Diamondbacks dancing and pitchers going deep highlight this week's good times
By Jake Mintz
FOX Sports MLB Writer
Who had a good time in baseball this week?
Each Monday, we look at three people — fans, managers, players, cities, fan bases or mascots — who had a good time the previous week in Major League Baseball.
What are we waiting for?
1. The home run derby tiebreaker
If you’re a casual baseball fan, and you don’t live in Utah, Montana, Idaho or Colorado, there’s a decent chance you’ve never even heard of the Pioneer League. Well, let me fill you in.
The Pioneer League used to be affiliated with MLB, but after the recent minor league contraction, it's an independent league. Technically the Pioneer League is an "MLB Partner League," but because it doesn't have affiliated players involved, the league has a lot more leeway to try out fun stuff.
As a result, the Pioneer League said goodbye to extra innings and hello to home run derby-style showdowns.
That’s right, folks. If a game is tied in the Pioneer League, instead of playing until someone scores, teams will designate a Home Run Guy. Each team’s player will get five batting-practice-style swings from a coach, and whoever hits more homers wins the game. Simple as that.
When this news came out, some folks around the game voiced opposition to it. But I have to say, I freaking love this idea.
It’s new, it’s different, it’s incredibly fun, and it’s making me pay way more attention to the Pioneer League than I would have otherwise. Whenever the first home run derby extra-innings showdown is, you better believe I’m tuning in for that. You’re probably tuning in, too.
Do I want this in the majors? Nah. No, thanks.
But for a league trying to put butts in seats that has to operate on the thinnest margins to stay financially viable? I love this for the Pioneer League. Fans are going to have a great time at these games.
2. Pitchers trying to homer
With a new collective bargaining agreement on the horizon, it’s a foregone conclusion that the universal designated hitter will be a thing in 2022. That means the 2021 regular season is the last hurrah for pitchers to get some big hacks. It's one final chance to throw caution to the wind, take a big, ol’ swing and make some memories that will live forever.
But until Tuesday, the non-Ohtani pitchers had gone dingerless. We knew they’d generally suck at hitting -- they’re pitchers, that’s what they do -- but a month without a single home run by a pitcher was a particularly bleak showing. Some worried that maybe we’d go the whole season without a single pitcher homer.
That is, until Adrian Houser changed the world with one swing.
I was curious how rare it is for pitchers to get this far into the season without a single homer, and it turns out the answer is decently rare. Only twice in the past decade — in 2015 and 2012 — did pitchers endure a longer homerless drought to start a season.
- 2021: Adrian Houser, April 27
- 2020: N/A
- 2019: Jhouly Chacin, March 28
- 2018: Miles Mikolas, April 2
- 2017: Madison Bumgarner, April 2
- 2016: Kenta Maeda, April 6
- 2015: Mike Leake, April 30
- 2014: Gio Gonzalez, April 2
- 2013: Clayton Kershaw, April 1
- 2012: Drew Pomeranz, May 7
What does this all mean for the future of pitchers hitting in 2021? Probably nothing. As a collective, they’ll probably continue to suck at hitting, but we should see more and more pitcher bombs as the weather starts to heat up.
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3. The Arizona Diamondbacks
On the field, Arizona had a stellar week, going 6-2 to climb within two games of first in the NL West. But I’m more focused on what has been going on in the clubhouse after games.
To be clear, the D-backs have been rocking this coordinated dance number for a few weeks now. But things got really, really real on Sunday, when their skipper, Torey Lovullo, won his 300th career game and was included in the festivities.
The song in question is called "EL JUIDERO." It's by two Dominican rappers, Chimbala and Bulin 47, and it absolutely slaps.
Coordinated dance numbers in the clubhouse are an unequivocal good. Hopefully we see more of these.
But I have to say, it’s going to take a lot more planning and even some props to beat the incredibly high standard set by Leones Del Escogido in the Dominican Winter League.
Jake Mintz is the louder half of @CespedesBBQ and a baseball analyst for FOX Sports. He’s an Orioles fan living in New York City, and thus, he leads a lonely existence most Octobers. If he’s not watching baseball, he’s almost certainly riding his bike. You can follow him on Twitter at @Jake_Mintz.