Welcome to Mound Visits, your weekly recap of the best things you might have missed in baseball every week. This week brings us history repeating itself for the Orioles and Red Sox, the Padres’ unconventional transport to a game, and an uproar over the Staten Island Yankees’ rebranding.
Have a favorite baseball moment from the week? Tweet it at me, and I’ll include it in next week’s column.
I Mustache You If You Are Ichiro Suzuki
Ichiro sneaking into the Mariners dugout technically happened last week but last Friday’s column was already all polished up and in the hopper before it happened.
Plus, is there anything wrong with revisiting this amazing situation so soon after it happened? Ichiro Bobby Valentine’ing it up at Yankee Stadium is an absolute highlight of the season and if you think otherwise you are absolutely — one HUNDRED percent — the cops.
In Other Mustache News …
You know it’s a good week in baseball when there is more than one mustache story to include here. Alex Bregman decided his mustache needed to go between at-bats this week, which is an example in personal grooming efficiency as much as it is a story of being very sure you are done with your facial hair and can’t possibly leave it on your face for one more minute.
One More Mustache Story
You thought we were done with mustache moments? Hell no. Mustache moments might be a Mound Visits staple after this week. I saved the best for last because look at the magnificence of the lip caterpillar on Tanner Roark. Frank Zappa called, he wants his signature look.
Pizza Rat Is a Rat Of Honor
The Staten Island Yankees are rebranding themselves as the Staten Island Pizza Rats for a few Saturdays this summer, which has already been a boon to the team when it comes to merchandise sales. What it hasn’t done is endeared the team to Italians on Staten Island, who were so upset about the development that they sent a strongly worded letter and canceled their planned Italian Heritage Night at the ballpark.
In a world where so much outrage is malicious and potentially damaging, it’s honestly nice to be able to laugh at a story like “Italians think the name pizza rat is offensive” is basically a positive news cycle.
The A’s Did Something Notable!
The A’s are … fine this season. While there was some measured optimism at the beginning of the year, Oakland is now ten games back in the division and doesn’t look to have much of a chance to overtake the first-place Astros or the second-place Mariners over the remaining months of the season.
But they broke an MLB record this week by hitting a home run in 25 straight road games, beating the 1996 Orioles’ record of 24. We’re at the point in the season where some teams are being forgotten because they’re not in a playoff race or at all interesting on the trade market, and the A’s definitely fall into that category. But making history is something, and a reminder that Oakland is raking out in that forgotten wasteland non-playoff teams on the West Coast.
Bus A Move
Step 1: Have your team bus ghost on you.
Step 2: Realize there are limited forms of transportation available because of the San Francisco Pride parade.
Step 3: Somehow find a double decker bus and take that to the game instead?
The Padres made it work.
You’re Still Here?
This week the Yankees sent Outfielder of the Future Clint Frazier down while keeping Walking Tally Mark In the Loss Column Chasen Shreve on the major league roster. Chase Shreve! Somehow sticking around! Obviously there are roster and positional reasons for doing this but it’s probably the transaction that made me go “wait, WHAT?” the loudest so far this season.
This Week In History Repeating Itself
This week, Buck Showalter and pitcher Darren O’Day were ejected by umpire Stu Scheurwater after arguing over a balk call. A little over a year ago — on April 30, 2017 — Buck Showalter was ejected by umpire Stu Scheurwater after arguing over a Darren O’Day balk call. It’s not only identical, it also gives us the first instance of the year where we can call back to Buck Showalter insisting that he’s “not a baby.” He made it until June before I could do that though! A minor surprise.
Also this week, Mookie Betts hit a home run into the Red Sox dugout at Fenway Park, which led to an outfielder flipping into the wall while trying to catch the ball and the bullpen cop throwing his hands up in celebration. Which is the twin of David Ortiz’s 2013 ALCS Game 3 home run. Same cop and everything.
One piece of baseball history repeating itself in one week would be weird, two things repeating themselves is eerie. Next thing you’ll try to tell me is that a player tried to resurrect Gary Sheffield’s plate routine.
It’s Like Gary Sheffield Reincarnated
Dellin Betances got to bat against the Phillies this week. Which is probably the last time he’ll get to have some fun at the plate, since he struck out on three pitches. But boy, did he have fun. Betances brought back the Sheffield bat wiggle and he really committed to the impersonation.
Team Organists Strike Again
Braves organist Matthew Kaminski already had one very funny moment behind the keys this season during a Kyle Schwarber at-bat. This week, he poked fun at now-Reds pitcher Matt Harvey with two prime choices for walk-up music: “Party All The Time” and “New York, New York.”
And he wasn’t the only one, as the Rays trolled Bryce Harper by also using “New York, New York” which rather than being a joke about his past as it was with Harvey, it’s a joke about possible future free agency destinations. If there’s a lesson here, it’s don’t cross team organists.
It’s Really Fun To Say Llama Piñata Over And Over
The Omaha Storm Chasers are having a Fortnite-themed night at the ballpark this summer, and while the idea itself is very fun and completes the “athletes love Fortnite” circle of life, I’m mostly wrapping up the column with it this week because their themed jerseys are modeled after the lootbox upgrade Llama Piñata.
And Llama Piñata is really fun to say. It’s been a long and stressful week for many, so try saying it out loud. Llama Piñata.
Have a good weekend, and take care of yourselves.