The wild and wacky from 2006
In his year-end edition of Useless Info, Jayson Stark celebrates some of the strangest feats of the 2006 season.
Once again this year, baseball proved that truth is stranger than sci-fi, stranger than a Britney Spears marriage, stranger even than Nicole Ritchie's interpretation of her GPS instructions.
So with 2007 lurking over the horizon, let's look back at the Strange But True Feats of the Year:
MEET THE PITCHING STAFF DEPT.: In an Aug. 2 game against the Mets, the Marlins used a pitcher (Brian Moehler) to pinch-hit for another pitcher (Joe Borowski). Then, after Moehler got hit by a pitch, they used another pitcher (Scott Olsen) to pinch-run for Moehler. And two outs later, they used yet another pitcher (Logan Kensing) to pinch-run for Olsen. So that's a pitcher pinch-running for a pitcher who pinch-ran for another pitcher who pinch-hit for another pitcher. OK, you can all set fire to your scorecards now.
PRESTO CHANGO DEPT.: In an Aug. 23 game against the White Sox, Tigers reliever Jamie Walker managed to strike out a hitter he never faced (Scott Podsednik). So how'd that happen? Simple. Podsednik, batting against a right-hander (Colby Lewis), fouled off two bunt attempts. Whereupon Tigers manager Jim Leyland brought in a left-hander (Walker). Which inspired White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen to send up Brian Anderson to pinch-hit for Podsednik. Whereupon Anderson swung and missed -- for a strikeout that wound up on the permanent records of Walker and Podsednik, even though they were never on the field at the same time. Got that?
MR. 2,000 DEPT.: Mike Piazza, Alex Rodriguez, Garret Anderson and Manny Ramirez all got their 2,000th hit last season. Naturally, Piazza and A-Rod both got their 2,000th hit on the same day (July 21) -- and Anderson and Manny got their 2,000th on the same day, too (July 1).
HOW TO WIN THE WORLD SERIES DEPT.: The Cardinals careened through three losing streaks of seven games or more -- and never fell out of first place at any point during any of them. No other World Series winner in history had ever managed to have more than one losing streak like that in the same season.
THAT'S A SWITCH DEPT.:After batting right-handed in the first 230 at-bats of his career, Brewers pitcher Tomo Ohka decided to hit left-handed Aug. 24. So was there any doubt he'd reach base and drive in a run three at-bats in a row? He reached on catcher's interference (with the bases loaded) his first time up, looped a two-run single his next time up and lined an RBI single his third time up. He was 4 for his previous 55 batting right-handed, by the way.
TRIFECTA DEPT.: The Mariners somehow "hit" into a triple play in a Sept. 2 game in Tampa Bay -- without a ball being put in play. How'd that happen? It wasn't easy. Raul Ibanez got called out on strikes for the first out. Adrian Beltre got nailed stealing second for the second out. Then Jose Lopez bolted for the plate and got thrown out at home for the third out. Try that one on your X Box sometime.
CLOSERS DON'T WORK SATURDAYS DEPT.: Believe it or not, all 30 teams were in action on July 15, the Saturday after the All-Star break -- and not one of them recorded a save in the 15 games played.
LUCKIER SEVEN DEPT.: The mysterious Cody Ross drove in seven runs in a game for two different teams (Dodgers and Marlins) last season. But he had only one other month (April) where he drove in seven runs.
STRANGE BUT TRUE FEAT OF THE YEAR, CENTURY AND MILLENNIUM: Finally, if you needed convincing that literally anything is possible in baseball, we refer you to the astounding finish of the Dodgers' Sept. 18 game with San Diego. They entered the bottom of the ninth trailing by four runs. And then
The same team that was last in the league in home runs (the Dodgers) hit four ninth-inning home runs in a row to tie the game.
And did it in a span of seven pitches.
And then, after falling behind in the top of the 10th, the same team hit another homer in the 10th to turn a loss into a win.
If Hollywood slapped that on the big screen, you'd laugh. But this happened in actual life, in the greatest sport on earth.
"It might be the most amazing thing that ever happened in sports," Dodgers coach Rich Donnelly told our Strange But True bureau. "It's like the Stanford band thing -- without the trombones."
Jayson Stark is a senior writer for ESPN.com. Send your Useless Information to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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