Friday Rockpile: The art of the dinger

We're gonna have less of this in 2014 - Justin Edmonds

Hit ball. Ball go far. Is good.

What is there to say about the Colorado Rockies?  It's mid-August, the team is out of it, and we're fresh off an off-day.  Yawn.  EDIT: The instant replay news broke after I had already written all this stuff.  See below for details.  But we're going with the dinger article. /END EDIT

Luckily, a certain YouTube video made the Twitter rounds yesterday, and I feel compelled to discuss it, for it is glorious.  It is embedded below for your viewing pleasure.

This is 18 minutes of the longest home runs caught on video.  When I initially clicked on it, I expected to only watch a few minutes and then move on, my lust for dingers satiated.  But the steady escalation of the blasts held me captivated; as the swings grew more and more cartoonish and as the cameramen had more and more difficulty following the titanic moonshots, my childlike glee kept growing.  The video taps into a fundamental aspect of my love for baseball that sometimes gets overlooked: I freaking love mammoth home runs.

Ever since the first hunter-gatherers picked up fallen tree branches and pine cones, they have been attempting to swat them as far as possible.  Baseball gave that urge a framework.  Because that's all that baseball is, when you get right down to it; the pitcher tries to throw the ball past the hitter.  The hitter tries to hit the ball as far as humanly possible.

Of course, "humanly possible" has become a somewhat malleable term lately.  It's no coincidence that Barry Bonds and Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa show up multiple times in this video.  But I have to say, watching these clips provides one heck of an argument in favor of juiced-up players.  Because GOOD LORD do they hit the ball a long way.

Alright, all kidding aside, let's jump into some stats.

  • The total distance these home runs traveled is 38,960 feet, or about 7.4 miles. 
  • Adam Dunn led the way by contributing six dingers to the video. 
  • Bonds lashed five, including a few impressive splash shots at AT&T park. 
  • McGwire had four bombs in the video, despite not showing up until we had reached the 500-foot mark. 
  • He also had the longest shot of the video, a 538-foot tater that sent the broadcasters into hysterics. 
  • Mark Reynolds, Mark Trumbo, and Manny Ramirez hit three of them.
  • Coors Field was well represented, as seven of the longest dingers of all-time occurred there.  Two of those shots came off the bat on one Giancarlo Stanton.  Former Rockies Seth Smith, Brad Hawpe, and Matt Holliday showed up as well.  Andres Galarraga's insane triple-decker in Marlins Park was among the biggest of all time.

There's an amusing switch that takes place at about the point where the home runs transition to over 500 feet.  Up to that point, the broadcasters seem in control of the situation, usually providing some variation of, "and that one is waaaaaay gone!  An absolute BOMB from [player X]."  But once the homers reach that ludicrous distance, the announcers seem unable to process what they just witnessed.  These men, whose entire job is to speak incessantly and describe the situation, are left speechless.  They seem to doubt their own eyes.  Some of them seem almost offended at what they just saw.  As if the natural order of things had just been upended. It's hilarious.

Baseball provides many aesthetic pleasures.  Green grass under a blue summer sky.  Dreaming about a world championship.  Seeing a fine defensive play.  Watching a pitcher get in the zone and carve up the opposing lineup.  Those events, and many others, are fine and good and enjoyable.  But they don't hold a candle to the raw, visceral joy of an absolutely demolished home run.


MLB dropped a bombshell yesterday by announcing its plans to vastly increase the amount of instant replay to review close calls at the bases.  It should be operational by the start of the 2014 season.  "89 percent" of missed calls in the past will now be reviewable, according to the article.

Essentially, the system will be similar to the NFL where the manager is entitled to challenge a ruling on the field.  He gets one challenge through the first six innings and then two challenges from the sixth inning forward.  On a challenged play, the umpire will contact a central location staffed with umpires and technicians who will have the video ready to go.  The call will either be reversed or sustained and the ball game will continue.

My initial take?  About damn time.  This seems like a perfectly acceptable system which will improve the accuracy of the calls and hopefully make the game go faster by short-circuiting ridiculous manager freakouts on close plays.  Some people are undoubtedly going to find nits to pick regarding the particulars of the system, but let's remember that A) the system will be in its beta phase in 2014, and if problems arise, they can be dealt with; and B) no system would make everyone happy. Let's just be happy that MLB is joining the 21st century.  Who knows, maybe Bud Selig will start using email one of these days!

Eddie Butler is really starting to make a name for himself.  Nathaniel Stoltz wrote about him for RotoGraphs, Fangraphs' fantasy wing.  Included are numerous videos displaying Butler's electric stuff.  The Double-A pitcher is demolishing the minors, and I wouldn't be surprised to see him in a Rockies uniform in 2014 -- and perhaps, early 2014.

Oh, and allegedly, Alex Rodriguez leaked documents to the media that implicated Ryan Braun and teammate Francisco Cervelli in the Biogenesis brouhaha.  What a guy!

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