By Phil Anastasia
Inquirer Staff Writer
Buena baseball coach Harry Grose confirmed that his team beat Pleasantville by 52-3 on Thursday.
Grose wasn't happy about it.
Nobody was happy about it.
Grose said he felt "terrible."
He probably feels worse if he bothered to read some of the reaction to the score on Twitter and other social-media sites.
He's been getting beat up pretty good.
I won't defend Grose on this one. I wish he would have found a way to hold down the score.
But I understand why he felt like he was in a bind.
He is one of those coaches -- and there are a bunch of them out there, in every sport -- who worry that he would have been disrespecting the game and embarrassing Pleasantville even more if he ordered his team to intentionally make outs.
Grose pulled all his starters in the second inning. He played everybody in uniform. He had his players go base-to-base.
But because baseball's 10-run rule requires the losing team to bat five times, the game lasted way too long.
Plus, baseball is different than, say, football and basketball when it comes these situations.
In those other sports, the stronger team can slow the pace of the game, sit back on defense and both sides can watch the clock run down.
The clock is everybody's friend.
In baseball, the lack of a clock makes this stuff a little tricker. The game only ends when the weaker team executes again and again -- they must throw strikes and make outs to move things along toward a conclusion.
I saw a similar situation last year when Delran coach Rich Bender was going for his 600th career win against Willingboro.
With Delran holding a 16-0 lead, Bender ordered his players to go to the plate and not swing -- they either would strike out or walk.
"You never know what to do in those situations," Bender said after the game, clearly uncomfortable with being forced to make that decision.
And that's a guy who has been a head coach for nearly 40 years. He's seen it all twice if not three times.
If he had to do it over again, Grose might have taken a page from Bender's book -- just have the Chiefs stand in the batters box and take pitches until they either struck out or walked.
(And the home plate umpire, if he had any sense, would have expanded the strike zone to the approximate size of a bed sheet. King-sized).
Would that have been more embarrassing to Pleasantville?
Would that have shown a lack of "respect" for the sport?
We could argue that all day and all night.
But one thing is for sure: There wouldn't have been a 52-3 score to report.
-- Contact Phil Anastasia at firstname.lastname@example.org
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