Don’t forget (no one is forgetting) that the bomb came off Dennis Eckersley. That is really about as big league as it gets – hitting a game winning shot off the bench with one leg off one of the greatest closers of all-time.
Here’s the box score from that legendary game. It was a Saturday night in Los Angeles. I was yet to turn six years old. I was about two to three years away from becoming bonkers about this sport I write about each day. I wonder what I was up to that night. I wonder about the partying the Dodgers fans did that glorious night back in ’88 at the conclusion of that game. After all, it was the 80′s, and the world was a lot more simple 25 years ago. Jose Canseco homered in that game, but fate would have it as Gibson is the guy we’re writing about 25 years later (and for good reason).
You can’t stop time in life. You can never go back. All you have once the moment is gone is a memory, and if it’s special enough it lives on forever. This is the moment that baseball fans from this era seem to remember above all others.
My good friend and Mike Trout enthusiast (he’s also an Angels fan) remarked via text that this is what it must of been like to watch Mickey Mantle. Player steps to the plate in his final at bat needing to go deep to reach his historic feat. He sees a few pitches and then just goes ahead and makes it happen.
The Angels routed the Mariners 12-0 – and while this is just another chapter in Trout’s young and historic career – it also provides a nice highlight moment in the middle of what has been an 18-27 season for the Angels. In the wake of Miguel Cabrera’s three home run game on Sunday Night Baseball it’s a nice encore act.
I also want to say something I might change my mind on in a few weeks; but it’s not likely. I think Mike Trout is the best young talent in baseball, with Bryce Harper a close second. I might enjoy the ebb and flow of a Harper season a bit more because Trout is so good that he’s almost boring. With Harper, there is more chaos; in every way. Pound for pound, right now Mike Trout is on another wavelength.
It was a Tuesday night in early September, 1993. My dad tucked me into bed and turned on my Super Mario Brothers AM radio to 700 WLW on my nightstand and told me to go to sleep. Joe Nuxhall was talking to his audience and we were about to embark upon a historic performance.
On that night, ‘Hard Hittin’ Mark Whiten was born. Just before I drifted off to dreamland he nailed the first of his four homers in the game at Riverfront Stadium in Cincinnati. By the time I awoke to eat my Captain Crunch, he had nailed three more. It was the second game of a doubleheader. The Reds lost 15-2. Whiten had 12 RBI. TWELVE.
A calendar week later, the crazy SOB hit two more. For that one week span, he homered six times. He drove in 17 runs. He hit .393 and OPS’d at a 1.469 clip. If a guy did something like that in today’s world there would be a bounty put out for him. It’s so good it’s almost illegal.
And now we present a new weekly feature here at Diamond Hoggers that will run each Sunday evening or Monday evening. Each week we will take a player who went bat-shit for the week in arrears and crown him the Hard Hittin’ Mark Whiten Memorial Player of the Week. These players will forever live in infamy here at the blog for having a week that kicked everyone else’s ass.
This is pretty cool. Huffing, puffing Cookie Cookie Sabathia gets three outs with just one pitch. This is still going to be an agonizingly long year for the Yankees. Don’t tell my wife or my poor father-in-law that I said that. Ah, Hell. I don’t care if my wife knows. She does an extremely poor job of following the Yankees every year until the ALCS or World Series and then jumps aboard.
When a pitcher goes 27 up, 27 down without allowing a hit; you never forget the feat that he accomplished. You remember the moment forever when you witness it.
To put in perspective the immortals that Homer Bailey joined last night, it was just the second no-hitter thrown by a Reds pitcher in my lifetime. I was just five years old in 1988 when Tom Browning threw a perfect game. I remember talking about it with my father, but just barely. If I live a full life, I might see one more Cincinnati Reds no-hitter.
If I could have chosen one guy in the big leagues that I would have liked to see throw a no-no, it would have been Homer Bailey. He’s been my favorite Reds pitcher for a long time now. I wrote back in April on my frustrations surrounding Bailey. He’s got that tragic hero trait. He’ll go out and have unbelievable stuff for six innings and then the wheels fall off. Or the bullpen inevitably blows his win (how many times has it happened this year alone?). Whacky things happen to bad-luck Bailey. But he’s been remarkably solid this season. He’s tied with Johnny Cueto to lead the team in quality starts. And he’s the only guy on that Reds roster that can speak on what it’s like to throw one of those games that Nolan Ryan knew about so well.
This was another moment in a season comprised of so much magic. If you are sitting here thinking that times are going to be like this for the next several seasons for Cincinnati; and granted they should be, please don’t be naive. It’s likely that we’ve reached the apex for this current group. Seasons like this and moments like this come along only a few times across a lifetime.
To that I say at least we were around to see it all unfold. I’ve been around the game for a long time, and I’ve seen a lot of nine inning frames expire. It takes a big moment for me to stand inches from the television (my only company being my dog) and to be yelling and pacing with every pitch. I wanted that so badly for Homer Bailey last night that when the pop up was hit to Brandon Phillips for out number 27, I yelled at the top of my lungs ‘YES! GET IT! YES!’.
Congratulations Homer Bailey. You’ve proven to the world that all that promise and all that patience was for good reason.
It’s officially June, the weather is officially allowed to be smoking. It’s okay to turn on your air conditioning and if you had a summer diet planned there’s no more excuses, get going with it. Johan Santana threw a no-hitter on Friday night and struck out David Freese on his 134th pitch of the night to complete the first no-no in New York Mets history.
I had to get this in the blog’s archives somehow, it’s big time history and the fact that it went down in New York (and against St. Louis) makes it all the more special for the baseball romanticist.
The Cardinals spent the rest of the weekend trying to score one run, and they succeeded on Sunday. The Mets are up in this series 3-0 and hunting a sweep today.
