Around the League: Jason Heyward’s Nickname
Before we go any further, it seems only fair to tell you that I can see the fear in your eyes. That look of sheer horror, pupils dilated to the size of gumballs, with precipitating tears of terror sprinkling out of your eye-lids. But I command you: Do not be afraid. This may be the Summer of Heyward, but I won’t be that guy who crams it down your throat every other column.
However, every time the planets align, prophesy calls for a Jason Heyward feature. It’s what the universe wants. You wouldn’t want me to stand in the universe’s way, would you? WOULD YOU? And I foresee the planets aligning frequently.
It’s not exactly an Atlanta Braves secret that Heyward’s batting average has taken a scuba-like plunge of late, as the 20-year-old has been racking up Ks like billiard balls. Other than the fact he’s a rookie, why the dip in production?
Bobby Cox was recently quoted as believing too much plate discipline has been the problem for his young star. Read that again. Too MUCH discipline. Sounds zany right? Well, don’t forget, as great as Cox is, he’s an old-schooler from another era. An era which praised aggression, before we came to realize a walk was as good as a base hit. Heyward is often looked at as the prototype hitter of the next generation largely BECAUSE of his patience. Cox believes his young slugger is getting behind in the count too much (fair). But swinging at the first pitch or two isn’t necessarily going to up his average or OBP, in fact, it would probably hurt it. Pitchers tend to notice patterns.
No, too much discipline isn’t the problem. Swinging at breaking balls (particularly sliders) in the dirt is what’s ailing the phenom. If anything, the right fielder needs to get back to his roots, with MORE patience.
Since we’re already on the Heyward subject, this guy needs a nickname in the worst way. And not some stupid marketing gimmick, Willy Mays rip-off; like the Jay-Hey-Kid. Pathetic people. We can do so much better.
Heyward needs something that represents his aura. The way he sleekly strides to the plate and digs in, almost as if he were tip-toeing down the hall, in the middle of the night and doesn’t want his parents to know. A name that encompasses his inner cool. Decked out in shades and armbands, he might as well be digging in the box in a jet black 1967 Shelby GT 350. Power, speed, agility, performance, EXPLOSION; all of those things should be taken into account.
Come to think of it, let’s hone in on the jet part. That feels right. But it can’t just be “Jet” or “The Jet,” we have had too many of those. Plus, every time I hear “The Jet” I can’t help but think of The Sandlot. It can’t be “Fighter Jet,” which sounds to pesky. Fighter jets are the scrappy guys. They sound too loud anyway. For Heyward we need something silent. Something you don’t see coming. Something that represents how every part of him is exudes an utter calm, until he UNLEASES THAT VIOLENT SWING. Sweet God, that swing!
Holy moly, I’VE GOT IT.
Jason Heyward is a Stealth Bomber. Cool, collected, SLEEK, sporty, fast and can reek havoc upon upon anything in it’s path, as it zips through the skies virtually undetected. We’ll even shorten it to just Stealth.
So Jason, I hereby appoint you, Stealth. Glad we have that settled.
-Would you look at the Tampa Bay Rays jumping out to a franchise best record through 23 games! Somehow, by the grace of God, Tampa is 17-6. Unbelievable, in a way at least. I mean, those of us (*cough, ME*) who figured they would be really good, could have foreseen a great start by checking out the schedule – what with three of their first seven series against Baltimore (twice) and Toronto – but then again, they have also played the Yankees, Red Sox, White Sox and A’s (currently first in the West), so finding themselves eleven games above .500 at the end of April is still pretty impressive.
In the midst of a four-game series with Kansas City (the Rays won the first contest 11-1) and two weeks worth of match-ups with weaker AL West opponents; this boom may not end anytime soon..
