To make an obvious statement, baseball is a game. It is a game played by a million people in numerous countries all over the world.
It’s also a very small world. What happened last night between AJ Pierzynski (of the Chicago White Sox) and Geoff Blum, who was manning third for the Dbacks, drove that point home.
We saw that earlier during spring training when former Diamondback draft pick Carlos Quentin (who was just traded to the Padres from the White Sox) faced current Diamondback and number 2 starter, Daniel Hudson (who was drafted by the White Sox and traded to the Dbacks) when the Diamondbacks played against the San Diego Padres.
We also saw it in the game that resulted in the THIRD “swarm of bees” delay in Diamondback spring training history. (As a side note, considering that the Diamondbacks franchise isn’t yet old enough to drink, that’s a pretty spectacular number of insect-related incidents. Especially considering the Dbacks are now at their second spring training facility.)
When Chris Young (also drafted by the White Sox) was chased out of the outfield, it brought to mind a time a few years ago when a former Diamondback 1st round draft pick was chased from shortstop into the outfield by a swarm of bees.
That young shortstop was named Sergio Santos, who had a career rejuvenation as a pitcher in 2009, and spent 2010 and 2011 as a reliever, saving 31 games (1 in 2010 and 30 in 2011) for the Chicago White Sox. And, who is now penciled in as the closer for the 2012 Toronto Blue Jays, where his set-up man will be Darren Oliver.
The same Darren Oliver who was the first person to be chased off the field (as a Colorado Rockie) by the swarm of bees during that same game.
Which brings us to last night.
AJ Pierzynski is a good baseball player. He’s a 14 year veteran, with a career quadruple slash line of .284/.324/.422/.746. He’s good for approximately 71 RBIs and a home run total in the “teens” most seasons. He was the second-hardest person to strike out in the AL last year (striking out only every 14.1 plate appearances). He’s caught over 1000 innings in each of the last 10 years, and made his first ever DL trip last season when he broke his hand after being drilled by a pitch during an at-bat. So, he’s also highly durable.
What he is not, however, is fast.
AJ Pierzynski runs like a catcher. He’s successfully stolen 13 bases throughout his career (he’s been caught 19 times). He’s hit 3 triples since 2005. And, it’s highly unlikely that he’s ever going to beat out a routine grounder to first, which can be illustrated by the fact that, in 2004, he grounded into the most double-plays in the National League (with the Giants). In 2011, he was 8th in the AL.
Last night, AJ Pierzynski did the unthinkable. He launched a 1-1 pitch from Brett Lorin just barely to the top of the CF wall, where it bounced along the wall and rolled along the grass, until it was eventually chased down in RF by Justin Upton.
In the video, you can tell by the slow jog towards first base, that AJ Pierzynski thought the ball was a typical HR ball. And, then, when it started to roll, you could see him kick it into gear. As much as he, you know, can.
So, why all this talk about a member of the White Sox on a Diamondbacks blog? Especially considering that AJ Pierzynski has never played for the Dbacks.
Well, that might be true, but current Diamondback Geoff Blum, who was starting at 3B last night, used to be a member of the Chicago White Sox. More specifically in 2005, when the team won the World Series, in a sweep of the Astros (which, coincidentally, was Geoff Blum’s former team).
And, even more specifically, in 2005, when Geoff Blum did something very special during game 3 to help the team win, not only the world series, but the longest world series game in MLB history:
It isn’t surprising that AJ and Geoff Blum might have a little bit of a connection left over from that time.
So, it doesn’t come as much of a surprise that the news going viral this morning is that, as AJ was approaching third, Geoff Blum had something to say to him. More specifically:
“You gotta go, Tubby.”
AJ Pierzynski found it “rather funny”. And, it is hard not to agree. Because for someone with only 17 triples in 5709 plate appearances spread over 14 years, the opportunity for an inside the park homerun isn’t something that’s probably going to come around again in the course of his career – spring training or otherwise.
Geoff Blum: 3B coach. Life coach.
Right there, Geoff Blum also summed up a number of important things about baseball.
1. Spring training games don’t count. Its highly unlikely in a game of any consequence, Geoff Blum is going to be acting as a 3B coach for the opposing team. This is really more than just something that people who are members (or fans!) of teams with losing records in March say to make themselves feel better.
2. Baseball is a game. Its supposed to be fun. The smart guys know how lucky they are to be playing this game for a living. And, it looks like Geoff Blum is one of those guys.
And, just in case your head wasn’t spinning enough, yet… In that same World Series Game 3 where Geoff Blum hit the winning home run, Jason Lane went 2-for-6 with a double, homer and two RBIs for the Astros.
The same Jason Lane that has rejuvinated his career by converting from an outfielder to a reliever while in the Toronto Blue Jays minor league organization over the last couple of seasons, and who receiving a non-roster invite to spring training with the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2012.
It is pretty clear by this point that this conversation could continue forever, but it has to end sometime, and this seems like as good of a place as any.
Happy Saturday, folks!