Bill: Welcome back ladies and gentlemen. For those of you who are just joining us on this beautiful June night, the Montreal Ex-Rays currently lead the Las Vegas Black Sox by a score of 17–14 as we head into the bottom of the fourth inning.
Joe: And it’s been quite the back and forth here in Las Vegas. The Ex-Rays are led by Bobby McDermott who is 5-for-6 with five homers —
Bill: And they weren’t cheap shots either, Joe, they were missiles. Statcast had the shortest one registered at 573 feet, with an exit velocity of around 134 mph. That third-round pick Montreal spent on him is finally paying off.
Joe: You’re absolutely right, Bill. In his last seven games, Bobby is 16-for-49 with 15 home runs, and one single —
Bill: That was something special wasn’t it? The crowd erupted when they saw that bat break. They knew it didn’t have the juice, and —
Joe: And he hit it in the perfect spot too, right towards the old 3–4 hole. The Yankees were playing in a traditional five-outfield set, and there was no one even close to catching the blooper. Of course, the next three batters struck out to end the inning, but it was exciting.
Bill: Sure was, Joe, as southpaw Domingo Rodriguez fires a strike on the outside corner. 114 mph on the gun.
Joe: You know what I miss?
Bill: What’s that, Joe?
Joe: I miss — here comes the 0–1 pitch, a beautiful 101 mph slider on the inside corner — I miss watching guys like Noah Syndergaard, real finesse pitchers. Didn’t have the best stuff, but man, that guy knew how to pitch. Here’s the 0–2 to Martelle, and OH, there’s the strikeout buzzer.
Bill: Martelle is not happy with that call, Joe. If we look at the 4D strike zone on replay, we can see that the ball just grazed the low, outside corner of the zone.
Joe: Just enough to trigger the electronic strike zone, and there’s one away in the bottom of the third.
Bill: Now stepping to the plate is Chico Smythe, who is 0–44 with 44 strikeouts in his career vs. Rodriguez. He takes strike one looking, a similar pitch to the one Martelle was rung up on: 117 mph on the corner:
Joe: And Martelle is barking at the backstop now, and, while there’s no one there to hear him, you can really tell he’s frustrated with the new strike zone — as Rodriguez fires a ball in the dirt —
Bill: The new zone, of course, is calibrated with higher sensitivity than ever before in an effort to encourage players to swing the bat more. Here’s the 1–1 pitch to Smythe, who CONNECTS WITH A FASTBALL AND YOU CAN FORGET ABOUT THAT ONE, JOE.
Joe: Smythe’s first career hit off of Rodriguez has seemed to breathe life into this crowd, Bill. I can see a couple of high fives in the distance, cell phones being placed on laps and I can even hear some applause as the Black Sox pull within two.
Bill: That was a beauty of a home run by Chico there, Joe. As a matter — yes, I’m just now learning that that was the longest home run of Smythe’s career at 548 feet.
Joe: Definitely a beauty, Bill, but the distance on that puppy was surely aided by the new XV-400 model baseball that was introduced this year —
Bill: And now Emerson Bradley, daughter of former Red Sox outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr., steps to the plate and watches a 107 mph changeup clip the front edge of the zone for strike one — what was that about the XV-400, Joe?
Joe: Yes the XV-400 definitely played a role in Chico’s home run distance. The new baseball has much more pop than the 300 because of the microprocessor that was installed inside each ball — Bradley watches a fastball sail high and outside for ball one — a microprocessor which calculates the speed and direction of the wind, and rotates the ball so that it’s spinning on the optimal axis for maximum distance.
Bill: Here comes the 1–1 pitch to Bradley, a slider in the dirt. Great discipline from Emerson right there. Most other players would have chased that pitch, but Emerson grew up watching the birth of tunneling pitches in the late 2010’s. She recognizes spin as well as anyone.
Joe: And it’s not for nothing either, Bill, that most of the female players in the game today have tremendous patience at the plate. They waited decades for their turn to break into Major League Baseball, so they can definitely wait for a decent pitch to hit.
Bill: Absolutely, as the 2–1 pitch just misses the inside corner for ball three. It’s that patience that has led Emerson to a National League-leading .217 batting average. If she keeps this up she’ll finish the season with just under 400 strikeouts, which would be the lowest total in years.
Joe: Now Rodriguez looks in for the sign, he’ll be going back to the slider. He nods and initiates his windup OH MAN LOOK AT BRADLEY HERE, BILL! SHE’S LEAPED OVER THE PLATE, SWITCHED HER HANDS, AND WILL BE BATTING LEFT-ON-LEFT FOR THIS PITCH… AND SHE CONNECTS, THIS BALL IS HEADED BACK TO DEAD CENTER FIELD AND IT PASSES OVER THE 505 SIGN!
