FROM RUSSIA WITH GLOVE

RUDY USED TO BE A RED ARMY PARATROOPER NOW HE AND HIS COMRADES ARE MAKING BASEBALL HISTORY IN MESA.

So "the Russians"--the source wasn't specific as to who made the initial suggestion--asked if they could effectively swear at the umpires in their native tongue. Lachemann, a gruff old-timer with two brothers--Marcel and Rene--coaching in the big leagues, thought about it for a moment and said why not, the umps weren't that smart. From that point on, all the Angels began taking language lessons.

It comes in handy during tonight's second game. Angel ace Miguel "Felix" Fermin is throwing well when, in the third inning, Cub third baseman Juan Cedeno cranks a fastball 400 feet over the left-field fence. Cedeno, a right-handed hitter, takes four steps down the first-base line, then stops, hands on hips to watch the ball disappear into the night sky.

This, of course, is a severe breach of baseball decorum. This is simply not done. This, as Angel pitcher David Kennedy puts it, is "horseshit." When one is fortunate enough to hit a home run, one puts his head down and circles the bases at a brisk pace. To do otherwise can only be read as a disrespectful and "bush" attempt to show up the other team.

"You're going to get plunked, Number 11," Kennedy screams at the slow-moving, high-fiving Cedeno. "You're meat, motherfucker, you're going down."
Two innings later, with the score tied at one run each and a runner on third base, Cedeno comes up to hit again. He doesn't bother to dig in, and he's not smiling anymore. The Angel bench crackles with vicious energy.

"He's got to hit him," says Farrell, the former major leaguer who won 14 games for the Cleveland Indians in 1988. "He's got to hit him, doesn't he?"
Trainer Phil Bevacqua nods and makes a swooshing gesture with his hand. Right in the ribs.

Fermin's first pitch is a fastball. It comes in at Cedeno's shoulder, but the showboat dodges this one. Puchkov and Razhigaev, on the bench, hoot along with their teammates. "Bastard. Idiot." Kennedy, who seems the most interested in Cedeno's immediate future, screams at Number 11.

"You're going down, asshole," he snorts.
A second pitch whizzes by Cedeno's ear. A near miss. Paul Zuvella, the Cubs-Rockies manager, charges the home-plate umpire. "Warn the pitcher," Zuvella tells the young ump, pumping his forefinger at the young pitcher like a gangster blazing away. "He's throwing at my man. Warn him."

The umpire waves the manager back into the third-base coaching box. Fermin comes set. The pitch flashes under the bill of Cedeno's helmet and rings off the wire backstop 20 feet behind the plate. The runner comes home from third.

Lachemann hangs his head in quiet disgust.
"[If] you're going to throw at the cocksucker, you gotta make sure you hit the cocksucker," he spits, to no one in particular.

Cedeno has had about enough of target practice. In the time-honored tradition of hotheaded Latin ballplayers, he starts to take a step toward the mound, bat in hand. Angel catcher Joey Bertucci lays a heavy hand on his shoulder. Rockie manager Zuvella runs toward home plate--Warn him! Warn him!--as the splinter-thin Fermin braces for a brawl. Puchkov and Razhigaev tense up as their teammates prepare to rumble. Then . . .

Cedeno steps back into the box. Bertucci releases him. The umpire takes a couple of steps toward the mound to warn Fermin that if he throws at Cedeno--or any other hitter--again, he's out of the game. (Lachemann halfheartedly protests: "Why don't you let [Zuvella] call balls and strikes for you, too?) The Angel bench settles back, the tense moment past. For an instant, all is still. Cedeno seems to have escaped censure, at least tonight.

Suddenly, Bogatyrev, his eyes strafing the hitter from his position at second base, looses a bloodcurdling, bitter expletive toward Cedeno. "Pee-al-kawh!"

The Angel bench dissolves in laughter. "Ooooh," Farrell says. "That's telling him, Bogie."

Lachemann looks to Protextor, who's put his hand over his mouth to stifle his laughter.

"What'd he call him?" the manager asks.
"A pussy," Protextor translates.
"Krasafchik," Lachemann says.

YOU CALL THIS A REVITALIZED DOWNTOWN? WA... v9-09-92

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