Results tagged ‘ Yogi Berra ’

Braden’s Gift on Mother’s Day is just….Perfect

 
 
Jed Jacobsohn / Getty
Yogi Berra would have been very proud to watch this Mother’s Day baseball game today. In fact his classic line of “Déjà vu happening all over again” would have been the “perfect” ending to the conclusion of the game. All week long there have been numerous National media members and broadcasters  who have been saying that your team had to be almost perfect to beat the surging Tampa Bay Rays right now.
 
And for one Sunday afternoon, the level of perfection by Oakland A’s starting pitcher Dallas Braden proved to be the right and exclamation point answer to finally trumping the Rays, and securing the first road series victory by an opposing home team from the Rays this season. Coming into today’s game, the Rays boasted an unheard of 13-2 road record, and were 4-1 on their present road trip. 

With an overflowing sea of pink Mother’s Day MLB merchandise scattered across the assorted tables in the Oakland A’s clubhouse, you have to think that primary on Braden’s mind coming into this start was his departed mother, and the maternal grandmother who stood by him in rough times and turned the rebel youth into a prototype model for left-handed perfection. His Grandmother did not teach him to pitch, but she did teach him how to be his own man. And after today, no one will ever remember the “mound” spat with Yankees Third Baseman Alex Rodriguez earlier the 2010 season when absent-minded A-Rod stepped on Braden’s mound during one of his starts.

Now the world will remember Barden for his articulate off-speed pitching that seemed to dazed and confused the Rays. All day long the Rays were caught looking or guessing at the combination of change-ups, sub-90′s mph fastball and a stifling curves thrown at them over the nine innings. Barden never seemed to sweat, or seem remotely nervous in this Mother’s Day start and was still throwing in the ninth inning for the first time of his short MLB career. Along with the “Perfecto”, Braden threw his first complete game of his career on a day that MLB used to celebrate all of our mothers.

 
Jed Jacobsohn / Getty

And firmly planted within Braden’s mind during his pitching performance on Sunday afternoon was the many sacrifices and the pain and suffering shared by his two “Mother-figures” in his life. For Barden’s life might have taken a different path if not for the hardnosed approach by his mother, Jody Atwood during his high school years.  And the light bulb finally came on for Braden during a high school trip to Mexico, he began to see the constant path through his mother’s guidance and talks and made an immediate 180 degree turn in his life choices.


But Atwood was not in the stands today to see the mature and well poised Braden throw his first professional pitching gem as she had succumbed to melanoma cancer while Braden was still in his late teens and turned the ball to her mother Peggy Lindsay. So it was only fitting that Braden was so emotionally charged and focused on the mound today as he wore the pink ribbon over his heart on his A’s jersey. But even more important today was that at no moment in the game did we ever see a crack in his armor, either in his facial expressions or his pinpoint pitching accuracy.

Some will say that he might have been channeling former Athletics southpaw Jim “Catfish” Hunter who only 15,331 days earlier had thrown a similar Perfect game for the Athletics back on May 8, 1968. And this is not to suggest that Braden will transform into the second coming of Hunter, but to even be within  a small piece of that shadow of a Baseball Hall of Fame inductee will do wonders to Braden’s inner confidence as a pitcher, and as a man. And amazingly enough, the final score of that 1968 game was 4-0, the same as today’s final score.

But then some others will say that the always rightious Baseball Gods might have rewarded Braden for his stern discipline of safeguarding the “Unwritten Rules” of the game by his argument with A-Rod today. But the conclusion I  have come up with is divine guidance through physical integrity. This is a guy who was so cool, calm and relatively collected after throwing his last pitch of the game in which Rays Rightfielder Gabe Kapler hit a ball towards A’s shortstop Cliff Pennington who threw to Daric Barton at First Base to secure the perfect game for the left-hander.

