Todd Helton Hidden Ball Trick - 9/19/13
In September 2013, Todd Helton was winding down a 17-year baseball career that some feel is Cooperstown-worthy (I'm on the fence.) Not particuarly hot with the bat at that time—.172 Septmber average entering play—Helton found another way to make the highlight reels.
Rockies starter Roy Oswalt walked Cards 2B Matt Carpenter leading off the game. Two loud outs later, Carpenter remained on first as Carlos Beltran worked a 3-1 count against his ex-teammate Oswalt.
The veteran pitcher then threw over to first; Carpenter was safe...momentarily. There was no chicanery at play—Carpenter simply (and incorrectly) assumed a return throw had been made, and it cost him.
Helton would provide an offensive highlight as well—he led off the 10th with a home run off Ed Mujica, the same man who K'd him with the bags full to end the previous game! Helton finished 2-for-6 with two runs, helping Colorado to an eventual 7-6 win in 15 innings.
Notes: This game kicked off an 11-for-26 stretch for Helton. Oswalt was cruising with a 4-0 lead but was KO'd in the 5th. Corey Dickerson tripled in DJ Lemahieu with the winning run, off Fernando Salas. STL SP Michael Wacha allowed 12 hits in 4.2 IP. Each team used 10 pitchers. Carpenter didn't reach base again, going 0-for-6.
David Hulse Takes On Angels Dugout - 10/3/92
One year before he became the center fielder laughing "with" Jose Canseco after Canseco headed a fly ball over the outfield wall, David Hulse was involved in a moment even funnier than that (at least to me.)
Hulse's lowly Rangers are visiting the equally-lowly Angels in the penultimate game of 1992. Joe Grahe, attempting to wrap up a 4-2 Halo victory, got veteran Al Newman to lead off the 9th. Then comedy ensued...
This highlight does not show the two balls Grahe threw during the at-bat; Hulse's fouls did not all come on successive pitches as this highlight suggests. Once he was finally retired, Grahe got Jeff Frye to ground out as well—sealing a very humorous victory. Hulse finished the day 2-for-4, and had three more hits in the season finale.
Notes: The shortstop is Gary DiSarcina, who threw to Gary Gaetti at first base. John Orton caught. Hilly Hathaway started but couldn't complete five innings for the win. Hall-of-Famer Bert Blyleven, who can be clearly seen among the scurrying Angels in the dugout, made his final career start the following day (a loss). Newman's at-bat was his final in the major leagues.
Shaq breaks Backboard #2 - 4/23/93
Shaquille O'Neal needs no indroduction, so I'll get right to it:
During his rookie season, his Magic squared off at the Meadowlands, home of the then-New Jersey Nets. In quarter #1, the big fella took a pass from guard Anthony Bowie on the right baseline, went right through Nets C Dwaine Schintzus like he wasn't even there...the rest is history.
It took 45 minutes to repair the basket—the second one Shaq had brought down that season! If that weren't enough, Nick Anderson came off the bench to score 50 points. Not a typo.
Notes: Orlando went on to win 119-116 after entering the 4th quarter down by seven and being down six at the "two-minute warning"; Shaq had a rough night overall—he totaled 10 points on 3-for-11 shooting, but did make four of five foul shots! Schintzus was playing his first game in nearly three months, having been out with "back spasms".
Benitez Triggers Major Brawl - 5/19/98
Reliever Armando Benitez, best known for his days with the Orioles and Mets, was known to implode in big situations. Like any pitcher, he could also implode in small situations, such as this game. With Baltimore clinging to a 5-4 lead in the 8th, then-Oriole Benitez gave up a a three-run home run to Yankees OF Bernie Williams. The next hitter, Tino Martinez, took an intentional fastball to the spine.
All hell broke loose. Yankees went after Benitez; Oriole teammates protected him more out of duty than genuine concern (since opposing teams tend to retalliate beanballs). As things began to calm somewhat, the Yankee bullpen rekindled the fire. You'll see the rest in the video....except for the vicious punch O's RP Alan Mills landed on Yankee OF Darryl Strawberry in the dugout.
Martinez, especially furious since Benitez had drilled him under similar circumstances in 1995—also triggering a brawl—wound up missing two games. New York eventually won 9-5.
Notes: Benitez wound up receiving eight days of unpaid vacation. His teammate Mills was suspended for two. Strawberry and Yanks RP Graeme Lloyd received three-game suspensions, one more than teammate Jeff Nelson. Those same five players were ejected; new pitcher Bobby Munoz' first post-scrum pitch was blasted for a homer by Tim Raines.
Starters Doug Johns (BAL) and David Cone (NY) each received no-decisions.
Shaq breaks Backboard #1 - 2/7/93
Before New Jersey, there was Phoenix—Shaquille O'Neal of the visiting Orlando Magic ripped down the host Suns' basket support in slightly less dramatic fashion (in the sense that no shot clocks boinked him in the head. Anthony Bowie again "assists" Shaq's first-quarter slam—this time via the missed push shot in the lane. Play was delayed 37 minutes; Orlando eventually lost 121-105.
Notes: According to an article in the Orlando Sentinel, the replacement basket had been prepared specifically in anticipation of Shaq's visit; repairmen worked on the damaged hoop throughout the third quarter in case Shaq broke the other basket!
O'Neal finished with 20 points in 29 minutes before fouling out. Though his uniform appears to read something else, the Phoenix Sun lingering near the falling hoop post-dunk is center Mark West.
Suppan's Baserunning Gaffe - 10/26/04
After watching Game Three of the ALCS between Baltimore and Detroit today, and seeing Tiger Don Kelly badly blunder on the bases (and Oriole Nelson Cruz get picked off), memories of this play were stirred.
It was Game 3 of the 2004 World Series; host St. Louis trailed Boston two games to none. In the third, SP Jeff Suppan reached via infield hit and advanced to third on an Edgar Renteria double—one which many if not most players could have scored on.
With the infield back and Boston conceding the run, OF Larry Walker grounded out 4-3. Then Suppan made a big oops, as you'll see in the clip.
Notes: Boston, up 1-0 at the time, went on to win 4-1; they'd sweep the Cardinals out of the Series the following night. Pedro Martinez was the SP, going seven scoreless for the win. Mark Bellhorn was the 2B, David Ortiz the 1B and Bill Mueller the 3B who erased Suppan.
Perhaps unable to re-focus, Suppan allowed three runs over the next two innings; hitting the showers in the 5th.
Mike Matheny Is One Tough Dude - 5/26/98
With my Giants squaring off against the Cardinals in the 2014 NLCS at the time of this posting, it pains me to say anything positive about the Cardinal manager—especially since I detest his team (but not him). However, this is no ordinary positive.
Down 2-1 in the 9th, Matheny's Brewers attempted to rally against Pirates closer Rich Loiselle; runners occupied first and second with only one out. Matheny looked to extend the rally, but an 0-1 Loiselle heater got away—and creamed Matheny square in the mouth.
If you expected him to collapse in a heap, too bad. Matheny's reaction was that of mere inconvenience; if you didn't know better, you'd think he just got hit in the face with pie rather than a 95-mph fastball.
Notes: Matheny left the game, lost four teeth, and caught the very next day. The next hitter, Jose Valentin, produced the walk-off hit for Milwaukee.