Anthony DiComo, a beat writer for the New York Mets, tweeted last night
Somebody named Patrick Bailey just hit a go-ahead, three-run homer off David Robertson.— Anthony DiComo (@AnthonyDiComo) July 1, 2023
Giants 5, Mets 4, top eight.
The tweet sent off a flurry of memes, replies, and good-natured aghast.
“Who is Patrick Bailey????”
The question seems ridiculous to us San Francisco Giants fans who have watched the rookie catcher play in a month’s worth of games now. There’s pride in being in the know. “Hip” as the kids are saying. A little alternative, punk-rocker clutching their pearls outside of the CBGB in ‘76 when someone says they hadn’t heard of a band called Talking Heads.
The shock borders on laughable, nearing scorn, because for the initiated a flip has been switched. Why sit in the dark when you can sit in the light? A paradigm shift has occurred. Perspectives have changed with acolytes walking around with Pat-tinted glasses. The Giants have been one of the best teams in baseball since his call-up. Everything is Bailey. The long dark winter that was to define the post-Posey era feels somehow over.
It’s still early in his career and probably best, and healthy, to pump the brakes a little bit. All of us still don’t know who, or what, Bailey is yet. Most of us in March were talking about Joey Bart, Roberto Perez, Blake Sabol probably and some guy named Patrick Bailey if the Giants are strapped. A lot of people can have great months. Gabe Kapler said as much in a spot with Sports Center before Friday’s game, he reiterated his comments after the 5-4 win but with a sly grin, calling the performance “super-star caliber stuff.”
Whatever or whoever he will be in the future, Bailey is somebody now so let’s enjoy it!
PATRICK BAILEY FOR THE LEAD ‼️ pic.twitter.com/llAia0aJIP— SF Giants on NBCS (@NBCSGiants) July 1, 2023
The way Patrick Bailey connected with a 1-1 knuckle curve from Dave Robertson in the 8th inning left an impression. On the SNY broadcast, Gary Cohen, Keith Hernandez, and Ron Darling (a great team) marveled at the swing but also at the composure after it. What impressed them was the way Bailey watched the ball, not in an over-the-top performative manner, but in a way that showed an understanding beyond his age and professional experience. He knew he got all of the baseball, no matter what park or in what conditions, Bailey knew that ball was gone.
The Mets are reeling. Friday’s game was their 13th blown lead loss in the month of June. They went 7 - 19 over the last 30 days, the Royals are the only team to have performed worse. You can forgive them for the glib reaction to Bailey’s 3-run shot in the 8th. Their team keeps finding new organs to punish after hearts have been ripped out, kidneys twisted, gall bladders flicked, stomachs punched—their bodies are numb so any achievement against New York is less about the user and just further proof that the machine is defective.
The home run was perpetrated by another “somebody”, a cheap faceless magician who waved their bat and made a lead disappear, punishing an error by Pete Alonso and a walk. And of course, Robertson hadn’t given up a 3-run homer or grand slam since 2018. Another yank on the ol’ intestine.
But what may have turned some heads and got Bailey noticed was what happened in the 9th.
Down a run with one out, Camilo Doval walked light-hitting Luis Guillorme. Buck Showalter swapped Guillorme for the speedy Starling Marte, signaling to everyone that he was going to steal to put the tying run into scoring position with Brandon Nimmo at the plate.
The Mets are a fast team. They are near the top-10 in stolen base totals but it’s their success rate that defines them. Going into last night’s game, New York base runners had swiped 61 bases and had only been caught 6 times, good for a 91% success rate. They hadn’t been thrown out on the base paths since May. Starling Marte, with 21 steals on the season, had only been nabbed 3 times, a success rate pretty representative of the team as a whole.
With Doval, who has a strikeout reputation and a slow delivery, the steal was coming. Marte took off on an 0-1 fastball and this happened.
For Mets fans, the throw was the needle drop for “Psycho Killer.” Those first thumping bass beats, then flare of the guitar—the Giants had already heard it live. Bailey’s 11th on the season, already tied for 8th in the Majors. His caught-stealing rate a hair below 40%. He’s already bagged Betts and Tatis in the same week—add Marte to the mantel.
Catcher is a humble position. Crouched and masked, the padding makes them look like a punching bag, a wall for pitchers to hurl 100 mph fastballs at then expect the ball to be delivered back to them. Most of what they do is subtle: a slide-step of the foot to block the plate, a flick of the wrist to bait a called strike. Nabbing a runner is about the flashiest thing they can do, and it’s a hard thing to do, and it’s just not often that a clutch throw down to second comes on the tails of a lead flipping home run.
One swing to take the lead. One throw to preserve it.
Recapping Patrick Bailey's night for the @SFGiants:— OptaSTATS (@OptaSTATS) July 1, 2023
- hit a go-ahead HR with his team trailing on the road (8th)
- threw out the potential tying run on a SB attempt (9th)
The last MLB catcher to accomplish both feats in the 8th inning or later was Carlton Fisk on June 15, 1976. pic.twitter.com/rvNEJA4fkj
Up until the 8th, the game was going to be another frustrating loss (SF’s third in a row) in Alex Cobb’s return from the IL due to way to much swing-and-miss against a hittable starter in Carlos Carrasco, costly fielding miscues that led to 2 Mets runs, and a fan interference call that ended with the umpires awarding New York a run and Blake Sabol winning the best-person-ever-award.
In one meme, the game was this:
Then it became this:
It felt like a formality that Doval had to throw the final pitch: Nimmo out swinging on a foul tip no less, caught by somebody named Bailey.
Finally, I gotta say... this Patrick Bailey fella is pretty damn good.— Anthony DiComo (@AnthonyDiComo) July 1, 2023