By Nick Shepkowski–
(CBS) It was reported Tuesday what had been rumored for a while now: Major League Baseball will do away with process of throwing four balls way wide and now just signal from the dugout to intentionally walk a batter. This move avoids the roughly 45 seconds that would otherwise make three-and-a-half-hour affair too long for America’s youth to sit through.
Although I would like to see the designated hitter in both leagues, I tend to a lot more traditional when it comes to baseball rules. So I wasn’t happy upon reading the news Tuesday evening.
I do get it. Probably 499 times out of 500, you’ll see four pitches thrown and nothing of consequence happens. The batter simply takes his base.
But count me as a fan of the complete randomness of the few times per season that an intentional walk goes off the tracks. Whatever the case, we’ve all seen plenty of those on “This Week in Baseball” or any other highlight show we may have watched while growing up.
Maybe it’s a pitcher not getting an intentional ball outside quite enough. That’s what happened in Baltimore in 2006, and it resulted in Miguel Cabrera singling in a go-ahead run, all because Todd Williams misplaced his soft-toss.
Maybe there’s a bluff by the battery to get an easy called strike on a batter who simply isn’t paying attention.
Or maybe it’s a pitcher who fails to perform the simplest of tasks and throws the ball over his catcher’s head, allowing a run to score because of it. That’s exactly what happened Tuesday night in College Station, as Texas A&M played host to Stephen F. Austin. A&M was threatening in the bottom of the 12th inning of a tied game with runners on second and third base, and SFA decided to intentionally walk the batter to load the bases with one out.
Or so the Lumberjacks thought.
On the evening that saw MLB say goodbye to the “four outside,” Texas A&M won on a walk-off wild pitch because SFA’s pitcher threw the third intentional ball about seven feet over his catcher’s head.
I’m not going to pretend be some diehard fan of the college game, but for a random evening in February, the walk-off wild pitch amid an intentional walk dequence served as ultimate poetic justice for this baseball fan.