In December of 2012, Jordan and I started the Cespedes Family Barbecue in my living room. Inspired by the Up and In podcast, we had recently become extremely interested in the ins and outs of baseball and wanted a place to put all the dumb jokes we were making. A blog seemed like the dorkiest and most obvious choice. But at first, we didn’t know what to call it…
“What should we call the blog?” Jordan said to me.
“How about something to do with that Cespedes video?” I responded.
“What about Cespedes Family Barbecue?”
“That’s dumb, but that’s pretty good.”
“No one is gonna read it anyway.”
We’ve certainly come a long way since that December day. But in that moment, never in a million years did we think that Yoenis Cespedes would ever get the chance to meet us. Yesterday, he fulfilled his dream.
But seriously, folks, we got to meet Yoenis for the first time and it was pretty awesome. Yoenis completely lived up to all the hype. Before we actually met him, he spent the majority of batting practice galavanting around the field like a carefree child. He was the only person on the field (Angels or Tigers), and maybe in the entire stadium at that point, with his hat on backwards. Your grandfather might have found it disrespectful, but we are younger and hipper than your grandfather, so we liked it. As he was jogging in to take his round of batting practice, he caught a line drive behind his back. Not a pop fly. A line drive. Behind his back. Without a sweat. He seemed to be having more fun than everybody else on both teams combined.
After batting practice, he made his way over to us and we introduced ourselves. We were lucky enough that our interaction with him was more than just a photo op. We chatted briefly about his love for golf (he plays almost everyday in the offseason), whether or not he’s going to do the Home Run Derby again (we can’t say), and why that Barbecue ever happened to begin with (it was his birthday). His english wasn’t perfect, but it was way better than our spanish and we were still able to communicate well enough to make a legitimate connection. We even gave him one of our hats.
It’s rare in life for something to live up to expectations, but that’s what yesterday was like for us. Yoenis doesn't play for either of our favorite teams. He wasn’t what motivated us to get interested in baseball. He wasn’t why we went on this trip. He isn’t the best player in baseball by any means, but he perfectly captures all the absurd, bizarre, and awe-inspiring things that we love about professional baseball players. Meeting him was a culmination of a lot of hard work, a lot of late nights, and more dumb jokes than we can even count. While it was a hell of a moment for a couple of college kids with an internet connection, we won’t rest until we actually get invited to one of his vaunted family barbecues.
- The Angels have an ad on their outfield wall for a restaurant chain called Jersey Mike’s. In addition to the ad, there is a Jersey Mike’s stand behind the rocks in center at which fans can buy Jersey Mike’s subs. There seems to be a good business relationship between the two parties. The Angels also have a player on their team named Mike Trout, who was the league’s most valuable player last year and the league’s most bestest player for the last three. Mike Trout is from Jersey and is also named Mike, so he seems like the perfect spokesman for Jersey Mike’s. But no, Mike Trout is one of the biggest spokesmen for Subway because $$$$$$.
- As exciting of a hitter as Cespedes can be, he comes with his fair share of 0-4’s, and that’s exactly what we got last night. Lucky for us, there’s a whole lot more to Yo’s game than just his bat. The last time Cespedes was in Anaheim, he unleashed one of the most incredible throws in baseball history. Expecting anything close to that would be foolish, but it’s hard to watch Cespedes play without eagerly waiting for him to be in a position to throw someone out. In the bottom of the 7th, the Angels had the bases loaded with one out and David Freese at the plate. Freese singled into left, scoring Mike Trout and sending Albert Pujols lumbering around third. Angels third base coach Gary DiSarcina, unaware of who he was messing with, waved Pujols home. Pujols, completely aware of who he was messing with, ignored DiSarcina and put on the emergency brakes, but not before he was caught in an ugly rundown. It was a hilarious display of respect from Pujols, who clearly knew he had no chance to score and deemed DiSarcina’s green light null and void in an effort to avoid getting thrown out at home.
- Buck Farmer made his first start of 2015 for Detroit and struggled mightily, allowing seven earned runs on nine hits over five innings of work. We happened to be sitting near Farmer’s family during the game, and it was a fascinating experience to watch their reactions to their son’s struggles on the mound. Their words of encouragement and support were not unlike those you’d hear at any Little League, high school, or Division-III baseball game. Of course, when Farmer gave up a home run in Little League, all his parents had to hear was opposing players’ parents cheering for their own children. When Farmer gives up a two-run bomb to one of the greatest hitters in baseball history, his parents have to hear 25,000 fans cheering their son’s failure. Watching the Farmer family was simultaneously heartwarming and humbling. While this was obviously not Farmer’s best night, he was still able to pitch in the major leagues in front of his parents and fiancée. That’s pretty cool!
- Detroit Tigers: 31 at-bats, two runs scored; Kirk Nieuwenhuis in his first game with the Angels: Zero at-bats, two runs scored.
We will say our final goodbyes to the greater Los Angeles metropolitan area as we begin our trek north towards the Bay Area. We’ll spend Friday night in Visalia at our fifth California League game of the trip, as the hometown Rawhide take on the visiting Bakersfield Blaze. On the off chance that Yoenis Cespedes gets traded to either Arizona or Seattle and is immediately demoted to High-A, we’ll probably see him on Friday night. Otherwise, we probably won’t be hanging out with Yoenis Cespedes again any time soon.
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