I'm going to get away from news and politics tonight and focus on baseball instead. The reason is simple: I cannot remember another short period of time in which I've seen so many strange things happen. From a hidden-ball trick, to a collision, to a bizarre rally, this was a strange time for baseball. [Note: All video clips should be somewhere on the pages I link to. MLB.com is set up in a way that the videos themselves cannot be directly linked.]Today was the final blow - literally. Two Mets outfielders, Mike Cameron and Carlos Beltran, were chasing down a fly ball in short right-center field [title link]. Both dove at exactly the same moment, and cracked heads at full force. Beltran's injuries do not seem to be as serious, but they're still unknown; Cameron had a slight concussion and a number of fractures.
On the same day, Frank "K-Rod" Rodriguez allowed the winning run to score in the most bizarre way - giving up first place in the process, as his Angels and the A's were tied for the AL West lead entering the game. After throwing what looked like a strike, but was called a ball, the catcher tossed the ball back to K-Rod. He somehow allowed the ball to glance off his glove and roll toward second base, and Jason Kendall took off from third and scored before K-Rod could throw the ball home. Most of the people in the stadium didn't even realize what had happened before the game ended.
This was all just one day after Mike Lowell of the Marlins pulled the oldest trick in the book. When Tony Clark singled Luis Terrero to third, Lowell took the cutoff throw and held it. When he noticed that neither Terrero nor the third base coach were paying attention, he held onto the ball. Closer Todd Jones quickly picked up on it, and proceeded to walk around behind the mound (knowing that he can't be on the dirt or the trick wouldn't work), picking up the rosin bag and wasting time. As soon as Terrero took a couple of steps off third base, Lowell went over and tagged him out: The perfectly executed hidden-ball trick.
Speaking of high-school style baseball... the night before Lowell's antics included one of the worst blown games in history. The Kansas City Royals allowed my Cleveland Indians to score 11 runs en route to overcoming a 7-2 deficit and winning 13-7 - all in the top of the 9th inning. The Royals dropped not one but two balls, and booted another - one of the drops being the game-ending out. The Indians started off with back-to-back doubles and a single, cutting the lead to 7-4. After a strikeout, a double and single made it first and third with one out, and a 7-5 score. Ronnie Belliard hit an easy pop-up behind second base, and Royals SS Angel Berroa... missed it. The runner on first was forced at second , however, and though it was 7-6 there were now two outs with Belliard on first. Jeff Liefer then drove a ball to deep left, but it died and Chip Ambres went under it to end the game. And the ball bounced right off his glove. Belliard came all the way around to tie it up, and Liefer ended up on second base. The next batter doubled, which was followed by a walk. Grady Sizemore then singled to right, and when Emil Brown booted the ball into right-center, Casey Blake scored from first for a 10-7 lead. After Coco Crisp walked, Jhonny Peralta homered to place the final blow.
This easily topped the Indians' own bone-headed play a few days earlier. After an error and a walk, the Tigers' Nick Logan hit a single to left, and Coco Crisp's throw to get Ivan Rodriguez at the plate was good. But when Pudge ran into Josh Bard, the ball bounced toward the pitcher's mound. As P Scott Elarton was backing up the play at home, 1B Jeff Liefer ran over to throw the ball home to get the next runner, who had come around third when the ball skipped away. Liefer's throw sailed to the backstop, where Elarton had vacated when he began to retrieve the ball Liefer did. Logan never stopped running, getting across the plate before Elarton could get the ball and throw it to Bard. The Indians were fortunate to come back in that one, however, winning 6-5.
There were many other crazy moments, such as hopefully not future Hall-of-Famer Rafael Palmeiro getting busted for steroids, Travis Hafner missing three weeks from a pitch to the head, Matt Clement missing just two days from a liner to the head, and others, but this gives a nice view of a few of the stranger ones. Hope you enjoyed!