"The perfect combination of Mountain Dew and mozzarella… just the right amount of grease on the joy stick."
By Anthony Castrovince/MLB.com
A few years ago, Nintendo’s old-school “R.B.I. Baseball” game became popular in the Indians’ clubhouse. This somehow became newsworthy, because, well, it’s a long season.
The fact that Tribe players gathered around the TV to watch their teammates face each other in virtual reality was somehow supposed to be illustrative of the special bond the Indians players had. But really, they were just killing time before games.
Anyway, the game remains popular with some players, but that’s not all that interesting. What’s interesting is when one man defies the odds and all conceivable logic and achieves an “R.B.I.” feat previously thought unimaginable.
That’s right. Home clubhouse manager Tony Amato tossed a perfect game in “R.B.I. Baseball 3.”
Why is this unimaginable? Because anybody who has played that game knows it’s deliberately skewed in favor of the hitters. The strike zones are tight, line drives routinely skip away from the outfielders on the artificial turf and most deep fly balls go out for home runs.
Furthermore, Amato threw the perfect game with former Tribe reliever Ed Whitson on the mound for the San Diego Padres against a loaded Oakland A’s lineup operated by clubhouse staffer Omar the Intern. Omar had at his disposal the 1990 vintages of Rickey Henderson, Dave Henderson, Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire, among others.
“I was mowing them down like it was nothing,” Amato said proudly.
It was the fifth inning when Amato turned to assistant home clubhouse manager Marty Bokovitz and said, “Do we have any champagne in the house?”
The place erupted when Amato recorded the final out, and visiting clubhouse manager Willie Jenks took the above photo on his Blackberry to capture the magic.
Whitson could not be reached for comment.
EXCRUCIATING MINUTIAE OF THE DAY…
- It was a beautiful day in Goodyear, as the Indians’ pitchers continued to throw live batting practice sessions on the back fields. Jake Westbrook, I thought, looked particularly sharp, getting nice downward action on his sinker. Justin Masterson also looked good.
- Speaking of bullpen sessions, Jeremy Sowers threw one (sans hitters), as he continues to work his way back from left shoulder issues. Sowers looked sharp, but head athletic trainer Lonnie Soloff told me there is still not an exact timetable for when Sowers will get into Cactus League games. Manny Acta said it’s too early to count Sowers out of the rotation race, but it could get late quick.
- Anthony Reyes, eight and a half months removed from Tommy John surgery, threw off the mound beside Sowers. Reyes is throwing 30-pitch bullpens on Monday and Friday. This was his second one.
- There was a report that the Indians sped up the timetable on promoting Mark Shapiro to president because the Browns had targeted him to be their president before hiring Mike Holmgren. I was told that Shapiro is close with Randy Lerner and such a scenario might have been possible a couple years back. But once Shapiro’s brother-in-law, Eric Mangini, was hired as the Browns’ coach after the 2008 season, that pretty much killed any chance, however faint, of Shapiro making such a move.
- Shin-Soo Choo switched agents, partnering with Scott Boras and no doubt affecting the Indians’ chances of locking him up long-term. Choo had been represented by Alan Nero. Asdrubal Cabrera, another long-term contract candidate, is also represented by Nero. Cabrera, for what it’s worth, told me he has no plans to leave Nero for Boras.
- Top prospect Carlos Santana might be another story. Boras is apparently pursuing him hard. No surprise there, I suppose.
- The move of Asdrubal Cabrera to the leadoff spot only enhances the need for Jhonny Peralta to improve on his ’09 numbers, because Peralta figures to hold a prominent position in the middle of the lineup against left-handed starters. Peralta and Cabrera (a switch-hitter) will probably be the only right-handers in the first six spots of the lineup (I’d have to imagine Matt LaPorta and Lou Marson will get protected in the lower-third, initially). “We really need Jhonny to create balance in the middle of the lineup,” Acta said. “That’s why he’s so big there.”
- Hector Rondon threw live BP today. Though it’s generally been assumed that Rondon will begin the season in Triple-A, Acta said he considers Rondon part of the rotation battle. “He has a good arm and good life to his fastball,” Acta said. “The organization talks about him needing to refine his secondary pitches. He looks like a guy who could get up here based on his fastball and continue to work on his other pitches at this level.”
- We were originally told that the Indians’ two intrasquad games will take place Wednesday and Thursday, but they’re actually being held Tuesday and Wednesday. It will be a four-inning affair tomorrow and a six-inning game on Wednesday. The first game will feature Saul Rivera, Jensen Lewis, Tony Sipp and Hector Ambriz pitching for “Smitty’s [Steve Smith’s] Amazing Racers” and Joe Smith, Mike Gosling, Jess Todd and Frank Herrmann pitching for “Sarby’s [Mike Sarbaugh’s] Sour-Balls.”
- Speaking of Smith and his “Amazing Race,” he and his daughter, Allie, finished second among the nine teams in Sunday night’s episode, which took place in Argentina. I did a story on Smith’s participation in the show. He’s still not telling if he won the million.
- In Wednesday’s intrasquad, Fausto Carmona will start opposite David Huff.
- Justin Masterson will start Friday’s Cactus League opener opposite the Reds’ Mike Lincoln. That game will be carried live on MLB.TV. Kerry Wood, Aaron Laffey, Rafael Perez, Chris Perez, Joe Smith and Saul Rivera are all scheduled to follow Masterson in that game.
- Nick Weglarz was one contented Canuck this morning, after his countrymen defeated the U.S. in the Olympic hockey finale.
- Early camp takes place this week for the Indians’ best prospects that aren’t in Major League Spring Training. There are currently 37 such players set to arrive by tomorrow, including Victor Martinez trade acquisition Nick Hagadone, one of the top-rated prospects in the system. Left-hander Scott Barnes (from the Ryan Garko trade) and right-hander Connor Graham (from the Rafael Betancourt trade) are also on the list.
- Tom Mastny — back from Japan — will also be at early camp. The Indians signed him to a Minor League deal.
- I have an honest-to-goodness day off tomorrow. You take those when you can get them in Spring Training… and the season, for that matter. My MLB.com coworker Tom Singer will provide Tuesday’s Tribe coverage on Indians.com. I’ll be off somewhere in the Estrella Mountains with my scalpin’ knife and my coonskin cap, looking for dinner. Or I might just go to the Olive Garden.