An unassisted triple play. We’re talking Asdrubal Cabrera to Cabrera to Cabrera and rally stop. This was a real treat. With that in mind, let’s take it truly around the horn this session. I’m planning more in-depth examinations of several issues in coming days, including the demise of the Padres, the sudden downfall of offense in general, and an investigation into coach Wayne Graham’s super powers, but for now…
End of the world as we know it, REM Fans
The Mayan calendar ends on Dec. 21, 2012. Some say that date signals the end of the world as humanity knows it.
Begging to differ. For today may have signaled a more immediate end to life on Spaceship Earth. As the chosen ones, myself somewhat included, say, why was today different from all other days?
Because today the Rays found first place in the AL East. And it was good. Vince Namoli is rolling in his grave. Let the premature celebrations begin!
After a decade of turmoil, incredibly inept management decisions, terrible clubhouse mixes and a constant struggle to keep up with the rest of the league, the Rays made it to first place, alone and unbowed, even if just for one fine day in May.
Gabe Gross provided the final honors on May’s lucky 13th for the Rays. He drove in the winning run about 10:45 p.m. Tampa time, in the bottom of the 11th Inning.
(Sidebar: Hope Gross stays a Ray. Last time he drove in the winning run in extra innings this year he got traded from the Bruise Cruise for all his troubles.)
I’m still a bit skeptical. I don’t agree totally with this sign them to long-term contracts while they’re young approach. The Indians pioneered the concept in the 1980s and it worked for them. A bad contract, or two, and that strategy can sink a franchise. So, the Rays better get that new waterfront stadium just in case.
But the passion, finally, got there from here. Rays fans are coming out of their caves. The game Tuesday actually found more Rays fans than Yankees fans in the St. Pete Orange Funhouse. Shocking.
I follow the Rays with more than a modicum of interest. When the team was founded, I was a Tampa guy. I bought a “Devil” Rays cap the first day it was issued. I wear the mark of the Rays while walking around Rancho Santa Fe although the many changes in cap style have burned a hole in my pocketbook.
Today is different from all other days and I don’t care about tomorrow. Pass me a Cuban already. I’m eating this up black beans and rice followed by guava turnover style.
Most fans by now appreciate Ichiro has better than a working knowledge of the English language, translator and entourage notwithstanding. Sort of similar to Sammy Sosa — Remember him? — anywhere besides a congressional steroids hearing.
As relayed by Michael Young to Tom Grieve to me (to you): Ichiro rolled into Second Base. Grasshopper, he said to the Young one. Grasshopper? Yes, Ichiro added, grasshopper, they named a drink after you. Pause. Really, said grasshopper, Ichiro continued, they named the drink Steve?
Say hello, Kung Fu Master Po, David Carradine division.
Please hold all applause until the end of the column.
1. Ryan Dempster. He does a pretty mean Harry Caray impression. Mean as in don’t wait for any call-ups to David Letterman’s impressionists week although ventriloquists week may not be out of the question.
Saturday Night Live might work though, too. The Caray impression was more like an impression of Will Farrell doing Harry Caray.
Now, let’s get some runs!
2. Umbrella night at Kansas City. They came in handy. It rained and rained and rained. But that’s not all. With fans disguised as blue-on-white umbrellas, after rain delays and a stoppage due to a tornado warning, Billy Butler won the game in the bottom of the 9th with a homer to Left Field.
Not. Just kidding.
The ball bounced off the top of the wall and back into play for double trouble. Nevertheless, the game-winning fireworks went off as Butler remained on a pedestal at Second Base. Not to worry, the Royals prevailed in the end. Umbrellas down.
Less funny are the Royals on Sundays. The blue tops look good. The white pants look gay. Switch out the swatches. Or get the Fab Five from ***** Eye for the Straight Guy on the case.
Waiting for the start of Padres-Cubs, the television guys replayed the final inning of Jim Maloney’s Aug. 19, 1965 10-inning no-hitter against the Cubs. Maloney threw 187 pitches in walking 10 and striking out 12.
Odd, true, but truly odd: Reds uniforms. The numbers were above the names. Those unis are crying out for turn back the clock day.
Robert Earle, Robert Earle…Keen, that is; won’t hold being an Aggie against you ’cause you’re so cool. Keen performs May 17 after the Astros-Rangers game. And remember: “The Party Never Ends”.
Heath Bell gets on his bike — kiddy division, handlebars and training wheels — in promoting Padres games on TV. I knew Evel Knievel and you, sir, are no Evel Knievel.
The 100th anniversary of Mother’s Day on Sunday was a cause for regret to some. Those stuck on 1908, anyway; you know, the last time the Cubs won the World Series. Look it up. (Bless you mom)!
Tony Romo was guest conductor at Wrigley Field’s 7th Inning Stretch histrionics. His voice was wide right. He must be hitting it big though. First time in recent memory the booth visitor didn’t have to stay the entire bottom of the 7th. Take that, Bonnie Hunt.
