It’s Time For A Triple Play

Every day during the season us broadcasters are handed press notes with statistical updates on the two teams. In the PCL, there is usually a handy column entitled something along the lines of  “The Last Time It Happened.” It’s a list of rare events, and the last time they occurred.

I find it amazing that Tacoma has not been involved in a triple play since second baseman Arquimedez Pozo and first baseman Greg Litton turned a 4-3 TP in 1995. In fact, I think that the Baseball Gods owe us a triple play in 2011.

There have been 25 triple plays in the PCL since 1995, and the Rainiers have not been involved in any – defensively, or as the team hitting into one.

Heck, at this point, as long as the Rainiers win the game I’d be thrilled to see a Daren Brown hit-and-run-gone-bad, and the Rainiers line into a triple play. You know, just to see one.

(Warning! Math Ahead!).

Looking since 1998, when the PCL expanded to 16 teams in the Triple-A merger, there have been 24 triple plays in 13 years.

Each triple play involves two teams (offensive and defensive) – so there have been 48 teams involved in a triple play in 13 years. On average, there are 3.7 teams involved in a triple play each season.

The odds that a team would be involved in a triple play are 3.7/16 each season. That’s a 23% chance that any PCL team will be involved in a triple play in any given season.

So, in Tacoma we’ve gone a long, long time without hitting our 23% chance of seeing a triple play. Let’s see one in 2011.

(End Math Zone)

Personally, my last triple play was in Class-A baseball, when I was working in the California League. It was a really weird play on the field – and in the booth.

I vividly recall the play, but I dug up my 1998 Rancho Cucamonga Quakes scorebook to confirm it and get the names.

The team I was working for – the Quakes – was in Stockton at old Billy Hebert Field taking on the Stockton Ports on August 5.

Stockton loaded up the bases with no outs for #9 hitter Sergio Guerrero.

Guerrero lifted a weak fly to very shallow left-center. Rancho’s left and center fielders converged on it, and it looked like there was going to be a collision. At the last second the center fielder peeled off, and the left fielder (Scott Seal) made a terrific diving catch, rolling over and hanging onto the ball for out #1.

Meanwhile, the Stockton baserunners were in a state of mass chaos.

The runner at third (Greg Schaub) was the only one with a clue. He was waiting maybe two steps off the bag to see if the ball was caught. Once he saw the diving catch he tagged up, bluffed a step or two towards the plate, and then returned to third base when he saw Seal spring up into a throwing position.

Seal, the left fielder, fell for the deke and threw the ball home. Upon receiving the throw, catcher Brian Lloyd checked the runner at third and saw… two runners. The runner who started the play at second base didn’t know the fly ball had been caught, and he had lit out for third.

The third base coach told the runner to retreat to second, and the catcher Lloyd threw down to second base, doubling off the runner for out #2.

Rancho second baseman Brian McClure now was standing at the bag with the ball in his glove, and he had runners coming at him from both directions: the runner who started the play at first base also thought the ball had fallen in for a hit, or maybe he thought he was tagging up, or most likely he was simply spazzing out (this was A-ball after all). McClure chased him towards first base and threw to teammate Pete Paciorek, who tagged the runner for out #3.

Just another run-of-the-mill 7-2-4-3 triple play, and the only one I have ever seen.*

I was a goofy young broadcaster back then (still goofy? Zip it, peanut gallery!), and I used to make ridiculous exclamations like “this would be a good time for the ol’ triple play!” on the air in times of dire need. I actually said that on the air right before this play – but of course I don’t have the tape to prove it, just like I don’t have the tape of the hundreds of times I said the very same thing and no triple play occurred.

I stopped using that dumb line after it actually happened. Maybe I’ll revive it this year, just to see if it works. We’re due for one, aren’t we?

Links:

  • The Mariners announced that Brendan Ryan will start at shortstop, and Jack Wilson will play second base. This makes it even more likely that Dustin Ackley will open the season in Tacoma.
  • John McGrath writes about the Mariners difficulty finding a shortstop since A-Rod left.
  • At USS Mariner, Dave Cameron projected the Mariners opening day roster.
  • That didn’t take long: Reserved tickets for the Rainiers Home Opener on April 15 are sold out. However, you can still get General Admission tickets, which is seating on the new Grass Berm down the right field line.
  • The Wall Street Journal printed an article on one of my broadcast partners Doug Sisk about what it is like to be booed at home. It’s certainly an interesting read. Jeff Pearlman wrote it – his book about the 1986 Mets called “The Bad Guys Won!” is a fun read, especially if you grew up following baseball in the 1980s.
  • This chart shows one of the main reasons that I will not be upset if Luke French is in the Tacoma rotation. The other reason: French dominates Triple-A.
  • The unstoppable Jim Caple saw all 15 teams that have spring training in Arizona – in one day.
  • Here is something awesome: MLB Network unearthed some previously unseen footage of Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, and Walter Johnson. Check it out! It’s a five-minute segment. Old-time video occasionally turns up, as discussed in this New York Times story about recently surfaced footage of Ruth and Lou Gehrig from a 1927 barnstorming tour.

If you’re interested, check the blog over the weekend. I’ll be in Arizona for spring training Friday through Monday, and I’ll be updating the blog daily during that time, starting late in the afternoon on Friday.

* Apparently this triple play was a rally killer and a career killer: only one player (from both teams) involved reached the major leagues, Rancho pitcher Kevin Walker.

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3 Responses to It’s Time For A Triple Play

  1. Michael says:

    thought mike
    will you post who is in camp with Tacoma when you get their??

  2. Pat Dillon says:

    Hi Mike – I thought that your readers would appreciate knowing that the AquaSox turned triple plays; one each in the last two seasons (’09, ’10). Eerily, each occurred in Vancouver – and, in the bottom of the eighth inning of the final regular season game of the year. Kevin Mailloux, a Canadian citizen, was the 2B for the ’09 TP (5-4-3-2) and the 3B for the TP in ’10 (5-4-3). Needless to say, I butchered both calls.

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