Jarrett Parker, I finished my Zito/Hudson lede three hours ago, and you're being rude. You sit right there and wait. Today is Zito/Hudson day. You sit there and wait.
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You might be disappointed, possibly a little ashamed of yourself for getting excited in the first place. After the nostalgic clips were over, after the standing ovations ended and the buzz faded away, it turns out that the A's were sending their bad pitcher to match up with the Giants' bad pitcher. A billion runs scored. It's probably still the bottom of the second inning right now, and whatever post-game experience you think you're having is really an illusion. Let's call it Mulder's Ladder. Ha ha ha, like Jarrett Parker really hit three home runs, you fool.
I would have preferred dueling shutouts, too. It would have been a tremendous chapter in my forthcoming book, Baseball Is So High, Everybody. It would have fit perfectly. Tim Hudson and Barry Zito, scoreless until the ninth inning, both with sweat-soaked caps and that look in their eyes, redefining sportsmanship and grace, pitching masterpieces against all odds. Goodness, that would have been so very baseball.
Instead, they were both lousy. Because that is also very baseball.
Don't be disappointed, though. The matchup was a big deal for a reason, and nothing about the outcome of the game changed that. Think about your favorite pitchers over the last 10, 20, or 30 years. You spent hours and hours with them, looked forward to their starts, screamed yourself hoarse at their accomplishments. Jason Schmidt was just here a second ago, but then you went to the bathroom, and now he's gone. Shawn Estes was cool for a bit, and then you came back from vacation, and he was on the television with pre-game analysis.
They didn't get earnest, warm ovations when they walked off forever. No one does. Usually pitchers shuffle off and crawl under a rock, or they pitch for the Rockies or something. The churning machinery of baseball keeps spitting new players out, but it needs to redistribute the soylent green of the old players first, and you never get to celebrate the careers first.
Here was a celebration. Take some time out of your day, in the meaningless moments of an ultimately meaningless season, and remember the way things used to be. The A's fans got to remember what it was like to have three golden pitchers, a feeling of we've-got-this in 60 percent of their games. More when they had some auxiliary characters in the middle of excellent seasons. The Giants fans got to remember what it was like to have a below-average pitcher throw a must-win game on the road against a ridiculously talented lineup and win, dammit.
And that's before he played the Justin Verlander boss level with one life and won.
So not only was it a rare moment where you could thank the pitcher who was about to disappear forever, but it was the rarest of rare moments in which everyone could cheer. Everyone could high-five each other. Everyone was right. You like Barry Zito? I do, too! What do you think about Tim Hudson? I know, right? I'm totally the same way. Ha ha, yaaaay.
Then they sucked, and that took some of the joy out of it. But we're talking trace amounts of joy. The bulk of it was left over for us to share amongst ourselves.
Thanks, Tim Hudson. Thanks, Barry Zito. We had some times, didn't we? Then they tipped their caps, soaked up the cheers, and went away forever. As everyone must.
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Okay, Jarrett, calm down, buddy. Easy, easy there, come on, we're here, cut it out, we're paying attention.
So Jarrett Parker hit three home runs on Saturday. I jotted down some thoughts to help me out with the recap.
- Holy crap
- What the crap
- More like Jarrett Out-of-the-Parker
- An anagram of his name is Re: Tarp Art, Jerk
- oh me oh my
The stats catch up with you pretty quickly. The last time a rookie hit four homers in three games? Orlando Cepeda in 1958. Oh, but this rookie hit five homers in three games.
The last Giants hitter with at least three homers and seven RBI in a game? Willie Mays, when he hit four home runs.
Parker just had one o' them historically great games, then. There have now been 536 three-homer games, which doesn't impress you that much ... except there have been over 100,000 major league games in history, each with 18 players taking their rips. By my calculations, that's 1.8 million chances at a three-homer game. Here's one. It upstaged a sentimental hug-it-out.
Hold on when it comes to those dreams of Parker dominance in 2016, though. Hoolllllllllld on. I'll sober you right up. If you took his strikeouts from Triple-A this year and brought them to the majors -- no adjustment at all -- it would be the third-highest strikeout total in Giants history. And the two above him were Bobby Bonds, who had a single-season strikeout record that stood for decades. Players strike out more now, and they're happier to do it, so there are reasons why 150 strikeouts in 2015 doesn't mean what it used to. But they still mean something.
And while I don't give a rip about strikeouts in the majors -- in your face, anti-Beltites -- they tend to mean something in the minors. They illuminate a flaw that will become a problem if it isn't fixed.
Ryan Howard won an MVP after similar strikeout numbers in the minors, so don't take this like I'm trying to point out a fatal flaw. It's just ... don't take this game as irrefutable evidence that Parker is going to be the uranium that powers the nuclear even year. The Giants have given us reason to trust them, proffering Paniks and Duffys when needed, and I don't doubt that they could take a 150-strikeout kid and make him a 120-strikeout kid, while maintaining those natural tools and letting him thrive.
Has there been a home run of his that hasn't impressed you? Don't forget he was robbed of one by A.J. Pollock, too. He looks like a hitter with the kind of power that can take on an Oakland Coliseum, that can handle the vast expanses of Mays Field. His bomb on Friday night was gobsmacking. His three today were all impressive in their own ways. It's not like he's looping them down Pesky's Pole or lofting them over the Green Monster. They're bombs.
Oh, and he can run.
He can field, too.
Got an arm, they say.
Still, take it easy on the expectations for now. But if he's 80 percent the player he looks like right now, the Giants might have their first legitimate starting outfielder since Marvin Benard. Which ... come on, Jarrett, help us out, here ...
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Nine grand slams on the season. That's a franchise record. The NL record is 12, and the major league record is 14.
Which means there's work to do.