Earnest Ragging at least affords a chuckle most of the time. If you don’t know what that means, and feel compelled to learn in depth, visit “EEEEEE!”—I mention it in nearly 40 articles on the site. In short, Earnest Ragging is the thing that happens when a ballplayer does something positive (for his club, that is) right after you’ve finished ripping him. The purpose of Earnest Ragging is for real or imagined companions to point at you and laugh at your foolishness.
At least, that’s how it’s supposed to work. Tonight the Baseball Gods decided to stick Earnest Ragging up my bippy. In relief of Matt Cain—who had yet another one-hit outing, albeit in six innings (and thus lowering the league’s batting average against him: an average that started the night at .120)—Jack Taschner struggled in the seventh, and the camera showed Vinnie Chulk warming up in the bullpen. “Oh, great,” I thought. “El Chulko. I’m just brimming with confidence.”
Thus, of course, I pulled that much harder for Taschner. I mean, even Armando Benitez, though he frightens me a lot, doesn’t frighten me nearly as much as Chulk. So when Taschner gave up a one-out hit to cut the Giants’ lead to 4-2, out came Bruce Bochy. Out went Taschner. In came El Chulko with two aboard.
“I do not trust this guy,” I said. To no one there. And no one heard at all, not even the chair. Because I was in the bedroom, and we don’t have any chairs in there. (Stop thinking what you’re thinking, sicko. And definitely stop picturing it.) I said that, and I was being perfectly sincere. Not a thought crossed my mind involving “Earnest” or “Ragging” or “Baseball Gods.”
So obviously Chulk got the double play to end the inning, and the Giants went on to win, right? Wrong. First pitch to pinch-hitter Scott Hairston: Doont! Three-run bomb. Lead gone. Deficit acquired. First pitch. It wasn’t even funny.
So unfair—I mean, I was totally earnestly ragging. No forethought or self-consciousness about it whatsoever. And this is how I’m repaid? Bleah.
The top of the ninth was no more encouraging, of course. Bengie Molina—and it’s not hype, kids: he really is the slowest-afoot major league baseball player I’ve ever seen—squeezed out a single somehow. Randy Winn grounded into a force play, but went to second on a wild pitch. Ray Durham, pinch-hitting for Chulkie-Lou (which means that Rich Aurilia played second base tonight), cranked one way way way deep to center field, where Chris Young ran it down near the wall. Winn had to go back to second, which I don’t quite understand, but it certainly did not seem like a good omen. Dave Roberts popped up to end the game. Cain’s one-hit effort: wasted. Barry Bonds’ eighth (and 742nd) home run: wasted. Yeccchhh.
It’s not Chulk’s fault that the tying runs were on base in the seventh, with a run already having scored. It’s not his fault that Cain couldn’t hold the Diamondbacks to less than one run. And it’s not his fault that aside from Bonds’ (two-run) blast, a solo shot by Feliz, and a two-out bases-loaded walk to Vizquel in the second, the Giants’ offense was worthless. (Yeah, I’m talkin’ to you, Ryan Klesko!) But you’re not supposed to throw a first-pitch fastball the size of a beach ball to a guy who’s just come into the game cold.
Earnest Ragging always defeats the ragger. But there’s a good way and a bad way. This was not the good way. Gnarrh.