Thursday, April 26, 2007

Torii Hunter picked a bad week to give up champagne ...

The bottom line is that it sucks to be Torii Hunter this week. First the Minnesota Twins' All-Star outfielder landed in hot water after it came out that, to thank the lowly Kansas City Royals for sweeping the Detroit Tigers in the last weekend of the 2006 season - thusly giving Minnesota the American League West title over Detroit- Hunter recently the Royals four bottles of champagne. What's the problem, you make ask? What's a few bottles of bubbly between players? Why not throw a bone to the Royals, who haven't have a champagne-soaked celebration since the year 5? Turns out that Hunter was in violation of an obscure baseball rule that bans such gift-giving - specifically, Rule 21-b:

"Any player or person connected with a Club who shall offer or give any gift or reward to a player or person connected with another Club for services rendered ... in defeating or attempting to defeat a competing Club ... shall be declared ineligible for not less than three years."

It appears that Hunter will not face the ultimate penalty, but most likely will be fined. So may the Royals, who returned the unopened bottles to Hunter and the Twins. (Hey, those players can afford their own Dom - well, most of them can.) Still, it's a big ouch for Hunter - but not as big as the one he got in today's game when he was hit in the mouth by a pitch. The outfielder thought briefly about charging the mound before collapsing in pain. He left the game and ended up with some stitches inside his mouth, but the last word was that all of his teeth were still intact, and he may play as early as tomorrow. But he likely won't be sipping any of his own champagne any time soon.

Oh, and who were Hunter and the Twins playing this afternoon. Why, the Kansas City Royals, of course. So much for gratitude.

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