The baseball gods have generally been unkind to the Cleveland Indians and Cleveland sports fans have been treated to some shabby play through the years.
But during an overcast night at U.S. Cellular Field on Tuesday, the Tribe experienced what might have been another first: Their infielders were bitten by smoke monster.
Providing a bit more context to that blooper is that Chicago's Gordon Beckham had just ignited the scoreboard fireworks by hitting a solo home run. Less than a minute later, Alejandro De Aza swung at the next pitch from Ubaldo Jimenez to take full advantage of the smoky environment that was overcast in the first place.
The ball landed about 70 feet from home plate, but it had hung in the air long enough for De Aza to hustle into second for perhaps the shortest double of his life. Said White Sox broadcaster Hawk Harrelson of the Indians: "Smoke got 'em!" Chicago radio man Ed Farmer said that Cleveland lost the ball in a "fireworks fog." (Great job, Ed.)
So, third baseman Jason Donald, let's clear the air, err, what's your story?
Donald said on MLB.com that he worried what might happen if a Sox player hit the ball in the air before conditions had improved:
"I remember thinking, 'If a ball gets in the air (after the) next pitch, nobody is going to have any clue where it is.' That goes for the infield or outfield."
"Right when it went up, I knew I was in the general vicinity," Donald said. "But when it was up there, I didn't see that thing until basically it was right in front of me dropping. It's frustrating that that kind of kick-started that inning, really.
"I really have no real [good] explanation for it, other than I think that's the first time something like that's ever happened. And probably the last."
Even though the situation seemed unique, the White Sox have been shooting off fireworks during games since the early '60s. And it frequently rains in Chicago at this time of year. Noting the conditions and asking the umpires for a delay would have been prudent, even if it were unprecedented. And you never know: They might have said yes and waited.
But it's too late now. As reporter Jordan Bastian noted, the Indians unraveled during that inning and went on to lose 7-2. And, to be fair, they played sloppy all night, committing two errors and having other miscues. The Tribe, which hasn't won a World Series since 1948, always seems half a step behind. In a fog, really.