By Mike Laws - 06/23/09 11:15 PM EDT
Sportswriters, it should come as no surprise, don’t watch ballgames the way normal, well-adjusted people watch ballgames.
Far from digging the long ball, miles from craving mass chaos on the basepaths, harried newspapermen prefer pitchers’ duels, which tend to end well before deadline and don’t present the problem of providing too much to write about.
How, for example, do you set about recapping a softball game that features a combined 35 runs, seven inside-the-park homers and a pair of dramatic late-inning lead changes? And where, if you were somehow to pull that off, would you find room for context — say, if this particular contest pitted Pennsylvania’s senators against one another in a no-holds-barred, head-to-head cage match?
Well, let’s give it a shot. After all, these teams — Sen. Bob Casey Jr.’s (D) most excellently named Scrantonicity and Sen. Arlen Specter’s (
RD) Pennsylmania — deserve nothing less, having left everything on the field tonight.
Diving catches, outfield collisions, runners stumbling then clutching and clawing their way to the plate — this wasn’t tea with the queen. For the 2009 update of what one Casey aide described as the Senate League equivalent of the Army-Navy football game, every run was valuable, each out precious — so much so that Sens. Casey and Specter weren’t prepared to leave things up to chance; they’d take the field themselves. Once more unto the breach, and all that.
It was the junior senator who would strike first. With one down in the bottom of the first and his team already in a 4-0 hole, Casey legged out an infield single, pushing a runner over and setting the table for cleanup man Chris Rosselot, who also singled. The bases suddenly full, up strode David Salvo, who slapped the first offering he saw deep to right-center for a double, plating a pair. Rosselot would come in on an RBI groundout from pitcher Sharon Lynett, and just like that, Scrantonicity were right back in this thing.
They’d do even more damage in the second. Having retired the side in order in the top of the frame, Casey’s charges looked like a team possessed in their half, sending nine batsmen to the dish and scoring each of the six who reached base, an effort culminating in Rosselot’s inside-the-park grand slam. (Not to be outdone, Salvo went back to back on the inside-the-park dingers, coming around to score despite tripping over his own teammates’ paraphernalia down the third-base line.)
Give Specter’s squad lots of credit, though. Perhaps buoyed by their boss’s turn at the pitcher’s slab in the third inning — an outing capped off when he induced a pop to second off the bat of Casey as the shutters snapped and the flashbulbs flared — Pennsylmania would mount a major offensive in the fifth, matching their rivals’ earlier feat when cleanup man Trevor Benitone and No. 5 hitter Patrick Kilcur went back to back with inside-the-park homers of their own. Seven runs had crossed by the end of the frame, and we had ourselves a barn-burner: Casey’s team now led by just one, 14-13.
Eager to get back to the plate, Pennsylmania set the side down one-two-three in the bottom of the fifth. Then, keyed by yet another inside-the-parker (and yet another off the bat of Mr. Benitone), Specter’s side put up three more runs. Amazingly, they now led, 16-14.
It would prove to be a lead they couldn’t hold. Scrantonicity, which has enjoyed the upper hand in this contest since its inception a couple years ago, knocked out a single and three triples in their half of the sixth, then got the game’s final inside-the-park home run from pinch hitter Mike Schwartz. Going into the final inning, things stood at 19-16, advantage Scranton.
For a contest that featured multiple bangs, this one would end with a whimper. A groundout, a line-out and a pop-up and this installment of Specter-Casey, now Democrat v. Democrat, was in the books.
NOTES AND MINUTIAE: While writing the above recap, this reporter wanted very, very badly to include the phrase “Casey at the bat,” but was able, with great effort, to fight off the impulse. Well, uh, until now ...