Mad River Union
ARCATA – It was a season-ending game that the Humboldt Crabs will remember for a lot of reasons, none quite as hilarious as the butt cheek tattoo that almost was.
The Crabs finished their 73rd summer season on a winning streak, capped by a 24-1 blowout on Sunday against the Auburn Wildcats at the Arcata Ball Park. The Crabs swept the three-game series, and this contest was not in doubt after Humboldt jumped out to a 9-0 first-inning lead.
It was 19-0 after two innings. At that point, the drama was whether assistant trainer Erica McMullen would have to follow through on a bet she made with the team last year.
If the Crabs score 25 runs in one game, McMullen would get an image of a crab tattooed on her rear end. Her right butt cheek, to be specific. Size of a quarter, give or take a fraction of an inch.
As the Crabs appeared on track to reach 25 runs – and boy, did they try – the back-and-forth between an increasingly nervous McMullen and the teasing players added up to some serious fun.
First, a quick rundown on first-year Manager Robin Guiver’s picks for top honors.
Catcher R.J. Hassey received the Kevin Morsching/Scott Heinig coach’s award of excellence; outfielder Kyle Blakeman was top defensive player; Matthew Hernandez best pitcher; and co-MVPs were first baseman Ryan Myers and center fielder Jeremiah Burks, whose walk-on home run on opening night topped Guiver’s list of memorable highlights of the 2017 campaign.
“There’s a bunch of other really good exciting games,” the Crabs manager said. “Great pitching performances, great hitting, a lot of good stuff.”
Now back to the drama of the crab tattoo.
Hanging out with a few of her friends in chairs to the left of the Crabs dugout, it took only 15 minutes of play to make McMullen a bit anxious as the runs piled up in the early innings.
“Last year they got to 21 and I was sweating bullets,” she said. As the first inning ended, she said, “I’m sweating bullets now.”
Joel Bisson, a fan from McKinleyville who was balancing his four-year-old son Forest on his shoulders, asked, “Does the scoreboard go to double digits?”
When Humboldt scored its 10th and last run of the second inning, there was a 9 in the second inning frame and a 1 in the yet-to-be-played third inning.
Now we know.
Crabs pitcher Jae Wagner walked over and razzed McMullen.
“I think it’s funny,” he said. “I think she might’ve made it a little more of an unrealistic goal. I actually thought we couldn’t get it, but we’re almost there.”
Between shouts of “Stop it!” and “No, no!” McMullen reviewed images of crabs on her phone.
Crabs player Matt Richardson strolled up to McMullen. “We’re going to get six more runs,” he said. It sure looked that way after Alex Aguiar launched a grand slam in the third to make it 23-0.
In the fifth inning, Blakeman drove in the 24th run on a sacrifice. At that point, McMullen had picked out the crab artwork. She debated its precise placement, and what it meant for her fashion choices. “It’ll be below the bikini line ... but I can’t wear a thong anymore.”
But then the Crabs offense stalled.
In his last at-bat of the season, home run leader Myers swung mightily for the fence, and struck out. Jack McCarthy launched one over the left field fence that was called foul. Wagner looked out from the dugout and, like a big brother teasing his sister, said with mock apprehension, “Erica.”
“What did I say baby? Twenty-five or it ain’t happening,” she said.
It didn’t happen.
The bet is still on for next year.
The Crabs concluded the 2017 season with a record of 39-7.