Brendan Rodgers’s major league debut on Friday was one of the most anticipated in team history. They drafted him third overall in 2015, and he’s been the team’s top prospect ever since. Rockies fans watched in anticipation for firsts. When would the 19,507th person to make his major league debut log his first hit? His first RBI? His first home run? What would it look and feel like to watch those moments?
While we’re still waiting for the first home run, Rodgers logged his first RBI on Friday and his first hit on Saturday. And because the poetics of baseball can be as sardonic as they can be epic, those moments were as underwhelming as possible.
Let’s start with the first first: the RBI. There may be no more of a “damning with faint praise” term in baseball’s nomenclature than “fielder’s choice.” It basically says the fielder could have gotten you out but didn’t feel like it. There were better options out there to record an out. That’s how Rodgers logged his first run batted in:
The ball was not well struck. First baseman Rhys Hoskins did make the smart play to throw home — that’s why he was playing in, after all — but Raimel Tapia was able to beat out the throw. It’s also worth taking a moment to recognize how close the play was at home. Rodgers logged his first RBI by a matter of millimeters. In a way, it’s the perfect play for a first RBI because it’s a good example of the uselessness of the RBI is as a reflection of a batter’s hitting ability. If Raimel Tapia was a step slower, this would have just been a fielder’s choice without an RBI. It really captured the stat.
Rodgers’s first hit was just as much of a let down, and it came with its own dreaded baseball phrases: “Let’s see if they rule that a hit.” Yes, the first major league hit of Brendan Rodgers’s career had to wait for an official ruling. It was delayed gratification, even if for a few seconds.
Like his first RBI, it’s pretty easy to imagine this going the other way. If Maikel Franco fielded it cleanly and got off a strong throw, he may have gotten Rodgers at first base, and we may still be waiting for that first hit.
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There may be something in the back of your mind right now: Who cares? The answer is we do because we put a lot of meaning into firsts. That’s why there is easily findable video of these extremely unremarkable balls in play that happen without notice or comment all the time.
Maybe we shouldn’t dwell on the nature of the firsts. Maybe we shouldn’t dwell on firsts at all. And maybe these firsts, perfectly imperfect, capture more about the everyday essence of baseball than the fantastical firsts we may have conjured.
Now let’s see if Rodgers can pull off the trifecta and log his first home run due to something like an uncalled fan interference or an assist from an eager outfielder.