The Weekly Comebacker: The baseball week in review
The Week That Was in Baseball: December 19-25, 2011
A Look Back at the Wild and Wacky of 2011: The Best of the Comebacker

Happy Holidays from This Great Game

Here's a look back at some of the strangest, funniest and most unforgettable items reported in the Comebacker during 2011. Enjoy.

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How to Dismantle a Baseball Series
In June, the Florida Marlins played a three-game home series —in Seattle. The interleague series against the Mariners was shifted to Seattle’s Safeco Field after iconic rock band U2 had already booked Sun Life Stadium in Miami. Another reason: No one was going to show up for the Marlin games anyway—unless U2 performed in a postgame concert.

The Insanity of Arbitration
Pittsburgh pitcher Russ Ohlendorf, 1-11 in 2010, won his arbitration case and received a 450% spike in salary to $2 million. He rewarded himself with a 1-3 record and 8.15 ERA in nine starts and spent much of the year on the shelf with a shoulder injury.

Is He Available for the Home Run Derby?
Tampa Bay pitcher Andy Sonnanstine faced 12 batters in his first spring training appearance of the season against Baltimore—and gave up home runs to five of them.

Infant Terrible
Following the New York Mets’ 6-2 Opening Day loss at Miami to the Marlins, the closing moments of the television broadcast back to New York were “accidentally” interrupted by a clip from the animated TV series “Family Guy” in which toddler-aged Stewie throws his Met cap in disgust as he listens to a Mets public address announcer say, “It’s Opening Day, and here’s the first pitch (crack of a bat signaling a home run)…and the season’s over.”

Something Amiss in the Bank Account?
Cincinnati pitcher Mike Leake, two years after earning a $2.3 million signing bonus and making $425,o00 in 2011, was arrested for stealing six shirts worth $59 from a clothing store.

Curse the Devil Wind
Philadelphia pitcher Roy Oswalt, whose parents’ Mississippi home was destroyed by a tornado a year before, took a leave of absence to assist his in-laws—whose own home suffered mild damage from another twister during April’s horrifying tornado outbreak in the South.

All This, Over a Nickel?
Pirate team president Frank Coonelly angrily called a local Pittsburgh tavern to complain about a promotion in which patrons would be given a five-cent discount every time the Pirates lost. A stunned tavern owner later told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review of Coonelly: “He treated me like I worked for him.”

Paging Walter O'Malley's Spirit
How bad was it in Los Angeles for the Dodgers this year? Los Angeles Times sports columnist Bill Plaschke was able to find (and buy) reserve level tickets to a recent Dodger game for $2.55 each on StubHub.

Let's Plead Poverty Every Day!
On the day the Dodgers declared bankruptcy, they enjoyed their most lopsided victory in 42 years with a 15-0 trouncing of the Twins in Minnesota.

He Can't Handle the Fame
A day after being named to the All-Star team, Kansas City reliever Aaron Crow balked in the game-winning run in the Royals’ 5-4 loss to the Chicago White Sox.

The Ultimate .500 Team
The Atlanta Braves won their 10,000th game on July 15 with an 11-1 rout over the Washington Nationals. Just 16 days later, they lost their 10,00oth game, dropping a 3-1 decision to Florida.

Every Day's Not Like Sunday, and Thank God For That
The Colorado Rockies went four months and 17 games without winning on Sunday.

Wounded of the Weird
Cardinal slugger Matt Holliday suffered two of the strangest injuries on the year. During a mid-summer game in St. Louis, a moth entered so deep into his ear that team trainer Barry Weinberg had to take him to the clubhouse and pull it out with utensils. Later in September, he sprained his hand while taking a practice swing in the on-deck circle.

Now That's One Big World Series Bonus
The payroll manager of the San Francisco Giants embezzled $1.5 million from fellow employees and team players; she was only caught after trying to purchase a home in San Diego with what she told Bank of America was bonus payments given to her by the Giants for “assisting” in “accomplishing (the team’s) goal of winning the 2010 World Series.” The Giants fired her and she was later arrested; she faces up to 20 years in prison.

Let's Not Play Two
Hoping to avoid a doubleheader the next day, the Yankees and Orioles waited out a long rain delay and begin a September 6 night game at Yankee Stadium. First pitch: 11:08 at night. The contest ended at 2:15 in the morning with the Yankees winning, 5-3.

The Guy Who Went for Broke
On September 12, when the Cardinals had cut their wild card deficit down to 4.5 games, a guy checked out the boards at the MGM Grand sportsbook in Las Vegas and noted that the odds on St. Louis to win the NL pennant were at 500-1—and 999-1 to win the World Series. He plunked down $250 on each bet—and won, making him $375,000 richer.

To the Losers, Not Much
The Texas Rangers were hoping for a championship parade before hundreds of thousands. They had to settle for 60 at Dallas-Ft. Worth International Airport when they flew back into town in the wee morning hours following their Game Seven loss at St. Louis.

Angel Guardian
A security guard was hired to keep watch on the sculpture of Albert Pujols outside of Pujols’ St. Louis restaurant in the days following the star’s departure to Anaheim to play for the Angels.

Now Playing at TGG
The Teams section has been udpated to reflect results from the 2011 regular season.

The Comebacker’s Greatest Hits
Click here to look at the TGG Comebacker archive going back to the start of the 2007 season.

Barking Mad
Chicago White Sox pitcher Mark Buehrle, an avid game hunter with trophy heads of bears, deer and ducks in his den, publicly bashed NFL quarterback Michael Vick for his criminal past related to cruelty of dogs.

