Not a lot of people know this, but every baseball diamond is carefully balanced on a fulcrum and tilts in the direction of chaos. A ball is misplayed, a runner trips over a base, a swarm of wasps is unleashed from within a rolled-up tarp. A cat or squirrel runs onto the field in a precocious moment of levity that only later do we realize is the start of an ancient curse (this happens quite often in baseball). Whatever occurs in the game slants the playing field in a new direction, which is why baseball, a very normal, very boring activity, is always quietly teetering on the verge of going quite wild.
Your toughest opponent isn’t an eerily calm Mike Trout or a possibly rabid Max Scherzer; it’s the sheer volume of variables that can scatter even the most strategic and well-laid plans. You can stare at a spreadsheet until your brain melts before yelling “Aha!” with an index finger in the air, believing you’ve uncovered the formula to prevent strained hamstrings, but there’s no accounting for the back-up catcher tapping into some as-yet untapped power, or one of the teams recreating the musical “Stomp” only for it to be revealed that this is actually a highly technical form of cheating.
To possess the agility to evade poor luck and the skill to barrel through outside factors to achieve a moment of perfect balance in this silly game is the rarest of accomplishments. But on September 13, 2007, Martín Prado would do so.
I don’t know enough about how science works to say whether what happened during his at-bat was in line with or against physics. But what we do know is that what happened never happened again, and after a casual amount of research, we can say that it probably never happened before, either. And in baseball, that alone makes it an exceptional anomaly. This is a sport that loves to repeat itself, and having existed for so long, everything we see appears to be a repetition to the last time it happened.
Not this one. Read the rest of this entry »