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Originally published August 6, 2007 at 12:00 AM | Page modified August 6, 2007 at 2:05 AM

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Steve Kelley

Red Sox aren't amused by Mariner Moose mishap

Jeff Smulyan would have been appalled. After all, when he owned the Mariners, Smulyan created The Mariner Moose as a way to brighten up...

Seattle Times staff columnist

Jeff Smulyan would have been appalled.

After all, when he owned the Mariners, Smulyan created The Mariner Moose as a way to brighten up the drab insides of the Kingdome.

The Moose is his legacy to the city, although I'm sure if he had been able to snake out of Seattle and into Tampa Bay, as he wanted to, Smulyan would have taken The Moose with him.

But on Seafair Sunday, his legacy almost interfered with the Boston Red Sox's World Series dream.

Coco Crisp almost became roadkill.

In the 9-2 Boston blowout, the Mariners' sloppiness trickled from the team all the way to the mascot.

Starter Miguel Batista threw just 53 strikes in his 110 pitches and walked five in six innings. Adam Jones dropped a long Manny Ramirez drive near the center-field wall. Adrian Beltre committed an error.

Raul Ibanez was picked off second base. Jose Vidro forgot to cover second on a David Ortiz steal. And Vidro's replacement, Jose Lopez, was late covering first on Julio Lugo's bunt single.

But worse than all of those mistakes, The Mariner Moose almost ran over Crisp.

"Why do crazy things like that always happen to me that you people always want to talk about?" Crisp asked.

Before the bottom of the fifth, he was jogging, head down, out of the dugout when the Moose's ATV rumbled in front of the Boston bench.

"I was told it looked like something from 'Naked Gun,' " said manager Terry Francona, who was in the clubhouse at the time.

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Crisp was clipped on the knee by the cart and staggered for a second, but didn't fall. Instead of getting mad, or even, Crisp played along with the gag, faking like he was going to throw his glove at the offending Moose, before running out to center.

"I'm not an angry person," Crisp said. "I'm not going to run over and go clothesline the guy. It was an accident. I'm sure he didn't mean to try and take me out. I was fortunate enough to react fast enough to get out of the way. There was no damage."

Crisp even said he gladly would dine with The Moose on his next trip to Seattle.

"Maybe I'll have some moose jerky," he said.

All afternoon Crisp was the center fielder of attention. He had two doubles, scored two runs and drove in one. He made a diving catch in left-center, robbing Vidro of a single.

"But I believe avoiding that moose was the most athletic thing I did all day today," Crisp said. "I mean, I didn't even see him. I just heard the loud vroom. I jumped back and kind of just rolled with the punch.

"I've never really gotten hit by a moving vehicle before, so now I can put that on my list of things I've survived. But that's really nothing compared to some things that are happening around the world."

Right fielder J.D. Drew ran out of the dugout just ahead of Crisp.

"How many times a day do you have to go out there and check for traffic?" Drew asked. "Coming out of the dugout, you have to look left and look right? I mean, it's not like you're crossing the highway or jaywalking or anything."

A lesson for you kids to remember — motorized vehicles and humor don't mix.

"I didn't see my career flash before my eyes or anything. Actually, I was thinking of me being a billionaire," Crisp said, smiling at the thought of a lawsuit. "I probably could have made as much as somebody's wife divorcing a billionaire. But it was just a weird thing that happened."

We tease The Mariner Moose because we love him, but his carelessness almost cost a player a pennant race. He should have made sure all of the Sox had taken the field. Only Crisp's crisp instinct prevented this from being a disaster.

After the incident, Boston pitching coach John Farrell and pitcher Curt Schilling yelled at head groundskeeper Bob Christofferson to send a message to general manager Bill Bavasi that the Red Sox weren't happy with the M's furry friend.

"Just to be honest about it, about two minutes later, we got a very kind message from Bill Bavasi," Francona said. "It would have been a horrible accident."

Making matters worse, the buggy stalled in front of the Red Sox's dugout, then attracted more needless attention by sputtering and backfiring and making more noise than the Blue Angels as it rode around the outfield and out of sight.

Maybe The Moose should give the visitors a little heads-up the next time he tries this stunt.

Or maybe not.

"I've got enough to think about," Francona barked at the thought of worrying about The Moose's drive time. "Whether to play a left-hander or a right-hander, let alone a guy on motorcycle, or whatever the hell he is."

Jeff Smulyan's legacy almost cost the Red Sox a center fielder. We kid The Mariner Moose, but Terry Francona wasn't laughing.

Steve Kelley: 206-464-2176 or skelley@seattletimes.com. More columns at www.seattletimes.com/columnists

Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company

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About Steve Kelley
Steve Kelley covers all sports, putting his spin on matters involving both the home team and the nation.
skelley@seattletimes.com | 206-464-2176

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