The funny thing about baseball is that even games that have basically little-to-no relevance when it comes to the big picture of a given season’s narrative will always have some sort of interesting story behind them. Yeah, you’ll probably have a hard time drumming up interest for a game in September between two teams who are going nowhere in a hurry but if you’re a baseball fan and you take the time to actually watch said game, you’ll probably never come away from it thinking “Well, I just wasted that time.” At the end of the day it’s baseball and at that point of the season, you’re starting to appreciate as much as you can see from your team until the offseason rolls around.
With that being said, there’s a game from late 2017 that actually has a bit of a wacky story to it. Back on September 7, 2017, the Braves and Marlins faced off. The Braves were in third place and the Marlins were in second place, but they were both miles behind the Nationals and this was basically just a game for experience, pride and just enjoying an evening at the ballpark. Atlanta ended up winning the game 6-5 on a walk-off single from Kurt Suzuki after scoring two runs in the ninth. It was a feel-good moment and also an inadvertent omen of good things to come in 2018.
The big story was obviously the walk-off winner, but that’s the sort of thing that is forgotten soon after it happens. Instead, what makes this game remarkable is a moment that was definitely forgotten the day after it happened but will actually be what makes this game a memorable one.
Going into the top of the eighth inning, Lane Adams went into the game as a substitute for Matt Kemp. Naturally, that’s a move that doesn’t raise an eyebrow. It’s the eighth inning and the game is tied — you want your best defenders/base runners out there so that you can take advantage of whatever situation comes about. So it makes sense that you’d want to bring in the speedy Adams in exchange for Kemp, who was not known for his defensive prowess at that moment in time.
As it turns out, this wasn’t a tactical move on Brian Snitker’s part. This was a tactical move on Lane Adams’ part. We know this because Lane Adams himself admitted to it.
“Hey Swiftness! If Kemp gets on you’re going to run for him and then double switch”. https://t.co/JW19blAqId— Lane Adams (@LA_Swiftness) January 8, 2019
While the double switch didn’t happen, we know that September 7 was the night when Lane Adams got himself an appearance in a Major League Baseball game out of his own sheer will due to two clues that Adams himself gave us. Here’s the first one:
Meanwhile I’m waiting eagerly in the dugout.— Lane Adams (@LA_Swiftness) January 8, 2019
He doesn’t get on and I think to myself... “Ya know we had a 1 hour rain delay, he’s coming off the DL w/ hamstring problems and he’s 1/3 with a homer... you know what? Matt has had his fun.”
So I grabbed my glove and went to LF
And here’s the next one, which is where Adams narrows the time down for us:
I misspoke. No rain delay. But it was first 2 weeks or so in September against the Marlins.— Lane Adams (@LA_Swiftness) January 8, 2019
Matt Kemp went on the disabled list in late July and missed a good chunk of August before returning and the since he’d been dealing with hamstring issues all season, the Braves decided to ease him back into things. He got a day off on September 3 before playing a doubleheader on September 6. Adams probably had this in mind when he decided to grab his glove and go out there to give Kemp a spell after he had homered off of Dan Straily in the 5th inning.
Here’s the exact moment when Lane Adams probably started thinking really quickly after Matt Kemp struck out to end the seventh and failed to reach base, thus ending Lane’s chances of getting on as a pinch runner.
Now, here’s the moment when Lane Adams fielded what was a go-ahead RBI bloop single from Ichiro in the eighth inning. That was supposed to be Matt Kemp out there, but apparently fate had a different idea for how this night would go.
Lane did get a plate appearance in the fateful ninth inning in which things swung Atlanta’s way for good. He hit a grounder to third that moved the eventual winning run up to second base but got the lead runner out at third. It was basically a push and the Braves were now down to their final out of the inning but hey, Lane Adams was on base! Anyways, the next batter was Kurt Suzuki, and the rest is relatively forgotten history.
So basically, Lane Adams subbed himself into a game and was on the field for the two biggest moments of the game at the end. Normally this would be the type of thing that we’d gloss over and never talk about, but thanks to the fact that we now know that he kinda just went out there out of his own volition, that makes this a memorable moment.
It’s probably not up there with Sid Bream sliding in 1992, Marquis Grissom making the final catch in 1995 or any moment that you can think of involving the Hall of Famers from the 90s, but it’ll definitely be one of the wackier moments that you can think of when it comes to random occurrences for the Braves in recent times. All’s well that ends well.