(with apologies to Ogden Nash)
Hi, everyone! And welcome to Write-Up For Yesterday, BttP’s guide to what the heck happened yesterday in baseball. We’re not gonna just hand you some scores here, because we trust you know how to type the letters E-S-P-N into your internet machine. Instead, we hope to give you a fuller and richer understanding of important goings on from yesterday in baseball. The big stories, and the noteworthy performances-good and bad.
STORY LINES AND NEWS CYCLE EPHEMERA
There are moments when the National Conversation overlaps with this silly little game. When Major League Baseball resumed on September 18, 2001 after postponing a week’s worth of games, the country’s eyes were on the Yankees sporting NYPD caps. In May 2011, after news broke out that Osama Bin Laden had been captured, a sold out crowd at a Phillies game broke into a “USA! USA!” chant that would become the go-to highlight clip for news broadcasts trying to summarize the closest we would get to a feeling of collective victory in a drawn out conflict. In 2013, an hour after the Red Sox defeated the Rays on April 15, a bomb went off a mile away from Fenway Park. The 2013 Red Sox would become a national symbol united under their “Boston Strong” slogan.
On April 29, 2015, in front of a crowd of a few scouts, the groundskeeping staff, a full press box, and some fans outside the gate or on neighboring hotel balconies, the Baltimore Orioles faced off against the White Sox and entered into the National Conversation.
The situation in Baltimore is more complex and nuanced than a recap post can fairly serve. The decision to play today’s game in front of an absolute-minimum capacity crowd, complete with at-bat music, between-inning events on the score board, and all that, served to highlight the role of baseball–and all sport, really–as a distraction. That there was no one in attendance to distract, when the burdens of life were as literal as they can possibly be just around the corner outside the stadium, should feel like witnessing history. Advanced statistical analysis has largely eschewed the “narrative” approach to understanding baseball at the same time that the internet has allowed for a resurgence in the new journalism narrative-building styles popularized in the ’60s and ’70s. There are no shortage of essays and articles from the press who were in attendance at the game, and no shortage of fan interactions through blogs, Twitter, Facebook, etc. But for everyone, this game has already become a “where were you when” moment. We will likely frame our relationship to the Baltimore riots of 2015–and perhaps the race riots of the teens, generally–around the story of the game no one attended, but everyone saw. We will remember that at night our TVs were filled with images of the angry and disenfranchised expressing their outrage in the most primal ways, with fire and smoke and riot shields and destruction of property and gasps of violence.
We will remember that, during the day, some men played a game.
Other men played other games, as well. And those games were significantly less fraught with metaphor but still kinda fraught a little.
Michael Lorenzen made his Major League Debut pitching for the Reds against Milwaukee today, and I would like to officially nominate him for the Effectively Wild Honor Society. The guy is fun fact central, having been both a Center Fielder and Closer in college (where he would play both positions in the same game!), and having moved through 6 levels between signing in the summer of 2013 and making his Major League debut as a starter today, he should provide Sam Miller with plenty of conversation fodder for years to come. The Reds lost the game, but Michael Lorenzen should win your heart.
The Washington Nationals set a franchise record on April 28th for most runs scored in a game, with 13. On April 29th they tied their franchise record for most runs scored in a game, with 13. Jordan Zimmermann hit a triple, and the beat writers in Washington looking to weigh in on the DH debate got their narrative. Uggla’s March through Atlanta continued to leave a trail of chaos in its wake.
File under: play index segment ideas. How many team records were set and then matched or broken in the next day?
See also: NL East Preseason Projections, Small Sample Size, Narratives, Don’t Panic
Bartolo Colon and the New York Mets faced off against Ichiro Suzuki and the Miami Marlins today. These two have faced off 82 times (that number seems like it should be higher). Ichiro hit a 3 run homer! Does there remain a contingent of baseball fans who truly believe Ichiro could make a conscious decision to hit a home run in any given at bat, if he so chose? If so, this did nothing to dissuade them. Power-hitting Ichiro Truthers could be the “Stevie Wonder can actually see” of baseball.
Speaking of Ichiro’s home run, let’s rank yesterday’s top 10 home runs, shall we?
According to Hit Tracker Online, there were 35 home runs hit yesterday. As we’ll see below, this isn’t entirely accurate, but this could be fun. Here we go.
Top 10 Home Runs of April 29, 2015
This ranking is purely subjective but nonetheless infallible.
