The Baseball Desert

Wednesday, September 03, 2003

Slip slidin' away

It's pretty amazing - professional ballplayers, whose bodies are the tools of their trade, who are able to perform amazing feats on the field, who can hit towering home runs, steal bases and strike out the best hitters in the business, are nonetheless apparently unable to stop themselves sliding all over the ballfield and accidentally bumping into umpires...

Yesterday, both the Cubs' Antonio Alfonseca and Oakland's Terence Long lost control of their bodies and 'slipped' on the field, bumping into umpires in the process. Both players were involved in disputes with umpires over calls that went against them and ended up getting physical. The players' managers immediately began damage-control action:

Chicago's Dusty Baker: "Alfonseca wasn't even talking to the umpire. He was talking to Porky (Juan Lopez), our bullpen catcher. The guy threw him out. Then I talked to Al and he said he wasn't trying to bump the umpire. When the guy threw him out, he ran up to him and tried to stop and it was wet out there and he slid right into him. It wasn't intentional and he feels terrible about it."

Oakland's Ken Macha: "To me, it looked like Brad [Fischer - Oakland's first-base coach] was trying to hold him back and [Long] slipped out of Brad's hands. I think there was contact. It wasn't intentional."

It remains to be seen whether the powers-that-be at Major League Baseball will see things in the same light.