Power and Glory: Home For That Halladay

I was there for Roy Halladay’s perfect game against the Marlins Saturday night. Good thing too, it created a memory ready to be stirred. It will forever be the evening I attended a historic game with a good friend, as opposed to the first time I’ve ever over-paid for a Marlins ticket [Club level]. Prior to the consecration, the evening appeared to be adding insult to the monetary injury, as we arrived late for the game [bot of the 3rd], proceeded to over pay for food [I suppose just stating that we ate at the stadium would suffice] and arrived at our seats to start the 5th inning.

The very idea which brought me to the game — a great pitching match-up — I soon realized was cruelly being used to turn this into my most inefficient sports-related expenditure ever, at $9.20/inning and quick innings at that!

I have attended about 5 games a season since the Marlins have been around. For a while, at or about the turn of the century, when my kids were still at an age where their hatred of attending MLB games was unarticulated, I was actually banned from purchasing Fish Bowl tickets [Depression-era pricing for last 2 rows in upper deck] at the stadium after the All-Star break. The cost of parking exceeded the cost of tickets for many a season. As an aside, this has nothing to do with where we actually sat at the games. Turns out those empty seats you see on TV, are a blessing in no disguise.

So what was the feeling at the stadium Saturday night? Despite the hated opponent and classic pitching match-up, the biggest factor about the crowd at the game was the post-game salsa concert. The higher numbers attributed to those also there to enjoy the concert, meant that we Marlin [The Marlin Fan as Jonathan Zaslow might say] fans enjoyed a respite from being out-noised in our own home during a big game.

There always seems to be an awkward detente between us baseball fans and those there mainly for the post-game concert? Latin concert goers typically include younger attractive women [I didn’t say that they were unwelcome interlopers], jewelry and a consistently unaccountable level of excitement. We baseball fans stare at them whenever they get flashed on the big screens as though they are animals to which we would give shelter, but not trust.

I wonder what Roy Halladay, with his now legendary bent-on-one-thing focus, was thinking about his start? Perhaps Graham Greene would have captured it best:

This place was very like the world: overcrowded with lust and crime and unhappy love, it stank to heaven; but I realized that after all it was possible to find peace there, when you knew for certain that the time was short.

That’s how he pitched, like time was short. Treating the Marlins with a shabby indifference, carrion for a vulture with a plan. Clearly sensing my panic over the quick pace of the game and the bleak prospects for a rain-delay, Halladay pitched as though a door had opened in his mind and allowed him to glimpse his future with this perfect game in his resume.

Bottom of 5th – Roy Halladay pitching PHI FLA
Jorge Cantu Strike (looking), J Cantu grounded out to second 1 0
Dan Uggla Strike (swinging), Strike (looking), Ball, Ball, Ball, Foul, D Uggla flied out to center 1 0
Cody Ross Ball, Strike (looking), C Ross grounded out to first 1 0

Halladay’s perfect game through the 5th inning immediately presented a moral dilemma. Root for the chance to watch a historic game or a Marlins victory? No contest, I wanted to be at the ballpark for a historic game, as I told my friend. He looked at me like Jack Bauer looked at Tony Almeida in the DC Metro tunnels during Season 7. It’s a look I never want to see again, but yes, I still wanted to see the perfect game.

Bottom of the 6th – Roy Halladay pitching PHI FLA
Brett Hayes Strike (looking), Strike (foul), Strike (swinging), B Hayes struck out swinging 1 0
Cameron Maybin Ball, Ball, Strike (swinging), Ball, C Maybin grounded out to shortstop 1 0
Josh Johnson Strike (looking), J Johnson flied out to left 1 0

Now I’m looking around at a number of Philadelphia Phillie fans sitting around us and imagine that it must be pretty cool to show up as the visitors and get to watch a perfect game. My attention soon focused on a family right in front of us. Left to right; Dad [seemed like a Herb], Mom [Utley jersey], daughter 1 [Hamels jersey] and daughter 2 [Victorino jersey]. They seem pretty calm about what they are witnessing. Must be veteran fans I figure, ya know, never too high or too low. To paraphrase Miles in Risky Business, I can smell MLB knowledge.

