#Hot Corner

The most hated man in baseball

Imagine this.

Alex Rodriguez, the most hated man in baseball, holds a slim lead over Mike Trout for the American League batting championship. Citing "exhaustion," A-Rod sits out the last two games of the season.

Trout's Angels, meanwhile, finish the year with a day-night doubleheader in Baltimore, where Buck Showalter has instructed his young third baseman to "play deep on Trouty today — I mean really deep."

Trout, noticing that Manny Machado is positioned on the outfield grass, bunts down the third base line for an easy hit. And in his next at-bat, he does it again. And again. And three more times in the nightcap. Trout is now 7-for-7 on the day, and leads the batting race by .001 points.

In his final at-bat, Trout swings away, and reaches on an error — which counts as an out in the scorebook — handing the batting title to Rodriguez by the tiniest of margins.

Orioles' first base coach Wayne Kirby calls the press box and offers the official scorer a new set of golf clubs if he'll reverse himself and change Trout's error to a hit. The scorer refuses.

Jon Heyman, sitting next to the scorer, mishears their conversation and tweets "Trout goes 8-for-8, wins batting crown." Heyman's mistaken tweet gets picked up by several news outlets. A-Rod's Yankee teammates are delighted by the news and text their congratulations to Trout.

Later Bud Selig appoints a special blue ribbon commission to investigate the events in Baltimore on the last day of the season. Upon submission of their report, Selig bans Showalter and Kirby from baseball for the rest of their lives. Machado and Trout are cleared of wrongdoing.

All of this really happened, 103 years ago today. The names have been changed to protect the guilty.

Alex Rodriguez = Ty Cobb
Mike Trout = Napoleon Lajoie
Baltimore Orioles = St. Louis Browns
Buck Showalter = Jack O'Connor
Wayne Kirby = Harry Howell
Manny Machado = Red Corriden
Bud Selig = AL President Byron Johnson
Texts and tweets = Morse code or something, I don't know

Postscript: Seventy years after the fact, Pete Palmer, one of the founding fathers of sabermetrics, discovered that Cobb had mistakenly been credited with two extra hits in 1910. Lajoie was, in fact, the true batting champion that season. What's more, this clerical error was clearly known to league officials at the time but was covered up, likely to avoid further embarrassment.

Ty Cobb's hits total remains controversial to this day.

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