If baseball government intends to investigate the Thursday afternoon riots on the Comerica Park field in Detroit, they should begin by calling home plate umpire Carlos Torres to account and asking him one question. The question is, “What on earth were you not thinking when Michael Fulmer drilled Gary Sanchez in the top of the fifth?”
Pour up a couple of ice cold Cokes, Jim Maloney and Pedro Martinez, and lift a toast to the memory of Harvey Haddix and Hippo Vaughn. Because nothing in Rich Hill’s roller-coaster pitching career prepared him to join that group of pitchers who took no-hitters or better into extra innings and lost them.
For 98 pitches Wednesday night in Pittsburgh Hill was almost perfect. Heeven shook it off when third baseman Logan Forsythe stumbled on Jordy Mercer’s leadoff grounder in the ninth and erased the next three in order, prompting Dodger manager Dave Roberts—trying to make up to his man for pulling him after 89 perfect pitches last September—to send him out for the tenth.
So much for that protest. Major league umpires took to white wristbands last Saturday, protesting Tigers infielder Ian Kinsler’s public rip of umpire Angel Hernandez, proclaiming they’d wear the white bands until baseball government addressed if not cracked down on verbal abuse from players. The protest lasted all of one day. The core issues won’t go away that fast.
Ten years ago today, the Texas Rangers and the Baltimore Orioles played a game in Camden Yards. It was more like police brutality—the final score was the Rangers 30, the Orioles 3. Even the Rangers couldn’t believe what they’d just accomplished no matter how badly either team’s seasons were going at the time.
I wrote this essay the following day for a journal that no longer exists; I republish it here on the sad anniversary of the game about which Rangers reliever Wes Littleton—who got credited for a save despite protecting a 24-run lead, because he pitched the final three innings of the massacre—now remembers, “I got a lot of crap the next day. ‘Nice save, Wes.’ ‘Easiest save in the world’.”
One of the rarest things in baseball, for a decade and a half, almost, is sucking to be Yadier Molina. You can count on half a hand how often that’s happened. At least until this week in Boston.
Tuesday night—Molina kills a fourth-inning no-out rally by grounding into a 5-4-3 triple play, an inning before the Red Sox drop an eight-spot on the Cardinals. Molina probably wanted to find the nearest mouse hole to hide in after the 10-4 shellacking.
The late umpire/raconteur Ron Luciano considered Ken Kaiser, who died today after a long battle with diabetes, a friend and protege who came up and did things the hard way. Unfortunately, Kaiser’s career ended the same way, when he tied his dinghy to the leaky ship of the old Major League Umpires Association, and its executive director Richie Phillips sank it.
In 1999, umpire Tom Hallion got himself a three-day suspension when he bumped inadvertently into Rockies catcher Jeff Reed during a beef with pitcher Mike DeJean. The Major League Umpires Association, a month before the infamous mass resignation that torpedoed it, was outraged, but “[n]ot as outraged as they’d be,” the Society for American Baseball Research’s Doug Pappas wrote, “if a player wasn’t suspended for bumping an ump.”
One of the umps among the mass resigners (he was reinstated in due course in a 2004 settlement), Hallion swore he wasn’t trying to bump Reed. Players who inadvertently bump the umps swear likewise and still pony up fines and serve suspensions.
Claire Smith, who was inducted into the writers’ wing of the Hall of Fame at July’s end, tells a charming story about Don Baylor, who died Monday at 68, after a long battle with multiple myeloma. As an Angel, Smith remembers, Baylor once threw a postgame fit and leveled the clubhouse spread. Not because he himself was upset after a hard loss, but to draw the press away from a rookie Angel who’d had a worse game.
When reviewing William C. Kashatus’s Macho Row: The 1993 Phillies and Baseball’s Unwritten Code, Darren Daulton figured large in both the book and the review. And, indeed, Kashatus himself respected Daulton just enough to make the catcher for those Philthy Phillies—who died Sunday at 55, after a four-year battle with glioblastoma, an insidious brain cancer—the book’s lead chapter.
Perhaps as an unintended omen, Sandy Koufax took a walk through the Dodgers’ clubhouse at Citi Field Friday night, before the Dodgers sent their new toy, Yu Darvish, out to face the Mets. But maybe the Dodgers didn’t need a Hall of Fame omen for Darvish to manhandle what’s left of this year’s Mets.
About the only thing anyone disagreed upon after Darvish shut the Mets out with seven scoreless en route a 6-0 win was whether or not Darvish finished his night’s work by wrapping Dodger manager Dave Roberts in a big bear hug.