What if you were told, on July 7, 1994, at age 15:
(1) Not to tell anyone you weren’t actually 16 — just smile as you would at an umpire calling a borderline strike on 1–0; and
(2) That, 23 years from that date, you would collect your 5000th total base as you rounded second base, halfway through the 451st home run trot of your big league career (well, the 450th, since one didn’t clear the fence)?
And that, on that 23rd anniversary of your agreement to sign with the Dodgers for $23,000, your team would score 10 runs, in this fashion:
First run: Two outs, two strikes
Second run: Two outs, two strikes
Third run: Two outs, two strikes
Fourth run: Two outs, no strikes
Fifth run: Two outs, two strikes
Sixth run: Two outs, two strikes
Seventh run: Two outs, two strikes
Eighth run: Two outs, two strikes
Ninth run: Two outs, two strikes
Tenth run: Two outs, two strikes
And that the sole outlier from the above list, Nomar Mazara, would be born in the same town as you (Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic) — but not until nine months after you signed with the Dodgers?
And that on that night, when you moved your career hit total up to 2,977 and your career RBI total up to 1,596 and improved your season numbers to .289/.385/.521, which at age 38 exceed your career slash line (.286/.339/.480), your starting pitcher scattered three singles and a walk in 7.2 innings, with more awesome throwback moustaches (one) than runs allowed (none) or even Angels runners past first base (none)?
What if you were told, on July 7, 1994, at age 15, that 23 years from that date there’d be a TV graphic telling folks that you were just 23 base hits away from joining Hank Aaron, Stan Musial, and Carl Yastrzemski as the only players in the history of the game to record 3,000 hits, 600 doubles, and 450 homers?
Maybe you’d heard of those three guys, even at age 15. All three were inducted in Cooperstown before you signed that deal to play pro ball.
What if you were told, last night, that Musial and Yastrzemski had OPS’s south of .800 in their age 38 seasons, while yours is .905 — in line with Aaron’s .904?
No need to answer that one. Pretty sure your response would have been: “I’m glad I was able to help my team win a ballgame tonight.”
Tonight is Turn Back the Clock Night for your team.
Last night’s starting pitcher jumped the gun, turning the clock back with his facial hair, sporting a look that was retired before Aaron and Yastrzemski.
You, sir, turn the clock back every single night.
Thank you for that.
On July 7, 2017, 23 years to the day after you inscribed your age 15 signature on a piece of paper committing to play professional baseball, you singled and scored and you smiled at called strikes and you dropped to a knee as you dropped a second-inning Ricky Nolasco slider into the left field seats and you made signature plays defensively and you crept up in the record books and you were just happy to help your team win a ballgame.
It was a night on which the offense was patient and explosive and the pitching was dominant and the defense was crisp and your club gained ground on all three teams situated between it and the two Wild Card slots, including last night’s opponent, and you and your teammates flashed a glimpse which, to the optimistic among us, just might have suggested that the second half could be markedly better than the first, and that maybe we haven’t really seen the real 2017 Rangers for most of these first three months, prompting the question:
Is This Us?
Never leave, Adrian.