While we’re talking about Tampa, I should mention that Britton Dennis and I will be making our first trek up to Safeco Field this season, to watching them take on the Rays. Good, great, GRAND. But what makes this particular trip memorable, is two-fold:
A.) He bought the tickets because I defeated him in a bet. In our keeper league this year, the least-liked guy in our league (don’t worry, it’s not jacked if he already knows it, which he does) traded up for the top pick. Britton and I (co-managing is the only way to go, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise) meanwhile dealt for the second pick. The league consensus was this guy was shooting for Strasburg, which I supported whole-heartedly. This delighted us, as we would be left with no one standing between us and Jason Heyward. Britton on the other hand was wetting his pants over the thought of Al Davis (the guy’s alias) taking Heyward first. Thus the bet was born. I even gave Britton odds. If I won, he bought us both M’s tickets. If he won, I purchased tickets, drove to Seattle and paid for all of our ballpark snacks as well.
Good thing I won.
Better thing, we got Stealth in a keeper league. FANTASTIC.
B.) Lunch with Ben Zobrist.
You read that correctly. Not only did I score tics from Wildcat (Britton), but his dad had to bow-out of an all-expense-paid luncheon with Zobrist. Brittonia Maximus, was generous enough to invite me in his dad’s stead.
And yes, you can expect to gain a column out of my new-found fortune.
-The Oakland A’s are currently sitting atop the AL West ant-hill, proving what we largely already knew; the division is wide open. Could 85 wins take it down this year? Absolutely. Do I believe Oakland will be the team that ends up on top? No, not really. I still think that in the end, Seattle will pitch well enough to win the crown.
It doesn’t help matters that ace and left-handed conqueror of the next generation, Brett Anderson, has been placed on the DL due to a strained left flexor tendon, and will likely miss the next four to six weeks.
–Washington Nationals closer-to-be, Drew Storen, was called-up to Triple-A Syracuse Thursday. At this point in time, it’s tough to tell how long the Nats intend to keep their lesser known 2009 first round draft pick (tenth overall), in Syracuse. The company line this spring, was that Storen would be ready to pitch in Washington right away. Likely as their closer.
In Double-A Harrisburg, Storen saved four games, while allowing only one run in 9.1 innings. One would think that if Storen continues to mow down hitters in Syracuse late in games, it will only be a matter of time before Washington will want to move him up again, so he can try the ninth at the big league level. After all, current closer, Matt Capps, shouldn’t be much of a road-block for anyone.
The only problem? Capps has managed to be brilliant through 13.1 innings. He has only allowed one earned run, while striking out 15. I still think that the second Storen is ready, the Nats will want him in Washington. That said, when he gets there, unless Capps self-destructs (which is fairly likely, actually), Storen will probably end up with more chances for holds than saves.
Oh, and Stephen Strasburg has also been promoted to Syracuse. He has healed all the lepers (one earned run in 17.1 innings, 23 Ks) around the greater Harrisburg area.
-You may be pondering the lack of Los Angeles Dodgers posts lately. Well, what is there to talk about? The boys in blue have simply been atrocious. Completely frustrating to watch or talk about. They are 9-14, good for dead-last in the West. Wonderful.
It was believed that the offense wouldn’t miss a beat without Manny Ramirez, who went on the DL about a week ago, with a strained calf. Manny was hitting .417 at the time. I’m pretty sure they have missed him.
Still, Andre Ethier (hitting .329 with six homers) and Matt Kemp (.278 with seven homers) are undoubtedly the pistons which drive the Dodger offense. The torch has been passed. This is Either and Kemp’s team now. But the offense has been stagnant without Manny.
The pitching has been terrible. Only Clayton Kershaw, Hiroki Kuroda, Jonathon Broxton and Carlos Monasterios have been effective. Everyone else can go jump in a lake for all I care.
-The Chicago White Sox are THRILLED with Andruw Jones. You didn’t miss it, there wasn’t a punchline in there. You are not hallucinating, although it may feel like it. The Human Hostess Factory now has seven dingers in 17 games. Also known as: more than double his total (three) in 75 games with the Dodgers in 2008.
Go chase after an ice cream truck Andruw.