Patrick Reusse: Ay carumba! A.J. doesn't do it again
- Article by: Patrick Reusse
- Star Tribune
- May 29, 2007 - 11:32 AM
The 93rd episode of "The Simpsons" first ran on Feb. 3, 1994. Bart winds up on Krusty the Klown's television show, knocks over all the props, then turns to the audience and says, "I didn't do it."
This draws such a response that Bart is brought back week after week to repeat the line and get the laugh.
This is merely a guess, but the feeling is that A.J. Pierzynski has an appreciation for "The Simpsons" and that his favorite episode is No. 93.
On Monday, Pierzynski was in the Metrodome, catching for the White Sox. His team scored twice in the sixth to take a 4-3 lead against Johan Santana.
Paul Konerko was on first after delivering a two-run single. Pierzynski hit a bouncer toward shortstop, Jason Bartlett gave a well-timed feed to Luis Castillo, and the relay would beat A.J. for an inning-ending double play.
Pierzynski took a step toward Justin Morneau's foot, which was properly located on the edge of the infield side of first base.
Morneau felt enough of a pinch from Pierzynski's cleats to glare at A.J. all the way into the White Sox dugout.
Then, Morneau and several other Twins -- located in their dugout -- yelled unpleasantries at Pierzynski as he took his place behind the plate.
When umpire Greg Gibson, located way out at first base, made a slashing motion across his throat (apparently intended as a shut-up gesture), manager Ron Gardenhire came flying in Gibson's direction.
Gardenhire was blocked by Gibson's three colleagues as the manager attempted to get in the offending umpire's face. It was a major upset that Gardenhire wasn't ejected.
"I didn't curse anyone," he said. "I just told him not to be making signals to my dugout."
The Twins responded to their anger at Pierzynski and to Gardenhire's histrionics by driving Jose Contreras from the mound and scoring five runs in the bottom of the sixth. The final was 10-4 for the back-to-.500 Twins.
Reporters gathered outside the White Sox clubhouse. There would be a session with manager Ozzie Guillen, and then the group would head to the clubhouse to try to corner Pierzynski at his cubicle.
But wait. Here was Pat O'Connell from the White Sox PR staff telling the media types that A.J. would follow Ozzie into the hallway to take questions.
At that instant, all of us who grew both to admire and be bemused by A.J. during his glory days with the Twins knew this was coming:
"I didn't do it."
Pierzynski arrived and said, "I talked to Gardy already. I apologized if I did step on Morneau's foot. I didn't know I touched him."
A.J. added he "didn't know what they were talking about" when the Twins were yelling and then the Gardenhire-Gibson brouhaha started.
"I would never try to hit Morneau," Pierzynski said. "I respect how hard he plays ... how hard that team plays. I wouldn't do anything to get those guys mad. Every time they do, they get 10 runs against us."
A.J. tried to give his Bart Simpson spiel to Morneau when Justin came to the plate in the sixth. Morneau ignored him.
After a few seconds, plate umpire Larry Vanover -- playing the role of Ward Cleaver to Eddie Haskell -- told A.J. to get in the catcher's box and forget it.
"It clipped my foot a little bit," Morneau said later of Pierzynski's off-line step. "It doesn't happen too often. Usually, if it does, guys say something. He talked to me when I went up to the plate ... said he didn't know he did it. So, that's done. That's it."
Morneau repeated similar thoughts as the questions continued, then said: "We woke up a little bit after that."
Gardenhire received a face-to-face apology from his former catcher immediately after the game.
"I don't think A.J. does anything like that on purpose," Gardenhire said. "But there's that one second, when something takes place on the field, and it just happens with him.
"Like the time [in 2003] A.J. was running to first and he threw that pad he wears at the plate at [Royals first baseman Mike] Sweeney. He didn't think about throwing his pad. He just did it."
Or maybe, as with Bart Simpson in episode No. 93, he didn't do it.
Patrick Reusse can be heard weekdays on AM-1500 KSTP at 6:45 and 7:45 a.m. and 4:40 p.m. firstname.lastname@example.org
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