This is actually a kind of crummy little dinger and it comes in a game where Howard grounded out into the shift a bunch but it brings Howard’s 2015 line to .191/.247/.412 and he now has as many home runs on 2015 as he has walks (4!) so that’s fun
Ryan Vogelsong threw one pitch, a ball, before putting this one right where Joc could knock it out of the park. Lead off homers on the first ball in the zone are one of those wonderful little things in baseball (unless you’re a Giants fan I guess, but even then you have to live with Ryan Vogelsong so you reap what you sow). The fun part here, though, is that according to hit tracker this was far and away the shallowest homer of the night, basically a 407 foot line drive.
A grand slam, Braun’s 2nd home run of the game, the Brewers’ 4th home run of the game. 3 of the home runs were given up by my man Lorenzen.
There were 6 home runs in yesterday’s Tigers/Twins game and I am not going to include all of them. This one is a thing of beauty, landing on the concourse at Target Field. It was the first home run Shane Greene has allowed this year.
HanRam’s 10th of the year makes him the 2015 leader in home runs for a minute. When you’re knocking them over the green monster a bat flip isn’t enough, you need to do a helmet flip.
Nelson Cruz not gonna let anyone get his HR king title. Wandy Rodriguez is doing all he can to help. Texas’ starting rotation is like Buzz McAllister’s girlfriend– woof.
This is the 3rd slowest trot of the year so far, according to Tater Trot Tracker. Cabrera is having a great start, but prepare to hear the “why won’t he hustle?” complaints in a couple of years when that contract starts to loom large.
Most days this would be number 1 based on circumstance. A home run that lands on Eutaw Street and just sits there, in awkward silence. It’s certainly unusual and bizarre, not in terms of Davis whacking a Samardzija meatball 414 feet. Just in terms of there’s a ball sitting there on Eutaw street for several innings after he hit it in the 1st inning.
— Orioles on MASN (@masnOrioles) April 29, 2015
The only thing that could beat a home run to an empty Eutaw Street would be a home run by Ichiro in Miami. This actually didn’t go THAT far–only 360 feet, which is still a home run, sure, but we think of Miami as a gaping expanse with each field representing an endless void. But this is Ichiro, and he hit one home run in all of 2014, and this is in Miami, and nevermind that it is off Alex Torres. Ichiro home run.
The only thing that could beat an Ichiro home run is a friggin’ inside-the-parker by a friggin’ catcher! This is basically the Twins’ fault, as an average center fielder makes this a stand up double and a good center fielder might even make it an out, but let’s credit James McCann for being a catcher and running the bases in almost half the time it took Miguel Cabrera to amble around.
TWEETS WE LIKED
— Cespedes Family BBQ (@CespedesBBQ) April 29, 2015
Felix just became the Mariners' all-time leader in innings, at 29, passing Jamie Moyer, who made his Mariners debut at 33
— Jeff Sullivan (@based_ball) April 30, 2015
— Cory (@mck08) April 29, 2015
ARTICLES WE LIKED
Jon Meoli at the Baltimore Sun breaks down Adam Jones’ words to Baltimore
Credit to Jon on this article, but Adam Jones’ words stand as some of the best regarding the situation in Baltimore. Between Jones and Jon Angelos, the O’s have provided two of the best commentaries I’ve seen about Baltimore specifically and the situation in the US right now generally, and Jones does not equivocate his feelings about the decision to close the game off to the fans
TODAY’S BEST PITCHING MATCHUPS
It is once again a Thursday which means half the teams have an off day. Slim pickins, people.
David Buchanan (PHL) vs Tim Manus Cooney (StL)
Want to know if one of your top pitching prospects can fill fallen ace Adam Wainright’s shoes? Throw him out there against Philly. Cooney grew up outside of Philly though, so if ever there was a potential sleeper agent, Americans style, this is it.
Garret Richards (LAA) vs Jesse Chavez (OAK)
As even a matchup as you’ll see today, in the unexpectedly up-in-the-air AL West. Chavez has gotten off to a great start, and Garret Richards has been trying to get his K:BB ratio in line with his past performance, and both teams’ bats have been hungry.
Stephen Strasburg (WAS) vs Jacob deGrom ( NYN)
Washington is finally realizing the regular season has started, and the Mets just dropped a series in Miami. If Washington hopes to quiet the naysayers, they need to start winning against actually threatening division rivals, not just the Braves.Next post: 2015 Front Office Preseason Evaluations
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