October 15, 2019

Trevor Bauer, Sam McDowell, and A Rod’s Birthday Cake

August 1, 2019 by · Leave a Comment 

So, in a fit of anger or frustration or both, Trevor Bauer heaved the baseball over the center field fence. So, what?

Sure Bauer should have just handed the ball to his manager, Terry Francona, but it’s not as if he refused to give it to him, and gave him the finger instead. When someone such as Max Sherzer tells his manager to get back in the dugout because he’s not coming out, isn’t that more “disrespectful,” to use the word du jour, than sailing it over the wall? In fact, we applaud that, saying, “Max is a bulldog!”

We say nothing when a pitcher gets pulled from the game, then sails his glove into the dugout or takes a bat to the water cooler. “Competitor,” we say. Heck, Jose Bautista’s infamous bat flip, which was directly disrespectful towards the opposing pitcher, was celebrated as colorful, and the moment was even celebrated with its own baseball card. Bauer was mad at himself or mad at Francona for lifting him, and either of those shows true competitive emotion rather than bratty disdain for the opponent a la Bautista.

I loved the fact that Bauer stood behind the mound and threw a ball over the center field fence. Just having the arm strength to do that is a marvelous sight, and I’d much rather see that kind of quirky skills competition during what is now an insufferable All-Star gathering than the current Home Run Derby. Trevor Bauer’s “toss” is the antidote to ESPN’s coverage of A Rod receiving a birthday cake in the broadcast booth from Jennifer Lopez.

Heck, Bauer’s heave might not even be the farthest irritated toss in Indians’ history. During the 6th inning of a Sunday afternoon game in Baltimore’s old Memorial Stadium on September 14, 1969, Sam McDowell came within three rows (or four, depending

That’s a longgg way to the top. Memorial Stadium, 1968.

on the source) of tossing a ball over the upper deck and out of the park! It seems that Sudden Sam had taken issue with home plate umpire, Larry Barnet’s strike zone, until finally, Barnett ejected McDowell. It didn’t help that the Orioles had just broken a 3-3 tie, thanks in part to Frank Baker’s error in left-field. Incensed, the southpaw had to be restrained by teammates. His manager, Alvin Dark, was also ejected, and rather than hand the ball off to anyone or tossing it back to the mound, Sam tried to throw it over the 109 foot tall upper deck. Not many people could throw a ball from the top of any upper deck down to the field! Fifty years later, and with all those great Oriole and Colt teams who played there, Sam McDowell’s heave is still on most fans’ list of Memorial Stadium memories.

Apparently, a polite person might call Trevor Bauer eccentric. The impolite have already tweeted their descriptions, but give the former Indian/current Red his due: He is a character, and Lord knows baseball could use more of those. I want to see more Sam McDowells trying to throw a ball out of a stadium; I want to see a new Earl Weaver tearing up a rule book (or better yet, stomping on the replay headphones); I want to see more Jim Boutons and more Seattle Pilots. And I want to see far fewer gimmicky uniforms, and absolutely no A Rod birthday cakes.

Trevor, you would make the entire 2019 season if in your first start in Cincinnati, you would step off the mound and throw a ball out of Great American Ballpark into the Ohio River. It would be symbolic; as if to say, “Hey baseball! You’re all wet.”

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