Let us all not forget, before we get too excited, we’re talking about a guy who has spent… oh, hell. Screw the expectation tempering. Forget the smell tests, the sabermetrics and the unsustainable.
Why can’t we just feel joy, if even for one night?
Mike Carp blasted a ball last night that made some people, such as myself, remember why we stick around and watch games in late August and September when our favorite team has long been forgotten by everyone else.
The dinger had the type of oomph you expected to see from Mark McGwire or Wily Mo Pena or, since he’s was a lefty, Junior. Carp put a serious charge into this thing and watched it sail into the Hit it Here Cafe on a cool night at Safeco, against a lefty’s breaking ball. You could say he was geared up for that exact pitch, to be sure.
So, looking at the video again, here are a few observations surrounding the event:
- Jay Buhner asked for a shot to the Hit it Here Cafe. He got it.
The Bone isn’t a fortune teller, a palm reader or a psychic. He’s a guy that used to hit balls really hard and send them a long ways. All he did was ask for what he’d like to still be able to do. It still sounded pretty cool, though.
- The hang time on the shot was 5.5 seconds.
I timed it three times to make sure I didn’t twitch or something. This was the anti-Peguero homer. It didn’t set any records for time to leave the yard. Instead, it took it’s time. It passed by one of those seagulls that circle the stadium late in the game, knowing the messy food-dropping humans will be leaving soon.
It didn’t actually land in that gentleman’s soup, as Buhner alluded, because that gentleman had time to quickly finish his meal as he watched the ball prance through the night sky toward him.
- Getting a home run ball is exciting.
This is always the case, of course. However, it may be more exciting when you get one in a section of the park where no one expects it. The dude who got it was running around with the excitement of a guy who just met “the one.” His buddy seemed less excited. I interpret these events as follows:
Frank: Hey, Hal. Thanks for the ticket, bro. Should we bring our gloves?
Hal: [Sigh] Don’t be such a newbie fan, Frank. We’re in the cafe tonight.
- Felix was astonished
Before taking his place in the high-five line, Felix stood and gazed at the landing spot. Carp crushed a ball, crab-walked around the bases and returned to the dugout to accept congratulations from his teammates. And Felix’s eyes, looking away from the celebration, were still fixated in amazement.
- Some baseball players love the game even when their team stinks
We can quantify a lot of things with advanced metrics these days, and that’s awesome. But we can’t quantify how much a guy loves the game. You can see it on the faces and in the dedication of a guy like Hunter Pence. Likewise, you think can see the opposite from other players with a perceived lack of effort.
Again, I can’t prove it, but Mike Carp appears to love this game. He appears to be taking his latest opportunity and making the most of it. He appears to be having fun. And for a team that has been so bad in the second half, the rest of the Mariners seem to share that a little bit.
The way the team celebrated, you’d think they were still in a pennant race. Sure, they just saw a ball get destroyed, but the intensity of the celebration and look of exuberance on Carp’s face tell me a lot about him and his teammates.
You know how you always hear about struggling teams wanting veteran guys like Adam Kennedy around to take charge of the clubhouse and show the kids the ropes? Well, perhaps we’re seeing that bad teams and their veterans can also benefit from the injection of joy and love for the game that wide-eyed rookies offer.
That’s what I learned from this home run.