- from Winnie the Pooh
The score was tied, there were two outs, a runnner on third base and Justin Morneau was at-bat. And all I could think was that I almost wished he wasn't. Not because I didn't trust him to get the big hit. (He did.) But because I really wanted to see Carlos Gomez try to steal home.
It sure looked like he could have. Joe Crede, the White Sox third baseman, was playing at least 25-30 feet from the bag. Gomez could have taken a lead one-third of the say towards home and still beaten Crede back to third base. Frankly, it seems like nobody even considers that the opposing team might steal home. Even though it used to be so common that Babe Ruth stole home ten times in his career.
The situation certainly seemed to call for it. The Twins had been struggling to score runs. There were two outs. Morneau had looked terrible in his previous at-bats. And there was a left-handed pitcher on the mound.
And god knows that if any organization should be able to teach a person how to steal home in this modern era, it's the Twins. Rod Carew, who is at spring training every year, stole home 17 times in his career, and still holds the major league record with seven in 1969. But did you know that Paul Molitor also stole home at least ten times?
But today, for whatever reason, it was never really a threat. Gomez never took much of lead, never getting half as far from the base as Crede was. Go-go didn't even play games with the pitcher, as if it never evern occurred to him to consider bluffing, let alone actually doing it.
And, truth is, it probably wasn't a good time. After all, this is Morneau, and he did get the game-winning hit. Plus, I wonder if it's more difficult to steal home with a left-handed batter at the plate. And, it's likely that this is something that the Twins staff is afraid to work with Gomez on, because he does seem to be (as was aptly noted by Patrick Reusse yesterday) the most spontaneous player in baseball.
But count me as someone who is officially looking forward to Eating That Honey. I grew up with Sir Rodney, but to me he was the sweet hitter, not the sneaky thief. Sometime within the next couple years, we're going to see Gomez at least try that play. And the only thing I'm looking forward to more that it is the moment just before it, when the crowd is on their feet, and the whole ballpark, including the opposing team knows it's coming. And then....
Well, I don't know what it's called, but it's even better "than when you were". And I sure want to be there.