Monday, April 22, 2013

Cruel Shoes

Nice kicks, eh? Those are Nike's "Lunar MVP Pro Pregame" shoes and they're very popular among San Francisco Giants players and coaches. Of course, they come in other colorways too, so you can bet other teams are sporting them as well.

Those are the cleatless models, ideal for jogging in the outfield during spring training or for a starting pitcher on his off-day to wear while lounging in the dugout and spitting sunflower seeds.

Nike makes a similar-looking metal-cleated model worn by many big-leaguers, including the Giants' Angel Pagan. He may want to re-think that part of his game-day wardrobe.

Pagan was hit on the right foot by a pitch from San Diego's Eric Stults in the first inning of Sunday's Giants-Padres game. Pretty much everyone in the ballpark knew it and television viewers could easily see the pitch glance off Pagan's toe. But home plate umpire Bob Davidson missed the call and no amount of pleading from Pagan or Giants manager Bruce Bochy could get him to re-think the situation. Pagan ended up grounding out

Fans of a certain age had to be clamoring for the Giants to track down the ball and show it to Davidson; surely, the smudge of shoe polish on the ball would convince Davidson to change his mind.  After all, shoe polish had played a similar role in two legendary World Series games. Nippy Jones of the Braves in 1957 and Cleon Jones of the Mets in 1969 were both awarded first base after umps were shown shoe polish-smudged balls.

Ah, but that was then and this is now. Those shiny Nikes never see shoe polish. Progress? You be the judge. But if I was Angel Pagan, I'd be re-thinking my footwear choices.

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