Tommy Hunter, Craig Sager meet again
ARLINGTON, Texas -- For Thursday's team interview session, each Texas Rangers player was seated at an individual table in the posh Diamond Club at Rangers Ballpark, a setup designed to allow reporters greater access to players prior to Friday night's start of the American League Championship Series.
Rangers pitcher Tommy Hunter was at his table in full home-white uniform and blue cap. He was talking to a single reporter about his days as a 280-pound high school defensive end in Indiana when, out of nowhere, a white-cloth napkin came flying in and landed smack on the "TEXAS" across Hunter's broad chest.
Hunter looked up: Sager!
"If you want a 44-long Versace jacket, it's at the Intercontinental Hotel right now in Tampa if you'd like to pick it up," Craig Sager said to Hunter. "My pants are there. Everything's there."
(The backstory: During batting practice prior to Game 5 against the Rays, Sager -- the TBS postseason sideline reporter who is known better for the flamboyant, peacockish suits he wears on NBA on TNT telecasts -- walked by Hunter, who looked at Sager in disbelief and asked who the heck that is. After the game, Sager arrived late to the jubilant champagne-and-beer soaked Rangers clubhouse. Hunter saw Sager in his brightly colored and perfectly dry garb and grabbed eight Bud Light tall boys -- by Hunter's count -- and relentlessly doused Sager from head to toe. Sager was stunned. He looked at Hunter, didn't say a word, turned and left the clubhouse.)
On the off-day, Sager strikingly dressed down in a pair of blue jeans and a ho-hum polo shirt as he approached Hunter's table. Hunter, the brawny, 6-foot-3, 280-pound right-hander, pushed his chair back and stood up. Then, former Atlanta Braves great and now TBS and MLB Network analyst John Smoltz suddenly joined the mix and spoke out.
"It wasn't funny, man. This is one my workers, man," Smoltz lectured Hunter. "Why do you do that? You don't know he's famous for his suits?"
And then at once, all three doubled over in laughter.
Hunter really had no idea who Sager was when he first spotted him during BP prior to Game 5, and after giving Sager the full-frontal beer bath, Hunter shouted, "I don't even know who you are!"
Any remorse, Mr. Hunter?
"A little bit of remorse," Hunter said, looking at Sager. "But, where was your poncho? I was just bitter. There were so many people in there that were not wet."
Sager had TV duty in the losing clubhouse Tuesday night and when he finished up there he headed over to the Rangers clubhouse to visit former Atlanta Braves outfielder Jeff Francoeur. Only Sager never made it that far.
"I got him," Hunter said. "I got him good."
If the Rangers get another opportunity to celebrate, at least this time Tommy Hunter and Craig Sager will have been properly introduced.
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