Welcome to This Week In Dumb Baseball, which is a better name for a weekly column about dumb baseball than Grant Land is, but we’re not here to talk about the past. Maybe a rebranding is in our future.
Rest assured, though, there will always be dumb baseball to cover in this spot. Baseball is overflowing with dumb baseball. Like sap from a maple, we have to collect it, or it will go to waste.
Sometimes, though, the baseball isn’t dumb. Sometimes it’s beautiful. Our first section is a case in point, so …
Let us study this baseball thing
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Luis Urias is just 21, so he hasn’t exactly been waiting since the ‘60s for his major league debut, but it’s still one of the seminal moments of any ballplayer’s life. It’s the realization of a dream that’s been years and years and years in the making. Urias worked hard to get there, and he jogged out to the field for the first time, adrenaline zipping through his body, as he tried not to look up at the second deck and get dizzy.
The first pitch comes in as he gets into his ready position, and it’s a strike. He relaxes a bit and refocuses. The second pitch is thrown, and he gets into his ready position again.
A player who is unable to concentrate in these circumstances is one who might not make it out of A-ball. We talk a lot about the five tools, but there are more than that, and the sixth is something of an implied tool that every major leaguer has by definition. It’s the ability to compartmentalize your brain in a way that allows you to function in moments of extreme excitement and/or stress.
Don’t sleep on just how beautiful Urias’s play was, either. It was full extension on a hard-hit ball, with no margin for error, and …
Which one of these players is Brady Feigl? Trick question: they are both named Brady Feigl. One is in the Rangers system, and the other is in the A’s system. pic.twitter.com/nCIufSkpdQ
— Levi Weaver (@ThreeTwoEephus) September 1, 2018
… and, uh … that’s weird, wonder how that tweet snuck in there … anyway, Urias dives and makes the first play of his major league career, and it happens to be one of the most brilliant plays he might make all ….
… now just hold on a second, that tweet can’t be right, can it? It would still be a thing if there were a John Anderson playing professional baseball and a John Anderson playing professional basketball and they even remotely looked similar. It would also still be a thing if there were two players who looked this similar, even if their names were different. But you’re telling me that these two players, with what should be unique names, play the same position in the same sport and also happen to look …
Sorry, I’m sorry. No, we have to celebrate Urias, one of the Padres’ top prospects and a reason you just might be paying attention to them as soon as next year. It’s possible that this play will make for an incredible anecdote in the book about his career, after all, a perfect start to …
… wait, wait, wait, alright, let’s use science to figure this out. Brady Feigl A was born in 1990, when the first name “Brady” was the 315th-most popular baby name in the United States. Brady Feigl B was born in 1995, when his first name was the 188th-most popular name. There have been just four Bradys in the major leagues, for example. So right off the bat, we have a freak coincident.
But then there’s the last name. According to this website, Feigl is the 105,814th most-common surname in the world, and just 4,492 people have this name, with most of them in Europe. Just one Feigl should exist among every 1,084,839 Americans, which means just the odds of there being two unrelated Feigls in professional alone should be statistically unlikely.
Here’s a vast list of surnames. Feigl isn’t included.
Dammit, no, back to Urias and the Padres, and, wait, then you start talking about the odds it takes to become a professional baseball player in the first place. How many kids are drafted, and how big is the potential pool of amateur baseball players? We’re talking one in 10,000, right?
They have to be related, even if they’re just distant cousins. This is the only solution. Then you would eliminate some of the statistical noise because if they share genes, then it’s not that freaky that they look alike or each share a similar athletic talent. That would explain a great deal of this, to be honest.
We have to convince them to take one of those DNA tests.
By court order, if necessary.
That was a great play or whatever, but now I can’t sleep.
We need to arrest both of them until this gets settled.
The unwritten rules of screaming at no one in particular
Again, you’ll need to click if you’re on an aggregating site, but via Reddit, we have Lance Lynn reacting strongly to a strikeout, and it’s a doozy.
Lynn screams, “Fork’s to you, muddling forger!” or something roughly equivalent after striking out Daniel Palka in the first inning, but it’s hard to imagine that he was expressly upset at Palka. Consider that …
- Palka is a rookie who had faced Lynn just five times before, so there couldn’t have been a history between them
- Especially considering that the only hit Palka had was an infield single, so there wasn’t the chance of a rogue bat flip.
- It was the first inning, which lessens the chances of some sort of jawing between them.
- There was no chicanery during the at-bat, no arguing that a strike should have been a ball, or anything else that would have upset a pitcher.
- One Brady was from Missouri, and one was from Maryland, which doesn’t have to mean anything, but it’s not like they were living close enough to be aware of each other, so this is as much of a surprise to them as it is to us
So our question is this: Is Lance Lynn breaking an unwritten rule by screaming obscenities at the sky? To answer it, we need to know who the “you” is in the epithet. Is it directed toward the umpire for calling two borderline pitches a strike? Is it directed at the hitter, who is Lynn’s natural enemy just for existing? Is it, like, directed toward God, man? Or is it just something that came from the top of his head, instinctively?
If it’s the latter, it’s probably not breaking an unwritten rule. It’s just a chemical reaction that leads to an especially spicy catch phrase, no more. Eventually it will get Lynn into trouble, and he should consider replacing it with something like, “Now that’s a spicy fastball!.”
But if it’s any of the others, I’m going to say it’s breaking an unwritten rule, and possibly a couple of written ones. You probably shouldn’t scream “blank you, motherblanker” to an umpire or an opponent, and you certainly shouldn’t scream that and replace the “blanks” with naughty words.
