Good morning, folks. Before I get into this week's opening rant, I come bearing news of change. Now, change is often met with criticism and scorn, but my theory is that resistance only makes it harder to adapt. Therefore, don't freak out.
In talking with some other Twinkie Town members, we came to the conclusion that we should change the name of my weekly Breakfast & Baseball post. The reasoning is that while the regulars here always know what to expect when this post appears on the front page on Saturdays, our newcomers may be puzzled as to what I'm really trying to say. Thus, we came to the decision that Breakfast & Baseball will undergo a rebranding, and will come back under the new title of "Saturday Notebook." The post and the content will not change, it's simply just a new name that will hopefully be a little more descriptive as to what these weekly posts are really about, and that is collecting some of the oddities and lesser-known news from around the major leagues.
Now that I've got that out of the way, it's time for #CrankyBryz. If you want to avoid this rant, just continue to the first bullet point below.
Back on Tuesday, you may remember that Wilkin Ramirez was on 1st base with Angels reliever Jerome Williams on the mound. Ramirez is simply not a threat to steal a base, but Williams wanted to keep him close to the bag anyway and executed a pickoff throw to first base. Now, Williams apparently uses a sidearm motion when doing a pickoff, and his throw came in low and to the 2nd base side of the bag... right into a diving Wilkin Ramirez. He immediately began writhing on the ground in pain and called time shortly after.
Watching the play, it appeared as though Ramirez had been hit in the back of the head underneath the helmet. (Edit: It seems like the embedded video below will not play, so I've provided a link to the video as well).
Factor in how cold it was during the game, and surely having the ball hit him stung. Ramirez would eventually get to his feet, but would leave the game... and then this came out of Patrick Reusse's Twitter feed.
Now, the first comment really isn't that big of a deal, as it's just Reusse being snarky (BHTO means "battled his tail off," by the way). However, it's the second one that really annoyed me. @1ststubabe, or Stu Erickson, felt the need to call Wilkin Ramirez a pussy for leaving a game in which he was just hit in the back of his uncovered head by a thrown baseball. Getting past the amusing fact that Stu censored himself on Twitter but not when his daughter walked into the room, I couldn't believe that someone of the Minnesota media would find it appropriate to retweet this message.
One of the most aggravating things I see on a repeated basis in sports is the idea that you need to be tough and play through your injuries. Many fans have this convoluted idea that if they are required to do their jobs when they are not feeling well, the same must be true for athletes. However, athletes need to be at their best in order to succeed. For you and I, the same doesn't have to be true. If I show up to work with a cold, I won't be at my best to help my students learn, but I can do a passable job. Perhaps a better comparison would be a carpenter. If he has a stiff back, he can't lift heavy objects or bend over well. He may still be able to work, but it would be at a reduced level. The same is true with athletes. He can certainly still swing a bat with a sore wrist, but all his power is gone and that .275 average hitter turns into a .230 hitter. But hey, he's still on the field, so he's battling, even though he's losing that battle.
As it turned out, Ramirez was hit directly in the spine and suffered a stinger that Ron Gardenhire said, "it tingled right through his brain." Ramirez also stated that he had a headache after the game but felt like he would be fine. I think that description certainly matches the amount of pain Ramirez appeared to be in when he was first hit. And yet writhing in the ground in pain and leaving a game makes him a pussy? And a member of the Minnesota media agrees?
It's pretty damn easy to tell someone to toughen up when you're not the one in pain.
- Speaking of Wilkin Ramirez, his pinch-hitting appearance on Opening Day made him the unofficial 5,000,000th appearance in a major league game, according to the website Sports Reference. The page does acknowledge that keeping records of substitutes (especially defensive subs) in the beginning of baseball history was especially spotty, so we'll just have to be content in knowing that Ramirez holds the 5,000,000th documented appearance in MLB history.
- If you've ever read the book Out of My League by Dirk Hayhurst, you know in the end of that he is designated for assignment by the San Diego Padres on the first day of his honeymoon, only to learn shortly after that he had been claimed off waivers by the Toronto Blue Jays. While short, that gave us a glimpse into the life of a ballplayer being stuck in limbo with the uncertainty of having another chance to play baseball. The Wall Street Journal gives us another look into the life of a player designated for assignment, as they have a piece on David Aardsma and what he did while awaiting news of his future after being taken off the 40-man roster by the New York Yankees. The article talks about him waiting for two weeks to learn if another player was interested in his services, only to hit the free agent market and have to sign a minor league contract with another team. It's pretty interesting, especially the part where Aardsma turns himself into an impromptu general manager, finding a new team where he can pitch, and also the decision-making process he went through in choosing between four different teams.
- This is one of the weirdest plays I've ever seen. Brewers shortstop Jean Segura was on 1st base after an infield single. He would eventually swipe 2nd base, and then was joined on the basepaths by Ryan Braun after a walk. Following a pitching change, Segura then strayed too far off of 2nd base on a pickoff attempt and was caught in a rundown between 2nd and 3rd. Although the rundown was short, Braun was able to advance to 2nd base, only to be joined by a retreating Segura. Cubs 3rd baseman Luis Valbuena had followed Segura back to 2nd base and tagged both Segura and Braun while they were both on the bag. Since Segura was the original occupant of the base, Braun was called out. However, Segura thought he was out as well, and started returning to the 1st base dugout until he realized that he was still a live runner. He would eventually run back to 1st base, which was unoccupied because of the earlier rundown. At this point I think Segura probably realized he had made a mistake in leaving 2nd base, so he tried to atone for it by stealing 2nd once again. This time, he was thrown out. It's almost like he took baserunning lessons from teammate Carlos Gomez!
- In a previous Breakfast & Baseball post, I wrote about Reds batboy Ted Kremer, who has Down's Syndrome. The story was especially powerful for me because I have an uncle with the same disorder. At Thursday's Reds game, Kremer had asked for three things: For the Reds to score 11 runs, strike out 11 batters (the Reds give a free La Rosa's pizza to all ticketholders when they strike out 11), and for a home run from Todd Frazier. With one swing of the bat, Frazier was able to cross two of those three things off of Ted's wish list when he homered to center field in the 6th inning. Teddy did have to wait a little longer for the 11th strikeout, but that came in the 7th inning courtesy of Chris Valaika. You really should watch the video of Frazier's home run, if only to see how excited Teddy is after Frazier rounds the bases, and to see Frazier hug Teddy in the dugout.
- These last three are little things so I'm just going to rapid-fire post them with a short description.
- You know what they say about fielders with big gloves? They're better defenders. Watch this fan prove that has he snags a foul ball on the fly with an enormous glove on his hand.
- Hecklers are the worst, as most of them can barely think of a more creative line than "You suck!" Dealing with hecklers is equally an art form, and Tony Gwynn, Jr. does a great job fighting back against a fan without even saying a word.
- Lastly, we've already noted Josh Reddick's desire to be this generation's Johnny Damon, but we had not noted his pie-throwing techniques until now. Behold a pie to the face, and then when you think it's safe to high-five the pie-throwing Reddick and carry on with the interview, you receive a second one. Again, to the face.