As long as I'm looking back on the 2013 season, I'd like to pass along an anecdote from the final road game on Sept. 23 at Tropicana Field. May as well keep it light today.
I mentioned that the Orioles let Wei-Yin Chen's interpreter, Tim Lin, deliver the lineup card to home plate before the anthem. Lin was all smiles as he walked back to the dugout, but his look soon changed to one of confusion as players and coaches motioned for him to go back.
The four umpires posed for a photo with Lin, the smile returning to his face. It was an odd scene, to say the least. But anyone who knows Lin also found it to be sweet.
Turns out, Lin had been asking Buck Showalter for permission to accompany him or pitching coach to the mound and interpret for Chen, which is now permitted under Major League Baseball rules. Lin's mother watches the games in Taiwan and didn't have proof that he actually worked for the team.
Showalter came up with another idea. Let Lin deliver the card. And if she didn't see him do it, at least get photographic evidence.
"When I was shagging fly balls, I was bugging him all the time," Lin said, grinning. "I was like, 'Hey, Buck, can you let me visit the mound?' They changed the rule this year. So I was joking with Buck, saying, 'Hey, let me go with you, let me go with you.' And Buck was like, 'But he pretty much understands everything.' I was like, 'Yeah, but my Mom is in Taiwan and my whole family is in Taiwan and that's 12 hours difference. A 3 o'clock game over here is a 3 o'clock game over there. I will do everything. Just let me do it once.'
"Buck is a really nice guy and a really kind guy and he told me, 'OK, I'll let you do it once, but I can't guarantee when.'"
That's when Showalter decided to break from tradition and have Lin walk out with the card, making certain that he would get some type of exposure.
"He just said, 'Hey, Tim, I need you,'" Lin recalled. "I was like, 'Did I do anything wrong?' I was on the mound with Chen while he was warming up and Buck called me in and said, 'Hey, it's your turn. Take the card out.' I was like, 'What? No, no no. I don't need it.' He said, 'Call your Mom right now. It's your turn right now.'
"I remember the game was at 3 o'clock, and I called my Mom and she woke up and said, 'OK.' My whole family woke up and watched TV. They saw me."
Center fielder Adam Jones suggested to Lin that he not speak English to the umpires.
"He said, 'Just speak Chinese to them,'" Lin said. "So, when I walked out there, I said, 'Hey, how are you?' In Chinese. They were just laughing."
Leave it to Jones to come up with a practical joke.
"Finally, I shook hands with all the umpires and I was like, 'OK, my job is done,' and I walked back, but Buck was like, 'No, no, no, just stay right there,'" Lin said. "All the players and staff were in the dugout telling me to stay right there. I said, 'What am I supposed to do?' Because all the fans were looking at me. And then I saw there was a Rays photographer shooting us."
Lin is waiting to get a copy of the photo to send home.
"This is my seventh year being a translator," Lin said. "I worked five years with the Yankees in the minor leagues over there, so this is kind of a step up. And my Mom is really proud of me. She knows it's really hard to work here, especially the major leagues, and I'm always doing my job behind the scenes. I really appreciate Buck giving me an opportunity to walk out there and show everybody I can do something out there."
When projecting the rotation for 2014, we can assume that Lin is still going to be translating for Chen. Whether he brings out the lineup card is another matter.