Not often does one have the displeasure (or pleasure, if your leanings are sociopathic) of witnessing a human being crack. Yesterday afternoon, with the Cardinals leading 5-2 due in large part to David Freese’s three-run home run, me and a friend, who hails from St. Louis, got in the car to start the trek back to Santa Monica.
When the ride began, he was chipper and agreeable. But as we drove and the bottom of the fifth began, his mood turned black. When Corey Hart lead off with a single, it didn’t faze him. When Scott Hairston doubled, putting runners at second and third, he mentioned that it was no problem. “Jaime Garcia has gotten out of worse.”
But Ryan Braun then doubled into the right field corner, scoring two runs. After a few slaps to my glove compartment, he composed himself, realizing that not only did the Cardinals still have the lead, but Ryan Braun is an excellent hitter who will run into his fair share of breaks.
On the very next pitch though, when Prince Fielder blasted the fastest home run that was hit this season, coming in at 119 mph, and giving the Brewers a one-run lead, he just sat there.
“Too stunned to speak?” I asked.
“What do you mean?”
“Well, Prince Fielder just blasted a two-run shot. Your team is losing.”
He paused. “Wait, what? Hold on. I thought they were just replaying the crowd’s reaction to the Braun doubl—you mean, that is, I…well. F&^#!”
When the Cardinals replaced Jaime Garcia and the radio went to commercial, we drove in silence.
“You know, it’s a seven game series. It’s only game one.”
His eye twitched. “I know.”
And then the game returned. Rickie Weeks hit a groundball for a sure out, but then wound up on second base thanks to Octavio Dotel’s throwing error. I looked over. He was rocking back and forth.
“Don’t worry. Yuniesky Betancourt is up next. Everything will be all right.”
But then Yuniesky did the unexpected. After swinging and missing at a first pitch strike, Yuniesky drew a ball and fouled off four consecutive pitches. This wasn’t the Yuniesky Betancourt I knew. When Dotel left a 78 mph cutter at the top of the zone, Betancourt hammered it over the left-centerfield wall, putting the Brewers up 8-5.
There was no saving my friend now. He was not muttering something to himself, maybe it was “don’t leave pitches up” or maybe they weren’t even words at all. He was like Jack Nicholson at the end of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and no amount of ripped out bathroom fixtures was going to bring him back.
The scoring was largely over by that point save for a pair of traded runs in the seventh inning, but it was too late. The Brewers went on to win and at least one man’s brains was returned to a pile of mush. Kansas City Royals fans are well accustomed to the mental anguish that Yuniesky Betancourt provides, though usually for different reasons. Hopefully when the newly revised DSM V is released it will recognize Betancourtism as a disease that requires a healthy dose of beer and fatty meats to overcome it.
The Cardinals will have their chance to tie up the series tonight when Edwin Jackson takes on Shaun Marcum at 8:05 ET.
Daily news, recaps, and ridiculous pictures from across the baseball world. Extra focus on stirrup socks, squeeze bunts, mustaches and old baseball cards. In other words, your exact interests.
Questions and comments? Email me: email@example.com