OAKLAND -- Heidi, meet Smilla. Smilla . . . Heidi.
It probably won't live in infamy for decades, but Channel 13 had its own Heidi moment Sunday, cutting away from its Angels TV broadcast to a movie called "Smilla's Sense of Snow" right before the A's Mark Ellis hit a walk-off grand slam in the 12th inning.
Apparently, there was a communication error with the feed between Vyvx, the satellite carrier of the telecast, and AT&T, which distributes the telecast.
At 5 p.m., just before the final pitch, Channel 13 went to a color bar, a black screen with a KCOP logo, a commercial, and then to the movie, which TV Guide described as a "thriller about a half-Inuit scientist (Julia Ormond) who becomes obsessed with the suspicious death of an Eskimo boy in Copenhagen."
The snafu was reminiscent of NBC's gaffe on Nov. 17, 1968, when, with 65 seconds left in an important AFL game between the Raiders and Jets, it cut away to the movie "Heidi."
The Jets led, 32-29, at the time, and viewers missed a stirring Raiders' comeback that led to a 43-32 victory.
Champing at the hit
Chone Figgins, on the disabled list because of a strained right hamstring, will begin a minor league rehabilitation assignment with triple-A Salt Lake tonight, and not a moment too soon.
"I'm ready to play," said the leadoff batter, who has played one game since May 3. "I'm tired of this, man. Eating hamburgers and hot dogs and watching games, it's killing me."
Angels Manager Mike Scioscia said Figgins will play "a minimum of three games," starting with five innings at third base tonight and working his way up to eight or nine innings Wednesday.
Figgins, who is batting .306 with a .423 on-base percentage, wished his manager was a little more flexible.
"If I get three or four hits and play some good defense [tonight], I'm calling it in," Figgins said. "I can't waste hits down there."
Right on Q
There is one benefit to having only 33 at-bats six weeks into the season. If you're batting .182, as Robb Quinlan was, it only takes a handful of good games to bring your average up to respectability.
Quinlan, whose playing time at third base jumped considerably after Figgins' injury, has gone 17 for 44 in his last 16 games, raising his average to .299.
"It helps to get more playing time, but I'm also having better at-bats," said Quinlan, who credited hitting coach Mickey Hatcher with a suggestion that sparked his surge. "Hatch watched some old video and thought I needed to get a little closer to the plate.
"Some pitches, I've been trying to pull too much. He said when I'm going good, I'm getting more hits to right field. You can get to two strikes and slap that pitch the other way."
Oakland right-hander Rich Harden became the 41st pitcher in baseball history to strike out the side on nine pitches when he whiffed Maicer Izturis, Howie Kendrick and Garret Anderson, all swinging, in the first inning Sunday.
The last A's pitcher to accomplish the feat was Lefty Grove against the White Sox on Sept. 27, 1928.
The last pitcher to do it was Atlanta's Buddy Carlyle against the Padres on July 6, 2007.
Gary Matthews Jr. had two hits Sunday to extend his hitting streak to six. He has gone 10 for 24 in that span, raising his average from .215 to .236. Anderson snapped an 0-for-16 skid with an infield single in the fifth inning. The left fielder is three for 26 in his last six games, his average falling from .276 to .263.