NEW YORK -- About 70 Major League Baseball players have toured through the MLB Fan Cave since Opening Day. By all accounts the visit Friday by Dee Gordon and Jerry Hairston Jr. of the Dodgers marked the first time a player on the disabled list came along. It was definitely the first time any player wearing a lime-green cast won on the pool table.
"I lost at pool to Dee, the guy with the broken hand, so I wasn't really proud of myself, but all in all it was definitely a great experience," Hairston said.
"Just breaking barriers, me and my green cast," Gordon said.
"It probably helped you," Hairston retorted.
"It would have been way worse. I would have beat him bad."
Gordon and Hairston had fun taping two video skits that will launch in coming days on MLBFanCave.com, and the latter went down the giant orange home run slide, while the former had to be held back just to be on the safe side. In addition to their game of pool using a rack of Dodger balls, they did a Facebook chat in front of the 15-screen Cave Monster, signed the deconstructed-Rawlings autograph skin wall, threw some Skee-ball, and hung out with the remaining five Cave Dwellers.
Yes, even Giants fan Smashley Chavez. She received a "dad tweet" during the visit asking her if she had fled the building yet. Such are the great rivalries of baseball, but to her credit Chavez helped with the tour and had fun posing with the pair.
Much of the attention focused on that bright lime cast that stuck out on Gordon like a sore thumb. He tore a ligament in his right thumb during a head-first slide into third base on July 4, and said he will have the cast removed on Aug. 2. The Dodgers' roster is almost at full strength now and Gordon is certainly one more guy they would like to have back as this big East-Central-West road trip starts Friday night at Citi Field against the Mets.
"I've got the lime-green, Dee Gordon special cast," Gordon said, looking at his right hand. "It's actually made in space...no not really...I have a pin sticking out right here, so that's why it's casted up. I get [it] off August 2. My timetable, I want to be back August 3. But [Dodgers trainer Sue Falsone] isn't gonna have it. Hopefully it's sooner than later."
Gordon went on the sidelines leading the Majors in steals, with 30 in his second season. He was just ranked by peers in The Show player poll as the quickest in the game. For now he has to answer questions like which player other than him is fastest and, just in case you are wondering, he says it is Angels outfielder Mike Trout.
"You gotta see it in person," Gordon says of Trout's speed. He also gives a special nod to Reds prospect Billy Hamilton, a future MLB jet.
"It was definitely an honor to be able to lead the Majors in steals, but more importantly being able to score runs for my team and help our team win," Gordon added. "Now I look back on it and say, 'Uh-oh, I may not be leading the Majors in steals when I come back.'"
"We're gonna need his energy when he comes back," Hairston jumped in. "That's a big part of our team. He makes our lineup go with that speed, and everybody's well aware of it, his speed, and how he has an effect on the defense. When he gets back, hopefully he's fully healthy."
The Dodgers lost both series in their post-All-Star homestand, against the Padres and Phillies, and they enter this trip 2 1/2 games behind the Giants in the National League West standings. They did, however, get big cogs like Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier back, so everyone is waiting to see whether the season's early breakaway leaders can rekindle that same fire.
"It's definitely a big trip for us," Hairston said. "We're well aware of what's happened in the standings the last month or so. But we feel we're healthy."
"Not all of us," interjected Gordon.
"We've got to get Dee back so we're fully healthy," Hairston continued. "We're getting there. It's a big trip for us and hopefully we'll play well."
This pair not only joined the growing MLB Family members who have visited the Cave, but they really personified what "MLB Family" means. In their case it is very literal. Gordon is the son of Tom "Flash" Gordon, who pitched 21 years in the Majors.
"I feel like it's easier for me because it was just me and my dad," Gordon said. Then alluding to Hairston he added, "him, on the other hand, there's a hundred of them."
Hairston extends a long family line that began in the Negro Leagues, where Sam Hairston played for the Birmingham Black Barons before becoming the first black White Sox player. "Take the field with a purpose, improve on what you learned and never take anything for granted" was the lesson passed down from Sam throughout this family tree. Hairston's father, Jerry, played 15 season in the bigs, and his uncle John appeared briefly for the Cubs in 1969. Then there is Scott Hairston, who plays for the Mets, setting the stage for their Citi Field reunion later in the night following a lunch together in the city.
"We got beaten if we didn't play baseball. That was our family motto," Hairston Jr. said with a grin. "No, it was just one of those things where we grew up around the game of baseball. We just wanted to be around our dad. It just so happened our dads played baseball. I think that's the coolest thing for a son, to be able to go to a big-league stadium and see your dad work. I wanted to have that life for myself and fortunately we were able to do that."
Jerry says of Scott, "bottom line, his team is in the pennant race, so is mine. We are both trying to help our teams get to where we want to go and that's the playoffs. I wish him success, but not against the Dodgers."
On his way out, the man with the lime cast said of the Cave, "I had a blast. Seeing everything they have going here is awesome and to be part of this is a great feeling."