Dubuque: The aesthetics of the unassisted triple play

From Patrick Dubuque at Baseball Prospectus on November 15, 2016:

Theirs are names will be remembered forever: Bruntlett. Morandini. Padgett. Neun. Wambsganss. They’re among the 15 ballplayers who are members of one of the most elite clubs in the game: those who have completed an unassisted triple play.

It’s a strange thing to celebrate. Like so much of life, the vast majority of the moment is created by circumstance: the correct base state, no outs, runners going. Then the sharp line drive to the exact right spot, a single moment of dramatic irony as the runners, heads down, come to realize that they’re already dead.

Contrast the tone of this video, in which Ron Hansen describes his unique feat, to this loving tribute. There is, to put it kindly, a certain amount of dissonance.

It can only be the rarity that causes us to celebrate, to the degree that we do, these freak moments of baseball history. After all, there’s nothing particularly aesthetically pleasing about the solo nature of the play; the defensive setup of a baseball team is a mechanical marvel, a cunning combination of specialized parts in harmony. Having a single person wrest responsibility from his comrades is neutral at best and, depending on the amount of effort required, somewhat off-putting in its selfishness. In all other realms of sport, the assist is celebrated; why in this particular case the opposite? It feels almost un-American.

Read the full article here: http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=30706

Originally published: November 17, 2016. Last Updated: November 17, 2016.