April 15th: Jose Vidro steps in against Brandon McCarthy in the second inning and launches his second home run of the game.
He may've gone on to have a phenomenal second half, but as far as I'm concerned, Slampig never had a more thoroughly satisfying day.
In truth, the entire game was a memorable moment. Along with Vidro's home runs were about five or six glaring misplays at third base by Matt Kata, a 13-pitch at bat by Ichiro that ended with an infield single, a strikeout by Horacio Ramirez, and an eight-run victory. But since choosing April 15th as the #42 top moment would be a violation of my own rules, I'm picking Vidro, because to this day his astonishing performance remains vivid in my memory.
That Vidro had already taken McCarthy deep in the first should've been enough. This was a guy who'd been a constant target since the day he was acquired, a big fat slob of a man who wasn't doing himself any favors by batting .143 through the first week. In those seven games, Vidro put 24 balls in play, and 18 were on the ground. The jabs and derisive nicknames were coming fast and furious, and while they were being made in good fun, Vidro needed a breakout game in the worst way so as to deflect some of that criticism somewhere else.
His home run in the first inning should've been it. That was the moment where, in a state of sheer...flabbergastion?...we took back everything bad we said and finally accepted him as a Mariner. Every player on a new team has to do something to win the fans over, and this homer was Vidro's way of earning his first brownie points. We appreciated the gesture.
The moment passed, and almost immediately we began to reflect on it and chuckle. But that didn't last very long, because Vidro's second at bat came up pretty quick, and if you thought the first was preposterous...
-Graham, second inning
Based on Vidro's six home runs in 625 plate appearances last year, the statistical odds of him hitting two home runs on a day in which he bats five times are 0.09%, or once every 1117 games. We had witnessed something at about the same level of rarity as, say, Joe Blanton or Gil Meche throwing a no-hitter. Generally speaking, there's an inverse relationship between likelihood of event and emotional response, and as we watched Vidro's second funk blast in as many innings sail a half-dozen rows deep into the right field seats, we lost our shit.
Vidro may never be a favorite in these parts, but on April 15th, four months into his Mariner career, he finally gave us something to smile about. And, oh, did we ever.