OK folks, it’s official. There is a new “bitter rivalry” in baseball, and it’s not between the Phillies and [insert opponent]. It’s a little further south. Hint: Read the headline. As “bitter” rivalries go, this one has started slow, but it accelerated last night in Miami. You see, Miami violated the unwritten rules of the Jurassic media by failing to grab their ankles for Ted Turner’s Anointed Ones.
The dustup started last night with Giancarlo Stanton’s arc-free 436-foot shot to straightaway center field. Here is a clip of Evan Gattis making the clearly painful walk back to his position, towards the evil machine that is clearly mocking him.
It didn’t help matters that Jose Fernandez was in the process of putting a final flourish on his ROY candidacy by going seven innings and giving up one run, tying the best BAA for a rookie since 1900.
Gattis managed to tie into one two innings later, and sent it over the left field wall. In retribution, Gattis took his sweet time making sure the ball was actually going to clear the wall before trundling around the bases. With a similar effect to the assassination in Sarajevo, the ball was sent back onto the field.
Like a classic schoolyard bully, the oxymoronically named Braves began trashtalking Fernandez from the dugout.
The Sea Creatures Race served only to pour gas on the fire. Someone told the Braves that if you pronounce “Braves” slowly enough, it sounds like “octopus”, making the break between innings nothing more than a flagrantly unsportsmanlike taunt.
Then came the final insult.
Jose Fernandez fired on Fort Sumter took Mike Minor deep. Yep, that’s what did it. A pitcher. A rookie pitcher. A good rookie pitcher took less than two stunned seconds to confirm that he had actually done what he had worked so hard all season long to achieve, had actually finally happened. In his last at-bat of this season.
Braves (wow, that’s hard to write without giggling) catcher Brian McCann offered Fernandez some advice when he crossed the plate. Advice he felt needed to be offered chest protector to chest, at the top of his lungs with spit flying.
The temerity, insouciance and unmitigated gall of the act was simply too much for poor Chris Johnson to bear. It overcame the nearly uncontrollable urge to void his bladder, and he bravely (snort!) charged up behind Fernandez, only ducking behind the safety of the plate umpire in the nick of time. Johnson’s blindside charge emptied the Marlins’ bench, his teammates pulling their ace out of the way and forming a protective scrum. Johnson took almost a full second to get himself to safety of the fourth row before he felt comfortable enough to start hurling invective.
After the game, Fernandez performed a mea culpa and took one for the team. Unfortunately, manager Mike Redmond didn’t help the situation with his “ruined the day” hyperbole.
It’s a damn shame to see a kid who shows so much enthusiasm and joy playing this game get crapped on by so many people with an axe to grind. The whole situation reminds me of one of my favorite bumper sticker slogans: “Annoy a Liberal: Work Hard and Have Fun.”
Congratulations, Jose, for a stellar season, and for knocking the bell for the first time. You have nothing to apologize for. To anyone.