Yesterday Pablo Sandoval hit his fourth splash hit. Dave Edlund jumped out of his kayak and retrieved the ball just barely beating Bill Ogle in another kayak and Joe Dirt from the Portwalk with a custom fishing net. This was Dave’s 6th homerun ball this season and it puts him in first place with all ball hawks nationwide at every ballpark. As a member of the Bonds Navy he makes us proud and a bit jealous at the same time.
It was interesting during the game that Duane Kuiper made the following comment on TV in the third inning: ” he broke the official kayak rules, he left the ship”. And then a little later the said ”I’m not sure if there are rules out there, but I think that the last one was broken.” It is rather humorous considering that during the Bonds era it was common to see people bloody in the stadium as they were escorted to safety by the security staff as the person clutched a milestone baseball. There are no rules in the stadium and it is every person for himself.
Some of the rules are assumed. The first rule to be broken was the one where the Giants organization thought they would be able to control access to McCovey Cove after the stadium was built. They wanted only Portuguese Water Dogs to be able to retrieve splash hits. Their plan quickly disolved when it became clear after opening day that the Giants couldn’t restrict access in a navigable waterway. Nice try! When I saw the dogs they were not too excited about getting into the cold water.
The first hard and fast rule came about because of the careless use of motorized Zodiacs in the cove. Several times kayakers almost got run over in the mad dash for a Bonds splash hit. Fortuneately The SF Port Authority intervened and installed buoys next to the Portwalk to prohibit access by motorized craft. This was actually a very sensible and practical rule. Thank you, Port Authority and Jim Meisenbach!
Some rules are meant to be broken. I remember sitting at home watching a game on TV as Bonds hit a home run into the cove. I noticed my friend Jay Austin on the TV screen paddling his kayak toward the floating ball. I said outloud “Jay is finally going to get this first splash hit!”. As he neared his target unchallenged, out of nowhere a passing jogger dove off the Portwalk into the bay in front of him and snatched the ball to Jay’s astonishment. The funny thing about it was there is a sign posted on the Portwalk which says “no diving or swimming”. The person who dove in was an attorney of all people. So much for rules. Jay should have sued him.
I wish they would make a rule prohibiting the use of nets from the Portwalk. It is actually dangerous having a metal object fly past your head on the path to a baseball. Joe Dirt is the king of the wharf rats and has many splash hits to his credit. It is unusual when Joe misses a game and this rare occurence always brings members of the Bonds Navy great joy when he is absent.
So Kuip it is a free for all going after splash hits in the cove just like going after homeruns in the stadium. The difference is that we are more civilized about it and don’t hurt other people in the process. I’m sure it has a lot to do with having fewer people and the natural separations caused by the kayaks.