All Things Bubba

Because how can you not love a baseball player named "Bubba"?

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Flashback: The Day After

September 20, 2005: N.Y. Yankees 12, Toronto 9

What a difference a day makes. The day after Bubba Crosby won a tight pitcher's duel with a walkoff homer, there was a slugfest in the Bronx.

It was a roller coaster ride for Bubba Crosby, too. He came to the park still smiling that beatific smile he'd had the previous night when he was rounding third and heading for home. But this game wasn't nearly as happy. Bubba did all right, and the Yanks won...but Bubba and his friend Brian Roberts suffered a nasty collision at 1B. Bubba was fine; Brian wasn't.

Bubba put down a bunt and sped toward 1B. The throw to Roberts was right over the bag. Roberts, as he'd done so many times before, reached into the path of the runner to grab the ball, thinking he could pull his arm back in time. But Bubba's a lot faster than the average baserunner. Roberts misjudged it, and Bubba, trying to beat the throw, ran right into Roberts' outstretched arm. It bent in the opposite direction an arm is supposed to. Probably the most gruesome sports injury I can remember this side of Joe Theismann's broken leg.

Perlozzo, the Orioles manager, was furious, and accused Bubba of running inside the baseline. (Replay clearly showed he did not.) Perlozzo was ejected from the game for arguing with the umpire. He later said he was just upset, and admitted that Bubba had done nothing wrong.

Poor Bubba felt awful. He and Brian Roberts have known each other since their college days, when they were on the national college all-star team together. They'd been roommates, and had remained friends. They'd had plans to get together for lunch when the Yanks were in Baltimore the following week.

From the NY Times:

Roberts's Injury Tempers Crosby's Thrill of Victory

Bubba Crosby spent much of yesterday reliving the greatest game of his major league career. In his locker, he had the Yankees' lineup card and a video from Monday's victory over the Baltimore Orioles, which Crosby ended with a home run. He did several interviews and took many congratulatory calls from friends and family.

But Crosby's first at-bat last night brought home a new kind of reality. Crosby bunted in the second inning and collided with the outstretched left arm of Orioles second baseman Brian Roberts, who was covering the bag. As soon as Crosby made contact, he knew he had hurt Roberts.

"Listening to him, you could tell he was in some serious pain," Crosby said. "My stomach just dropped."

Roberts eventually walked off the field -- hunched over, holding his elbow -- with support from Manager Sam Perlozzo and a trainer. The Orioles said Roberts had a dislocated left elbow, ending a breakthrough season that included a start in the All-Star Game.

The elbow was put back into place at Yankee Stadium, but Roberts was taken to a hospital, where he was expected to stay overnight. Crosby hoped to visit him there last night.

As he spoke with reporters, Crosby said an intermediary was trying to find out if Roberts was well enough to see him. Crosby and Roberts were teammates on a national team in 1997 and had made plans to have lunch next week in Baltimore.

"We've tried to stay in touch; we definitely shake each other's hands and see how each other is doing," Crosby said. "It even hits you harder when it's someone you know."

After the play, Crosby sought out Orioles first baseman B.J. Surhoff to ask if he had done anything wrong. Surhoff, who made the throw, assured Crosby that he had stayed inside the baseline.

Roberts finished his season with a .314 average, 18 homers and 73 runs batted in. He batted .417 in 12 games against the Yankees, with 5 homers and 15 R.B.I. "He's such a great guy and a great ballplayer, and he's had such a solid year," Crosby said. "You hate to see it finish like this."

Bubba did eventually get permission to visit his friend at the hospital. He was Brian Roberts' only visitor that first night.

Brian Roberts did not expect to see Bubba Crosby in his hospital room around midnight after Tuesday's game. Roberts was medicated, with his left elbow in a splint and six months of recovery ahead of him after a collision with Crosby hours before. But he did not kick Crosby out of his room.

"I apologized, but of course he told me not to," Crosby said. "He said it's part of the game."

Maybe so, but for Roberts, the Baltimore Orioles' All-Star second baseman, it is an excruciating part. The Orioles announced yesterday that Roberts had torn the pronator flexor tendon and the ulna collateral ligament in his left elbow. He is not expected to be able to play until the middle of March, at the earliest.

"I would think at some point in the spring he would be at full baseball activities," Manager Sam Perlozzo said. "Whether that's early spring or late spring, we don't know yet."

Roberts remained at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia hospital yesterday and was scheduled to return to Baltimore today. The Orioles' trainer, Richard Bancells, said Roberts would have surgery within the next 10 days to fix the tendon, and he said he did not know if Roberts would need reconstructive elbow surgery.

"I told Brian at the hospital, 'There's no reason in the world not to expect a full recovery,'" Bancells said. "The surgeons will do a good job, and Brian is a hard worker and very compliant in rehab."

In the second inning Tuesday, Roberts was covering first base on a bunt by Crosby and stuck his arm in Crosby's running path. Crosby stayed in the baseline and so did Roberts's arm, which bent awkwardly at the elbow on impact.

"I have not seen the replay," Perlozzo said. "Honest to God, I don't want to. I was out there when he was in pain. I didn't need to see it any more."

Perlozzo was ejected before the next batter; he said he made a comment to an umpire after asking if Crosby had been inside the baseline. But Perlozzo said he did not hold Crosby at fault.

"He didn't try to do anything wrong," Perlozzo said. "If he was inside the line, he wasn't that far inside."

Crosby and Roberts were roommates while both played for the United States national team in 1997. They have stayed in touch, and they made plans to see each other next week in Baltimore. Crosby said their friendship made him feel even worse about his role in the injury.

"To see someone you're good friends with get hurt like that, and on top of that, to be a part of the collision and a reason he was knocked out of the game, that makes it even more upsetting," Crosby said.

Some Red Sox fans were calling Bubba a "Yankee thug" because of the injury to Roberts. Brother. There have been some Yankees I would call "thugs," but mild-mannered little Bubba Crosby? Puh-lease.

Brian Roberts was done for the season, which was too bad. He was having a great year - a career season. He eventually recovered fully, and has played well this year. He didn't show the power he'd shown the previous year, though, and some wondered if it was due to the injury. My guess would be no. I think last year was a fluke. He had 18 homers last year, but before that, never hit more than five. This year, he has nine so far. Not as good as last year, but much better any other year of his career.

A lot of Yankees fans dislike Roberts, because he plays well and it hurts us. But since the collision, I find myself rooting for him. He didn't blame Bubba or anyone else. And he worked so hard to come back from that horrific injury. I can't help liking him and hoping he does well.

posted by BubbaFan, 9:13 PM


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