Bottom of the 7th – Roy Halladay pitching PHI FLA
Chris Coghlan Ball, Ball, Strike (looking), Strike (swinging), Strike (looking), C Coghlan struck out looking 1 0
Gaby Sanchez Ball, Strike (foul), Strike (foul), Foul, Ball, Ball, G Sanchez lined out to left 1 0
Hanley Ramirez Strike (looking), Ball, Ball, Ball, Strike (foul), Strike (looking), H Ramirez struck out looking

Hanley stood there after the called strike, like a black question mark, ready to go, ready to stay, poised on his bat.

 

1 0

Being at a MLB game is no way to really watch a game closely. How could Coghlan and Ramirez have not swung at close pitches during a perfect game? Were the pitches even close? Like most fanatics, the integrity of the home plate umpire [Mike DiMuro] immediately came into question … [submarine dive horn] … [submarine dive horn] PLIQ alert. My best google smear odds came down to whether DiMuro could have been a fellow Mormon like Halladay … and this game represented a … a mission to him for, yes …. Nah, no luck on the conspiracy front. The jersey-clad family, still calm. Cool customers these folks are.

Bottom of the 8th – Roy Halladay pitching PHI FLA
Jorge Cantu Ball, Ball, Strike (foul), J Cantu grounded out to third 1 0
Dan Uggla Ball, Strike (looking), Ball, Strike (foul), Strike (looking), D Uggla struck out looking 1 0
Cody Ross Strike (foul), C Ross popped out to shortstop 1 0

The sagacious power of Halladay drew nearer to the Marlins death every inning. Easy Graham … that aside, there was something definitely wrong with the jersey-clad clan. They have not moved, they’re not even buzzing with intra-family small talk designed to avoid silence [yes I was that close], but mainly reveal a vacancy. Granted, the jumbotron ads in Spanish for the salsa singers appearing in concert after the game – Luis Enrique and Jerry Rivera – may have unnerved them. But still these are Philly fans, they have likely witnessed human sacrifices at the old Vet.

The irrational fan in me begins to take over. I fantasize about starting a rumor that Halladay is wearing a Che Guevara t-shirt under his uniform. But I reject the idea. See, I would have had to start the rumor before the 7th inning for it to have a realistic chance of working.

Bottom of the 9th – Roy Halladay pitching PHI FLA
Mike Lamb [Stadium announcer] Pinch-hitting … Mike Lamb.

My friend, who goes by a tribal-like nickname which bears no relation to his actual name [Wichi], begins chanting ‘Lamb to slaughter’ with an unblinking H. Lector-type intensity.

Ball, Strike (foul), Ball, M Lamb flied out to center

Dear Elias Sports Bureau, would it kill you to note that it was a 430 FOOT flyout?

 

1 0
Wes Helms Strike (looking), Strike (swinging), Ball, Strike (looking), W Helms struck out looking

OK – 1 last fantasy – last hitter Paulino walks on a horrible call by DiMuro. Hallady loses his perfect game. Then Coghlan homers on the 1st pitch and Halladay loses the no-hitter, shutout and game. As he walks off the mound, he charges DiMuro …

 

1 0
Ronny Paulino Strike (foul), Ball, Strike (foul),

Herb under intense pressure from the jersey-wearing part of the family, finally rises from his seat [hell, it’s his first body motion since the 5th inning] after the 2nd strike. I make a note to remind him of this should his selfish actions have cost Hallady the perfect game

R Paulino grounded out to third

1 0

 

Roy Halladay, ora pro nobis

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When It’s Not A Game

Very nice article today by Juan C. Rodriguez, the Marlins writer with the Sun-Sentinel. The article gives a difficult story — about an 18-year-old brain tumor victim, Amy Donnelly, daughter of former Marlins coach Rich Donnelly — a local connection. It explains how Donnelly and current Marlins pitcher Anibal Sanchez made a connection. Sanchez also has lost a child. In his case, an infant son named Alan Sanchez, to a viral disease. Alan had been born exactly one year after Sanchez had pitched a no-hitter on Sept. 6, 2006.

