Baseball's code is for losers and crybabies, which would be fine with me if there was any sense or pattern to the stupid thing. But there isn't, so now I've got a problem. Because if baseball's code is going to be for losers and crybabies, it should be for all losers and crybabies, and not just those who are guilty of either A) hitting a home run off an offended pitcher or B) being named Alex Rodriguez.
|'Bush league!' Why isn't Julio Lugo being peppered with such cries? (Getty Images)|
A-Rod, as you've surely heard by now, was running the bases in Toronto two weeks ago when he distracted the left side of the Blue Jays infield by screaming something, most likely "Ha!" Confused by the noise and unsure who was going to catch Jorge Posada's infield pop-up, Toronto third baseman Howie Clark backed away and let the ball fall. A-Rod was definitely deceptive, but the Blue Jays acted as if he'd urinated in their water cooler. Toronto shortstop John McDonald tried to confront Rodriguez immediately, and after the game Toronto manager John Gibbons called it "a bush league play."
Then came Friday, when Lugo pulled the hidden-ball trick on Arizona's Alberto Callaspo. Standing there with the ball in his glove after Callaspo took second on a teammate's single, Lugo waited for Callaspo to step off the bag. Callaspo inexplicably obliged, allowing himself to be tagged out.
Nobody tried to attack Lugo. Nobody called his play "bush league," either.
The Red Sox roster is the proud owner of the last three hidden ball tricks. Before Lugo's deceit, third baseman Mike Lowell had pulled off the last two such tricks when he was a member of the Marlins. He caught Arizona's Luis Terrero in August 2005, and he faked out Montreal's Brian Schneider in September 2004.
After nabbing Terrero, Lowell told reporters, "It was the coolest thing I've done on the field in a long time. It was pretty awesome."
In summary, Lowell and Lugo can hide the ball in their glove, lurk around the bag until the base runner steps off, and then tag him out. And that's a heady baseball play. But Rodriguez isn't allowed to yell anything at a fielder -- whether "ha" or "mine" or "Rumpelstiltskin" -- because that's bush league.
Anyone want to explain that to me?
While you're at it, tell me why the Mets' Paul Lo Duca is a bad guy for enjoying his home run against the Phillies' Cole Hamels. This was Thursday, in the sixth inning of a game the Phillies would win 6-3. Lo Duca was the third consecutive Met to homer, giving them a 3-2 lead, and he tracked the ball for a moment before tossing his bat and starting his trot. Afterward, Hamels accused Lo Duca of "showing (me) up" and noted that "in the major leagues ... you're supposed to show your class."
Help me here. In his 188th at-bat of the season, Lo Duca hit only his third home run. Even in a sport where batting safely 30 percent of the time is considered stellar, for Lo Duca a home run is an especially rare and special thing. And this rare and special thing put the Mets ahead of the Phillies, perhaps their top competition in the NL East, by one run. And Lo Duca can't watch the ball fly out for a second or two? Can't flip his bat with pride?
Sounds to me like Hamels is a wee-bit sensitive.
Meantime, Tim Hudson is a bit of a jerk. One day after the Cubs' Alfonso Soriano hit three home runs against the Braves, Hudson buried the first pitch of the game under Soriano's left shoulder. Deliberate? Clearly. But that's "The Way Baseball Is Played." A guy who homers multiple times one day can expect to be hit the next. It's the way of the game, so long as he's not hit in the head. Why is it OK to throw a 90-mph fastball into a player whose only crime is doing his job well ... but it's not OK to shout "Ha!" as a player runs the bases?
Sounds to me like baseball's code is a wee-bit stupid.
According to the code, this play was just fine: It was called by a grizzled manager, Dick Williams of the Oakland A's, and executed by two respected veterans, pitcher Rollie Fingers and catcher Gene Tenace. And it came at the expense of Reds star Johnny Bench. It happened in the 1972 World Series, in the eighth inning of Game 3, when Williams made a theatrical show of calling for an intentional walk with a full count on Bench. Tenace stood and called for ball four, then ducked behind the plate and caught strike three from Fingers as Bench watched helplessly.
That was allowed under the baseball code. Why? I don't know why, and you don't know why. There is no explanation for a code that says it's OK for Julio Lugo and Mike Lowell to hide the ball and tag a runner, it's OK for Tim Hudson to hit Alfonso Soriano because Soriano had a good game, and it's OK for the A's to strike out Bench on an intentional walk. Not if that code says Alex Rodriguez is bush league for doing his thing on the bases, and not if that code says Paul Lo Duca has no class for enjoying a crucial home run in a big game.
And don't get me started on the stupidity of sunflower seeds.