On Monday night, Sonny Gray left an 0-0 fastball over the plate to the best hitter in the game. That hitter, Mike Trout, absolutely demolished the ball, finding concrete in the Coliseum's upper deck. It was a huge play, putting the Angels up 3-0 against ace Sonny Gray yet all I could muster was an amazed "wow".
To me, watching Trout is one of the joys of being a general baseball fan, even if that contradicts my feelings as an A's supporter. He's smart, plays hard, is an incredible talent, and in lieu of a neck, he's got a love for baseball that's beautiful even as an A's fan.
At least that's my take. Who are your favorite "guilty pleasure" players?
I'm unconvinced that anyone could hate Pence, even if he's a Giant. Pence is unconventional in everything he does - he's got limbs coming from all different parts of his body and they fly freely in the wind. Instead of joints, he has those little brass brads which enable his arms to rotate in either direction depending on the situation.
Pence seemed to get into it last year with the A's right field faithful, but turns out he was just having a little fun. Around the league, fans have made some hilarious signs regarding Pence and he seems to be a good sport about it, or be totally unaware. It's hard to say. At any rate, Pence is hilarious and weird, and watching him defy physics with his strange throwing mechanics is pretty cool to watch, even if it's for the wrong Bay team.
Felix has always and seemingly will always dominate the A's. In 30 years, he'll throw out the ceremonial first pitch in Seattle and the collective A's lineup will swing and miss. He's really good and he's especially good against the A's no matter how good the current A's lineup is.
There's something beautiful about a righties changeup, especially when it's thrown like a Tommy Milone fastball. Felix's hateability rating is likely brought down by the Mariners' ineptitude. Felix and the M's are running out of chances to challenge that, but in the meantime, I enjoy me some Felix.
Correa is like an early form Trout, the Astros like a potential rival in testing phase. The young shortstop is an incredible talent, a seemingly good guy, and a general baseball lover. How hateable he is will depend on just how annoying the Astros become but for now, I'll enjoy the Astros looking like the team to beat instead of the Angels.
Barry Bonds is long retired. When he was in his prime, his at bats were as can't miss as they come. Then his prime kept going, and going, and going, and even if that's thanks to some questionable injections, watching the man flick his wrist to launch a ball 500 feet is fun to watch. Would you take Barry Bonds as your DH right now? I'd seriously consider it.
Did you know Jose Altuve is 5'5"? At just 5'5", Jose Altuve is pretty short. In spite of being the shortest player in baseball (he's 5'5"), Altuve has managed to make three All-Star games. His height is overblown and sometimes annoying, but still pretty dang cool. He's a pest for our pitchers and like Correa, I might learn to hate him as the Astros continue to improve. But for now, I love watching him play.
Plus, we'll always have this picture of him next to 6'8" Nate Freiman, who is six foot eight inches tall!
Those are just examples of rival players I happen(ed) to enjoy. Who can you not help but root for?