Searching for the Spark, or Newton's First Law of Baseball

Chris PennantSenior Analyst IMay 8, 2008

I seem to have an unshakable case of deja vu.  It happens almost every day as I'm talking to someone or walking somewhere, I'll inevitably stop and say, "I've been here before." 

Even though it only lasts for a few seconds, it's always unsettling.

During today's game between the Minnesota Twins and Chicago White Sox, deja vu struck again, and I got the chills as usual.  This time, however, it was exhilarating.

As the South Siders batted in the eighth inning, Toby Hall hit a tailor-made double play ball to third, causing many fans to sigh in disgust.  Second baseman Brendan Harris got the force out but was unable to relay to first, due to his face being rudely introduced to the infield dirt, courtesy of Juan Uribe. 

The bases were loaded, a run scored, and the Sox went on to win, 6-2.  Just another play in a long season, right?  So where does the deja vu come in?

Think back... it was a hot and rainy summer night in late June of 2004.  There's a play at the plate; Torii Hunter is racing home; Jamie Burke prepares to take the throw, and BAM!  Hunter steamrolls Burke and emphatically steps on the plate. 

The next night, Chicago's Carlos Lee slides into second base with all the fury of a Care Bear, and the Twins are off and running.  Hunter only scored one run, but the play gave the Twins the all-important talisman momentum.

In theory, momentum is a principle of physics.  As a part of Newton's First Law, it simply states that an object in motion will tend to stay in motion. 

Basically, that object has momentum, and unless something with an equal and opposite amount of momentum comes along, that first object will just keep on moving.  Simple science, yet every team in every sport is striving for that intangible force of momentum.

Momentum, as I said in my first article, can carry a team for a long time.  It enhances talent, overshadows the downfalls, and as Jeremiah Springfield said, "embiggens the smallest man." 

Momentum is a virus that gets inside every player on a club and turns them into something dangerous a believer.  When you believe, especially in baseball, it's a scary sight. 

The '01 Diamondbacks had momentum.  The Dodgers in '88 had momentum.  The '04 Red Sox, powered by David Ortiz's home run, were off and running to their first World Series in 86 years.  The '05 White Sox?  They lost two of three in that pivotal September series with Cleveland, but all anyone remembers is Joe Crede's home run.  That was the momentum.

Juan Uribe is almost universally derided by White Sox Nation as an offensive liability who shouldn't be with the team.  He's a free-swinger, a pull hitter, and never saw a high fastball he didn't like. 

His defense is good, but that doesn't make up for a .230 average(or .190's, if you're looking at this season.)  But he's looked good at the plate the last few games, and the play he made in the eighth inning fired up the bench and kept the inning alive, something that the Sox have been struggling to do in the last 12 days.

Will Uribe's play be the spark, the catalyst that gets this team moving?  We can't say. 

There are still holes; Nick Swisher is living up to his unfortunate surname and Paul Konerko seems lost at the dish.  With a trip to the West Coast looming, it's too early to tell.  There have been signs of life, however, in this series against Minnesota, and a series win is always good news.

Momentum can come in any form, and today could have been a sign of what's to come.  If it is, we'll all be getting deja vu from 2005. 

That's a whole lot better than a flashback to 2007.

[Note: As I was editing this article, I got deja vu again, as if I'd written this article before!  Weird, huh?  No, guys, I'm not crazy!]