Prior to Game 6 of the 2013 NLCS, we saw a true first in Major League Baseball. Scott Van Slyke of the Los Angeles Dodgers and Joe Kelly of the St. Louis Cardinals engaged in a spontaneous on field standoff following the singing of the national anthem, in which both refused to leave their position until the other man blinked.
Each man's desire to be the last man standing was evident, and it even carried on to the point that the first pitch of the game was delayed before umpire Greg Gibson finally regained control and got Kelly to take a step back.
It was one of the most bizarre and unexpectedly entertaining events we've seen in baseball, especially considering it happened in the thick of the postseason. It also left us to wonder if we might ever see a sequel, whether it be between Kelly and Van Slyke, who ironically matchup over the weekend in St. Louis, or elsewhere in MLB.
We got our answer on Wednesday afternoon when Washington Nationals' reliever Aaron Barrett and Colorado Rockies' outfielder Brandon Barnes waged their own standoff following the "Star Spangled Banner" at Coors Field.
More often than not, a sequel falls short of the original in the drama and entertainment departments. However, Barrett and Barnes more than held their own, standing with hat over hearts for nearly eight minutes strong. Along the way, each man was given moral support and even reinforcements by teammates. Barrett was provided an energy drink and a batting helmet just in case they unnoticed. Barnes was toweled off by a teammate and provided sunscreen.
Baker ordered Barnes off the field with a loud whistle. Barnes relented and budged first, which extended Colorado's losing streak in everything relating to baseball, including public relations.At one point, Barnes even attempted to settle it with a game of rock, paper, scissors, but of course Barrett wasn't receptive. Finally, first-base umpire Jordan Baker had to step in as Denard Span stepped in to the start the game.
Nice try, Rockies. That's not how it works.
If there's something to be learned from the first two anthem standoffs, it's that positioning is of ultra importance. On both occasions, the winner was stationed by the dugout steps, while the loser stood on the field side of the warning track. Naturally, that's the guy the umpire will admonish first, so the key really is to stay close to the dugout where you're more likely to go unnoticed.
Yes, we're actually providing analysis on a national anthem standoff. However, it should be noted that in both cases the loser ultimately got the final laugh. Kelly's Cardinals advanced to the World Series that night with a 9-0 victory. On Wednesday, Colorado snapped its seven-game losing streak with a 6-4 victory against Stephen Strasburg.
Small sample size, sure, but that's something to file away for the next two guys crazy enough to have a standoff. Still, we encourage any and all players to try it at least once.
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