Sacrifice hits and sacrifice flies – these are statistics kept in our game of baseball. When accomplished, a dugout full of high-fives, fist-pounds, and “attaboys” are handed out for a job well done. While there is no doubt that executing a sac fly or sac bunt is a valuable ability, the beauty of these two happenings is rarely considered.
Have you ever sat down and really appreciated the nature of a sacrifice bunt? Think about it for a second. A player stands there, holding – not swinging – a bat, in hopes of making the ball travel as soft and as short of distance (usually) as possible. You could argue that doing such is the complete opposite approach of every other at-bat. In addition, making a ball go anywhere from 5-45 feet can allow a person ninety-some feet away to safely run another ninety-feet. All of which happens with the opposing team knowing this is about to happen. Beautiful, isn’t it?
Have you ever sat down and really considered the spectacle that is a sacrifice fly? Imagine it for a second. Tie game, bottom 9, and a man on third with less than two outs. Ever been in this situation? If not, try this one on for size:
The hitter purposefully hits a ball in the air: medium distance into the outfield and the home dugout explodes in excitement. Not because they know the ball will clear the fence for a homerun or land safely for a hit, but because they know their base runner on 3rd has semi-decent speed and the outfielder to which the ball is headed has an average arm. What happens next? The outfielder catches the ball – I said, HE CATCHES THE BALL (the thing a hitter usually doesn’t want to happen). Then the base runner scampers home to win the game – easily beating the outfielder’s throw.
And who is the hero? The guy who sort-of kept his hands back on a 2-1 change-up and lifted the ball 192-ft into short left-center. As the whole play developed, he was standing somewhere near first base, not sure what to do with himself. It’s almost as if he and the first base coach were given a chance to catch up on each other’s family-life.
Anyways, now that guy who crushed a sac-fly off the handle of the bat is getting mobbed. He’s getting his jersey ripped off somewhere between 50-ft down the first baseline and right-center field – all because he hit a ball 192 feet. Come to think of it, he hit a pitch in a similar way four hours earlier – in batting practice. When it happened then, he swore at himself under his breath. When it happened now, he remembered why he came to ballpark in the first place
Hungry for more sacrifice-flies? Check out this 2007 article by ESPN’s Tim Kurkjian: http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/columns/story?columnist=kurkjian_tim&id=2935734