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GRITWATCH: Crisis on Infinite Grits

Previously, on Gritwatch:

William Paul Bloomquist dons his robe and wizard cap. He murmurs reverentially:

Oh mighty baseball gods above / Show your gritty servant love

As lineup is stew, let me be salt / I humbly ask to be Gestalt

2010 was not too fun / but on that day I hit a homerun

Four 5’ 11" white guys with thinning hair and intense expressions are sitting in a café in downtown Bremerton. They blend in perfectly.

"Did you get the footage?" one of them asks anxiously. A man in the middle slides an iPad over.

"Of course I did. Of course I did. It only happened 4 years go. There’s this thing, called the Internet, whole worlds available to you – "

"That’s some real dumbass phrasing right about now, son," the grizzled man on his left growled. "Considerin’ everythin."

"Ease up, man, we all know what he’s done."

"Easy fer you to say, Homer. You haven’t seen him with a different glove every day, haven’t seen him put in the time, put team first…"

"…are…are… we watching this? If your theory is wrong we can just go our separate ways…"

"It isn’t wrong, Senor Doble", the nebbish man on his right corrected emphatically. "We all know how he did it. This proves it. Look. May 23rd, 2010. Homerun. He’s circling the bases. Notice anything?"

"Well, it still happened, so that’s good. Homerun to deep left."

"Just like yesterday. Just like yesterday."

"Will you knock that off?" The nerdy man held up his hand. "I’m sorry. It’s just that we’re in new territory here. Watch him round the bases again. He’s a little less ordinary. A little smoother looking."

"So… so he really managed it. He’s borrowed Grit from his past." Senor Doble took his iPad back and considered Walker, Homer and Grinder.

Walker tried to strike a reassuring tone. "The scores are all the same, it all looks the same in the win probability charts, it really doesn’t matter how he does it so long as the numbers don’t change."

"’Course it matters. A man returns home to a .500 team… the first signing of their offseason… and contributes that Something Else, that Intangible? It could make ALL the difference." Grinder had his gumption up now. And his voice. "Little grit is the difference between an 0-fer day and the sac fly that got an insurance run, the man who doesn’t make his plate appearance clause in his contract and the one who does, the one who legs out a – "

"Don’t! Don’t!" Senor Doble waved his hands frantically. "Don’t even mention it here."

"You mean what he needs to complete the Grit Cycle? That feat that we’ve been wondering about since he signed?" The table went quiet again. "If he can do that, this .500 team could be a contender. Could be a contender before it’s supposed to be." Homer stated this flatly, a no-doubter.

"Now, maybe we’re all gettin’ a –twitter fer nothin here", Grinder started again.

"No… no… aw, great, they’re talking about it on Twitter now?" Doble whined.

"Look." Walker leaned in. "We don’t know what will happen when we’re all brought together. Maybe it’s for the best. Maybe it won’t have an effect at all. We have time to think about it though. A triple is hard."

"Triple is just 3 singles that ya really wanted right now", Grinder said. "If anyone can do it at will, I think he could."

"A triple is a double and an error, it’s just more fun to give the baserunner credit", Homer retorted.

"Hey hey wait a moment", Doble started, but they were all interrupted.

"Not quite so." A thin, athletic man with a surfer’s build was standing at their table, notepad in one hand, menus in the other. "It’s true that it’s harder to hit triples in some ballparks than in others – there were studies published in the Hardball Times a few years back that establish park effects for various kinds of hits – but the AL West is not bad for triples. In fact, both Texas ballparks have pretty good park effects for them, something like 1.6 for triples hit to the outfield in Arlington, 1.4 in that weird little thing with the pole in Houston. Heck, if he hits his triple on a line drive the park effect is only 1.01 at home in Safeco."

The table stared back at the man. "What’s… what’s that uh, silver on your face?"

"Hm? Oh, sunscreen. Gonna be a scorcher today. Anyway: Willie will get his triple. I didn’t mean to intrude, but I could hear you guys talking about last night. His homerun looked pretty good, eh? Just needs the triple. He’ll get it."

"You sound awfully sure." Grinder narrowed his eyes.

"Why wouldn’t I be? He knows how to get things done, he’s a veteran. And for the love of pete, if guys like Jesus Montero or Pablo Sandoval can get one… Ackley already has 2 this season, how hard can it be?"

"Defensive shifts. Defensive shifts. Those might be taking away some triples." Senor Doble looked thoughtful. "Triples have been pretty stable and low in the AL for the last few years, maybe it's harder now..."

Walker adjusted his glasses. "Well, if you were going to prove that, you'd need to look at batted ball data and defensive positioning for doubles, triples, singles where the runner is then out at second or third..."

"Anyway, hi guys, I’m Harold, I’ll be your server today…"

"Our silver server…" Walker stifled a little giggle-snort.

"Yes, yes, we all got it", Doble scowled.

TO BE CONTINUED


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