Photos by Jon SooHoo
Photos by Jon SooHoo
An alternate script for Hillary Clinton’s famous 3:00 am ad relating to this Athletics-Angels marathon game:
It’s 3:00 a.m. and your children are safe and asleep. But there is a phone in the White House and it’s ringing. Something’s happening in the world, specifically Oakland. Your vote will decide who answers that call. Whether it’s someone who already knows the bullpen strength of the Athletics, knows the pinch hitters of the Angels, someone tested and ready to lead in a second round of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.” It’s 3:00 a.m. and your children are safe and asleep. Who do you want answering the phone?
Travis Hafner led the Cleveland Indians to victory with an epic grand slam on Thursday. Down by three, with one out in the bottom of the ninth, Hafner hit a walk-off grand slam.
This was just the 25th time in Major League Baseball history that someone hit a walk-off grand slam when down by three. But one of these sticks out more than most. No, not because it was two outs (there were some of those), but because of how damn unique it was.
Roberto Clemente stepped to the plate down with the Pittsburgh Pirates down by three on July 25, 1956. There were no outs, but the bases were loaded.
I’ll let Baseball-Reference tell the story:
Pittsburgh's right fielder Roberto Clemente hits Cubs reliever Jim Brosnan's first pitch off the base of Forbes Field's left field light tower, just to the left of the scoreboard, then circles the bases just in time to become the first major league player ever to hit a walk-off, grand slam, inside the park home run, turning a three-run 9th-inning deficit into a dramatic win. It is Clemente’s first career grand slam. Jack Hernon of the Post Gazette writes: “Brosnan made one pitch, high and inside. Clemente drove it against the light standard in left field. Jim King had backed up to make the catch but it was over his head. The ball bounced off the slanted side of the fencing and rolled along the cinder path to center field. Here came Hank Foiles, Bill Virdon and then Dick Cole, heading home and making it easily. Then came Clemente into third. Bobby Bragan had his hands upstretched to hold up his outfielder. The relay was coming in from Solly Drake. But around third came Clemente and down the home path. He made it just in front of the relay from Ernie Banks. He slid, missed the plate, then reached back to rest his hand on the rubber with the ninth run in a 9 - 8 victory as the crowd of 12,431 went goofy with excitement.”
A walk-off inside-the-park grand slam.
Grand slams are the ultimate play in baseball. Walk-off home runs actually end the game. And inside the park home runs are the most exciting plays in baseball.
This had all three in one. Amazing.
Posnanski wrote another great blog post. No, that’s not the news, the news is that it is a blog post that he wrote while attending his last Kansas City Royals game as a Kansas City resident.
The Royals would be the most hapless team in all of baseball if the Pittsburgh Pirates didn’t exist. Like the Pirates, the Royals were once a great team — they won World Series titles and competed with the Yankees of the world.
That was seemingly a distant memory by the time Posnanski showed up. He started writing full time about the team in 1997. He has since moved on to be one of the best sportswriters that Sports Illustrated, or any news outlet, has. But he still has love for the Royals, as you can see in his 3,000+ word ode to the team.
I saw the young Carlos Beltran play baseball here. I know people think I’m a bit gaga over Beltran — and I am. But really, how often can you say that you watched a player like Beltran grow up. How many players have ever been like him? He could run like few in baseball history — in his career he has stolen 289 bases and been caught 39 times. No base stealer in baseball history has been so efficient. He could play center field like a dream — I can’t tell you how many times I saw him gracefully outrun line drives into the gap. He could hit with power from both sides of the plate. There have not been many who switch-hit with power.
In 2003, the one decent team he played on in Kansas City, Beltran hit .307/.389/.522, he stole 41 of 45 bases, he hit 10 triples and 26 home runs, he scored 102 runs and drove in 100 in just 141 games and he was an absolute marvel in centerfield. That was the year I saw him do one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen a player do. With the Royals down to Arizona 5-4 in the bottom of the ninth — and with the Royals in something resembling a pennant race — he fought off pitch after pitcher from the 100-mph throwing Matt Mantei before earning a walk. He stole second. He stole third. And he scored on a pop-up into shallow right field.
Do yourself a favor and go read the whole thing. Actually, if you don’t read everything that Posnanski writes, start doing that now.