Home, Not Free

Major League Baseball has been around for well over a century, but it still finds new ways to entertain us.

This week, for example, we have two events, both involving two-run home runs, that cover the range from sublime to ridiculous–though opinions about which is which may legitimately vary.

First up, we’ve got Bartolo Colon.

Colon takes a lot of ridicule for his physique, but let’s not forget that he’s still playing professional baseball at age 42. That puts him in rare company. And on Saturday, he did something nobody has ever done before. He hit his first major league home run.

“But wait,” I hear somebody say, “haven’t baseball players been hitting home runs since forever?”

Well, yeah. But nobody has ever hit his first home run when he was 42.

Check it out.

Not bad for a guy who looks more like Jackie Gleason than Jackie Robinson.

Go Colon!

Then we’ve got J.T. Realmuto and Marcell Ozuna, who teamed up to turn a two-run home run into a one-run single.

“How?” you might ask.

Like this.

For those of you who lack the patience to watch the video, the short version is that Realmuto was too busy watching his home run leave the park* to pay attention to his teammate. Ozuna was on first when Realmuto bounced a ball off the kinetic sculpture behind the fence in left-center. Ozuna thought the ball had been caught–an easy mistake to make under the circumstances–so he went back to first. Realmuto touched first, took about two more steps, realized his mistake, and started doing his best impression of a man waiting for a bus.

* Or maybe he was distracted by sculpture doing its thing.

The rule is clear: if one runner passes another, he’s out. Since Realmuto made it to first before passing Ozuna, he was credited with a single. Once Ozuna realized the ball hadn’t been caught, he finished his trip around the bases and was credited with a run scored.

This does happen occasionally on a home run–apparently the Orioles turned the trick in 2006–but I’m quite sure that none of the 16,769 fans watching the game had seen it before.

Credit the Brewers for their alertness. They challenged the call before Ozuna even reached home. Clear proof that one can learn from experience. The exact same thing happened April 14: Randal Grichuk passed Brandon Moss on the basepath after hitting a home run. The Brewers missed it completely, and went on to lose the game 7-0, dropping their record to 4-5.

Even when they’re on the ball, though, it doesn’t help the Brewers much. The Marlins picked up three more runs and won the game 4-1.

For what it’s worth, the Brewers have thirty-nine home runs, tied for ninth in the majors. Maybe they should try instructing their home run hitters to pass the men on base. So far this season that seems to be a ticket to a victory; something the Brewers need far more than home runs.