The ball sailed high enough to bring more rain and right enough to worry anyone standing near the visiting on-deck circle, which means the latest first pitch thrown by Oscar Goodman before a 51s game was splendidly perfect.
The mayor’s popularity is like Russia’s landmass. It never ends. Cameras follow him as if someone named Lohan is nearby. He can’t walk a few feet without signing something.
His are entertaining and predictable flaws, as much part of the flashy package as his unquestioned intelligence. Goodman is just goofy enough to make us believe we could walk in his shoes and yet shrewd enough to remind us most couldn’t.
Perfect characters are boring and unrealistic. Cardboard cutouts are uninteresting. It’s far more amusing this way, because all you have to see is Goodman throw a ball to know the part about faultlessness isn’t an option.
“I think if I ever got it over the plate, the fans would be disappointed,” said Goodman, who estimated he has thrown 22 first pitches and just two for strikes, but those two must have involved a strike zone wider than Lake Mead. “They expect me to do what I do.”
I want to party with this guy and others who hang around and, well, sometimes on him for support, as witnessed Saturday night at Cashman Field. Drawing straws for a designated driver must be a regular occurrence.
For the third time, the 51s honored Goodman with his likeness on a bobblehead, and the local Triple-A affiliate just might have outdone itself with this latest design.
It could be one of the more classic ones ever created at any level of giveaway.
What could top it?
Maybe one of Jeremy Mayfield holding a metal bowl in which to cook methamphetamine.
Or one of Michael Vick with a poodle at his feet.
Or, as Las Vegas Review-Journal assistant sports editor Allen Leiker suggested, one of 51s president Don Logan on one knee devotedly gazing up at Goodman with a new downtown ballpark behind the mayor.
The one distributed before the 51s-Tacoma game Saturday has Goodman portrayed in a sport coat and tie, not exactly the Tony Soprano suit he wore in his first 51s bobblehead, but professional all the same. Standing next to him this time is the figure of a showgirl, likely a representation of Jennifer Gagliano, who has accompanied the mayor to events for eight years in her scanty outfit, complete with feathered hairpiece.
Her likeness is wearing a real feather on the bobblehead and is holding Goodman’s martini glass.
“The (likeness) is a little off, but it’s OK,” Gagliano said. “We always have fun with the mayor. It never gets old.”
I thought it important to gauge Gagliano’s views because I’m fairly certain she was one of the few entourage members in possession of all her faculties.
The fact another, morning radio co-host Andy Kaye of KOMP-FM 92.3, threw a strike on his ceremonial first pitch was a miracle the size of water to wine. The fact he made it to the mound without falling almost was as big an upset.
“What we really need to do is get a bobblehead of a showgirl where everything bobbles, not just the head,” Kaye said, uh, joyfully. “You know, the boobs.”
(Yeah. I know.)
“I tried that for my bobblehead two years ago,” Kaye continued, which I guess means he’s a fan of the Frank Costanza Bro. “I’ll send you one, Red. Thanks.”
I think he meant the bobblehead, but either way, if the 51s didn’t honor this guy back then on $1 beer night, someone blew one of the more obvious promotions in history.
But this is the sort of wackiness that makes minor league baseball special. Can you imagine what Bill Veeck would have dreamed up with Goodman as a willing prop?
The lower level of ball you offer, the crazier you can be with promotions, meaning the next time a celebrity is cryogenically frozen like Ted Williams, don’t expect the 51s to duplicate the stunt of a Popsicle night. There are some lines they don’t feel a need to cross.
“The No. 1 thing we promote each night is the game,” Logan said. “I disagree with people who don’t think this level of play is phenomenal. That said, you wrap it up with all the other stuff. Our mayor is our mayor. Oscar is one of the smartest people I know.
“He genuinely cares about the community. He is an icon. He’s good for Las Vegas.”
Goodman’s continued popularity is something to witness, all right. Of course, a few hours into the game, Logan had something more pressing on his mind.
He was searching for someone to drive Kaye home.
Las Vegas Review-Journal sports columnist Ed Graney can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-4618. He also can be heard weeknights from 11 p.m. to 1 a.m. on “The Sports Scribes” on KDWN-AM (720).