2012: A Chiefs Odyssey–Jason’s #11

Why are we doing #11 on 12/12/12?  Because we’re alternative numerologists.  We are the Alice in Chains of calculation.


Jason’s #11–The Hunt for Red’s October

You have to understand one thing about nicknames in baseball.  They generally come from easiest thing to call someone.  Zach Duke = Dukey.  John Lannan = Johnny.  Corey Brown = Brownie.  Add a y sound, create a nickname.

Sometimes, there’s a little more thinking involved.  For example, Chiefs pitcher Jeff Mandel has become affectionately known as Howie.  It’s quite handy.  It serves as a signal to the pronunciation of Jeff’s last name AND opens up a universe of Deal or no Deal references.  And this:

For those of you that haven’t seen Bobby’s World, it was a rather psychedelic somewhat-live-somewhat-cartoon series which featured the now-mullet-free Howie Mandel.  If you have a chance to catch the series, take it all.

Sometimes, nicknames don’t always have the same full-clubhouse appeal.  So, when Greg Booker nicknamed new Chiefs catcher James Skelton “Red” in May, there were some folks who didn’t quite grasp it.  Booker’s contention was the name fit, but also that the backstop was built a little like ol’ Red Skelton.

Red Skelton

Yes, James came through the Tigers organization as a catcher.  But that doesn’t mean he looked like one.  Alll 5’11”, 165 of him was converted to the infield in 2009.  And so, when he arrived in Chiefsville last year, Skelton drew a few glances for his size, or lack thereof.  But, as we find out so much in life, it’s not wise to judge a bat by its glover.  Or whatever that phrase is.

Skelton’s plate discipline (five walks to four strikeouts in his first eight games) and his ability to man a pitching staff brought smiles to the faces of both manager Tony Beasley and Booker.  In game two of a doubleheader against Louisville on June 6th, Skelton made the whole team grin.

Skelton turned what could have been a lost great start from Mandel (five innings, one hit, five strikeouts) into a victory for the Chiefs.  By the way, that hit was one more than Skelton had with Louisville in nine at-bats in 2011.

Sadly, though, Skelton’s season was shortened significantly five days later.  The Lehigh Valley IronPigs were in town and Skelton was behind the plate.  He singled in his first at-bat and the Chiefs took a 1-0 lead on a first-inning double play ball.  Then, in the fourth, the IronPigs rallied and Kyle Hudson was at third.

That play left Skelton with a dislocated shoulder and put him on the shelf for a month and a half.  It was an odd situation.  Skelton had to vacate the plate to catch the throw from Teahen up the first-base side of home.  Hudson, a former football player at Illinois, sought out the contact and rendered himself out.  Skelton played in two games the rest of the year for the Chiefs including the season finale in which he scored two runs.

Will James Skelton ever make it to the majors?  Who knows.  He won some hearts in the Chiefs clubhouse in 2012, that’s for sure.  Kevin’s back on Friday with #10.

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