The all-star break ended, and baseball stumbled around the town square drunk again. I was gone for a week, and then the next week started and there were, like, three or four almost-no-hitters, two or them by players the Cardinals literally made up the day of the game, a couple of trades that sent veteran lefties to teams that could better appreciate them, a Rays reliever playing third base, a violation of the unwritten rules of batting practice attire, at least one extremely wild comeback from a team down eight runs, six players getting inducted into the Hall of Fame, position players pitching, other position players pitching, and more position players pitching.
Oh, and they gave out the Heart and Hustle Awards.
Baseball is wild, man.
But baseball isn’t just wild. It’s strange. It’s confusing. It’s deceptive and fun and silly and horrible and perfect. Baseball is the sport that’s supposed to be dreadfully slow and somnambulant, and yet it’s also the sport that’s impossible to keep up with, even if you try. Baseball is all of this.
Baseball is hard.
Really, really hard. But before we get too deep into this, we must also remember that ...
Baseball is good, actually
There’s probably a reason why I’m going to the minor-league well after a week that was overstuffed with baseball. I think my brain shut down.
But I’m also a sucker for walk-off inside-the-park home runs. Like, they breathe life into every last part of my soul.
This was posted to YouTube on July 26, and as of this writing, it has 45 views. Six of those were probably me. I know that MiLB.com has its own video page, which is certainly where the bulk of its highlights are consumed, but those numbers suggest to me that this special, special moment has been criminally overlooked.
It’s the 13th inning, which would already make a game-winning inside-the-park home run that much more special, but there’s more. This was a game that was supposed to be played two days earlier but the conditions of the field wouldn’t let them, so it was made up as the second game of a doubleheader. Because it was a doubleheader, it was scheduled for just seven innings, which means this walk-off came six innings after the game was supposed to be over.
Beyond that, the minor leagues are using that stupid start-a-runner-at-second rule in extra innings. In every inning after the seventh, there would be a runner at second and no outs. Here’s how that went:
In the top of the eighth, the Chiefs scored a run. In the bottom of the eighth, the Tides scored a run.
In the top of the 10th, the Chiefs scored a run. In the bottom of the 10th, the Tides scored a run.
In the top of the 11th, the Chiefs scored a run. In the bottom of the 11th, the Tides scored a run.
In the top of the 12th, the Chiefs scored a run. In the bottom of the 12th, the Tides scored a run.
In the top of the 13th, the Chiefs scored a run. In the bottom of the 13th, the Tides said NO MORE OF THIS, BASEBALL DEMONS, I CAST THEE OUT.
After 20 innings of baseball on a day when there were only supposed to be 14, there was a glorious walk-off inside-the-park home run. And you know who got to see it?
Those people. Those two behind home plate, who were hardy enough to say, “13 innings of minor league baseball in the second half of a doubleheader? Oh, hell yes. We’ll get to sit right behind home plate, and maybe there will be a walk-off inside-the-park home run.”
That was for you, hardy fans. That was for you.
Let us study this baseball thing
Let’s just jump right into it: Are you more impressed with a dude catching a home run ball while holding a baby, or are you more impressed an announcer catching a foul ball as he makes the call? This week gives us the chance to discuss this.
Here’s the dad:
And here’s the announcer (click here for the video if you’re reading on Google AMP, Apple News, or AOL Glisten):
The homer took several seconds to arrive at its destination. The foul ball took just over two seconds.
I’ve worn a baby. Played guitar while wearing a baby, walked to the store while wearing a baby, and completed all 50 Xbox Achievements for Civilization Revolution while wearing a baby. But I have not done any of these while holding a baby. That’s a different animal. Making sure you don’t drop the baby is hard enough when it’s a normal situation. Trying to shield it from death while also lunging for a souvenir is much, much harder. And that’s a really young baby, so you know it’s not giving him any help.
The announcer’s job is literally to watch every single pitch intently. There’s no one who is more prepared.
Oh, this is going to get people angry, but I’m not going with the dad. It doesn’t take much to angle the body in such a way to protect the child, while still giving yourself a chance to catch the ball. I would argue that any reaction that’s not “Yeah, later” is neglectful because you’re dealing with potential chuckleheads in the seats around you, as well as ricochets. Just get that kid and run.
OK, fine, here are a few style points for the backhand catch, which was pretty badass.
No, I’m going with Roxy Bernstein making the call and the catch at the same time, with a perfect “And I caught it” in rhythm to punctuate the unlikeliness. Did Vin Scully ever do that?
Not only did he not, but the first search result for that query was this same play.
Yeah, I’m going announcer. We see dads catching baseballs with babies. It’s hard. It’s special. But it’s not that rare. Announcers making a one-handed catch and still having the presence of mind to make the perfect call, well, that’s a unicorn, alright. This debate is over.
It’s still cool to catch a ball while holding a baby, don’t get me wrong. I’ll take the announcer every day, though.
Damnit, Daniel. Look what you did.
