Who’s on first? What’s up with Rays’ lineup?

Alan Greenwood

We now have irrefutable evidence that ridding the American League of the designated hitter rule can shorten the time of a game by 20 minutes or more.

For those watching the Wednesday matinee between the Red Sox and Rays, live from Tampa Bay’s sorry excuse for a big-league ball dome, those tedious moments are gone forever. The game’s wheels spun hopelessly in deep rulebook sludge.

Rays manager Kevin Cash started stirring the stew of lineup befuddlement by using Ji-Man Choi to pinch hit for No. 9 hitter, catcher Mike Zunino, in the bottom of the seventh. Cash then moved leadoff man Travis d’Arnaud from first base to catcher. Choi remained in the game at first base and lefty reliever Adam Kolarek opened the eighth.

Kolarek retired Sam Travis then went to play first base, sending Choi to the bench. Righty Chaz Roe came on, thus eliminating the DH position that had been filled by No. 3 hitter Austin Meadows.

If this all sounds like Abbott-and-Costello material, without the giggles, Red Sox manager Alex Cora can relate. He tried hashing out all this lineup gibberish with plate umpire Angel Hernandez, perhaps the last MLB arbiter anyone wants to consult for uncluttered thought.

Not surprisingly, Cora’s meeting with the umps prompted him to throw up his hands (rhetorically speaking) and protest the game.

The problem with the protest is that none of Cash’s lineup jumbling had any effect on anything beyond testing the patience of that rarity of rarities, a Tropicana Field crowd that could not be fully tabulated on two hands and one foot.

Red Sox pitcher Rick Porcello kibitzed on a subsequent conversation between Cora and his coaches, then walked off wearing the befuddled look of a kid being handed an algebra book for the first time.

We followed suit by tapping the mute button.

TIME TRAVEL: July 27, 1964 – “Nashua’s League I representatives in the Babe Ruth playoffs have advanced for a crack at the state title after winning the District I championship at Laconia yesterday. The locals defeated Rochester 11-1 behind the three-hit pitching of Terry Frobom.

“… Frobom was most effective in handcuffing Rochester and came up with nine strikeouts. Offensively Nashua put together several timely hits and netted four runs in the second inning and then exploded for six in the sixth to put the game beyond reach.”

AND FINALLY: Perhaps lost in the chuckles of Bill Belichick’s first official training camp press briefing, an odd scene played out inside Gillette Stadium. The grounds crew was spotted rolling out turf – that is, the kind with dirt that thrives with water and sun – atop the plastic green carpet on which games are typically played.

According to the Associated Press, the real turf covered the phony turf for soccer games at Gillette this weekend.

Here’s a whacky idea – rip out the plastic and play everything on grass …

Uh, on sod, that is.

Contact Alan Greenwood at 594-1248, agreenwood@nashuatelegraph.com or @Telegraph_AlanG.