Posted by: mdegeorge | August 4, 2011

A pair of little league performances from the pros (VIDEO)

It’s the time of year that youth baseball reaches its crescendo, meaning more and more controversies like this and this taking the limelight.

So it’s only fitting that a pair of the big boys who are getting paid to play resorted to the same kind of tricks as the youngsters. We can only hope someone took them out for a consolation pizza afterward.

First, from Monday, we’ve got a major league meltdown from Tri-City ValleyCats manager Stubby Clapp in a New York-Penn League (short-season Single-A) game against the Auburn Doubleday.

Clapp, none to happy with a call that appears to a clear hit-by-pitch that is ruled a foul ball (though this could just be shoddy editing), comes out to protest and unleashes a litany of meltdown mainstays. He’s got the pantomiming play (for the record, the sarcastic catcher was behind the plate once in his 1,016 professional games), the kicking dirt on the plate routine, a textbook hat toss that gets bonus points since it looked like John Olerud’s helmet or one of those fan giveways, an ejection of the umpire and some tossing of the bats onto the field after he’s left.

It helps Clapp’s case that he’s something of a folk hero in St. Louis, where he played for seven seasons, the last four of which were at Triple-A, and got his only big-league cameo, a 23-game cup of coffee in 2001 where he hit .200 (5-for-25). The diminutive utilityman who hails from Windsor, Ontario also represented his country in two World Baseball Classics and the 2008 Olympics. At least now, people have something genuine to remember him by.

Clapp can be forgiven, to a degree, thanks to all the bus trips through the Adirondacks and Econo Lodges he has to put up with in the NY-Penn League. Another former Cardinal, Brendan Ryan, left the Oakland A’s with no excuse Tuesday.

The second batter of the game, the shortstop poked one into the hole a step onto the outfield grass that his Oakland counterpart, Eric Sogard, backhanded and threw late and just wide to first. Though first baseman Conor Jackson fielded it cleanly, coming off the bag to keep the ball in front of him, Ryan was soon off and running to second, then third.

In a play that looked like an Abbott and Costello routine, second base was left vacated by Sogard in the hole and second baseman Jemile Weeks shifting towards first to back up Jackson (heck, centerfielder Coco Crisp was the closest to the bag). The only one to react was third baseman Scott Sizemore, who moved towards second base too late, leaving third unoccupied for Ryan. You could almost see John Madden drawing arrows on the Telestrator going “Boom” and “Whap” each time Ryan slides into a bag.

The official scoring was a single, advanced to third on fielders choice (to not pay attention). We’re calling it an infield triple, something you haven’t seen since your youthful days, I bet. Ryan eventually scored on a double by Mike Carp to key a 4-2 Mariners win, something almost as rare as Ryan’s made dash.

It’s not all bad news for the A’s. Sure, they won’t be getting a call from Tom Emanski anytime soon. But at least they’ll attract a whole new fan base: little kids who watch them play defense and feel better about themselves.

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