- Welcome back to Nine Innings. This week we highlight the craziness that is Coors Field, Mike Clevinger’s hair, Blooper the mascot's latest antics, Jerry Dipoto milestones and more.
Welcome back to Nine Innings, SI’s weekly look at what’s fun, cool and somewhat stupid around the league. Today’s topics include: the most Coors Field series of all time; the return of the thief Blooper; Jerry Dipoto’s most Jerry Dipoto trade yet; and much more.
This Week In … None More Coors!
There’s nothing quite like a crazy weekend at Coors Field. No other park in baseball is capable of taking your average series and turning it into a pinball machine fueled by cocaine. Ordinary games somehow turn into bloodbaths, featuring double-digit run totals and a dozen homers and an endless parade of sad relievers tasked with trying to patch up gaping wounds with tissue paper. My lone trip to Coors in 2016 proved that to me, as I caught a Diamondbacks-Rockies game that ended up as the longest nine-inning game in National League history—a four-and-a-half-hour marathon that featured 19 total runs (14 of them scored in the seventh or later), five errors and 15 extra-base hits. Pure, uncut Coors is a hell of a thing.
But I don’t know if, in the 25-year history of that stadium, the baseball world has ever gotten a more out-of-control experience than this weekend’s Rockies-Padres tilt. The numbers are absolutely staggering: 92 total runs, a new modern record for a four-game series; 131 hits, the most in a four-game series since 1922; 17 home runs, including five from Hunter Renfroe alone. Charlie Blackmon went an absurd 15-for-24 with four homers and three straight four-hit games, raising his season batting average 31 points in a weekend. Fernando Tatis Jr. almost hit for the cycle on Sunday and made a ridiculous diving catch on Saturday. San Diego scored 14% of their runs this year in just those four games.
And it was wall-to-wall drama, too. Thursday featured two-homer games from Blackmon and Manny Machado. On Friday, Colorado scored nine runs between the fifth and seventh and held an 11–5 lead in the ninth, only to give up six runs that inning; San Diego went on to score five in the 12th to win, as Renfroe homered three times overall. The Rockies rebounded with 14 runs on Saturday for a victory, but the Padres again stunned them on Sunday with a crazy late rally, scoring four in the ninth to win, 14–13, and split the series. Seriously, look at these Win Probability charts!
Suffice to say that this was the best series of the year, bar none. That’s the kind of stuff that gives you heart palpitations and dizziness in the most fun way possible. I was hanging on every inning this weekend, which is something I never figured would be the case for a Padres-Rockies series. It’s proof that, when it comes to entertainment, Coors is undefeated—a zero-gravity rollercoaster that may turn games into vaguely baseball-adjacent mush, but delivers thrill after thrill in the process. Long live Coors.
This Week In … Vladimir Guerrero Jr.!
It was a week of highs and lows for young Vlad. On the plus side, he picked up seven hits in 17 at-bats, including two doubles and three RBI, to move his season line ever closer to respectability. On the negative, he took a fastball off the hand on Friday night, inspiring a collective panic that Canada’s big baseball boy was going to have his season cut short. Thankfully, he avoided injury and can continue his upward climb.
You know what else should help Vlad continue to find his way to stardom?
🚨VLAD JUST HUGGED TROUT🚨— Jurassic Luke (@SplitLetters) June 17, 2019
That’s right: Absorbing Mike Trout’s powers through a hug, like a baseball version of the X-Men’s Rogue. Expect Guerrero to hit .600 from here on out.
This Week In … Holiday Appropriate Uniforms!
As is MLB’s custom on Father’s Day, Sunday’s MLB action featured players in garish, hideous, why-did-they-do-this blue caps and accoutrements. And not just blue, but this kind of sloppy tie-dye that, as The Athletic’s Levi Weaver wryly noted, makes it look like a distracted dad threw a white hat in with the blue wash. It was bad!
Not bad, though, was this clever choice by the Royals’ Martin Maldonado to pair his all-blue catcher’s gear with the perfect dad fashion choice: a tie.
I do wish Maldonado had gone even further and put on more dad attire—cargo shorts, or white New Balances with socks pulled up past his ankles, or those glasses that you can clip together magnetically. Maybe bring out a newspaper to read between pitches, or take it up to the Ultimate Dad Level and fall asleep in the middle of the game. Either way, though, it’s a far better tribute to dads across the land than that blue nightmare of a cap.
This Week In … The Perfidious Blooper!
When we last left Blooper, the tan horror the Braves pulled out of the ninth circle of Hell and made their mascot in order to traumatize children, he was being attacked by the Cardinals’ Jose Martinez for unknown but correct reasons. It likely had to do with Blooper’s kleptomania and penchant for grand larceny; see his attempting to steal $300 million from Manny Machado via an ingenious check forgery scam. (Blooper may live in Atlanta, but he’s clearly from Florida.)
Did Blooper learn anything from being caught or from being on the receiving end of Martinez’s bat? Clearly, no: He is beyond reform or shame or even new ideas, as last week against the Nationals, he tried to pull the same theft that he did on Machado on MLB’s other $300 million man: Bryce Harper.
I’m not sure what the point of Blooper’s judge getup is; since when is the judiciary involved in naming a day after someone? Regardless, as it did with Machado, this would-be burglary didn’t pan out. Hopefully Harper pressed charges and got this dreaded monster arrested for his crimes.
This Week In … Zack Greinke, No-Hitter Enthusiast!
Zack Greinke, who approaches every start with the energy of someone sighing loudly after being asked to do the dishes, came just nine outs away from a no-hitter last Thursday against the Nationals, tossing six shutout frames before Washington broke it up. It would’ve been the first no-no of Greinke’s long, long career (seriously: He made his MLB debut back when the Nationals were still the Expos), but if the prospect of entering the history books or accomplishing literally one of the hardest things in baseball held any interest for him, he sure didn’t show it postgame.
