A stellar 24-hours of baseball began with a star-studded, Hollywood-esque birthday party for Fenway Park as the Red Sox (and Yankees) celebrated the historic landmark’s centennial. The festivities were all flash and no substance as New York handily beat Boston 6-2, the visitors leaving not as much as a party favor for the host team. As many of us watched pitcher Felix Dubront and the Red Sox seemingly redeeming themselves by ripping the Yankees a new one with a 9-0 lead in the fifth inning in the second game of the series, perhaps we assumed Boston had the game in hand, playing at home and using Fenway’s birthday blowout from the day before as some added motivation.
When Mark Teixeira hit a solo home run in the sixth inning putting the Yankees on the scoreboard 9-1, barely an eyelash was batted. Still a 9-1 ballgame in the seventh inning, before any of us had time to contemplate a New York comeback, Fox switched it’s live coverage over to the White Sox game in Seattle as a perfect game was in the making.
Those of us watching live were lucky enough to catch the last few outs as White Sox pitcher Phil Humbert threw a perfect game, only the 21st such feat in the history of major league baseball. The last perfect game was thrown by the Phillies’ Roy Halladay back in 2010.
The drama unfolding on the television was palpable at home on the couch as perfection seemed to be in jeopardy when Michael Saunders, leading off for the Mariners in the ninth, got ahead in the count 3-0. The 29-year-old righty remained composed, coming back from the deficit to eventually strike out Saunders en route to a masterful perfect game.
What ended as a joyous, historic occasion marked by the Mariners home crowd giving the visiting pitcher a raucous roar and standing ovation in Seattle morphed into a historic swing of a different kind across the country in Boston.
A mere 11 minutes after Fox completely switched its coverage, taking the White Sox-Mariners game full-screen, the network returned to Fenway Park where the game was still in the top of the seventh inning, yet the scoreboard looked noticeably different. In those 11 minutes, the Boston bullpen allowed New York to load the bases giving Nick Swisher ample opportunity to hit a grand slam, which is exactly what he did.
The comeback was officially on as Swisher’s slam put a dent in the lead (9-5), but no, the Yankees didn’t stop there. A three-run homer from Teixeira put the Yankees right back in the game as the visitors had clawed their way out of a 9-0 hole, scoring seven runs in the seventh inning, trailing only by one run, 9-8.
I’m sure you know where this is going.
Things only worsened for the home team in the eighth inning as the Yankees scored ANOTHER SEVEN RUNS to complete an epic comeback.
The dichotomy of Humber’s perfection in Seattle and the perfect storm resulting in Boston’s unfathomable collapse was an emotionally bipolar experience.
Contrary to popular East Coast-belief, the entire universe doesn’t care about your average Yankees-Red Sox series. If you don’t live out East, aren’t a fan of either team, or aren’t a baseball nut, a New York-Boston series a few weeks into the regular season isn’t that enticing. But a comeback from a 9-0 deficit is. And so is a perfect game, no matter the name or face of the pitcher.
On one hand, we saw nine strikeouts, five groundouts and 13 flyouts on 96 pitches, good for a 4-0 White Sox win and perfect game, dog pile and Gatorade bath included.
On the other hand, we watched the Yankees score a mind-boggling 15 runs in 23 at bats leaving the crowd ruthlessly booing the home team and its new manager Bobby Valentine.
After the layers of cheering teammates were peeled off from on top of him, Humber was quickly ushered to the dugout area and a headset draped atop his head as the world was ready to hear from the pitcher immediately following his dominating display. Shaking and unable to grasp what he had just accomplished, Humber, coming off of Tommy John surgery, told the television audience, “I’m just so happy. There are so many good things that are happening right now…I’ve got a little boy on the way, I just want to say hi to my wife back home, and you know I love you baby. That’s for you.”
Humber altered the record books, his performance the 18th no-hitter in White Sox franchise history and the third perfect game for Chicago.
A few thousand miles away, the scene at Fenway couldn’t have been more opposite as the heinous loss dropped the Red Sox to 4-10 on the season leaving those in the New England region frowning while those in Chicago, and even Seattle, smiled.
The Yankees 15-9 victory also required a re-write of the record book as it marked the fifth time in franchise history in which New York has overcame a 9-run deficit, the third time against Boston alone. The last time the Sox surrendered a nine-run lead to the Yanks came in June, 1987. Saturday’s game tied the biggest comeback in Yankees history as well. The pitching line for the Boston bullpen? 3 IP, 12 H, 14 R, 13 ER, 5 BB, 2 K. YIKES.
Reports out of Boston claim a closed-door meeting with Valentine, GM Ben Cherington and team owner John Henry took place after the game.
The knockout combo of a perfect game and epic failure couldn’t be more perfect for the game of baseball at this moment as the start of the season had yet to deliver substantial drama. Ironically, the Red Sox were the first team to provide any real regular season intrigue as Valentine got the pot to a slow boil after publicly criticizing Kevin Youkilis, but that was small potatoes compared to Saturday’s stunner.
