Keep Being You, Fernando

Baseball going baseball again.

Jim Rome
August 18, 2020 - 9:11 am
Fernrando Tatis Jr.

USA Today

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The NBA playoffs started yesterday and normally, I would start right there. Because there is a ton to talk about. Four games. Donovan Mitchell turning in a game for the ages, and Kristaps getting one of the weakest ejections ever. Normally, I would start there, that’s going to have to wait.  

Because there is some news from baseball. And let me start this news with a fact: if you don’t know about Fernando Tatis Jr, you better start learning, fast. Because you’re missing out on something huge.

The Padres shortstop does things with a bat that just about nobody else on the planet can do. And he was doing those things last night against the Rangers.

Here he is in the seventh inning, with two men on base. If you’re near a TV, make sure you’re watching this. But if you’re audio only, don’t worry, because you’ll know what happened pretty quickly. 

That crack of the bat was a joke. I mean, A complete and utter joke. Scott Stapp’s crack of the bat can’t believe how loud that was.

That home run made it 10-3 Padres. Then Tatis came up in the next inning, with the bases loaded. And he did this.

The first grand slam of his career; another absolutely electric Tatis moment. 21 years old. A pair of bombs and seven RBI on the night. He takes over the MLB lead in home runs. It’s awesome. And he really is the young face of baseball right now. It’s incredible. What an absolutely amazing moment.

The first home run was 405 feet, the second was 407. According to the Padres twitter account, the first homer had an exit velocity of 112.6 miles per hour, the highest of his career. According to the Athletic, the second had an exit velocity of 109.8, the highest exit velocity a Padre has ever had on an opposite field home run in the Statcast era.

Again, incredible stuff. So good that I had to lead the show with it. Because you are witnessing a star stepping onto the stage and flat dominating.  

And then. Unfortunately, baseball had to wreck the moment, but going all baseball with it. 

It turns out at 21 year old stud smoking a grand slam that will go viral and get people talking about baseball again, and leading this show, isn’t a good thing. Apparently.

My bad. Apparently I got it all twisted. Personally, I thought crushing highlight reel grand slams was a positive, was good for the sport, but it turns out it’s an awful thing.  Maybe even the worst thing. Because to hear some people talk, it’s practically a crime against all of humanity. Because hit the grand slam on a 3-0 pitch with a 7 run lead. And that violates the almighty code. The red ass code. 

And that is the biggest load of crap I have ever seen. This is literally the dumbest, most baseball thing ever. And given that sport, that’s saying something. Because when Manny Machado, the next batter, stepped into the box, the Rangers threw behind him. Which is about bush as it gets. You’re getting smoked and your solution is to throw a rock behind a guy, to send a message. Message received. Message being, it’s ok to kick our ass, just don’t over-kick. Like we’re fine with you kicking our ass, just don’t kick it by too much. A truly horrible look for the Rangers

After the game, Rangers manager Chris Woodward: “I think there’s a lot of unwritten rules that are constantly being challenged in today’s game. I didn’t like it, personally. You’re up by seven in the eighth inning; it’s typically not a good time to swing 3-0. It’s kind of the way we were all raised in the game. But, like I said, the norms are being challenged on a daily basis. Just because I don’t like it doesn’t mean it’s not right. (But) I don’t think we liked it as a group.”

I like Chris Woodward. I’ve really enjoyed talking to him in the past. So I want to be clear, this isn’t a Chris Woodward thing, this is a baseball thing.

AND, again, it is the dumbest, most baseball thing ever. Complaining that a guy didn’t take a pitch on a 3-0 count? Get the hell outa here with that!

And it’s not just a Rangers thing. It’s a baseball thing. Padres manager Jace Tingler, who was a coach under Woodward last season, also wasn’t thrilled with Tatis.

"He's young, a free spirit and focused and all those things. That's the last thing that we'll ever take away. It's a learning opportunity and that's it. He'll grow from it."

And there was more.

"Just so you know, a lot of our guys have green light 3-0. But in this game in particular, we had a little bit of a comfortable lead. We're not trying to run up the score or anything like that."

Tatis said that Tingler did bring it up to him. 

 “He told me I was getting the sign to take a pitch, and I told him right away, ‘That was on me. I didn’t look in (at third-base coach Glenn Hoffman),’” Tatis said.

“I was locked in, man. I was locked in in the game. I was just trying to produce for my team. … I was just trying to take a good pitch and just put my barrel on it, and I think we got the result.”

If the issue is that Tatis missed a sign, I get that. But that’s an issue for the Padres and the Padres only. The Rangers shouldn’t be getting red assed over that. 

But, and I can’t believe I have to say this, THE GRAND SLAM IS NOT ON TATIS. THAT’S NOT HIS FAULT.

The blame goes to Rangers pitcher Juan Nicasio who fell behind 3-0 to a home run hitter with the bases loaded and then put it on a tee for him. If anyone should be apologizing to the Rangers, it’s the Rangers pitcher who offered up that gopher ball

I’m not bothered that Tatis hit a grand slam in the eighth inning of a blowout, I’m only bent that he didn’t do it again in the same inning, just like his pops did back in the day. 

And no, Tatis wasn’t looking to show anyone up. Or disrespect the game or the code.  And yes, he is aware of the code saying, “… this time, I was kind of lost on this one. They told me after five, seven, after six, something like that. Those experiences, you got to learn from it. Probably next time, I take a pitch now that I learned from it.”

Nah, dude, you’re not lost. The sport is lost. 

If you have to be in the batters box thinking about the score and the inning and deciding whether or some mysterious unwritten rule says it’s okay for you to swing the bat, that’s on the game, not you. 

In what other professional sport are you supposed to stop trying when you have a lead at some point? What is the point of being good if you’re too good and have to stop so that the other team doesn’t get embarrassed? Like…You’re allowed to be good in the first six innings as long as the game is close, but if you’re too good, then you have to stop, because we’re NOT good and we don’t want to get our feelings hurt. 

If that’s how you want to do it, just bring in a mercy rule. Because that’s what the code essentially is. If you’re winning by a certain number of runs in the eighth inning, the good team has to start being bad so that the bad team doesn’t get butt hurt. So just bring in a mercy rule. Let the team that’s losing just quit. And then give everyone participation trophies. 

By the way, Fernando Tatis Jr was the only reason to still be watching the game in the 8th inning. It sure wasn’t to see the Rangers, because apparently they had already given up on that game. Apparently they didn’t think they could come back from down 10-3 and they needed the Padres to not swing the bat. They admitted as much with their actions: like we already stopped playing, so don’t disrespect us or the game of baseball by continuing to play when we’ve already quit: that’s the message they’re sending. 

Then again, this is baseball we’re talking about. And baseball has butchered just about everything it could possibly butcher for the last 10 months and then, when something good finally does happen, when you finally have a bright spot, a budding superstar doing incredible things, you go all baseball with it and wreck the moment. Tatis doesn’t owe anyone an apology: the sport of baseball and it’s ridiculous, antiquated code owes him one. And speaking for the entire planet, Fernando, your apology is rejected. Because you didn’t do anything wrong. You’re not the problem. Baseball is.

I alluded to this earlier... But the only pitcher who should be throwing behind any batter after a grand slam is Chan Ho Park.

And is it me or does Tatis Jr's dad getting 2 grand slams in the same inning off the same pitcher not get enough run as the most impossible accomplishment in baseball? Screw back-to-back no hitters! Look it up--- 1999. How the hell does Davey Johnson keep Chan Ho in that long?