Thursday, September 06, 2007

Walk It Off

On walk-offs (and I don't mean triples this time): I think the meaning of "walk-off home run" has gotten lost in the hysteria of the actual event. I'm going to give my meaning, and if my theory is correct, some of you younger fans should say, "really?" Here we go:

"A walk-off home run occurs when a home team's batter hits a home run in that team's last at bat, which allows the winning run to score, ending the game. The defensive players are forced to leave (walk off) the field, as the game is essentially over the moment the ball clears the fence."

However, the genuises at wikipedia (us!) have said, without citation, mind you, that while the term initially referred to the defense walking off with heads hung low (Eckersley supposedly coined the term), it "changed over time to mean that the batter, by necessity of the home team, would walk off the field to the cheers of the crowd."


People think that way because the term has become so synonymous with the hitter, who the cameras are focused on during a walk-off homer, as he runs (hole #1 in their theory) home to a waiting celebration, before the whole team walks to the dugout. In fact, the meaning of the term has gotten so lost that someone I know, who knows her baseball rules, is fuzzy on the term and will ask me if the road team can get a walk-off.

If you're going to say that the "walk-off" refers to the celebrating team walking to the dugout, you should note that A. a winning team walks off the field after any win and B. a batter who hits ANY home run, after crossing the plate, can and often will walk back to the dugout.

The difference is, on a "walk off" homer, the players in the field are forced to leave the field. This is the only situation where this can happen. That's the point. There are less than three outs in the inning, yet, There go the defensive players! "Walking off" the field because the damn game is over! And they're going to walk instead of jog (as they would at the end of an inning), as there's no rush--there's no next inning. Hell, the defense are the only people on the field anyway, save for some baserunners and the batter. So they're the only ones who can walk off it. If it meant the offense, it would have to be called a "most players run on to greet hitter and then walk off with him" home run.

It has nothing to do with the hitter or the offense. Please make a note of it.

As long as I'm talking about things that piss me off (and really, I'm on Bob Ryan's ledge over this walk-off thing, ha), I was in Central Park this past Sunday. I was visiting my parents in CT, and the three of us drove down to the city for a tour of an area of the park that had been closed for 70 years, as a nature conservatory. (More on that in a separate post.) So, we're standing there on a little bridge in the park, with about 50 other people, all gathered around, putting our names on a sign-up sheet. With such a huge crowd, and being on a bridge, we were bound to be in people's way. A woman with a stroller is trying to pass, and has to alert the crowd to her presence. Instead of saying "excuse me," though, she yells out, "Beep beep, New Yorker comin' through!" Man, if it didn't happen so fast, I would've said something. Her point, of course, was that we were all stupid tourists, probably from Alabama or Arkansas or some other state she couldn't find on a map. She was reminding us that while we were just hanging around, she had a much more important life to lead. God forbid our learning about the park gets in the way of her Sunday stroll.

When the tour started, the ranger-type person asked where everyone was from. A vast majority of the people were from NYC, with many more from Jersey and Connecticut. That's right, lady, we're all from here, too. You're not special, and I feel sorry for your equally un-special kids, who'll have to put up with your shit until they turn 18--and move to Arkansas!

Pretty sure Eck coined "walk-off" after the Gibson dong in game 1 of the '88 Series...I'll be at Camden Yards coming down for the weekend at all?
Nope, already did my Balty weekend. I've got plans this weekend. Which I will post pictures of aterwards.
Side note: I was quoting from the "home run" page on wikipedia. I just checked the main article for "walk off home run," and found more crap about it referring to the offense. They say that people say walk-off wild pitch and walk-off balk, and that "cheapens" the term. Wrong! Anytime a game ends before the third out, the defense leaves the field when they wouldn't normally! That's the walking off! These people are ridiculous.

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Location: Rhode Island, United States