The fire and ice we experienced Saturday left fans wanting more, which is exactly the kickstart baseball needed in April.
Pitcher Mark Buehrle found himself between a rock and a hard place when it came time to sign his name on the dotted line in Miami. Before agreeing to a four-year, $58 million dollar contract with the Marlins in December, the lefty had to figure out how he and his family could move to South Florida because of a law banning various breeds of Pit Bulls in Miami-Dade County, on the books since 1989.
Buehrle, his wife Jamie and their two children are proud owners of Slater, an American Staffordshire Terrier (pictured above), along with three Viszals (Diesel, Drake and Duke), and do a lot of work with animal organizations.
If you recall, Buehrle stirred the pot after Michael Vick’s first season with the Eagles after the quarterback was reinstated following a federal prison sentence for his role in operating a vicious dog fighting ring.
In a joint interview with his wife for MLB.com, Buehrle said of Vick, “He had a great year and a great comeback, but there were times where we watched the game, and I know it’s bad to say, but there were times where we hope he gets hurt. Everything you’ve done to these dogs, something bad needs to happen to these guys.”
Strong words that were undoubtedly echoed by many animal lovers worldwide, and equally condemned at the same time. Buehrle, who as a result of the ban in Miami-Dade county is living farther away from the Marlins’ facility in Broward County, also lent his opinions on the Pit Bull law to the Miami Herald.
“It’s kind of ridiculous that because of the way a dog looks, people will ban it,” Buehrle told the Herald. “Every kind of dog has good and bad, and that depends on the handlers. If you leave a dog outside all the time, it’ll be crazy. Slater would never do anything harmful.”
In an unscientific poll I’ve conducted, the postal workers in my neighborhood (all of whom have been bitten by dogs on the job) all perceive small dogs as more of a threat than Pit Bulls based on the the pooches that have attacked them. Yipper yappers, as I call them, can be quite dangerous themselves. In other words, don’t judge a book by its cover.
Like Buehrle, I too am a bit biased as I own a Pit Bull mix who is the sweetest, friendliest dog you’ll ever meet. A law banning a specific breed of dog is just one of many reasons why dogs end up on the streets, abandoned and in the pound. A blogger on Yahoo Sports made a great point that not every family has Mark Buehrle money, and if you are forced to move for a new job, what choice are you left with in terms of the family pet? It’s really a shame to even think about a situation like that.
Luckily, the Buehrle family has the resources to take a new job and keep their dog. Hopefully the fact that Buerhle made a stink about it will raise awareness in the Miami area, perhaps influencing an eventual overturn of the ban.
After eight seasons and a World Series championship, Ozzie Guillen is the Chicago White Sox manager no more. According to ESPN.com, Guillen, whose contract was set to expire after the 2012 season, had said he did not want to stay with the White Sox unless the team offered him an extension. Apparently the team wasn’t willing to give Guillen what he wanted, so they cut him loose, allowing him to fill the vacancy in Miami as the Marlins skipper.
While the headline reads “White Sox Grant Ozzie Guillen Release,” it’s a bit more complicated than that. Guillen’s contract stipulates that if he takes another managing gig before the expiration of his current contract (in 2012), Chicago has the right to compensation. Therefor, the Marlins are sending two minor league players to the Windy City.
If you ask me, we have ourselves a good old fashioned trade. I did a double take when I read “Guillen Traded” on twitter. But then I thought back to various sports documentaries and specials on certain teams, history, etc. that I’ve watched over the years, and I remembered that this wasn’t the first time my dog ears went up for this reason. Coaches and managers did in fact get traded for players, money, etc., back in the old days.
But the last example of this wasn’t so long ago. Remember when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers plucked Jon Gruden from the Raiders sideline back in 2002? Oakland let go of Gruden in exchange for several draft picks over the next few years. We all know what happened next… In a strange twist of fate, Gruden’s new Bucs beat his old Raiders in the Super Bowl.
Gruden wasn’t the only trade that went down in Tampa in 2002. The Mariners sent Lou Pinella packing to the then-Devil Rays for outfielder Randy Winn. Seattle got the better of that deal as the Mariners had a few subsequent winning seasons.
Oakland Athletics’ manager Chuck Tanner was traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates for catcher Manny Sanguillen and some cold hard cash in 1977. Tanner’s Pirates won the World Series in 1979.
In the first mano a mano Manager trade in MLB history, the Detroit Tigers swapped Joe Gordon for Cleveland Indians skipper Jimmy Dykes.
Interesting coincidence that while trades involving managers are extremely rare, it has happened multiple times, and in different sports, in both Oakland and Tampa. Not to mention the fact that two men involved in manager trades basically share a name in Guillen/Sanguillen.