MLB's Most Notable Moments of April 2012
It's only been a month, but the 2012 MLB season has given us a lot in the way of entertainment, shock value and just plain great performances so far.
With the Rays, Indians and Rangers all leading their divisions in the AL, and the Nationals, Cardinals and Dodgers atop their respective divisions in the NL, division races appear to be wide open this year.
With that said, here's a look at the most noteworthy moments to come out the first month of the season around the MLB.
Ubaldo Jimenez Beans Troy Tulowitzki
The benches cleared, the former teammates jawed face-to-face and the whole scene was pretty ugly.
Jim Tracy memorably stated of the incident:
It’s the most gutless act I have seen in 35 years of professional baseball. I have lost all respect for him. To do something like that and walk down off the mound, and if there’s any suggestion whatsoever that the ball got away, I don’t want to hear any of that (expletive). He intentionally threw at him...Are you kidding me? Five days before opening day and you are going to take a potshot like that? It was the worst I have seen. I have lost respect for him and that’s a very difficult thing for me to say.
Jimenez, who reportedly told FoxSports.com that he was upset over the fact that Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez were getting lucrative contract extensions instead of him, said that he did not intentionally throw at Tulo, but came inside on him because "He was calling me names. He was calling me chicken, but not chicken, another really aggressive word that I can’t say right now."
Whatever the real story was, it was certainly a memorable scene, especially among the forgettable annals of spring training.
Ozzie Guillen Firmly Inserts Foot in Mouth
This was probably not the way the Marlins expected to open the season, what with a new ballpark, extravagant home run display and several shiny new player acquisitions.
But in his first year as Miami's manager, Ozzie Guillen managed to top all of the newsworthy moves his new team had made by professing his love for Cuban dictator Fidel Castro in a story published by Time Magazine on April 9th.
During the ensuing backlash, Guillen apologized for his comments, but the damage was done. Guillen will always be remembered for his foot-in-mouth style of handling the media and this is his crown achievement.
Matt Kemp Predicts 50-50, Proceeds to Tear Apart NL
Whether or not you think Kemp can accomplish a feat which has never been done in the history of the sport, one would have to agree that he's off to a good start.
He's hitting .417/.490/.893 and is leading all of baseball with a 2.1 fWAR. With only two stolen bases on the year, it's not looking good for Kemp's offseason prediction. But that shouldn't matter to Dodgers fans, as he has them off to one of their best starts in years with a 3.5 game lead over the Giants in the NL West.
Matt Cain Abuses the State of Pennsylvania
On April 13th, Cain tossed a complete game shutout against Pittsburgh, a one-hit gem which was wrapped up in 106 pitches in a 5-0 home drubbing of the Pirates. And oh-by-the-way, that one hit was the only base runner he allowed.
In his very next start on April 18th, Cain was snapping necks again as he tossed just 91 pitches over nine shutout innings against the other Pennsylvanian team, the Phillies. Unfortunately for the Giants' hurler, his team didn't provide any support and he ended up with a no-decision, with San Francisco taking the 1-0 victory in extra innings.
But he wasn't alone in his frustration that day, as Phillies starter Cliff Lee threw what was perhaps the most dominant start of the season to date for Philadelphia, 10 innings of shutout ball, in a no decision.
Guess the bats had a case of Pujols-itis that day.
Rick Ankiel Channels Bo Jackson
Bo Jackson probably had the best outfield arm of all time, making legendary throws on several occasions which are still talked about to this day. Just Googling "Bo Jackson throws" will make your hard drive explode. Go ahead, try it. Just don't send me the bill for your new computer.
With his team up 2-0 and Houston speedster Jordan Schafer standing at third base, Ankiel hauled off and fired a strike on the fly to Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos. Schafer barely even moved. It was a breathtaking throw, and you can catch the video here.
Somewhere, Bo Jackson is smiling.
Jamie Moyer: Oldest Pitcher Ever to Win an MLB Game
Don't call it a comeback—he's been here for years.
On April 17th, 2012, Jamie Moyer became the oldest pitcher ever to win a game in Major League Baseball. At 49, he probably isn't going to the Hall of Fame. But his career certainly has been a good, memorable one, and the Rockies' 5-3 win over the Padres is a nice bonus to his 25-year run which has seen Moyer collect 268 wins thus far.
And yes, you read that correctly, he has been playing for 25 years (since 1986).
Bartolo Colon Throws 38 Straight Strikes
Bartolo Colon is just as well known for spending most of his time in the donut shop as he does in the strike zone. But his weight didn't seem to be a problem on April 18th during a 6-0 Oakland win over the L.A. Angels.
According to MLB.com, Colon's 38 consecutive strikes constituted the longest such streak "since at least 1988...Tim Wakefield is the next closest with 30 in 1998." This was truly an amazing performance, one that will likely not be duplicated for a long time. And it came from Bartolo Colon, no less.
Michael Bourn Holds Up Game for Personal Business
During the bottom of the fourth inning of Atlanta's 10-2 win over Arizona on April 19th, outfielder Michael Bourn was caught doing his best Manny Ramirez impression (who was known for disappearing into the Green Monster from time to time) while taking a bathroom break.
Bourn emerged from the dugout with his pants partially buckled, and everyone had a good humored laugh at his expense. You can check out the video here.
Curtis Granderson Hits Three Home Runs, Goes 5-for-5
On April 19th, Yankees outfielder Curtis Granderson hammered three home runs in his first three at-bats, becoming the first player to hit three in a game at the new Yankee Stadium, while giving everyone in attendance dreams of seeing four—or possibly five—long balls in a single contest.
