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When I googled “Yermín Mercedes” earlier this afternoon to see whether there were any updates regarding his 3-0 swing and triumphant moonshot off a similarly constructed, similarly postionless player in Willians Astudillo on Monday night, I was met with a bunch of stories citing a bunch of tweets explaining why nobody should be upset that Mercedes homered on a 3-0 swing off a similarly constructed, similarly positionless player.
When it came to what was causing the rush to Mercedes’ defense, I could only find a single source: the Twins broadcast:
When I realized it was Roy Smalley, I automatically started thinking about his condition instead.
… but you’d be easily irritated if you had to deal with his condition. pic.twitter.com/JLEkWRI5k9— Jim Margalus (@SoxMachine) May 18, 2021
Others on the other side weren’t happy, either. Jomboy said that Astudillo had something to say about it, which Mercedes partially corroborated by acknowledging the existence of words. But the Twins have plenty of other problems, so nothing about Mercedes’ blast surfaced after the game.
The stranger sight/sound came from the White Sox dugout, with Tony La Russa flailing his arms in anger while Mercedes rounded the bases, followed by a sighting of Adam Eaton potentially counseling Mercedes.
Sure enough, of all the people who could’ve taken offense to Mercedes’ swing, La Russa appears to be the most incensed of all.
He had managed to avoid this territory until now, speaking glowingly of everybody and everything during spring training, and handling a couple of Mercedes’ late arrivals in a way that was relatively responsible. Perhaps this reaction is less about disrespecting the game and more about Mercedes not following La Russa’s instructions in multiple areas, rather than just report times. But considering what he’d said about Fernando Tatis Jr.’s similar swing ….
In the past week, La Russa had conversations with friends in the game who agreed with Tatis’s actions and those who didn’t. La Russa believed Tatis was in the wrong. If Tatis took a strike, La Russa reasoned, he still would have had two pitches to hit. Swinging 3-0, in his line of thinking, was attacking at a moment when the opponent was vulnerable, more for personal reasons than needed team gain.
“It’s just not sportsmanlike,” La Russa said. “The way it was described to me was, it’s team against team. That’s what our sport is, with these very talented individuals matching up. What it isn’t, though, is an exhibition of your talents. You swing 3-0 in that game, and you’re up by seven, you’re trying to drive in more runs.”
… you’re free to assume he’s at best out of step with the times, and left to hope there aren’t any corrosive effects.
I suppose I’m most surprised that an inning where a catcher is throwing eephus after eephus is a form of the game that deserves to be respect, when it has all the markings of a spectacle that somebody with Mercedes’ talents ought to be free to contribute to. Indeed, Mercedes still doesn’t see anything wrong with what he did:
Back when La Russa was introduced as the White Sox’s old new manager, he tried to soften his previous stance against on-field exuberance by saying it was fine as long as it was “sincere.” Well, Mercedes seems very sincere about hammering 47-mph floaters as far as humanly possible, does he not? Alas, as a lot of would have guessed, Mercedes’ sincerity doesn’t seem to count.
(Photo by Jordan Johnson/USA TODAY Sports)