People can say what they want about loving a good old fashioned pitchers duel, but the truth of the matter is what puts people in the seats and creates casual fan as opposed to the traditionalist is the greatest hitters in the game hitting nintendo style home runs and doing it again, and again, and again. It was the home run that possibly saved the sport in 1998, not the masterful precision of Greg Maddux. High scoring games are what keeps people who normally wouldn’t leave the game on the television waiting in anticipation to see how many guys can cross the plate before the final out is recorded. With fantasy leagues being at an all-time high, we have an awful lot of people looking at their fantasy teams right now thinking they drafted the ultimate power hitting team. Most likely your team’s ERA looks a bit bloated even if your pitching staff isn’t performing up to expectation. There’s an eminating sound in the air if you listen closely enough.
That sound you hear is the ball leaving the yard at your nearest ballpark. If offense seems to be up, that’s because it is. Teams are hitting like crazy at a rate not seen since the steroid era late 90’s. Guys like Nelson Cruz, Carlos Quentin, Carlos Pena, Alfonso Soriano, and Ryan Ludwick are atop the home run leaderboard with 5 and 6 already. All of them are on pace for 50+.
The league has seen three men hit for the cycle in the first two weeks of the young season. Jason Kubel, Ian Kinsler, and Orlando Hudson are hardly offensive superstars, but all have accomplished the historic feat already. If the feat is accomplshed at half that rate the rest of the way the 2009 season will be forever remembered for that alone.
The Texas Rangers opened up scoring at a record pace, and they’re on pace to break the all-time record for runs scored. The Cleveland Indians scored 22 runs yesterday afternoon in the Bronx, and the early word eminating out of that park is that the ball hasn’t even begun to fly out like it is going to in the summer. Yankees baseball may be forever changed. Victor Martinez and Travis Hafner are on pace to triple their home run totals from last season.
What is scary is guys like Prince Fielder, Albert Pujols, Ryan Howard, Manny Ramirez and Chase Utley haven’t even began to hit yet. Once these guys get rolling, these roaring home run totals and power numbers will assuredly rise. In these first three weeks we as fans were not blessed with great weather conditions. When the weather warms up a bit in may, we’re going to be in for what is the most hallmark power season ever seen in this game. It’s something to keep an eye on, and we love every minute of it.
Fantasy player about to boom:
Armando Galaragga (honorable mention: Paul Maholm, Wandy Rodriguez)
Fantasy player about to bust:
Song that needs played over the loud speakers at your nearest stadium:
Your Love is Driving Me Crazy — Sammy Hagar
Gameday snack of the week:
Lettuce cups. They are soothing. They are healthy. You must eat more of them. Preferably from PF Changs if you have one nearby.
Other options for television if you’re sick of watching baseball
NFL Draft Saturday April 25th, 4 PM
Team who will most assuredly suck that looks like they do not
Kansas City Royals/San Diego Padres; take your pick.
Gameday dippers choice of the week:
Skoal Apple. This dip will provide a nice fresh flavoring in the spring; and is a great change-up from the traditional Straight or Mint for those of you who hate change. Give it a try.
Lost in the shuffle:
I once owned a poster with Adam Dunn and Austin Kearns in their Cincinnati Reds uniforms crossing home plate that said “Dunn & Kearns: Greatest Hits”. Although Washington is absolutely awful, these two have quietly combined for 5 home runs and 19 RBI thus far. Dunn looks like a more complete player who is in the best shape of his career. Austin Kearns is hitting around .200 but with some pop in the middle of the washington lineup and with the demotion of Lastings Milledge he may hold off a charge of Josh Willingham, Elijah Dukes, and everyone else trying to take his job this season.
Games of the upcoming week of note:
Monday: Cleveland at New York 1:05 PM. Pavano might get booed out of the stadium and AJ Burnett continues his magical ride.
Tuesday: Florida at Pittsburgh 7:05 PM. Florida is off to an unreal start, and don’t think they aren’t looking to continue building on it with a mid-week series in the Steel city.
Wednesday: Cincinnati at Chicago Cubs 8:05 PM. The Reds face Rich Harden in a a series opener that will tell us a lot about both teams.