BJ Bookends Not So Subtle Hints
The street that runs behind the right-center field wall of Principal Park in Des Moines is no Sheffield Avenue. Ballhawks do not roost there nor are there rooftops from which knotholers eavesdrop on the ballgames. Beyond it runs the Des Moines River which has been known occasionally to swell up and invade the playing field.
Yesterday I stood near an exit ramp inside the ballpark in the bottom of the 8th inning, waiting for Brett Jackson’s last at-bat of the day before making for the parking lot. When he stroked what was clearly bound to be his second homer of the day I decided to amble out toward the approximate landing area and see what I might find. When I got there a young girl was bouncing a baseball on the pavement. Next to her was a man I presumed to be her father. He was talking on his cellphone, trying, he said, to fetch her brother, who was still inside. Nobody else was around.
“Is that the ball that just flew over the fence,” I asked. She nodded.
“Hang onto it,” I said. “The guy who hit it might be somebody someday,” a possibility lost on most of the crowds at PP where Jackson’s name booming over the PA elicits none of the rippling that accompanied the intros of past phenoms like Patterson and Pie. The man and the girl looked at one another and smiled.
In between homers [the other coming on the second pitch in the bottom of the first] Jackson tried to bunt a few times without succeeding even to the point of drawing in Sacramento’s third baseman, Kevin Kouzmanoff. He also drew a walk on a full count; as good to see, maybe, as the long balls. I was hoping it might be prelude to a stolen base attempt but DJ LeMahieu’s at-bat didn’t last long enough to allow for that. BJ & DJ at the top of the lineup; another possible prelude?
Afield, Jackson had only one chance, gliding back and to his right to make routine work of a well-hit drive to left-center. Both LeMahieu at 3B and Ryan Flaherty at 2B turned in sparkling plays. The former is rangy at the hot corner. The latter has a nice wide base defensively but needs to get his Triple A batting average north of .200.
He’s listed at 6’2”, but Jackson is actually built more along the lines of Lenny Dykstra. He has made himself right at home in the pitching-poor PCL, swatting seven homers in just 24 games but fanning twice as often as he walks. His days in Des Moines are numbered. May the ones he spends in Chicago be countless.