I saw Bryce Harper’s first MLB home run live. He said to Tim Stauffer “I hope you’re ready to fly, because you’re leaving the yard with me,” and then hit a majestic gun-shot blast over the center field wall. It was everything you would have pictured the kid’s first home run to be.
If you missed it, it’s okay. It’s captured forever here for you to enjoy. And I wouldn’t worry, because you’ll be able to see about 600 more of these bad boys over the course of the next two decades.
The most amazing part of it as I watched it unfold was that one of my best buddies and resident Angels fan MJ Lloyd (of Halo Hangout and Off-Base Percentage) called it earlier in the day. Above are the text messages to prove it.
The White Sox still lost the game 3-2. But maybe this is the start of a revival for Adam Dunn. After all, he’s not going to have his appendix out again to rattle a hot start. And maybe he’ll have the year he was supposed to have last season.
Same swing, same trot, albeit a few pounds lighter. Same old Dunner. Doing his thing in game one, making you believe at least for a day or so that he could hit 162 long ones. This is one blogger who won’t be surprised one bit to see Adam Dunn get back to his old ways of 35 and 100 even if the Sox end up being a bad team.
I got a text today asking me if I thought that Jim Thome was a Hall of Famer.
Are you kidding me? Of course he is. First ballot. He was a Hall of Famer 100 home runs ago. He’s dropped 600 bombs over the course of 20 years. His first homer came over 20 years ago, off Steve Farr at old Yankee Stadium.
His career has stretched across time. Across the first baseball work stoppage in 1994. Across the ’95 Indians. Across rebuilds, managers, and GM’s. Most importantly, he’s kept on homering throughout the steroid era and from one clean era of baseball (Early 90′s) into the next (the present).
The guy is an anomaly. I remember seeing him hit a couple of bombs in the summer of 2001 back at Jacobs Field. That was his team. He left Cleveland–and we’ve since learned that it was to appease the player’s union–he never wanted to leave. He meant it, unlike LeBron James. He wanted to be in Cleveland for life. They were going to build a statue of the guy. Hell, they still might.
Last night he found a way to give he Indians a gift from afar, going deep twice in a crucial game against the team who holds the lead in the AL Central, the Detroit Tigers. The Twins won the game 9-6.
I don’t know if this is the last year that Jim Thome is a big leaguer. I would say it’s likely. But if it isn’t, how about one more ride in Cleveland to call it a career? I know that the town would welcome him back, and he could add to his budding legend with a few more blasts into the picnic area in center at Progressive Field.
Jim Thome has had a wonderful career. Last night was one of the last chapters, I’m just glad that I got to see this bunyan-esque figure play live a few times and say that I was a Jim Thome fan.
My good friend Alessandra was in the Bronx last night to see Derek Jeter get hit # 2,998 but as I told her; I think that 3,000 actually comes to us on Saturday. It’s just a gut feeling.
Jeter is 1 for 2 lifetime against Jeremy Hellickson, who is tonight’s starter. But that doesn’t really matter. The hit will eventually come and Derek Jeter will join the illustrious 3,000 hit club. He’ll be the only active player on the list and he’ll have the best opportunity we’ve seen in a while to climb it for a while before he is stuck in his final resting spot forever.
If we take a step back at what Derek Jeter’s legacy will be beyond the obvious; he’s obviously a generational talent of the sport. There are few of them, especially on the level that Jeter will be when all is said and done.
There is always one great Yankee bridging the gap from one father to his son and on down forever. The chosen one in the Bronx for this generation has been Derek Jeter. He comes from Joe Dimaggio, Mickey Mantle, Reggie Jackson, and Don Mattingly before him. There is no sign of who the next great generational Yankee will be. But Derek Jeter was ours.
He burst on the scene in 1996 by hitting .314 and collecting 183 knocks. For crying out loud, I wasn’t even in high school yet. To think that if I was a Jeter fan, and I’m not a guy who has followed his career since day one; but if I was I could have enjoyed this guy from the time I was literally still a kid until the time I was married with my own. Anyone who can even be debatable as being effective to great for that long of a duration in professional sports; let alone in New York, is something other-worldy.
So this weekend when Derek Jeter gets his 3,000th hit in a Yankee uniform with the hot sun blazing in the Bronx, I think all will be as it should be. And he’s still playing shortstop. And he’s been the greatest Yankee of our era and maybe the most successful in terms of winning that has ever existed.
For that, this event deserves everyone who follows the sport’s attention. And recognize that we’ve just seem something once in a lifetime pass us by.
Couple of things here, boys and girls. And yes I saw Justin Verlander close it down today–and knew he had it when he struck out a Rajai Davis (forever a footnote on the wrong side of a trivia question) who is riding the interstate as far as his batting average goes.
First, this is the second time this week that a post gets tagged with the ‘no-hitter’ category on this blog. This coming after two guys (Derek Lowe, Jaime Garcia) had bids last night fall just short, and today both Verlander and Yovani Gallardo carried no-hitters into the 8th, with only Verlander holding on to his. I knew one or the other would come home with it. I was right.
This is the second no-hitter that Verlander has thrown since I’ve had this blog. In between all that? Well he broke down and I predicted him to be Comeback Player of the Year before the 2009 season. Five more until you run down Nolan Ryan.
Verlander was throwing 102 in the 9th during his last no-hitter. I saw him hit 100 MPH today in the 9th a couple of times. That’s serious, serious ched.
It’s been a pretty epic little sports Saturday. The Derby, which I missed. A bunch of NBA games down to the wire, which I also missed. A 5-time Major winner in Golf passed away early this morning. Oh yea, and that shithead closer that pitches for the Reds finally reared his ugly head just as I was starting to like him.