Looking back at 10 of July's most memorable MLB moments
Yes, it's August and we've passed the insanity of the non-waiver Trade Deadline. Which means that all we have to look forward to are epic pennant races, the will-they-or-won't-they drama of the waiver Trade Deadline and the all-out chaos of the playoffs.
Before we look towards to that neon-bright future, let's look back at the 10 best moments from the season's fourth month.
10. Josh Harrison's super powers
For the last three years, Josh Harrison has been the Jason Bourne of the Pirates roster, playing every position except catcher, first base and center field while also working in special ops in his spare time.
This season, Harrison has become even more valuable. By the end of July, he had tripled his previous career-high in home runs with nine and nearly doubled his career high in steals with 13, finding himself on the All-Star roster along the way.
Not only was Josh Harrison doing things like making the Rockies infielders look like they were in a Three Stooges sketch:
Harrison saved his very best for the end of the month. Showing off that newfound power, Harrison knocked a home run in four straight games, Just who does he think he is? Ken Griffey Jr.? Don Mattingly? The Kid Who Only Hit Homers?
Of course, he doesn't seem too interested in slowing down. Harrison has already knocked out another in August.
9. Jason Lane takes the mound
In 2005, Jason Lane hit 26 home runs and started in right field for the NL Champion Astros. Two years later, he was out of the Major Leagues, seemingly doomed to bounce around the Minors and independent leagues. In 2012, he gave up the bat and took to the mound. It was a move seemingly made in desperation and no one would have faulted him if his career ended there.
In June, Lane was called up by the Padres, making two scoreless appearances before being sent back down to Triple-A. That alone was reason to celebrate.
But on July 28th, Lane was called up to take the start for Ian Kennedy and he brought joy to the hearts of the young and old alike. The left-hander, whose fastball sits in the mid-80s, shut out the Braves for six innings before giving up a home run to former janitor Evan Gattis.
Along the way, Lane also picked up his first hit since September 11, 2007. Even if he did a look a little more like an out-of-practice pitcher than a former dinger-crushing outfielder.
8. Munenori Kawasaki's so damn lovable
Tell your wives, husbands, boyfriends, girlfriends, on-again off-again lovers, close acquaintances and bosses and share the news: You're in love with Munenori Kawasaki. Hopefully they'll understand.
They shouldn't be surprised. After all, this love affair was long gestating. From his walk-off hit and post-game interview to his dancing and twerking abilities, the infielder has been courting us for years.
Following the hug, Muni started calling himself Little Papi. Though that means that Muni will really need to start working on those batflips.
And because Muni loves us too, he wants us to stay healthy. How do you do that? Eat plenty of bananas because a monkey never cramps.
7. Giancarlo Stanton crushes home runs so far even other baseball players can't believe it
Just as you're not all that impressed when your colleagues send out tightly packed meeting agendas, It's hard to impress a baseball player by doing baseball-y things.
When Giancarlo Stanton crushed a 510-foot home run in the Home Run Derby, other players had no choice but to take note. By freaking out like they were at a One Direction concert.
Those are some jackpot-in-Vegas type reactions, not the ones you see when a player casually hits a ding dong.
Naturally, Stanton also had the longest in-game home run in July, too, hitting this 466-foot shot:
As Chris Isaak would say, Stanton's got wicked game.
6. Madison Bumgarner gets in on the dinger madness
Not wanting to let Stanton have all the glory, Madison Bumgarner decided to up his dinger game while also throwing fastballs at tiny targets.
Because Bumgarner is like the elephant that thinks he's people, Bumgarner doesn't understand that pitchers aren't supposed to crush home runs. After hitting this grand slam back in April:
Bumgarner did it again on July 13th:
Even better, Buster Posey also hit a grand slam that day. The two of them became the first batterymates to ever accomplish the feat in a single game.
Though Bumgarner didn't get his wish of joining in on the Derby, it's probably because National League captain Troy Tulowitzki didn't want Bumgarner to embarrass everyone else.
