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42, Triple Play, They Haven’t Got a Shot…And I Don’t Mind

April 20, 2018

On Sunday, baseball fields all across America looked like a weird scene from Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guild To The Galaxy. Every player, coach and manager was wearing the ultimate answer to Life, the Universe and Everything.

That’s right. Everyone on every baseball team was wearing number 42. But, the super computer Deep Thought, probably never spared a thought for baseball. The players were wearing 42 for a much more important reason. April 15 marks the day that Jackie Robinson, 70 years ago became the first black man in the modern era to play major league baseball.

The tribute started because Ken Griffey Jr, one of the greatest to ever play the game, wanted to reverse his own number 24 to honor the great pioneer. The league thought it was such a good idea, they had everyone do it.

There’s a line in the movie “42” about Jackie’s life, where the Dodgers team captain, Pee Wee Reese says to Jackie, “Maybe tomorrow, we’ll all wear 42 and then they won’t be able to tell us apart.”

The tribute is even more memorable when you consider that MLB also decreed that every team would retire number 42. Never again will a Major League Baseball player wear number 42. . .except every April 15 when everyone will.

Baseball season has been going for a few weeks now. My favorite team, the Seattle Mariners are punching above their weight. They are in 3rd place in the highly competitive American League West Division. Most fans assume they will fade down the stretch. They always do.

Seattle is the only major league city to never send a team to the World Series. And this is probably not going to be their year.

A friend lamented that baseball is broken. There are only a certain number of teams that have any shot at winning the World Series. The rest of the teams are playing out a 162 games to see who finishes less than last.

But, I don’t see it that way. Sure, the Mariners aren’t going to the Series this year. But, it’s not just about who will win the last series of the season. Baseball is like fishing. It’s slow and then fast. It’s relaxing. It’s best enjoyed under the sunshine on a Saturday. And when the day is over, it doesn’t matter if you caught your limit or went 0-4 on the day.

The game is exciting for its own sake. For example, two days ago, the Mariners were playing the defending World Champion Houston Astros. The Astros were taking it to the M’s pretty good. And then, in the middle of the 4th inning an amazing thing happened.

With two men on base and no outs, the Houston player hit a soft grounder to third. Kyle Seager, the M’s 3rd baseman picked up the ball and stepped on third base for out number one. Then, he fired a bullet to 2nd base where they beat the running from first for the 2nd out. Meanwhile the hitter had lost track of the number of outs. Although he was safely on first base, he started to walk off the diamond. The Mariners quickly tagged him.

It was a triple play. One of the rarest gems in all of baseball. It’s those little joys that make me keep watching the games even when all hope of a victory is lost.

It really is about how the game is played.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

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