At some point during the 2004 season, I was sitting next to my wife and a friend of mine when an unknown player strode to bat. I'm a fan of obscure players, when the infelder, gotten from the Mets for a song (or a waver claim, but song is much more romantic, and what is baseball if not a crooning romance with summer?) prepared to take his at-bat. He was unheralded and virtually unknown, having little more than 70 games under his belt before the season had started. In other words, I took him under my wing, I pulled for him, that's just how I am. His name was Marco Scutaro.
Scoot picked 'em. He hit a little bit. He made contact. Marco was there mostly because Mark Ellis had injured himself but good, and Frank Menechino hit the wrong end of the age curve. But half the battle is showing up, and Marco showed up. He wasn't clutch yet, he wasn't much of anything yet but a twinkle in Billly Beane's eye.
I leaned over to a friend of mine and said: "Someone ought to shout Scutaro like Polo." She said she would, and so we did. We were over on the lower deck, near the Right Field Bleachers back when the Left Field Bleachers were more lively. We called it out in the early innings and then I had a few beers and forgot about it. Marco took his at bat in the later innings and I heard my call echo back to me from the cheap seats. My friend nudged me and my wife said: "They're calling you." We chuckled, reminiscing the recent crowds bleating out T-Long or drums beating and pausing for fans to shout: "Tejada" lather, rinse, repeat.
Late in the 2006 season, Marco was a different guy. Well, he was the same guy, but he was an Oakland A by then. He'd hit clutch shots off of Marino Rivera, and he had a knack for late-game heroics. The Big Three were no more, but Big Frank was on the team, and after four first round exits, I was cautiously hopeful when I strode into the Colosseum for Game Three vs. the Minnesota Twins. Eric Chavez would open the scoring with a homer in the second, followed by Marco Scutaro doubling in JayPay.
Torii Hunter would keep it close, hitting a screaming liner right where my wife and I sat, popping a sign that hung over the stairwell and getting snarled there. A kid in all-Cal garb would throw the ball back on the field, getting tossed in the process. It was 2-4 A's in the bottom of the 7th, still tense, still a nailbiter after those years of high-hopes and eventual disappointment After a bit of commotion, the A's had loaded the bases and Marco strode to bat. The crowd could feel it. Marco cleared them with a double and the whole stadium shook with a chant: Marco…Scutaro…Marco…Scutaro.
I'm not saying I started it but…