Blue Jays shortstop Munenori Kawasaki hit his first career home run in the seventh inning of tonight’s game against the Orioles. It was a two-run shot to right field off of Tommy Hunter that tied the game at six apiece. After rounding the bases and getting a round of high-fives in the dugout, his teammates pushed him back out into the field so he could acknowledge a raucous Toronto crowd. Kawasaki meekly emerged and politely bowed in several directions.
You may remember Kawasaki when he gave one of the best post-game interviews in baseball history after helping the Jays walk off victorious on May 26.
Kawasaki had entered the night with baseball’s second-longest career homerless streak among active non-pitchers, having racked up 287 plate appearances without going yard. Phillies outfielder Ben Revere leads the pack, by far, with 1,315.
Here’s the full list of players with a streak of at least 100 PA:
The Jays, by the way, walked off in the ninth on an RBI single by Rajai Davis. The 7-6 victory was the Jays’ ninth in a row, bringing them to .500 as they continue to gain ground in the AL East. As recently as June 10, the Jays were 12 games behind the first-place Red Sox. After the Sox wrap up their victory over the Orioles, the Jays will be a mere seven games behind.
Update (10:45 PM) — Had to add this in here:
Terry Francona just won the American League pennant, the Manager of the Year Award and his Cleveland Indians will likely be among the favorites to win it all in 2017. Between that and his 17-year track record as one of the best managers in the business, he will have a job, somewhere, for as long as he wants one.
He said yesterday, however, that his body will likely limit how long he manages:
“It gets harder and harder physically. It really does. It takes me longer to recharge every year . . . I’ve had a lot of surgeries, a lot of health problems. It just takes a toll on you. I love [the game of baseball]. I really do, but I can’t see myself doing something else. But there is going to come a day when I feel like I’m shortchanging the team or the organization. That’s not fair.
“Even now, during batting practice, I’ll come in and get off my feet a little bit. I think everybody understands. But when there comes a day when it gets in the way, I’m going to have to pull back, and it’s not because I don’t love managing. You have to have a certain amount of energy to do this job right.”
Francona experienced some chest pains and had an elevated heart rate that caused him to leave a game early last season. In 2005 a similar episode caused him to miss three games while managing the Red Sox. He also has a history of embolisms and blood clots, some of which have hospitalized him.
With multiple World Series rings there isn’t much more in baseball that Francona can accomplish, but here’s hoping he sticks around and accomplishes a lot more before he trades in his baseball spikes for golf spikes and calls it a career.
A month or so ago it was reported that David Ortiz was going to meet with the Red Sox and NESN to discuss, maybe, spending some time in the broadcast booth in 2017. He’s retired now, of course. Gotta keep busy.
Today we read that, yes, Big Papi may take the mic. Red Sox president Sam Kennedy said that Ortiz may be in the booth on a limited basis, and that Ortiz has talked about wanting to “dip a toe in that water.”
I’m quickly becoming a fan of ex-players who want to, as Kennedy puts it, “dip a toe” in broadcasting as opposed to those who want to make it a full-time job. Former players who become full-time broadcasters tend to start out OK, but eventually burn all of their good anecdotes from their playing days and just become sort of reactionary “back in my day” dudes. There are some exceptions to that of course — guys like John Smoltz and Dennis Eckersley have kept it fresh and Tim McCarver never rested on his playing laurels as he forged a long career in the booth — but for any of those guys there are just as many Rick Mannings Bill Schroeders.
The part time guys who dip in and dip out — I’m thinking Pedro Martinez, Alex Rodriguez and even Pete Rose, who did a good job this past fall after a rocky 2015 postseason — tend to be more fresh and irreverent. They really don’t give a crap on some level because it’s not their full time job, and that not giving a crap allows them to say whatever they want. It makes for good TV.
If Papi can hold off on the F-bombs, I imagine he’d be a pretty good commentator. If he can’t, well, at least he’ll be a super entertaining one for the one or two games he gets before getting fired.