Saturday, June 21, 2008
switching it up
I realize this makes two baseball-related posts in a row, but I couldn't let the week finish out without commenting on an amazing game I went to on Thursday. It was the third meeting of the season for the New York-Penn League (A-level) Brooklyn Cyclones and cross-town rival Staten Island Yankees. And actually, most of the game itself was pretty mundane; the Yanks held a sizable lead for most of the way. But then the bottom of the 9th inning happened, and, as it turned out, I was witness to something completely wacky.
Unbeknownst to me at the time, Yankees hurler Pat Venditte was a switch pitcher—meaning he could pitch with either the left arm or the right! To aid him in this exceedingly rare ability is a custom six-fingered glove that he can use on either hand. Anyway, everything was moving right along until the fourth batter in the inning, when Cyclones designated hitter Ralph Henriquez came up to the plate. What started then was a dance for the ages.
For the uninitiated, hitters are usually better against a pitcher who is pitching from the opposite side of the plate as they're hitting. So, a lefty batter usually hits better against righty pitchers, and vice versa. Managers will sometimes take a lefty pitcher out and replace him with a righty pitcher just to turn the numbers in his team's favor. Of course, opposing managers can retaliate by sending a different batter up in these cases. Well, in Thursday's game, it was just mayhem, because not only was Venditte a switch pitcher, but Henriquez was a switch hitter! As you can see in the video, the result was pretty funny.
The umpires were initially confused about the situation, but they ultimately decided that the batter had to pick a side first. Henriquez did, and the at-bat concluded with him striking out to end the game. But how crazy was that?! ∞