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Swing Is Violence

by on March 13, 2014

I’ve been the one trying to apply the brakes on Javier Baez, while a lot of Cubs fans are screaming for him to be up as soon as possible. There’s a lot of rough patches to smooth over, he’s got a long way to go at the plate and in the field — including learning two new positions though mostly 2nd base. I feel like June is still the likely arrival date, but June seems far away when there’s still fucking snow on the ground and the Cubs look to be pretty shitty again. You want something to watch, and you want it now. We all do. But there’s a process here.

And then you see his swing last night.

Granted, his major league career won’t be filled with Randy Wolfs floating high fastballs that barely break wind up to the plate. Though there will be some. But that swing. Jesus.

It’s hard for the layman to see a difference in bat speed. Every major leaguer swings the bat far harder than we ever could. You only see it when a player is getting overpowered by fastballs are always getting jammed. You diagnose the bat speed by results, not necessarily by process.

But there is no mystery with Baez. You can see it with any pair of scouting eyes that you have. The power and violence compacted into the fraction of a second from cocked position to follow-through. You can’t miss it, though it’s so quick. There shouldn’t be that much grace and menace in one action. It’s a Kirk Hammett guitar solo from 1987 crushed down into a vicious movement. It’s poetic and frightening all at the same time.

I actually duck on my couch when Baez swings. I almost fear for my safety 2,500 miles away. The sheer show of force is humbling to anyone watching. I can’t imagine what it will look and feel like to pitchers when they make a mistake. I’m sure when we all get our first live look at Baez at Wrigley, the trajectory and pop of the ball off his bat is going to be something like we’ve never seen. Even the sound on my TV was more a thud in tune with a bludgeoning than a crack. Baseballs suffer at his hands.

It’s exciting. It’s tantalizing. You want it now. It’s getting through dinner when all you really want to do is take her home and engage in acrobatics to make your eyes roll in the back of your head. But you have to finish the meal. You have to pay the check. It’ll be worth it when you do. But that’s hard to know now.

Soon. Soon. The violence will rain down on Wrigley. And I’ll duck every time.

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