You had a simple job, Daniel: Save the lead. But you couldn’t even do that, could you? Now it’s over. We lost. Because you couldn’t even do your job.
No, no, you’re not getting on this bus. You need to walk to the hotel. Come on, Jon. Come on, Domingo. Let’s let him think about what he did wrong.
Clean your shit up, Daniel.
I’ve come to terms with the reality that bronze sculpting is really, really hard
That plaque doesn’t feature a likeness of Vladimir Guerrero. That’s Scoober, my buddy from college. Classic Scoober, getting inducted into the Hall of Fame, right? I remember hanging out with Scoobs at the Dorfler house, playing Twisted Metal 2 all freaking night, and now he’s in the Hall of Fame. Ha ha, that guy.
Let’s just all agree to not sculpt our heroes in bronze. Look, it’s not you, bronze, it’s me. But also you. It’s just too difficult to pick up the nuances of a human’s face in this medium. From now on, every Hall of Fame likeness will be created by a caricature artist down by the boardwalk. It’ll cost $10 for a small, $14 for a large, and everyone will be happy.
Peace out, Scoober. See you around.
What Shohei Did
There are two ways follow the prompt of that header. The first is to show a video of Shohei Ohtani’s home run:
The second is to show you the face that Tyler Skaggs made after watching said home run:
Either one is effective. The larger point is that Shohei Ohtani is back, and his elbow is functional enough to allow him to hit baseballs to the moon, where they will remain forever. I really, really didn’t think we’d get the chance to appreciate that again this year.
Baseball picture of the week
There are a lot of reasons why I like this picture. The first is the obvious one, which is the unbridled joy of George Springer, one of the more likable players in baseball. From his efforts in helping children who stutter to his role as the unofficial clubhouse DJ, there aren’t a lot of folks who have a bad word to say about him.
The second is that we’re reminded that Jose Altuve is not the only diminutive baseball player out there. He’s not the only one on his team. That’s Tony Kemp who’s being swallowed up in Springer’s embrace, and it reminds you that there is more than one way to skin a baseball. They come in all shapes and sizes, they do.
The third thing I like is that it allowed me to pretend it was the freeze frame from the opening credits of an ‘80s sitcom.
The fourth thing is that Evan Gattis is behind them and about to vivisect them both as part of his dark ritual. This seemed funnier when I first noticed it, but now I’m just worried.
Mostly, though, it’s the unbridled joy. Come get some of that unbridled joy. George Springer has been keeping it warm for you.
This week in McGwire/Sosa
Hmm, the idea for this was to keep a weekly tally of the home run chase to see where they were at different points of the season, so that we could have some sort of perspective of just how many homers they were hitting. But then there was the all-star break and I took a vacation, and ... well, it’s been a while.
So to catch you up: it looks like they were hitting dingers.
23 AB this week
324 AB for the season
2 HR this week
44 HR for the season
.217/.400/.478 this week
.296/.476/.741 for the season
29 AB this week
404 AB for the season
2 HR this week
38 HR for the season
.241/.353/.483 this week
.309/.374/.634 for the season
Sosa is on pace to hit 61 homers after this week. McGwire is on pace to hit 73. There’s some cosmic symmetry in those numbers, even if they didn’t know them yet. The first was Sosa being on a Roger Maris pace, while the second was McGwire being on a Barry Bonds pace.
Neither of them would land exactly on those marks, but they were definitely cranking enough dingers to stay in the public eye.
Spoonerism of the week
Here are the 2018 National Baseball Hall of Fame inductees, ranked in order of how much their spoonerism sounds like a real baseball player:
6. Gladimir Vuerrero
Baseball would be better with a Gladimir, but it’s certainly not a name we’ve come to expect.
5. Hevor Troffman
You laugh now, but one day you’ll be taking your kid to preschool, and he or she will tell you a story about a Hevor. The next year, there will be three Hevors in the class. By the second kid rolls through, every other kid will be named Hevor, and there won’t be a thing you can do about it.
This ranks low, though, because Troffman just isn’t a realistic last name.
4. Jipper Chones
It’s a fine name, but nothing about it screams “baseball.” No, this is the lead character of a BBC cartoon that your kid loves. It’s a turtle or some crap, and he’s always screaming “I WANNA WATCH JIPPER CHONES” while you’re on a conference call, and the only reason you’re working remotely in the first place is because the kid has a fever, and he’s just screaming “I WANNA WATCH JIPPER CHONES” over and over again like a cheeping blue jay.
He’d never heard of the show before, but Hevor told him about it.
3. Tim Jhome
I sounds like the winner. But there’s something off with the “J” in front of the “h.” It works for Jhonny Peralta, but I think
2. Tralan Ammell
There was a Tralan Ammell drafted in the third round this year. Don’t look that up. Out of Florida International. No, Seton Hall. He has a hole in his swing, but the tools are impressive.
Also, it’s pronounced “tray-lan” and not “traw-lan.” It probably should be “traw-lan,” but the man has an ear.
1. Mack Jorris
.240/.290/.468, 19 HR, -1.1 dWAR.