July 21, 2006

The Hillenbrand Files

What went down this week in Toronto (or the "T-Dot," as the kids call it), can only be described as bizarre. Consider this timeline of events over the past few days:

Tuesday -- Shea Hillenbrand flies back to Toronto after spending the weekend in LA with his wife and newly adopted child. On this day, we get our first hint that something odd might be brewing (quote courtesy of the Toronto Star): "Hillenbrand also wasn't sure how some birth mothers would view the couple's suburban stable of animals, which includes more than two dozen tortoises, three miniature horses, three rabbits and four schnauzers."

Wednesday -- Hillenbrand blows a gasket because no one from Toronto's front office congratulates him on his adoption upon his return to the team. Nor apparently did anyone congratulate him for having three miniature horses and four schnauzers. Hillenbrand is out of the lineup for the second straight game, is verbally undressed during a team meeting by manager John Gibbons before the game, with rumors flying that Gibbons challenged Hillenbrand to a brawl and some talk about Hillenbrand having scribbled "This is a sinking ship" on the clubhouse chalk board. After the meeting, Shea opts not to sit in the dugout with his teammates. And to put a capper on a splendid 48 hours, on Wednesday night, Hillenbrand is designated for assignment.

So, so many questions to ask:

1) Have we really heard the entire story here? Seems to me that usually a guy hitting .301 with 12 homers and 39 RBI's has to do a lot more than adopt a child, get a little bent out of shape when people don't congratulate him, and then scribble some immature nonsense on the chalk board to get released. The guess here is that this is more of a body of work for Hillenbrand, and this release was a long time coming.
2) Given that there are many published reports out there about what a rather unsavory character Shea is, be those reports true or not, think the birth mother might be having second thoughts about the adoption? Are "take-backs" allowed in adoptions? (This just in: I'm getting confirmation from my sources that take-backs are not allowed.)
3) Can anyone else picture Hillenbrand and his wife wedging themselves into child-size cowboy outfits and hopping aboard their miniature horses, then riding around the neighborhood in a game known in the Hillenbrand household as "Midget Cowboys"?
4) Does anyone have an inside scoop on this? Is there any word out there from Shea's teammates on what they think? Because right now, Hillenbrand sure does seem like one of the worst guys in baseball who wasn't readily known as one of the worst guys in baseball.

A few other thoughts to share as we collectively try to purge our brains of the mental image of Shea Hillenbrand berating his fleet of schnauzers after a particularly bad day:
  • On a much more innocent note regarding new children, Dodgers' third baseman Cesar Izturis has been away from the team of late while his wife gave birth to their second child, and his return to the squad was delayed because his wife was still in the hospital and he had to watch over their other child until she got out. Omm...pardon me for being presumptious, but can't the Cesar Izturises of the world probably afford to pay a babysitter, family member, or close friend to watch over the child while Monsieur Izturis attends to his multi-million dollar a year profession? Furthermore, the kid he's attending to is 6 years old. 6! Isn't that legal babysitting age these days? Quit pampering the kid. Couldn't the Izturises just drop Izturis Jr. off at the Hillenbrand farm? He could play with the tortoises.
  • And while we're still tangentially on the subject of Shea Hillenbrand, I present to you the anti-Hillenbrand: Vinny Castilla, recently released by the Padres, not because he's a dickhead, but just because he can't play anymore. As teammate Eric Young described Castilla: "Valuable human being." Notice the careful choice of words: E.Y. did not say, "Valuable baseball player." Which is his way of saying, "Vinny's a great guy, but he sucks now." In any case, here Vinny will always be remembered as the guy who got away from the Braves in the expansion draft and somehow captured some magic in the Colorado thin air to become one of the most unlikely baseball superstars of this generation. And if he cheated at some point, I don't really want to know about it. If this is the end, best of luck to you, Vin. Best of luck.
  • As you may have heard, on Thursday the surging -- nay, the thrusting Atlanta Braves acquired Bob Wickman to close out ballgames. And I ask you, sports fans -- Based solely on physical appearance, is there a man better suited to come trotting out of the bullpen on a muggy Georgia night? This guy is a trucker if I've ever seen one. He looks like he rolled into the ballpark straight from a Waffle House off I-285. And if he's not a trucker, he's a farmer: He sawed off part of his right index finger when it got caught in the undercarriage of a tractor when he was a child. Actually, that's not true. He sliced it off in a fan. But he looks like he could have lost his finger in a tractor accident. And that's what really matters.
  • On the subject of minor bodily deformities, does anyone else ever look at the mole on Carlos Beltran's right ear and feel inclined to channel Uncle Buck: Take this quarter, go downtown, and have a rat gnaw that thing off your face! Honestly, that thing has got to go.
  • Twins' catcher Joe Mauer has emerged as one of the game's most celebrated players this year, but, a little known fact: The Mauer family has a foul secret. A child whose identity was concealed for years, his name was changed, he was shipped out of town. And improbably, this child, also a lefty batter, grew up to be a baseball player as well. Don't believe what you're reading? Well, take a look for your self at the secret the Mauers tried so hard to hide: Little Ricky Mauer.


Blogger Frank G Yak said...

The entire Hillenbrand story is rather wierd.

I'd like to offer congratulations for Shea and his family on his new child.

I'd also like to give props to the Jays, well done. Yes, I'm a Jays fan, but I love the way that Gibbons and JP handled the entire situation.

My bet is the Jays go on quite a run for the end of July and August and take the East from the Soxs and Yanks.

6:21 AM, July 22, 2006  

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