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8.07.2006

The Livo Shuffle 

Sorry, I was unable to post anything over the weekend because my hands were busy covering my eyes as is often the case when I'm watching a scary movie like Blair Witch or Jaws or Gremlins. Monster House? No way, pal. I won't even step into the multiplex lobby for fear the anguished screams of patrons may leak through the theater's double doors.

The true horror show was Friday night, when Barry Bonds embarrassed himself by getting heave-ho'ed in the bottom of the ninth. No doubt you've all seen it by now. If not, here's my quick take: the pitch he took for strike two was very very borderline, but Barry still had a strike to work with. Absolutely no way he should be tossed in that situation, with a runner on, no outs, and the Giants down by three. The game was not over.

Umpire's fault? Sorry, no dice. The umpire Ron Kulpa gave Barry his chance to jaw, even stepping out to brush off the plate as if to say, "All right, you're reaching the point of no return. I'll count to three and pretend to do something useful."

Bonds continued to vent, perhaps with a few F-Bombs tossed for good measure, and he done got run. The incident was probably the culmination of a season of frustration for Bonds, who despite claims of inner peace has seen his skills diminish, his team languish, and his strike zone broaden. Umpires used to give Barry the benefit of the doubt because his own strike zone judgment was so good. That's not true anymore.

The ensuing mayhem of fans tossing debris onto the field, well, call that the culmination of a season of frustration, too. Ray Ratto came close in yesterday's column to calling it a show of strength from real fans instead of the wine-sipping, cell-phone-texting ensemble we're used to at Mays Field. I'll stop short of that, and say it was certainly idiotic but only slightly worse than The Wave. Throwing items onto the field and at the umpire is not nice and should result in immediate ejection from the premises. Throwing items from the top deck and hitting fellow fans in the lower deck builds a strong argument for aggressive population control.

Oh, and today the D-Backs announced they've acquired Livan Hernandez, once our friend, then scape goat, now tormentor. Since leaving San Francisco he's been good, bad and everywhere in between. Who knows which Livo will show up for the pennant race? For those who only remember his crappy Game 7 in the 2002 World Series, his post-season numbers are better than that but boosted by the infamous Eric Gregg strike zone in that one 1997 playoff game. Baseball America's Jim Callis has some background on the trade, in which the 'Backs gave up two young starting pitching prospects. They can't be chopped liver, because the guy who drafted them, Mike Rizzo, is now Washington's VP of baseball operations. No one knows the Arizona system better than Rizzo. Let's hope he just fleeced Arizona.

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