Al Alburquerque has a name that belongs in comic books. The alliteration just seems so perfectly made-up that he should be fighting Peter Parker. Of course, that ignores reality as Al is a real person, as is Mister Alexander.
What also ignores reality is that false “outrage” that the Oakland Athletics have over Alburquerque’s on-the-mound gesture during Game 2 of the ALDS. And, it ignores the realities of the A’s own antics.
Let’s start with the event. Top of the ninth; two outs; game tied at four; runners on the corners. Al Alburquerque is in for one batter — Yoenis Cespedes. Alburquerque delivers a 1-1 pitch that Cespedes weakly taps back to the mound. Our hero corals the ball, in the heat of the bottom gives the ball a little peck on the cheek, and underhands it over to first for the final out of the inning. Alburquerque is later delivered the win after Don Kelly drives in the winning run in the bottom of the ninth.
Awesome time! Except for the A’s.
They were fuming over the affair, calling it “immature” and “unprofessional.” Jonny Gomes even reference the mythical baseball gods, apparently hoping that Odin will show up in Oakland and take care of Alburquerque.
DAMN YOU, ALBURQUERQUE!!! DAMN YOU FOR SULLYING THE PURE AND HOLY GAME OF BASEBALL!!!!
Yeah, mythical baseball gods that must write the mythical “unwritten rules” of baseball. I suppose every spring, a giant bunny rabbit shows up in Florida and Arizona to deliver baskets of baseballs for all the pious baseball players. Well, everyone except Alburquerque…who i guess is on the “naughty list” now. Or at least on the Wikipedia naughty list:
Wait a minute? Baseball gods? Unwritten rules? Who is immature and unprofessional!?
Alburquerque’s reaction, while perhaps unusual, differ none from a reliever wiping his forehead or deeply exhaling after getting out of a tough jam. It is no different than Joba Chamberlain fist pumps; no different than the entire team jumping out of the dugout after a mid-inning home run; no different than tossing one’s helmet in the air before pouncing onto home plate following a walk-off shot.
It’s called emotion! And baseball is very finicky when it comes to expressions of it. How long can a batter admire his towering home run? How deep does a pitcher’s fist pump go when recording a big out? How hard must a high-five connect after a diving catch in the outfield? Maybe if someone wrote these down, we could all understand how far to go. Then again, some rules are written down and there is still ambiguity.
Like the Aroldis Roll, that the kiss was uncommon is what signals it out. But, he was caught up in the emotion of a very tight, very hard-fought game. The out was huge. And, Alburquerque “simply had an instant reaction to the moment.” It is like in soccer when a goalkeeper gives the goalpost some affection after a shot clanks off of the wood…even though the game is not over yet.
Of course, that is soccer [or futbal]. This is baseball, a subjectively emotionless, “mature,” and oftentimes boring game. And it is made even more boring by these attempts to suck the emotion — the true human element — out of the game. We have previously railed against the lack of emotion in baseball.
But, apparently, some things are okay:
Yeah. Kind of strange to see. Such an outcry over showing emotion from a team that also shows a lot of emotion. Irony? No. Hypocrisy? Absolutely.
The A’s have been showing “emotion” and, to paraphrase Josh Reddick, acting “unprofessional” and “immature” all year. But, they had no problem with it then. Now that someone — or some team — is turning it back on them, it is simply “unprofessional” and displeasing to the baseball gods.
Go back just a couple of weeks ago to 22 September. The A’s were playing the New York Yankees. After scoring four runs off of three homers in the top of the 13th inning, the A’s began celebrating in the dugout, at least according to Yankees’ first baseman Eric Chavez. Chavez called the antics “high school-ish” and “unprofessional.”
Wow! That sounds familiar! Jonny Gomes responded by trying to claim that the players were “playing the game to have fun.” Again, when your team acts a fool, it’s just rookies trying to have fun (though, Gomes, Balfour, Crisp, and Reddick are NOT rookies…and while Cespedes is a rookie, his life experiences living in Cuba should have “matured” him more). When the other team does it, it is smiting the baseball gods!
Remember when A-Rod soiled Dallas Braden’s mound? Hell, I liked that he was willing to get pissed off. But, it was, once again, another of those “unwritten rules.” But it was the A’s becoming upset at someone else breaking those secret rules. Seems like Animal Farm is the norm.
The A’s are down 2-0 in the series. They have more important things to worry about than Al Alburquerque making out with the baseball. Try worrying leaving 31 runners on base (15 as a team) and 3 for 10 with runners in scoring position. Try worrying about the heart of the order — Cespedes, Brandon Moss, and Reddick — going a combined 5 for 22 (0.227) over the two games. And try worrying about the deficit you face that is completely unrelated to Alburquerque’s emotions.
After all, it was only a kiss; it was only a kiss!