Over the weekend, two of your favorite baseball bloggers found themselves at two different ballparks watching a pair of great games that ended, awesomely, with game-ending home runs.
And both were hit by rookies who hope to lead their respective franchises back to prosperity.
A group of 40 or so bloggers and friends, packed into the best ballpark this side of Camden Yards or that side of AT&T Park, drinking Yuengling and singing Danzig, is enough to reach baseball nerdgasm.
But how the Pittsburgh Pirates' rollicking 8-7 victory against the Colorado Rockies in 10 innings came about — on a dramatic three-run homer by rookie Pedro Alvarez(notes) — made the entire experience worth relishing.
"It's pretty unreal," the rookie said. "I can remember one other time hitting a walkoff home run, but obviously here on a Saturday night, a packed house, in the big leagues, nothing can beat that — maybe [except] Game 7 of the World Series."
The World Series? That's a place the Pirates haven't been in 31 years. But when stuff like that happens, you start to believe in the improbable.
For for me and Kaduk, the improbable happened two nights in a row. On our drive east from Chicago, we stopped in Cleveland and saw Matt LaPorta(notes) go deep in the bottom of the ninth to give the Indians a 5-4 victory against the Minnesota Twins on Friday night.
Double baseball nerdgasm! That's what the Pirates radio broadcasters had on the air when Alvarez went deep.
Alvarez is the best Bucs prospect since Barry Bonds. And the Pirates haven't had a winning record since Bonds left after the 1992 season. That's one of the reasons Greg Brown and analyst Steve Blass (especially) got so excited.
"Finally, I think the baseball gods have looked down on us, and said, 'Enough's enough,'" manager John Russell said in a rare show of rich emotion.
Just 23 years old after being taken second overall in the 2008 draft, Alvarez has a .767 OPS with 10 homers in his first 167 at-bats. Those numbers are much more pleasing to dwell upon than Pittsburgh's win-loss record.
The Indians have played better than the Pirates in the past two decades — the Tribe reached the ALCS as recently as 2007 — but Cleveland fans have the biggest persecution complex in baseball for good reason.
The revival that started in the 1990s with the likes of Carlos Baerga, Albert Belle and Kenny Lofton officially ended with the trade of CC Sabathia(notes) during the 2008 season. That the Indians missed a window of opportunity and failed to win a World Series with so many great players only makes the '48 championship seem like it happened in 1848.
But LaPorta, the key piece in the Sabathia deal with the Brewers, gives Cleveland hope. His no-doubt homer finished off a game that was nearly as wild as the one in Pittsburgh.
"It's a great feeling," LaPorta said. "I've never done that at all, in all my years of playing baseball."
Hey, a pioneer. Just what the Tribe needs to take them a place they haven't been in a long, long time.
LaPorta's OPS sits at .731, with seven homers, and he's improved a lot since getting back from an injury in late June. With Carlos Santana(notes) out until spring training, keeping watch for more great LaPorta moments will have to do for Indians fans the rest of this season.
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Big BLS H/N: Deadspin
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