September 10, 2011
It's a tale of two home runs.
Well, actually, it's more like a tale of one home run that wasn't, and another home run that never should have been.
I'll help you make sense of this.
First, we take you to Pittsburgh, where two months ago things looked so promising, but have since regressed resemble to their previous 18 seasons of futility. But honestly, during those seasons, I don't think one single play or moment could epitomize that futility more completely than what left fielder Alex Presley(notes) did in the Pirates' 13-4 loss to the Florida Marlins on Friday night.
The defensive play (or non-play) happened in the third inning with Pittsburgh already trailing 6-1. Omar Infante(notes), who had already launched a solo home run in the first inning, would make a bid for a second against reliever Daniel McCutchen(notes). Infante's well struck ball to left field would send Presley racing back to the wall where it appeared he was going to make the play.
Here's where it gets awkward, though: Presley gets to the right spot, but gets himself positioned a little sideways and appears to struggle with the decision to jump or not jump. What ends up happening is a last second stab of his glove arm back over his head, which actually serves as a catapult for the ball as it bounces off his glove and ends up in the seats for a three-run homer.
Of course similar moments have happened before in baseball. The most classic example, which was brought up in the clip, was Jose Canseco allowing a baseball to bounce off his head for a home run. But that doesn't make it any less embarrassing for young Mr. Presley.
"I had to put my head down on the ball to get back there," Presley said. "I looked up and it was kind of behind me a tad, and I had to make an adjustment and it cost me."
"It was a weird thing, a freak thing," Presley said. "I don't have an explanation for it. I should catch it, in my mind. It's an odd play."
While Presley collected his thoughts in Pittsburgh, out on the west coast, Kansas City Royals outfielder Jeff Francoeur(notes) continued what has been the best defensive week in his seven-year career. In case you already forgot, it was Wednesday that Francoeur etched his name in the history books becoming only the fifth American League outfielder to record a 9-3 putout since 1974.
That play itself will have Francoeur at the top of every highlight countdown this week. Now he may have plays No. 1 and 2 on those lists after going several feet above the right field wall at Safeco Field to rob Dustin Ackley(notes) of a home run.
"Off the bat, when it started to go, I thought I was going to have an opportunity. When you've played out there for seven years, you kind of know when a ball's gone and when it's not. I thought, 'That ball's gonna just get over,' and I just started hauling butt out there," Francoeur said. "When you do something like that, you've got to time it perfect, and I timed it exactly perfect with the jump and everything. I've robbed a home run before, but not to that extent — where you're way back over there."
After recording the putout on Wednesday, Francoeur claimed to have done that one time before against San Diego Padres pitcher Mat Latos(notes). Our own 'Duk played detective and found video evidence that 100% disproved that claim.
So, has Francoeur robbed a home run before? Probably. But if his memory on that is as foggy as it was about the Latos play, then I'm envisioning a home run robbery attempt that resembles the Presley play far more than his own play in Seattle.
But either way, we can't take this truly fantastic play away from him. It's probably one of the top five we're seen all season.