October 20, 2004

Players at Large, Protect Your Goods

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Congratulations, Kevin Brown! You’ve got another member in the “I Broke-My-Hand-By-Punching-Something-In-a-Fit-of-Rage-Because-I-Pitched-Horribly Club.” Yep, now you and Cardinals reliever Julian Tavarez can exchange emails, compare hand splints, and attend anger management support groups together.

For those of you who are too busy paying attention to that other LCS, Tavarez was the pitcher who gave up the game-winning homerun to Carlos Beltran in the seventh inning of game 4. He then proceeded to punch a phone in the Cardinals’ dugout, breaking three bones in his non-pitching hand. To those of us who were watching the game, this turn of events was no surprise, as after Tavarez threw a ball at Jeff Bagwell’s head, he did his best imitation of Pedro Martinez before being issued a warning by the umpire.

As professional athletes, Brown and Taverez should conduct themselves with dignity and humility at all times.

Ok, I realize that’s a huge stretch there, so how about they just refrain from punching walls or phones? Or maybe they shouldn’t punch anything? I mean, they make their living with their hands, maybe they should take more precautions.

If I were a major league pitcher, I would walk around with protective plastic shells on my hands on my off days (sort of like what George Constanza did after he got that job as a hand model). Maybe the Yankees and Cardinals can negotiate a contract with Hasbro to coat everything in the clubhouse with Nerf products. I also hear those stress balls are pretty effective.

We don’t need to look far to find another humble athlete. Last week, Cincinnati Bengal wide receiver Chad Johnson shipped a bottle of Pepto-Bismol to every member of the Cleveland Browns’ secondary before the two teams’ Week 6 meeting, including this thoughtful note in Browns’ cornerback Dayton McCutcheon’s package:

Dayton, just wanted to add a little color and relief to your week. All the best, Chad. #85

Unfortunately, Johnson forgot to save some Pepto for himself and his quarterback, Carson Palmer. Palmer threw for an abysmal 148 yards, while Johnson only caught three passes for 37 yards with four dropped balls. Maybe he should have sent cherry-flavored Pepto; I hear that stuff tastes awful.

* * * Ok, at this point in the column, I would talk about the Yankees and Red Sox, but the result of Game 6 will render whatever I write irrelevant. Instead, I’m going to cover all bases via a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure. So, if the Yankees won the game, read the next paragraph. If the Red Sox won the game, skip to the second paragraph. Finally, if the game was rained out, skip to the last paragraph.

First paragraph: Last night, the screams of an entire city echoed throughout the Northeast, as the Yankees, whose two losses revived the hopes of Red Sox Nation for another two days, crushed those hopes just as easily by defeating Boston 6-4. Jon Lieber pitched a no-hitter into the seventh inning, while Curt Schilling’s ankle held up for a good inning and a third before he was chased from the game by a homerun off the bat of Miguel Cairo.

After a remarkable turnaround following the Nomar trade, the Red Sox could have used Garciaparra last night, as his replacement, Orlando Cabrera, struck out with the bases loaded in the ninth inning to end the game. George Steinbrenner credited the Yankees’ success to the recently purchased cotton uniforms.

Second Paragraph: The streets of Boston were filled with the cries of jubilation, as the Red Sox forced Game 7 by edging out the Yankees 3-2. Curt Schilling redeemed himself after his 18.00 ERA performance in Game 1, shutting up the 55000+ in attendance at Yankee Stadium, allowing just two earned runs in six innings pitched. Up 2-0 in the top of the eighth inning, Yankees skipper Joe Torre made the most questionable move of his coaching career by bringing in left-handed reliever Felix Heredia to face David Ortiz with men on first and second. The Red Sox now have the chance to make history, while George Steinbrenner was last seen jumping into the East River.

Last Paragraph: The game was rained out. Please go back to the beginning of this column and try again tomorrow.

Archived article by Jonathan Auerbach