In a thrilling game between the Chicago Cubs and the Los Angeles Dodgers, pitcher Drew Smiley seemed poised to achieve a historic milestone—a perfect game. This breakdown, brought to you by DraftKings, delves into the unfortunate turn of events that led to Smiley’s heartbreaking loss. Let’s analyze the game-changing moment and explore whether the outcome could have been different.
Setting the Stage
The atmosphere was electric at Wrigley Field, as the Cubs held a commanding 13-run lead over the Dodgers. The game took place during the day, creating a vibrant ambiance for the players and spectators alike. Smiley took the mound with confidence, armed with a devastating curveball that left the Dodgers struggling to make contact.
The Crucial Moment
With the perfect game intact and the first batter stepping up to the plate, Smiley unleashed a sharp curveball, resulting in a feeble swinging bunt. The ball barely traveled, nestling just a few feet away from home plate. As the Cubs fielders rushed to make the play, an unexpected turn of events unfolded.
Rather than a routine play, the Cubs’ attempt to field the swinging bunt turned into a moment of confusion and disappointment. The fielders scrambled to grab the ball, but their efforts were in vain. In the midst of the chaos, it appeared as though one of the Dodgers’ runners collided with Smiley, preventing him from completing the play and preserving his perfect game.
A Devastating Tackle
The replays of the incident revealed the dramatic nature of the collision. Imagining the impact of the runner, Yan Gomes, on Smiley was akin to being tackled by a football player. Despite initially clutching the ball, Smiley’s ability to throw it was thwarted by the collision. The missed opportunity to make the play left everyone astonished.
While such chaotic plays are infrequent in baseball, there have been instances where similar challenges arose for pitchers in critical moments. However, none of the cases reviewed were as unique as this swinging bunt situation involving a left-handed batter facing a left-handed pitcher. Despite encountering comparable difficulties, other pitchers rarely managed to successfully complete the play.
Could the Play Have Been Made?
Analyzing the sequence of events, it is evident that Smiley reacted swiftly to the swinging bunt. Comparing it to a play from 2015, where Smiley skillfully fielded a similar hit against the Boston Red Sox, raises the question: Could he have made the play had the collision not occurred? A side-by-side comparison of the two plays suggests that Smiley might have had a chance, albeit a challenging one.
The Experimental Perspective
Although not scientifically conclusive, a personal experiment attempted to shed light on the potential outcome. By aligning the pivotal moment of the collision with the 2015 play, it is feasible to speculate on the possibilities. Considering Smiley’s foot placement and the arrival of the ball, it seems that there was a realistic chance of making the play, had it not been for the unexpected tackle from Gomes.
Drew Smiley’s quest for a perfect game ended in heartbreak due to an extraordinary and unforeseen turn of events. The collision between Smiley and Gomes denied him the opportunity to complete the play and solidify his place in baseball history. Despite the disappointment, Smiley demonstrated resilience and a determined spirit to continue the game. As we reflect on this extraordinary incident, we appreciate the thrilling nature of baseball and the unpredictability it brings to the sport.