Gary Sheffield Joins 500 Club (4/17/2009)
One thing that has always fascinated me is how little fanfare former MLB superstar Gary Sheffield received in anticipation and in recognition of his 500th career home run. I've seen about 12-15 dudes reach the milestone during my fandom—Eddie Murray, Miguel Cabrera, Barry Bonds, Albert Pujols, Ken Griffey Jr., Manny Ramirez, and more—and they all received at least twice as much pub as Sheff did.
Even the suspected PED abusers.
Obviously, it's because A) Sheffield never stayed in one place too long to become anything more than a brief chapter in their history, and B) Sheffield wasn't always a very likable dude.
If, say, Tony Gwynn Sr. had managed to reach 500 jacks with the Padres, the entire city would have stopped for a week leading up to the milestone, with subsequent, nonstop TV coverage rivaled only by the 9/11/2001 terrorist attacks.
So we'll recognize you here, Gary. TSR hasn't forgotten your great career.
Notes: Serving as a PH for reliever Sean Green, Sheffield's blast was hit off Brewers RP Mitch Stetter in the B7th. The Mets went on to win 5-4 on a walk-off infield single by Luis Castillo.
SS Jose Reyes and 2B Daniel Murphy are the first two teammates to greet Sheffield near home plate.
DeAndre Jordan Breaks The Rim (2/20/2016)
Detractors of longtime Clippers C DeAndre Jordan, upon learning he broke a rim, would joke "how? With a bricked free throw?" We here at TSR will stay away from such juvenile humor (since we have nothing against Jordan).
In a 2016 game against the visiting Warriors, the 6'11", 265-lb powerhouse did what he's known to do—threw down a powerful dunk. This slam, however, had a bit more muscle behind it than usual; Jordan left the Staples Center basket hanging crooked on the backboard.
Most importantly: no one was injured, and the damaged hoop was quickly replaced. I don't think a full hoop replacement had been necessary in the NBA since Shaquille O'Neal's famously destructive rookie season of 1992-93.
Notes: That's Jamal Crawford feeding Jordan, and who appears to be Brandon Rush unsuccessfully defending. Though Jordan finished with 16 points and 21 rebounds, his Clippers eventually fell to Golden State 115-112.
Matt Duffy Ruins A Baseball (8/16/2016)
Yeah, I know we presented a video like this a while back. Well, I'm presenting another one.
While on the DL, 3B/SS Matt Duffy was traded from my Giants to the Tampa Bay Rays in June 2016 (has it really been THAT long?) and promptly went 5-for-13 in his first four games as a Ray upon returning in August.
In the fifth game, Duffy "ripped" an infield single. Because of shoddy construction/materials or just some wonky timing only explainable by science, the baseball wound up looking bitten after coming in contact with Duffy's bat.
Notes: Duffy's single came against former Ray Edwin Jackson, now with the Padres, in the B3rd. BaseballReference.com's boxscore describes the hit as the seldom-seen "Single to Catcher". Tampa led San Diego 3-0 at the time and went on to a 15-1 win behind Blake Snell and four relievers.
That's 3B Evan Longoria, who had tripled two batters prior, freezing at third base.
Jerome Simpson Flips Out (12/24/2011)
As an overweight man, I'm more and more impressed by displays of athleticism I could have never dreamed of even in my own youth. Especially when they lead directly to runs/points for the athlete's team.
One classic example: WR Jerome Simpson of the 2011 Cincinnati Bengals. Against the visiting Cardinals in Cincinnati, Simpson caught a pass from Andy Dalton, headed upfield, saw defender Daryl Washington in his path, and executed his very best Ozzie Smith impersonation to reach paydirt!
Finally, the public could say that an NFL player named Simpson flipped out without referencing homicide or robbery.
Notes: The 1Q score (and extra point) made it 17-0 Bengals; they'd go on to win 23-16. Both Simpson and Washington had their NFL careers derailed by substance abuse and legal issues, unfortunately.
DeWayne Wise Saves A Perfecto (7/23/2009)
Two moments in Giants history that never fail to trigger my emotion: Aaron Rowand's sensational catch in CF to preserve Jonathan Sanchez's no-hitter against the Padres in 2009, and Gregor Blanco's incredible catch in CF to preserve Matt Cain's perfect game in 2012.
For White Sox fans, one of their "triggers" is no doubt this catch made by CF DeWayne Wise late in Mark Buehrle's perfect game in 2009. Wise, a career backup, was specifically in the game for late-inning defense, and on this drive by Tampa Bay's Gabe Kapler leading off the T9th, he rewarded manager Ozzie Guillen's faith.
(Dare I say, he proved Guillen's "Wisdom"? No? Okay.)
Notes: Buehrle, of course, retired the next two hitters (C Michel Hernandez and SS Jason Bartlett) to complete the perfecto.
Wise had JUST ENTERED in the T9th, sliding CF Scott Podsednik over to LF and LF Carlos Quentin to the bench. Usually, you don't mess with defensive alignments that late in a no-hitter/perfect game, but this time it paid off royally.
Foul Ball Fells Umpire Danley (4/27/2021)
You have to be tough to be a pro athlete.
