Duck season

Sports blotter: "Somewhere, Izzy Alcantara smiled" edition
By MATT TAIBBI  |  August 22, 2007

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BAT MAN: Former Red Sox infielder Jose Offerman (right) got cuffed for assault after taking the lumber to two Bridgeport  Bluefish players.

Going batty
Remember that time, not so long ago, when the Yankees were signing every monster free agent in the business, and the Red Sox were hoping that Brian Daubach could give them 16 home runs and Juan Pena would turn out to be one of the top 180 prospects in the nation? Of course you do, and it still hurts. There were no Ellsburys and Buchholzes in those days, and the guys we brought in to surround our two or three big stars tended to have drawn, forlorn expressions on their faces as they jogged out to the field, as if they were trying to tough it out while their wives slept with Yankee players.

Jose Offerman was one of those guys. He never said much, he drew a lot of walks (an early ancestor to the Theo Epstein/Moneyball/high-OBP Sox lineup prototype), and he hit about three more home runs than you’d have expected every year. The term “professional hitter” got bandied about a lot with Jose, much as it did with many free-agent Sox infielders, including his far-future successor, Mark Loretta. He played three steadily declining years for the Red Sox around the millennium, came back for a hideous mid-season cameo in ’02, and then fell off the face of the Earth, last seen drawing six walks in 53 games for the Mets in ’05.

Now he is back in the news after suffering a criminal freak-out in the middle of an Independent League game. Playing for the Long Island Ducks (with ex-Sox/dinosaur-denier Carl Everett as a teammate), the 38-year-old Offerman overreacted to being thrown at in his second at-bat — this after hitting a homer in the first against Bridgeport Bluefish pitcher Matt Beech. Jose charged the mound with a bat in his hand and proceeded to whale on both Beech and Bluefish catcher John Nathans, hitting Beech on the hands and concussing Nathans with a shot to the head. A mighty brawl ensued, and order was restored only after 20 minutes, at which time Offerman was arrested on two counts of second-degree assault.

Arrests for in-game assaults are exceedingly rare and tend to be the exclusive province of pro and, especially, amateur hockey. In the NHL, we’ve had two such incidents in the past decade or so. There was the notorious Todd Bertuzzi case of 2004, in which the former Canucks forward was arrested and found guilty of assault for a sucker punch that broke the neck of then–Avalanche center Steve Moore. And don’t forget the Bruins’ own Marty McSorley, who was handed a conviction for assault with a weapon after slashing Donald Brashear of the Canucks in the head with his stick. The latter, incidentally, marked the last time the Bruins made the news outside of Boston.

No one knows what got into Offerman — he’d never been arrested before. But this sure looks like the end of his career. Give him 31 points and keep those bats out of his hands. . . .

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