Tuesday, April 5, 2016

You Could Write A Novel: Trevor Story and the Fairytale Beginnings of a Myth

For many players, their first at bat in the Major Leagues is a moment to treasure. Often times it ends with a groundout or pop fly, typically due to understandable jitters. Starting the first game of the season tends to mean facing the opposing team's ace. So when Trevor Story stepped in against the pitching scientist Zack Greinke in his career debut on April 4th, most conventional wisdom would tilt favor toward the man on the mound. Baseball, however, has no sound conventional wisdom. So Story stepped into the box and took a pitch. On the next offering from Arizona's new, expensive ace, he swung.
Trevor Story was technically a first round draft pick, being selected by the Colorado Rockies with the forty-fifth overall selection in 2011. The slot was given to Colorado as compensation for losing globetrotting journeyman Octavio Dotel to free agency. Drafted out of Irving High School in Texas, Story made an impact almost instantly in the rookie-level Pioneer League. From there it was a rather textbook path to the Show, spending about a year at each level, steadily raising his offensive line while leaving the strikeouts back in the lower levels. One increase that seemed substantial was his power. Between AA New Britain and AAA Albuquerque, Story amassed twenty home runs, forty doubles, and ten triples in 2015. His on-base percentage dipped seventeen points from 2014, but his slugging rose forty. Everything seemed to be going right for the infield prospect as he turned twenty-three years old. His next official at bat would be his first in the Major Leagues.

For all intents and purposes, Zack Greinke was sick. Reports came out the next morning stating that he was suffering from flu symptoms the day before his Opening Day start, though he stated that there was no chance he would miss the game. While this could possibly be an excuse for one of the best (if not the best) pitchers alive giving up six runs, my thoughts lead toward this is all a ruse to attempt to prove to us that the man is actually human. Greinke is a baseball supercomputer. His dissection of at bats and high-definition photographic memory are the stuff of legend, and from what I understand, it's all true. His starts are must-see television, and until this offseason, so was his hair. Perhaps this is less a bout of stomach sickness and more of a Samsom-esque tale of coiffe-cuttery gone awry. No matter, he followed a seventy-eight miles per hour curveball with a fastball that clocked in at ninety-two, a move that typically upsets a hitter's rhythm. No matter, his foe, fresh from the Colorado farm system, made contact.

The ball was well placed, and Trevor Story teed off. It was a high and deep shot to right field, typically tougher for right-handed hitters. His opposite field blast was likely consequence of catching up to Greinke's fastball. The fly ball seemed to stretch on its own prerogative, working to find a way to make this a true fairytale beginning. As the ball cleared the right field fence, Story jogged around the bases with his head down, probably trying to fathom the sheer magic of his moment. Not only had he hit a home run, but there were two men on base. Charlie Blackmon had just doubled in D.J. LeMahieu to tie the game at one. Jorge De La Rosa was camped out at third after being help up. The Rockies had found their way into the head of Zack Greinke, and Trevor Story's debut had become something special.

As Trevor made his way back into the dugout, the Rockies announcers mentioned how he had allegedly deadlifted 525 pounds during the offseason. While I could not find any evidence of truth online, I like to think he did it, solely from a angle of building a legend around the kid. Standing six feet, one inch tall, and carrying 180 pounds, Story is no pro linebacker typically found lifting that amount of weight. Still, with the raw power he showed in his first Major League swing, I'm inclined to believe just about anything.

In the very next inning, Trevor Story stepped in against Greinke once again. This time, he took two pitches, a fastball and a slider. Given the suggested potency of the Diamondback lineup, Greinke was left in to pitch the fourth. Already at seventy-three pitches, his evening appeared closer to its end than its beginning. The Rockies broadcast showed a tweet from the team showing the ball Story hit in the third inning. Somehow there had been time to track it down and get it verified. With his second Major League swing, Story connected on an eighty-five miles per hour slider, down and outside, pulling it high and deep to left field. Unlike the opposite field shot the inning before, this one was a no-doubter. Landing several rows into the left field bleachers. It was almost too incredible to be true for Colorado play by play man Drew Goodman, who rhetorically proclaimed "you wanna talk about a debut!" The local broadcast proclaimed WE GET TACOS!!!!!! from the box score widget on screen. It was a truly magical moment to be a Rockies fan.

Trevor Story had become the first player in the long, dense history of Major League Baseball to homer twice in his debut on Opening Day. As the sudden, new fan-favorite rounded third to cross the plate, he did so without much pomp and circumstance. He acted like he had been there before, which wildly enough, he had been just an inning earlier.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Carpe Noctem: The Geoff Blum Story

A baseball season can seem so long that a single plate appearance can seem largely insignificant. As summer's long days turn cold and th...