You have to be tough to be a major league player.
You have to be tough to be a major league catcher.
But what's often overlooked: you have to be tough to be a major league umpire.
The four umpires rotate bases every game, meaning each one assumes duties behind home plate every fourth day. They put themselves at almost as much risk as the catchers they flank—except they lack gloves and are usually caught totally off-guard when a wayward baseball targets them...
...as what happened with veteran umpire Kerwin Danley during a 2021 Rockies/Giants clash.
Notes: That's Colorado CF Sam Hilliard at the plate; RP Jose Alvarez and C Buster Posey—who certainly knew a thing or two about foul balls off the dome—served as the Giants battery.
Danley, who left no fewer than seven games after blows to the noggin during his long career, was replaced behind the plate by Ryan Additon. Danley was back in action two days later, according to Retrosheet.org; he retired after the 2021 season.
The Rockies defeated the Giants 7-5, although Hilliard struck out in all three at-bats.
Blake Griffin Dunks On Kendrick Perkins (1/30/2012)
For those of you who only recently discovered NBA basketball and watch Blake Griffin of the Brooklyn Nets launch ill-fated jumpers without doing much else in the few minutes he receives, you might not believe that during the 2010's, he was the premier athletic big man in the entire league.
Griffin didn't pop threes; if he wanted three points, he'd go to the hole, posterize somebody, and sink the accompanying free throw. And if he sat for more than 10 minutes at a time, it's only because his Clippers were blowing somebody out.
Though today's Griffin is basically a bench warmer, just know he was one of the faces of the NBA last decade. And dunks like this were the reason why...
Notes: The announcers reference a Griffin dunk over Knicks C Timofey Mozgov on 11/20/2010; that dunk, IMHO, pales in comparison to this one since Mozgov never really challenged Griffin.
Though only 4-of-7 overall in this game, Griffin did sink the free throw here, putting Los Angeles up 73-51 over Oklahoma City. They'd go on to win 112-100, as Griffin finished with 22 points on 9-of-16 shooting.
More Antics From A.J. Pierzynski (10/15/2014)
Already unpopular in San Francisco after being acquired from the Twins for future star CL Joe Nathan and playing poorly in 2004, veteran C A.J. Pierzynski went out of his way to earn even more detractors during the 2014 NLCS.
Early in Game 4, SP Shelby Miller battled Giants 1B/OF Travis Ishikawa with Hunter Pence on first base and two outs. When a pitch got away from Pierzynski as Ishikawa's bat clipped him, the Cardinals receiver pulled a page out of soccer's (embarrassing) book in a (successful) attempt to prevent Pence from advancing.
Notes: True, Pierzynski—playing for the injured Yadier Molina—WAS technically interfered with, but he was fully prepared to ignore it and fire that baseball to second base until the light bulb in his head activated. Is it truly interference if it doesn't affect anything you're doing?
Despite Pierzynski's sell job and the Cardinals 2-1 lead at the time, San Francisco came back to win 6-4.
Travis Davis's Near-Record Return (12/26/1999)
In his five-season NFL career, Travis Davis of the Jaguars and Steelers didn't make a whole ton of headlines. If anybody produced a sunset card of Davis, it would list the Pittsburgh starting safety with one interception, one forced fumble, five passes defensed and zero sacks in 16 games during his final season.
Not exactly Pro Bowl stuff.
But for one shining moment, Davis flirted with history. Facing the visiting Panthers towards the end of the 1999 season, the alert Davis recovered a first-quarter fumble by Carolina RB Fred Lane two yards into the Carolina offensive end zone—and ran it ALL THE WAY BACK for a Pittsburgh touchdown!!! The 102-yard fumble return was the second-longest ever at the time (now third-longest).
Notes: The only two longer fumble returns are by Oakland's Jack Tatum in 1972 and Arizona's Aeneas Williams in 2000—both went for 104-yard touchdowns.
Both Davis and Lane played exactly one more NFL game after this one; Pittsburgh released Davis in a salary-cap move during the off-season and he never hooked up with anybody else. Lane was murdered by his estranged wife in July 2000.
Steelers LB Levon Kirkland forced the fumble from Lane. The Steelers went on to defeat the Panthers 30-20.
Ken Griffey Sr.'s Amazing Catch (8/19/1985)
One of my goals in life is to educate anybody who doesn't know just how good of a player Ken Griffey Sr. was. Was he as good as Junior? No, that's a very short list.
But Senior could ball, don't get it twisted. He had over 2,000 hits, stole exactly 200 bases, made three All-Star teams and lasted 19 MLB seasons—much of that as a full-timer.
And though he was not as dynamic defensively as his son would be, Senior could make a play in the outfield. This video proves it! It's Griffey Sr. robbing Boston 2B Marty Barrett of a T9th, game-tying homer at old Yankee Stadium.
Notes: That's reliever Bob Shirley eternally grateful for Griffey's effort. The Yankees led 6-5 at the time, and held on to defeat the Red Sox by that score as RP Rich Bordi immediately replaced Shirley and got the final out.
Griffey had just entered the game in the B7th as a PH for Billy Sample. Barrett finished a hard-luck 0-for-4.