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Mr. Cub is doing his best Papa Bear impersonation - advising one of the kids to tell the truth.

Ernie Banks tells the Trib's Fred Mitchell that he wants to see Sammy Sosa pull a Mark McGwire: fess up, come clean and move on:

"I would say just what Mark McGwire did," Banks said. "Come clean with it. Explain it to them. ... Just say: 'This is what happened.' It is hard to do, to admit this. Just admit it and live with it and understand it. I am sure a lot of people will forgive him."

Sammy has always denied using anything heavier than Flintstones vitamins, but with the Cardinals' slugging first baseman admitting to juicing during the two stars' historic homer battle in 1998, the pressure continues to mount on Sosa to say he cheated, too.

But when you have Banks on your back, it takes the movement to a whole new level. The Hall-of-Famer is easily one of the iconic faces of the organization. If Sammy has something to tell the world, having Banks in his corner to help him through the media maelstrom is about as good a guardian angel as you can get.

"I will just explain it to him and how the people are," Banks said. "I don't think he really understood that. People are for you; they want to see you do well. They are forgiving people. We haven't won in over 100 years, so this audience here is pretty special."

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Astros relief pitcher Jeff Fulchino reveals a ground hit ball by Chicago Cubs' Kosuke Fukudome that went into his jersey during the fifth inning of Tuesday's game. (AP Photo)

The strangest play during Tuesday night's slug-fest at Wrigley Field came in the fifth inning when Cubs leadoff hitter Kosuke Fukudome bounced a ball up the middle to Astros reliever Jeff Fulchino. The ball took an awkward hop and ricocheted off Fulchino's glove and into his jersey.

That's right ... the ball inexplicably found its way into his jersey.

With Fukudome streaking toward first base, Fulchino dug his hand into his jersey, but was unable to fish it out because the ball had wound its way around to his side. Not quite sure how to react, he threw his hands in the air -- a move akin to the motion outfielders make at Wrigley when a ball is lost in the ivy.

Fukudome was awarded first base, notching a hit on the play, and a laugh from Fulchino.

"I thought I had knocked it down," Fulchino said after the game. "I looked down and I was like, 'Where is it?' Then I felt it right over here to my side and I was like, 'You gotta be kidding me.' At that point there was nothing I could do so it was more frustration -- this is how my outing's going to start?"

The blooper would prove beneficial in the Cubs' comeback attempt, and set up the only bit of excitement for the 40,814 Cub fans in attendance. Third baseman Aramis Ramirez drove in Fukudome  and Derrek Lee three batters later on a home run to left field to tie the game 6-6.

After the game, the right-handed UConn alum was still uncertain about what exactly happened.

"It cracked the button on my shirt and when it ricocheted off,"  Fulchino said, stopping mid-sentence. "I don't know how it got in there. What can you say?"

Cubs manager Lou Piniella was equally at a loss for words about the play.

"How about that one?" Piniella said. "Just when you think you've seen everything ..."

Incidentally, Fulchino notched his first career hit in the game -- a double to the left-field corner off Sean Marshall.

He was asked whether he thought he would always remember his first major league hit as the game where he got a ball stuck in his jersey.

"I think it'll be the other way around," Fulchino said. "I think I'll remember the game because the ball got stuck in my jersey and I happened to get a hit that game."

The author hopes to one day live in a world where there are Situational Hitting Derbys. He fantasizes about watching Placido Polanco go head-to-head with Tadahito Iguchi, trading soft ground balls to the right side of the infield. In this brave new time the new phrase "Is it deep enough to score Ramirez from third.....it might be...it could be...it's a sac fly!!!" would emanate from an over-enthused Chris Berman as a nation-wide audience tuned in.

But, here in the present, there are only Home Run Derbys. Tonight the house that Ruth (and honest union workers) built will host the annual big-dudes-teeing-off-on-batting-practice fastballs-as-fans-assault-each-other-for practice-balls-jamboree. Now, the Derby has grown from humble beginnings to get where it is today. Check out this 1959 clip of Mickey Mantle taking on Willie Mays, back when the winner got $2,000 for their efforts. Some Manhattan-ite is going to drop that on a luxury box tonight.

Hey! Wait a minute! Some of those cut scenes seemed a little fake. Come to think of it: so did the sound effects. Aww, shucks Mick. You wouldn't pull a fast one on the ol' author would you? By the way, Seven would be a great name for a boy...or a girl...especially a girl...or a boy. Sort of like a living tribute.

Back to present day. Here's Philadelphia Phillies slugger/strikeout enthusiast Ryan Howard hitting spheres into a body of water.

The author just can't seem to get into this. He's tried. It just strikes him as one of those things that sounds like a great idea on paper but just fails to elicit any type of emotion when it's played out in real life. Really the only interesting thing is watching the longballs bounce off interesting stuff, but anyone over the age of 13 gets over that pretty quickly. Part of him wishes they could somehow revert back to the original dimensions of Yankee Stadium. How great would it be to watch ball after ball fall harmlessly short of that 490-foot marker in left center?

For the record, the author is picking Chase Utley to win, but wants to point out that we all lose if at any point a "Josh Hamilton tattooed that one" comment is made.

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