Chicago Cubs slugger Junior Lake took forever, figuratively, to trot around the bases Sunday afternoon after he hit his sixth home run of the season. Actually, his trot last a little over 30 seconds, a long time to make the circuit. It's not that he got stuck admiring his homer, which barely cleared the left-field fence and the leap of San Diego Padres outfielder Seth Smith. Lake just got confused, not certain of what was happening after he connected for a high fly.
Lake's drive, a solo shot, gave the Cubs a lead in the sixth inning. No, really, it did.
On video, Cubs broadcasters Len Kasper and Jim Deshaies can be heard encouraging Lake to run — "Keep goin', Junior!" — but evidently he could not hear. Lake eventually made it all of the way around the bases, but he kind of looked like Jimmy Piersall doing so backward.
The Padres came back to win 4-3 (even if Lake thought it might have been 4-2).
There usually are signs when a home run has occurred. The outfielder exhibits certain crestfallen body language (and doesn't produce a baseball). Umpires signal "whoopee!" with their index fingers. The first base coach usually sees the outcome and often says something as the batter rounds the bag. The crowd reacts favorably, or unfavorably, depending on which team benefits. Lake managed to miss all of the signs.
What possibly threw Lake above all else: The mixed reaction of the crowd at Petco Park, which hosted a lot of Cubs fans, as road ballparks often do. Cheering on the road usually would mean an out. Not the case here.
It's also possible Lake had the recent inside-the-park home run at Petco hit by Kurt Suzuki of the Twins in his head. Smith was in left field for that one, too. Maybe it's Smith we should be questioning.
One last item: Junior, tuck in your shirt.
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