Like any devoted Fernando Tatis Jr. fan, yesterday I watched some of the Fort Wayne–West Michigan game on MiLB.tv. Tatis went 1–3 with a walk against a mostly dominant Kyle Funkhouser, a line that doesn’t highlight a long fly out to deep left-center field in the top of the sixth. But no heroics from Funkhouser or Tatis or anyone else could top the theatrics of the Appliance Race that took place in the middle of the third inning.
Between inning minor-league promotions are a staple of the scene, and often a bit strange—this game featured an Eye Ball Race and a Human Sandwich Race, both mildly disturbing. But whoever was the genius behind the concept of the Appliance Race—and this particular cast of contestants—deserves a raise. It stole the show.
Let’s set the scene. We’ve got three kids, all donning costumes of our favorite household appliances; one wears a range outfit, another a water heater, and the third is decked out in a foam dryer.
Here’s the start:
And it’s a terrible start! For some still unknown reason, the dryer is forced to start the race behind his two foes, so he’s left with a seemingly insurmountable challenge.
Then he does this:
This is no ordinary dryer. In a remarkable turn of events, the dryer makes a last-to-first move and starts to pull away from the field, all in the blink of a microwave timer. At this point, the range is struggling to get going, ducking down toward the inside, while the water heater is lethargically ambling about in second, drifting to the outside.
Then we hit the turn, and mass confusion:
The contestants are supposed to go around the thermometer, but the water heater mistakes Fort Wayne center fielder Buddy Reed for his target. He’s momentarily thrown off course, bumping into an equally confused West Michigan staffer. The other two appliances take advantage of the mishap, and off the turn the dryer is still in first with the range using a sharp cornering maneuver to pull into second. The water heater is trailing, as they line up single file headed toward home.
Aha! The water heater has been playing coy the whole time. Here, propelled by the aerodynamic advantage of his cylindrical shape and longer legs, he surges to the lead with relative ease. The dryer makes one final acceleration, near the finish line, in a last gasp bid to regain even footing with the water heater, but he ends up face-planting into the turf.
The dryer gets up and finishes second—a rules violation would later disqualify him to third, behind the range, for disengaging from his appliance—humbled, disappointed, and happy to be alive.