Dan's Dugout: Rabbit Ball Makes Home Run Records Fall • Latino Sports


Dan’s Dugout: Rabbit Ball Makes Home Run Records Fall


The Beast is back!

That would be the hermit that hangs out inside the baseball, only to surface whenever the Powers That Be decide the game needs more offense.

Apparently it’s true that chicks dig the long ball – along with everyone else, with the notable exception of major-league pitchers.

Cody Bellinger has had six multi-homer games so far

Cody Bellinger has had six multi-homer games so far

Mark McGwire’s 1987 record for home runs by a rookie is certainly in jeopardy, with both Aaron Judge (Yankees) and Cody Bellinger (Dodgers) on track to hit more than 49 this season.

In fact, Bellinger has already had six multiple-homer games, one shy of another McGwire mark.

Everybody seems to be getting into the act.

Madison Bumgarner of the San Francisco Giants set the pace when he became the only pitcher in baseball history to hit two home runs on Opening Day.

Scooter Gennett, a career utilityman, hit four home runs in a game – the first time that happened in five years and only the 17th time in the history of the game.

Three Oakland rookies hit their first big-league homers in the same game and one of them – Matt Olson – finished that day with a pair.

A two-homer game for Rene Rivera? Credit: George Napolitano

A two-homer game for Rene Rivera?
Credit: George Napolitano

Even Rene Rivera, normally the light-hitting backup catcher of the New York Mets, collected two home runs in a game.

The ball is flying out of Sun Trust Park, the new home of the Braves in suburban Atlanta, with spray-hitting leadoff man Ender Inciarte already doubling the three home runs he hit in 2016.

Maybe it’s time for Bartolo Colon to connect again. He’s pitching Wednesday night in San Diego, site of the only home run he’s hit in his 20-year career.

Through Monday, major-leaguers were connecting at a record pace of 1.27 home runs per game. With the weather warming and humidity rising, that stat could jump sharply.

Baseball is a game of cycles, with sharp rises and falls in power production, but most of those cycles are controlled by the big shots on Park Avenue. When they want to boost attendance, they juice the ball. In an era when a tight anti-drug campaign prevents most players from juicing, the ball is the next best legal target.

Nobody will admit it, of course, and will probably classify this article as fake news. But ask any pitcher, pitching coach, or manager and you’ll get the idea. Amid the complaints about small ballparks, tiny strike zones, and climate change, James Comey will tell the truth.

Hack Wilson (second from left) had a record 191 RBI in 1930

Hack Wilson (second from left) had a record 191 RBI in 1930

The ball is juiced. Again. As it was in 1930, when Bill Terry became the last man to hit .400, 5’6″ slugger Hack Wilson hit 56 homers and knocked in 191 runs, the New York Giants hit a record .319, and even the Philadelphia Phillies, who finished 40 games behind, had eight .300 hitters and a .315 team batting average. Earned run averages went through the roof too – even though no parks of the time had one.

As Dizzy Dean once said on the air during World War 2, “I’m not allowed to talk about the weather. But if you want to know why this game is being delayed, all you have to do is look out the window.”

Elsewhere in baseball:

Expect more bite from the underdog Tampa Bay Rays, who just activated All-Star catcher Wilson Ramos and acquired slick-fielding shortstop Adeiny Hechevarria . . .

The Washington Nationals, desperate for relief help, hope Francisco Rodriguez has something left after inking the veteran to a minor-league deal . . .

Francisco (K-Rod) Rodriguez in happier days with the Angels

Francisco (K-Rod) Rodriguez in happier days with the Angels

Not much is going to stop the Los Angeles Dodgers, who just completed a 10-game winning streak . . .

It didn’t take long for 2016 World Series hero Kyle Schwarber to lose his swing, his job, and his spot on the Cubs roster . . .

The Giants, Tigers, Mets, and Royals will be among the many clubs seeking to slice overpaid, under-performing veterans before the July 31 trade deadline . . .

Kudos to the Boston Red Sox for adding innings eater Doug Fister, plucked from the Angels, and the Milwaukee Brewers for siging catcher Stephen Vogt, a great clubhouse guy . . .

Closer Mark Melancon, in the first year of a four-year, $48 million gig, has worn out his welcome in the San Francisco clubhouse after condemning his teammates for their losing ways.

About Dan Schlossberg

Former AP sportswriter Dan Schlossberg of Fair Lawn, NJ has produced 35 baseball books, including autobiographies of Ron Blomberg, Al Clark, and Milo Hamilton. Also a broadcaster, he is the host and executive producer of Braves Banter and Travel Itch Radio and a contributor to Sirius XM.

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