Sunday, May 13, 2007

We Call Him Whacko Jacko

When Jack Cust rounded third base today after hitting a three-run home run with two out in the bottom of the 9th to beat Cleveland, he threw off his batting helmet before plunging into the clump of teammates who had gathered at home place to greet him. I don't know if that is considered showboating in baseball, but if it it is, he certainly deserved the show, the boat, the sheets, the sails and a hornpipe on the fo'c'sle.

After nine years in the minors and several cups of coffee in the majors -- not much; more like weak tea in a paper cup -- the A's traded for him last week because their everyday lineup had tattered, and his price (negligible) was right.

Nine years sloshing around the scuppers of whatever major league organization you happen to be in that particular fortnight suggests just how much hope and confidence he inspired in those who make high-five to low-six figure salaries rendering reliable judgments about the probabilities that a young man can hit a baseball.

Yet today was Cust's seventh game in the Oakland lineup, and today's home run was his sixth home run.

The probabilities are it won't last. Indeed, I draw no life lesson from his unexpected success about how you and I should persevere at activities both more complicated and infinitely simpler than hitting a baseball.

But it is really hard to hit a baseball. We may admire it for its own sake as we admire Jackson Pollack, for the art of the thing, not because we would have liked to be that messy and get away with it. And -- if you insist on speaking in generalities -- I'm just glad to have been present at an unlikely event that is not horrendous and that does not make us lock our doors or distrust our fellow human beings.

Also, I'm a sentimental guy. It is Mother's Day, and I like to think his mother flew in for the game, probably on Southwest after an uncomfortable 45 minutes sweating out standby.

The visitor signed the visitor's book.

Year Age Tm Lg G AB HR BA

2001 22 ARI NL 3 2 0 .500

2002 23 COL NL 35 65 1 .169

2003 24 BAL AL 27 73 4 .260

2004 25 BAL AL 1 1 0 .000

2006 27 SDP NL 4 3 0 .333

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