Building on SF’s anxiety-laden post about his son’s eventual betrayal of family tradition, I’d like to speculate as to which Yankee player SoxBaby will mimic at the bat. I don’t know about you but when I played little league I imitated the swings of my favorite hitters. Some games I’d be the crouching Rickey, other days it would be the very plain Randolph, and other times, the coiled Donny Baseball. So, in all likelihood, when SoxBaby is SoxLittleleaguer, his proud but horrified father will be watching his son lead off the game doing his best Eric Duncan (star 1st baseman of the defending World Series Champion Yankees).
But for the sake of SF and this site, let’s pretend SoxBaby’s future choice of allegiance still hangs in the balance. If Soxbaby were choosing his favorite team based solely on the one he thought had the most players with the best batting stance and swings, which team would it be? To help SoxBaby pick, I have completed a Yanks-Sox positional comparison below.
Varitek v. Posada
Both are switch-hitters. To my eyes, Posada looks better than Varitek from the left-side, and Varitek looks better than Posada from the right-side. The lesson here is that the player’s placement in relation to the plate matters. Only cinematographers, mathematicians, psychologists, photographers, and other visual artists know why.
Youkilis v. Giambi
Youk’s stance and swing are workman-like (translated: boring), and while I’m not in love with Giambi’s sudden last second explosive swing, it still has the merit of being kind of memorable.
Loretta v. Cano
Simply put, Cano has one of the sweetest swings in baseball right now and the best one on the Yanks. I vaguely remember watching a San Diego game two years ago and thinking that Loretta’s swing was line-drivey and pretty decent. Still, he’s a righty and thus at a big disadvantage against the young lefty.
Lowell v. Rodriguez
One of the benefits of being a Yanks fan (besides rooting for the most storied franchise in major league history) is getting to watch A-Rod’s smooth effortless swings. I’d venture to say that he has the best right-handed swing in the game today. Alas, Lowell, who I remember being a pull-hitter with a nice stroke, is just not A-Rod.
Gonzalez v. Jeter
For all the love I have for Derek, I’ve always found his at bats aesthetically unpleasing to watch. I’ve always preferred the form of a pull-hitter’s swing, and Jeter is famous for that inside-out stroke. Gonzalez wins by virtue of my dislike for Jeter’s oddly ungraceful at bats. I’m as angry with myself as you are right now.
Ramirez v. Matsui
This is one of the better match-ups of the contest, and Manny wins by virtue of being Manny. The way Hideki positions his bat upright and his solid line-drive stroke are all memorable and worthy of immitation, but there’s something about the Manny at-bat that’s visually historical. Perhaps, it’s because he’s able to so clearly express his personality in his approach at the plate. He just kind of walks up to the plate, relaxed as a guy playing whiffle ball with his buddies, and ends up driving the ball 450 feet. It’s all so unassuming.
Crisp v. Damon
This is a difficult one because Damon’s stance and swing fit into the Tom Waits, Lee Marvin, Steve Buscemi category: someone/something that is so ugly, it’s cool. But I just can’t make that leap. Damon’s swing makes him look like a glorified slap hitter. Crisp wins by default.
Nixon v. Sheffield
If you’re a Yanks fan and you play in little league, it’s criminal not to pay homage to Gary. The constant bat movement is a gimmick that lends itself to easy immitation (think Craig Counsell, Julio Franco, for other players who serve the noble purpose of providing easily mimicked models). Plus, you get the chance to swing as hard as you want to (forget what your coach says!). Trot doesn’t have a chance.
Ortiz v. Williams
A study in contrasting styles: Classic upper-cut versus poetic and graceful level swing. If this were the Bernie of a few years ago, it would be closer. But as it is, everytime Ortiz swings I think he’s just hit a homer. Even if he’s just grounded weakly to the pitcher.
SoxBaby’s chances of staying a Sox fan: 50%