For violating this unwritten rule, I sentence Lynn to 20 jumping jacks. Also, I’ve decided that the new punishment for unwritten-rule violations is to do jumping jacks on the field before the start of an inning, and the idea that baseballs need to be thrown intentionally at batters is hereby eliminated.
Show me where the flaw in that plan is, and we can have a civil discussion, but guess what? There is no flaw.
Baseball picture of the week
The definitive feature on Willians Astudillo has already been written, and that absolutely crushes me. Curse you, Lindbergh. Curse you.
The abridged version is that Astudillo is a multi-positional marvel who is primarily a catcher, nearly impossible to walk or strike out, and of a mirthful and jolly countenance that the internet seems to enjoy more than anything else in the sport. There are baseball players named, like, Brandon Dallard who will come and go without doing a single memorable thing, and they’ll need to carry a baseball card in their wallet just to prove to their parents that they really did make the majors. And then there is a player like Astudillo, who is already a cult hero.
That picture up there is of Astudillo’s first home run, and it captures an awful lot of the fun involved. After not smiling around the bases — and baseball players trying not to smile after their first home run is one of the purest moments on any baseball field — he lets the smile fly in the dugout, and the picture captures the sense of wonder in his eyes and the pure enjoyment in his face.
If there were no Willians Astudillo, we would not have to invent him. He would just not exist, and our lives would be that much more drab. But he does exist, and he tends to make baseball more fun. Here’s a picture capturing that, and it’s glorious.
Rate this retro uniform
I really, really have to be careful here. I don’t want to be reactionary or hyperbolic. Let’s study this like something hanging in a museum and walk around it, lips pursed, hand to our chin.
Yeah, I have to go with A+. I know that this might be rank nostalgia, and there are subconscious forces working behind the scenes to make me appreciate these uniforms more than someone who didn’t grow up with them, but I can’t shake the idea that these are perfect.
Here’s the current Angels home jersey:
It’s fine, I guess. The font is a little nü-metal, but whatever. The colors are fine. Nothing about it is offensive.
That retro one is gorgeous, though, and the Angels should bring it back permanently.
Do you want to learn more about the decline and fall of these two teams? Boy, do I have the feature for you …
The Orioles were swept, by the way. They were swept, and Royals fans are at least a little annoyed that it will probably cost them the first-overall pick next June. That’s all just so perfect.
What Shohei Did
He pitched, dang it. He pitched and he FREAKED US ALL OUT.
A pitcher with a partial ligament tear who doesn’t Tommy John, coming back sooner than expected and then throwing nearly 10 MPH slower than normal?
Yes. Yes, I would, Kent.
All was well, though. All was well. Relatively speaking.
Mike Scioscia said Ohtani’s back stiffened up and his finger was a little sore from bare-handing the comebacker. That led to decline in velo. He said his elbow is fine. #Angels
— Jeff Fletcher (@JeffFletcherOCR) September 3, 2018
Not great. But not the apocalypse, either. For good measure, Ohtani also drove in a couple runs, and it’s probably a good sign that he’s pitching for a team that isn’t in contention, and he remains the most watchable player in sports.
On the other hand, stop freaking us out. I can’t take much more of this.
I really hope Wilson Ramos is hurt
I never thought I would write a sentence like that, but, here, let me explain myself:
If he’s not hurt, that means he’s lollygagging. Nobody likes a lollygagger. And this would be 80-grade lollygagging. Even the announcers wondered if Ramos was just flat-out unable to run there.
Unless he’s just that slow. This would be even worse than the 80-grade lollygagging. A player running first-to-third at sub-Molina speeds would be much, much more concerning. This would be almost untenable speed — the kind that would get Ramos thrown out on a ground-ball single to center.
So I’ll stick with the header. I hope Ramos has a wonky hamstring or something, and he’s just nursing it. He’ll get better, and you won’t see this again.
It is, by far, the best possible scenario. I hope you understand. I’m not trying to be a jerk.
This week in McGwire/Sosa
23 AB this week
427 AB for the season
2 HR this week
55 HR for the season
.261/.414/.609 this week
.293/.472/.724 for the season
30 AB this week
540 AB for the season
4 HR this week
55 for the season
.333/.394/.767 this week
.313/.381/.654 for the season
Sosa and McGwire are both on pace for 69 homers, which is incredibly nice. Pitchers are scared to come inside to them because they don’t want to be the dingus who ruined everything. It’s almost certainly going to be the year that Roger Maris’ home run record falls.
But what if it isn’t?
What if it isn’t?
Again, I’ll have to remind you that the fate of the world rested on this.
Spoonerism of the week
This one is a reader submission, and I would like to thank Justin for reaching out. It’s a beautiful spoonerism.
Ah, a player from my own backyard, I can definitely appreciate this. If you’re a spooner-literalist, the correct adaptation is Gumpsie Preen, and it’s incredibly fun to say. Just rolls off the tongue. Your daughter has six out of the seven Gumpsie Preen books in her library, and she won’t be satisfied until you buy her the last one. Go on. Don’t wait for a sale. Encourage her love for reading.
But if you want to be a little more daring and take an additional consonant, Grumpsie Peen is next level. Take the Grumpsie Peen Challenge and say it out loud.
Anyway, the point is that I always welcome your submissions, and also that I’m almost disappointed that my fascination with there being two Jeffs D’Amico and two Steves Ontiveros is ruined because there are two Bradys Feigl, and they look exactly alike. Once we have them in custody, we should get more answers, though.