New York Yankees lightning rod Josh Donaldson almost turned a coin flip playoff series in the wrong direction all by his lonesome on Tuesday night in Game 1, opting not to hustle on a deep fly ball to left that struck the wall and bounded back, running into a pickle of his own making.
Donaldson rocked an opposite-field slicer to start off the bottom of the fifth in a tie game and reacted as if he’d popped one ten rows deep, echoing his walk-off grand slam against the Rays from mid-August. Unfortunately, this time, he also echoed his many, many prematurely-pimped fly balls from all the rest of the season’s months.
Donaldson ended up between first base and a hard place very quickly here, but while the replay showed a ball that seemed to bounce off the top of the wall — and in real time, too — it turns out the Yankees were even closer to a home run here than they might’ve thought.
If not for the presence of alcohol in the bleachers, things could’ve gone smoother. Not the first time, won’t be the last time.
Yankees 3B Josh Donaldson’s home run blunder was inches from paydirt
Donaldson’s trot happened in part because he’s a goof, and happened in part because Yankee Stadium started playing “X Gon’ Give It To Ya” as he rounded first and dapped up his first-base coach, who didn’t warn him.
Neither man’s eyes totally deceived them, either. Turns out, a beer vendor placed a Bud Light container on the top of the wall, which altered the ball’s path and forced the fan who was trying to make the catch to curve his hands and bungle it.
This wasn’t a Jeffrey Maier situation, as much as the memory might’ve been evoked — especially with Bob Costas in the booth.
This time around, as silly as Donaldson ended up looking, the ball probably would’ve bounced into the seats for a home run, and would’ve been caught by the fan in place, if not for a beer vendor plopping his wares down at an inopportune time.
That isn’t a reviewable play. Whoops.
As Homer Simpson once said, alcohol is the cause of — and solution to — all of life’s problems. That maxim rang true Tuesday for the Yankees, at least until Isiah Kiner-Falefa rocked a liner into the corner immediately after Donaldson’s gaffe and scooted to third when the ball rolled through right fielder Oscar Gonzalez’s legs.
In the postgame scrum following a 4-1 victory, the Yankees exhaled and all dinged Donaldson from a victorious position, making fun of how often he seems to do this exact thing.
In truth, though, he was almost (kind of, not really) in the right this time around, if not for some bottles being popped.
Beer sales typically cut out in the seventh inning, meaning Donaldson should’ve probably just replicated his swing exactly during his next time up.
Unfortunately, in his final AB, he lined a single, then ended up doubled off when Kiner-Falefa lined a ball to Jose Ramirez at third. Ramirez dropped it, knocked it to the ground, and created a double-play grounder out of thin air. In any other game, it would’ve been by far the weirdest play involving Donaldson.
If only Ramirez had been carrying a case of Coors Banquet at the time, too.