Aug 6, 2009

Grand Slam

Is there any singular event* in professional sports as wonderful as a Grand Slam? I know that they occur with fairly steady frequency and that singular events like a triple play or a straight steal of home are much rarer. But, for me, it's the Grand Slam that encompasses all that is exciting and wonderful about baseball.

*Obviously World Series viictories and no-hitters are pretty special, but they aren't singular events.

Especially when one happens at or near the end of the game.

On Tuesday evening Evan Longoria of the Tampa Bay Rays hit a walk-off 2-run HR against the Boston Red Sox in the bottom of the 13th inning. It was his second HR of the game as he had already drilled one in the 8th inning to tie the game up.  Oh, and he struck out 4 times in the game as well.  Baseball is a strange and wonderful game.

A walk-off HR is pretty damned exciting, but Longoria was upstaged that same night by Albert Pujols of the St. Louis Cardinals who hit a Grand Slam in the top of the 10th inning against the NY Mets to stretch the lead they had just opened up when Mark DeRosa was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded.

So it wasn't a walk-off, but it is difficult to beat a Grand Slam in extra innings in the baseball drama department.  At least in my book.  At this point in his career it might be prudent to simply walk Sir Albert when the bases are juiced.  Giving up 1 run is better than an automatic 4.  And that's how well  Pujols is hitting the ball right now.  You just knew he was gonna hit a Grand Slam in that situation.

Here are a few Grand Slam fun facts:
  • With his Grand Slam on Tuesday, Pujols now has 5 Grand Slams this season which ties a National League record with Hall of Fame legend Ernie Banks.
  • The full-season record is 6 Grand Slams held by both Don Mattingly and Travis Hafner.  Each of whom played/play in the American League.  Pujols has almost two months to tie and/or break this record.  I think he'll do it.
  • The interesting thing about Mattingly's 6 Grand Slams in 1987 is that those were the only Grand Slams he hit in his entire career.  Strange and wonderful.
  • The career record for Grand Slams is held by the one and only Lou Gehrig with 23.  Sadly, this record held by the Iron Horse will likely be broken in the next year or so as known steroid freaks like Manny Ramirez and Alex Rodriguez are hot on his trail.  Sad.
  • Current Mets player Fernando Tatis is the only player in the grand history of the major leagues to hit two Grand Slams in the same inning.  TWO IN THE SAME INNING!!! That's just crazy right there.
  • To put Tatis' feat in perspective, there had been only one other National League player who had hit two Grand Slams in the same game at the time Tatis had his record-setting inning.  And that player was a pitcher, Tony Cloninger.  Cloninger, by the way, is the only pitcher ever to hit two Grand Slams in the same game.
  • Kevin Kouzmanoff, just a couple of years ago, became the only major league player to hit a Grand Slam on the very first pitch that he ever saw in the big leagues and one of only 3 players ever to do it in his first at-bat.

And that is probably enough baseball talk for a while.  


Note: Remember to play the Bug-Eyed Trivia Challenge every day. Slyde won't get this post.


Barlinnie said...

I must admit to being fascinated by most things associated with baseball these days. A lot of my interest stems from coming here.

Cheers pal.

Candy's daily Dandy said...

Ok,Earl. I read you headline and rushed over here for some juicy baseball talk and what do you do???

You piss me right off in the second paragraph! So much so that I couldn't read any further and enjoy any of your gushing grand slam prose.

You know why? Cuz it still smarts and I don't want to talk about it anymore.


Verdant Earl said...

Jimmy - it is a wonderfully slow and thoughtful game. I've been watching it myself since I was a pup and it still fascinates me on a daily basis.

Candy - Big 4 game series this weekend, kid. As for Tuesday night, nothing is better for me than when both the Mets and the Sawx lose in heartbreaking fashion on the same day/night. Sorry.

Kevin McKeever said...

Went to a AA game in Norwich on Sunday and saw an inside the park home run. Now that was a sight.

Verdant Earl said...

Uncool - that is a sight. I've seen a handful live. The first was Willie Wilson for the Royals when I was a kid. But I'll take a Gran Slam over an inside-the-park job. Here's why: Because an inside-the-park HR happens out of the blue. There is no buildup. All of a sudden a player hits one in the gap and thinks triple and then the ball gets away from fielder and starts to think home. With a Grand Slam, the bases are loaded and the pressure is on both the hitter and the pitcher to deliver. The entire crowd is usually already on its feet cheering for the home team. It's a big moment.

hello haha narf said...

interesting to read something other than "the pirates fucking suck" when referring to baseball.

Verdant Earl said...

Becky - they do suck, but I think the trades they made will help them in the future. Eventually, however, they are going to have to commit to spending some money on the talent.

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Bruce Johnson said...

Baseball...yeah, yeah...right....sweet game, but what I really want to know is, is Evan Longoria related to Eva Longoria??????

Verdant Earl said...

Bruce - No, but it is a constant source of amazement to me that a big TV star and a big baseball star have such similar names. And not common names either. Weird.

Heff said...

Kinda gave me the feeling of watching the game myself. Wierd.