Don’t ever let anyone tell you that you can’t steal first base. Brewers’ shortstop Jean Segura did it last night against the Cubs. Hang with me for a second.
It all started after Segura reached on an infield single to begin the bottom of the eighth inning. After he successfully stole second base, Ryan Braun reached on a walk. Segura then got caught in a rundown between second and third base and eventually dove back into second base, where he was met by Braun, who attempted to advance on the play. While Braun was called out because he was the trail runner, Segura assumed he was also out and began to run off the field. However, once he realized that he wasn’t out, he scampered back to first base. Yes, he went backwards.
Just to put a nice bow on the bizarre sequence of events, Segura was eventually thrown out trying to steal second base for the second time in the inning. I mean, could it really end any other way? Check it out below.
While it looks like second base umpire Phil Cuzzi missed that Segura was tagged by Luis Valbuena before he went back to first base, a runner is technically allowed to advance in the opposite direction. According to Adam McCalvy of MLB.com, the only exceptions are if a baserunner does so “for the purpose of confusing the defense or making a travesty of the game.”
The rule was initiated after Germany Schaefer retreated to first base on August 4, 1911 in an attempt to distract the defense and allow the winning run to score from third. It didn’t work and he was eventually thrown out trying to steal second, much like Segura. Appropriately enough, Schaefer played with the Milwaukee Brewers of the American Association as a prospect and with the Cubs in the majors. You can find an interesting profile on Schaefer on SABR.org.
Nathan Fenno of the Los Angeles Times has an outstanding profile of former Rays prospect Brandon Martin, who is currently in jail for allegedly murdering three men nearly two years ago.
Fenno describes Martin’s erratic personality as he became a highly-touted baseball prospect who then descends into drug use. Friends described Martin has having completely changed into an unrecognizable person. Martin had repeated conflicts with friends and family such that police reports became common and he was placed in a psychiatric facility. Sadly, the facility only held him for less than 48 hours. He would allegedly murder three people upon returning home: his father, his brother-in-law, and a home security system contractor. Martin fled from police, who eventually caught up to him and subdued him with the help of a police dog.
Fenno’s profile is really worth a read, so click here to check it out.
Martin, 23, was selected by the Rays in the first round (38th overall) of the 2011 draft. He spent three years in the Rays’ system, reaching as high as Single-A Bowling Green.
On Sunday, Red Sox reliever Matt Barnes was ejected for throwing at Orioles third baseman Manny Machado‘s head. It was revenge for a slide of Machado’s which ended up injuring Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia. Barnes was suspended four games.
Hall of Famer and former Red Sox pitcher Pedro Martinez said that if he were in Barnes’ shoes, he would have also thrown at Machado, although not necessarily at his head. Via ESPN’s Scott Lauber:
If I was pitching, I was going to drill Machado, as much as I love him. The only thing I would’ve done differently is probably bring the ball a little bit lower.
Martinez added that Machado “did not intend to hurt Pedroia. And I know that because I know Machado.” And he doesn’t think Barnes meant to throw at Machado’s head.
Martinez, of course, was certainly a pitcher who wasn’t afraid to pitch inside to batters and even hit a few of them when he felt he or his teammates had been wronged. This is an unfortunate part of baseball’s culture and the fact that it continues means that it will eventually result in someone being seriously hurt. It’s disappointing that Martinez isn’t willing to be a better role model now that his playing days are over. Martinez could have set an example for today’s pitchers by saying what Barnes did crossed a line. Getting a Hall of Famer’s seal of approval will only embolden players now when they feel they must defend their teammates’ honor.
The “tradition” of beaning batters to defend one’s teammates is anachronistic in today’s game, especially when Major League Baseball has made strides in so many other ways recently to protect players’ safety.