My new favorite baseball player is Nick Maton, who I had never heard of until a few weeks ago. I don’t know what position he plays, have no idea what he looks like and I barely even know that he’s a Philadelphia Phillie, but this is my guy.
Little brothers unite! We have a new hero!
The Phillies were playing Houston in early October in a semi-meaningless game to end the regular season when Nick got called on to be a pinch hitter in the eighth inning.
It just so happens that the Astros pitcher at the time was his brother, Phil Maton. His older brother.
If you are not a younger brother like I am, you can probably stop reading at this point. You might understand the story, but you aren’t truly going to get it.
(It should also be mentioned here that Phil Maton is a former Louisiana Tech pitcher and has had a nice five-year career.)
The Astros were winning 3-0 when Nick came to the plate. On a 2-2 pitch, Phil put one in on his brother’s hands, but Nick managed to fight it off for a bloop hit to right field. Bloop may be an exaggeration.
No matter, right little brothers? That’s not only a bullet in the box score, but also line drive to the ego of every older brother out there.
The Phillies dugout went crazy, calling for the baseball to be taken out of play (something that is usually reserved for a player’s first hit, not his 48th).
Phil Maton didn’t go crazy … at the time.
The pitcher gave up another hit, walked a batter and got pulled for another reliever who gave up a sacrifice fly that scored – you guessed it – Nick Maton.
Naturally, Phil did what embarrassed older brothers do whenever they don’t get their way against the younger brother they’ve picked on almost since they came out of the womb: He threw a fit.
Punched a locker. (Yeah, that’s pretty mature.)
Punched it with his right hand. (The same one he makes his living with.)
Punched the locker so hard that he broke a bone in his hand. (I guess this dispels the myth that older brothers are smarter.)
Nick isn’t going to be playing the divisional series round of the playoffs because he’s not on the Phillies post-season roster. After all, he was just a late-season call-up in the first place.
Also not on a post-season roster? The guy who has pitched in 14 playoff games – including five in the World Series: Phil Maton.
“It was kind of a shortsighted move, and ultimately it was selfish,” Maton, the (injured) pitcher said earlier this week. “It’s one of those things that I hope doesn’t affect our team moving forward.”
I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that it’s going to have an effect. A worse pitcher is going to be on the Astros staff in the post-season than there otherwise would have been.
Credit to Phil Maton for owning it. “No excuses for what I did,” Maton said.
On a daily basis, I am subject to the older brother/younger brother dynamic. Once it was based around wiffle ball, driveway basketball, or who gets the bigger helping of ice cream. Now it’s for far more stupid reasons, but it still exists.
As younger brothers, we may become better athletes, more handsome, smarter or richer. But the calendar is never on our side. So we take our joys wherever we can get them.
Like when we make them so mad that they want to smash a locker.
Contact JJ at email@example.com
Don’t contact his older brother.