My ninety-one year old mother is a spunky, lifelong baseball fan. Thelma grew up in Cleveland, and she was in the stadium, cheering wildly, when the Indians won the world series in 1948. At one time, she could tell you all the ball players’ stats, who was traded where and when, if they were married, where they lived, and probably even give you the names of their children.
She has followed Victor Martinez’s career since he first played for the Indians. When he was traded to the Red Sox in 2009, she told me, “He loved Cleveland. He didn’t want to go. I felt sad for him.”
In 2012, my mom moved to an assisted living apartment north of Detroit, and started watching the Tigers. She was delighted to see one of her long-time favorites, Martinez, on the team. I think it made the Tigers seem a little more like home to her.
When I visited with her today, after the Tigers had lost to the Athletics on Monday, October 7, she immediately started to tell me about the altercation between the A’s pitcher, Balfour, and Martinez. She was so riled up, she asked me to write about it in my blog, not that she has a computer and could ever read it. She just wanted to state her opinion, for the record!
I’d seen the ugliness on television and on replays. Balfour swears at Martinez (the first bleep-bleeps you hear on the video) and starts walking toward Martinez. Balfour is ordered to get back up on the mound. Martinez swears back as he walks toward Balfour.
Post game commentary seemed to blame Martinez, as if he should have known and understood Balfour; in fact, the commentators stated Martinez should have expected this behavior. MLB Network announcer Vasgersian explained Balfour for the benefit of viewers less familiar with the pitcher’s so-called antics: “This is Grant Balfour being Grant Balfour. He is… amped up. He talks a lot. It’s not personalized but he talks a lot. In fact, he has the demeanor of a guy that wants to fight you. That’s not his intention. That’s how he gets himself out there ready to throw in the ninth.”
In truth, Balfour shouted, “What the f*** are you looking at?” That’s not random, impersonal chatter. It was clearly directed at Martinez. My mother heard it. She took offense. She also took offense to MLB commentators excusing Balfour and giving Martinez a bum rap.
“He’s not that kind of man,” she said of Martinez. He’s a good ball player. He isn’t rash or foul tempered. “He’s not that way at all. He’s married. He lives in Cleveland,” she said, which apparently gives him esteem in her eyes.
Of the commentators who criticized Martinez, Mom said, “I don’t know why they have to do that.” Balfour might be a terrific pitcher, but it sure seems he’s the one with the attitude, not Martinez. Mom says he’s kind of a nut.
But, I guess that’s baseball. It’s a game of passion. I love that Mom is passionate about baseball, and life in general. And I love that she defends what she believes.