The game has been over for an hour now, and the vinyl on-deck circle on the home (first base) side is still slightly closer to home plate than the one on the visitor’s side. It will probably remain there forever, long after the new ballpark has been built. Visitors will walk through whatever hybrid shopping center / parkingdome they’re going to turn this place into, and right there on the ground, surrounded with a velvet rope will be the circle with the Rangers logo. Perhaps there will be a historical marker there, like they do in Kentucky: “Abraham Lincoln slept here once in 1851” or in Philadelphia: “I know this is the 200th sign you’ve seen today but Ben Franklin spit here in 1772.”
Here’s what it should read: “On July 26th, 2017, Adrian Beltre put this here, so it belongs here now.”
You wouldn’t think a 22-10 loss would be enjoyable. We came into the game wondering if it would be Yu Darvish’s last start in a Rangers uniform, or if the team would keep him and make a run at the Wild Card race. The finally-whole lineup had scored ten runs the night before, and the season was (and is) on the brink. We expected Very Serious Baseball.
Instead, we got the dumbest, most absurd baseball game in recent memory (maybe in franchise history?). Usually you could sum up a 12-run loss with a sentence. This one… you could write a book about this one.
It started with the first pitch: Dee Gordon hit his first home run of the year on the first pitch of the game. The second pitch of the game was right down the middle of the plate for ball one to Giancarlo Stanton. Both of these were omens.
By the end of the first inning, Yelich had also homered to make it 2-0. The Rangers scored in the bottom of the first to make it 2-1, and it stayed that way until the top of the 4th inning, when the curtains closed on the baseball game, confusing the crowd for a moment. When they lifted, in the game’s place, there was a haunted circus, replete with clowns, crows, wraiths, and one ring that will hopefully never move.
Darvish utterly lost the handle in the fourth. He only pitched to the first ten batters of the inning, and by the time Jeremy Jeffress entered the game, Darvish’s ERA had jumped from 3.44 to 4.01. He had allowed nine hits and two walks, and as he walked off the mound with a runner on base, he had allowed nine runs No, wait. Make that ten: J.T. Realmuto has just hit a home run to make it 11-1.
(Sorry, we’re wading through the boring and stupid parts of the game so we can get to the insane ones.) Texas scored three more in the sixth, and we’ll get this out of the way, they eventually ended up at ten runs for the second consecutive night and FINALLY they got Darvish some run support, ha ha ha. None of the runs really mattered much though, because the Marlins had transformed into whatever the baseball version of the Monstars is.
In the 8th inning, Giancarlo Stanton led off the inning with a home run to make it 14-5 and he slammed his bat down and started celebrating like he had just walked it off. That seemed weird, until we all remembered that Jason Grilli had struck out Stanton two nights ago to end the game. Grilli is known for his emotional outbursts when he finishes a game, but Stanton felt aggrieved, so he proceeded to do his best Jason Grilli impersonation.
“That was just for his reaction last night. When you have a reaction like that in a game that out is not the deciding factor in the game, I'm going to do the same, if I get you. I don't like to do that. But you do it for me, for whatever reason. Multiple times. That's what happens.”
Not to nitpick with known Mountain Giancarlo Stanton, but the last out in the game is a deciding factor.
Grilli, for his part, had little to say: “He doesn't get it, man." Asked if Stanton had said anything to him, he said no: "I didn't hear him say anything. He was just quite happy."
Stanton probably thought that would be his last at-bat of the game. But he was wrong, because his team sent nine men to the plate in the eighth. Stanton would lead off the ninth. But fear not, Rock-Biter-sized human! Because the person pitching to you is not Matt Bush or Keone Kela, but Brett Nicholas, who is not only perhaps the nicest human being on the planet, but also proceeded to throw a 45mph eephus pitch. On multiple occasions. “I got a little advice from (Alex) Claudio beforehand, so I was trying to work on some changeups,” Nicholas said.
Ichiro Suzuki has 3,059 hits in his illustrious career, and I'm not even going to bother looking up which of those came on the slowest pitch, because I saw it with my own eyes: 45mph. Brett Nicholas.
The Marlins scored four more runs before Nicholas settled in and actually retired three Marlins in a row, a borderline-miraculous feat of its own, on this night.
But before Nicholas (and after Grilli, sorry this thing is jumping around like a Christopher Nolan movie) we got to see perhaps the most petty and definitely the most hilarious thing that has happened on a baseball field this season. Here’s the video.
Gerry Davis, who some scientists have suggested might be a crocodile in a human suit, decided to tell Adrian Beltre to move back onto the on-deck circle. This might be standard fare for little league, but Beltre got hits #2,994, 2,995, and 2,996 tonight. He’s been in the league for 20 years, and will be in the Hall of Fame. Fans stayed in a blowout to watch him chase history. And he was on-deck.
On deck circles are slippery. Nobody stands on them. Can't pick and choose when you enforce it. And if you do, don't pick a respected HOFer.— Michael Young (@MikeyY626) July 27, 2017
Beltre said after the game that he has been hit before while standing in the on-deck circle, and knows where to stand (quick number check: Beltre has had 11,464 MLB plate appearances, not even counting the times he has been stranded in the on-deck circle.)
Davis told Beltre he had to stand on the vinyl circle. So Beltre did what any no other human being would do: he walked over to the on-deck circle, dragged it over to where he had been standing, and continued his warm-up routine for about one second until Davis, showing utter disregard for every paying customer in the house, ejected him (and, in short order, Jeff Banister.)
"I actually did what he told me," Beltre said later, poorly suppressing a mischievous grin.
It takes a special person to make a 4-hour, 22-10 loss an unforgettable and iconic moment.
Adrian Beltre is a very special person.
Who knows if this was Darvish’s last start? Who knows if the Rangers will chase the Wild Card? Who knows if Gerry Davis’ sense of humor was stunted at growth or just withered away in the Texas humidity? Much of life, and especially this season, is a mystery. But one thing is certain: no one who was in attendance tonight will ever forget this game.
And that’s the sort of thing that should get a sign and a velvet rope.