Too Close to Home
Kansas City closer Joakim Soria, a native of the drug-racked northern Mexico city of Monclova, told reporters in spring training that he no longer wanted to be called the “Mexicutioner.”

That's Family-Friendly Entertainment
Before a spring training game in Scottsdale between San Francisco and Los Angeles, the public address system played Eric Clapton’s “Cocaine.”

Chamber Benefits
Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon attended a luncheon of the Tampa Chamber of Commerce and allowed the other attendees to pick the lineup for that evening’s game between the Rays and Minnesota. Tampa Bay won, 5-2—and ultimately won the AL wild card spot by a game.

Heartless, in Two Totally Different Ways
A 58-year old PNC Park usher was in the midst of suffering a fatal heart attack in his car when a 17-year old boy came up, shoved him out the car, took his wallet and drove off in his car. The boy was later arrested.

Sold! To the Warden Overlooking Cell Block D
A New York resident was ready to sell off a cache of Boston Red Sox memorabilia worth $25,000 through an auction house to help pay medical expenses for a son he claimed was dying of cancer. He soon after was arrested for stealing the items from Fenway Park; it also turns out that he had no son.

But Dude: You Reached First Base
Arizona’s Kelly Johnson, after reaching first on a third strike/passed ball in a game against the Giants, argued to umpires that the ball hit his bat for a foul ball and that he should return to the plate to finish the at-bat with two strikes on him.

Who's Minding the Scoreboard?
The San Diego Padres beat the Mariners on July 2 at Seattle, 1-0, with the only run scoring on a walk that never should have been. Cameron Maybin is given first base after a 2-2 pitch from Doug Fister goes wild to draw the count full—but nobody on the field, the stands or the scoreboard operator booth knows that, and no one questions it. Maybin later scores on a two-out single by Alberto Gonzalez.

Become a Fan of TGG, Missy
A potential juror at the Roger Clemens trial was asked if she was a baseball fan. She said yes, having been to many Tiger games in Detroit—but since moving to DC, had yet to catch the “Washington Patriots” in action.

Wet...and Sober?
A fan with a glove in one hand and a beer in the other dove into the Chase Field pool at Phoenix to successfully catch an Adrian Gonzalez deep fly during the Home Run Derby. Now only did he hold onto his beer while making his splash, he didn't spill a drop from it.

A Tragic Irony
Matthew Lee, who was with San Francisco fan Bryan Stow when their group was attacked on Opening Day at Los Angeles—and thus, a potential witness in the case against defendants Luis Sanchez and Marvin Norwood—died four months later from an allergic reaction after eating a peanut.

Foul Auction
The home run ball struck by the Yankees’ Derek Jeter in July for his 3,000th hit sold for $250,000; the ball he hit foul just beforehand also went on the auction block—and someone bought it for $10,000.

Please Market Responsibly
Former major leaguer Jim Leyritz, acquitted in a 2007 manslaughter case in which he slammed his car into another, killing a woman (both he and the victim were drunk), was asked to be honored by the independent Newark Bears with a $2,000 donation to Mothers Against Drunk Driving—on the same night that the Bears were holding a “Thirsty Thursday Bear Bong Tournament.” The ceremony was canceled when MADD informed the Bears that they would not accept the money.

Dial This
Cleveland prospect Trevor Crowe had his phone stolen and decided to fight back—not by going on a Death Wish-like hunt to find the phone and the guy who took it, but instead by giving out his number to the 8,200 people who followed him on Twitter, asking them to dial it up and drive the new owner crazy.

The Rivalry Hits a New Low
Just hours before taking the mound for a game in Boston, Red Sox pitcher Erik Bedard was served papers at Fenway Park seeking increased child support. The man who delivered the notice was wearing a New York Yankee T-shirt.

My Bittersweet Lord
Texas’ Josh Hamilton told reporters after Game Six of the World Series that his tenth-inning home run—which gave the Rangers their second two-run lead in the clutch, only to again lose it—was presaged by the Almighty. “The Lord told me it was going to happen before it happened,” Hamilton claimed, “’You hadn’t hit a home run in a while. You’re about to right now.’” Apparently, God didn’t add, “Oh, by the way, David Freese is going to hit one, too.”

Fork You
A 17-year old kid in Halifax, Pennsylvania stabbed another teenager in the arm with a fork in a dispute over a Mickey Mantle baseball card.

So Long...
To Ryne Duren, Gus Zernial, Woody Fryman, Tony Malinosky, Chuck Tanner, Gino Cimoli, Duke Snider, Mitchell Page, Marty Marion, Harmon Killebrew, Paul Splittorff, Jim Northrup, Jose Pagan, Dick Williams, Hideki Irabu, Mike Flanagan, Danny Litwhiler, Bob Forsch, Matty Alou, Charlie Lea and Greg Halman.

TGG Goes to CafePress
We’ve always gotten raves for how we look at This Great Game, and now you can own a piece of the brand. We’ve opened a page at the popular CafePress site, with apparel, mugs, clocks and other items dressed in the TGG brand now available. We don’t just throw the logo and be done with it, adding in some fun baseball trivia. We even have a boy brief for the ladies that says on the backside: “If baseball is on your mind at this point, we’re just what you need.” Now you can show the world that you’re a baseball expert...and you’ll look good, too. Check it out now!

Fun facts About Your All-Time Hit Leaders
Updated!
Take the TGG quiz to determine your good baseball knowledge when it comes to the game's all-time hit leaders and the 3,000-hit club. Check it out now!