Does the name Dallas Braden ring a bell?
Unless you're a big Oakland Athletics fan, you probably didn't know who he was until this year - for a couple of reasons. I first became aware of the 26-year-old, three-year pro, back in April when he made a name for himself by getting into a bit of an altercation with NY Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez.
Rodriguez apparently broke one of the "unwritten rules" of baseball by running across the pitchers mound following an out on April 22nd. That subtle action caused an eruption of anger in the head of Dallas Braden, who gave A-Rod and earful (watch here) and then took his cause to the media afterwards.
"Stay off my mound. Stay the [expletive] off my mound! (Throws something, kicks Gatorade cups, throws glove)"
"He should probably take a note from his captain over there and realize you don't cross the pitcher's mound in between an inning or during the game. I was just dumbfounded that he would let that slip his mind, being someone of such status."
"I don't care if I'm Cy Young or the 25th man on the roster, if I've got the ball in my hand and I'm on that mound, that's my mound ... He ran across the pitcher's mound foot on my rubber. No, not happening. We're not the door mat anymore."
For his part, A-Rod basically laughed the whole thing off and pointed out that Braden only has "a handful of wins" in his career (18 in 53 starts).
Braden may not have a lot of career wins, but this weekend he was back in the spotlight when he pitched a perfect game in a 4-0 win over the Tampa Bay Rays, his first career complete game. It's just the 18th regular season perfect game in MLB history and the second against the Rays in under a year. In fact, as ESPN reports, Tampa manager Joe Maddon points out he's now been on the wrong side of three perfect games and four no-hitters!
Another cool thing about Braden's big day is that, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, it was the first time a pitcher has tossed a perfect game against a team that entered the day as the best in the league. Not bad!
Anyway, while Alex Rodriguez has pretty much stayed out of this whole "controversy," Braden keeps chirping, even as recently as last week on a Bay Area radio station...and it's getting just silly. Here are some examples - Braden on A-Rod as a player:
"He plays for the name on the back of the jersey, not the front. I don't know if he's noticed, but he doesn't have a name on the back over there so he should play for the name on the front."
Braden on A-Rod dismissing his comments because he's not a veteran player:
"One, I was always told if you give a fool enough rope, he'll hang himself, and with those comments, he had all the rope he needed. No. 2, I didn't know there was a criteria in order to compete against A-Rod."
Braden on wanting to throw down if A-Rod touches his mound again:
"Out of respect to my teammates, out of respect to the game. I think he's probably garnered a new respect for the unwritten rules and the people who hold them close to their game. But I think you're right, we don't do much talking in the 209."
Even Braden's grandmother is chiming in, telling A-Rod to "Stick it."
Braden says they don't do much talking in "the 209," but the very fact that he's been running his mouth for about half a month now tells a bit of a different story. As stupid as this whole thing is, wouldn't it be fun to see A-Rod at least run in the direction of his mound a couple of times when the Yankees and A's meet again in July?
They'd better make sure to have the Philadelphia Phillies security team on hand incase things get out of control!