There is almost certainly a more efficient way to teach children how to play baseball than what currently passes for pedagogical best practices, which is something along the lines of Place Small Children in Matching T-Shirts at the Various Baseball Positions, Then Yell Frantic Encouragement to Them While They Run Around Ineffectually. But it's hard to imagine one that's more hilarious. Potty training notwithstanding, efficiency is not always a virtue where childhood development is concerned—honestly, it's hard to come up with an area where efficiency is preferable to the running-around-ineffectually thing, except I guess for vaccinations—and it's heartening that, at the lower levels of Little League, everyone is still content to let kids pick dandelions in the outfield and sit on their gloves and heedlessly circle the bases until they are either miraculously tagged out or not.
For a little while, anyway. At some point the yelling gets a little more urgent and the kids picking dandelions get into Magic: The Gathering and the baseball tightens up a bit. Everyone who has ever played baseball remembers the version of baseball that they played at the beginning, but one way or another it does tend to get left behind.
Which made it that much more touching when the San Francisco Giants and the Arizona Diamondbacks, in the fourth inning of their Monday game at AT&T Park, chose to pay tribute to that beloved, left-behind style of proto-baseball.
As per what we can assume was an agreement made between the teams before the game, Giants pitcher Matt Moore tapped a dorky little roller about halfway up the first base line. Diamondbacks pitcher Taijuan Walker slid to field the ball and then spiked the ball several feet to the right of catcher Jeff Mathis, who gave chase as the ball hurtled to the backstop and one run scored. Mathis then threw the ball past Walker, now covering home, as the second run scored. The ball rolled back toward first base, where it was pursued—in a nice grace note of Little League weirdness, first baseman Paul Goldschmidt and second baseman Brandon Drury chased it in tandem, about three feet apart from each other—and retrieved and thrown home again, albeit not in time to prevent a third run from scoring. Moore ended up on second base, but no one who has watched the thirty seconds of avant-garde baseball performance above would argue that he could not have scored on the play had he kept running.
In September, this sort of baseball won't happen. The teams will be trying to win and there will be no time for surprise in-game homages to Little League Baseball aesthetics. But here in April, we should be grateful that the Giants and the Diamondbacks took a moment out of their game to offer this taste of baseball past.