By Phil Hecken
So, I was all set today to write about the World Baseball Classic, and I will, believe me, I will, but not just yet. You see, six of the sixteen teams will not have yet played by the time this goes to post Sunday morning — and I want to have a look-see at all the uniforms before they are discussed. I’ve been watching the WBC on and off the past two days, and prior to that, the exhibition games played between WBC teams and the MLB squads. There appear to be some differences in the unis worn in the exhibitions and those actually worn in Classic play, so I’ll hold off till later on that big post.
That’s not to say that nothing of interest hasn’t already happened in the WBC, and last evening, we got a small taste of Italia in the personage of Mario Chiarini, an outfielder for the Italian team. Chiarini not only made one of the most spectacular catches in WBC history (such as that history is), but in so doing, he completely ripped his belt in half! Not broke the buckle, not snapped the buckle off, but actually snapped the leather strap in half.
Let’s have a screen-grab by screen-grab look at the catch, shall we? It started when Venezuela’s Bobby Abreu lined a scorching drive to right-center (Chiarini is the right fielder), and off he went, à la Ron Swoboda in ’69. He sprinted to his right, and made a lunging dive at the ball, catching it, and in one very smooth motion, he got to his feet and then, he fired the ball back to the infield, nearly doubling a runner off first in the process.
But when the dust had settled, and he looked down, he saw that he had snapped his belt in half! So, he called time, got the umpire’s attention, and began to remove the belt and jogged back to the dugout, all the while removing the broken strap.
After a quick trip to the bench, he returned to the field of play, relooping a new belt he picked up from a teammate. Nice job, Signor Chiarini. Oh, and what did he do in the top half of the next inning? Well, like every player who makes a great play in the field, he smacked a double off the base of the wall!
I’ll have much more on the WBC, but that’s all for now … after all, it is Daylight Saving Time, and well, in the spirit of the ‘shortest’ day of the year, my shortest weekend story in a while. So … what else happened in
The Round Mound of DUI has begun serving a three-day sentence for his latest transgression, a New Year’s Eve arrest for Driving Under the Influence — and he gets to wear a sweat suit, not jail clothes. Although he is doing penance under Sheriff Joe Arpaio, the self-proclaimed “Toughest Sheriff in America,” who is known for giving inmates pink underwear, old-fashioned, black-and-white-striped uniforms, making some of them live in tents and reinstituting chain gangs, even for women, the “equal incarcerator” is not making Barkley don the prison garb. Barkley wrote an endorsement for Arpaio’s book in 1996 in which he called Arpaio “a role model” for all Americans, which, we all know, Sir Charles is not. Not that Barkley deserves special treatment or anything, but it would have been great to see him in a pink top and black and white pants. Now, that would be a great uni.
Well, speaking of unis, or rather, those changing uniforms, Terrell Owens is headed to the Buffalo Bills. For a mere $6.5 million, one of the AFC’s original franchises can put up with his antics for a season (or, until they tire of his antics). Well, at least the most flamboyant receiver in the game (excepting, possibly, this guy) can now wear football’s worst uniform. He’ll make it look good, tho, right? Well, maybe he’ll rock the throwbacks (assuming they wear that version for the AFL’s 50th Anniversary season). Watch the “press conference” here. God is good.
There is a great article coming out in my hometown rag decrying Bud Selig, or more specifically his failures. In fact, one of the Interweb’s more favorite terms, “Epic Failure,” is actually entering the print lexicon, via this article. The article points out that while Allan H. had a very good year (he ‘earned’ a staggering $18.5 million — more than all but seven major leaguers), his tenure as commish has been marred by the rampant steroid scandals and the author opines that anyone else who has failed so miserably to grasp and deal with the steroid problem would have likely already been canned. Well said. I daresay Bud’s legacy, or whatever he’d like to call it, will forever be as tarnished as those broken records over which he presided.
And some quick bits: Out of respect to the dearly departed Norm Van Lier, Tim Thomas should change his number … One of the three football players recently lost at sea was mourned yesterday … More signs spring is just around the corner: The New Britain Rock Cats, an apparently recession-proof franchise, opened their doors yesterday … Still looking for a piece of Shea? Here’s where they keep the pieces … The guy who’s gonna replace A-roid at third? He’s got a decent vertical leap … And finally, is this the year of the Burgher? First a Super Bowl and now two wins over a #1 — the same #1.
Enjoy your Sunday, the “shortest” day of the year.