ATLANTA, GA: Giancarlo Stanton #27 of the Miami Marlins hits a seventh inning home run against the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
Monday night, Giancarlo Stanton stood in against Jamie Moyer, and for one moment baseball was exactly how one would think it should be.
Jamie Moyer is amazing. Given that you're all baseball fans, I don't need to tell you that, but maybe I do need to tell you that. Maybe this is one of those things that you just can't hear or be reminded of often enough. It's a shame the things we come to take for granted; we take Jamie Moyer for granted, and it sure seems like we shouldn't.
Jamie Moyer is amazing for two reasons. One, he's 49 years old. Let me clarify, because it isn't amazing for a man to just be 49 years old. There are 49-year-olds everywhere! Jamie Moyer is 49 years old, and he's pitching for the Colorado Rockies in the major leagues. He's pitching decently well, considering. He's coming off Tommy John surgery. Players don't get to Moyer's age and remain effective. Most players don't know how effective they'd be at 49, because they've long since called it quits.
The other reason Jamie Moyer is amazing is because his repertoire is so soft. Nolan Ryan could probably throw harder than Jamie Moyer now, without practice, and Nolan Ryan's 65. Moyer's average fastball this season has clocked in in the high-70s. A decade ago, he was in the low-80s. Jamie Moyer is a changeup specialist, because he probably has to be a changeup specialist, or a knuckleball specialist. Even with the change, Moyer's lasted this long with a repertoire people might blast in single-A.
People have long made fun of Jamie Moyer's velocity. It's been featured in commercials. Part of what makes Jamie Moyer amazing is that he's so old, and part of what makes Jamie Moyer amazing is that, intuitively, he should get slaughtered. He should just get hit all around the ballpark. Line drives, doubles, dingers. Nothing but dingers. Not even any doubles. I remember reading doom and gloom about Moyer a dozen years ago, predicting that the end would come swiftly and furiously.
Giancarlo Stanton is amazing, but less famously amazing. One reason he's less famous than Moyer is because he's been hidden in Miami. People don't really notice what goes on in baseball in Miami. Another reason he's less famous than Moyer is because he's less than half as old as Moyer. Stanton's in his third season, and come November 8, he'll turn 23. Ten days later, Moyer'll turn the big 5-0.
What makes Stanton amazing is his raw power. There have been fewer successful players with Moyer's skillset than there have been successful players with Stanton's skillset, but we're not comparing degrees of amazing. This isn't a competition, and Stanton features uncommon strength. Some players hit home runs that put numbers on the scoreboard, and then half a minute later, the game resumes. Stanton hits home runs that put numbers on the scoreboard, and that make you think they should be put in a museum. You still think about Giancarlo Stanton home runs long after they've descended.
This is all build-up. Monday night, the Colorado Rockies played the Miami Marlins in Marlins Park. Moyer took the hill for the Rockies, and Stanton started for the Marlins in right field. The two were to meet, and if baseball's taught us anything, it's to expect the unexpected. Moyer faced Stanton in the bottom of the first inning, and Stanton flew out harmlessly on the second pitch. Moyer faced Stanton again in the bottom of the third inning, and Stanton drew a walk. Nothing remarkable, although it was an eight-pitch walk, so it was almost remarkable.
Moyer faced Stanton again in the bottom of the fourth. The first two meetings showed us that, as much as we might think there should be fireworks, there probably wouldn't be fireworks. In this meeting, there were fireworks.
The bases were loaded, and there were two out. Moyer fell behind, and got even. He fell behind, and got even again. The count eventually ran full, and the Marlins Park crowd took to its feet. Did you know that happens at Marlins home games? It does, now. Moyer was struggling, and this is what he looked like:
Sweaty. Tired. Old. Stanton was confident, and this is what he looked like:
Pause, step back. You have a guy looking like Jamie Moyer and throwing like Jamie Moyer facing a guy like Giancarlo Stanton. You have a guy throwing honest slop facing a guy who doesn't hit baseballs, but who murders them. You want to believe there's only one possible outcome. The game has proven that there are countless possible outcomes, the majority of which feature Stanton making an out, but you want to believe there's only one possible outcome. Stanton delivered that one possible outcome.
That's not all. Giancarlo Stanton didn't just blast a grand slam.
Stanton's slam broke the auxilary scoreboard in left at #Marlins Park— Joe Frisaro (@JoeFrisaro) May 22, 2012
What makes Jamie Moyer amazing is that every time he takes the mound, you can't help but expect him to get killed. Monday night, he faced a killer of baseballs with the count full and the bases loaded. Moyer threw a pitch over the plate, and seconds later, shit broke. Giancarlo Stanton stood in against Jamie Moyer, and he hit a baseball literally hard enough to break something.
It's not the only possible outcome, but it is the perfect outcome. At no other point all of Monday did baseball make more sense than it did when Giancarlo Stanton mashed a scoreboard-breaking grand slam off Jamie Moyer. Most of the time, baseball doesn't make sense. Most of the time, Jamie Moyer doesn't allow home runs to every batter he faces. But there are moments, moments like this one every so often, that let you think you've got it figured out. You don't, but baseball's willing to throw you a bone.