February 9, 2008

SPIKE CLATTER:

Meet the (old) boys of spring (Jim Caple, 2/08/08, ESPN.com)

As Bert Blyleven pointed out before autographing the bruise, my mistake was shouting "Remember, I have a Hall of Fame vote!" when I stepped into the batter's box to face him. He's right. I was too ambiguous. I should have made myself clear by yelling, "Remember, I vote FOR YOU for the Hall of Fame!"

"If you had done that," Bert said, "I would have grooved it in there for you."

Instead, he hit me in the left hip with a fastball. Which, again, was my fault. Bert wasn't trying to hit me. He merely wanted to throw the pitch behind me as a gag, but I stupidly stepped back into it. I winced, spun around and, naturally, charged the mound. Which was yet another mistake. Bert is not only 10 years older than me but he is also much bigger and in pretty good shape. So when I got to the mound, he grabbed me, laughed and pinned me to the ground.

When he helped me up, I chose to return to the plate to bat again rather than take my base, and this time Bert did indeed groove me a fastball. Not that it mattered. I hit a routine grounder to short and was thrown out by several steps. Still, it was a better outcome than my previous at-bat when he buckled my knees with an 0-2 curveball.

Twins Fantasy Camp
Bert Blyleven took great joy in tossing me to the ground like a rag doll.
Fellow campers jokingly asked whether I would continue voting for Bert. Of course I will. It was all in good fun and besides, when Blyleven does get elected in a year or so, I'll be able to say that I was hit with a pitch from a genuine Hall of Famer. The autograph may have washed off the bruise, but I have a signed ball to prove it.

"Hey Jim -- Sorry I hit you! NOT!" the ball reads. "Hope it hurts. Bert Blyleven."

Well, I'll admit it stung a bit (and if getting hit by his pitch hadn't hurt, I really would have to reconsider my vote), especially the next day. In fact, the bruise was still there almost two weeks later. But the hip still didn't hurt nearly as much as my shoulder after a week at Twins fantasy camp.

Posted by Orrin Judd at February 9, 2008 12:36 PM
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