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The Star's Lee Judge gets hit with a pitch
Judging the Royals blogger Lee Judge steps into the batting cage to experience getting hit by a pitch, after he made the comment that the Royals Wilson Betemit should have taken the hit in an earlier game this season. Check out Judging the Royals at royals.kansascity.com. May 5, 2010 (Video by John Sleezer/The Kansas City Star)
Hosmer in control
According to Jason Kendall one of the most impressive things he’s ever seen in the major leagues was Eric Hosmer not swinging the bat. Last night Hosmer ‘spit’ on a curve that broke out of the zone. (Spitting on a pitch is baseball slang for refusing to swing, basically, rejecting the pitch.) Jason said his first game in the big leagues was ‘swing, swing, swing’. He wanted to hit and he wanted to hit now. Kendall thought Hosmer’s ability to stay under control on his first night in the big leagues spoke volumes.
So Hosmer demonstrated the ability to stay under control. I wonder if the fans will be able to do the same. When a player’s first big league at-bat is greeted with a standing ovation (Alex Gordon got the same treatment) the pressure is tremendous. This guy just arrived in the toughest baseball league in the world. I hope we all remember that Alex Gordon took a couple years to figure things out.
Don’t forget his glove
Everyone gets excited about offensive numbers and that’s - let’s see, I’m going to do some math here - half the game.
To me (and a few other people) a good glove (technically it’s a mitt and one of two allowed on the field) at first base makes everyone better. A big target that can handle short hops gives everyone confidence. Hosmer showed off his defense with a 3-6-3 (hardest double play in baseball) in the first inning, saving a run. A left-handed first baseman has a huge advantage: he doesn’t have all the weird footwork a righty has to deal with. Ned Yost summed it up by saying, “Last night (before Hosmer’s arrival) we don’t turn that play.”
When I grow up I want to be like Frenchy
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Jeff Francoeur goes through life like a 10-year old who just found out he’s getting a pony. A big grin on his face and everyone’s a pal. I really would like to be like that. (I’m working on it.)
Some players will get defensive when asked about a mistake or a misplay. Frenchy owns up with style. I asked him about a throw he made to third in Thursday’s game. He was trying to nail Vlad Guerrero, the throw came in high and allowed the trail runner to advance (a low throw holds the runner in case the ball is cutoff). Asking a player about a possible screw up is always an interesting experience.
“So, Frenchy, about that throw to third?”
“Knew it was a mistake the second it left my hand.”
He talked about not getting his feet set in the correct position and trying to do too much, and he’s explaining it all with a goofy grin on his face. (If Jeff Francoeur is not the most likeable human being on the planet, he should get an honorable mention, which is not going to stop me from going back to that game and recording a mental mistake. Sorry, dude, love you like a brother, but a bad throw’s a bad throw.)
I figure Frenchy will be cool with that. Earlier in the year I asked about a slow roller that he beat out. It was recorded as an error and I thought it was a hit. Jeff said, “I hit that one so (let’s say he said lousy, but he didn’t) I don’t want a hit.”
P.S. Apparently he told Hosmer to enjoy his debut. It was his first night in the bigs and no one was going to care if he struck out four times, “But tomorrow we’re going to need you to produce.” Welcome to the major leagues.
More aggressive base running
Mike Aviles got picked off and the first baseman dropped the ball taking it out of his glove. Jeff Francoeur stretched a single into a double and the middle infielder missed the throw trying to apply the tag too early.
Don’t miss what’s happening here: these misplays are being caused by aggressive base running. The Royals are forcing the opposition to play faster by pushing the limits. Good base running isn’t just stealing bases.
More on hit-by-pitch or moron hit-by-pitch - you decide
OK, by now you’ve probably seen me getting drilled by a 92-MPH slider. It wasn’t a stunt, I was proving a point: I said Wilson Betemit should’ve gotten hit by a pitch with the bases loaded in the 8th inning of a tie game. I decided to put my left kidney where my mouth was and offered to take the same pitch.
We post the video and it blows up. Four different ESPN shows grabbed it, the MLB network played a chunk of the video and it was referred to on something called ‘Deadspin’ (yeah, I’m pretty hip) and they all got the story wrong.
Everyone said I got hit by an 81-mph pitch, which is incorrect. It was supposed to be 81 and turned out to be 92. Larry Bowa belittled me for getting hit by a change-up. A woman the approximate density of a moist toilette said she would be willing to get hit by the same pitch. (Honey, unless you’ve been as seriously dedicated to building up a layer of protective blubber as I’ve been over the past 58 years, that ball would’ve gone through you.) It was also widely reported that the players “challenged” me to do it. Completely incorrect: it was my idea, they just thought it was awesome. (By the way: one of the funniest things about this episode is the ball I had all the guys sign commemorating the occasion. One of them referenced a bible verse. Kind of a “92 in the kidney … in Jesus’ name” moment.)
That I was in the clubhouse complaining about the damn media getting the story wrong and telling the story they liked instead of the one that was true struck the players as hilarious. The media gets stories wrong? Who knew?
During the team meeting held before every series, the Royals watched the video. It played while I was in the clubhouse and the players cheered. Ned Yost came to find me so I could show my bruise to Ray Fosse who insisted on taking a picture of it. After the game Jeff Francoeur called me off the elevator so I could show my bruise to his family. When Frenchy got out of the way of a ball headed for his shinbone I was told several players said, “I wonder what Lee will say about that?” Doug Sisson said I now had more street cred than 50 Cent (the most amazing thing is that Doug Sisson knows who 50 Cent is). As I was leaving the park a kid recognized me from the video and wanted to talk. The same people who freaked out when they found out what I was doing, now wonder what my next stunt will be and are suggesting things much more dangerous than what I did.
So let me sum this all up: I did what I did because I knew how to get hit by a pitch and not get killed. I did it because I said someone else should and figured I ought to be willing to do the same thing. This is not going to be a running theme. I don’t intend to become the Johnny Knoxville of baseball no matter how many page hits that would get me.
The point of this website is to let readers see inside the world of professional baseball, not watch a moron ram his head into an outfield wall (one of the suggestions for my next stunt). I got hit by the pitch in order to talk about what that was like. It offered me (and I hope you) some insight into the situation. Matt Treanor made a great point: gutsy of you to do it once, would you do it again the next night?
Kevin Seitzer said how about the next at-bat? Once the opposition knows you’re hurting, they’ll come back in there and see if you’ll move to avoid getting hit. If you do, you’re screwed. They back you off the plate and murder you low and away. I’ll admit it: I won’t ever give anyone a hard time about it again and I can only admire a guy like Jason Kendall who has taken knock after knock and refused to back off.
But the biggest lesson I learned from this is experience is this: I really need to lose some weight.