The long ball in a long season

As I watched Franmil Reyes hit two monster shots against the Twins on April 27, shortly after the Tribe had been brutalized in 3 of 4 against the Yankees, it got me thinking about the home run and the psychological impact the “long bombs” have on the game – including its participants.

From a fan’s perspective – let’s use me as an example – I was pretty down after that Yankee series. Not only because we lost (although that was certainly a contributor), but the way we lost. It felt to me as if for about 90% of that series, we didn’t deserve to even be on the same field as New York, and for me, that’s a bitter pill to swallow.

But for some deep, perhaps dark, inexplicable reason, Franmil’s two long homers made me feel better – much better. And during my psychological post-mortem, I was left longing for the answer to one stupid, nagging question: “Why?”  

I mean, a majestic homer – as nice as it may look – still only counts as one run. This isn’t the NBA, where points are impacted by the distance the ball travels before it hits net. In baseball, whether the ball travels 550 feet or 320 feet, it still counts for only one run.

So, it has to be the psychological impact right? Does anyone remember when Manny Ramirez went deep on ex-Indian Dennis Eckersley at Jacobs Field a couple of decades or so ago? As I recall, it dented the Budweiser sign on the scoreboard. The replay showed Eckersley following the flight of the ball and then mouthing the word, “Wow!” Perhaps it was at that moment Eckersley decided he didn’t have as much in the tank as he’d thought, and perhaps it was time to decide what he was going to do after his career was through.

I decided to take a look at the Indians all-time single-season team record-holders for home runs, and was surprised by the fact that I’ve seen most of these guys play – in person. Let’s take a look:

  1.  Jim Thome, 2002: 52 dingers
  2. Albert Belle, 1995: 50 homers
  3. Jim Thome, 2001: 49 moon shots
  4. Albert Belle, 1996: 48 launches
  5. Manny Ramirez, 1998: 45 four-baggers
  6. Manny Ramirez, 1999: 44 touch-em-alls
  7. Al Rosen, 1953: 43 taters (Rosen’s the first guy on the list I never saw play)
  8. Rocky Colavito, 1959: 42
  9. Travis Hafner, 2006: 42
  10. Hal Trosky, 1936: 42 (And before you ask … NO! I didn’t see Trosky play!)
  11. Rocky Colavito, 1958: 41
  12. Jim Thome, 1997: 40

We’ll cut it off at guys who hit 40 or more, or this column would become a cure for insomnia (if it hasn’t already).

So, what is it about the home run that makes it so special, even in an era where it seems every team has at least a few guys who can change the complexion of a game with one swing of the bat?

I think that question is also the answer to the question for us.       

Jeff Bing

Lifelong Westlake resident who dabbles in writing whenever the real world permits. My forte is humor and horror...What a combo!

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Volume 13, Issue 9, Posted 10:02 AM, 05.04.2021