THE WACKY WORLD OF SPORTS, 2013: Brewers' Segura 'steals' first in madcap sequence
Maybe Jean Segura should have stopped to ask for directions.
The Milwaukee Brewers shortstop wound up at first base after attempting to steal third, only to be thrown out trying to swipe second in the eighth inning of an April 19 game against the Chicago Cubs at Miller Park.
“It was,” he said in a colossal bit of understatement, “just a weird, weird moment.”
Segura’s misadventures on the base paths commenced when led off with a single and stole second base. After Ryan Braun drew a walk, the two attempted a double steal that backfired miserably. Instead of throwing to the plate, pitcher Shawn Camp stepped off the rubber and fired the ball to third. Caught in a rundown, Segura scrambled safely back to second, only to find Braun already occupying the base. Cubs shortstop Luis Valbuena tagged them both as they stood together on the bag.
Only the trailing runner is out in that situation, but Segura was oblivious to that fact. Trotting off the field toward the Brewers’ dugout, he was past first base before it dawned on him that he wasn’t really out. Segura made a quick U-turn and safely reached first before the Cubs could react.
“Bizarre,” said umpire Tom Hallion. “He ‘stole’ first base.”
Two pitches later Segura attempted to swipe second and was gunned down by catcher Welington Castillo, ending his oddball odyssey.
Said Chicago manager Dale Sveum, “I don’t know if that’s ever happened in the history of the game — a guy steals second and gets thrown out trying to steal second in the same inning.”
Fortunately for Segura, his madcap base running antics didn’t cost the Brewers. Milwaukee had built an early lead on Braun’s three-run homer and held on for a 5-4 victory.
“It’s a good thing we were still able to win the game despite something like that happening,” Braun said. “Clearly a confusing play. I’ve never been part of anything like that.”
The tale of the wayward base runner leads off the second installment of this annual three-part compendium celebrating the unusual, the absurd and the just plain wacky from the year in sports.
HIT THE ROAD. USC athletic director Pat Haden unceremoniously fired football coach Lane Kiffin in a parking lot at Los Angeles International Airport after the Trojans returned from Arizona State, where they had suffered a 62-41 loss. Kiffin was yanked off the team bus that was headed back to campus and left behind in the middle of the night, essentially told to find his own way home.
SQUEEZE PLAY. The Kenya Football Federation banned Sparki Youth assistant coach Daudi Kajembe from all soccer activity for life after he rushed onto the pitch, irate over a red card Martin Wekesa had issued, grabbed the referee’s testicles and squeezed until he fainted. “That was the most gruesome moment of my life,” Wekesa said. “I can never explain the pain.” Kajembe was arrested and charged with assault and causing grievous bodily harm. Wekesa filed a $240,000 suit against the national federation, claiming the attack left him impotent.
INSIDE JOB. When administrators, teachers and students arrived at Marion County (Tenn.) High School the morning of a football showdown with South Pittsburg, they found the field house, a storage building and the concrete parking lot spray painted with vulgar graffiti in the brown and orange colors of the rival Pirates. Suspicion immediately fell on South Pittsburg, but a review of surveillance video led investigators in another direction. Police ultimately arrested Michael Schmitt and Joe Dan Gudger — Marion County assistant coaches — on vandalism charges for their misguided attempt to fire up the Warriors. Said Marion County superintendent Mark Griffith, “It’s very unfortunate for students to act this way, much less adults.”
DELAYED GRATIFICATION. Adam Nelson stood atop the podium, laurel wreath on his head, gold medal dangling from his neck, as “The Star-Spangled Banner” played during a ceremony celebrating the Olympic shot put crown he’d won — in 2004. “Better late than never,” said Nelson, who was honored during the U.S. track and field championships at Drake Stadium in Des Moines, Iowa, on June 23.
Meet officials arranged the belated recognition after the International Olympic Committee stripped Ukraine’s Yuriy Bilonog of his victory at the Athens Games because the steroid agent oxandrolone metabolite was found in his urine sample, which was frozen after the Olympics and retested last year, using technology unavailable in 2004. Nelson, the runner-up in Greece, was elevated a place and officially declared the champion in May.
“It’s a little bit strange,” he said, “to be congratulated on something you did nine years ago. I can’t dwell on what happened or didn’t happen in Athens. I can only look forward to what the next phase in life brings. At least now I can do that with a gold medal.”
YOU’RE OUT! Base umpire Daryl Jacobson, 49, who police reported was “visibly under the influence,” passed out on the field in the first inning of a game between two Illinois high schools, Stark County and United. He then assaulted two first responders who came to his aid and was so belligerent with arresting officers they had to use a taser to subdue him. Jacobson was charged with two counts of aggravated battery and two counts of resisting a peace officer.
