By In Stuff

Something new at the ballpark

Numerous people through the years have said some version of the following: “Every time you go to the ballpark, you will see something you’ve never seen before.” It’s a pretty trite thing to say, and it isn’t EXACTLY true … there are plenty of times you go to the ballpark and don’t see anything especially new. But I like the thought anyway because it’s a good reminder to keep your eyes open. The coolest things can slip by unnoticed otherwise.

Wednesday night, I saw THREE things I have never seen before. Two of the three were pretty easy to miss if you were looking in the wrong direction.

First, there was the Aaron Judge third-deck monster homer against the Mets. The home run itself was unusual because it was so high. Because of the splendor of Statcast, we know the exit velocity was 117 mph, making it one of the hardest hit balls of the year, but more to the point we know that it was hit a 35-degree launch angle. Thirty-five degrees is a HIGH home run. The perfect launch angle for a home run is 28 degrees … at about 45 degrees, the home runs stop (as the guy in Major League II says: “Too high!”). Judge has only hit five home runs all year that high.

But what made this one a “something new” moment was the reaction of Mets left fielder Yoenis Cespedes. Watch:


Now, we have all seen outfielders not move for home runs. That’s a thing. A few years ago I talked with pitchers and outfielders about it; pitchers (at least a few years ago) preferred to have an outfielder take a few steps to the wall to at least give the ILLUSION of the ball being close to catchable. And outfielders were like, “Why should I run after a ball that is obviously gone?”

So this is something I have been following for years … and I have to say no outfielder, and I mean no outfielder in the history of baseball, has ever been as motionless as Yoenis Cespedes was on that Aaron Judge homer. It was performance art like I have never quite seen before. He stood as he would between innings, between pitches, at the very end he seems to be looking down as if he wants to check his phone (As my friend Tommy Tomlinson says, he might be looking at a text that reads: “Yeah, the ball’s still going”).

So, yeah, that was awesome.

The second something new at the ballpark thing — and you probably did notice this one: In the Cardinals-Red Sox game, with Matt Carpenter on third base, Tommy Pham singled on a sharp line drive to centerfield. And Red Sox centerfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. threw Carpenter out at home.

I’ll repeat: Matt Carpenter was on third.

I’ll repeat: Tommy Pham singled to center, as plain a single as you will ever see.

I’ll repeat: Jackie Bradley Jr. threw Carpenter out at home.

As you can see from the video, he threw Carpenter out by A LOT.

Now, I’ve never seen this before period. But even within this play, there were so many impressive little things I’ve never seen before. I’ve never seen an outfielder even TRY to throw out a runner from third base on a single. I’m sure this was going through Matt Carpenter’s mind. It was not entirely clear off the bat that the ball was going to land safely for a single (though it did last a few feet in front of Bradley), and I would guess Carpenter figured after it landed that, hey, he could just jog home. I mean: What centerfielder would even try to throw him out on a single?

But Jackie Bradley Jr. has a ridiculous arm. A RIDICULOUS arm. If I had Jackie Bradley Jr.’s arm I would spend all day every day trying to throw out base runners, bad drivers, overaggressive shoppers, whatever. And so he did not hesitate; he saw Carpenter kind of moping around, waiting to see if the ball dropped, jogging in, and he threw a 96-mph rocket to the plate because of course he did. There’s a funny part in the middle of the video where the camera shows Carpenter’s face and it’s like, “OH NO!”

From what I’ve heard from Cardinals fans since this play, this apparently has not been Matt Carpenter’s only adventure on the basepaths this year.

Which leads to the other thing about this play: When it ended, I sent a text to a friend of mine who live and dies Cardinals baseball. My phone is still buzzing from the 493,394 text reply.

The third something new at the ballpark thing happened in the Tampa Bay-Toronto game when Blue Jays manager John Gibbons walked out on the field to make a pitching change. On his way to the mound, he jawed at home-plate umpire Lance Barksdale, apparently about a ball-strike call. He must have said the magic word because Barksdale tossed him in rather dramatic fashion.

Well, we’ve all seen a manager tossed as he walks on the field for a pitcher change. But I don’t think I’ve ever seen a manager get tossed on his way to the mound and then, as if nothing happened, just keep going to the mound, take the pitcher out of the game, talk a bit with the pitcher and the team, etc. It’s like the umpire was saying, “You’re out of here … but take your time, really, I don’t want to be harsh about this.”

I think it just reiterates Roy Hobbs’ classic line: God, I love baseball.

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22 Responses to Something new at the ballpark

  1. Tyler says:

    Oh, and the Mets played a catcher in the infield and moved him between second and third 22 times.