Bill: What a savvy move by Emerson there, recognizing the pitch and switching to the left side, where she’s had significantly more success vs. breaking pitches. That’s her 78th home run of the season, which puts her 14th in the entire MLB.
Joe: And we’ve got a one-run game here, Bill.
Bill: We sure do, and just in time Joe. This game has reached the 2 hour, 50 minute mark which means, as everyone knows, we can’t begin another inning after this one. And, yup, right on cue, there’s crew chief Saint Hernandez giving the signal that this will be the final half-inning.
Joe: And you can hear a cascade of boos raining down on Hernandez, who is notoriously awful out there.
Bill: It’s in the bloodline, Joe. Angel was maybe the worst umpire in the history of the game, before umpires were relieved of all duties except for inconsequential ones, such as timekeeping. This crowd has clearly not forgotten about the Manual Override game.
Joe: I don’t even want to think about it — as Rodriguez fires one right down the middle for strike one.
Bill: For our younger viewers at home, the Manual Override game was years ago, just a few seasons after the implementation of the electronic strike zone. There was a power outage right before first pitch here in Las Vegas, and, well, Saint had to call balls and strikes the old fashioned way. Let’s just say it didn’t go so well for —
Joe: Now Rodriguez looks in, gets the sign, and —
Bill: What is… what is Will Headley doing?
Joe: He’s in a crouched stance, and he’s just… he’s just holding the bat out in front of the plate, parallel to the ground. I’ve never seen anything like this, Bill.
Bill: Nor have I, Joe, and Rodriguez has understandably stepped off the mound and called his fielders in for a conference. Manager Skip Wilhelm will join, and I can only imagine what this conversation is going to be like.
Joe: Will Headley has thrown a wrench in the Ex-Rays game plan with that bizarre crouch move, and I can’t wait to see what Skip draws up for his team.
Bill: I suppose Headley, a notoriously poor hitter, is trying to reach first base somehow?
Joe: That has to be it, Bill. If Headley can indeed reach first, the winning run will come to the plate and the Black Sox will have two attempts to hit home runs and win this game.
Bill: The crowd has risen to its feet and confused shouts can be heard around the park, Joe. They’ve never seen anything like this, but they absolutely love it.
Joe: Now the huddle has been broken and the Ex-Rays are returning their — excuse me, to their positions, except — The Ex-Rays will be going with a three man outfield, with four players in the infield. This is just incredible.
Bill: Just like the pictures in the encyclopedias, Joe, the Ex-Rays will be running an ancient eight defense.
Joe: And the crowd is roaring now, Bill, as Headley gets back into position. Here comes the pitch from Rodriguez, and HEADLEY TAPS THE BALL TOWARDS THE THIRD BASEMAN, AND HE’S GOING TO RUN FOR IT! HE’S 10 STEPS — FIVE — AND THE THROW IS…. NOT IN TIME!
Bill: I — I am speechless, Joe. Headley just… let it hit the bat. What an incredible finesse job. If the Black Sox can pull off this win, that move will go down in the history books. How does that old SportsCenter Top 10 jingle go? Duh-nuh-nuh! Duh-nuh-nuh!
Joe: And there’s chaos in the stands right now, Bill. People are jumping up and down, beer is flying in the air, and I even saw a woman flash her breasts at Headley after that terrific display of precision and creativity.
Bill: He certainly deserves it, ha ha ha!
Joe: And now coming to the plate is Johnny “Cowboy” Bryant, the Sox’ leading power hitter. If anyone is going to send the Shoeless Joes faithful home with a win, it’s Cowboy.
Bill: He’s on a little bit of a cold streak, but that hasn’t stopped him from smashing 86 home runs this season. And now playing on the speakers is Cowboy’s signature walk up song “Old Town Road (37x Remix)”, which is enjoying it’s fourth straight month as number one on the charts.
Joe: The crowd is rowdy right now, Bill. They’re putting on their Cowboys hats, singing along, and are hungry for a win. Rodriguez has had a tough inning so far, but he can still escape as long as he avoids a home run.
Bill: Rodriguez comes set, sure not to balk with the speedy Headley on base, and he delivers the pitch and OH! WE WILL SEE. YOU. TOMORROW!
Joe: COWBOY GOT EVERY BIT OF THAT ONE! HE SENDS IT FLYING INTO THE NIGHT AND THE EX-RAY FIELDERS CAN ONLY WATCH. THE BLACK SOX ARE GATHERING AROUND THE PLATE, WAITING FOR COWBOY, AND THEY MOB HIM.
Bill: Cowboy is greeted with sunflower seeds and Gatorade G12, as has become customary for walk off wins. But the real hero tonight is Will Headley, who’s insane maneuver gave the Black Sox a chance tonight.
Joe: Well, there you have it folks. The Black Sox win this one 18–17 in four innings. Have a safe trip home and we will see you tomorrow night. Thanks for joining us and go Black Sox!