You Can’t Box In Larry Bowa (and Other Stories from April 1 in Major League Baseball)

It wasn’t the day’s biggest story — the derailment of Pedro Martinez’s return due to a leg injury earns that distinction — but on April Fools’ Day, it seems appropriate to focus on the day’s wackiest story.

Enter Larry Bowa.

The high-strung former Phillies manager, now a third base coach for Joe Torre’s Los Angeles Dodgers, was thrown out of Tuesday night’s Giants-Dodgers game for arguing with third base umpire Ed Montague.

“What was he arguing?” you may ask. And then you might venture guesses such as balls and strikes, a close play at third, or whether a ball hit down the line was fair or foul. All are fairly common arguments, after all.

Less common was the argument Bowa reportedly engaged in. Apparently, Montague was unhappy with where the erstwhile shortstop had located himself, and instructed Bowa to get his ass back in the coach’s box.

And that happened.

“Leave me alone,” indeed. While the lunacy of this entire situation speaks for itself, the good people over at Yahoo! Sports added a nice little touch of their own by incorrectly identifying what team Bowa coaches for:

bowabox.jpg

Oh, sure. It may seem a little nitpickish, but not having seen what happened at the time, I had the beautiful image of Larry Bowa, rocking a salt and pepper beard, long, straggly graying hair and Yankees warmups rushing past Dodger Stadium security to give that bastard Montague a piece of his mind, possibly for a call he blew in last year’s playoffs that, compounded with the poor state of the nation’s economy, sent Bowa into a personal and professional tailspin where he was unable to find work following his removal from the Yankees coaching staff, coinciding with Joe Torre’s departure in October. And yet, in Bowa’s mind, it all could’ve been avoided if the bastard had just delayed the bug game in Cleveland instead of letting Joba Chamberlain get swarmed by bugs during the crucial eighth inning of game two of the ALDS.

But now Bowa would have his revenge, calling bullshit on Montague in front of one of those typically rabid Dodger Stadium crowds during a hotly-contested game against Bengie Molina and the San Francisco Giants. There could be no grander stage for Bowa’s hypothetical vengeance!

As it turns out, Montague wasn’t on the Yankees-Indians ALDS crew, and Bowa followed Torre to the Dodgers, where he remains Torre’s third base coach.

Thanks a lot, Yahoo, for letting my imagination run wild. I liked my version better.

And — how’s this for a segue? — so did the New York Mets, Toronto Blue Jays, St. Louis Cardinals and Seattle Mariners, all teams I figured to win today that, in fact, lost. The full scoreboard, with my picks italicized, right here:

  • New York Yankees 3, Toronto Blue Jays 2
    • “April Mo” was a no-show, sending the Blue Jays down in order in the ninth to secure the 1-run victory. He even managed to record the final out against Marco Scutaro.
  • Florida Marlins 5, New York Mets 4 (10 innings)
    • The big story in this one was already mentioned, as Pedro Martinez struggled before leaving the game with an apparent hamstring injury. He allowed four hits in 3.1 innings, including a pair of home runs, while recording one strike out and walking another batter.
    • Martinez’s injury overshadowed the heroics of Robbie Andino, whose first Major League home run came in grand fashion when he delivered the walk-off blow against reliever Matt Wise.
  • Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim 9, Minnesota Twins 1
    • Jon Garland’s first Angels win evened his career record against his former squad’s division rival to 8-8. He went eight innings, allowing just one run on six hits. He walked one batter, which was one more than he struck out.
  • Colorado Rockies 2, St. Louis Cardinals 1
    • Poor defense and suspect relief pitching spoiled Kyle Lohse’s Cardinals debut. He pitched five scoreless innings before turning the game over to St. Louis’s bullpen, which was to protect a 1-0 lead. It didn’t. Kip Wells was solid in his return to St. Louis, where he was atrocious in 2007, working into the sixth inning while only allowing one run.
  • San Diego Padres 2, Houston Astros 1
    • Scott Hairston’s two-run home run in the fourth inning was all the offense the Padres needed in their 2-1 win. Chris Young struggled with his command for San Diego, but the light-hitting Astros couldn’t capitalize. Joe Thatcher, Cla Meredith, Heath Bell and Trevor Hoffman combined to throw 3.1 innings of one-hit ball to secure the victory.
  • Boston Red Sox 2, Oakland Athletics 1
    • Daisuke Matsuzaka bounced back from his shaky outing in Japan, allowing just two hits while fanning nine A’s in 6 2/3 innings. Hideki Okajima and Jonathan Papelbon took it the rest of the way, rendering Joe Blanton the hard-luck loser for Oakland.
  • Los Angeles Dodgers 3, San Francisco Giants 2
    • Matt Cain picked up right where he left off last season, throwing up zeros on the opposing team’s line score and having the Giants follow suit in support of him. Cain exited a scoreless game in the sixth inning. One inning later, the Giants would take a 2-0 lead. It was short-lived, as the Dodgers immediately took those runs back following a two-run single by Rafael Furcal.
    • The second walk-off of the day saw pinch hitter Delwyn Young single home Furcal in the bottom of the ninth. Furcal had started the inning by drawing a walk against losing pitcher Keiichi Yabu. Yabu’s fellow countryman Takashi Saito picked up the win in relief.
  • Texas Rangers 5, Seattle Mariners 4
    • Josh Hamilton’s two-run, ninth-inning home run against Seattle closer J.J. Putz was the difference in Texas’s come-from-behind win against the Mariners.

SUPERSTAR vs. CENTRAL update:
Pittsburgh Pirates (1-0) 1.000
Milwaukee Brewers (1-0) 1.000
Merrill Park Superstar (14-9) .609

I’m already moving in the wrong direction. I guess the good news is that the Pirates and Brewers are the only teams in the division that actually have wins, no thanks to either of their bullpens.

Let’s see if I can do better tomorrow:
Kansas City Royals over Detroit Tigers
Milwaukee Brewers over Chicago Cubs
Oakland Athletics over Boston Red Sox
Philadelphia Phillies over Washington Nationals
Baltimore Orioles over Tampa Bay Rays
Chicago White Sox over Cleveland Indians
New York Yankees over Toronto Blue Jays
Cincinnati Reds over Arizona Diamondbacks
Atlanta Braves over Pittsburgh Pirates
New York Mets over Florida Marlins
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim over Minnesota Twins
St. Louis Cardinals over Colorado Rockies
San Diego Padres over Houston Astros
Seattle Mariners over Texas Rangers
San Francisco Giants over Los Angeles Dodgers

Quite a few intriguing pitching matchups tomorrow, but the one that really sticks out to me as a sleeper is the between Tampa Bay’s Matt Garza, 3-0 with a 2.16 ERA in three starts against the Orioles, and Baltimore’s Daniel Cabrera, who is 6-0 with a 3.04 ERA in 11 career starts against the Rays. The Tim Lincecum-Chad Billingsley matchup in Los Angeles should also be interesting as Lincecum tries to get the Giants in the win column for the first time this season.

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