Wednesday, February 13, 2013
FACE TIME: 1976 TOPPS HAL McRAE
Can't help but think of The Terminator when I see this card, both in the facial similarities and demeanor. Hal McRae baring his teeth. What a surprise.
I don't know if McRae was sent from the future to murder middle infielders with the cold-bloodiness of a T-1000 model. I do remember Willie Randolph being terminated in Game 2 of the 1977 ALCS. McRae dumped him into the recycle bin 15 feet beyond the bag, aborting a double play and allowing Freddie Patek to score from second base. It also sent a message to the Yankees that the Royals weren't intimated by The Evil Empire.
The next year, "The Hal McRae Rule'' was instituted, requiring base runners to slide within the vicinity of the bag. The past future became the present in Game 2 of the '12 NLCS when the Cardinals' Matt Holliday blew up Giants second baseman Marco Scutaro beyond the bag.
Somewhere, McRae must've been smiling. Or maybe baring teeth.
Then there was the batting title race with teammate George Brett in '76 that came down to the final game and final at-bat for each.
Brett, trailing McRae by decimal points, hit a routine fly that was played into an inside-the-parker by Twins left fielder Steve Brye. Brett's average was .33333. McRae, the next batter, could've won the title with a hit. He grounded out, finishing at .33270, and then went haywire. He made obscene gestures toward the Twins' dugout and was restrained from attacking Manager Gene Mauch. McRae later claimed racism, saying the Twins wanted Brett to win the title because he was human.
"I'll be back.''
As Royals manager in '93, McRae's CPU melted after being asked a "stupid-ass fuckin' question'' by a reporter following a game. McRae went cyborg in his office, flinging everything off a desk, including his phone against a wall. The shrapnel cut one reporter on the face, but there were 0 confirmed kills.
Reporters learned what infielders long before knew: You entered McRae's space at your own risk.
"Hasta la vista, baby."