As long as it's been played, the game can humble players
By Bob Elliott
It’s been called a humbling game.
Cy Young, the person, not the award, won 511 times.
He also lost 316 games in his Hall of Fame career.
Reggie Jackson hit 563 homers.
He also struck out 2,597 times on his way to Cooperstown.
On his weekend at the Rogers Centre, New York Yankees right fielder Carlos Beltran hit a pinch-hit, game-winning, three-run homer on Friday, homered in Saturday’s win -- the 385th of his career -- and then lost a ball in the bright Sunday afternoon sun which should have been the final out of the third inning.
A Josh Donaldson single and a two-run homer by Jose Bautista, was enough as Drew Hutchison and three relievers allowed the Jays to salvage the series finale to move within half a game of the first-place Yankees.
Hall of Famer Rollie Fingers saved 341 games.
And he blew 109 games.
Everyone who had put on a pair of major-league cleats has had their own humbling moments ...
“I dominated at Auburn, at Dunedin and New Hampshire,” said Brett Cecil, who retired Beltran with a man on second for the final out of the seventh, “and my first start at Syracuse, I gave up seven or eight runs. I’d never dealt with that kind of adversity.”
Cecil said an experience like that brings you down to earth quickly.
Aaron Sanchez, who gave up the Beltran homer Friday and worked a clean inning Sunday (retiring Chase Headley and Stephen Drew on grounder, sandwiched around a Didi Gregorius strike out) could have picked this weekend. Instead he went back to last May.
“There are these current games but I had a 29-pitch first with New Hampshire pitching against Portland when I didn’t get an out (zero hits, six runs, three earned, four walks, one hit batter),” said Sanchez, “then, the next two starts I pitched into the seventh (one run allowed in each outing) and was promoted to
Left fielder Ben Revere can recall hot streaks turning ice cold.
“The game is definitely humbling,” said Revere, “it’s such a mental game. You can go 0-for-4 with four punch outs, fans can dog you and you can have a good one the next day. Once a few years ago I made an error for the winning run and the next day I had three hits.
“When you are going bad everyone leaves you alone. You are like a baby tiger crying inside a cage. You have to grow up to be a big, strong, tiger ... and get out of the cage.”
Ted Williams, another Hall of Famer, leads one and all with a .482 on-base mark.
He struck out 709 times.
Justin Smoak, who one scout compared to Los Angeles Dodgers six-time gold glove winner Wes Parker, started a 3-6-3 on a Beltran one hopper in the fifth inning.
“I’ve had a couple of good days in the field over the years and then had a ground ball go right through my legs,” Smoak said. “This game can bite you.”
Former Cy Young award winner David Price didn’t see Beltran’s weekend in the same light.
“I don’t think that was humbling for (Beltran),” said David Price, “that’s a tough sun.
“I’ve had good games and bad games pitching. For me what’s humbling is the game of golf. As soon as you think you have the game figured out, you realize that you don’t.”
Price says he plays from anywhere from a five to a 15 handicap.
Right-hander Marco Estrada, who took the loss Saturday while only giving up two runs in six innings, said he strives for consistency.
“You can’t show up to the park thinking ‘I am The Man,’ when think that you are invincible you’re in trouble,” Estrada said. “If he catches the ball it’s three out and we’re still scoreless.”
John Gibbons went to camp with the New York Mets in the spring of 1984 and won the starting catching job beating out Ron Hodges, Junior Ortiz, Mike Fitzgerald and Ronn Reynolds.
“That December they traded for Gary Carter who was going to the Hall of Fame,” said Gibbons. “I went from the future catcher to the grind of the minors, from the penthouse to the outhouse.”
Bullpen coach Dane Johnson was the Blue Jays first pick in 1984.
“I was humbled, spending from 1984 until 1989 without getting above class-A,” Johnson said. “I had to learn to do things the right way, to stay healthy.”
After being out of ball for two years, Johnson returned in 1993 and the next year on May 30, a week shy of the 10th anniversary of his draft day, he made his major-league debut.
Hall of Famer Rickey Henderson swiped 1,406 bases.
He was thrown out 335 times.
Whitey Ford won 10 World Series games helping the Yankees win six Series in his Cooperstown career.
He lost eight games.
“Me?” asked Dioner Navarro, “I’ve always been humble.”