Finally, upon further review, in mascot news
Give up your day job!
The guy dressed out as a giant human hot dog at Cleveland was more alarming than pink bats or elephants at Charlie Finley closing time.
Where is Krazy Krab when you need him, er, it?
The Cleveland hot dog is a guy calling out for a stadium mascot gig. Tastes good, less filling, but can he dance?
Cliff Lee, Fausto Carmona, No No Sabathia, take heed. The heck with shutouts, this is a shout-out. The hot dog guy may be the actual key to your success.
And I am out of here…
Whatever Richie Sexson was on, don’t try it at the next rave, oh band of grungeons.
“When logic and proportion have fallen sloppy dead…”
As fights go, it wasn’t much after the first few furious moments. But as base-brawls go, Mariners v. Rangers; Sexson v. Kevin Gabbard in the main ring, was one of the stranger events of the last decade, or so.
Sexson’s imminently, eminently, legendary meltdown on a pitch not even in the same Zip code as his head precipitated the big event. But it had been simmering for several innings, not to mention many games in the case of the not-so-merry M’s.
“And you’ve just had some kind of mushroom
And your mind is moving slow…”
Expected to compete for, if not flat-out dominate the AL West, Los Angels notwithstanding, the Mariners have been dreadful. Can’t score a lick. Which should make for a grand round of nothing ball next week when that other grand underachiever and offensive underling, the San Diego Padres, come to town for the overheated annual cross-league rivalry (not) next week. But, we digress.
Coming into the pugilistic outburst about when “Lost” got found Thursday night, May 8, the maniacal Mariners had rocked the cellar at Davy Jones’ locker with the grand tamale of zero runs in the previous 15 innings, or so; one run in three games.
Coincidental with giving up an Ian Kinsler home run, and some other collateral damage, Felix Hernandez asserted his keys to the kingdom by hitting two, including Kinsler, who was not amused in the least, but refrained.
Nerves were frayed, but let’s make this perfectly clear. The pitch thrown by Gabbard was high.
“Go ask Alice
When she’s ten feet tall…”
But that was about all.
A little lower and the ball actually would have been a strike. As it passed the plate, nowhere near Sexson, he immediately flung his bat and sped to the mound.
Gabbard had that deer-in-the-headlights glare. As with Claude Rains in “Casablanca” he appeared shocked, he’d tell you, shocked. Maybe he shouldn’t have been. Sexson’s attack was premeditated, no doubt about it. This was the inner hockey player in him causing a little havoc to try to right the Mariners’ sinking ship.
“Go ask Alice
I think she’ll know…”
Most shocking was the helmet toss portion of the event. As Rangers announcer Tom Grieve — during an also now-legendary mic meltdown — correctly surmised, Sexson throwing his helmet at Gabbard before he tackled the poor guy was well beyond the pale. Not quite Marichal on Roseboro, but nowhere near kosher.
(Grieve got on a roll with about a dozen dartful zingers at Sexson during the event; everyone has their favorite by now, mine: “If he’s going to hit a hitter, he’s going to hit a good hitter.” And something to the effect, Sexson couldn’t hit the side of a boat. Meantime, Mike Blowers on the Mariners broadcast side, effusively praised Sexson for firing up the team. Sort of Obama-Clinton light.).
“And the Red Queen’s ‘off with her head!’
Remember what the dormouse said…”
And then the scrum materialized. High-low-lights included Hernandez ranting and raving near the mound. Several teammates had to fake restrain him. And in the far corner, Eddie Guardardo made a rare appearance on his old home field — two actually, for he also pitched — serving as ringmaster/peacemaker. Next stop: Beirut.
Slipping from the sublime to the ridiculous, however, was the amazing display by, who else, Milton Bradley, no ingenue in this set drama.
Bradley swooped catcher-clad Gerald Laird clear off the ground and carried him away — superhero fashion — from the WWE Raw ring. Bradley angrily lectured Laird, and all who would listen, to steer clear of fight club. Incredible, considering how Bradley finished on the disabled last year. That following his own bizarre argument with an umpire — the ump actually got suspended over it — punctuated by Padres manager Bud Black wrestling him to the ground to save him from certain ejection.
Speaking of the DL as in just off it, Gabbard stayed in the game for a couple of hitters (ball, not body) following the ‘in flagrante’ moment, then left with another apparent injury. Sexson, obviously, was ejected. So flagrant was his meltdown, it wouldn’t be surprising to see him suspended for seven games, or so.
Was there method to his madness? Not so obviously, mojombos. The Mariners were shut down and shut out yet again. The scoreless steak is 22 innings, scoreless if one doesn’t count the helmet toss event.
“Remember what the dormouse said;
‘FEED YOUR HEAD…FEED your head…”