Baseball is stranger than fiction


Fiction for all that it frees the writer to bend the world to our will can still seem a step too far beyond reality when we create a certain situation or a character. It would be hard to believe that someone could get to the queen’s bedroom if Michael Fagan hadn’t done it. Or that pitcher Randy Johnson would hit a bird that happened to fly between him and home plate with a fastball.

As a part-time writer, I make stuff up for my stories. But I don’t know that I could have made up the events of last night’s ALDS game between the Toronto Blue Jays and the Texas Rangers.

And this game came after the Jays lost the first two of the series and won the next two to force a game five. This isn’t something that happens often. Most teams that lose the first two games in the playoffs end their season and get eliminated. The stats argued against the Jays making it to game five.

In the top of the seventh inning, in a fifth and deciding game of the series, the Blue Jays are tied with the Rangers after trailing for six innings. Rougned Odor (his real name, and something no writer could make up) is on third with two out. Shin-Soo Choo, the batter, stretches his arm out to adjust his sleeve before the next pitch. Russell Martin throws the ball back to the mound. And it deflects off Choo’s outstretched arm and rolls down the third base line. Odor hesitates then runs for home. The umpire, Dale Scott waves that the ball’s dead, but Odor crosses home plate. Confusion reigns for those first few moments. Is the ball out of play? Is it dead? The umpires send Odor back to third then gather together and discuss the play. He’s ruled to have scored a run and the Rogers Centre in Toronto explodes in disapproval. After much delay and the throwing of garbage onto the field, play finally resumes. Sanchez, the pitcher strikes out Choo, but Toronto is behind by a run.

We move to the bottom of the seventh inning, where the strangeness continues. On three successive plays, the Rangers infielders make three successive errors. The Rangers should have been out of the inning, but they’re not. Instead the bases are loaded and nobody’s out. Toronto left fielder, Ben Revere, hits the ball to first base and Mitch Moreland throws it home for an out, but the bases are still loaded. Next, Toronto third baseman, Josh Donaldson, hits it just out of reach of Rougned Odor and a run scores. The Rangers manage to get Revere out at second. So now there are two outs but there are still two men on base.

Jose Bautista steps up to bat. The count goes to one ball and one strike. And in a movie moment he hits the next pitch to the third level in left field and flips his bat in a display that old time players call grandstanding. The Toronto Blue Jays go ahead six to three. The benches then clear over a misinterpretation and it looks like there’ll be a fight, but things diffuse for play to continue until the third out of the inning when the benches clear again over something minor.


If I wrote that inning in a story, or if you saw it in a movie, you’d roll your eyes in disbelief. Last night’s events were too bizarre to be a product of fiction, and reminds me why I like to take a break from fiction at times to watch baseball. You never know what can happen, and sometimes  it’s just so strange you can’t believe it happened.

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