Games » Cleveland IndiansMay16
A bad day at the ballpark
First, we found out Paul Splittorff was in the hospital. Everybody knew Split was sick, but nobody knew how sick … or at least I didn’t. He obviously was struggling, but he never talked about it. Split was one of the first people to take me in when I started showing up at the ballpark. He treated me like an equal when he had no reason to do so. He solicited my opinions about players. (OK, so he’s not perfect.) He pointed out subtleties in the game that I would have missed without his guidance, and he encouraged my efforts on this website.
To be honest, I never have worked at a place quite like Kauffman Stadium. Once you start showing up on a regular basis, it’s as if you’ve been taken in by a family of gypsies or a traveling circus. Everybody says hi, everybody knows your name and everyone seems happy to be there.
And now one of the family members is sick.
And then there was the game
So this is how the reporters who covered the Titanic felt.
OK. That was going to be my opening joke about the Royals 19-1 loss to the Indians. Then I visited the clubhouse afterward, and it didn’t seem so funny any more. Vin Mazzaro had a horrible outing. He pitched 2 1/3 innings and gave up 14 earned runs. He walked three batters, and they all scored. He gave up 11 hits. He struggled to get the ball into the strike zone, and when finally he got it there, it was getting smoked.
Kyle Davies started the game, experienced a shoulder problem and left after four batters. Ned Yost brought in Nate Adcock, hoping to get a few innings out of him and got an inning and two-thirds. Suddenly, Vin Mazzaro went from hanging out, relaxing and mentally preparing for Tuesday’s game to pitching with his big-league career on the line.
Mazzaro got through his first inning OK, and then in the fourth Matt La Porta singled, Jack Hannahan grounded out, Michael Brantley walked, Asdrubal Cabrera singled, Shin-Soo Choo flew out, Carlos Santana walked, Travis Hafner doubled, Orlando Cabrera singled, Travis Buck singled, Matt La Porta doubled, Jack Hannahan singled, Michael Brantley hit a home run, and finally Asdrubal Cabrera struck out swinging.
So at what point in that nightmare of a 10-run inning did Vin Mazzaro know he had screwed himself? There had to be a moment when he recognized how badly things were going and what it might mean for his dream of a major-league career. So he’s probably walking off the mound stunned and mortified (I say “probably” because I wasn’t going to torture him further by probing how it felt to do so badly), and the crowd decided to give him a derisive cheer.
Then, because Ned Yost couldn’t burn even more pitching on a game the Royals were going to lose, Vin Mazzaro had to go back out there and give the team another inning.
And it didn’t go much better than the fourth inning.
Mazzaro took one for the team … a team that was about to send him back to the minors. Mazzaro probably knew what was waiting for him at the end of the game, but he still went out and did his job. After a performance like this, a lot of players would duck the media. Get in and out before the clubhouse doors were opened or hide out in the trainer’s room until we all got tired and left.
Given the choice, Vin Mazzaro chose to face the cameras and microphones and answer some uncomfortable questions. Good for him. It showed class.
Tomorrow, I hope to write something funny and have a good time at the game, but after hearing about Paul Splittorff and watching a kid fail while thousands looked on, I don’t feel too humorous.
It was a bad day at the ballpark.