It’s been a tough stretch for Stockton, CA. The city is bankrupt, my copy of the new Authorities LP is warped….and the local California League affiliate can’t even lose a game intentionally without suffering further embarrassment. The Modesto Bee’s Brian VanDerbeek describes events that led to the Class-A league suspending A’s roving hitting instructor Todd Steverson for an entire year* after he attempted (unsuccessfully) to end a June 23, 17 inning contest between the visiting Stockton Ports and host Modesto Bees .
Steverson, Stockton’s interim manager, ordered Josh Whitaker, an outfielder and the second Ports’ position player to pitch that night, to commit balks to move Modesto runners into scoring position. Whitaker blatantly balked twice in the 17th, but the Nuts could not get the game-ending hit until the 18th, after another balk.
The next day I asked Steverson if the previous night’s balks were intentional. Having known and worked with him since 2005, I was confident he wouldn’t blow up at the question. I wasn’t sure exactly how he’d answer. Without hesitation, he answered “Yes” and then explained why.
“We had a position player out there and I didn’t want to put another position player on the mound and get him hurt … I didn’t get any of my pitchers hurt and I didn’t get any position players hurt. So a game on June 23, 2012, well, these guys will be playing many more games more important than that.”
* – banished from the Stockton dugout, anyway. Which might not be much of a punishment.