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July 11, 2011 - Al Stephenson
As major league baseball takes a (All-Star) break, I'd like to take a look at the past week. A few stories stood out from the rest.
We'll start with the Cleveland Indians four game set against Toronto. Trailing 4-0 going into the bottom of the ninth in the opener, the Tribe loaded the bases with one out for Asdrubal Cabrera. He delivered a single, reloading the bases and making the score 4-1. On the next pitch Travis Hafner belts a grand slam making the Wahoos winners in dramatic come-from-behind fashion. This was not the first time the Indians have resorted to late game heroics and you had to wonder if this team is for real.
Alas, Toronto won the next three and Indian fans were left shaking their collective heads. After jumping out to a big lead in the A.L. Central in April and May, the Tribe has faltered in the last six weeks. The 8 game cushion has become a half game deficit to the Detroit Tigers. So do we look at the glass as half empty or half full.
What seems like a giant collapse can also be seen as being in the hunt halfway through the season. Wouldn't we have taken that when the season began? Stay tuned Tribe fans. The second half will be interesting.
Derek Jeter stroked his 3,000 hit on Saturday as he went 5-5 with hit #2 being the milestone. The fact that it was a home run made it very unique. Of the 28 players that have 3,000 career hits, only Wade Boggs did it with a home run. (I happened to be in the stands at Tampa the night before Boggs hit his 3,000 and considered going to the game the next night). Neither Boggs nor Jeter are considered power hitters, but it was a dream sequence for Jeter.
I am not a Yankees fan, but I am happy for Derek Jeter. He is a class act and a great ballplayer.
Tragedy also struck baseball this week, as a fan died from a fall at the Texas Rangers stadium. When Rangers left fielder Josh Hamilton picked up a foul ball and tossed it to a fan in the stands, a gesture that has taken place how many thousands of times, the fan lost his balance and fell over the railing some twenty feet. As his five-year-old son looked on in horror, the man was placed in an ambulance and rushed to the hospital. There he was pronounced dead.
In all seriousness, I am surprised that more injuries - if not deaths - do not happen at ballparks. You have to feel for the man's family as well as Josh Hamilton. Choosing to play the next night even though the Rangers would have given him the night off, Hamilton hit a foul ball into the stands that struck a teenager in the head. The youth required stitches but was otherwise unhurt.
Just to prove that fate can be fickle, Hamilton hit a game winning walk-off HR the following night. A roller coaster ride indeed.
The view from my seat would suggest that given the tragedy in Arlington, it proves what I have been saying for years. The outcome of an athletic contest is not a matter of life and death.
Except in this one case...
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