Swing Kid: The Glorious Paradox of Javier Baez

Swing Kid: The Glorious Paradox of Javier Baez

Through his first 29 at-bats, Javier Baez has struck out 12 times. But he's also collected 8 hits and is slashing .276/.276/.612 with an OPS of .897. Those latter four numbers are going to continue fluctuating pretty wildly until the sample size increases, but you can be sure that the latter two will be high.

Then again, so will the K totals. Welcome to life with Javier Baez, the wunderkind with the swing people simply can't shut up about. Truly, that swing is a force of nature, imbued with a power that affects those who see it on a visceral level.

Upon witnessing it for the first time, I felt something akin to what J. Robert Oppenheimer and his colleagues in the Manhattan Project must have in those fateful moments of testing. Morbidly beautiful in its destructive power, the catalyst for Javy Bombs can only be truly appreciated live.

With a waggle and a twist of the hips, the bat is propelled forward with all the speed of the Large Hadron Collider, its collective particles accelerating toward the baseball in a breathtaking display. But make no mistake, under some of those taken breaths reside unspoken curses, in spite of -- or perhaps because of -- the inspired awe.

Yes, there are some who view this Herculean effort as too much, the equivalent of trying to kill a housefly with a hand grenade. To these, I say with alacrity and the requisite gesticulation, "Scoreboard." The 41.4% K-rate will fall as it always has, and the resultant exultant celebrations of much of the other 59.6% will wash away what remains.

In most cases, verbal reactions to Javy's cuts are little more than iterations of that favored monosyllabic ecphonesis of oratory giants Joey Lawrence and Black Rob: Whoa! But the swing itself is far more loquacious; to opposing pitchers, it declares in reverberating basso profundo, "I am become Death, the destroyer of baseballs."

There is little we as Cubs fans can hold dear lately, lest we return to the days of Harry Caray and, ugh, standard definition broadcasts. Consider how lucky we all are that when not present at Wrigley, we can at least take in these majestic attempts in all the glory of HD.

Of all the sports in all the world, none is as intrinsically bound to the youth of America like baseball. And while that umbilical connection is being usurped by other sports, namely both forms of football, those 108 stitches remain the ties that bind.

And though time races ever faster with each moment, I will ever continue to see our national pastime as a portal to bygone days. In this beautiful sport, I see afternoons spent playing ball with a neighbor's house as the centerfield wall, of base paths worn irreparably into the turf of their yard.

So in the "Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead" detonation of Javy Baez's swing, I see myself. I see my brothers in arms from the days of George Street, the dragons who toiled through the summer to launch tennis balls into the vaunted expanse of Vorm's yard.

Even in failure there is hope, a concept with no greater example than in the bottom of the 12th inning on Sunday afternoon. In his 6th at-bat of the game, the third extra-inning affair in which Javy has played, he struck out but reached on a wild pitch. A degree of success born from the womb of failure.

It's not this exact result with which we should become expectant and comfortable, but rather the concept that Baez's shortcomings and triumphs alike will spring forth from the same source. It's that swing, that anomaly of human physics, that will produce much joy over time.

Such is its power that many of us will be given the opportunity to see into the past, to a time when the game, and our love for it, was more pure. So strikeouts be damned. If Javy can provide even the most fleeting of glimpses back into those days of yore, then I say, "Swing, kid."

@DEvanAltman

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  • He's either Babe Ruth or Adam Dunn. As you point out, one week is too early to tell.

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    In reply to jack:

    Hope he looks more like The Babe when he's done.

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