It was played up as the biggest arrival since the latest royal baby. The greatest thing since sliced bread. Seriously though, Vladimir Guerrero, Junior's call-up to the big leagues on Friday has been the most hyped since, maybe Bryce Harper's. The 20 year-old son of a Hall-of-Famer, who looks like his dad, and swings like him, is in The Show.
The youngster showed up wearing his dad's Montreal Expos jersey from back in the day. Senior made his debut in Canada, and now so does the kid. They both wear number 27. The old man had 2590 hits, a .318 career average, 449 home runs, 1496 runs batted in, and 181 stolen bases. Vlad Junior has nothing but zeros, but did tear up the minor leagues.
With dad upstairs in a luxury box watching, Guerrero grounded out in his first at-bat. He received a standing ovation. His first major league hit was a double in the bottom of the ninth. He was then removed for a pinch-runner, but that runner scored on a walkoff home run by Brandon Drury. Vladdy Junior went 1-for-4 in each of his next two games, and a star is born, or created, or whatever.
There is a fervor in the game right now for the young up-and-comers. We saw it with Ronald Acuna, Junior and Juan Soto last year—both teenagers when they made their debuts. It was somewhat unexpected when the San Diego Padres decided to begin the season with their young phenom, Fernando Tatis, Junior (yes, the son of the guy who once hit two grand slams in the same inning at Dodger Stadium aff of Chan Ho Park), who is batting .300 through the first four weeks of the season. White Sox outfielder Eloy Jimenez is up there on the prospect list. He has three homers early, but was just placed on the injured list. No one outside of New York probably heard of Pete Alonso, but he made the big club out of spring training and has nine home runs.
But wait. There's more. Washington Nationals shortstop Carter Kieboom and top pitching prospect Justus Sheffield of Seattle made their debuts the same day as Guerrero. He homered. Sheffield appeared just for a spot relief appearance. He alowed two runs in three innings, and was then optioned back to the minors.
If pitching is what you want from your phoenoms, you may have to wait a little longer on Sheffield, but only until tomorrow for the next hot rookie. Right hander Griffin Canning is scheduled to start for the Angels in Anaheim, ironically against Toronto and Vladdy Junior. Canning is a second round draft pick from 2017, out of UCLA, and an Orange County native. Seems like a great storyline, just like all the others.
We do have to pause and wonder what guys like Adam Jones, Dallas Keuchel, and Craig Kimbrel think about all of these punk kids. Jones didn't sign until mid-march, and pitchers Keuchel and Kimbrel are still waiting for the phone to ring. Of course, they are demanding millions, while these kids are just happy to get major league meal money.
The headline has been used several times in several places, and it is appropriate. The kids, are indeed, alright. They are also eager to play, and judging by the fans reaction, people are eager to see them. By the way, Cody Bellinger of the Dodgers was the Rookie of the Year just two seasons ago. He's 23 and seems like old news. Corey Seager? Forget about it, he's 25. Old man.
Where there's Smoak...: Lost in the big Vladimir Guerrero, Jr. debut on Friday was a pitching matchup that eveyone should be talking about. If you're lucky, you'll get the Bader-Hader at-bat when St. Louis plays Milwaukee, but for three ABs at Rogers Center Friday, we had the Smoak-Fiers duel. You can decide who won—Justin Smoak went 1-for-3 with a single and two groundouts off of Oakland's Mike Fiers.
Double coverage: There are a lot of things that are astounding about the NFL draft. For instance, why 200-thousand people would stand outside in the rain, just to hear a roll call of names. The seven-round, three-day affair took place Thursday through Sunday, with the NFL Network and ESPN doing wall-to-wall coverage. That makes sense, but what doesn't, is that ABC also televised the first two days. ABC and ESPN are owned by the same company, so you would think they would just simulcast the draft on both networks, but they didn't. Each network had their own set of analysts and announcers, almost like they were competing against each other. It was hard to tell the difference between the broadcasts, and after the first dozen picks or so, who really cares anyway?
He shoots and scores, and scores, and scores, and scores: The end of Tuesday's Game seven between the Vegas Golden Knights and the San Jose Sharks is one that will be remembered for a long time, but it could have been a remarkable feat that would not have been remembered at all. Trailing 3-0 late in the third period, Sharks captain Joe Pavelski was knocked to the ice and suffered a concussion. A major penalty was called, and San Jose had a five-minute man advantage. They miraculously scored four goals in those five minutes to take the lead. Vegas, however, scored after that, forcing overtime. The Sharks won in the extra period, but no one would have remembered the four-goal barrage if the game had gone the other way.
You make the call: Wednesday is May 1, which means they'll name the National League Player of the Month for March/April. Who ya' got? Milwaukee's Christian Yelich (.353 batting average, 14 home runs, 36 RBIs, and 6 stolen bases going into Monday) or the Dodgers' Cody Bellinger (.427, 14 HR, 36 RBIs, 5 SB)? Yelich may be the reigning MVP, but you've got to go with Bellinger here, don't you?
It's a shame about Ray: Pardon the 1992 Lemonheads reference, but Oakland A's broadcaster Ray Fosse really said this when describing the 'field turf' in Toronto. He said, “It's an artificial kind of artificial surface.” We're not sure what other kinds of artificial surfaces there are, but Fosse usually sprinkles in a few good points throughout a telecast. It seems like there have been more and more of those lately.