Hey, there's no kissing the baseball! Not while it's in play, anyway.
Needless to say, Oakland's ballplayers were a tad unhappy with the amorous interlude that Detroit Tigers reliever Al Alburquerque had with a baseball just before recording a key out on Sunday afternoon. After inducing a comebacker from Yoenis Cespedes, the right-hander pressed his lips to the ball and then threw it over to first to complete the play, violating what is no doubt an unwritten rule in the process.
The Kissing Bandit's throw, no doubt contaminated with reliever cooties, went for the third out in the top of the ninth inning and ended a two-runner scoring threat from Oakland in what was a tie game. The Tigers went on to win 5-4 in the bottom of the frame.
To hear Oakland's ballplayers tell it, Alburquerque's premature celebration added insult to injury as they head back to the Bay Area trailing the Tigers 2-o in the ALDS. Kissing a baseball before throwing it isn't against the rules, but it probably should be.
USA Today tells us about Oakland's objections:
"I didn't appreciate it," A's outfielder Josh Reddick told reporters afterward. "I thought that was immature. It was not very professional. That's all I got to say about it."
[Said] designated hitter Jonny Gomes to USA TODAY Sports' Bob Nightengale: "He must not believe in baseball gods. Because baseball gods take care of that stuff."
Alburquerque refused to comment, but the Tigers, Nightengale reports, plan to talk to him about the gesture.
There's very little chance for direct retribution on the A's part, seeing as Alburquerque probably won't see the inside of a batter's box during the series, if ever.
So Oakland will have to rely on karma, as Gomes alludes.
Granted, the A's were upset they had fumbled the game away and are facing three straight must-win games at home this week in order to stay alive. So some of their displeasure stems from sour grapes. The A's have also been accused of having a little too much fun on the field this season. New York's Eric Chavez, notably, complained about their exuberance.
But their response to critics has been, pretty much, "tough luck if you don't like how we act."
The A's have a legitimate beef about this, though. If it had been the last out of the game or series, we could maybe overlook Alburquerque acting foolish. But the game was continuing. It wasn't very sportsmanlike. The ball is community property, even if the defense controls it. It is not Alburquerque's to kiss, nor should he have risked a big error by adding an extra action into recording a key out. (Two runners were on base for Oakland at the time in a tie game.)
He should just leave the annoying antics to closer Jose Valverde, who's also known as the Big Potato. There's no room for a Small Potato in the Detroit bullpen, too.
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