The Week That Was in Baseball: December 21-27, 2009
A Look Back at the Wild and Wacky of 2009: The Best of the Comebacker
Happy Holidays from This Great Game

With the year coming to an end, we looked back and compiled some of the strangest, funniest and most unforgettable items reported in the Comebacker over the past 52 weeks. Enjoy.

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Writing About the Past
Mark McGwire’s brother, a self-described former steroid junkie-turned-good Christian, peddled a book that would entail Mark’s own performance enhancement usage—partly in attempt to force the former slugger to come clean and, perhaps more than partly, to make money.

The Year With Jose
In 2009, Jose Canseco: Got into the ring with Danny Bonaduce, a seven-foot tall Korean kickboxer, and Philadelphia’s chicken wing-eating champion; threatened to start a class action suit against MLB for blackballing him from the game—with the hope of enlisting some of the very people he ratted out for steroid use to join him in the suit; and was AWOL for a 20-year reunion of the 1989 world champion Oakland A’s because, according to ex-teammate Carney Lansford, if Canseco had appeared, no one else would have.

Traitor for a Day
Derek Jeter played against the New York Yankees on March 3 as a member of the USA WBC team.

The Mouse That Roared
The mostly amateur Dutch WBC team beat the star-studded, heavily favored Dominican team—not once, but twice.

What's a Natinal, Anyway?
In an April game at Washington, several players from the Nationals wore uniforms with the “o” missing from the team name.

Wrong-Way Wang
Over his first three starts of the season, the Yankees’ Chien Ming-Wang gave up 23 runs in six-plus innings of work. While in the midst of his third meltdown, Derek Jeter took time to come to the mound and ask Wang: “Are you okay?”

Hello, Goodbye
John Lackey’s first start of his final season with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim consisted of two pitches: One behind the head of Texas’ Ian Kinsler, the other at his ribs. He was promptly ejected.

Common Player, Uncommon Denial
Brad Nelson, who won an Opening Day roster spot with the Milwaukee Brewers after eight years in the minors, started the season 0-for-21 and was asked to return to Triple-A. Nelson refused. He eventually ended up in the Seattle Mariners’ organization, playing the rest of the year…in the minors.

Hable se English?
In the wake of his steroid scandal that dominated his spring, Alex Rodriguez hired the same lawyer that represented Sammy Sosa during the 2005 Congressional hearings on steroids in baseball. Perhaps it was an attempt to lose his ability to speak English in the presence of reporters.

Throwing Strikes on the Links
Steve Blass, the ex-Pittsburgh pitcher infamous for suddenly and completely losing his ability to throw a strike back in the early 1970s, was accurate enough to score two holes-in-one at this year’s Pirate annual alumni golf tournament.

Gold in the Attic
An old lady in living in Fresno, California found a baseball card of the 1869 Cincinnati Red Stockings and, unaware of its true value, had it briefly on eBay for $10 before a friend and card collector desperately talked her out of it. It later sold for $64,000.

Cat Fight Night
At a May 17 game in Kansas City, two moms got into a vicious fight at the children’s playground area at the refurbished Kauffman Stadium, in full view of horrified parents and children. The dispute began when one mom accidentally got in the way of the other attempting to take a picture of her child.

Something Against Gatorade?
Twice within a week, a Gatorade dispenser in the Chicago Cubs’ dugout at Wrigley Field was bludgeoned by pitchers Ryan Dempster and Carlos Zambrano.

A Bitter-Tweet Saga
Some sick person set up a Twitter account under the name of Tony LaRussa and began tweeting jokes about the deaths of the late St. Louis Cardinal pitchers Darryl Kile and Ryan Hancock. After the real LaRussa threatened to sue, Twitter disconnected the page.

Ted's Dead Head Games
Even sicker were the people who were alleged (according to a new book) to have attached Ted Williams’ cryogenically frozen head to a tuna can and began beating it around with a bat.

File it Under "Bribery"
San Francisco minor league prospect Angel Villalona, charged with murder in his native Dominican Republic, offered the victim’s family $140,000 to help dismiss the case.


We Ought to Tell You: Our All-Decade Awards
With the end of the Oughts (read: 2000s), This Game Great has released its choices for the best, worst and most memorable of the decade that was. Check it out now.

