Laugh, clowns, laugh

West, docked three for a wisecrack about Adrian Beltre.

West, docked three for a wisecrack about Adrian Beltre.

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.

Beltre, from the Nutcracker to the Hall of Fame?

Adrian Beltre at second after ripping a double down the line off Wade Miley for number 3,000 . . .

Adrian Beltre at second after ripping a double down the line off Wade Miley for number 3,000 . . .

By his own profession, the best moment in Adrian Beltre’s life wasn’t the hard line drive he smashed past third base for hit number 3,000 Sunday afternoon. And it would have been moment enough for a Hall of Famer in waiting on the day they inducted Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines, and Ivan Rodriguez—himself a longtime Ranger—into the Hall.

Yes, the Rangers, back from the dead, doing their yard work

Dallas Keuchel, learning the hard way how you can be sunk when your sinker can't be.

Dallas Keuchel, learning the hard way how you can be sunk when your sinker can’t be.

It may not be advisable to say it to Astros lefthander Dallas Keuchel’s face, of course. But yes, the Rangers are back from the dead. And if Wednesday night’s proceedings in Arlington were any indication, these Rangers would like nothing more than to leave those Astros—and everyone else in the American League West—for dead, too.

The less than Angelic purge of Josh Hamilton

Hamilton (left, with manager Scioscia), spanked and disowned.

Hamilton (left, with manager Scioscia), spanked and disowned.

When Josh Hamilton joined the Angels, discovering his new home park was a pitcher’s park for the most part, and finding pitchers otherwise began exploiting his willingness to chase out of the strike zone, life became difficult enough on the field. It became impossible, though,  when the Angels’ management decided his reward for copping to an off-season substance relapse, on Super Bowl Sunday, without being compelled to do so by a drug test or an arrest or another factor beyond his own conscience, should be his head on a plate.

The Orioles, Defiant

Saunders, defying the Rangers and his own history against them, at home and otherwise . . .

Don’t be surprised if the word “defiance” turns up on Baltimore Orioles’ caps or uniform sleeves somewhere during this postseason. Their very season seems to define it, and the way they pushed the Texas Rangers out of it seems to redefine it.

My God, the Rangers even managed to load the pads on Oriole closer Jim Johnson with two out in the bottom of the ninth and David Murphy coming up, and all they could do was watch in mute horror when Murphy’s fly settled into Baltimore left fielder Nate McLouth’s glove for the game, 5-1.

On to Vaudeville Wednesday

The Balfour declaration: We win!

Wednesday is when the regular season could end with a bang for two teams and a wild card settlement for one, after Tuesday ended with a wild card settlement for another team and a surety that Wednesday’s action merely ends the schedule for yet another.

Or: The Baltimore Orioles and the New York Yankees could end up in a dead heat for the American League East; either the Oakland Athletics or the Texas Rangers will end up as the AL West champions; either the A’s or the Rangers will end up with the American League’s second wild card; and, the Los Angeles Dodgers watched what faint hope they had of reaching for the National League’s second wild card die in a center fielder’s glove in Dodger Stadium Tuesday night.

Berkman's End (Possibly), and Other Doings and Undoings . . .

You wouldn’t have thought so, with the hoopla around the Boston-Los Angeles blockbuster, but there were happenings aplenty in baseball over the past couple of days . . . including the possibility of retirement for one of the game’s most respected players.

The end may be near for Lance Berkman. The St. Louis first baseman has started a rehab assignment (knee) in Memphis, but he’s talking like a man who’s thinking seriously about calling it a career.