Brendan Ryan hit a home run off of Ryan Dempster yesterday afternoon that cleared Safeco Field's daunting left-center power alley. I noted in the game recap that all people would really be talking about afterward would be Ryan's homer, and not the 3-2 outcome of the game. In the game recap, I wrote primarily about Ryan's homer, and here I am again, writing about Ryan's homer. In this way I am making my own assertion come true. "Make your own truths," that's what I always say.
One of the principal joys of being a sports fan is celebrating the triumphs of the players and teams that you choose to follow. The ultimate glory, of course, is the championship, the elusive championship, but it can't all just be about the championship because most teams don't win championships. It is in part about the possibility of winning a championship, and it is in part about watching players do amazing things on a day-to-day basis, things that aid in the championship cause but things that are not amazing for primarily that reason. Individual feats are seldom any substitute for team-level feats, but they do still count for something. Many somethings, sometimes.
What goes frequently unspoken is that it isn't just about seeing your players or teams do well. It is about seeing your players and teams do well, at the expense of other players and other teams. In an ideal world we want not just to feel good about our teams, but to feel like our teams are superior. Competitiveness is ugly, but sports are competition, so it only makes sense that sports fans would be competitive. A win is good fractionally because your team won; a win is good fractionally because the other team lost. Different people will split the fractions in different ways, and the same people will split the fractions in different ways on different days, depending on the circumstances.
There is joy to be found in the various successes of your teams, and there is undeniable joy to be found in the various relative failures of others. Everybody feels this way to different degrees but there's no sense in rejecting the premise. It is upon this very premise that I am drawing, for in this post we will celebrate Brendan Ryan while making fun of unfortunate others. This is what's commonly referred to as "covering all the bases." (baseball term)
I couldn't believe that Brendan Ryan bested the power alley, which by now is probably rather evident to you. Based on the photographic evidence, Brendan Ryan couldn't believe it either, and Ryan is more aware than anybody of his many limitations. It takes quite the fly ball to get over that fence, and according to the ESPN Home Run Tracker, Ryan's homer had a distance of 418 feet, and the baseball left the bat at 111.3 miles per hour. We're going to focus on the second number and basically throw away the first one so I don't know why I even included it here.
Ryan hit a legitimate big-league home run, but consider how surprised we all are by that, and consider his career .327 slugging percentage. Yesterday bumped Ryan's 2012 OPS from .541 to .553. Nobody has ever thought of Brendan Ryan as a power hitter, so let's use that 111.3mph figure as the Ryan Line. Brendan Ryan, a pretty weak hitter, is capable of a home run at 111.3 miles per hour off the bat, and so this will serve as an upper threshold for pretty weak hitters. What follows is a table of every team in baseball, and how many home runs they've hit this season at 111.4 miles per hour or above.
The Blue Jays are just blowing everyone out of the water, with more than twice as many supra-Ryan dingers as the next-best team. And to think that Jose Bautista has barely even played in the season's second half. Now scroll all the way to the bottom. We find the Braves, Dodgers, and Twins even at one apiece. For those three teams, Brendan Ryan's Sunday home run would've been the second-hardest-hit home run of the entire season, and the entire season's almost over.
Dan Uggla leads the Braves with a homer at 111.9. Hanley Ramirez leads the Dodgers with a homer at 112.5, and Ramirez was a midseason addition. Justin Morneau leads the Twins with a homer at 112.6. No other Twin is above 110.5. It's interesting what we have here as a group: we have one team that's going to the playoffs, one team that's probably not going to the playoffs, and one team that might not go to the playoffs for another decade. None of this probably has anything to do with their respective numbers of supra-Ryan dingers.
Brendan Ryan, just yesterday, hit a home run that was great for Brendan Ryan, and kind of embarrassing for Ryan Dempster. It was also, it turns out, kind of embarrassing for the Braves, Dodgers, and Twins. You feel that? Yeah, that's satisfaction. Let it wash over you. Let it into every nook and cranny of your form.