 
Jed Jacobsohn / Getty

How ironic is it that within the last year, the Rays have been victims of two different Perfect Games by two outstanding left-handed pitchers. In their July 23,2009 game against Chicago White Sox starter Buehrle, the Rays struck out 6 times in their 27 times to the plate. Interestingly enough, they also struck out 6 times today against Braden. Buehrle threw 116 pitches while Braden only needed 106 to complete the Perfecto. Both pitchers earlky on seemed to be “in the moment” but today, Braden did not need a “big play” to secure his Perfect Game. The closest he got to that was a hard hit line drive by Evan Longoria down the Third Base line that A’s Third Baseman Kevin Kousmanoff took in easily early in the game.


Braden got his own personal revenge on these same Rays who took advantage of his early wildness the last time he faced the Rays on April 28,2010 in Tropicana Field.  On that day Braden also opposed Rays starter James Shields on the mound, but the Rays got to Braden early and chased him from the game after only 88 pitches. The loss he suffered that day ended Braden’s personal three game winning streak. You got to think he mentally put it in the back of his mind for some redemption today to end Shield’s own 4-game winning streak when he took the mound against the Rays today.

It was simply amazing to watch the top of the 9th inning as all 12,228 fans in attendance stood for the entire Rays at bat, then remained standing and becoming more emotionally attached with every single pitch thrown during that final half an inning. For they instantly knew of the impossibility of this moment when Braden came back out to the mound in the top of the ninth inning, and knew the immediate importance of this win that would snap the Rays early season dominance on the road.


Jed Jacobsohn / Getty

It truly did take a tremendous effort on the mound today against the Rays for Braden to eventually have his name mentioned along with Hunters in that elusive collection of Athletic’s outstanding pitching performances and capture this memorable Perfect Game. And if I was in attendance at Oakland/Alameda County Coliseum today, even if I was head-to-toe in Rays gear, I would have stood and cheered along side the huge amount of A’s fans after the conclusion of this sparkling pitching gem.

It is the thought of achieving such levels of perfection that drives some athletes to sweat more, and work increasingly harder within the sport of baseball. And  for an athlete to even have a chance to finally fulfill that destiny, the momentum of the moment and final gasp of breath after achieving that moment is unexplainable. On a Sunday when the entire MLB community is showering the stadiums with support for those special women in our lives, perfection was in Braden’s heart today.
 
And  Braden’s transformation on the mound today was remarkable and makes me want to stand up and cheer loud and proud for him today. Baseball immortality is now shining long and bright on Braden today, or maybe  a few of thowe past motherly influences finally coame to fruition to lighten up this memorable Mother’s Day. 

 
Jed Jacobsohn / Getty

Cherish the moment.

Yankees Used to be the Class of the League, Now They are Just A**

 

Trivia Question: Who has the current record for most World Series rings?

 

Answer at the end of the Blog

 

 

I driving along today and listening to the Rays/Yanks game on the Rays’ Radio Network, when our rookie third baseman Evan Longoria was up to bat in the first inning.  Here we are, two days removed from the “whiny” accusations of Yankee manager, Joe Girardi, and Longoria is plucked by the pitcher in the midsection.


The Yankees’ had minor league pitcher, Heath Phillips, starting the game due to Andy Pettitte’s apparent tendonitis situation. That might be the reason for farmhand  Phillips to get the nod for the game versus the Rays, or there could be another reason Pettitte was not pitching today? 



Andy is a class act player, and maybe he wanted nothing to do with the  kid games about to be played on the field. Pettitte is a hard nosed pitcher who is not afraid to pitch the inside corner, but doesn’t have a history of  brush-backs or knock downs of  any MLB players. The reason I bring this up is that the Yankee starter, Phillips was ejected in the first Inning for a up-and-in fastball that hit Longoria. Kind of funny that he picked that player to pitch closely inside, and not the likes of  Carl Crawford, Cliff Floyd or  Jonny Gomes.



Home plate Umpire Chad Fairchild immediately sent Phillips to the showers while being given an earful by Yankee manager Joe Girardi concerning the ejection.


But that would not be the end of the fun today.


Not even an inning later,with the Yankees up to bat in the bottom of the second, Shelly Duncan was running out a ball hit down the Left field line when he came in with his spikes up on Aki Iwamura. Replays showed that the relay throw beat Duncan to the base by about 30 feet, and he would not have had any chance to beat the throw to the bag without Aki dropping the ball.



