The (non) rain delay, Billy Bucks and a rookie’s solid debut

It was an interesting week in the world of major league baseball. My wife and I headed for Progressive Field last Saturday to take in the Indians and Rays game. One purpose of the trip was to get the free giveaway. Who wouldn’t want a Francisco Lindor bobblehead?

The main purpose however, was the chance to take in a big league game and I was soon wondering if that was going to happen. After the Rays took batting practice the grounds crew unrolled the tarp in left field. Something was afoot! Other members of the crew drug the infield, put down the foul lines and watered the dirt.

Then they did what I feared… they put the tarp over the field. Obviously they knew something we didn’t. Eventually a voice came over the P.A. and announced that a couple of storms were in the area and headed our way. The start of the game would be delayed.

That was fine except for one thing. It never really rained! The game was supposed to begin at 4:10. It finally rained hard enough to “possibly”delay a game sometime around 6 p.m. By then, five innings could easily have been completed. Instead we had to wait until nearly 7 p.m. for any baseball action.

We were sitting in front of the District crowd in right field. That is a $15 standing room only ticket where your first beer is free. No shortage of takers for those spots. We chuckled at the thought of standing for hours, though these folks were perfectly content to sip their drinks, hoping that the baseball game would not distract them from their main purpose for being there.

To quote Chris Berman: “Oddibe Young Again McDowell!”

There didn’ seem to be much unhappiness from the crowd during the non-rain, rain delay. I was getting frustrated however. I don’ want to be too critical of the Indians brass as they did what they thought was best, but this time they messed up. The “pate”words came to mind as we all sat and waited.

Baseball fans all know that in official scoring mores one cannot anticipate a double play. Many a middle infielder has been saved an error on a bad throw because of that rule. Likewise, games are usually not delayed because rain is anticipated. After all, storms have been known to dissipate.

Here’s one final word on a very unusual day. A beer vendor strolled down the aisle announcing that it was the last call for alcohol. The game was in the first inning! Hopefully the district crowd had already been fortified.

Bill Buckner passed away this week. The former Red Sox first baseman was the most vilified man in the game (with the possible exception of Steve Bartman) as his error against the Mets contributed to the Sox losing the 1986 World Series.

Billy Bucks was a very good baseball player. He was a great hitter and didn’t deserve the alienation of Red Sox nation. A former player once said that if the fans could see what Buckner had to go through every day just to be able to play, they might feel differently about him.

He had to report to the park earlier than anyone else so he could undergo therapy on his ailing legs. He would get taped up and go out and give it his best shot though just walking was painful. He did this game after game because he was a dedicated teammate and yet he will be remembered for just one play. That is so unfair, but whoever said baseball fans were fair.

In recent years, Buckner and Boston fans seemed to have made up as he returned to Fenway Park and threw out the first pitch. He endured much that he shouldn’t have had to and I’d like to say this. Rest in peace Mr. Buckner!

A new member of the Cleveland Indians made his major league debut this week. Zach Plesac pitched into the sixth inning against the Red Sox in Fenway allowing just a single run. The debut was promising and Indian fans may have justification for thinking this kid might be a good one.

If his last name sounds familiar it is because he is the nephew of former Brewers All Star closer Dan Plesac. If his career is nearly as good as his uncle’s, Indians fans will be elated. Not only was Dan Plesac a great pitcher, he also had a good sense of humor as the following story relates.

While pitching against the Tigers in Milwaukee’s County Stadium, Plesac gave up a mammoth home run to Cecil Fielder that left the entire stadium. The following day when asked about the prodigious blast, Plesac recalled that his mother had called him after the game to see how things went.

Plesac assured her that he pitched well for the most part before adding; “I did give up a home run to Fielder, but it just barely got out!”

That sense of humor may stand young Zach in good stead if things go poorly, which they most certainly will from time to time.

Finally, under the heading of did you see, the Astros All Star shortstop Carlos Correa went on the injured list and is expected to miss four to six weeks of action with a broken rib. And how, you ask, did the injury occur? Apparently he did this while receiving a massage!

Now this has to be true. If he was covering up the real facts –for whatever reason –he would certainly make up a better story than that. The explanation leaves a lot of questions unanswered. Though I doubt much more information will be forthcoming, I’ll put this out to Mr. Correa.

Inquiring minds…

Al Stephenson is a columnist for The Advertiser-Tribune.

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