Stories like this make me care less about the outcome of games and more about the people who play them. Despite our perceptions about their health and wealth, even athletes at the top of their sports are not immune from tragedies and heartaches, especially those involving children. Off the top of my head, just those with Marlins connections, the list includes Preston Wilson, Derrek Lee, Ryan Dempster and now Anibal Sanchez.

Something else about the list of ex-Marlins, decide for yourself if you note anything ironic, bittersweet or just evidence of faith. I’ve cut & paste a portion of their Bio’s from MLB.com:

  • Derrek Lee – Created a foundation in 2006 to fight Leber’s Congenital Amaurosis (LCA), a degenerative disease that results in loss of vision … the effort, entitled “Project 3000,” includes a plan to raise money to provide state-of-the-art genetic testing for every man, woman and child in the United States with LCA – about 3,000 individuals in all. … Recognized as the Cubs Roberto Clemente award winner in 2007, an award given annually to players who combine outstanding skills on the field with devoted work in the community. … Awarded the Major League Baseball Player’s Association “Heart and Hustle” award for the Cubs in 2006 and 2007. … Also works to bring baseball to the Chicago community through RBI Baseball (Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities).
  • Preston Wilson – Began the “Preston’s Pals” program in South Florida when he was a member of the Marlins…won the 2003 Rockies Good Guy Award as voted by the local BBWAA…was the recipient of the Marlins 2000 All-Heart Award, presented to the player who best exemplifies the team’s commitment to the South Florida community…during his tenure with the Marlins, Wilson founded “Preston’s Pride” and “Preston’s Operation: Back to School,” programs to provide for under-privileged and at-risk children…served as a spokesperson for the South Florida Blood Banks Sickle Cell Program…created a scholarship at his high school to help students pay for college…has also helped various programs such as the African American Council of Christian Clergy’s “A Dream Come True” program, Sharon Robinson’s “Breaking Barriers” program, Adopt-A-Classroom and Make-A-Wish Foundation…is the stepson of former New York Mets outfielder Mookie Wilson and is the godson of former Reds and Mets star George Foster.
  • Ryan Dempster – Was named one of the 99 “Good Guys” in professional sports by The Sporting News in 2001. © Received the 2000 James “Tip” O’Neill Award, presented annually by the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum to the Canadian baseball player judged to have excelled in individual achievement and team contribution while adhering to the highest ideals of baseball. Was the Chicago Cubs nominee for the Roberto Clemente award in 2006 and 2008, which is given annually to the major league baseball player who combines outstanding skills on the field with devoted work in the community. His charitable endeavors in 2003 included assisting the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and Garth Brooks’ Teammates for Kids. Following the 2001 season, he was presented with the All Heart Award by the Florida chapter of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America – given to the Marlins player who best exemplifies the team’s commitment to the South Florida community by making a positive impact and by serving as a role model for others.

Romans 8:31-39:

What then shall we say to this? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, will he not also give us all things with him? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies; who is to condemn? Is it Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised from the dead, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us? Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, “For thy sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Here’s a link to another article about Amy Donnelly from Tim Kurkjian.

Juan C. Rodriguez’s article is copied in full at end of post.

—————————————————-
Bound by tragedy, ex-Marlins coach Donnelly supports Sanchez from afar
Both know heartache of losing a child

By Juan C. Rodriguez, Sun Sentinel

4:33 PM EDT, May 24, 2010

On Wednesday morning, a 63-year-old former big league coach from Steubenville, Ohio, will scan the box scores. Among the first names he’ll look for is that of a 26-year-old Venezuelan right hander.

