Monday night Yermin was being Yermin. The 28-year old rookie sensation had an excellent day at the plate, tallying three hits including a home run and three RBIs. The home run is what got all the Chicago White Sox headlines the next day. Yermin Mercedes had the Minnesota Twins up in arms about breaking baseball’s “unwritten rules”.
Baseball is better when players like Yermin Mercedes are making it more fun.
In the 9th inning, Twins manager Rocco Baldelli effectively threw up the white flag. He put in a position player to pitch amid a 15-4 beatdown, desperate to save his bullpen and end this nightmare. The player in question was Willians Astudillo, who has already pitched for the Twins once this season. Astudillo is a fan favorite in Minnesota and has been affectionately nicknamed, La Tortuga.
He proceeded to lob in beachballs and recorded the first two outs in the inning, giving Twins fans something to clap about in an otherwise miserable game. The Yerminator wanted no part of this feel-good story. On a 3-0 count, Mercedes belted a 47 mile an hour pitch over the center-field fence to add another insurance run to the White Sox 16-4 lead. The Twins announcers let it be known that what had just transpired was not acceptable saying:
“I don’t like it now at 15-4, I don’t like it. You’re going to get the same pitch after this, I don’t like it.”
So to be clear, if he pimped a home run on a 3-1 count it would be acceptable? Fernando Tatis Jr. attracted similar attention a year ago when he hit a grand slam in a blowout. Padres manager, Jayce Tingler said after the game that the situation was a “learning opportunity.”
Astudillo did not seem thrilled with Mercedes either. He glared at him as he rounded second base and allegedly was yelling in his direction after the game as the White Sox were in their high five lines.
Some may consider hitting a home run off a position player disrespectful. The last time I checked, the game was still going on and the stats still count. After this season Mercedes will head into arbitration looking to get paid more. It looks a lot better for him to add an extra home run to his statistics. Mercedes also leads the league in batting average and he is trying to compete for a batting title.
He has also been waiting for an opportunity in the majors for over a decade. He has played in Independent Leagues, spent time in the Dominican Summer and Winter Leagues, and was passed over by half the league in the Minor League Rule-Five draft. Mercedes nearly quit baseball after years of toiling in the minors. He entered Spring Training as a long shot to make the roster. Now he is finally getting an opportunity and he is running with it.
Home runs are fun. Taking 3-0 pitches in the name of sportsmanship is not. Players like Fernando Tatis Jr. and Yermin Mercedes are the type of players that make baseball fun. Mercedes already has a burger named after him and “Yerminator”-themed t-shirts with his face on them.
In a game that is desperate for star power, why try and thwart them from putting on a show? White Sox fans want to see their guy tear the cover off the ball. Not everyone was upset with Mercedes after the game. Tim Anderson, who has had his dustups with baseball purist for his bat flipping ways, had his teammates back.
“He’s authentic, he’s being himself,” Anderson said earlier this season. “You hit it a mile, it’s OK to pimp it, it’s OK to watch it. It’s cool. Not everybody’s doing that, not everybody is hitting a big-league home run. For him to be able to do that, it’s OK for him to enjoy it, man. And I’m going to back him up 1,000 percent.” If the Twins don’t want Mercedes to hit a home run, then maybe don’t lob a 47 mph pitch to him.