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

Fowl Play
The Cleveland Indians shot off fireworks every half-inning to scare away birds, a night after the Tribe won a game over Kansas City when a base hit deflected off a bird in center field and allowed the winning run to score.

She Must Have Left Honey in Her Pocket
During a day game at San Diego’s Petco Park, A jacket belonging to a ballgirl stationed near third base was swarmed upon by bees, leading to a 52-minute delay while an exterminator was called.

If Only Winning Was This Easy
The Colorado Rockies’ Alan Embree gained credit for a 5-4 win over Washington on July 7 without throwing a single pitch. His only action on the mound consisted of a successful pickoff of Austin Kearns with the game tied; he was the pitcher of record when the Rockies scored the ultimate game-winning run a half-inning later.

Perils of the Trade
A night after Victor Martinez was dealt from the Indians to the Boston Red Sox, they held Victor Martinez Bobblehead Night at Cleveland.

Below the Beltre
Seattle’s Adrian Beltre, one of the very few major leaguers not playing with a protective cup, was placed on the disabled list after a ground ball hit him where it counts.

It's Not a Pirate's Life for Me
“I wish I was a Detroit Lions fan.” Quote from a fan at Pittsburgh’s PNC Park shortly after the Pirates clinched their 17th straight losing season, a North American pro sports record.

Oh, It's Just Them
How far has the Pittsburgh Pirates’ star fallen in failing to reach .500 for 17 straight years? When in Washington to play the Nationals, they toured the White House—and did not get even a quick hello from baseball fan President Obama, who was in the house.

Last Rip at the Pirates, We Swear
Barely 500 fans showed up for a September 24 day game at Pittsburgh between the Pirates and Cincinnati while the G-20 summit was taking place in town. It was said that the upper deck at PNC Park was closed off by Secret Service personnel to “discourage snipers.” To discourage them from what? Shooting at global leaders or the Pirates?

I Got it Right Once, At Least
Kansas City pitcher Luke Hochevar threw a three-hit shutout at Chicago on September 18. It was his only win after July 25; otherwise from that date, Hochevar was 0-10 in 12 starts with a 9.38 ERA.

Tiger Scratch Fever
With his team’s season on the line, Detroit slugger Miguel Cabrera got plastered with opposing Chicago White Sox players, came home very late to an angry and abusive wife and bombed at the plate as the Tigers struggled to earn a tie for the AL Central crown with Minnesota in the season’s final weekend. A few days later, they lost to the Twins in a one-game playoff at the Metrodome.

My Fifth Grader's Smarter Than Your Thief
According to Philadelphia police, a 22-year old stole three World Series rings from Phillie team headquarters at Citizens Bank Park. How did police catch up to the burglar? They found his contact information on a job application form he left behind.

They Must Have Read Our Preseason Preview
During the postseason, online ticket broker StubHub was advertising playoff tickets for the New York Mets.

Mental Midget
Philadelphia pitcher Cole Hamels, tanking in the 2009 postseason after starring a year earlier in the playoffs, told the press in the midst of the World Series that he couldn’t wait for it to be over. A day later, obviously displeased teammate Brett Myers teased Hamels over the quote and the two had to be separated.

The Phantom Throw
TBS announcer Chip Caray described Jimmy Rollins’ game-winning hit for the Phillies in Game Three of the NLCS by airing, “Here’s the throw to the plate…not in time!” There was no throw. Caray was let go by TBS at the end of the postseason.

Malady of the Year
Social anxiety disorders officially benched Khalil Greene, Joey Votto, Dontrelle Willis (again) and Justin Duchscherer.

In Memoriam
So long to: Bill Werber, Whitey Lockman, Herman Franks, George Kell, Johnny Blanchard, Mark Fidrych, Dom DiMaggio, Dusty Rhodes, Lonny Frey, Tommy Henrich, Philadelphia Phillie announcer Harry Kalas, and, most painfully, Nick Adenhart.


Now Playing at TGG
Uploaded this week is Ed Attnasio’s They Were There chat featuring with former major league reliever Bob Locker, who reveals his experiences with the one-year Seattle Pilots and the great Oakland A’s teams of the early 1970s.

We Ought to Tell You: Our All-Decade Nominations

With the end of the Oughts (read: 2000s), This Game Great has released its choices for the best, worst and most memorable of the decade that was. Check it out now.