By Matthew Curtis | Enzian Theater August 21, 2006 at 4:59AM
Anyone notice something strange going on in baseball this year? Despite the usual Yankees/Red Sox drama, Oakland's typical second half surge, the Mets' free agents and talented rookies finally paying dividends, the Braves' pitching collapse, the Twins' nice recovery from an awful April and May, and Detroit's remarkable turnaround from years of losing records to post the best one in the league, every week we're seeing something happening for the first time ever. Well OK, the Dodgers did once win 17 out of 18 games in a row--in 1899! And I don't believe that was after losing 13 out of 14, which is how LA came out of the All-Star break recently.
But history was made three times last week, and considering how long the sport's been around, the game is experiencing some highly unusual developments. On Tuesday (and Wednesday morning!), two 18-inning games were played on the same night for the first time in league history. Arizona beat Colorado 2-1 in a game that took 5 hours and 21 minutes and must've featured some fine pitching. Elsewhere in the National League, the Cubs and Astros played an 8-6 game that took 5 hours and 36 minutes, with the Cubbies using all 25 men on their roster. In fact, they had to call up a pitcher from the minors to pitch the day game less than 12 hours after the marathon finally ended--but at least they won. I doubt any of these teams knew they were in for an impromptu doubleheader.
Thursday found the White Sox and Royals both hitting lead off homers two innings in a row (the top and bottom of the first and second). Granted not very exciting, but I was surprised to find out it's never been done before. Perhaps my enthusiasm was tempered by the fact that Chicago (a team I loathe even more than the Red Sox) ended up winning the game. The next night NY and Boston played the second half of a day/night doubleheader. After the matinee took 3 hours, 55 minutes, the nightcap took 4 hours and 45 minutes--the longest 9-inning game in major-league history. Not a good day to be part of the Red Sox nation (they lost both).
So even if you're not a huge fan or your favorite team's biting the big one this year, it still could be worth tuning in or attending--you may just be witnessing a bit of history in the making.