May 2008

Bizarre world of baseball

Hi there – Jeff Scott here.  The great thing about working on This Week In Baseball is precisely what the name of the show implies – every week we get to experience another week of baseball.  Now that wouldn’t be much fun if the game followed a rigid path night after night like some other sports we’ve come to know and love.  But baseball is so bizarre, any day – any moment – you might see something that you’ve never seen before – or only once in a blue moon.   Consider that for the first 16 years that TWIB was on the air not a single Major League player recorded an unassisted triple play (UTP).  Then, in 1992, Mickey Morandini turned one for the Phillies.  Since then there have been five more UTP’s – all duly noted on TWIB — culminating with this week’s pure hat trick by Asdrubal Cabrera of the Cleveland Indians.  Six in 17 years is a veritable onslaught considering that there have been just 14 UTP’s in the history of Major League Baseball.  And to drive home the point of just how bizarre baseball can be, we need only to follow the UTP path leading up to Morandini.  The first two unassisted triple plays – like the latest – were both recorded by Cleveland Indians – Neal Ball in 1909 and Bill (I’d Like to Buy a Vowel) Wambsganss in 1920.   But just when Cleveland thought it had cornered the market on these fielding gems, Boston unleashed a single season assault – with George Burns of the Red Sox and Ernie Padgett of the Boston Braves each notching an unassisted triple play in 1923.  And after George Wright of the Pirates recorded the fifth ever UTP in 1925, things really started to get strange.  On May 30th, 1927, Jimmy Cooney of the Cubs turned baseball’s sixth ever unassisted triple play.  The very next day, Johnny Neun of the Tigers got the seventh.  Five UTP’s since the beginning of baseball life as we know it and then two on back-to-back days!  Amazing!  Obviously the strain of witnessing this most rare of baseball feats twice within 24 hours was way too much for the baseball gods, for it took 41 years before we got our next unassisted triple play – by Ron Hansen of the Washington Senators in 1968.  Which brings us back to Mickey Morandini and eventually to Asdrubal Cabrera of the Indians – the team that started this whole UTP craze.  It also brings us back to TWIB.  Due to the advent of 24 hour sports networks, bottom of the screen scrolls and the internet/wireless world, we no longer have to show you all the highlights from each week in baseball.   You’ve already been there and seen that.  But we still make sure that there is always room for the stuff that comes out of nowhere – the magical moments that remind us why baseball is such a cool sport.  So you will see Cabrera’s unassisted triple play on the May 17th episode of TWIB as our XM Radio Call of the Week – and again as one of the great plays in How ’bout That.  Just keep in mind, when you watch it, that you might not see its like again for the next 50 years.  Or, maybe tomorrow.  
 
Jeff Scott
Senior Writer
MLB Productions