Jeff Smith 6:35 p.m., June 27
Talk About Drama!
The Padres' game yesterday had all the elements of high drama: practically insurmountable odds, bleak conditions, and a thrilling note of redemption. Problem is: if a playwright wrote the script, few would believe it.
Going into the seventh, the Pads were down seven to one to the Colorado Rockies. The opposing pitcher had retired the last 12 batters in a row, and looked on cruise control. The game was at Denver's mile high Coors Field, and it was raining. The ump was calling borderline strikes, obviously to speed up the inevitable.
Then the scales tipped. The rain-slick ball wouldn't behave, and the Padres scored eight runs in three innings. In the ninth, when Brad Hawpe came to the plate, some fans booed. Colorado had traded him to the Padres, and his batting average at game time was .214. So Hawpe made a power swing, just like Robert Redford's in The Natural, and drilled one through the rain, over the bullpen, and into the second deck for the winning run. Talk about redemption. Then to top it off, Heath Bell made his 100th save.
All this actually happened. But it defies the laws of probability so much it would never sell. Sport can be stranger than fiction.