Pump the brakes
I blame Vin Scully for my reticence to acknowledge that a rookie has made it no matter what they are doing. I’m startled sometimes by the things that are blazed into my brain when so many more important things fail to adhere.
It was with my full support back in 1983 that Greg Brock had supplanted the venerable Steve Garvey as the Dodger 1st baseman. Brock, after all, seemed to have everything going for him. A thunderous left-handed swing that produced a billion home runs in AAA, and a calm demeanor that should allow him to handle the emotional complexities of the major league game. He had the patience to go with the power and looked like the whole package. Garvey would get on base with hits, Brock would take a walk. Garvey would attempt to drive in anyone on base, Brock was OK with letting someone else do it and wouldn’t widen the strike zone.
Brock started off okay and ended April with an OPS of .846. Pretty good for your first full month facing major league baseball. It was the weekend in Montreal on May 17h that really got me excited. Brock had been on a mini tear in May and had raised his OPS to .938. For all appearances, he looked like the Dodger 1st baseman for the rest of the decade. On May 17th, in the first game of the series against Montreal, he walked five times. Five times!!!. No LAD 1st baseman has ever walked five times. No one. Dusty Baker did it. That is it. Two players in LAD history have walked five times in a game and one was one of the greatest LF to ever play for the Dodgers. Surely that meant Greg Brock was destined for greatness.
Player Date Tm Rslt PA BB IBB Greg Brock 1983-05-17 LAD L 2-3 7 5 1 Dusty Baker 1980-09-28 LAD L 5-7 5 5 0
It was the game on May 18th that changed me. In that game, Greg Brock hit a grand slam in the top of the fifth. Vin Scully exclaimed something like “He’s the real deal” and so I believed he was. To further seal the deal Brock hit another home run and raised his OPS to an amazing .989.
That would be the high point of the Greg Brock career. May 18th, 1983.
Brock would have a fine career but he certainly wasn’t the Dodger 1st baseman for the rest of the decade.
Since that time I’ve watched Mike Piazza, Eric Karros, Raul Mondesi, Corey Seager not only match their great rookie seasons but build upon them year after year. Yes, I’m assuming Cory Seager does this.
It doesn’t matter, whenever a Dodger rookie gets off to a great start I still remember Vin Scully on May 18th and I pump the brakes.
Maybe it is time I hit the accelerator