As America’s Birthday dawned, the Cleveland Indians stood 19th in the Majors in home runs, with a bare 97. They trailed the Minnesota Twins, the Chicago White Sox, much worse teams like the New York Mets and Baltimore Orioles, and great teams like the Los Angeles Dodgers.
This deficit hasn’t hurt them too much, they still sit in first place in their division because they hit a ton of doubles (their 167 is fifth in baseball and second in the American League) and also pitch pretty well. But the thing about home runs is, they’re up across baseball. But not up enough. The Indians don’t seem to be getting their fair share, considering they're allegedly World Series contenders. There needs to be a redistribution of this dinger wealth. The Indians need to hit more home runs.
The thing about home runs is, they’re fun. I admit to having a bit of fatigue over the numbers being hit every game, and the slow trend toward a purely Three True Outcomes form of the game is a bit distressing. My most favorite thing is the triple, followed by the stolen base. Only home runs would be terrible.
But right now, and in a special moment? They’re a blast. Like this:
That gave the Tribe a lead in an ALCS game last year, which was (mostly) objectively super fun. We got to see Francisco Lindor at his most electric, and got to see John Farrell make this face:
Such is the impact of a postseason home run. They can lift up a whole city, and at the same time break the heart of an entire country. Sometimes, though, they’re not simply an expression of joy by a player. Sometimes they are a reconciliation, an attempt to undo a wrong committed. Like this:
That was Lindor’s first grand slam, hit this past April. Earlier that game he’d committed a very ugly error that led to the Texas Rangers taking the lead. But he got a chance to redeem himself and save the team, and took that chance and did something amazing. It also happened that he drove the first long nail into the coffin of Sam Dyson, Closer. A little collateral damage can’t always be avoided.
The Indians also have a new addition this year who somehow came to be when a lightning bolt struck a heap of uranium. That compilation of explosive potential and raw, natural power came to life that day, in the form of Edwin Encarnacion.
Sometimes, when he does a good thing, he does this:
He also does this:
Ick. I am disgusted by that vulger display of power. I’m also worried he’s anti-union, because that was attempted assault on that Plumbers and Pipefitters Union sign. Doesn’t he realize the power the MLBPA brings him? Anyway, that was a filthy hit.
There are home runs, and there are home runs. Some just sneak over the fence. Some make people react like this:
That is the best GIF ever, and only partially because of the Thome. How can a pitcher come back from such a brutalization? These men are mentally stronger than we can conceive if they’re able to return to normalcy after such a battering. The Indians should do that more. Batter pitchers, I mean.
There’s not much more to say here, but something has been bugging me. While that booming shot above by Edwin is certainly fun, what about opposite field home runs? Which is more demoralizing? Obviously when a guy hits the ball so high and far it causes an atmospheric disturbance, that hurts, but when a hitter goes oppo, it’s a whole other kind of pain. Like this one:
It almost seems accidental, and it just slips over the fence. But is that better than this:
A total bullet. He crunched that one, yanked it over the fence about 10 rows up. Quite the shot, and barely a lin drive. Also it was against an old nemesis in Justin Verlander, which surely felt good. But which is better - that or the oppo boppo? Something to think about.
Home runs are neat. Home runs help with winning. The Indians should think about hitting more.