Bock’s Score: Pirates Walk The Baseball Plank

Keith Gillett/Icon Sportswire

Today’s baseball comedy segment comes courtesy of the Pittsburgh Pirates, a once-proud franchise that, if not for the Baltimore Orioles and Arizona Diamondbacks would have the worst record in the game.

It has been an … um … interesting first half of the season for the Bucs, whose misadventures have helped explain their place at the bottom of the National League Central standings.

Let us begin with one of the most bizarre plays in recent history. With a runner on second base, Chicago’s Javy Baez hit a routine grounder to third base. The throw pulled Pittsburgh first baseman Will Craig off the base.
Baez stopped running and instead of simply stepping back on the base, Craig began pursuing him … all the way to home plate where a traffic jam ensued. Craig then flipped the ball to catcher Michael Perez, too late to catch anybody.

By now, Baez had reversed direction again and was headed back to first base. Perez whipped the ball there but no one was covering and Baez wound up on second base. He scored a moment later on a base hit. Two runs home because of a play that should have been the routine third out of the inning.

Oh, my.

Then we have the matter of Ke’Bryan Hayes, a promising rookie, Hayes hit a ball into the seats, went into his home run trot and happily exchanged high-fives with his teammates. There was, however, a problem. He had neglected to touch first base. Alerted to this oversight by the Los Angeles Dodgers, the umpires ruled the young man out.

Just to prove his consistency on the bases, Hayes was thrown out at second base attempting to advance on a fly ball a couple of innings later.

Oh, and then there’s Jacob Stallings. He was on first base when Ben Gamel hit a long fly ball to center field against Milwaukee. CF Jackie Bradley Jr. looked up at the seats. Home run, thought Stallings, trotting around second base.

Not so fast.

Bradley was faking. He caught the ball and fired to first in time to catch the panicked and rapidly retreating Stallings for a double play.

Oh my, indeed. And there’s still half a season to go.

So the next time you’re caught in an infuriating traffic jam or get yelled at by your boss for a misdemeanor real or imagined, don’t get upset. It could be worse. You could be a Pirates fan.

About the Author

Hal Bock

Hal Bock covered sports for 40 years at The Associated Press including 30 World Series, 30 Super Bowls and 11 Olympics. He is the author of 14 books including most recently The Last Chicago Cubs Dynasty and Banned Baseball's Blacklist of All-Stars and Also-Rans. He has written scores of magazine articles and served as Journalist In Residence at Long Island University's Brooklyn campus where he also served on the selection committee for the George Polk Awards.

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