Sunday, October 5, 2008

Stupid Man Tricks

Baseball's postseason is here, of course, and in honor of's reference to The Common Man on Friday (hello, uptick in traffic!), today The Common Man presents a very special Stupid Man Tricks baseball edition.

The Common Man has watched a lot of baseball over the past 25 years, has read more than he probably should, and retains enough that it hampers his ability to remember things in other parts of his life. When you know that Sam Crawford hit 309 triples, that Kirby Puckett won the 1989 batting title with a .339 average (though he hit .356 the year before, losing to Wade Boggs), and that Carl Yastrezemski was the only player in the American League to bat over .300 in 1968, it leaves little room for "where did The Common Man leave his car keys?" and "now The Common Man is at the grocery store. What was he supposed to get again?". The Common Man hopes to pass this problem along to The Boy at some point, though with The Common Man's luck, The Boy will probably take to soccer, or worse, competitive diving.

Anyway, by far the most amazing athlete that The Common Man has seen play the game (though nowhere near one of the better players) was Bo Jackson. When Bo hit his homerun off of Rick Reuschel to lead off the '89 All Star Game, The Common Man had never seen a ball hit that hard go that far. He was truly a special talent, capable of doing wonderous things on a baseball field (though not necessarily doing them very often). The only time The Common Man has ever seen anything remotely comparable, in terms of its ability to wow The Common Man, was the time in 2001 when he saw David Ortiz (then with the Twins) hit a homerun agains the Royals with a broken wrist (and Terry Ryan let him get away for NOTHING!).

Anyway, Bo's signature play, perhaps because he did it more than anything else, was the strikeout. No one struck out as wonderfully as Bo Jackson. Not Reggie. Not Bobby Bonds. Not Rob Deer. Nobody. The violence with which Bo swung at every pitch (and he did swing at damn near all of them) was remarkable. And after being particularly frustrated, would snap his bat over his knee, like some kind of twig. Indeed, never has a man dressed in powder blue seemed so powerful and intimidating.

Bo has had many imitators, and You Tube is full of idiots pretending to be big leaguers by ruining a perfectly good bat (far easier today because of the extreme tapered handles). But back when Bo first did it, it was news. Not just because it was difficult, but because it seemed so viciously destructive. Bat make Bo mad, Bo break bat. He did it with such malice. And with such ease.

In the following video, two gentlemen, writing a story about maple bats and their supposed tendency to break more violently and dangerously than their ash counterparts, have much more difficulty in breaking their bat. They could use a Bo. And a clue.

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