“Baseball is a red-blooded sport for red-blooded men. It’s no pink tea, and mollycoddles had better stay out. It’s a struggle for supremacy, a survival of the fittest.” — Ty Cobb
Cobb uttered those words over 80 years ago.
Tonight, during the final gasp of baseball’s 2011 regular season, we were given an astounding, engrossing, riveting, spellbinding and intoxicating verification of the quote’s utter and absolute truth.
Four teams entered the evening with a shot at postseason life. After two extra-innings contests, an hour-long rain delay in Baltimore, three separate blown save opportunities, and a whole host of failures and heroics in between, only the Rays and Cardinals popped champagne.
From Chris Carpenter’s two-hit shutout in Houston, to Evan Longoria’s two-homer night in Tampa Bay, the baseball gods were beaming. And at the same time tugging mercilessly on the heartstrings of Braves and Red Sox supporters, who witnessed their teams finish off historic tumbles to the wrong side of history.
What other sport can possibly demand that 2,430 games be completed before crowning all of its yearly postseason invitees? Baseball is cruel. Its schedule is an unrelenting beast. But we soak it up. We read, we write, we analyze, we yell, we scream. And we ask questions. So many damn questions.
Then the game gives back with a night like this, rendering our mouths and minds inconsequential. We’re all morons at baseball’s mercy. Throw out the numbers. Forget the payrolls. It’s on to October.
We have an Ump Show in Toronto.
Umpire Will Little ejected Blue Jays pitcher Marcus Stroman and catcher Russell Martin on the same play in today’s A’s-Jays game after they took issue with a called ball. Blue Jays manager John Gibbons had been ejected just two pitches earlier. As the above photo shows, Martin took issue with Little’s strike zone earlier in the game when he was batting.
Stroman had issued six walks before his ejection and both he and the Blue Jays bench were unhappy with Little’s strike zone all afternoon. Stroman’s unhappiness, however, did not appear to be super demonstrative. He did not visibly show up Little or get into an argument with him. If anything, he seemed to be just muttering to himself which should not be a problem.
Little felt otherwise, however — acting as if his honor was being questioned or something — and tossed him. Stroman then charged toward Little, which is not a thing you see everyday. He’ll probably get a fine or a suspension for that, but really, this was a B.S. ejection, and the fact that Little ran both the pitcher and the catcher moments after running the manager compounds the B.S. Apparently Little’s ego is worth substantially impacting a team’s ability to compete in a game.
Here is the final walk, issued to A’s catcher Bruce Maxwell, followed by Stroman’s charge.
How’s your day going? Pretty good? Mine too, thanks.
Don’t ask Milwaukee Brewers’ pitcher Michael Blazek that, however. His day has been pretty bad. Why? Because he gave up six homers to the Washington Nationals in two and a third innings. Five of those came in the bottom of the third, four from consecutive batters. The breakdown:
- Blazek retired the side in order. Yay!
That made it 8-0 and ended Blazek’s day. Wily Peralta came in and has since given up an RBI double to Jose Lobaton, making it 9-0. As I write this, the third inning just came to an end. Mercifully.
So, take heart. Even if you are having a bad day, it’s probably not as bad as poor Michael Blazek
UPDATE: Harper doubled in a run and Bryce Harper hit a two-run shot in the fourth to make it 12-0. Someone needs to put a stop to this before someone gets killed.
UPDATE: Now Jose Loboton has homered. This is madness. And it’s something to watch. The Nats now have eight homers: