Maybe this is going to aggravate some of you. This is, after all, a Seattle Mariners blog, and many of us, I suspect, are fans of the Seattle Mariners. Fans of the Seattle Mariners want to read about the Seattle Mariners. But - look, I was planning to begin this recap by writing about the Mariners. You know, they had a big inning in the third, and then Michael Saunders killed a ball in the fourth, and Chone Figgins looked good, and everything. When the Mariners were up 5-0 after three and a half I was already thinking ahead to how I wanted to write. But then, ka-BLAMMO! Yoenis Cespedes didn't hit the longest home run I've ever seen. I don't think Yoenis Cespedes hit the fastest home run I've ever seen. But Yoenis Cespedes hit one of the most God-damned impressive home runs I've ever seen, and that's kind of all I could think about from that point on.
The Mariners beat the A's 7-3. The Mariners scored seven runs! There were just 21 occasions all of last season that the Mariners scored at least seven runs. There were but 15 such occasions in 2010. Hell, today the Mariners scored four runs in the third inning, which is more than they scored last year in 95 whole games. Tonight, the Mariners looked pretty good. But Yoenis Cespedes started a personal nuclear program and got to a launch with remarkable haste. I know that the Mariners looked good, and I know that there are encouraging Mariners things to talk about, but it's Cespedes' homer that I'm going to take away from this evening. The image of where that ball hit has been seared into whichever part of my brain would be the right place to sear an image. Probably the part that controls memory, which would explain why I can't remember the name of that part of my brain.
If you haven't seen the home run yet, watch it right now. Actually, before you watch it, clear the next 30 minutes of your schedule. You're not going to be doing anything productive. Here's where the ball hit:
Maybe that doesn't quite capture the distance. Let's pull back a little bit, shall we?
All home runs are impressive. The walls are far away. This home run was unusually impressive. The ball wasn't still rising as it reached solid matter like one of the announcers suggested, but it came closer than most other home runs that I've seen. I saw a tweet from ESPN stats or something that calculated the distance as 462 feet. Maybe that's right, and 462 feet is a whole lot of feet. I still don't find it satisfying, though, so I choose to ignore it. As far as I'm concerned, this home run didn't have a numerical distance. This home run is to be measured by how often you see it in your eyelids when you blink.
Our old friend Graham suggested to me that this home run should be worth two home runs. I'm not comfortable going that far. I am comfortable giving Cespedes some extra credit. I think what should've happened was that the A's get credit for the two runs, and then Cespedes goes to second base. So instead of being a four-base home run, it's a six-base home run. Bonus points for wow factor. The Mariners might've hated it, but then the Mariners shouldn't have allowed it.
I don't want to move on. I don't want to not write about this home run, even though the Mariners just won a game by more runs than they usually score. Yoenis Cespedes hit that ball so hard that when it bounced off the outfield concrete, the concrete block's twin concrete block brother shivered in pain, and a visually unappealing office tower collapsed in downtown.
Of course, this isn't just about what Cespedes did with his bat. It's also about what Cespedes did with his body. Here's Cespedes showboating after his first home run in the Dominican. Here's Cespedes not showboating after his first home run in the Majors. Cespedes showboated after his second home run in the Majors. He watched the hell out of that screaming warhead, and as you can see in the video, Jason Vargas didn't take too kindly to that. I imagine that Cespedes is going to be hearing about this for some time. But in Cespedes' defense, did you see the home run that he hit? It's possible that Cespedes wasn't showboating on purpose. It's possible that he was just stunned that his body is capable of doing that to an object.
This kind of goes back to the Barry Bonds argument. One of the Barry Bonds arguments. A lot of people couldn't stand Barry Bonds on account of his extraordinary ego. But then Barry Bonds was the greatest baseball player in the world, so if anybody deserved to have an ego, it was him. Likewise, a lot of people aren't going to like that Cespedes watched his home run, but that was a home run that deserved to be watched. It's not like Cespedes posed for a homer down the line.
I do think that Cespedes probably has an air about him. He is a very confident young man, with certain traits. The more he showboats, the more it's going to develop into a pattern, and fans of other teams don't like showboaters. But fans of teams with showboaters love the showboaters, so I think ultimately this is going to be good for all of us. We should want for Yoenis Cespedes to be an annoying talented douche. That'll stir some emotions, which I don't need to tell you have been lacking in Mariners/A's games for years. I've dreaded most Mariners/A's games because there wasn't a whole lot about them that was interesting. If Yoenis Cespedes is a prick, that'll be interesting. We'll want the Mariners to get him out every time. When they don't, it'll be infuriating. Maybe he'll incite a brawl, or maybe he'll just get brushed back a lot. Basically, there's a chance that Cespedes could be for us what Bryce Harper's going to be for the other teams in the NL East.
Look at all of these words about Yoenis Cespedes. Tonight was perfect. Cespedes provided something amazing I won't soon forget. Cespedes provided something else the Mariners won't soon forget. Cespedes laid the groundwork for a more interesting short-term and long-term future. And the Mariners won the game by four. I imagine Chone Figgins wouldn't be pleased that he's not my top story after reaching base four times, but Chone Figgins should just be happy that people don't want to drop his ass as bad today as they might have yesterday.
About Figgins - and here I'm using the jump to switch topics - he really did have a strong game. He lost a ball in the lights in left field, but then he's not normally a left fielder, and stadium lights are bright. It wasn't that important. At the plate, Figgins had a long at-bat in the first, he dropped down a perfect sac bunt in the third, he lined a single to center in the fourth, he put down a perfect squeeze bunt in the sixth, and he dropped a single in shallow left in the eighth. This was Chone Figgins being incredibly annoying, just like we all wanted him to be when he first came over.
