Let the Kids Switch Hit
Anthony Rendon cracks homer in first-ever lefty at-bat during blowout but apparently swinging on a 3-0 pitch is still not cool
The angels were most definitely in the outfield in Anaheim on Tuesday night. 22-year-old rookie Reid Detmers threw the season’s first solo no-hitter as the Fightin' Halos cruised to a 12-0 victory over the Rays. The win continued Anaheim’s strong start and had America drooling at the prospect of Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani playing meaningful summer baseball, but on Wednesday morning all anyone could talk about was Anthony Rendon.
Up 8-0 in the bottom of eighth with Rays outfielder Brett Phillips filling in on the mound (again), Rendon decided to hit lefty just for yucks. Rendon had never switch hit in the MLB before but he turned on the second pitch he saw and cranked one. Sound way the hell up.
It came on a 54-mph matzo ball and counted for nothing, but the southpaw slug landed smack dab in the MLB history book all the same. How many career right-handed hitters have hit a home run in their first-ever left-handed at bat? We’re willing to bet that number is one and that one is Anthony Rendon. No matter what the scoreboard said at the time, that means something.
But here’s the thing. The scoreboard said 8-0. Remember back in 2020 when Fernando Tatis Jr. hit a grand slam on a 3-0 pitch while up fewer than eight runs and on the very next pitch the Rangers' Ian Gibaut threw at Manny Machado’s head and everybody spent the next week clutching their pearls like a life raft? Yeah, well, how is this better? In fact, it’s worse and suddenly everyone is not just cool with it, but lapping it up with a spoon?
We’re not saying that Tatis Jr.’s swinging through a take sign in a 10-3 game was wrong. We defended it at the time, even when his own manager tucked his tail between his legs and apologized. Nor are we saying Rendon was out of line on Tuesday. But the hypocrisy of baseball's "unwritten rules," and the incosistency with which they're applied, is mind-numbing. Just ask yourself, what’s more disrespectful? Playing the game hard to the best of your abilities or flipping your proverbial hat backwards, stepping to the other side of the plate, and treating your opponent like a chew toy? To be clear we don't have a problem with either, but the answer to that question is not a stumper.
But anyway, rant over. Congrats to Rendon and the Angels. This was a cool moment and we should try to enjoy it as such. Let’s just remember that the next time some good baseball thing happens. Pretty please with a cherry on top.