Playing for the Boston Braves, with his once-awesome skills greatly diminished, Babe Ruth shocked a Pittsburgh crowd by hitting three home runs against the Pirates in May of 1935.
The final homer – the first ball to ever clear the roof at old Forbes Field – was the last of his career. Five days later, Ruth called it quits.
Ruth’s last hurrah flashed through my mind as Jeremy Roenick of the Coyotes took a threehour vacation from a horrible season Saturday, ringing up his 10th career hat trick. It began with a classic Roenick strip-and-breakaway goal – the snapshot I will choose to remember, rather than J.R. being benched in Vancouver and choosing to go out to dinner rather than root on his teammates.
I don’t know how or when it will end for Roenick. But for one night, you could hear Vin Scully’s voice from the baseball movie “For Love of the Game,” when he waxed on the no-hit bid of aging pitcher Billy Chapel: “He’s trying to push the sun back into the sky and give us all one more day of summer.”
Sure, the idea of bringing Randy Johnson back to Arizona is intriguing. Even at 43, he can still pitch. You already owe the guy $40 million in deferred money, so he’s the most expensive Arizona pitcher whether he’s here or not.
But I have two words for the Diamondbacks: Walk away.
It will cost $16 million this year, plus Johnson wants an extension for 2008. It will cost at least two high pitching prospects. It will bring the ghost of the 2001 World Series – a page management worked hard to turn last fall.
And it will bring Johnson – barely palatable when he was a pampered, Cy Young winner, now surlier than ever after two years of sparring with the New York media.
• Man, you don’t want to be the coach of the maroon-and-gold team in Sun Devil Stadium right now. Two days after blowing a 31-point lead to Texas Tech in Friday’s Insight Bowl, Glen Mason of Minnesota joined Dirk Koetter on the unemployment line.
• There are days when Raja Bell is the knockout punch for the Suns – with his 3-point shooting and stout defense. And there are days when Bell’s temper and stubborn streak is Phoenix’s undoing. Only Herculean efforts from Steve Nash and Amaré Stoudemire prevented Sunday in Detroit from being one of those days.
• The Coyotes won 8-0 Saturday night. Roenick had a hat trick, Shane Doan collected five points, Curtis Joseph earned a landmark win and shutout. And the game wasn’t on television. Ouch.
• It’s another year without a home playoff game for the Cowboys. The last time they played a postseason game at Texas Stadium, they lost to Jake Plummer, Vince Tobin and the Cardinals in 1998.