Monday, July 13, 2015

"He Did WHAT!?"

What happened yesterday at Citi Field is truly a testament to just how random Baseball can be sometimes.

Kirk Nieuwenhuis has, at best, been a marginal player for the Mets. He arrived a game into the 2012 season and had some beginner's luck, and a really hot first few weeks kind of endeared him to the fans for a bit longer than it should have. Once the book on him got around the league, Nieuwenhuis regressed, ended up back in the minors by June, and by July was out for the season with a foot injury. Since then, Nieuwenhuis hasn't improved. He had a brief, shining moment in 2013 when he caused the downfall of Western Civilization, but otherwise, he's basically been one of those 4-A guys that the Mets keep calling up whenever they needed a warm body. By early this season, with no particular sign that he would ever prove to be more than this—and with his batting average below .100—the Mets finally cut bait, waiving him and eventually trading him clear across the country to the Anaheim Angels for cash considerations. The Mets couldn't even get a player for him.

Except that Nieuwenhuis proved himself to be equally inept in Anaheim, so once it became apparent that a change of scenery was not the answer, Anaheim cut bait on him as well. Not surprisingly, the Mets scooped him back up, because Nieuwenhuis clearly just seems to be one of those players that would only have a Major League job with the Mets (I've said the same of other players, like Mike Baxter, except that Baxter caught on with the Cubs). I figured after this, Nieuwenhuis was just going to be organizational depth, but a few weeks ago, here he was again; because the revolving Mets bench of Muno, Ceciliani, Mayberry, Monell, Curly, Larry and Shemp weren't hacking it, well, why not give Ol' Kirk another crack. He couldn't be much worse, could he?

Coming in to Sunday afternoon's game, Nieuwenhuis had all of 7 hits for the season. Somehow, 5 of them were doubles, but still. Even for a bench player, that's comically bad when you're at the All Star Break.

So, then, you'll agree that the Beauty of Baseball is that you never find the Moment, the Moment always seems to find you. I talked about this last year during the Postseason, but perhaps nothing defines this more than what happened on Sunday, when Kirk Nieuwenhuis, who was deemed worthless by the Mets, and even moreso by the Angels to the point where they ostensibly paid the Mets to take him back, hit 3 Home Runs against the Arizona Diamondbacks. It happened. I wasn't present to see it, but I certainly watched it on TV.

Not only did Kirk Nieuwenhuis hit 3 Home Runs in a game, he put his name in the Mets Record Books by becoming the first Met to hit 3 Home Runs in a Home Game.

Think about this for a second. The list of Mets who have hit 3 Home Runs in a game includes, for the most part, guys you would expect it from. Carlos Beltran. Gary Carter. Dave Kingman. Darryl Strawberry. Ike Davis. Edgardo Alfonzo. Not surprising names. Even Jose Reyes isn't surprising, because he always thought he was a Home Run hitter. I don't know much about Jim Hickman but he probably seems as likely a candidate as any. Claudell Washington certainly had some pop, too. Now, not only is Kirk Nieuwenhuis on this list, but he was the first to do it in a Mets Home Game! Everyone else did it on the road. The Mets' tradition of pitcher's parks really prevented this from ever happening, except now it's happened, and it happened to someone who's probably on the short list of "Guys least likely to hit 3 Home Runs in a game."

But that's Baseball. Sometimes, things happen that don't make logical sense. I guess in a season where, to this point, not much that the Mets have done has made logical sense, it's a fitting way to finish things out before we disperse for the All Star Break.

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