Thursday, April 12, 2012


"Jonathan Broxton Comes In From The Bullpen",
by Remedios Varo...
And we didn't even have Eric Plunk to thank (or blame)...

Occasionally baseball careens into a half-world that's as surreal as Luis Bunuel (or even Remedios Varo, who knew how to make the medieval into something downright strange). Yesterday, the small band who congregated at the Your Name Here Coliseum in Oakland, had just such a moment.

The A's and our favorites, the Kansas City Royals, were locked in a game that had only one portion of the phrase that Richard Meltzer coined for the temporal/textural structure of rock'n'roll. That phrase? "Orgasmic monotony"--and the A's and Royals had only the noun working for them, with no trace of the adjective.

After Alex Gordon (who'd entered the game hitless for the season) homered to tie the score at 3-3 in the seventh, things settled down into a dullness that matched the cloud-riddled skies.

In the twelfth, however, the A's looked like losers when Billy Butler's double into the left-field corner was dosey-doe'd by the flaccid arm of Coco Crisp (a looping arc that looked more like something that stadium perky-girl Kara might have thrown than a major league outfielder), and the lumbering Eric Hosmer was able to score all the way from first base as a result.

But the Royals, without their long-time closer Joakim Soria, were forced to bring in the large and enigmatic Jonathan Broxton, a man who'd driven thousands of Dodger fans deeper into drink during his controversial tenure in Los Angeles.

Repeat as necessary: do NOT pick up the
funky chick you find in the stands reading
this book...repeat, do NOT....
Good old J.B., as we used to call him whenever he made a ninth inning into something as intricately unfathomable as a Gil Orlovitz "novel," tried to walk Daric Barton. His 3-2 pitch was low and outside; Barton tossed his bat away and was ready to take a trot to first. But home plate ump Jim Reynolds rang him up, and A's fans figured that monotony had just become, well, monotonic.

But pinch-hitter Seth Smith hit a grounder to KC SS Alcides Escobar, who suddenly got a case of the dropsies, fumbling the ball. He recovered quickly and threw to first, but Smith beat the throw.

Then J. B. went to work. He walked Jemile Weeks. He walked Eric Sogard. (Yes, THE Eric Sogard.) Our friend Coco Crisp, batting for the first time, had a chance to redeem himself for his spaghetti-armed performance in the top of the inning. As seems to be his wont, he made it half-way to heroism, slapping a grounder that was too far away from KC's second baseman Yuniesky Betancourt to permit anything more than a force play at second, allowing the tying run to score.

This is when the game went surreal. J.B. then proceeded to hit Yoenis Cespedes with a pitch. This re-loaded the bases, bringing Johnny Gomes to the plate. (The joy of small sample sizes has Johnny doing a glorious all-or-nothing act in 2012: he has only two hits for the year...but they are both homers. #2 had come earlier in the ball game.)

Halley's Comet in the night sky...that's Jonathan
Broxton, aka Mr. Cactus, posing in the
right foreground.
So what does Broxton do, with the sacks drunk and the boat reeling in the best Rimbaud fashion?

Why, yes, of course. He hits Gomes with his very next delivery, forcing home the winning run.

Surreal is when it takes thirty seconds for the fans--and the players on the field--to know that they've actually won the game.

And it turns out that such a feat is pretty rare. Those who saw Broxton hit two batters in a row to cough up a game witnessed something that the record books indicate has only happened once previously--in May 1966, when Stu Miller plunked Al Weis and Tommie Agee (neither of them Miracle Mets at the time, but mere Chicago White Sox) with the same result.

It's sort of like a goofy version of Halley's Comet...every 46 years this strange spectre returns. Don't expect to be around in 2058 when it happens again, but our first at-the-park experience of 2012 redeemed itself at the end.