The Three Best of the Thirty – August Weekend # 1

These top three events are one author-fan’s purely subjective thoughts on the coolest things which happened around the thirty MLB teams this past weekend. Unlike other features, this one is totally non-quantitative. Fellow fans are welcome to cheer or jeer in the comments.

Third Best – Ryan Braun’s Consecutive Three-Run HRs and Seven RBI Game

Ryan Braun did something very wrong several years ago, then exacerbated it by lying about it and throwing another human being under the bus. After he was caught and punished by MLB, he now wears the “Scarlet Letter” on his back. In his case, it is not the infamous “A” from the Hawthorne novel, but an “S”. He is also lustily booed at every ballpark he visits, and even at Miller Park when the Cubs come calling and his home field is transformed into Wrigley North.

On a Saturday night after an emotional and difficult week for the Brewers, one which saw three fan favorites, including long time teammate All-Star catcher Jonathan Lucroy, traded away for prospects, Ryan Braun strode to the plate in Arizona and gave the Brewer fan base something to cheer about. Already near the top of many offensive categories in the NL, Braun had a night for the record books. After a first inning sac fly to plate a run for the Crew, he went on to hit two three run home runs in consecutive innings. It was the first time any Brewer accomplished that feat, and his seven RBIs in the game tied him with several other former Brewer teammates. Ironically, two of those teammates include the now departed Lucroy, as well as Aaron Hill, who was traded to the Crew by the same Diamondbacks against whom Braun accomplished the feat this weekend. A modicum of redemption for a player who has been a model citizen in the community and a solid presence in a very young clubhouse and who is statistically still one of the best outfielders in MLB, as well as a bright spot in an otherwise gloomy weekend for Brewers fans.

Second Best – Giancarlo Stanton’s Moonshot in Colorado

The Miami Marlins are coming. Their prodigious power and improved pitching are allowing them to make a run for the NL Wild Card, and potentially even for the NL East. No one personifies this power like All-Star Home Run Derby champ Giancarlo Stanton, who effectively turned this year’s competition into a “man vs. boys” event.

This weekend, the Marlins faced an also resurgent Colorado Rockies team at Coors Field. Trailing the Marlins by three games at the start of the series, the Rockies could draw even with a home sweep. After Miami won the opener in comeback fashion, the teams were tied 2-2 in the fifth inning of the Saturday game when Stanton absolutely crushed a Chad Bettis pitch into the 20th row of the CF bleachers. According to Stat Cast, it was a 504 foot home run by the MLB Statcast measurement, the longest HR ever hit at Coors Field. ESPN Stats & Info recorded it at 495 feet, still making it the longest HR in MLB since 2009.

If you watch the replay, it does not do justice to the distance that ball traveled. Several weeks ago, I personally stood at the railing just a few rows up from where that ball landed, and it is really, reeaaally far from the plate. So far one would never believe a ball could possibly travel there. But travel it did. Granted, balls do tend to fly a bit farther in the rarefied air of the Mile High City, but still, what a moonshot. In much the same way as he did at the HR Derby, Stanton sent his opponents a clear and unequivocal message of overwhelming power. Of irresistible force, and don’t mess with us. Colorado went on to win that game, but lost on Sunday. Giancarlo Stanton and his Marlins left Colorado with the Rockies undoubtedly awed at his batting prowess, a bruised ego, and four games behind them in the Wild Card chase.

Best of the Thirty – Ichiro’s Thirty-hundredth (or 3,000th) Hit

Some special things take several at bats in one game to achieve. Others take one at bat and but a few seconds. The best thing that happened in The Thirty this weekend took an entire career, punctuated by one memorable climactic moment. Interestingly, it also happened in the same ballpark where the “few seconds” feat took place, albeit the following day.

In the seventh inning on Sunday at Coors Field, 42 year old Ichiro Suzuki stroked Rockies reliever Chris Rusin’s pitch off the right field wall for a triple.  According to ESPN, he is the second player to achieve his thirtieth hit with a triple, following in the footsteps of Hall of Fame Brewer and Twin Paul Molitor. He became the thirtieth player overall to reach that milestone, and only fourth player born outside the USA to do it, including Pittsburgh Pirate great Roberto Clemente. The game stopped to allow players and fans alike to congratulate a classy player, a sure future Hall of Famer, on a crowning achievement in a spectacular career, a feat more superlative than the spectacular bomb hit by his teammate in the same ballpark less than 24 hours earlier.

Open Forum

As stated in the opening paragraph, this is one writer / fan’s purely subjective take on what were the “Best Three from the Thirty” this past weekend. What do you think? Agree? Disagree? Feel free to opine in the comments section below.

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