There are a lot of parts that make Lookout Landing what it is—a glorious Rube Goldberg-esque assemblage that tootles and squeaks through the season—but maybe no part that’s more essential to our identity than the recap. Recap writing is both art and science, except sometimes it’s way easier to lean to one side of that spectrum than the other. Some games resist narrative and it’s tempting to just string together a series of Gameday screen grabs; others slot too easily into a series of bons mots and gifs and “oh my aching back I can’t think about this game any more than I just did for the past three hours what am I even doing with my life right now.” And it is with that in mind that we are rolling out a new feature: About Last Night, a taking of accounts in the cold light of dawn.
This daily post will isolate a moment or performance from the game the night (or day) before and comment upon it at some length. The idea popped into my head when I was re-reading a recap I had done where I spent an ample amount of time talking about a Félix start, and Mike Zunino victimizing Little Timmy Lincecum, and...totally left out a brilliant ninth-inning performance by Edwin Díaz, because it was late and I was tired and the recap was already so, so long. I’m hoping this will take some of the pressure off the recapper to try to capture everything and also open some interesting new avenues for discussion. It might also fail, in which case I quietly take this idea and bury it in the backyard with my other broken dreams. Let’s find out together if this works!
[Because spring training is weird, and info from it is limited, and none of it probably matters anyway, I’m not sure if this feature will run regularly to start. But since baseball is back and I still have a buzz from that—as well as from watching Kelsey Plum break the NCAA scoring record in person yesterday—let’s give this a whirl, hmm?]
Yesterday the Mariners won in convincing fashion against the somewhat hapless Padres, and no one had a better day than Guillermo Heredia, who went 3-for-3, collecting two doubles and three RBIs. He even stole home on a double steal. Ryan Divish asked about Heredia (skip to 5:42 here to see it) in Servais’s postgame interview and Servais called him “a totally different guy” from last year, when he had just shown up to camp after being out of baseball for a year. Servais pointed to the hard work Heredia put in at the AFL after playing a full season across three different levels of the organization, and mentioned Heredia had worked with minor league hitting coordinator Brant Brown to make some adjustments to his swing, specifically shortening it up some. I love Heredia to the ends of the earth and back, but his swing mechanics have bothered me, so I thought it would be interesting to take a look and compare what his swing looked like at the end of last season versus where he is now. Apologies in advance for the quality of the second video, which I took off the TV on my phone because it’s spring training for all of us.
Small sample size, different angle, I’m not a professional scout, disclaimer disclaimer, etc., but Heredia’s swing here certainly looks more compact to me. His hands remain closer to his body through his swing path as opposed to that first gif. Also, his timing looks better here—he loads and fires, rather than that weird double toe-tap thing he does above. Some of this might just be, as Servais noted, a comfort thing—Heredia has seen more MLB-level (or close to MLB-level) pitching, and understands the speed of the game better. But it also looks like he’s cut down that over-rotation on his follow-through, too (last year he had at-bats where he looked he was auditioning for the role of “barn door” in a touring production of the Wizard of Oz). One great day in the first game of spring training is about as small a sample size as you can get, but it’s worth monitoring Heredia over these next few weeks to see if these changes stick.