Rich Donnelly hasn’t spoken with Anibal Sanchez since April 2009, when the Marlins played in Pittsburgh. The encounter was brief, but powerful enough for Donnelly to feel like he gained a son.

These two baseball men from divergent backgrounds are forever linked because of the tragedies they endured. Both lost a child.

Sanchez, who will start Tuesday’s series opener against the Braves, in 2007 watched his infant son, Alan, succumb to Dengue fever, a viral disease spread by mosquitoes. The following spring Sanchez was speaking with former Marlins coach and fellow Venezuelan Luis Dorante, and Donnelly came up.

In 1992, Donnelly’s 17-year-old daughter, Amy, was diagnosed with a brain tumor. During the playoffs, Amy attended one of the National League Championship Series games between her Dad’s Pirates and the Braves and took note of his unique crouch and cupped hands over his mouth when directing baserunners.

Amy later asked her father if he was yelling, “The chicken runs at midnight.” Amy died that January.

Five years later, Donnelly was the third-base coach for the Florida Marlins. Craig Counsell was known as the chicken in the Donnelly household because of the way he flapped his right arm in the batters’ box.

When Counsell scored the World Series-winning run, Donnelly’s son, Tim, told his Dad to look at the clock. It was 12:01. Just as Amy predicted, the chicken ran at midnight and Donnelly got the World Series title he was unable to share with his daughter in 1992.

“Luis Dorante told me and I said I’d like to see the DVD and he got it for me,” said Sanchez, of a Lifetime special on the Donnelly story. “I saw it and it made an impression on me, that a child could predict the future. It was practically predicting what was going to happen…It’s amazing. I went through the same thing [losing a child] and know what you feel.”

During spring training 2008, Donnelly and Dorante were roommates. One night Sanchez happened to call Dorante, who took the opportunity to pass the phone to Donnelly.

“We talked and he said he watched the video and it really helped him and his wife during this tough time,” said Donnelly, who now resides in Los Angeles. “My job the next year was to be in the dugout for every home game with the Pirates. When the Marlins came into town I told Luis I wanted to meet him.”

That meeting occurred at PNC Park last April. Sanchez was jogging when Donnelly introduced himself.

“I popped out and just said, “Hey, I’m Rich Donnelly,'” he said. “When I said that, boy, he teared up real bad and we both hugged. He thanked me for that video. He told me about his son and pulled of his shirt and showed me a picture of his son on his right shoulder. He said, ‘Every day I pitch my son is with me.’

“I told him, ‘It’s wonderful I got to meet you. I will be a fan of yours forever. Every time you pitch it will be like my son pitching.’…Because we both lost our kids and through these times we went through, we said we’ll be bonded forever by this.”

Added Sanchez: “He’s a great person. We spoke about the loss of a child and what comes next. It’s not easy to pick yourself up from that, how to start your career again. He told me to keep working and he would keep tabs on my games.”

Donnelly stays busy with public speaking engagements, but he really wants to return to coaching. He emphasized to Sanchez carrying on his son’s spirit through pitching. Alan would have wanted him to be a great competitor.

In addition to the trauma of losing a child, Sanchez went through the career uncertainty associated with undergoing shoulder surgery. He gave some thought to quitting baseball, but now he realizes he honors his son’s memory every time he takes the mound. Donnelly drove home that point.

“It’s difficult to continue in a moment like that,” Sanchez said. “If I left it I wasn’t going to come back. I decided to take the step forward.”

A 63-year-old coach from Steubenville, Ohio couldn’t be happier.

Juan C. Rodriguez can be reached at jcrodriguez@SunSentinel.com

The Pinto Chronicles: Griping about PLIQ wrath

I have a dilemma. I possess knowledge about a certain group of people who have a condition which they may be unaware of. While I assume they may ‘suffer’ from this condition, it is not obvious they would would choose to combat it were they to become aware of it. The group I speak of is Purposely Low-IQ [PLIQ] baseball fans.