Zack Greinke says he doesn't care about throwing a no-hitter. He'd rather not deal with the attention he'd get. "It'd be more of a hassle than anything."— Zach Buchanan (@ZHBuchanan) June 14, 2019
“I just assume I’ll never throw one,” he told reporters after the game. It sounds, though, like that would be just fine by Greinke. I’m just bummed that he didn’t complete the no-hitter if only for the treat of watching Greinke, completely stone-faced, get Gatorade dumped on him postgame before saying that his outing was “fine.”
This Week In … Mike Clevinger’s Hair Accessories!
Monday saw the return of Indians righty Mike Clevinger, who’s missed most of the season with a back injury, and with it a reminder that Clevinger is more or less Venice Beach as a person. To wit: After rolling his ankle on a pitch (but ultimately staying in the game), we got this shot of Clevinger and his straight-out-of-Hair hair.
I have many, many, many questions about this, but most of them are variations on “Why?” and “Seriously, why?” So I’ll just note that this is perfectly in line with the version of Clevinger we get online, which is more or less Hippie Wingdings.
This Week In … Sean Doolittle Is An Enormous Nerd!
Sean Doolittle is an enormous nerd! Fans of the bespectacled Nationals closer already know that his interests lie on the dorkier side of things, between his Game of Thrones super-fandom and the fact that he’s probably the only player in the majors who will quote dril tweets (well, unless Brandon McCarthy makes a comeback). Doolittle is also a massive Star Wars fan, though, to the point that, for the Nationals’ Star Wars Night last Saturday, he had a bobblehead of himself as Obi-Sean Kenobi (*nudges you in the ribs*) as a stadium giveaway. He also got the opportunity to go long on what he loves about the films—and I really do mean long.
If you follow that link, you’ll be treated to nearly 13 minutes of Doolittle waxing rhapsodic about Star Wars (and also summarizing the movies), and it really does sound like he could’ve gone for an extra hour if he wanted to, though that probably would’ve had an impact on the game itself.
Unfortunately, Doolittle didn’t get into his favorite Star Wars theories or conspiracies, though he did note that stormtroopers are terrible shots for no real reason. Anyway, be sure to tune in next year, when Doolittle dresses as Darth Maul and does lightsaber moves for a half hour on the Jumbotron.
This Week In … Jerry Dipoto Milestones!
On Saturday, the Mariners officially kicked the can a bit further down the road, trading slugger Edwin Encarnacion to the Yankees (where he was forced to shave his beard, making him look like a melting Gary Sheffield). It’s a deal designed to make Seattle’s roster cheaper and worse going forward, but it’s also quite possibly the most Jerry Dipoto trade that’s ever happened, and that includes the time he traded for Mallex Smith and then traded him away like an hour later.
For starters, Encarnacion is—per my exhaustive Baseball-Reference research—the 100th player that Dipoto has traded out of Seattle since taking over as the Mariners’ general manager in November 2015. That’s roughly two players per month, every single month, in a league in which some teams can go weeks and weeks without so much as one deal. I hope that to celebrate, the rest of the front office got Dipoto a cake, which he promptly swapped for four cookies and a Twix bar, then released the cookies, only to re-sign one of them a week later, which he then traded for a Jolly Rancher.
On top of that, the return for Encarnacion was minor league pitcher Juan Then, whom Dipoto had traded to the Yankees almost two years ago in exchange for reliever Nick Rumbelow (who, fittingly, was released by the Mariners earlier this month). Dipoto routinely releases and re-signs or waives and reclaims players over and over again, but trading for a dude he’s already traded away is a rare one even for him. Mallex Smith is the only other instance, and since he was on the team for roughly the blink of an eye, he barely counts.
In other words, this trade is Jerry Dipoto at his best, as baseball’s version of the ouroboros, eating his own tail one middle reliever at a time.
This Week In … Old Baseball Cards!
Each week, I’ll pluck a random baseball card out of a pile of old 1980s, 90s and 2000s cards I have at my work desk, then write a quick little take on the player in question. This week’s entry: Mike Parrott, pitcher, Seattle Mariners (Topps 1979)
In a case of nominative determinism at its best, Parrott—a tall, bespectacled righty from southern California—was a first-round draft pick of the Orioles. Sadly, his perfectly matched team gave up on him a year into his big league career, sending him to Seattle in a three-player trade in December 1977.
That loss initially looked like the Mariners’ big gain: After a rough 1978, Parrott was the ace of the M’s in ’79, winning 14 games with a 3.77 ERA and 13 complete games. Given the Opening Day assignment in ’80, he won that one—and then not another for over a calendar year. That season was the annus horribilis for Parrott, who lost 16 straight decisions, posted an ERA of 7.28, and missed a month after being hit with a line drive square in the gentleman’s region (he didn’t wear a cup when pitching because, he told the AP after getting hurt, it was uncomfortable).
Demoted to Triple A in early August, Parrott returned in September, lost his next three starts, and moved to the bullpen. His final loss came on the season’s last day: Tasked with protecting a one-run lead against Texas in the sixth, Parrott saw the tying run score on an error by the third baseman on his first batter, then kept it scoreless until the Rangers walked it off in the ninth, to fall to 1–16. (Amazingly, he wasn’t even Seattle’s team leader in losses that year; Rick Honeycutt lost 17 games.)
Parrott’s career never recovered. He lasted just two more seasons in the majors—one with the Mariners, the other with the Brewers—before getting released and retiring. Afterward, he thought that ball flush to his groin was the turning point. For want of a cup, Parrott’s MLB career was shot to hell.