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Unlikely Adventures in the House of Baseball

Which of these seems less likely?

Scenario 1: Middle reliever Rob Carson steps in with nobody on and two men out for his first plate appearance in the major leagues. Sixty and a half feet away stands the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw, an assemblage of long limbs borrowed from a Hindu deity, stop-start motions filched from a wind-up toy, hellaciously good pitches ported over from hitters’ nightmares, and a beard grafted from the jawline of an Amish teen. Carson will get a close call in his favor and work out a walk, to Kershaw’s consternation. This will cost the perennial Cy Young candidate 24 more pitches and two runs, driving him from the game early and costing him both a win and some measure of his equilibrium.

Scenario 2: Mark Ellis, a 35-year-old with 99 home runs over 10 big-league seasons and the kind of career that’s serviceable with a bit of a shrug, goes 4-for-5 with two homers and a hard ground single that knocks Jon Niese from the game with a “leg contusion,” which is a fancy way of saying “bruise” except pitchers are precision machines who sometimes compensate for pain in one area of the body by subtly changing what they do with another part of the body, potentially leading to all sorts of trouble and MOTHER OF GOD DON’T YOU REMEMBER DIZZY DEAN HAD A TOE BROKEN IN 1937 AND HE CHANGED HIS MECHANICS AND HURT HIS ARM AND HUNG EM UP IN 1941 AND DIED IN 1974 UNDOUBTEDLY OF COMPLICATIONS AND NIESE WAS OUR ONLY RELIABLE STARTER OTHER THAN THE DIVINE MANIFESTATION OF HARVEYISM AND AUUUGGGGGHHHHHH WE ARE SO SCREWED. Hell, Mark Ellis had such a good day that A. J. Ellis hit a two-run double just because he had the same last name.

Both scenarios happened (more or less), which is why you don’t ever try to outthink baseball.

Once Josh Edgin finished his work, which one senses is soon to resume in Las Vegas, this one was a bare-bones feast [1] even the diehards picked at halfheartedly. There were little bits of interest of course, like brand-new Met Juan Lagares showing off a sweet swing and collecting his first hit, and the intriguing motion of the Dodgers’ Paco Rodriguez, whose dice-shaking glove and delicate pivot of the hand behind him look like something from a “Karate Kid” training regimen.

There are always little rewards like those for sticking with a baseball game, and thank goodness — you need something to savor when all is lost, when two long shots have both wound up in the money and you’re shaking your head and smiling at the one but just shaking your head at the other.