There are those days where nothing, and I mean nothing, goes right. You wake up on Monday morning and realize that the laundry you skipped for the past two weeks and absolutely NEEDED to get done last night, didn't. Congratulations, now you're at work wearing old socks inside-out. You feel disgusting because you are disgusting. A day that starts like that does not get better.
For most of us, when the normally coldly indifferent universe takes note of our existence and decides the day your BART train is stuck on the tracks for 45 minutes will also be the day that your lactose intolerance will rear its intolerant head, we can at least take cold comfort in knowing that only a few dozen people saw us sweating and shaking and sobbing. At least we can say to ourselves that it wasn't caught on camera (unless it was), wasn't watched by millions (unless it was), and at least Jon Miller didn't do the play-by-play. At least there's that.
Not for Ruben Rivera.
11 years ago today, the Giants played the Arizona Diamondbacks in San Francisco. With the score tied 2-2, the Giants were up in the bottom of the 9th. After Andres Galarraga reached first base on an error, Ruben Rivera was sent in as a pinch-runner. The Giants batter, Marquis Grissom then sent a shot to Triples Alley in right-center field. And that was when Ruben's day went all wrong:
1. Ruben, running on contact, reached second base by the time the ball came down;
2. Ruben, thinking the right-fielder caught the ball, ran back toward first base;
3. Ruben, realizing that the ball was not caught, ran straight toward third base;
4. Ruben, remembering he did not touch second base, stopped, turned around, and ran back to second base;
5. Ruben, after touching second base, tried to salvage the play by turning back around and ran to third base;
6. Ruben, running toward third base with his head swiveling this way and that, unsure of what happened, unsure of where he is, was thrown out by 50 feet;
7. Ruben, the beneficiary of a perfect throw having been bobbled by the third-baseman, somehow stood safe on third base;
8. Ruben, not knowing when to start cutting losses and when to start counting blessings, decided to run to home-plate;
9. Ruben Rivera, with the hometown crowd roaring in his ear, imagining glory in his head, ran those last 90-feet down the chalk and slid powerfully into home--where he was met by the catcher's glove, tagging him out.
Jon Miller, the Hall of Fame broadcaster for the Giants, called the play. His voice grew louder and more frantic with each misstep. As Ruben was called out, Duane Kuiper declared, in exasperation: "And that was the worst base-running in the history of the game!" Ouch.
Ruben, on that play, was humanity's sacrificial lamb. On our behalf, Ruben stood in as the bulls-eye for all the slings and arrows that life throws our way. His base running was a message to us, written in cursive, "Take heart, for no matter how bad your day is, it will never be as bad as this. Now watch me circle around second base a few more times."
That play in the 9th inning on May 27, 2003 was Ruben's last in Major League Baseball, but Ruben's Run endures. Tonight, let's lift a pint to ol' Ruben, but only one. Afterall you don't want to get home the same way he did.