One summer, when I was playing competitive girls’ softball, I had a coach who mandated that anytime one of us struck out, no matter what, we were to drop the bat and run to first. And he made it very clear that this was not optional, hinting at some undesirable consequences should anyone neglect to do so. Nobody on the team wanted to discover what these consequences might be, so every strikeout, without fail, the batter automatically sprinted for first. I don’t recall now whether anyone ever actually made it to first — I think maybe it did happen once or twice.
San Francisco’s Gregor Blanco proved last night exactly why my old coach had been so adamant about this. When it comes to baseball and softball, even the smallest thing can make a huge difference. Last night, Blanco struck out to lead off the game against the Rockies, but when Nick Hundley couldn’t corral the pitch, Blanco set out for first. An ill-advised throw from Hundley down the first base line went wild, and suddenly, Blanco found himself on third.
After the game, Blanco commented, “It was weird. I struck out but I got to third base. So I kind of felt like I did my job. As a leadoff man, you’re supposed to get on base no matter what.”
Unfortunately for Blanco, the at-bat still goes down as a strikeout. However, I’m sure the Giants don’t have too many complaints about how that plate appearance turned out.