My aunt had a brother who used to come over to my place for holidays, and whenever we got together, the conversation would inevitably turn to the vast store of anecdotes he collected over the course of the 30+ years he spent working as a fluoride chemist. I’d hear tales about the accidental poisonings of former colleagues and buildings that caught fire and were evacuated and left to burn until there was nothing combustible left inside. One of his most memorable stories was about a fluoride compound he had never worked with personally: dioxygen difluoride, better known to its friends by its chemical structure, “FOOF”.
Dioxygen difluoride was first synthesized in the 1930s, and is created by passing a mixture of oxygen and fluorine through a heating block at 700 degrees Fahrenheit. This imbues with with a tremendous amount of energy, and when you combine that with Fluorine’s generally high reactivity, you end up with an extremely unstable substance that primarily reacts to interaction with other common chemicals by immediately exploding, even at extremely low temperatures. Ethyl alcohol? Boom! Methane? Boom! Ammonia? Boom! Regular old water ice? You better believe that’s a boom - even at -220 degrees Fahrenheit! Really remarkable stuff.
I’m not really sure what brought dioxygen difluoride to my mind this morning, while I’m supposed to be writing a recap of a baseball game.
Anyway, back to it. Last night the Pirates played the Arizona Diamondbacks, and the bullpen blew a five-run lead in an eventual 9-5 loss, wasting a solid start from Joe Musgrove in the process. The game seemed well in hand until the seventh inning, when Musgrove hit Chris Owings with a purpose pitch in retaliation for a HBP Braden Shipley had delivered to Josh Harrison, part of a series of five that the teams bestowed upon one another throughout the game. At that point, the Diamondbacks exploded for nine runs in the seventh and eighth innings against Musgrove, Edgar Santana, Kyle Crick, and the recently recalled Dovydas Neverauskas to put the game well out of reach.
It had all started so well. Marte doubled in the first and came around to score on an error by Paul Goldschmidt, and then Austin Meadows and Marte each pushed across two more runs in the fifth inning. The lead could have been even larger if Owings hadn’t tracked down a deep fly from Jordy Mercer in the sixth and then doubled up Josh Bell at first base, but a five-run lead still should’ve been enough. Right?
Instead, the game unraveled in short order behind two wild pitches, a throwing error from David Freese, a triple by Daniel Descalso, and a Jake Lamb home run. among other indignities. Musgrove also openly admitted that he deliberately threw at Owings during a postgame interview, so there’s a chance that he might receive some disciplinary attention from the league for that.
Thank God there’s another game tonight. This isn’t the sort you want to let sit on your palate for too long.