of play: SS Nolan Fontana took a fastball to the noggin in the 4th and took his base, showing (thankfully) no ill effects. Then, when 1B Zach Johnson made contact on a hit-and-run play Fontana nearly tripped over his own feet dodging yet another baseball running full steam ahead for his vital organs with evil intent. Would it have made a difference in whether or not he reached third instead of second? Arguable, at best, but still a play worth noticing if the Legends ended up losing by one run. Fortunately he was able to score when DH Brandon Meredith lined to right and scored the still-thankfully-not-
You also wouldn't know how hard-hit the grounder was when it was fielded by the swift glove-work of Dufek, or the rope smacked by Meredith to lead off the bottom of the 7th. You wouldn't know about the missile fired off the bat of 2B Delino Deshields Jr, a ball hit so hard it initially appeared to slice through the glove of the Augusta third baseman. You wouldn't have seen the called third strike he took that seemed to be nearly in the left-hander's box in the 4th, or the fastball that nearly took one of Gominsky's fingers off on a bunt attempt (and the ensuing shock when he was denied first base by a bewilderingly horrible call by the home plate umpire). Gominsky actually laid down a nice bunt to advance RF Mike Kvasnicka after that, but it was on a 2-strike count and, thus, a bit more risky. The box score wouldn't tell you that, either.
There are other things a box score won't show you. It won't tell you how Kvasnicka's swing seems to be getting a bit longer from the left-hander's box, or how Meredith's aggression hurts him at the plate (sometimes). But it also won't paint an image of a jubilant team bum-rushing the hero-du-jour C Luis Alvarez, who sent the fans home happy with an RBI single to notch the win for the Legends. Oh, it will mention the RBI single, sure, but not the celebration which ensued as a result. A pretty important part of the game, if you ask me.
They have their place, of course, and strictly as an archival means of recording baseball history they work just fine. But they won't tell the whole story, not by a long shot.
For that, I guess you have to be there.