Yesterday, while bugging a friend of mine to come hang out instead of watching his favorite MLS team play, I received the following text message: “Please! You are the guy who watches a sport which doesn’t have a time limit. My game will be over soon.”
Well, he does have a point. As George Carlin once said while comparing football and baseball, “Football is rigidly timed, and it will end even if we’ve got to go to sudden death but baseball has no time limit: we don’t know when it’s gonna end. We might have extra innings!”
While these two examples are blatant stabs at America’s favorite pastime it is obvious to all baseball fans that the lack of a time limit on our games is what gives the sport its excitement. Because we don’t have a set time at which the game needs to end, the players can continue to battle back and forth until a victor emerges from the wreckage of scoreless inning after scoreless inning. The most memorable way for this to occur is by a method which the Texas Rangers are very familiar with this season, the walk-off.
Earlier this summer the Rangers won three games back to back to back on walk-off home runs, a spectacle which Major League Baseball hadn’t seen since 2004. As a fan there is no better feeling than watching your team in a dog pile in the middle of the field after just winning the game with one swing of the bat. Rangers fans had yet another opportunity to fall in love with the game of baseball Wednesday against the Astros thanks to Elvis Andrus’ walk-off sac-fly.
Now, to be sure, Andrus’ game winning RBI was not the picture perfect example of a walk-off. If a walk off grand slam were a bottle of Grey Goose Vodka, Elvis’ hit was a warm Keystone Light. Nevertheless, it did the job.
This is really the type of play which Rangers fans have grown to expect from their twenty-four year old Venezuelan shortstop. While he might sometimes be frustrating for fantasy owners by only having hit one home run on the season, Andrus plays the kind of small-ball on the field which gives his team a chance to win every game. Apart from the walk-off sacrifice, Andrus also laid down a RBI suicide squeeze bunt in the 7th to score Craig Gentry from third. In fact, Andrus had two out of the team’s five RBIs without even recording a base hit. That is some seriously scrappy baseball.
Ron Washington’s move of Andrus from leadoff to the number two spot in the order was a smart one. As a leadoff hitter Andrus’ small-ball style isn’t able to reach it’s full potential because his sole objective is to find a way to get on base. However, the role of the guy batting second is to advance the runner, not necessarily swing for a base hit. This gives Andrus the opportunity to hit sac-flies and lay down sacrifice bunts to do whatever he can to move Leonys Martin over to the next base. Elvis actually leads the MLB in sacrifice bunts this season. Andrus excels in this scrappy ballplayer role as exemplified by his performance in Wednesday’s game.
At the end of the day there are many shortstops who I would rather have on the field for the Rangers than Elvis Andrus. If Jean Segura just up and offered to come play in Arlington I would personally walk Elvis to the airport. However, I am also not in a huge hurry to kick him out. If Andrus can keep doing what he does best, at the expense of my fantasy team, I will be satisfied with sac-fly walk-offs. A win is a win, and at this point the Rangers need every win they can get as they look to increase their command of the AL West over the Oakland Athletics.