I've written multiple stories this summer and before talking about how baseball is so special. Despite the fact that there are 2,430 regular season games every year in Major League Baseball, there is always the potential for something to happen that you've never seen before.
In Arlington, Texas on Wednesday night, fans got a chance to see three of them.
Unfortunately for those who didn't stay until the last couple of innings, they missed out on the best parts.
The Miami Marlins slugged their way to a 22-10 romp past the host Rangers in a game that lands them in the record books for most runs in franchise history in a single game.
Pretty historical, yes. But hardly the best part of the night. The Fish got their four runs in the ninth to get to 22 off backup catcher Brett Nicholas, pitching for the Rangers in that hopeless situation. The homer that Giancarlo Stanton hit in the eighth off Jason Grilli was also noteworthy, but not for the fact that it went 468 feet or that it was his big-league leading 33rd homer of the season. The bat flip and fist pump by Stanton seemed to mock or be retaliatory for the same celebration Grilli showed after striking out Stanton to end a 10-4 Ranger triumph on Tuesday. It was awesome in its own right.
Yet it was in the bottom of the eighth in a game with 32 runs score when there were true fireworks. Several thousand fans remained, presumably to watch Adrian Beltre creep his way closer to the 3,000 hit mark that he'll be capable of reaching when the Rangers host Baltimore Friday evening. Beltre was 3-for-3 with a homer and two doubles and standing in the on deck circle of an 18-6 game.
Or at least he was supposed to be.
Beltre actually stood a few steps to the left of the circle, which is a Ranger logo that is just a piece of glorified carpet. He was closer to home plate and said afterward that he's been standing in that virtual location for 20 years.
Second base umpire Gerry Davis instructed Beltre to get back in the circle. Instead, Beltre picked up the circle and dragged it over to where he was standing. Davis seemed like he was ready to bust out laughing, but caught himself and instead gave Beltre an ejection. Texas manager Jeff Banister came out and also got ejected after Davis gave Beltre the heave-ho.
What makes this all the more amusing is that Texas has been the most “fun” team to watch for years. The antics of Elvis Andrus and Beltre on the left side of the infield make most every Ranger game worth a watch if there is nothing else on television. Beltre has been an overgrown child playing a kid's game all the way to now and most people have been entertained enough that they would vote him into the Hall of Fame tomorrow and skip the traditional five-year waiting period after retirement.
The guy simply likes to have fun playing baseball, and the scores and odds seem to matter less.
For the record, I've never seen anyone do that before, though I'm sure it's happened. Also for the record, no one ever moved the on-deck circle back to its original location. I guess that's what happens in 18-6 (and eventual 22-10) games.
On a more serious note for the Rangers, starting pitcher Yu Darvish gave up a first-pitch homer to Dee Gordon and was never really in the game. This was his last start before Monday’s non-waiver trade deadline and it certainly seems the speculation that he could be dealt elsewhere has weighed heavily on the Japanese righty as of late. He ended up getting knocked out in the nine-run Marlins fourth inning, allowing a career-high 10 runs on nine hits while retiring just 11 hitters.
The Darvish struggles are very real; he's 0-5 with a 5.81 ERA in his last eight starts. Perhaps the fact that the kid was anointed with greatness from the first time he picked up a baseball has put him in an uncomfortable and unfamiliar spot now – he's never been in a spot where he's unwanted. Obviously the Rangers would like to keep him but if they see the playoff chances dimming in the next few days and a contender comes up with a worthwhile trade, he could go. It can be very unsettling for pitchers like Darvish to be in this position and he's obviously not handled it well. It's not like he forgot to pitch overnight.
Forgetting is the best thing that can happen for Texas when it comes to Wednesday night. Scoring 10 runs and losing by 12 is never fun – but for the fans who got to see Beltre pick up the on-deck circle, it's a story that will likely be told well after his bust shines at the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y.
“Remember that night Beltre moved the on-deck circle and got thrown out? I was there.” The reality was only several thousand can say that truthfully, but tens of thousands will nonetheless tell the story.