May 25, 2024

Weird and Wild: Aaron Boone’s ejection, a bee swarm in Arizona and unrefrigerated sausage


What separates the Weird and Wild column from most of your other hard-hitting baseball columns out there? It’s this fundamental belief: Baseball is fun.

You want coverage of Tropicana Field popups that go up but don’t come down, or of guys who throw their ball and glove to first base? You know where to find it.

But here’s another fundamental principle of the Weird and Wild column. Baseball isn’t just fun. It’s funny. So as a truly loony couple of weeks unfolded in this sport since the last edition of Weird and Wild, we had a brainstorm that’s been percolating for years now:

What this column lacks is … an opening monologue!

All we needed was some willing human who offered the following important qualifications: A) hilarious, B) loves baseball and C) would gladly perform here on Weird and Wild’s Big Stage for approximately the same fee your significant other might award you for weeding the garden for six or seven hours. (Also known as: gratis.)

Miraculously, we found such a human. It’s the great Eric Stangel, former head writer for David Letterman, who can also be found on X passing along updates like this.

We should also mention that Eric and his famously wacky brother, Justin, just signed one-day contracts — on the same, theoretically historic day — with both a baseball team and a hockey team. That would be the Toledo Mud Hens of the Triple-A International League and the Toledo Walleye, of minor-league hockey fame.

After those signings, an emotional Eric told his own website, stangelbros.com: “It feels amazing to be part of history. Well, I assume it’s history. We didn’t check or anything.”

That makes 13 minor-league baseball teams (and one hockey team) that have signed these guys to one-day deals, for some reason. On one hand, that doesn’t appear to be leading them to playing center field for the Yankees. On the other hand, it was just one more reason that Eric was the perfect man to deliver Weird and Wild’s first-ever opening monologue (at least for a fee slightly lower than we would have had to pay Jerry Seinfeld).

So, is everyone out there excited yet? Great! Now, heeeeeere’s Eric!

Weird and Wild intro: Fan gets Aaron Boone ejected!


This could be a boon for manager impersonators. (Mike Stobe / Getty Images)

A funny thing happened to Yankees manager Aaron Boone last week, on the way to his 34th career managerial ejection: Plate ump Hunter Wendelstedt gonged him after the fifth pitch of the game. But that wasn’t even the Weird and Wild part. Has any manager ever gotten ejected because an umpire mistook a heckling fan for the manager? Well, one has now!

HEEEEEERE’S ERIC:

“Side hustle idea: Teams should be looking for any edge they can get. Therefore, clubs should pay manager soundalikes to sit by that manager’s dugout and yell at the umpires. Follow me on this.

“Have you been told you sound like Brandon Hyde? Has anyone ever said, ‘Hey, you do a really good Mark Kotsay?’ Anyone ever say your voice is Brian Snitker-esque? If so, teams should be hiring you to confuse the hell out of the home-plate umpire and get those managers ejected.

“I’m not a conspiracy guy, but I think what they did to Aaron Boone may have been a dry run for exactly what I’m talking about. Sometimes seasons come down to one or two games. This could be exactly what gets your team into the postseason!”

Weird and Wild intro: Bee Swarm 1, D-Backs 0

Any time a real major-league baseball game gets delayed for nearly two hours because of a bee colony, that’s what’s known in the trade as: cause for Weird and Wild celebration.

It was a big night for local beekeeper Matt Hilton. Got a standing ovation. Extricated a billion bees and lived to tell about it. Threw out the first pitch. Did more interviews than Torey Lovullo. And inspired actual fans to wear a beekeeper suit to the game the next night.

HEEEEEERE’S ERIC:

“I think this was a major miscalculation on behalf of Major League Baseball. My thoughts: If you want to grow the game of baseball to younger fans, leave the bee colony as is and play on.

“Football plays in just about everything. If you’ve got a Tuesday night game in April and there is a swarm of bees threatening to attack at any moment, hot damn, you’ve got something. That’s tension. That’s drama. Before you know it, it’s all over TikTok and you’ve got people watching baseball.

“In fact, teams should be allowed to boobytrap their stadiums. Quicksand in left-center field? Sign me up. Actual Diamondback rattlesnakes in the bullpen? I’m glued to my screen. Bases which could explode randomly? Hell, I’d gather the family to watch that.”

Weird and Wild intro: What’s the deal with Angel’s strike zone?

