It often comes down to a singular moment.
One image – one caption – that can help define a season. When a closer loses a game that would clinch the playoff spot, often he bears the brunt of the whole season. Yet it rarely starts and ends there.
For through the cacophony of a full 162 game season and all the distractions that go with it, I have noticed that in my years of watching baseball to watch for those defining moments of clarity.
Sunday the Angels were down six going into the 9th inning – and won it. Will they use that energy and move themselves forward? Albert Pujols – who everyone except for the Angels and Great Albert himself this is done – led his team with a home run to start the inning and a single later to tie it. He isn’t done yet.
Michael Pineda had a perfect game Monday going into the 7th inning for a Yankees team that is moving towards youth this season but might end up counting on it’s veteran pitching staff to get them there.
The Padres don’t seem to be going anywhere this year – and yet rookies Manuel Margot and Hunter Renfroe have a pair of home runs each and recently minted franchise cornerstone Wil Myers went out and hit for the second cycle in team history Monday night.
The Pirates saw themselves tie the game Sunday with the Braves, lose the lead in the top of the 10th before winning it with a two run walk off in the bottom of the 10th.
Yes – it is early. Yet last year the Twins started 0-6 and this year they are 5-1. Momentum is a fickle beast, prone to gauging too much too fast and reading into too little even faster.
One Hundred and Sixty Two Games. With a million tiny moments in between. Yet when the dust settles, a few moments will rise that mean more. It might be a great play like what Raul Mondesi Jr made the other day that is small today – but bigger when he makes the same play in a pennant race in September.
I get it – the baseball season is long. Already though we have seen things that we have either never seen before – or rarely seen before. At some point the dust settles and Game 7 of the season is just as important as Game 111 or Game 161. In fact those games only matter based on what happens early – yet mistakes are more easily forgotten. If the Braves lose a playoff spot by one game, they can look back at Sunday and see they blew saves not once but twice, yet more likely a late season game will be the culprit.
A singular moment between a batter and a pitcher, an outfielder and an outfield wall, an umpire’s call that goes one teams way.
Add it all up and you get the 2017 season of Major League Baseball.