by | Nov 21, 2008 | Detroit Free Press | 0 comments

ANDUJAR: “You’re horsebleep!”

UMPIRE: “You’re horsebleep too! And you’re out of here!

— Alleged exchange between Joaquin Andujar and umpire during Andujar’s ejection from Game 7. KANSAS CITY — Well now, wasn’t that a nifty little World Series? A little bit of hitting, a little bit of pitching, a little bit of those nasty words your Mommy always told you never to use when company was over.

Kansas City wins. St. Louis loses. The good guys come out on top. The baddies get theirs in the end. At least that’s what they’re saying around this part of Missouri.

The Royals are a team, they say, the way a team should be. They love one another. They sing on the bus. They roast marshmallows around the campfire. That’s why the fates smiled on them and let them come back from 1-3 to win it all. The Cardinals, meanwhile, are a bunch of prima donnas and bank robbers who never bathe and classify the rest of the human race as a word that rhymes with brass poles.

Well, naturally, some of this is true, and most of it isn’t. The World Series always looks a little different on The Day After, kind of like stepping out of a dark cellar and onto a sunny beach. The light is funny.

The first thing we should remember is that Kansas City won four games and St. Louis won three. A difference of one game. It was only a week ago, you’ll recall, that we were all talking Cardinals sweep.

The second thing is that neither team is the boy scouts nor the Dead End kids. The third thing is that this World Series was a lot more than just Game 7 — although you gotta admit, that fifth inning was a beauty. The Cardinals might not know how to win, but they sure know how to make an exit. Tudor gets fanned — literally

First came pitcher John Tudor. El Stud. The man who had the Cardinals’ fate in his hands, not to mention the baseball. He had brooded the whole Series. He insulted the media, said it was impossible for him to have fun under these circumstances.

I guess it wasn’t much fun to be yanked in the third inning on Sunday either, because he came into the dugout, threw a left hook at an electric fan, and gashed his finger open.

TKO, the fan, 1st round.

Exit Tudor, stage left.

Then it was Whitey Herzog’s turn. Down 9-0, the man they call The White Rat
— who can be a genuinely good guy when he wins, but then, big deal, who can’t? — came charging out of the dugout in the middle of those disputed calls, the blue words spewing from his mouth like chewing-tobacco spit. He promptly got himself thrown out of the game — which was pretty much what he wanted.

“I had seen enough,” he said later. “Like Casey (Stengel) said, ‘There’s no point living a misery.’ “

Exit Whitey, stage left.

And then, the piece de resistance. Joaquin Andujar. What a gem. What a jewel. What an idiot.

What did he figure to accomplish by playing wildman with the umpire? Were the Cardinals going to come back in the sixth inning and score 11 runs? This same team that was hitting .185? Yeah. OK. Wait a minute. There’s some swampland I want to sell you.

But Joaquin went wild, screaming and cursing and making like Conan the Andujarian. He should have been shot with a dart and tossed in a net.

How embarrassing. For the Cardinals, and for baseball. It was like bringing your infant to a formal dinner and watching him wet his diapers in the middle of the room. Pitching is still the key Why was Andujar there in the first place? Herzog had other pitchers. Was the White Rat trying to send a subtle message as to what he thought about the proceedings?

Who cares now? The whole incident was a blight on an otherwise fascinating Series — I don’t care what people in New York think — although, from a purely baseball point of view, it would have been a travesty had the Cardinals won, hitting the way they did. True, they were not the same team as their regular-season version without Vince Coleman. But the Royals minus DH Hal McRae are not the same squad, either.

If there’s any message in this World Series it’s that pitching still wins ball games, when you get right down to it. Hats off to the Royals’ staff for proving that, and for never faltering. That’s worth talking about.

But this good guy/bad guy business isn’t fair. Yes, the Cardinals have their blotches, and so do the Royals. Just as both teams have plenty of good spots.

Just remember this Series as one that went seven, saw great pitching, a great comeback, and had a closing scene that won’t be easily forgotten.

Exit baseball, stage left. Next act, April 1986.


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Mitch Albom writes about running an orphanage in impoverished Port-au-Prince, Haiti, his kids, their hardships, laughs and challenges, and the life lessons he’s learned there every day.

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