It's been five years since the White Sox have played in a postseason series, a forgettable four-game loss to the Tampa Bay Rays in the ALDS in 2008. If somebody asked me what stood out, I could really only point to two things:
- Dewayne Wise showing up (2-for-7 with a homer and five RBI).
- Orlando Cabrera getting into a shouting match with Grant Balfour in Game 1.
Cabrera apparently didn't like the cut of Balfour's lunatic jib, and after seeing him celebrate with expletives after a strikeout of Juan Uribe, Cabrera made his displeasure known after the first pitch missed wide.
MLB.com has video of the latter, and it would've been an incredible moment if Cabrera delivered...
... alas, he struck out, and Balfour enjoyed the last words. Specifically, "Sit the f**** down."
After the series, that moment was chalked up as Cabrera's Last Stand. The Sox kept him at arm's length through the end of the contract process, offering him arbitration with the understanding that he wouldn't have a starting job. Cabrera declined it to pursue other opportunities. The Sox then used that compensation picks on Josh Phegley and Trayce Thompson.
But it also became the White Sox's Last Stand, because they haven't made it to the postseason since. A brief playoff appearance five years ago is musty, dusty history for a team that tried to contend every year.
Flash forward those long five years, and here's Balfour in the middle of another October dust-up out of nowhere. In the ninth inning of Monday's Tigers-A's game, he and Victor Martinez began jawing at each other after a foul ball, and it's clear Balfour started this one. MLB.com's video is censored, but there's another version capturing all of its profane glory.
The scenes look alike, and they share a similar origin story. Here's Cabrera from five years ago:
"Every time I come into the game, I'm fired up and I'm talking to myself," Balfour explained. "That's my game."
Cabrera was not familiar with Balfour's show.
"They said he always gets pumped up like that," Cabrera said. "He said [an expletive] to the hitter every time he swings at his pitch. I didn't know that, so I just got mad a little bit. I was just pumped up."
"I just fouled a pitch off," Martinez said. "This guy look at me and I was looked at him. He told me 'What the (expletive) I'm looking at?' Really? I mean, (expletive) him. I don't take that (expletive). Not even the greatest closer in the game, Mariano Rivera, tell you stuff like that." [...]
Asked whether he knew Balfour was known for saying stuff on the mound, Martinez said no.
"I don't even know this guy," Martinez said. "I know he's a closer and that's it."
It's been five years! And not only has it been five years, but Balfour and Martinez have both spent that entire duration in the American League, being among the best at their particular positions. Word is supposed to get around about these sorts of things, right?
It's something for Balfour to consider with regards to his representation. And it's something I hope we'll get to see again in Game 5 tonight. The Oakland-Detroit series has been the best of the first round, and that would be a fun way to see it end.