So, this may be weird for a minute. But bear with me.
I started dating my now ex-wife when we were 17. Back when we were 17 I took a picture of her out at a park or wherever and it was a good picture. She looked lovely in it and, for a few years, I had the picture in a frame on my dresser. Took it with me to college and stuff and kept it on my desk. If someone asked about my girlfriend I’d show them the picture because she looked lovely and I wanted to brag a little. I think everyone has done that with a picture of a significant other at some point.
As I got older and we got married and things, other pictures replaced that one and it was forgotten for a time. Then when I was, I dunno, 35, I found it in a box and looked at it. Of course she still looked lovely in it, but dude, she was 17 in it and I was 35 and there is something weird and wrong about a 35-year-old dude getting all moon-eyed and swoony at a picture of a 17-year-old, even if you took it when you were 17 and you were still with her now. Just an odd ethical area in some weird ways, right?
I never really reconciled how to feel about that and, thankfully, we’re now divorced, I don’t have that picture anymore and I will never again have to ask myself that question because the women I meet from here on out and get moon-eyed and swoony over will at least be in their 30s.
What made me think of all of that was going over to SB Nation this morning and seeing video of a 19-year-old Greg Maddux pitching in a minor league game. Obviously watching your man-crush when he was a teenager doesn’t raise quite the same ethical questions as looking at your teenaged girlfriend, but I feel like it’s almost in the same area code. It certainly stirs feelings inside of me that I don’t know quite what to do with because, well, I’m really damn weird when it comes to Greg Maddux.
Anyway, watch it yourself. And keep an eye out for Rafael Palmeiro and Dante Bichette too. And no, you may not see pictures of my ex-wife when she was 17. That’s way worse for you than it is for me:
There’s certainly never a bad time to hit a home run, but when you get the opportunity to crush a triple-deck, 493-foot shot off of Tyler Duffey, you should take it. With the Mariners down 2-0 to the Twins in the fourth inning, Cruz hammered a fastball to deep left field for his 39th long ball of the season — and the second-longest home run hit in 2016, to boot.
It doesn’t hurt that the Mariners are 1.5 games back of a playoff spot, although they’ll have to oust the Blue Jays, Orioles, or Tigers to get a wild card. They’ve gone 3-3 in the last week, dropping two consecutive series to the Astros and Blue Jays and taking their series opener against Minnesota 10-1 on Friday night.
Cruz, for his part, entered Saturday’s game with a .299/.337/.610 batting line and six home runs in September. According to ESPN.com’s Home Run Tracker, Cruz sits behind Edwin Encarnacion and Mike Napoli with 13 “no-doubt” home runs in 2016, third-most among major league sluggers. It’s safe to say he can add Saturday’s moonshot to that list.
Marlins’ outfielder and undisputed home run king Giancarlo Stanton remains untouched at the top of the Statcast leaderboard with a 504-ft. home run, and it’s difficult to envision any slugger reaching beyond that before the end of the season. Even so, Cruz won’t need to clear 500 feet to extend an impressive hitting record. One more home run will put the 36-year-old at 40 on the year, making 2016 his third consecutive season with at least 40 homers, and his second such season doing so in Seattle.
It’s been a strange season for Red Sox’ third baseman Pablo Sandoval, who lost his starting role in spring training, went 0-for-6 in three regular season appearances, and underwent season-ending surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder in May. That was the last the Red Sox were supposed to hear about Sandoval until spring 2017, when he was expected to rejoin the team after a lengthy rehab stint in Florida.
On Saturday, manager John Farrell was telling a different story. Per MLB.com’s Sam Blum, Farrell hinted that Sandoval could return to the team as soon as October, albeit in a very limited capacity.
At the time of the surgery, it was all looking at the start of next Spring Training,” Farrell said. “We’re not getting too far ahead of ourselves here, but at the same time, we compliment him for the work he’s put in, the way he’s responded to the rehab, the way he’s worked himself into better condition. We’re staying open-minded.
If the 30-year-old does return in 2016, don’t expect him to look like the three-home run hitter of the 2012 World Series. Should the Red Sox lose another player to injury, Sandoval might be called on as a backup option, but he’s unlikely to see substantial playing time under any other circumstances. Despite making two appearances at DH in the instructional league, Sandoval has not started at third base since undergoing surgery, though Farrell noted that a return to third base would be the next logical step in his recovery process.
Sandoval has yet to hit his stride within the Red Sox’ organization after hitting career-worst numbers in 2015. According to FanGraphs, his Offensive Runs Above Average (Off) plummeted to -20.2, contributing approximately two wins fewer than the average offensive player in 2015. (The Diamondbacks’ Chris Owings held the lowest Off mark in 2015, with -26.3 runs below average.) Sandoval has not appeared in a postseason race since the Giants’ championship run in 2014.
Heading into Saturday evening, the Red Sox could clinch their spot in the postseason with a win over the Rays and an Orioles’ loss.