"You can leave your hat on."
— Randy Newman
The Minnesota Twins deserved a victory Tuesday night, and they got one by a 9-6 score in 12 innings against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park. The Twins had it coming, not because they played good baseball, or simply better baseball than the hibernating Astros. They deserved the "W" because they displayed teamwork, a spirit of sharing, a willingness to change clothes in public and because they wasted as little time as possible at a key juncture in the game.
After diving to make a ridiculous catch in left to rob Jose Altuve of extra bases in the fourth inning, outfielder Darin Mastroianni realized his uniform belt had broken upon impacting the warning track. Rather than wandering around like another lesser-experienced player might, or calling time out and running to the dugout to ask a staff member for a replacement belt, Mastroianni took advantage of having landed right next to the Twins bullpen.
What does Darin Mastroianni do when his belt breaks on an incredible catch? Switches with a member of the bullpen! pic.twitter.com/qvA6WjBTvm
— April Whitzman (@Alleycat17) September 4, 2013
Talking to relief pitcher Josh Roenicke through the chain-link fence, Mastroianni quickly communicated the need for a belt swap. So, they swapped, with Mastroianni handing Roenicke his damaged belt in exchange for Roenicke's working one. Roenicke could worry about getting a working belt for himself between innings, or whenever. He wouldn't come into the game for another eight innings. So practical on Mastroianni's part. Such a veteran move. What a way to buckle down. To do it another way would have taken for-ever. It's almost as if Mastroianni knew that extra innings were coming and he wanted to spare everyone 2-3 minutes which, in baseball, always seems like more.
Roenicke's dad, former major leaguer Gary Roenicke, ought to be proud of his kid being a generous and quick-thinking teammate. The same goes for uncle Ron Roenicke, manager of the Brewers. Karma later rewarded Roenicke with his second career save.
Side note: I wonder if Mastroianni felt awkward about changing belts in front of the crowd, no matter how sparse, at Minute Maid. Even though he never pulled a Steve Lyons by dropping his pants, he was still changing in front of everyone. What if there were grandmothers watching? Awkwaaaaard.
Another observation: Major League Baseball could put a little more money into the quality of these belts.