The “walk off” win in baseball is an interesting and beautiful moment. Because the game has no clock there is a certain immediacy to the victory that is profound and surprising. A buzzer beater in basketball is incredible, but what makes it amazing is that the game will end whether the shot goes in or not because the clock says so. In baseball, though, the game can end or it can go on. Is this the last pitch or will there be a hundred more? That’s partly what makes walk-offs so interesting, you never know when they might happen.
And when they happen there is a release of joy and ecstasy that is wonderful. It feels good to see your home team jumping all over each other in the middle of the diamond because someone knocked in the winning run (or hit a home run, which is a special kind of walk off in and of itself).
But, and maybe this is because my baseball imagination was shaped by the 1993 Giants, or because there is a fundamental part of my character that doesn’t like the messiness, or because I’ve just watched too many baseball games: I don’t really like walk offs.
I don’t like them because they are a mask for something that went wrong. A blown save, a bad start, an anemic offense, errors, missed opportunities…the point is something had to go wrong for the walk off to even be possible.
Maybe I’m old and boring now, but I love the 4-1 victory. I love a 2 run homer in the third, a clutch two-out RBI in the 5th, an insurance home run in the 7th, a strong performance by the starting pitcher, a shut down effort by the bullpen in the 8th, and some nasty-ness from the closer in the 9th. Done. That is a great baseball game in my opinion.
A win is a win is a win, but back to back walk offs worry me. I want to see more clean 4-1, 3-0, 5-2 victories from the 2011 Giants. I want great starts, early offense, crisp defense, no walks by the bullpen, and nice calm line of high fives and butt slaps at the end of the day.
2 of 3 against the Cardinals is great, and I won’t complain about any kind of victory, but the Giants are playing too many games that reek of luck and good fortune and not enough clean, solid, winning baseball. Now, some will point out this is how we did it last year, and, yes, there was a good degree of drama. But there was also a lot of what I am talking about here. Game 162 of the regular season. Games 1 and 3 against the Phillies. Games 4 and 5 in the World Series. Clean, winning baseball.
I need to see some of that Giants. Soon!