The Week That Was in Baseball: December 23-29, 2013
The Wild and Wacky from 2013 • Happy Holidays From This Great Game
And the Music Played Softly During His Statement
Ken Burns, the man behind the nine-part documentary Baseball, said this of ex-ballplayers who took steroids and failed to make the Hall of Fame on the 2013 ballot: “Those motherf**kers should suffer for awhile.”
A Review Worthy of the White Album Cover
The New York Times gave its report on this year’s Cooperstown vote on Page One of its sports section with nothing. Literally. Nothing. Most of the page remained blank below a headline that said, “Welcome to Cooperstown.”
Spirit of Bad Taste
On the heels of the Miami New Times story that outted Alex Rodriguez as an alleged steroid junkie, Spirit Airlines offered up PEDs (Price Extravaganza Deals) under the tagline, “You’ll have A-Rodiculously great time!”
Sorry, Marlins Fans
In the time up to and shortly after trading away all of his star players and shedding payroll by 75%, Miami owner Jeffrey Loria was reported to have fielded six separate, serious offers to buy the team. Each time, he said no.
Doing All One Can to Perk Up a Bad Housing Market
Jose Reyes was wined and dined by Loria, who told the infielder that he should buy a home in the Miami area. A week, later, Reyes was traded to Toronto.
This Way, the Fans Sit Closer to One Another
With attendance spiraling downward, Loria decided to close off the upper deck at second-year Marlins Park for certain midweek games.
Evil and Loving It
MLB successfully sued a clothing company for using the name “Evil Empire”—claiming that the New York Yankees owned the rights to that name.
Before a spring training game in Florida between Houston and Toronto, an alleged singer botched not only the Star Spangled Banner but also the Canadian anthem, O Canada—in fact, the latter tune was so badly botched, he stopped halfway through.
Texas shortstop Elvis Andrus missed a spring training game because his left arm was still stinging from a tattoo of his late father that had just been etched on it.
This WBC Thing Just Isn’t Catching On
A week after the World Baseball Classic championship game drew 25,000 to San Francisco’s AT&T Park, a pair of exhibitions between the Giants and Oakland A’s drew sold out crowds of 40,000 to the same ballpark.
A Warning, or a Reminder?
Someone anonymously delivered a package to the Chicago Cubs containing a severed goat’s head.
Our House, Our Dress Code
In a game at Arizona’s Chase Field, a group of Dodgers fans seated directly behind home plate—and thus in full view of TV cameras covering pitch-by-pitch action—were asked to remove their Dodgers shirts, caps, etc. by ballpark security, who offered Diamondbacks paraphernalia to wear instead.
So When Does That Mercy Rule Take Effect?
A high school game in Ohio was called after three innings with Licking Heights ahead of Columbus Harvest Prep—by a score of 65-0.
Don’t Try This at Home—Or Anywhere, For That Matter
Umpire Brian O’Nora accidentally swallowed his wad of chewing tobacco during a game between Philadelphia and the Mets at New York, went down the clubhouse tunnel and violently vomited. The game was held up for ten minutes.
Check Your Vowels Before Airing
A NBC News report on homosexual athletes mistakenly named Oakland general manager Billy Beane as having declared himself gay. Turns out it was Billy Bean, a former player from the 1980s who came out of the closet after he retired.
That Damn Kid, How Many Times Have I Told him to Clean Up his Coke!
Former major leaguer Otis Nixon was stopped in his car by police, who found crack cocaine inside the vehicle. Nixon blamed the presence of the drug on his son.
Next Time, Try April
In a promotional giveaway on May 14, the Minnesota Twins gave out fleece blankets to fans on a day when the first-pitch temperature was 92 degrees.
Taking an Awful Wisk
Tampa Bay ace David Price blamed his poor start on chemicals from laundry detergent used by the team to wash its uniforms.
That’s a Load of Spit
Though nobody on the field or in the stands saw it—in part because it was in Miami, where nobody was in the stands—TV cameras caught Marlins pitcher Alex Sanabia applying a good dose of spit on a baseball he was about to throw. Asked about it after the game, Sanabia replied that he didn’t know spitballs were illegal.
