September 04, 2011
It was obvious all afternoon — and perhaps all season — that the Seattle Mariners needed a wake-up call. Unfortunately for catcher Josh Bard(notes), when the call finally came, he was on the receiving end. And even more unfortunately, it did nothing to jump start his team in their 3-0 loss to the Oakland Athletics — a game in which their offense was three-hit by starter Brandon McCarthy(notes).
The alarm went off during the bottom of the sixth inning, with Bard behind the plate performing his catching duties. Oakland's Cliff Pennington(notes) stepped in with two outs and got a pretty good piece of Michael Pineda's(notes) first pitch 93 mph fastball, but fouled it straight back into the hockey goalie-type mask worn by Bard.
And when I say into the mask, I don't mean hit the mask and bounced straight down or deflected away. I mean literally into the mask, where it wedged between the top two bars.
Bard later admitted he was temporarily dazed by the impact. That might explain why he asked home plate umpire Bill Welke for a new ball before being informed the old one was stuck in his mask.
"I think it was just one of those times when it was a perfect placement and maybe a softer ball than normal," Bard said. "It just stuck. Obviously I'm grateful that I still have my eye and nose. I still have plenty of nose," he joked. "So it's all good."
That's wedged in there pretty good.
Looks like my mask has a new handle!
After a few good tugs, the ball was finally dislodged. Bard then examined his mask, deemed it fit to continue, and a game with little effect on the standings carried on. But hey, it's moments like these that make playing out the string worthwhile for everybody.
Well, except maybe for the catchers.
Speaking of catchers and wedges, Mariners skipper Eric Wedge, a catcher in his day, says he's never seen a ball get stuck in the mask during his career. He also questioned Bard's decision to stick with the likely damaged mask.
"I wouldn't have taken the mask back out there, because if it got stuck, it almost got through, but he stuck with it."
I'm siding with the skipper on this one.
Other popular stories on Yahoo! Sports:
• Unusual push for pitchers to win MVP award crowds field
• Video: Star Wars Day at the ballpark
• Tiki Barber remains unemployed and sad