We finally got a Major League homer from Vlad Guerrero Jr., and man was it worth the wait
Vlad Guerrero Jr.'s arrival in the big leagues was a whirlwind. Here he is establishing himself as a fashion icon. Here he is blowing the roof off of Rogers Centre. Here he is with his very own Raptors jersey. Wait, is that "Old Town Road" in the background? Who let Drake in here?
Pathos, suspense, that weekend had it all. Well, sorry, I should rephrase. It had it all ... save for one very important thing: dingers. Vladito's debut was a seminal moment for reasons that had little to do with actual baseball. But when the dust settled, there were still games to be played, and Guerrero kept us waiting a bit on that front, hitting just .136 over his first couple weeks in the Majors.
That's nothing to be ashamed of: Hitting a baseball is an obscenely hard thing to do, nevermind hitting a baseball while trying to adjust to a whole new country and the best players in the world. Still, this was the Prospect Who Was Promised, a man seemingly put on Earth to annihilate baseballs. So ... when would the fireworks start?
Turns out, the answer was Tuesday night:
Well hello there, Vlad. Welcome to the party.
First thing's first here: Look how easy this is. San Francisco features one of the most difficult hitting parks in the Majors -- between the cavernous dimensions and the wind coming off the ocean, it's not a friendly place for fly balls. But my goodness, he nearly hit the scoreboard in dead center ... and it looked like he was taking batting practice! That was a line drive that just refused to obey the laws of gravity!
Look at the size of this man who just turned 20!
The first of many. #VladJr pic.twitter.com/87Lihstvkw— MLB (@MLB) May 15, 2019
(Relatedly: Listen to the reaction in the stands when that ball leaves the bat. Vladito's reached Tiger Woods status, where people just shout whatever pops into their heads the moment he makes contact.)
His teammates' reaction was pretty telling. Typically, teams will greet a rookie's first homer with the silent treatment in the dugout, a little good-natured teasing to remind him that this is a humbling game. Toronto, though, wasn't having any of it: The entire bench lost its mind, and when Guerrero got back to the dugout, a party was waiting for him -- as if even seasoned big leaguers knew that they'd just seen something bonkers.
Of course, Guerrero wasn't done. He decided he liked this whole mashing Major League pitching thing, and he wanted to try it again. So he went yard for a second time, and as far as we know this ball wound up on Mars:
This angle > pic.twitter.com/znsjHLUA3w— MLB GIFS (@MLBGIFs) May 15, 2019
We were told that Vlad Jr. was different; that he could do things that players (especially players who can't legally buy a drink in the U.S. yet) simply weren't able to do. We heard the stories.
Now, though? Now we know. Baseball just feels different -- bigger somehow -- when Vladito does it. Here's to a whole lot more.