Ejecting Uncommon Sense
Boston’s Mike Carp was ejected in the eighth inning for arguing balls and strikes—with his Red Sox ahead of the visiting Texas Rangers, 17-5.
Let’s Hope the Gun and the Winner Aren’t Both Loaded
The Double-A Huntsville Stars held a “Second Amendment Night” in which National Rifle Association members were given free entry and three guns were given away.
At Home With the Bensons
Anna Benson, the estranged wife of former major league pitcher Kris Benson, was arrested after confronting her ex and demanding money at gunpoint while wearing a bulletproof vest. She was arrested.
She Tweeted What?
“Don’t make me go (Anna) Benson on you guys…Vote.”—Jessica Scheppers, the wife of Texas reliever Tanner Scheppers, urging fans to vote her husband in as the last roster spot of the All-Star Game.
Robinson Cano was knocked out of the All-Star Game when he was hit by a Matt Harvey pitch; later in the game, a young fan wearing a Cano jersey was struck by a Miguel Cabrera foul ball.
Stay Clear of This Booth
An interesting year for broadcasters employed by the Arizona Diamondbacks included a second DUI for Mark Grace and a charge of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon (upon a spouse) levied against Spanish-language play-by-play man Miguel Perez Quintana.
Thank God his Last Name Isn’t Dick
Milwaukee reliever Donovan Hand left a game in July 23 after suffering…a bruised hand.
Former pitcher Dan Mayer, not hiding his anger via Twitter about losing a roster spot to Biogenesis suspect Antonio Bastardo two years earlier: “Hey Antonio Bastardo, remember when we competed for a job in 2011. Thx a lot #ahole.”
Hey ESPN, You’ve Been Punked
Someone claiming to be ex-Yankee Shane Spencer called ESPN Radio and, on air, said he “dabbled” in steroids while also saying Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera juiced up. The man was later declared a fraud when the real Spencer came forward.
Worst Performance of the Year
In a 3-1 home loss to San Diego on August 10, Cincinnati’s Jack Hannahan went 0-for-3 with a strikeout, double play grounder and three errors at third base.
Missed by That Much
The Oakland A’s lost consecutive games to lowly Houston in August when outfielder Chris Young could have won both; his bids for walk-off wins were denied in the first game when his deep drive just missed the foul pole by inches, and in the second game when the Astros’ Robbie Grossman stole a home run over the wall.
Maybe It’s More Than Just the Vision
Atlanta second baseman Dan Uggla was hitting .186 with 21 home runs and 51 RBIs when he decided to get LASIK surgery to sharpen his eyesight. It didn’t help; he hit just .133 with a single home run in the 24 games after his return, and was denied a spot on the Braves’ postseason roster.
Is the Fruit Juiced?
The owner of A-Rod Grocery in Brooklyn changed the name of his store after taking heat from his patrons.
A razor company offered Los Angeles reliever Brian Wilson to shave off his iconic beard for $1 million. Wilson declined.
Backfire Moment of the Year
On August 28, Toronto scored twice on a strikeout when a throw from Yankee catcher Chris Stewart to nab J.P. Arencibia—trying to reach first on a wild strike three pitch—also went wild. Two runners on base scored on the play.
It Might Help to Ask
A few weeks later, Stewart created more embarrassment when he walked back to the dugout believing he had struck out against Baltimore. In fact, there were only two strikes on him; nobody on the Yankees noticed, nobody on the Orioles bothered to say anything, and umpire Jim Wolf declared a strikeout when Stewart gave up on the at-bat.
Terror in the Nasoleum
Tampa Bay closer Fernando Rodney locked himself inside the visitors’ bathroom at the Oakland Coliseum; it took 15 minutes for someone to get him out. Fortunately for Rodney, he wasn’t stuck with one of the many sewage leaks that tortured players at the aging stadium throughout the year.
The New York Mets held Marlon Byrd T-Shirt Night at Citi Field hours after he had been traded to Pittsburgh.
