It has been roughly 10 weeks since a four-seam fastball clocked at 97.1 mph whistled toward home plate with two outs in the bottom of the eighth and a man on second base during Game 7 of the World Series, and a man named Rajai Davis gave it a mighty lash.
Davis, playing center field and batting seventh for the Cleveland Indians, figuratively turned the cap of the Chicago Cubs’ bullet-tossing relief pitcher Aroldis Chapman around. His line drive literally turned the Fox TV camera perched just on the home run side of the 19-foot left-field wall at Cleveland’s Progressive Field around.
Santa Maria! exclaimed Matt Vasgersian on the international radio feed.
Indians 6, Cubs 6.
Rajai Davis pumped his fists as he circled the bases.
LeBron James, Cleveland’s second favorite son at that moment, did the same thing sitting in the stands, and also made this crazy muscle man pose. A television audience of more than 40 million couldn’t believe it. Especially the part of the audience that was watching in Chicago.
What was it that Andy Warhol said about everyone being world famous for 15 minutes?
As it turned out, Rajai Lavae Davis of Norwich, Connecticut, would be world famous for 17 minutes.
That’s how long a rain delay in the top of the 10th inning that sapped the Tribe’s momentum and enabled the Cubs to regroup lasted. When Chicago scored twice after play resumed, and Cleveland just once (on a Davis single), the Cubs and long-suffering Cubs fans celebrated their first World Series championship in 108 years.
On Thursday morning, the amiable Rajai Davis was standing near the putting green at Bear’s Best Las Vegas, where dozens of ballplayers past and present would be playing golf to raise money for the Major League Players Trust, and the Players Charity for children.
He no longer is with the Indians, having signed with the Athletics on New Year’s Day. Because the Cubs came back to win that Game 7 for the ages, he also is no longer referred to as Rajai “Bleeping” Davis by the Chicago viewing audience.
He still is proud to be a giant footnote to one of the most memorable games in baseball history.
“It’s an experience you’re not going to forget,” the smiling 36-year-old Davis said as the wind whipped at the flag sticks under leaden skies. “You realize how many people it affected. So many people watching, and you come back to events like this and you see the other players, and how that game, that moment, impacted their lives (too).
“That’s something special, something that will be remembered. And I’m grateful for it.”
At the end, it was Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant of Las Vegas who fielded the final ground ball, who flashed the biggest smile.
I have a friend named Patrick, whom I mostly hear from when former NBA No. 1 draft pick Anthony Bennett of UNLV gets cut by a NBA team, or when Patrick comes across an extra Springsteen ticket. It’s usually the former.
“We can now officially label him the biggest bust in NBA draft history, correct?” Patrick wrote in an email after the Brooklyn Nets recently released the former Rebels stalwart.
“Tie with LaRue Martin,” I wrote back, alluding to the former Loyola University Chicago star heretofore generally considered the worst No. 1 pick (by Portland in 1972).
To which Patrick replied:
“In his best season, Martin averaged 7.0 points and shot .452 from the field. He notched both of those numbers during the 1974-75 season. Over his four-year stint, Martin totaled just over 1,400 points; the 1972 No. 2 overall pick Bob McAdoo totaled more than 1,400 points in his rookie year alone.
Martin retired at the end of the 1975-76 season. In four seasons he averaged 5.3 points and 4.6 rebounds per game.”
Anthony Bennett’s four-year NBA averages were 4.4 points and 3.1 rebounds. He is headed to Turkey, where NBA dreams go to die.
Patrick said the Blazers never gave up on LaRue Martin, at least not publicly, whereas multiple teams have given up on Anthony Bennett.
He signed it XOXOXO.
I think this means I will still be considered the next time he comes across an extra Springsteen ticket.
Ranking the Utah State vs. UNLV basketball skirmishes and extracurricular activities:
3. Utah State at Lady Rebels, 2017: A hard foul under the basket precipitates punches. Two players are suspended; six ejected for leaving the bench.
2. Utah State at UNLV, 1990: The Rebels’ Moses Scurry punches Aggies coach Kohn Smith in the face during a late-game melee featuring massive fisticuffs. Scurry and UNLV’s Chris Jeter receive suspensions. Seven Rebels, three Aggies are placed on Big West probation.
1. UNLV at Utah State, 1990. Not a fight per se in the rematch, but a tawdry incident. A spectacular, wet, tawdry incident. Two Aggies fans detonate a water bomb behind the Rebels’ bench before the start of the second half. Two Aggies fans receive a court summons. Jerry Tarkanian and Rebels reserves receive a shower. Rebels sink two technical free throws — and go on to win, 84-82.
TAKING A KNEE
* Remember when guys played golf when their teams missed the playoffs? Instead of hitting the links, Tennessee Titans Delanie Walker, Jurrell Casey, Avery Williamson, Brian Orakpo and Sean Spence hot-lapped at SPEEDVEGAS, with two-time Pro Bowl defensive end and Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year nominee Casey topping the speed chart at 153 mph in a Ferrari 458.
* Headline on baseball website Friday: Why isn’t anyone signing Chris Carter? The Sierra Vista High product smacked 41 home runs to co-lead the National League in 2016 before being unceremoniously dumped by the Milwaukee Brewers. But indications are free agent dominoes are about to fall, and one of four teams (the Red Sox perhaps being one) could soon get the big man’s name on the bottom line.
I'm still annoyed that the Brewers non-tendered Chris Carter and that no one has signed him.— Marc Normandin (@Marc_Normandin) January 13, 2017
* Former 51s manager Wally Backman and Mets general manager Sandy Alderson continue to spit chewing tobacco on each other’s shoes. Backman claims he has been blackballed from getting a major league job by a certain high-ranking Mets official; Alderson told ESPN.com that Backman is “a good baseball man” and “Wally did a good job for us at Las Vegas” but “nobody has called about Wally.” Waldo, as he affectionately was called by 51s president Don Logan, reportedly is headed to Mexico for a coaching assignment, which should be interesting on many fronts.