I’m not sorting through a collection of fond memories from last night. I can name two, and one of them involves talking to Cal Ripken on the phone, which has nothing to do with the game.
It doesn’t hurt to step back once in a while and recognize that I’ve talked to three Hall of Famers in a span of four days - Ripken, Brooks Robinson and Jim Palmer. And that doesn’t include standing within a few feet of Earl Weaver and Frank Robinson.
I usually take it all for granted because I’m jaded and bitter, but it’s important to reflect on how I was such a rabid fan growing up and never imagined that I’d meet these guys, let alone have any sort of relationship with them.
I was allowed to bring the sports page to elementary school as part of my reading requirement after the teacher learned from my mother that I’d study the box scores every day.
Heck, at least I was reading something.
Anyway, enough about me. Back to last night.
The other fond memory was interim manager Juan Samuel’s reaction to Oakland starter Vin Mazzaro drilling Julio Lugo in the back in obvious retaliation for Brian Matusz doing the same to Daric Barton.
Samuel might come across as easy-going, the way he smiles broadly while taking questions from the media, but he’s the last guy I’d want to cross on this team. And that’s been true since he arrived here.
Reporters used to debate whether we’d put money on Samuel or Jay Payton if they squared off. I still like Samuel in that fight. Payton never did much hitting here (Easy, Jay, it’s a joke.)
I’m not saying Samuel was ready to charge the mound, but he was the first guy out of the dugout. He stared at Mazzaro, waiting for the right-hander to make a move while A’s catcher Kurt Suzuki blocked Lugo’s path and re-directed him toward first base.
I’m guessing that the players noticed the same thing. They already respect Samuel, but that feeling escalated like the tension between the two teams.
As for Lugo, he had good reason to be annoyed. The pitch wasn’t as close to his head as he imagined, but it’s still no fun to take a fastball in the back.
“I don’t know if it was on purpose or not. It just doesn’t look good,” Lugo said after the game. “One of our guys hits one of them and then they come and hit you. I didn’t like that. It was too close to the head. If they want to hit me, just hit me below the waist and I could take it. But you don’t throw at people’s heads. You come here, it’s a job and you are looking out for your family and for yourself. You don’t throw high and in.”
By the way, I’m told that Matusz has hit three batters as a professional, including Barton twice.
Felix Pie was a big hit at Double-A Bowie (See what I did there?) He went 4-for-5 with a double in his first game with the Baysox. Two balls didn’t leave the infield and another snuck past the shortstop, but they all count.
We know he can rake against Eastern League pitching. Let’s see what he does once the Orioles activate him later this week.
Staying healthy would be a good start.
He wouldn’t want to upset Samuel.