It's a game. Figgins entered today 1-for-8. Nothing's resolved. But what I wonder is, to what degree is the consensus opinion of Figgins reversible? With rare exception, nobody who likes the Mariners still likes Chone Figgins. Quite a lot of people seem to hate him. Remember that he was getting booed in Seattle, and players never get booed in Seattle. You'll get a lot of people calling him worthless, and many of those same people can't stand the fact that Figgins is up there batting leadoff.
But what if Figgins becomes okay? What if the Mariners play decent baseball around him? We know that Chone Figgins isn't too far gone, because if he batted .400, we'd all love him. How much does he have to do to get in good graces, or to at least climb out of bad graces?
I'm not trying to argue that Figgins is headed in that direction, because he's got a hell of a lot more to prove. But what I noticed was that, where last season I loathed Chone Figgins, tonight I was okay with him, and in the end even pleased with him. The long offseason of memory erasing didn't hurt. And I realized then that, emotionally, Chone Figgins isn't a complete lost cause. Just as A's fans should be happy that Cespedes could be annoying, I'm happy that Chone Figgins could be annoying, albeit in a super different way.
It's essentially moot. I can't imagine that Figgins rebounds that much. Even if he does, people are going to prefer Kyle Seager. But I'm just in a good mood, because the Mariners have twice as many wins as losses and Yoenis Cespedes hit a baseball to the Great Attractor. When I'm in a good mood, I think about how much Chone Figgins would have to do to get people to like him. Apparently.
Well hell, I wasn't planning on writing that much, so I'll just fly through a handful of bullet holes. I know I usually begin my bullet holes by talking about the day's starting pitcher, but I literally have no idea what to say about Jason Vargas that you guys might find even remotely interesting. He was fine. Threw Jason Vargasy pitches. Served up a home run and a half. Maybe he was a little better than he was in Japan and maybe he was a little worse than he was in Japan, but regardless, he was well within the Jason Vargas margin of error.
- Figgins' first bunt came in the third inning, and it was a great one up the third base line. It turned into a chance to make that Adrian Beltre defensive play that we'll always remember. Josh Donaldson couldn't make the Adrian Beltre defensive play, throwing the ball off Figgins' back and allowing a runner to come around to score for the game's first run. This is where I tell you that, in case you haven't been paying attention, Josh Donaldson is a catcher that the A's moved to third base and now he's starting at third base. This is why we've seen Eric Sogard. Because the alternative is Josh Donaldson. Josh Donaldson did get to live the fantasy of throwing something at Chone Figgins, which I'm sure every one of us has imagined at some point or another.
- Yoenis Cespedes did a very good thing at the plate. In the third inning, he caught a fly ball by Justin Smoak, and dropped the ball on the transfer. In the fourth inning, he couldn't flag down Michael Saunders' drive just over his head. Minutes later, he bobbled Chone Figgins' single up the middle. Yoenis Cespedes must not be accustomed to balls so perfectly round, and fields so perfectly level. This started as a joke but now it might be truth. Seriously Cuban baseball is not in great shape.
- On the very next pitch after Cespedes dropped the ball on the transfer, Jesus Montero flew out to right field, and Josh Reddick dropped the ball on the transfer. I want to make a "market inefficiency" joke but I just keep coming back to this being dumb and stupid.
- It actually worked out pretty well for Oakland when Cespedes dropped the ball. That happened with the bases loaded and nobody out, with Chone Figgins on third. You'd think that, with the dropped ball, Figgins would've had plenty of time to tag up and walk home. But Jeff Datz got confused, and Figgins held up. It was like an unintentional, stupid-looking deke. "He dropped the ball! What does that - aw dang."
- Michael Saunders had three at-bats that weren't particularly remarkable, but as mentioned, he led off the fourth with a deep drive to straightaway center that went for a double. It didn't hang up - it was a shot. In Arizona, we were encouraged by Saunders showing power the other way. This wasn't power the other way, but this is the next-best thing, because it isn't pull power. We know that Saunders has some pull power. He needs to be able to hit the ball elsewhere to have a real career.
- In the Mariners' first game against Brandon McCarthy, they put 16 of 23 balls in play on the ground. In the Mariners' second game against Brandon McCarthy, they put eight of 18 balls in play on the ground.
- The funny thing is that while this was the Oakland Athletics' home opener, the schedule would indicate that it wasn't the Oakland Athletics' home opener. Wait, this isn't a funny thing. This certainly isn't the funny thing. This could be molded into a funny thing but I'm going to need a little bit of time, check back tomorrow. Or alternatively keep refreshing the page, checking for an updated bullet hole. Do that instead.
- At one point Jemile Weeks hit a ball off of his toe. That isn't the whole story. The ball rolled down the third base line, and Weeks took off for first, as if it were a normal ball in play. The umpire wasn't having it and ordered him back to the box, even though he'd eventually made it all the way around to third after what would've been a throwing error. The crowd was greatly displeased and continued to boo for several minutes. It was the loudest the Coliseum has been since somebody dropped something heavy in the Coliseum. This is a terrible joke. It doesn't even make any sense! I'm so far off my game I'm playing badminton.
- The sixth inning brought Jordan Norberto out of the Oakland bullpen. Coming into action, Norberto had thrown 26.2 Major League innings, with 29 walks. This weekend the Norberto family is going to get together for Easter, and nobody's going to buddy up with Jordan for the egg toss.
Dustin Ackley was awesome but I don't need to tell you that. Tomorrow, at 6:05pm PDT, there's Felix. Tune in if only on the off chance that Felix took exception to Cespedes' behavior. Of course that shouldn't be the only reason for you to want to tune in, because at the risk of repeating myself, tomorrow, at 6:05pm PDT, there's Felix. There are only going to be so many Felix Days before he is dead or you are dead. Think about that, tonight.