MINNEAPOLIS B — MINNEAPOLIS -- Depending on who's telling the story, either Kent Hrbek has been watching too much professional wrestling or Ron Gant is not telling the whole truth.
Hrbek appeared to lift Gant off of first base in the third inning of last night's second game of the World Series, but umpire Drew Coble ruled that the Atlanta Braves outfielder fell off all by himself.
The play turned out to be a pick-me-up for the Minnesota Twins, who escaped from a first-and-third jam and went on to score a dramatic 3-2 victory at the Metrodome.
Here's what happened:
Gant grounded a two-out single to left field that sent Lonnie Smith streaking from first base to third. Outfielder Dan Gladden tried to throw out Smith, but his wide throw went through to pitcher Kevin Tapani, who threw to first in an attempt to catch Gant off the bag.
He didn't succeed, but Gant came off the bag and was tagged out as he fell to the ground. The question is, did he he get a lift or did his momentum carry him right over Hrbek's right leg?
"I was clearly on the base," Gant said. "I felt the whole force of him pulling me off the base. It was so obvious. No matter what he [Hrbek] says, everyone saw him pull me off the base."
Hrbek said he did no such thing. He claimed that Gant was coming off, anyway, and that he just waited to make the tag.
"His momentum carried him off," Hrbek said. "I could feel him falling into me. His foot came up and I tagged him. He was laying on [against] me. He came off the bag and he was out easily."
Coble obviously agreed, though he allowed a raging Gant to vent much more frustration than the average umpire would allow during the regular season. Manager Bobby Cox also argued, but nothing was going to change Coble's mind.
"He [Gant] tried to pick up one foot and put the other one down," Coble said. "That just carried him more toward the first-base dugout. Hrbek took the throw low and tried to tag him as his feet were coming up, too. As [Gant] did that, he just went over the top of him. The claim by Bobby [Cox] was that Hrbek was pushing him off the bag, but in my judgment, his movement carried him over the top of Hrbek."
The video replay appeared to support Gant's story. It showed Hrbek's glove hand conveniently stationed under Gant's right leg, apparently hoisting him off the ground. Wrestler Jesse "The Body" Ventura -- who is the mayor of a nearby Minnesota town, couldn't have done it better.