If his last name was Chamberlain instead of Cabrera, Daniel wouldn’t have been suspended
So I went to Yankee Stadium Tuesday night to watch my favorite current major league player –Baltimore Orioles pitcher Daniel Cabrera– in action.
I kept score like I always do, though it took me a couple of innings to figure out who the umpires were, as I missed the announcement of their names while I was watching Cabrera warm up in the bullpen. Lucky for me, I had my father’s old Army binoculars, and managed to identify the men in blue by the numbers on their sleeves. All except the plate ump, that is. Number 75 wasn’t listed in my program. Later I found out why.
Anyway, the game was great. Baltimore left a lot of runners in scoring position early, but still held a 2-0 lead entering the bottom of the sixth due mainly to the efforts of Cabrera. When New York’s Alex Rodriguez crushed a homer way over the 408-foot sign, it woke up the Yankees fans temporarily, but they pretty much shut up again when the Orioles scored four times in the seventh to go on top 6-1.
Cabrera’s third pitch in the bottom of the frame came up and in to A-Rod, however, drilling him in the left shoulder, and the old ballpark erupted again as plate ump Chad Fairchild (filling in for guys out on vacation) tossed Cabrera without delay. While most of the 54,241 on hand were hollering about the injustice suffered by Madonna’s latest boyfriend, or what they wanted to do to the tallest Orioles pitcher in history, I yelled and screamed that the ejection was ridiculous. After all, Bobby Abreu had doubled leading off the inning, and the last thing Cabrera wanted to do was put baserunners on with a five-run lead.
“You just did exactly what we have been trying to avoid,” Baltimore skipper Dave Trembley told Fairchild. “Waking up 54,000 people.”
“Everybody in the whole stadium, and every player, they know I’m not trying to hit A-Rod,” remarked Cabrera.
It didn’t matter that even A-Rod said after the game that he didn’t think the pitch was intentional. A rookie ump’s judgement call cost the Orioles a pitcher who’s now 3-0 against the Yankees in 2008, after the relief corps barely managed to preserve his triumph that night by a score of 7-6.
Watching Cabrera sit all alone between innings that night –separated from his teammates by a policeman– I recalled reading articles about him in Dominican newspapers from years past. “Daniel Bad-tempered” is how those cheap computer translation programs spit out his name. After learning tonight that Major League Baseball has suspended Cabrera for six games for his last pitch on Tuesday night, it seems like something else is getting lost in translation.
Back in 1985, I remember purchasing an issue of The Sporting News with Joaquin Andujar and Mario Soto on the cover under the headline DOMINICAN DANDIES. “So good, so misunderstood” read the article inside, in which both pitchers complained about their images (at least in the USA) as head-hunting wackos. Why, they were just a pair of All-Star pitchers doing the same things that got Nolan Ryan celebrated and respected for his rawboned, all-American, don’t mess with Texas toughness.
Now, nearly quarter-century later, we have media poster-manchild Joba Chamberlain –Native American roots, pinstripes and all– drawing just a two-game suspension for TWICE nearly skulling Boston’s Kevin Youkilis in August 2007, then getting no penalty at all for doing it again earlier this year. I’ll tell you one thing, when you put Chamberlain into a free Spanish-to-English translation program …nothing happens either!
So, to Daniel Cabrera from your number one fan: From now on, it’s Danny Chamberlain for you, and all the accolades about high intensity, being a gamer, and protecting your teammates are sure to follow.
(P.S. – The day after Cabrera hit A-Rod, Edwar Ramirez of the Yankees got ejected when the only pitch he threw went over the head of the Orioles Kevin Millar. Ramirez, a Dominican, got a three-game suspension)