Friday, April 13, 2007

Another day, another game

I started this post last night but had to put it off, and now, as I resume typing, the Royals and Orioles are at it again, yesterday's game relegated to the archives. One of the beauties of baseball is that you can always count on it being there, steady as a metronome. That's why if you attend spring training in Florida -- Dodgertown, perhaps -- and sit with an old-timer donning a crisp baseball cap, creased down the middle of the bill, white tufts of hair poking out of the side, and talk about baseball, and listen to him reminisce, it'll be as if you've been transported into a world of a different pace, a different rhythm -- because metronomes don't just tell time: they capture it, each interval a folder to store life's offerings. The invariable truths of baseball -- the 6-4-3 double play, the sacrifice bunt, the timelessness of it all -- keep it clicking.

A few thoughts about last night's game: ballgames are especially tough to lose when they're low-scoring, for it's then that they're the tensest: every pitch contains the possibility of a big momentum swing, and every good play, like Esteban German tracking down the ball and relaying it to Tony Pena Jr. and the subsequent dart to nail Jay Gibbons to preserve a tenuous 1-0 lead (so tenuous, in fact, that it would be lost two batters later), is cheered with disproportionate vim. But no one said baseball was kind to its adherents. After the Orioles tied the game, the momentum swung decidedly to the home team, considering it has a $40 million bullpen -- including a dominant closer, Chris Ray, who ended up picking up the win after tossing a perfect 10th -- and the Royals, to put it nicely, don't.

Then again, the Royals could have pulled this out if Gil Meche, who was stellar, didn't tweak his hamstring and exit the game after six innings. Meche scattered seven hits, walked one and struck out seven, in the process lowering his season ERA to 3.10. In addition, according to the KC Star's neat "Meche Meter," he earned $400,000 of his $11 million salary. Check it out:

For each of Gil Meche’s starts for the Royals this season, The Star will analyze how well he’s earning his $11 million average salary. To do this, we’ve determined a set of five benchmarks based on how $11 million pitchers performed last season. In each of Meche’s starts, he’ll earn $100,000 for each benchmark reached.

•Innings pitched: 6 or more

•Walks plus hits allowed: 8 or fewer*

•Runs allowed: 3 or fewer

•Strikeouts: 5 or more

•Wins: $100,000 for win, nothing for a loss or no decision

* Must pitch six or more innings to qualify

POSTSCRIPT: Kansas City's own Jason Whitlock has been slated to appear on Oprah this Monday. (Remember, she's the most powerful human being ever to live. Forbes got it wrong.) I think it has something to do with his cogent Don Imus column.

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