Happy Dock Ellis Day

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Today is the 42nd anniversary of Dock Ellis throwing a no-hitter while on acid.

We could joke about that. Believe me, I know, it’s easy to make drug jokes. But for some reason I have always viewed the Ellis no-hitter as something that — while certainly amusing — says something more about life and baseball and just how crazy and by-a-thread most people’s existence is.

Ellis had no business throwing a no-hitter while tripping his face off. No one has any business doing anything in that state. But he did. And it all happened because he was just completely unprepared. He mixed up the off-days on the Pirates’ schedule, took substances athletes should not be taking and ultimately ran into that game with reckless, hopeless, mind-addled abandon. And it worked somehow.

We shouldn’t glorify that, exactly, but there’s nothing wrong with taking a step back and saying “damn,” and then giving a long, low admiring whistle. May all of us have a day go that well when, by all rights, it should go disastrously.

There are at least two other people who think about the Ellis no-hitter in this way, and they’re worth reading/listening to again.  The first one is Will Leitch who wrote this about it on the occasion of Ellis’ passing three and a half years ago:

The world is a crazed, nonsensical place, mostly random, confused, chaotic, numbing. We search for reason wherever we can find it. And then, out of the nether, someone throws a no-hitter on LSD, and we realize that there is so much we do not understand, so much that will always elude, so much with a strange beauty that’s impossible to comprehend.

The second is Todd Snider. Who wrote a song about it. A ballad for a man who was unprepared:

Happy Dock Ellis Day, Dock. On whatever plane it is you currently inhabit.

Royals outfielder Gordon to retire after 14 seasons

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Kansas City Royals outfielder Alex Gordon, the former first-round pick whose rollercoaster career took him from near bust to All-Star and Gold Glove winner, announced Thursday he will retire after the season.

Gordon was the second overall pick in the 2005 first-year player draft following a standout career at Nebraska, where he won the Golden Spikes Award as the best amateur in baseball. He made his big league debut two years later and, after a few years shuttling back and forth to the minors, moved from third base to the outfield and finally found success.

He wound up playing his entire 14-year career in Kansas City, joining only George Brett and Frank White as position players with that much longevity with the franchise. He heads into a weekend four-game series against Detroit with the third-most walks (682), fourth-most homers (190), fifth-most doubles (357) and sixth-most games played (1,749) in club history.

The three-time All-Star also holds the dubious distinction of being the Royals’ career leader in getting hit by pitches.

While he never quite hit with the kind of average the Royals hoped he would, Gordon did through sheer grit turn himself into one of the best defensive players in the game. He is the only outfielder to earn seven Gold Gloves in a nine-year span, a number that trails only White’s eight for the most in franchise history, and there are enough replays of him crashing into the outfield wall at Kauffman Stadium or throwing out a runner at the plate to run for hours.

Gordon won the first of three defensive player of the year awards in 2014, when he helped Kansas City return to the World Series for the first time since its 1985 championship. The Royals wound up losing to the Giants in a seven-game thriller, but they returned to the Fall Classic the following year and beat the Mets in five games to win the World Series.

It was during the 2015 that Gordon hit one of the iconic homers in Royals history. His tying shot off Mets closer Jeurys Familia in Game 1 forced extra innings, and the Royals won in 14 to set the tone for the rest of the World Series.

Gordon signed a one-year contract to return this season, and he never considered opting out when the coronavirus pandemic caused spring training to be halted and forced Major League Baseball to play a dramatically reduced 60-game schedule.

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