Friday, July 3, 2015

Flashback Friday: Blue Jays to Hit Home Runs From Both Sides of the Plate in One Game


It's difficult enough to hit a home run from one side of the plate, let alone two. How's this for ramping up the difficulty level; hitting a home run from both sides of the plate in a single game?

To this date, only 286 players have ever accomplished that rare feat, while only six Toronto Blue Jays players have hit home runs in one game batting both left and right-handed.

For this week's Flashback Friday, we'll take a look at the definitive list of Blue Jays hitters to pick up home runs from both sides of the plate in a single game.

Roberto Alomar5/10/1991
Devon White6/1/1992
Roberto Alomar5/3/1995
Jose Cruz Jr.8/24/1997
Gregg Zaun9/13/2006
Melky Cabrera7/28/2014
Justin Smoak7/1/2015

Some of the names on this list likely won't surprise you; Roberto Alomar was one of the best hitters to wear a Blue Jays uniform, let alone the fact that he could hit with proficiency and power from either side of the plate.

Devon White was another impact bat at the top of the Jays order in the early nineties. White batted in the leadoff spot predominantly throughout his Blue Jays career, and in doing so became the table-setter for several potent Blue Jays lineups.

Jose Cruz Jr. was an extremely versatile hitter for the Blue Jays from 1997 to 2002 and still holds the Blue Jays single season franchise records as a switch-hitter for most home runs, slugging percentage, extra base hits and total bases in a season during his 2001 campaign.

Gregg Zaun secured the everyday starting catcher position for the better part of six seasons with the Blue Jays. And while he wasn't necessarily regarded as a typical home run threat, his ability to go yard both left and right-handed proved to be valuable.

Then there's Melky Cabrera. His 2013 campaign was essentially a write-off, but when healthy, Melky was an incredible top-of-the-order hitter. He settled in quite nicely as the Jays' number two hitter during the 2014 season.

Last July, he teed off twice in one game at Fenway Park (from both sides of the plate, mind you). The second of which completely left the yard and smashed some poor unsuspecting fan's windshield.

Then there's Justin Smoak who is the most recent inductee onto this list after his two home run game on Wednesday against the Boston Red Sox. The pair of home runs he hit that game might be some of the most impressive power from both sides of the plate that I've ever seen.

According to Home Run Tracker, the first home run he hit left-handed traveled 432 feet. The second home run was hit a whopping 452 feet, tied for the third longest home run run hit at the Rogers Centre this season.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Danny Valencia's Bizarre Play at the Plate and How MLB Was Oblivious to Their Own Rules


Are you confused as to why Danny Valencia was called out in a bizarre play at the plate? You're not alone; many are still wondering as to how a play like this was botched in so many ways.

At first glance, it appears as though Danny Valencia does in fact touch the back end of the plate with his hand. While not conclusive, it certainly looks incredibly close.

This was the best screencap I could find of the play in question. Again, it's very tough to tell from this angle if Valencia did in fact touch home plate.

Unfortunately, the overhead angle is actually worse for attempting to determine whether Valencia snuck his hand on top of home plate.

After the initial shock of the play wore off, it appeared there was a secondary issue; Ryan Hanigan may have actually been blocking the plate on the play. If that was the case, Danny Valencia would've been deemed safe, even if he didn't touch home plate.

This is the point where Ryan Hanigan receives the ball. According to the rule, once he receives the ball, he can block the plate to the oncoming runner. But as you can see, Hanigan's leg is already hovering over home plate once he gets the ball.

The case can be made that Hanigan didn't even give Valencia a lane to slide into home plate, and that's why Danny had to weave around him and try to touch the back of the plate in the first place.

Now here's where it gets really weird. It's debatable whether or not Danny Valencia even touched home plate. But without a shadow of a doubt, Ryan Hanigan doesn't even come close to tagging Valencia, and yet he's called out by the home plate umpire.

Valencia may not know exactly why he's been called out, but he looks to the ump and realizes he's out and subsequently gives up on the play. It's only at this point do others clue in and realize Valencia was never tagged. Wade Miley yelled at Hanigan to quickly tag Valencia.

Danny knows he's called out by the ump, so he gives up on the play; it doesn't even allow him a chance to try to sneak back in to touch home plate. By this time, it's too late for Valencia to make a second attempt at swiping home plate.

All that aside, these two elements separately; Valencia's slide and Hanigan's tag were interpretive by home plate umpire Gerry Davis. For him to call Valencia out, he must have felt that Hanigan somehow tagged him.

But then John Gibbons challenged the play and it went to MLB's video review room in New York to get a definitive answer on the play. They would surely make some sense of the situation, right? Wrong.

After a very long review, the call was upheld on the field and Danny Valencia was deemed to be out. For Davis to misinterpret a call on the field is somewhat understandable; but how did several other people miss the call after having the benefit of time and multiple angles to see the replay?

Let's refer to MLB's official replay rules under section V "Reviewable Calls" and subsection F "Base Running".
If the Replay Official determines both that the runner did not touch home plate and that the fielder did not tag the runner (or, in the case of a force play, did not touch home plate), the Replay Official shall rule the runner "safe" at home plate unless the defensive Manager appeals the failure of the runner to touch home plate prior to the Crew Chief making contact with the Replay Official.
That seems pretty cut and try - if Valencia didn't touch home and Hanigan missed the tag, then Valencia should be ruled safe. But the call stood on the field, and Valencia was ruled out.

Even worse, the example that MLB cites in their rules was almost a carbon copy of the exact play that happened on the field. Nonetheless, the call was not overturned.
Example - A runner attempts to score on a play at the plate. The catcher misses the tag on the runner, and the runner fails to touch home plate, but the umpire calls a tag and the runner "out." The offensive manager challenges the call, and the Replay Official determines that the catcher missed the tag. The Replay Official shall disregard the failure of the runner to touch home plate, declare the runner "safe" and score the run.
Just in case there's no confusion, the specific example makes it very clear as to what should happen on a play like that. But it's as if MLB was oblivious to their own rules on this play and abandoned them altogether.

The argument can be made this play was actually botched three times; once on Valencia's initial slide into home, the failure to call Hanigan for blocking the plate, and thirdly for the MLB replay team in New York for failing to identify the aforementioned replay rule.

I can't even fathom how this play was blown so badly from start to finish. No aspect of the call was made correctly, and it calls the integrity into question of not only just the umpires, but MLB's entire instant replay system and reviewable calls.

Yes, it may have only been one play in what was eventually a 12-6 loss by the Blue Jays, but each and every single play in a game has the potential to be a game-changer. This could have been a pivotal one for the Blue Jays, but instead they were denied that opportunity.

Please, just get it right. That's all we ask.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

AUDIO: The Buck Martinez/James Brown "Get Up" Mashup


Ever wondered what Buck Martinez' new home run call would sound like combined with an iconic James Brown song? Now the wait is over!

For some unexplained reason, I decided to overlay Buck's new "get up, get up, gone" home run call as a part of James Brown's iconic track, "Get Up". Turns out that it's actually pretty catchy.

For the sake of brevity, it's only a 17 second loop. Have a listen for yourself after the jump and get up!

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