Ode to the Garbage Home Run

In 2006, Phil Nevin was traded to the Cubs and my friend Chris bestowed a title to Phil Nevin’s homers “The Token Phil Nevin Worthless Homerun.” That was because everytime Nevin hit a homer, it was around the 7th or 8th inning and the game was already determined at that point. Nevin’s homers usually did nothing to determine the outcome of the game, it was just another number on the scoreboard.

Last night, the Orioles lost in a snoozer. The final score was 11-3. All three of the O’s runs came on solo shoots. Nick Markakis’ solo HR in the 3rd made it a 5-1 game, so at that point…despite Steve Trachsel’s worst efforts…the O’s still had a shot in the game. So Markakis’ homer wasn’t of the garbage variety. Adam Jones’ very first homer as an O made it 6-2 in the fifth. It wasn’t quite a garbage homer because it was the 5th inning, it was boardering on it because the O’s were completely hapless…but since it was the first Adam Jones homer, it gets the pass. Because he’s Adam Jones and that was a moment in Oriole history we’ll all tell our grandkids about. Melvin Mora’s 8th inning solo HR, down 9-2, was a pure garbage shot.

You take any runs you can get, but the garbage homer is just a bandaid on a headwound. It doesn’t heal the damage or stop the bleeding. It doesn’t lead to a rally, its just there.

(It’s going…going…..It’s a Worthless Meaningless Homer!)

In the past two seasons, the O’s have had two of the patron saints of Garbage HR hitters in Corey Patterson and Jay Gibbons. If there was a horrible 12-2 drumming or if we were winning 8-3, it was a given that one of those two would hit one. Usually the guys who hit the garbage homers on regular basis are the unclutch players. If it was a one run game in the 8th inning, Gibbons or Patterson would go down swinging. But if there’s no pressure and the game’s over, they’d launch one over the fence. Unclutch players can completely jack the garbage ball.

When they’d hit that homer, I’d sit there and shake my head. I’d ask myself “Why could he do that last week when he had the bases loaded in Boston. We were down by 2 in the 7th inning. There were two outs and he popped out. Why can’t just one of his homers mean something?”

But deep down inside I knew that that’s just the way they were. Nothing to offer in time of need. Everything to give in times of plenty. But now Corey has his golden swings going on in Cincy and Jay Gibbons is rocking the batting cage at his local park.

Now that those two are gone, here are my odds of who the trashballer of the 2008 O’s will be.

1) Aubrey Huff 3/1- It feels like a perfect fit. Ignore the ‘hot start.’ He’s cooling down now and he’ll be launching those 8th inning jacks soon.

2) Melvin Mora 5/1- He did it last night and he’ll do it again. I think Mora would be the favorite, but he doesn’t have as much power as the mighty Huff.

3) Kevin Millar- 10-1- Millar can be slightly clutch. He was Monday against the Jays, but he can launch ’em since he’s the mighty Millar and he swings for the fences.

4) Ramon Hernandez- 15-1- I can see him hitting at least 6 or 7 of these during the course of the season.

5) Brandon Fahey 1240-1- He’ll hit one, and when he does….it’ll be completely worthless.




One Response

  1. If I may propose a reason for this…

    Perhaps Corey Patterson and Jay Gibbons just aren’t very good hitters (shocking, I know) so when a team has a huge lead, the opposing pitcher is OK with throwing fastballs in the zone (which these guys can actually hit) and when the game is close, they throw breaking-pitches and paint the corners (which they can’t hit). I don’t think it has anything at all to do with “clutchness” but is rather a general lack of talent. I question whether or not it is actually the case that these players do hit a lot of “meaningless” HR, so I’ll take a look at that sometime soon and post something about it. If you already did that, then I will defer to your conclusions (I assume it’s just your impression of what happens).

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