Alec Mehrten, I'm sorry buddy.
I could have warned you. I could have put you in a less-compromising position.
But I didn't.
I'm left with the memory of watching you keel over in blinding pain mere moments after your heroic game-winning single Saturday in a 5-4 extra-inning win over Salem-Keizer.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to the Tri-City Herald
Let me explain what happened:
Mehrten, a rookie infielder with the Tri-City Dust Devils out of Fresno Pacific University, made the most of his start at third base Saturday, going 2-for-5 with a pair of opposite-field RBI singles, including the game-winner with two outs in the 10th.
As he made his way around second base after Francisco Sosa scored the winning run, it was pure entertainment to watch him flip his helmet away as an entire dugout of teammates ran out to congratulate him.
I've seen similar situations before, and I figured there might be a Gatorade bath — or something of the like — in Mehrten's future. I just didn't know when or where.
Turns out, it was right as I was doing my post-game interview with him inside the Dave Lemak Clubhouse.
What I usually do when I go into the clubhouse for interviews is park myself in the tunnel heading down to the dugout right beside the locker area. It's a convenient place to do interviews because there's not a ton of room in the locker area. Plus, I think it's probably tough to answer questions in front of teammates, and this lends a little more privacy to the interview process.
Usually, I've got my back to the stairs and the players have their backs to the locker room, which leaves them blind to what's going on with their teammates. That was the problem tonight.
I was about a minute into my interview with Mehrten when a well-meaning teammate came up with a towel full of shaving cream and rubbed it into Mehrten's face. This is a common, time-honored tradition that is meant as a tribute to a teammate that has done well, so I smiled and stepped back.
After about 15 seconds of watching Mehrten struggle to get this stuff off his face, I realized all might not be well. Teammates began offering him towels to wipe his eyes, and Anthony Aguilera quickly shagged down a few cups of water to wash his face off.
I stood there stupidly as Mehrten tried valiantly to clear the evil mess from his eyes. Nothing seemed to be helping.
Finally, I told Mehrten I'd head over to Freddie Ocasio's office to chat with him, giving him a chance to shower up and relieve some of the pain. But by the time I got back, Mehrten was still in the shower.
I can only hope he's feeling better in the morning.
I'm feeling a little guilty myself. So in honor of Alec Mehrten, I'll think seriously about giving them the spot by the stairs so they can at least be forewarned of any mischief by their teammates.
Of course, that leaves me open to that same said mischief. A little payback is only fair.