After homers in the first, second and fourth, Granderson singled twice in his final two at-bats to help New York to a 7-6 win over Minnesota.
It was a magical night for Granderson, though it may not be remembered over the long haul considering the rich history of franchise he is employed by.
Toronto Blue Jays Complete a Triple Play
Sure, a triple play usually happens in the MLB a few times every season, but it's still a pretty exciting play. And with this one (click here to see the video) on April 20th, the Toronto Blue Jays pulled off their first triple play in nearly 33 years (the last one coming on September 21, 1979 against the Yankees).
The Kansas City Royals' Eric Hosmer lined out to Blue Jays first baseman Adam Lind, who tagged first and doubled off Yuniesky Betancourt. Lind then threw to second and caught Alex Gordon off the bag to complete the play. The Jays ended up winning the contest 4-3.
Here's a complete list of all the triple plays recorded in Major League Baseball since 1876.
Fenway Turns 100, Yankees Ruin the Party
It was only an early-season, two-game set, but it was as brutal as one could be for the Boston Red Sox.
On April 20th, the Red Sox brass invited anyone and everyone who had formerly been part of the organization (whether they came or not was a different story) to be a part of the celebration. Pedro Martinez and Kevin Millar had a raucous toast prior to the game and the memories were flowing like champagne.
Then, the Yankees spoiled the nostalgia with a 6-2 win, mashing five home runs off of dejected Sox starter Clay Buchholz. In addition, Alex Rodriguez had one of the five to pass Ken Griffey Jr. for fifth place on the all-time home runs list with 631 homers. Ouch.
But the Bronx Bombers weren't done.
After Boston jumped out to a 9-0 lead through the fifth inning of the following game, the Yanks stormed back with 15 unanswered runs, piling it on against the struggling Red Sox bullpen.
New York left town with a 15-9 victory and the knowledge that their offense could pound an opposing staff into submission.
Phil Humber Tosses a Perfect Game
And then there was this.
It was the 21st time a perfect game had been thrown in major league history (not counting Jim Joyce's blown call in Armando Galarraga's near-perfect effort in 2010, or the pair tossed by Harvey Haddix and Pedro Martinez, which were broken up in extra innings).
The 29-year-old Humber is with his fourth organization and has a career winning percentage of just .522 over parts of seven years, yet he needed just 96 pitches over 27 batters to dispatch of the Mariners at Safeco.
Of course, he went out and got trounced by the Red Sox in his following start, but no one will ever forget the day he took the mound in Seattle.
Click here for a full list of perfect games.
Ivan Rodriguez Officially Retires
One of the greatest catchers of all time, Pudge officially called it quits on April 23rd in front of the crowd in Texas, where he spent his most formidable playing years.
Rodriguez caught a record a record 2,427 games behind the dish and finished with a .296/.334/.464 career batting line to go with 311 home runs and 1,332 RBI. His 21 years included stints in Texas, Florida, Detroit, New York, Houston and Washington.
Delmon Young Charged with Hate Crime
On April 27th, Tigers outfielder Delmon Young was highly intoxicated outside of a New York night club while his team was in town for a three-game stretch with the Yankees. Young reportedly yelled anti-semitic remarks towards a group of young men and a scuffle broke out.
The 26-year-old Tiger was then taken to a hospital by police in order to sober up before processing.
Oh, what a night.
Young was subsequently suspended for seven games by the commissioner. Bud Selig released a statement on the incident, saying: "An incident like this cannot and will not be tolerated...I understand that Mr. Young is regretful, and it is my expectation that he will learn from this unfortunate episode."
Scott Hairston Hits for the Cycle
On April 27th, Mets outfielder Scott Hairston went 4-for-4 in his first four at-bats in an 18-9 loss at the hands of the Colorado Rockies. It was something of a career night for Hairston, who sports a .250 career batting average.
It was the 10th time the feat has been accomplished in Mets history, and the first since Jose Reyes pulled it off in June of 2006.
Click here for the all-time list of cycles.
Bryce Harper and Mike Trout Called Up on Same Day
It's not often that two of the most awaited position prospects in the sport are called up on the same day, but that's exactly what happened on Saturday the 28th.
Washington Nationals phenom Bryce Harper made his major league debut against the Dodgers, and it was a notable one. The-19-year-old nailed a rope to center for his first major league hit—a double—and went 1-for-3 in four plate appearances. He also managed to make the highlight reel with a leaping catch in right and added his first RBI on a sac fly in the ninth inning.
Unfortunately for the Nats, they dropped the game 4-3.
Meanwhile, in the wake of the Angels' release of veteran Bobby Abreu, L.A. recalled their top-prospect, Mike Trout, for a little big-league action. Through three games since the call-up, Trout has gone just 1-for-11 in 12 plate appearances.
Ryan Braun Sets Petco HR Record
Apparently, Ryan Braun didn't hear any of it.
In Milwaukee's 8-3 win over the Padres last night, Braun continued his mission on silencing his critics following his battle with PED allegations, smashing three home runs and going 4-for-5 with six RBI.
The Brewers needed it, too, as they are sitting 3.5 games back of the first place Cardinals.
Albert Pujols Is Still Homerless
There's been plenty of press about the former St. Louis first basemen's struggles, so let's just allow the numbers to speak for themselves: $240 million for zero home runs in 92 at-bats.