Casey Blake retires

            I call dibs on the Casey Blake biography. Working title – Casey Blake: Thanks for the Piggyback Ride.

            After a solid 13-year career, Casey Blake announced his retirement today from professional baseball. Blake played with five different teams throughout his major league career, mostly as a third baseman. After bouncing around between three teams during his first four years in the big leagues, he was claimed off waivers by Cleveland prior to the 2003 season. And, he should be remembered as the greatest waiver claim in Indians history.

            Blake stuck with Cleveland for six years, in which time he twice surpassed the 20-home run plateau, including a career-best 28 homers in 2004. However, he will likely be remembered more as the player for whom Cleveland acquired catcher Carlos Santana in a haphazard deadline deal with the Dodgers in 2008.

            Contrary to this, the biography will be based on Blake’s time in Dodgers blue. Well, one time actually. Specifically – April 13, 2011 – the third game of a three-game set with the Giants.

            It was a monumental series, which will be remembered as the most subdued matchup in the history of the Dodgers-Giants rivalry. Less than two weeks after the horrific Bryan Stow incident in Los Angeles, the series at AT&T Park was righteously overshadowed by a call for civility from both teams, including a memorable pregame address prior to Game 1 by Giants pitcher Jeremy Affeldt, with both teams standing united on the field.

            However, I will remember the rivalry being a bit more heated than the tempered vibe this crucial historical baseball event would, and should, rekindle. That’s the risk of running Cove Patrol, I guess.

            So, throughout the series, there was a pack of Cove Patrollers shamelessly harassing Dodgers right fielder Andre Ethier. Ethier was on an unstoppable tear at the time, hitting .385 throughout the month of April. But, even more impressive than his hitting was his hair. Honestly, the man has some of the most flamboyant locks you will ever see flowing from the back of a baseball cap – a phenomenon which became the focal point of the Cove Patrollers’ harassment.

            Personally, I’m not one to lambast players. All power to the fans in the left-field bleachers on “He’s a bum!” detail. The shtick simply isn’t for me. I figure, I’m watching a big-league baseball game for free from The Cove. Who am I to be calling anybody a bum?

            April 13, 2011 was a different matter, however. My issue wasn’t with Andre Ethier or his crazy hair. Instead, I became incensed with Casey Blake. Let me explain. Blake was playing first base that night. And, for whatever reason, Dodgers pitcher Ted Lilly drilled Buster Posey in each of his first two at bats. I’ll get back to you all on that point if Cole Hamels is available for comment. But, I digress.

            In the third inning, after Posey got drilled the second time, Blake decided it was a good time to reinvent the way first base has been played for over a hundred years. Even though Posey was the only runner on base, as he would take his lead, Blake was coming off the bag and positioning himself directly in front of Posey so he couldn’t see the batter. Incensed with how ridiculous of an unconventional tactic this was, I started yelling as loud as I could as to give Blake the opportunity to hear me: “Why don’t you give him a piggyback ride, Blake?!”

            Blake obviously couldn’t hear me, but I think Ethier could. And, I’m certain he heard me when I yelled again: “Play the game right, Blake!”

            Well, later in the game, the hooligan Cove Patrollers quickly grew more abrasive in their comments towards Ethier. There was a group of half a dozen – four guys and two girls – just ripping into him. The guys got carried away, making over-the-line cracks about everything from his sexuality to his mother. The girls, however, pretty much stayed with remarks about his hair.

            In the final inning, Ethier started yelling back. At first, I thought: Good for him. I would have thought the same thing if he had scaled the right-field landing and fed the guys talking about his mother to the seals in The Bay. But, the choicest of Ethier’s words weren’t directed at those guys, but at the girls, calling them: “Fucking bitches!” And, spitting in their general direction.

            The topper was, he soon thereafter turned around and shot the evil eye, not to those guys or even the girls, but to ME. “Dude,” I thought to myself, “it’s not my fault Casey Blake has no business playing first base in the big leagues.”

            But, whatever. The Giants were up 4-3 in the ninth, at which point I’ve got better things to do than get into a staring match to the death with Hairdo Magnifico. Besides, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly evidently agreed with my assessment of Blake’s first base defense, having moved him to left field in the eighth inning.

            Nonetheless, congratulations to Casey Blake on a fine career. I’m looking forward to hashing out all of this over rounds of River City Ale while interviewing you for the biography. Tell Ethier I’m buying.


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