|09-14-2005, 05:04 PM||Topic Starter|
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POSNANSKI: Outfield gaffe symbolic of Royals’ sorry season
I gave up on the season long ago, but really would like to see the TV replay of this one...
Posted on Wed, Sep. 14, 2005
Baseball so funny, it’s sad
Outfield gaffe symbolic of Royals’ sorry season
Well, that was new. You keep thinking that the Royals will run out of ways to humiliate themselves. This is a team that in the last couple of years has:
1. Dropped a pop-up to lose a game.
2. Started a game by batting out of order.
3. Had a player picked off when he fell off first base.
4. Lost a game when a pitcher slipped on the rosin bag.
5. Had a pitcher, on a routine play, throw the ball 5 feet over the catcher’s head.
And this does not include the collected works of first baseman Ken Harvey — Harvey gets hit in the back with a relay throw, Harvey gets tangled up with the tarp, Harvey throws a ball off Jason Grimsley’s face.
It has been a cavalcade of errors, a parade of gags. What can you say? The Royals can’t do anything right these days. Every trade backfires. Every free agent flops. Every pitcher gets shellacked. The Royals don’t just lose — they lose funny. If the Royals had invested in Microsoft stock in the early years, the abacus would have come back.
You figure that at some point, though, the Royals will run out of comedy. Robin Williams did.
But if there’s one thing you can say about these Royals, they are resilient. Tuesday should have been a nothing night. Rain delayed the start of the game until 9 p.m. and then they started, and it rained again. The crowd was hardly hardy at the start — the announced attendance of 9,535 was the lowest of the season — but after the second rain delay it was about the size of the Motley family reunion.
That small crowd would be treated to perhaps the funniest and saddest moment of the year, maybe the funniest and saddest moment in team history.
Hey, you never know what you will see when you go to the ballpark.
Now, I’m not talking about a ground ball hit to shortstop that Angel Berroa bobbled, picked up, and then fired toward first. The ball sailed over first baseman Matt Stairs and plunked Royals bench coach Bob Schaeffer, who was standing in the dugout.
On another night, that would have been plenty funny.
On this night, though, it was barely good enough to be the opening act.
Let’s set the scene. Fourth inning. Two outs. Royals down 2-1. Chicago catcher A.J. Pierzynski was on first base. And Juan Uribe hit a routine fly ball to left-center. Royals center fielder Chip Ambres cruised over to catch it. Royals left fielder Terrence Long cruised over to get it.
We pause for a moment here to say a quick word about Terrence Long. You know, he’s a veteran player making almost $5 million this year. There is no chance the Royals will bring him back next year. So, recently, the question was posed to Royals manager Buddy Bell why Long was playing every day instead of a younger player who might actually be part of the team’s future.
Bell acknowledged that this was a good question. He said you don’t want to “give up the ship.” And he said Long has been “the team’s best player the last month.”
This really troubled me. First of all: Give up the ship? What? That ship sank months ago. That ship is so far under, all you can do now is send down one of those explorer boats and search for lost treasure — like Jose Lima’s bonus money. Secondly though, I was surprised to hear that Long has been the team’s best player. I mean, I’m not anti-Terrence Long or anything, but I can’t remember him being all that good.
So I looked it up: The last month, Long has hit .274 with zero homers, zero stolen bases and eight walks.
OK, back to the comedy. Here’s Long. Here’s Ambres. They settle under the ball. They look at each other. And then they both start jogging in. End of the inning.
The ball plops softly behind them both.
It was astonishing. It looked like something you would see in a bad baseball movie, one of those things you would say, “Oh, that could never happen.” But it did. These guys jogged to the dugout while the ball was still coming down. I’ve never seen anything like it, but I’ve only watched baseball for 30 years. I asked around. Denny Matthews, who has been calling Royals games since the first game, has never seen anything like it. Al Fitzmorris, who won 77 games in the big leagues, has never seen anything like it.
Let’s face it. Nobody has ever seen anything like it.
While the crowd gasped, Pierzynski scored. The Royals lost by that run and one more. The jokes just keep on coming.