The Tuesday Takeaway
This is a story about dingers.
In a way, the home run is something we’ve perhaps grown a little too fond of. Dingers are awesome in a vacuum. They’re quick and easy offense. And when they’re done well, they’re wonderful entertainment. Who doesn’t love a 470-foot shot that touches down in the second deck? Yet not all dingers can be dongs. Some are just little first-row pokes, and they all count the same.
MLB set a new record for dingers in a single season on Tuesday. It’s been a long time coming, between the swing-for-the-fences hitting tactics currently in vogue and a ball that’s almost certainly juiced. You like dingers? Good, because you got a mountain of them this year. You’re like Homer Simpson strapped into the donut-feeding machine. Getting tired? Too bad. They’re not going anywhere.
Everyone’s hitting dingers now. Brett Gardner has 20. Elvis Andrus has 20. Tim Beckham has 22. This leads us to an important question: if everyone is hitting dingers, is anyone really hitting them? Is 15 the baseline, with only the mega-dinger men like Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge really sticking out?
There is something to be said for the beauty of the ball in play. I’m not talking about the generic single up the middle, but the truly bonkers Benny Hill baserunning and defense that self-manufacture highlight reel moments. We’re not getting that same value. And, more importantly, the home run isn’t as special anymore. It’s not as impressive a feat.
Rather fittingly, it was Alex Gordon who hit the record-setting homer. It wasn’t anything otherwise notable, just a little sneeze of a ball over the right-center field wall in Toronto, a shallow hitter’s park.
Gordon entered the day with the lowest slugging percentage of any qualified batter.
Quick Hits from Tuesday
Chase Headley was hit by a pitch. It hit him in the Headleys.
The fact that he didn’t immediately double over and wail for the aid of a higher power means that he’s made of stronger stuff than the average man. The fact that he was joking about it with his teammates means he may have arrived here from the planet Krypton and has no real concept of our mortal pain. Perhaps he’s like Ozzy Osbourne, and it’s just scientifically harder to harm him.
Chase Headley was hit by a pitch. By God did it ever hit him in the Headleys.
This may shock you, but Max Scherzer shoved yesterday. He usually shoves, because he’s Max Scherzer, and he’s got electric stuff and the bloodlust of a Viking berserker on bath salts. It’s that propensity for shoving that made yesterday’s game notable.
Scherzer became the first pitcher since Randy Johnson to strike out 250 batters for four straight seasons, and folks, that’s pretty damn good. There are few pitchers as filthy as Scherzer, and he’s the most consistently filthy of them all.
Yeah, he’s probably going to the Hall of Fame.
The Giants stink. Almost everyone got hurt, underperformed, or both. The party couldn’t last forever, but it didn’t just slow down. It came to a massive, screeching halt. Yikes.
The Giants would later win on a Pence sac fly. Both NL Wild Card teams lost to the divisional basement dwellers. Exhilarating baseball down the stretch, folks.
Defensive Play of the Day
Look, I can’t prove that Jackie Bradley Jr. is a wizard. I can’t. I have no conclusive proof, at least not the kind I’d need to make a firm journalistic claim like that.
All I have is a growing mountain of evidence. Hearsay, you can call it. And some eyewitness accounts. All I know is that he’s hiding something. Something incredible.
I’m onto you, Bradley.
What to Watch on Wednesday
Luis Severino and Bartolo Colon are both fastball-heavy pitchers. The similarities just about end there. They’re also both pitching today in the same game, as the Twins look to avoid being swept by the Yankees and effectively being consigned to the second Wild Card slot for good.
A pair of left-handers match up in Tampa as Jon Lester and Blake Snell lead the Cubs and Rays into battle. Then later tonight, the Diamondbacks will try to avoid being swept by the Padres. Robbie Ray is a good guy to have on the mound for that purpose, but Dinelson Lamet isn’t exactly a pushover.