COMBAT ZONE. Nineteen hockey players drew automatic one-game suspensions and officials doled out a record 318 penalty minutes after Ohio State and Bemidji State brawled at the end of a game in Columbus — a women’s game. The previous Division I women’s record for combined penalty minutes? Only 83. “We’re not happy with teams celebrating on our ice surface and going off the ice yipping and hooting and hollering,” said coach Nate Handrahan after his Buckeyes lost, 3-2. “I can tell you this, we’re happy to at least see our girls show some fight and some spirit.” Ohio State and Bemidji State squared off again the next night, but the players were too exhausted to stage a pugilistic encore — because of the suspensions, each team had only 10 skaters.
KEEP OUT! Fans of Austria’s Rapid Wien soccer team, infuriated with management after yet another loss in a disappointing season, bricked up the entrance to the team’s office in Vienna and attached a photo of general manager Werner Kuhn. The caption read: “I’m not allowed in.”
RECOGNIZED OFFENDER. West Virginia University defensive end Korey Harris was arrested on a charge of first-degree armed robbery after a home invasion in Morgantown during which he was undone by his choice of apparel. According to Morgantown Police, Harris and two other men broke into a home and held two residents at gunpoint before making off with cash and electronics. The victims identified Harris because he was wearing WVU-issued sweatpants featuring his uniform number (96).
CHARITY CASE. The University of North Carolina at Charlotte basketball team, down 63-60 to Richmond with under five seconds left in an Atlantic 10 Conference tournament game, charged back and won in regulation — by five points. Because of fouls and three technicals, Pierria Henry stepped to the free throw line and stayed put, it seemed to him, for “30 minutes.” Henry made eight of 11 attempts in the final 4.7 seconds as the 49ers pulled out an improbable 68-63 victory. Said Charlotte coach Alan Major, “You couldn’t make that up if you wanted to make a movie out of that one.”
EXCHANGE PROGRAM. Utility infielder Adam Rosales likely felt like a pinball between July 31 and Aug. 12 when he was placed on waivers by the Oakland Athletics, claimed by the Texas Rangers, waived by the Rangers, claimed by the A’s, waived by the A’s and then signed again by the Rangers. “It’s just been a real unique experience,” he said. By the end of his whirlwind ordeal, Rosales was living out of his Toyota 4Runner because his wife, Callie, refused to unpack their belongings.
SORE LOSER. University of Alabama football fan Adrian Laroze Briskey, enraged that Michelle Shepherd and her sister weren’t sufficiently upset after the top-ranked Crimson Tide fell to rival Auburn on the final play, pulled out a pistol and, according to police, shot Shepherd dead. The women, who didn’t know each other, were attending a game-watching party at an apartment complex in Hoover, Ala. “She said we weren’t real Alabama fans because it didn’t bother us that they lost,” said Neketa Shepherd. “And then she started shooting.”
BAD CALL. Outraged by what he saw on the television screen, an 18-year-old Manchester United fan called 999 — the British equivalent of 911 — to report a crime after Reds winger Nani was red-carded for a high challenge in a Champions League match against Real Madrid. United, up 1-0 when Nani was sent off by referee Cuneyt Cakir, was forced to play a man short the rest of the way, lost 2-1, and was knocked out of the competition. Police declined to press charges after the caller apologized.
FIRE AWAY. Maria Sharapova hired eight-time Grand Slam champion Jimmy Connors as her coach, declaring on her website that she was “really excited about our new partnership.” But the excitement didn’t last very long — one match, to be precise. Following a 2-6, 7-6, 6-3 loss to Sloane Stephens at the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati, Sharapova dropped the ax on Connors.
THE FALL GUY. San Antonio Spurs forward Stephen Jackson went down in a heap during a game against the Knicks at Madison Square Garden after tripping over a waitress who was kneeling in front of the courtside seats, serving New York mayor Michael Bloomberg a drink. Jackson, who was backpedaling along the sideline after missing a 3-point shot from the corner, sprained his right ankle badly enough that he missed not only the last three quarters, but the next game as well.
SPIDER WOMAN. Daniela Holmqvist felt a sharp pain on her ankle as she hit from the rough on the fourth hole of a qualifier for the Australian Open, glanced down and saw a spider scamper away.
“When I told the local caddies in my group what had happened, they got very upset and said it was a black widow,” Holmqvist said. “They immediately started looking for their phones to call the medics.”
But when her leg immediately began to swell, the 24-year-old Swede elected not to wait for help. Using the tip of a tee, she pierced the bite mark and squeezed out the poison. The plucky Holmqvist, who was later informed that the culprit was likely a redback spider — not nearly as dangerous as a black widow — resumed play and finished the round, albeit with medical personnel trailing behind as a precaution.
Her heroics, alas, were all for naught: She fired a 74 at Royal Canberra Golf Club and failed to qualify for the tournament. Cracked Holmqvist, “That really bites.”
Saturday: Course “devours” golfer