Tuesday, May 15, 2007
The Mood Swing
When John Smoltz went down last night in agonizing pain, the entire intensity level at RFK Stadium changed dramatically. Jason Bergmann was pitching a No Hitter that moment, looking strong, heading to the 8th inning. Everyone, both players, fans and coaches were into the ever building suspense. In Section 320 we began to worry--once Smoltz dislocated his right pinkie finger.
Jason had that once in a lifetime magical stuff going. Everything was lining up beautifully. In Section 320 we began to talk how the Smoltz injury was potentially changing the outlook of the game, taking away the intensity. Similar to when Ramon Ortiz homered in the bottom of the 8th last Labor Day while pitching a no hitter. Ortiz seen jumping around the bases after his homer, lost focus. Feeling invisible, he was anything but. In each case, the mood swing altered the future. Bergmann now thinking about something else. Something he otherwise would not consider. Focusing late is how you throw a No-Hitter, along with some luck. Anything that changes the atomosphere affects the outcome.
Sure enough, Bergmann let loose a rising fastball in Brian McCann's wheelhouse, ending the No Hitter with a no doubt Home Run. Crushing it was, to witness. You had to feel for Jason Bergmann. How different would the outcome had been if Smoltz does not run into Kearns, or Ryan Langerhans does not miss the bunt, setting up that fateful rundown.
Although neither his fault, Austin Kearns has been unfortunately involved in collisions with two outstanding players (Nick Johnson the other). You don't think that odd suggestion did not run into Jason Bergmann's mind? We were talking about it right away in Section 320 (And, just to be perfectly clear, I am not blaming Kearns for anything. In fact, he did NOTHING WRONG in last night's rundown. Smoltz stuck his pitching hand in where it should not have been-- a mental mistake on John's part).
Yet, The Mood Swing, both on the field, and in the stands after John Smoltz got injured, altered the entire future of this game. That fact, I had no doubt.
InGame Photos (AP) Harz N. Ganbari