Angel Hernandez: Singlehandedly bringing robot umps to a ballpark near you … just not soon enough! If you missed Hernandez’s signature Let’s just make up my own strike zone moment of 2024, Rangers rookie Wyatt Langford could tell you all about it.

HEEEEEERE’S ERIC!

“I think people are giving Angel Hernandez a raw deal. So he has a different view of what should be a standard measure of judging balls and strikes. Every umpire has his or her own style. Maybe Angel Hernandez, like Picasso, is just calling games in the Cubist style?

“Are we being unfair to Angel? What if people looked at Picasso and were all, ‘Dude, no one actually has two eyes on one side of their face.’ You wouldn’t call for Picasso to be replaced with a robot painter, so let’s cut Angel Hernandez a break. Perhaps he’s an artist unappreciated in his era. (Or maybe he’s constantly distracted there might be a bee colony behind him.)”

Weird and Wild intro: Shohei gets booed in Toronto

Was it Shohei Ohtani’s fault that the entire population of Canada was following the Flight Tracker path of the wrong rich guy’s plane last December? Apparently — because when Ohtani and the Dodgers arrived in Toronto last weekend, he got booed for three days for allowing somebody else to board that plane. (OK, also for not signing with the Blue Jays, but enough about that.)

HEEEEEERE’S ERIC:

“Blue Jays fans booed Shohei Ohtani this week. At least it was for a good reason. It’s because despite internet rumors, Shohei was not on a private plane to Toronto in December, and it was actually Robert Herjavec from “Shark Tank.” We need to leave that last paragraph for future generations so they can see what life is like today.”

go-deeper

GO DEEPER

How Blue Jays players tracked the ‘flight’ of Shohei Ohtani, from turbulent rumors to the plane truth

Weird and Wild intro: The miracle of unrefrigerated sausage

Finally, as Dan Hayes so brilliantly chronicled here in The Athletic, two things are now true: The Twins never lose … and they seem to believe it’s because of a Rally Sausage that hasn’t been refrigerated since Kirk Cousins was a Viking.

HEEEEEERE’S ERIC:

“The origin story: Kyle Farmer was sent a sausage in the mail, as people do, and for whatever reason decided it wasn’t a good idea to eat an unrefrigerated sausage that was mailed to him. … The hitting coach put it on a bat rack and BOOM, the Twins have a good-luck charm.

“They don’t have plans on eating it. However, if someone did eat it, medical experts now believe the unease your body would feel is EXACTLY how White Sox fans have felt watching their team win six out of their first 30 games.”

go-deeper

GO DEEPER

How the Twins’ summer sausage celebration got made: It sparked the offense, but should they eat it?

Ah, will the applause for Eric Stangel ever die down? Let’s hope not. But hey, we have a great show for you tonight. So we’ll be right back with … more bee coverage!

The All-Bee Team

It was a game only Samantha Bee, Bebe Neuwirth and the Houston Astros’ legendary Killer B’s would have loved. And why Sting didn’t buzz over to Chase Field and sing the anthem, I have no idea.

If you didn’t think there would be some kind of Weird and Wild material inspired by that two-hour bee delay in Arizona this week, you’ve definitely stumbled onto the wrong column. So here it comes. You know you’ve been waiting for it. It’s our All-Bee Team!

Starting rotation — Mel Queen, Matt Swarmer, Pat Combs, Steve Busby and Lee “Stinger” Stange

Bullpen — Buzz Capra, Rick Honeycutt, RJ Hively, Clayton Bee-ter and Tyler Bee-be

1B — Bob-bee Dalbec
2B — Buzzy Ware
SS — Dans-bee Swanson
3B — B.J. Surhoff
C — Floyd “Honey Bear” Rayford

Outfield — Al “The Bee” Bumbry, B.J. Upton, Earle Combs

GM — Buzzie Bavasi

Minor-league affiliate — Sacramento Bees

Official sponsor — ML-Bee

You’re welcome!

OK, now that the audience — you! — is warmed up, click or tap here for the rest of the show, this week’s full Weird and Wild column. 

go-deeper

GO DEEPER

Weird & Wild: Opposite day for Yankees, D-Backs, Marlins. New lows for White Sox, Rockies

(Photo of Freddie Freeman in the dugout during the bee delay: Christian Petersen / Getty Images)





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