For a few brief moments that felt like an eternity to Tigers fans on Tuesday evening, it appeared the name John Bendzinski might be added to a select list in baseball history.
His name was set to join that group of fans whose names become famous for interfering with play during the MLB playoffs.
John Bendzinski, meet Steve Bartman. And Jeffrey Maier.
But then the umpires emerged from whatever bizarre room they go to to watch replays and probably old episodes of “The Baseball Bunch” and ruled that Victor Martinez’s opposite-field shot indeed was a home run and Bendzinski’s touching of the ball did not constitute interference.
The game was tied, and the Tigers used the momentum to go on to the victory and force a decisive Game 5 today.
“We were hiding, everybody was hiding me so I wouldn’t get thrown out,” the 49-year-old Bendzinski told the Detroit News of the anxious moments waiting for the ruling. “Then when it came out to be a home run, everybody was going crazy.”
Bendzinski, along with his friend Mark Beauchamp, touched the ball. The umpires decided the ball was going to be a home run anyway, and it was well out of the possible reach of right fielder Josh Reddick.
“It was coming at me, and I didn’t know if it had enough (distance),” Bendzinski said. “I didn’t want to reach over. Next thing you know, I’m switching hands with my beer, and it hits me right in the hands.”
While Martinez’s shot would have been a home run even without the fans’ aid, Tigers right fielder Torii Hunter was appreciative of their efforts.
“Awww, yeah, boy, I told them, ‘Good job, good job, way to go, baby,’ ” Hunter told the paper he said to the fans when he took his position in right field in the next half inning. “Those are our fans. I’m excited they reached over and got that ball before (Reddick) did.”
He told the Detroit News he planned to buy “sodas” for fans who helped the Tigers win.
Meanwhile, Bartman not only never is allowed in Chicago, he’s not even allowed to see the awful movie or musical that share the city’s name.
■ HOUSE CALL — Things have gotten bad for quarterback Matt Schaub in Houston.
Last week, it was the infamous “Pick Six” burger that facetiously was served in his honor. That was in good fun.
This week’s news is frightening and abhorrent.
The CBS affiliate in Houston reported fans showed up at the struggling signal-caller’s house and “berated him for his recent poor play.”
One fan “told him off,” and another took pictures of Schaub’s family.
Schaub tried to throw rocks at the guys to get them off his property, but a kid wearing a Seahawks jersey stepped in to catch a rock and run it the other way way for six points.
■ SHUTDOWN SAFETY — San Francisco safety Donte Whitner’s plan to legally change his name to “Hitner” has hit a snag.
His license for an official name change can’t be processed during the government shutdown.
Even the most ardent Obama supporter would agree it’s worth the trade-off of trying to keep poor people from getting health care to make sure this name change can’t go through.
COMPILED BY ADAM HILL LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL