September 30th: Jamie Burke takes AJ Murray deep to left field for his first career Major League home run.
A peek inside the mind of Jamie Burke
As Jamie rounded first base, his stoic expression belied the amount of cerebral activity beneath. Where just moments earlier he'd been swinging a bat with a clear head, suddenly he must've been flooded with a stream of thoughts that he couldn't shut off.
His wife. Was she watching? How did she respond? Hopefully she didn't get too excited, because that would be embarrassing. Act like you've seen it before. Even if you haven't. Maybe it'd be better if she missed it. That way he could tell her himself. But would she believe him? He'd need video evidence. And the ball.
The ball. Where did it end up? Who had it? It looked like it came down in the Texas bullpen. Are they trustworthy? What if it bounced into a pile of baseballs and made them scatter everywhere? How would he know if the ball he got back was the same one that he hit? What kind of mark does a bat leave when it hits a ball that hard, anyway? That's what he'd have to look for to make sure.
The dugout. Were they going to give him the cold shoulder? They'd already done it to Willie. They were probably going to give him the cold shoulder. How do you respond to the cold shoulder? Do you laugh it off and pat yourself on the back, or do you join in and pretend like nothing happened? Hopefully they don't give the cold shoulder. This is something to celebrate, and it only happens once.
His legs. Was he jogging too fast? Too slow? This was the biggest home run of his life, and while he'd seen plenty of people circle the bases, it's not the same when you're the one out there actually doing it. Maybe it's better to jog faster so you don't show up the other team. But on the other hand, a man should be able to enjoy his first home run, and the guys would understand. Boy would it suck to stumble. He'd never hear the end of it.
The broadcast. What were the announcers saying? Were they making fun of how long it took? Was it Dave Niehaus? Any Mariner who hits his first career home run deserves to have it called by Dave Niehaus. Did he screw it up, or did he read it right? Hopefully he said "fly away". That'd be a nice touch. And a good title for his season highlight DVD. He'd have to talk to the video guy.
The video guy. Could he get footage of the home run by itself on DVD or by email? A bunch of people would want to have this. It's not the same just watching the fuzzy highlight online. And maybe the video guy could talk to the photography guy and get a good picture of the swing to frame and hang in the house. Is that pretentious? Lots of athletes have pictures of themselves in their own houses, right? As long as it's not by the front entrance or in the middle of the living room. That would be pretentious. Maybe the picture should be smaller. Not wallet size. That's too small. 8.5 x 11. That seems perfect.
His old coaches and teammates. He was going to have so many voicemails on his phone. How quickly should he return those calls? Are you supposed to return a congratulatory call? If somebody calls to say congratulations, how long can you talk about it before you start sounding cocky? They'd want to know details. He'd have to limit the details. No sense in spoiling a moment like this by talking about it too much. Would he keep telling the story with as much enthusiasm every time? Would he sound bored with it by the 50th conversation? Hopefully not. People just wanted to share in the moment. Hopefully he could make himself tell the story with the same enthusiasm every time.
His parents. They were probably already calling people to tell them the news. That's good. It cuts down on the number of people he'd have to call himself later on. It'd be nice if they didn't gush for too long, though. What if they called someone who had good news of their own to deliver? It probably wouldn't be bigger than this. That would be an uncomfortable conversation. "Oh, your son just got a job interview with that insurance company? Mine just hit a home run in the Major Leagues." He wouldn't want his parents to sound so self-important. But they should be modest. They usually are.
His friends. The ball barely made it over the fence. They were going to give him so much shit for that.
The media. They were going to ask about this after the game. Should he go with a stock cliche like "it's nice to get this out of the way," or should he go with something more creative and personal? It would definitely help them out. What if he said "I was just hoping Kenny Lofton wouldn't run over and steal it from me"? Would that make sense? It might be too big of a reach. Think of something else. Nobody wants to overshadow their first home run by saying something stupid.
And so on. As Jamie Burke rounded first base, his face was hiding the busiest brain in the stadium. He'd never had so much on his mind all at once. This might've been more stressful than getting married. And it'd only been, what, three seconds? Those were a long three seconds. The longest three seconds of his life.
As Jamie Burke approached second base, he smiled.