Bumgarner is currently tied for the league lead for homers among pitchers at three with Travis Wood. Are we in store for a home run race as they look to become the first pitchers to hit four home runs in a season since Yovani Gallardo in 2010?
5. Chris Sale hates batters. Chances are, they don't like him either.
The slenderman-esque, noodly-appendaged Chris Sale was having a very good season through the first three months, going 7-1 with a 2.30 ERA while holding batters to a .194 batting average.
Somehow, Sale was even better in July, going 3-0 with a 0.85 ERA, striking out 38 batters in 31 2/3 innings pitched. The dominant performance was bookended by two 12-strikeout performances, dropping his ERA to a league-leading 1.88 ERA and a league-low 0.864 WHIP.
And while Sale was the most dominant pitcher in the month of July, special mention must be made of Mets rookie Jacob deGrom. In part because of his 4-1 mark and 1.35 ERA and also because of his glorious, beautiful mane of hair.
That is the hair romance novels were built on.
4. The Month of Derek Jeter
Derek Jeter will soon retire. There is nothing we can do to stop this, no matter how many presents teams give him, time travel devices the Bleacher Creatures attempt to build, or times his name is mentioned during the All-Star Game. After 20 years and five World Series titles, it's simply time.
But he did have a pretty nice final July.
Jeter picked up two hits in the All-Star game, finishing his All-Star career at a remarkable 13-for-27.
And he used those cool, steely green eyes to convey his feelings after Ichiro's first home run of the season:
Along the way, Jeter also passed Carl Yastrzemski for seventh all-time on the hits list and became the all-time leader in doubles by a Yankee. Not bad for an old-timer.
3. Andrelton Simmons devours baseballs.
There is a mythical vampire-like creature known as an aswang that uses its long tongue to suck out your organs while you sleep. Andrelton Simmons is kind of like that. Except instead of having a long tongue, he has a glove. And instead of souls, he sucks up ground balls.
While advanced defensive metrics UZR and DRS have their flaws, there are a few acronyms that perfectly encapsulate Simmons' July:
The point is, Andrelton Simmons is so good at defense, he destroys the mind's ability to form coherent thoughts.
2. Everyone was traded for everyone else!
The trade deadline is always exciting. Rather than going to your job and doing your work, you sit there devouring trade rumors and deadline deals like Fenrir devouring the sun.
But this year, Major League Baseball got even wackier, kind of like when you accidentally let the computer simulate an entire year in your baseball video game, leaving you wondering, "How the hell did Yoenis Cespedes wind up on the Red Sox?"
EXCEPT THAT THIS ALL ACTUALLY HAPPENED.
David Price is now a Tiger, Jon Lester is an Athletic, Stephen Drew is a Yankee, Andrew Miller is an Oriole and, oh man, there's more?! I'm exhausted from typing just that.
Check out the full timeline here. Which is what I'm guessing Asdrubal Cabrera was doing on his phone:
1. The Hall of Fame
Every July, the Hall of Fame opens its doors and welcomes in a new batch of immortals. This year, with six players and managers getting inducted, it was one of the best. 48,000 people came out to cheer on a trio of Braves, a man who crushed baseballs with his meaty palms, and two managers who have dominated the game over the last twenty years.
And while there were plenty of funny stories to tell:
None can top the first-ever mention of lighting farts on fire in a Hall of Fame speech.
Though Bert Blyleven may have thought about it.
(Ron Kuntz Collection/Getty Images)
And there was even a July bonus! A week after the induction ceremony, Vin Scully, the voice of the Dodgers, baseball itself and my very own conscience, announced that he will return for 2015. It will be his 66th year in the booth. That means Scully started broadcasting games before internet, cable, color television and even diet sodas.
In a month filled with wonderful, joyful moments, nothing says happiness quite like Scully.
Shut down the Internet: pic.twitter.com/z2vlYQ9ko5- Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) March 19, 2014