"It's time to crush baseball and chew bubble gum. The bubble gum is plentiful, but I can multitask."
After failing to connect for a home run in any of the nine games during the recent homestand, Adam Dunn figured it out in Toronto. He went 3-for-5 with two homers, including one that tied the game in the ninth inning, and an earlier one that was the longest drive hit by a White Sox player in three years.
Moreover, the White Sox struck out 16 times on Monday night, but Dunn did not contribute to that total. Weird, huh?
Dunn's homers were the 397th and 398th of his career. Had he hit them in Chicago, the camera would turn to the relatively new "Get 'R Dunn" sign in right field to watch employees flip the number ever closer to 400.
I'm guessing that's what it would look like, anyway. We don't know for sure. The Sox made that big, bold sign when Dunn came within a Mike Cameron/Mark Whiten game of 400, but it spent the entire nine days stuck on "396."
That made me wonder if the sign had adverse affects, although more from the bad juju of having Larry the Cable Guy's catch phrase embedded in my ballpark, and being the centerpiece of a potential celebration. I wasn't really considering whether the sign created any addition pressure, because how the hell would I know?
But while my objection was rooted in my preference of comedy, Chris Rongey had similar thoughts for a different reason:
— Chris Rongey (@ChrisRongey) August 14, 2012
@southsidesox We were actually just talking about that during the homestand. It's huge and it's in his line of sight EVERY time he comes up
Thinking back to the other recent milestone homers, Konerko hit Nos. 398, 399 and 400 during a West Coast swing, which is kind of a coincidence. On the other hand, Jim Thome hit his 500th at The Cell, and in highly memorable fashion. Then again, his home run counter was much more modest -- a simple three-digit display on the bottom of an advertising panel behind the right-field concourse. So good luck spotting a trend.
If I had to bet on it, I wouldn't think a sign would have any significant effect on a player's in-game efforts ("'Hit it THERE?' That's gotta be at least 500 feet away, and that girl keeps putting the sign down! Make up your mind!"). But players who slowly approach milestone do get tired of thinking and talking about it, so it can't completely be discounted. Here's hoping he swats another two homers at Rogers Centre tonight and I can stop joking/making completely valid points about this.
In the meantime, let's talk about that first dinger.
The great thing about Dunn's 397th homer is that he finally has a true tape-measure shot to call his own as a White Sox. Last year was the first time in the six years of Hit Tracker Online that Dunn didn't hit his team's longest homer, and Kevin Youkilis had a two-foot lead in that department this season.
Dunn definitely raised the bar. The Blue Jays estimated a distance of 469 feet; HTO shortened it to 460. That's slightly disappointing for those who like their emotions reflected by science, but here's where the exact number wouldn't capture it entirely, anyway. Dunn finally hit a homer that required multiple cameras to follow. He hit one to a place that can only be reached by a select few, leaving no comparable blasts for immediate, credible distance estimates.
Or, just judge it by the sounds. The explosion off the bat. The crowd's collective gasp. Tom Paciorek's demented laugh:
It looked awesome. It sounded awesome. Judging from Dunn's reaction, it felt awesome. It probably smelled great, too. Like, a hint of mesquite or something.
Three-true-outcome players aren't a whole lot of fun to watch, because nothing happens a good chunk of the time. When it comes to Dunn, the something is supposed to be something. That blast fits the bill. Jaws dropped and syllables spilled out, to be rearranged into meaningful thoughts at a later date.
It wouldn't suck if Dunn came through with a few more of these to make up for lost time. Three more before the end of the road trip, I'm thinking.