Crashing the Pool
The Dodgers celebrated their clinching of the NL West in Arizona by jumping into the Chase Field pool after the game. Anger over the stunt reached all the way up to Arizona Senator John McCain, who labeled the Dodgers as a “bunch of overpaid, immature, arrogant, spoiled brats.”
Crashing an Old Man’s Forehead
When the Boston Red Sox clinched the AL East at Fenway Park, a postgame celebration got a little out of hand when the Red Sox’ Jonny Gomes kicked an open car of beer into the crowd—hitting an elderly fan and causing a nasty cut above the eye.
In the waning weeks of a 51-111 season, the Astros drew a Nielsen rating of 0.0 for one of their local telecasts.
He’s in Your Nightmares…and Your Front Office
After Detroit pitcher Justin Verlander dominated Oakland (again) in the postseason, someone with a sense of humor went to the A’s Wikipedia page and listed him as the owner.
A Sigh for the Cys
The year’s two Cy Young Award winners—Clayton Kershaw and Max Scherzer—were the losing pitchers in the games that won the pennant for their opponents.
Another Day, Another Leak
While lawyers for Alex Rodriguez and Biogenesis founder Anthony Bosch were being separated from physically going at one another during a break in Rodriguez’s appeal of his 211-game suspension, Rodriguez and Bosch were in the bathroom.
At Least She’ll be Dressed Well for Court
The wife of Seattle benchwarmer Carlos Peguero was arrested after making 60 online purchases valued at $180,000 from Saks Fifth Avenue using a debit card pilfered from teammate Felix Hernandez’s wife.
Don’t Mess With the Vi
A year after being kidnapped and returned safely 24 hours later, Cal Ripken Jr.’s mom Vi Ripken was approached by a man with a gun after leaving a bank; she locked the door and activated a key alarm to chase away the man, who was later arrested.
Hey Fox—There’s a Game Going On
While St. Louis’ Kolten Wong was being picked off first base to end World Series Game Four, Fox was instead following its obsessive habit of showing close-up shots of fans sitting on the edge of their seats.
Hands Off My Nickname
After David Ortiz’s brilliant World Series performance began to draw comparisons with Reggie Jackson’s success in his Fall Classic career, Jackson said not so fast. “(Ortiz) did a great job. (But) there’s only one Mr. October,” he told HuffPost Live.
Write On, Write On
A week after the end of the World Series, a mayoral race was held in Boston; Ortiz finished third, racking up a majority of the write-in vote.
Bribed With a Juice Box, No Doubt
The media got wind of David Murphy signing with the Cleveland Indians after his daughter spilled the beans at her day care school.
The Atlanta Braves confirmed that the new mixed-use development outside of their new ballpark in Cobb County would not include any strip clubs.
Jose Canseco was pulled over after police spotted a pair of goats wearing diapers in the back seat of his car.
The Astros Can’t Even Win on a Game Show
On an episode of Jeopardy in November, the answer read: “The large valve used to control wellbore fluids on oil rigs is this ‘preventer’; the Astros could have used one.” The correct question was: “What is a blowout preventer.”
Wounded of the Year (Bizarre Edition)
Minnesota pitcher Anthony Swarzak cracked his ribs after some playful roughhousing with teammates just before the Twins’ fan convention in February.
Goodbye to Stan Musial, Earl Weaver, Enzo Hernandez, Earl Williams, Virgil Trucks, Bob Turley, Grady Hatton, Rick Camp, Gus Triandos, Andy Pafko, Wally Bell, Johnny Kucks, Mike Hegan, Michael Weiner, Lou Brissie, Paul Blair and Mike Hegan.
Coming Soon to TGG
Over the next few weeks, look out for: The 2013 Yearly Reader page, featuring the story of the world champion Boston Red Sox; additions to our growing list of interviews with ex-ballplayers in our They Were There section; and next week, look out for the Best of the Comebacker, our traditional look back at the wild and wacky from 2013.
The Comebacker's Greatest Hits: Click here to look at the TGG Comebacker archive going back to the start of the 2008 season.
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