As I had noted in an earlier post [click here], Renyel Pinto is one of their favorite local targets. PLIQ’s are typically extremely easy to identify. Any failed appearance by a relief pitcher will likely trigger an episode.

The easy and gut level reaction is to just confront PLIQ’s and methodically and mercilessly poke holes in their baseball knowledge, as it were. But what if I would just be ruining a rare and simple pleasure in their lives. [Actually, all their pleasures are likely simple]. Where’s the honor in that?

Here’s where dreams and a working knowledge of 24 can be useful.

The following takes place between 8:35 am and 8:37 am outside a McDonald’s in Miami-Dade County. Events occur in real time.

Jack Bauer – Sabermetrics Division: You criticized Renyel Pinto last night didn’t you?
PLIQ Fan Martinez: Who are you? How do you know that?
Jack Bauer – Sabermetrics Division: Sir, you DO NOT want to play with me?
PLIQ Fan Martinez: OK, jeez
Jack Bauer – Sabermetrics Division: Why did you criticize Renyel Pinto?
PLIQ Fan Martinez: He was brought in to face one guy and he hit hit that guy and cost the Marlins the game OK.
Jack Bauer – Sabermetrics Division: You really think life is that simple son.
PLIQ Fan Martinez: Hey, I gotta go. I was late twice last …
Jack Bauer – Sabermetrics Division: Son, we live in a world that has lefty-righty matchups, and those matchups have to be managed by men with no real job security. Who’s gonna do it? You casual fan Martinez? [Comments now directed to crowd gathering to listen to the exchange]. You chronic sports radio show caller? You Mr. Anonymous profanity-laced blog post commenter? Middle relievers have a greater responsibility than you can possibly fathom. You weep for the complete game and you curse the lefty-righty matchups. You have that luxury. You have the luxury of not knowing what I know — that Pinto’s appearance, while tragic, probably saved runs; and the existence of lefty-righty matchups, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves runs.
PLIQ Fan Martinez: Look man, if you’re related to Pinto, my bad OK?
Jack Bauer – Sabermetrics Division: Son, do you even know what a WHIP represents? How about P/PA?
PLIQ Fan Martinez: Whatever, look I’m more of a Dolphin fan. Football’s my sport.
Jack Bauer – Sabermetrics Division: [Shaking his head] Classic PLIQ profile. Take care and remember; like some whacked out Tom Joad, I’ll always be listening.

Tom Joad’s monologue is copied in full at end of post.

—————————————————————————-
Tom Joad monologue:

After becoming idealistically radicalized by what he has witnessed, Tom – in a famous monologue – describes how he will carry on Casy’s mission in the world – by fighting for social reform. Going off to seek a new world in a place unknown, he must leave his family to join the unspecified movement (“the one big soul”) committed to struggling for social justice. In a more optimistic ending than the one in the novel, he has benefited from Casy’s wisdom about the sanctity of all life, and a belief in universal love which comes from respecting all of humanity. He also has intelligently realized the unified power of working people speaking up for their rights – a revolution that people must adjust to:

Well, maybe it’s like Casy says. A fella ain’t got a soul of his own, just a little piece of a big soul – the one big soul that belongs to ever’body. Then…then, it don’t matter. I’ll be all around in the dark. I’ll be ever’-where – wherever you can look. Wherever there’s a fight so hungry people can eat, I’ll be there. Wherever there’s a cop beatin’ up a guy, I’ll be there. I’ll be in the way guys yell when they’re mad – I’ll be in the way kids laugh when they’re hungry an’ they know supper’s ready. An’ when the people are eatin’ the stuff they raise, and livin’ in the houses they build – I’ll be there, too.

http://www.filmsite.org/grap3.html
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