  2. DB says:

    I was at the game last night and I am trying to find highlights of that 2nd inning but cannot right now. The amazing thing is that I think that Jackie tried the same thing already that inning and Vazquez could not control the ball on the throw home (he would not have gotten the runner anyway IMO). I actually think it was off Carpenter’s single and he went to third based on the throw getting away. Still not sure what Carpenter was thinking. If he thought it was going to be caught then there is no way he is tagging and scoring either as it was not deep at all. Not sure why he was not down the line ready to go if it falls or get back to third if caught. Jackie is so fast he usually plays pretty shallow. Cardinal fans can complain about the ump but the play makes it 5. Watching Jackie score from 1st on a routine ball of the Monster was a sight to see. Other than the Ump (who terrible for both sides as I though Hanley was going to go ballistics on a called third strike), it was a real fun game.

    • Bruce says:

      Yes, on the at-bat immediately before the one in which Carpenter was thrown out at home, Luke Voit was on third, Carpenter at the plate. Solid single to left center, JBJ uncorks a rocket, Voit would have been out if the catcher had handled the throw. Like Joe, I have never, ever seen a runner thrown out trying to score from third on a hit, and last night we came very close to seeing it on consecutive plays. On a related note, the 2017 Cardinals may be the worst base-running team of all time.

  3. As for Judge’s homer, I understand the ball burned out during re-entry.

    Bradley does have a great arm, but this is the other beauty of baseball: what works here might never happen at any other time. He had to be in the right place. Carpenter had to move at the right speed. The ball had to get to the right spot. It’s ballet, and it’s beautiful.

    And Mr. Gibbons may end up paying for that in money or time away from the ballpark. I can just imagine him trying that with Jocko Conlan or Doug Harvey.

  4. g-mo says:

    What does “his 493,394 reply” mean?

  5. Brad says:

    Somehow I doubt that “oh no” were the words out of Carpenter’s mouth. I’m sure the Oh was there.

  6. Rick Bender says:

    I remember watching this game while in college:

    Bottom of the 14th, Matt Sinatro on third, Jesse Barfield guns him down on a base hit to right. Granted, it was Jesse Barfield, and it was Matt Sinatro, making the out at home not so unbelievable. But it was also an act of desperation as the Yankees would have lost at that moment if Barfield did not throw him out at the plate, so why not try it? This instance, however came in the second inning with the Red Sox already losing by four. That makes it that much more remarkable.

    And this was just a typical Yankee game in the early ’90s. Of course they took the lead twice in extra innings yet still lost. And since I was on the East Coast and this game was at Seattle, I stayed up until 3:30 AM to watch in horror as they lost.

    • John Autin says:

      That’s a cool find, Rick. Another cool thing: Greg Briley hit the single that failed to win the game in the 14th, and then he hit a walk-off homer in the 16th. It wound up as the only walk-off hit of his career, so it’s nice that he overcame the Barfield obstacle.

  7. John Autin says:

    Good stuff, Joe. I heard the Judge bomb on the radio; when I watched the video later, Cespedes’ “showy” inaction really stood out.

  8. Dave Draeger says:

    In 1986, on my only visit to Fenway Park, my father-in-law and I were sitting along the left field line and I distinctly remember a KC Royal hitting a no-doubter over the Green Monster. (A quick look at Baseball-Reference tells me it was Steve Balboni.)

    Jim Rice, patrolling left for the Sox that day, stayed down in his crouch. His only movement was craning his neck up and to his left to watch the ball sail over.

    • Scott says:

      I remember once watching a MLB Game of the Week at Fenway. A batter hit what looked to be a home run to left. Jim Rice did the same thing, staying in his crouch, but the ball bounced 3/4 of the way up the Green Monster, and Rice ran to a perfect position to field the rebound. I THINK he then threw out the batter at second.

  9. MikeN says:

    From the headline, I thought this was going to be about KC’s new record for home runs in a season. They won’t even have the smallest single season home run record anymore.

    • Bryan says:

      Franchises without a 50 HR season until/if Stanton hits 6 more HR, Jay Bruce has 29 for Mets but is now an Indian:
      Royals: 36 Steve Balboni, 2017: 35 Mike Moustakas
      Mets: 41 Carlos Beltran and Todd Hundley, 2017: 26 Michael Conforto
      Marlins: 2017: 44 Giancarlo Stanton
      Rays: 46 Carlos Pena, 2017: 28 Logan Morrison
      Nats: 46 Alfonso Soriano, 2017: 29 Bryce Harper and Ryan Zimmerman
      Astros: 47 Jeff Bagwell, 2017: 28 George Springer
      Angels: 47 Troy Glaus, 2017: 24 Mike Trout
      White Sox: 49 Albert Belle, 2017: 23 Jose Abreu
      Twins: 49 Harmon Killebrew, 2017: 28 Miguel Sano
      Rockies: 49 Todd Helton and Larry Walker, 2017: 29 Charlie Blackmon
      Dodgers: 49 Shawn Green, 2017: 34 Cody Bellinger
      Information provided by Play Index

  10. David says:

    I can’t promise that my memory is accurate on this, but I am pretty sure this is correct. In the Kingdome, Randy Johnson pitching to Mark McGuire while he was still with the Athletics. My memory is that the ball was hit so hard into the upper deck that the left fielder didn’t even have time to turn. It’s too bad that we don’t have statistics on exit speed and launch angle. My memory is that this was more of a line drive.

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