Hello, intrepid baseball fans. You probably had a nice, extended weekend, but baseball is an honors course that just keeps going and there's usually a test around the corner. The next thing you know, it'll be July and Carlos Gomez will have 50 homers and you'll be like, hey, wait ... This is my way of helping you prevent that horrible fate.
So here are the things you might have missed. The irony is that these things you missed will probably miss other things you missed, and those things will be more important. But, well, I'm bad at my job. Here, then, are some of the things you might have missed:
The Adrian Beltre/Elvis Andrus wars rage on
Okay, you'll need to catch up on a couple of fronts. Thankfully, Brian Floyd over at the mother ship did absolutely amazing work chronicling why Beltre is so great, with a couple of GIFs at the end. Those GIFs are as follows:
2. Andrus fake-calling a pop up that's obviously Beltre's. He's done it before, getting a murder glare from Beltre each time.
This is almost certainly the most compelling storyline in sports today, and if you're not caught up, it shouldn't take too long. Everyone needs a stodgy-yet-secretly-playful workmate like Beltre. Everyone needs a jackass workmate like Andrus. It's like watching nature's perfect design. There's probably some way to fit Andrus and Beltre's interactions into a flowchart that follows the Fibonacci sequence.
Munenori Kawasaki is still the best
And, like the Beltre one, this benefits from a little additional context. See, Kawasaki was previously awarded the title of "the best" because he would do things like exhibit domination over his peers or dance for no discernible reason. That interview up there is akin to him making a stirring campaign speech when he's already 30 points ahead in the polls. We get it. You're the best. Sheesh.
He's like a sprite from a Miyazaki movie and I'd like to think I'd make that comparison if Kawasaki were Danish … but that almost certainly isn't true. Sorry. There's just this magical quality about Kawasaki, though, that makes it seem like Major League Baseball is really a giant background for him. This is his story, his tale of struggle and redemption, and we're all just extras in the animation cel, along for the magical ride, dang it.
Him being pretty bad at baseball contributes to the legend, too. If he were okay at everything, he'd just be a goofy player. But the dearth of skills somehow makes it better.
Let's see, Beltre and Kawasaki so far. It's as if I'm just using a handbook of Jeff Sullivan's favorite tropes and muses instead of catching you up on the latest news. We'll see about that …
Adam Jones hit four homers in four games
Whoops! That's not one of his favorites! Here's something I often wonder: Would the Mariners have the best team in baseball if you magically awarded them the players they once had on their roster and let go for little or no return?
Let's see ... Cliff Lee, R.A. Dickey, Brandon Morrow and Doug Fister in the rotation, Matt Thornton, J.J. Putz and Rafael Soriano in the bullpen and a lineup featuring Adam Jones, Asdrubal Cabrera, Shin-Soo Choo and Adrian Beltre … it's a contender, especially if you let them keep the good players they have now.
Long story short: Jones is good. If you need moving pictures, this will do just fine. He still has the strikeout-to-walk wonkiness that will probably prevent him from being elite, but he's a fantastic player.
Angel Pagan hit an inside-the-park walk-off homer
If you were to construct the most exciting play in baseball, it would probably be something that ended a game. The last pitch of a perfect game, for example. A division- or series-clinching out. But a walkoff home run is pretty high on the list, even if it's a bad team doing it in a meaningless September game.
And an inside-the-park homer is always high on the list, even if it's in the Grapefruit League or some meaningless exhibition. There's something about a well-timed carom making you think "Say, this could …" that reminds you of just how incredible this game can get.
Which must make an inside-the-park walkoff homer close to the very top of the list. There have been just 17 since 1945, which is as far back as the Play Index goes. The Royals did it twice to the Yankees in just over a year, and this was back when the Yankees/Royals rivalry was a big deal. The same pitcher (Jim Owens) gave up two in 14 months to the same team, with the same score (5-5) in the same inning (10th).
Owens is also the co-owner of the single-inning balk record with three. Jim Owens had an interesting career, everybody. But this is about walkoff inside-the-parkers, of which four came when the hitting team was trailing. The last one by a trailing team came in 1989. Here's Harry Kalas's call:
That was recorded on an Etch-a-Sketch, re-recorded on a RAZR from 2004 and then uploaded onto a turnip, but you get the excitement from Kalas's voice, at least.
Here's Rey Sanchez's, which was more of a Little League home run:
And Marquis Grissom's, just before the strike:
The most exciting play in baseball? Hard to say. I'm going to lean "no" because it often takes a misplay or flub to make it happen and that probably disqualifies it. But it's up there -- a super-rare play that you can anticipate just a step before it actually happens.
The Angels are good again, the Royals are bad again
That is, the Angels swept the Royals, and the Anaheims had an eight-game winning streak until Monday. They might have already dug a hole too deep -- shades of last year, really -- but they're just a handful of games out of the second Wild Card, which could change for the better over a hot couple of weeks.
From MLB.com on the Angels' production during the streak:
- Josh Hamilton is hitting .308/.438/.731, with three home runs, six RBIs, six walks and eight strikeouts.
- Mike Trout is batting .406/.486/.750, with five extra-base hits and seven RBIs, and he is 4-for-5 in stolen-base attempts.
- Mark Trumbo is hitting .333/.389/.576 with two home runs and seven RBIs.
- Halos pitchers own a 2.50 ERA and have allowed just two homers in 72 innings.
The Hamilton item seems the most impressive, as he looked like baseball carrion just a couple weeks ago. Small samples are in effect, for sure. We're just not sure if they apply to him being good or bad. Considering that he was good as recently as last year, probably the latter.
Meanwhile, in Kansas City:
Manager Ned Yost has admiration for veteran Miguel Tejada's contributions off the Royals' bench, but he has no immediate plans to use him more at third base.
Tejada is hitting .323/.364/.548 in 33 plate appearances. So there is actually talk of him playing more at the expense of Mike Moustakas.
Tejada is probably on the level. Seems legit, as the kids say.