ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — It was a long, tough road trip for the Albuquerque Isotopes.
During the previous eight days, they lost their No. 1 fan, six players to suspension, five games and basically the respect of some baseball purists because of a bench-clearing brawl. When viewing the video, it appears they lost the brawl, too
Still, despite Friday’s ominous weather reports for the day and a field that was basically under water from the previous night’s deluge, at least the ‘Topes didn’t lose a night of baseball on Saturday when finally returning home.
Just another game, as Tacoma handed Albuquerque its fourth straight loss, 5-2, in front of an announced crowd of 9,859.
The Isotopes have scored just five runs combined in the four losses. Following the game, manager Damon Berryhill had a closed-door meeting for at least 40 minutes and didn’t address the media.
On Saturday afternoon, it was up-in-the-air whether the Isotopes would even have a game. A helicopter was used to help dry a field soaked by the week’s rains, with an especially brutal storm hitting the area Friday night.
The forecast for Saturday was another storm. But the rains never came. Nor did many ‘Topes runs.
The previous Saturday, the ‘Topes were involved in quite a storm of a different kind. They made national news with their brawl at Reno during their eight-game road trip. Six Albuquerque players have served or will still serve suspensions for their parts in the melee.
Earlier the day of the brawl, superfan Ronnie Davidson – who had cerebral palsy but seldom missed a Dukes or Isotopes game for more than three decades – died of cancer at age 64 in Albuquerque. A touching tribute to Davidson was made prior to Saturday night’s game, with a video of his well-known antics and dances being played to the tune of “Mr. Bojangles” on the big screen.
“Isotopes Park won’t be the same without Ronnie,” Albuquerque general manager John Traub told the Journal. “I think the fans really enjoyed the video that (Isotopes’ director of creative services) Kris Shepard put together. The warm ovation is indicative of how people really liked him.”
Despite all the recent losses, the Isotopes at least received one big addition on the recent road trip. Cuban defector Alex Guerrero rejoined the team.
Guerrero had been out after having his own ugly brawl with then-teammate Miguel Olivo on May 20 in the dugout of a game at Salt Lake. Olivo bit part of Guerrero’s ear off in the fight.
The Dodgers organization soon sent Olivo packing and put the 27-year-old Guerrro – who signed a four-year, $28 million deal in October – on the disabled list. Guerrero rejoined the Isotopes on July 26 in Reno, but wasn’t one of those suspended for the altercation with the Aces.
Guerrero was batting .376 with the Isotopes before the injury, but is only 5-of-29 since returning to the team. He was 1-for-4 on Saturday.
Because the team arrived late on its flight home from Sacramento on Saturday, players weren’t available for interviews. Following the game, Guerrero wasn’t available for an interview but the Isotopes said he would be prior to tonight’s game.