The Blue Jays played their 162nd game of the season yesterday.
There won’t be any more this year.
Russell Martin’s full name is Russell Nathan Jeanson Coltrane Martin, Jr.
Russell Martin’s father, Russell, was born and raised in Montreal. When his dreams of becoming a professional football player ended shortly after high school, the elder Martin worked renovating homes. But at 26 he picked up a friend’s flute, then a tenor saxophone, and a new vocation was born.
The elder Martin had natural musical ability and a willingness to work at it. He played in the Montreal Métro, especially at the Villa-Maria stop because of its grand acoustics.
So when his son was born, the elder Martin gave him the middle name Coltrane, an homage to John Coltrane; not solely for his music, but also for his free, independent spirit.
… “When I got back to Montreal in the summer, my dad couldn’t believe how much weight I had put on.”
Martin’s father concurred. “It broke my heart,” he said. “I took him out to the field to play ball, but he couldn’t move the way he had before.”
Playing his horn in the Métro, the elder Martin made enough money to take time off in the summer to play baseball with his son and get him back into shape. Eventually, he sent Russell to the prestigious Édouard Monpetit high school.
At the time, Russell was one of the most athletic kids in his corner of Montreal. And like most kids in Montreal, he played a little hockey. He mixed in, too, some fun with the saxophone and drums. But in baseball he stood apart.
—David Waldstein, New York Times
Everything about this is so wonderful.
My introduction to baseball was through the modern American League, where the pitcher never picks up a bat unless something very peculiar occurs. Interleague road trips are a rare chance to laugh at the strangeness of a DH-free lineup, where your starter does stuff like this and all of their at-bats are expected outs. American League pitchers: not typically the heartiest of offensive threats.
Of course, it hasn’t always been this way. The National League does not have a DH rule, and the American only adopted it around 1973, which means Major League Baseball has a long and storied history of pitchers taking cuts with the rest of their teammates.
Sometime last year, I was watching a San Francisco Giants game where Madison Bumgarner, pitching incredibly well, was receiving no run support whatsoever. When Bumgarner took his turn at bat he hit a double, scoring a runner and giving the Giants the lead; he then proceeded to take the mound again and defend that lead for the rest of his time in the game.
I was a little bit in awe of this. Until that point, I hadn’t even considered the possibility of pitchers shouldering the offensive burden as well, giving their team a chance to win on both sides of the equation. It’s admittedly a silly omission, since they’re in the batting order just like the rest, but it’s a little bit cooler when a pitcher is already steamrolling the other team from the mound.
There are plenty of games where pitchers have batted in runs while picking up the win—Yovani Gallardo did it more than once this season alone, and Carlos Zambrano must have done it a million times, most recently here, to name a few. I thought about trying to find a list of pitchers who had batted in the winning run while picking up the win, which would still be a fairly long list.
But what about something even more ridiculous? What about a pitcher throwing a no-hitter and batting in the winning run himself? Has that ever happened? I’d wager it’s the closest you could get to one guy destroying a baseball game all by himself.
Double Switching is a year old!
(Well, a year and a few days—true to form, I forgot to write a post on the actual day. Of course.)
I started writing here on April 19th, 2012 on a total whim, after having watched baseball for just shy of a year. It’s been fun collecting all my longer baseball thoughts in one place, supplemented by Twitter, and I’m pretty happy you have stuck around to read them. So thank you.
Here’s some of my favourites from the past twelve months:
Eight Thousand And Twenty, about the Mets’ first no-hitter ever. (June 1)
Writing About Writing About Baseball, thoughts about playing catch-up. (August 12)
Rest in Peace, for the fan who passed away after a heart attack at the Rogers Centre. (August 16)
This game which matters least matters most, on the last day of the Jays’ season. (October 3)
Bandwagon in the Ditch, on not judging new fans. (April 8)
On top of those, there’s also While the Men Watch: Sports Sexism At Its Worst about the CBC’s Hockey Night alternative broadcast, and a guest post for Infield Fly called Baseball Is Boring, Baseball Is Not Boring.
Baseball’s the best! And so are you. Thanks for being the best. This is a lot of fun.
It was a rough day at the yard. R.A. Dickey had none of his usual mystifying stuff, instead allowing five earned runs before the first Red Sox out. (I can imagine some jovial Jays fans walked in with their beers in the middle of the first inning, laughed at the scoreboard error, and then realized with horror what was actually happening.) Dickey ended up lasting 4.2 innings, surrendering eight runs (seven earned) on 10 hits and a pair of walks. He struck out five. Lester, on the other hand, gave up only five hits while striking out six, and neither he nor Clayton Mortensen gave up a run. The Blue Jays didn’t put up much of a fight in trying to bail out their starter, and the crowd started chanting “Go Leafs Go” in late innings … it was a mess.