With that in mind, Duncan decided to do his “Ty Cobb” imitation and come in with the spikes up around the knee/groin area and opened a small gash over Aki ‘s right knee.

 

 


Immediately following the play, Rays Right Fielder, Jonny Gomes raced in and leveled Duncan from behind  to set off  a bench clearing brawl.  Gomes said he wasn’t surprised Duncan did what he did considering his comments to the New York media this week that he would consider retaliation for Saturday’s play, and he didn’t hesitate to get involved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


“That was sort of second nature,” he said. “I was taught from T-ball all the way up to have your teammate’s back. With that guy trying to hurt a teammate, I just acted how I acted.”


Gomes did get an initial shot in on Duncan, but said an all-out brawl wasn’t his goal. Because of his actions, Gomes, Duncan and Yankees Third Base coach, Bobby Meacham and Yankees Hitting Coach, Kevin Long were ejected from the contest won by the Rays’ 7-6. My question is, where was the secret instigator, Joe Girardi during all of this mayhem. Probably giggling on the bench like a schoolgirl.

 

 


Rays closer,Troy Percival was in the clubhouse for the play, but he saw the spike marks visible on Iwamura’s uniform pants, above his knee on the inside of the leg, and wasn’t happy. “You’re just going out there, spikes high, trying to put them into somebody?” said Percival. “There’s no room in baseball for that kind of stuff. Ty Cobb’s been gone a long time.”


Is this the predestined action for the fun during the upcoming season for these two aggressive teams. Are the Yankees going to try and play hard, intimidation ball with a team that can dish out the same in return every night of the week.

 


In 2000,the Boston Red Sox came in to the Trop. in the send of the year, and tried to do the same to the Rays’ in their home stadium. Red Soz pitcher Pedro Martinez hit Gerald Williams and a brawl ensued. I remember seeing Red Sox first baseman/ Strike Scab, Brian Daubach getting leveled by a bullpen guy and being helped off the field. Of course, in that game several pitches were thrown that got pitchers tossed from the game. The best was the pitch by the late Cory Lidle that missed the back of a Sox’s player by two feet.

 

Does the actions of Jonny Gomes show that this team means business this year. Could we really be seeing the evolution of this franchise into respectability. I think the answer to both those questions is a loud and proud “Yes.”

 

Does today’s clear retaliation mean we have the Yankees worried for a change. Do they have a feeling that their “Empire”or “Dynasty” status is being challenged by an upstart team from the south. The last part of that word is what they have become in my eyes, just plain “nasty”‘


This is going to be a fun year to be a Rays and Yankee fan.

 

“It’s not typical of them, that’s for sure,” said Percival. “They’ve always been a professional organization. They’ve always played hard and they’ve always played smart. I won’t say that about today’s game.”


I am all about hard hustle and playing to win every game,at-bat,or pitch. But what Duncan did was beyond the usual action of the game. Should he be suspended by MLB?, that is not for me to say here.


But I would be leery of him standing in Right Field for Batting Practice at the Trop. I will be ready to lay a few lines on him about his cheap sportsmanship.

 

I will clap for any teams,even a Yankee, who shows hustle and a great play or show of true sportsmanship. But I hate and loath a guy trying to inflict,or injury a player out of retaliation for a hard-nosed play from a past game. Shelly Duncan had no business doing a “spikes up” play on Aki and it shows his lack of class to even wear that Yankee uniform. 


Gomes,Percival and others also feel unanimously that the play was “Bush League,” and had no business  being attempted today.  Dirty play,” said B.J. Upton. “Just a flat-out dirty play. Period.”

 

Rays’ skipper Joe Maddon summed it up best today:

“The other day we were playing in Tampa, that play you saw at home plate was a good, hard baseball play,” he said. “What you saw today is the definition of a dirty play. There is no room for that in our game, it’s contemptible, it’s wrong, it’s borderline criminal, and I cannot believe they did that.”

 

Triva Question Answer:

 

Yankees’ all-around good guy, Yogi Berra won 10 rings from 1946-1962.

Hey Shelly Duncan, Yogi Berra was a true winner, not a  half *** whiner.

 

 

 

 

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