Think of all the things in life that are easy for most of us to do. Putting on clothes. Starting a car. Inhaling and exhaling.
Playing baseball? No one would put that particular ability in the “easy’’ category. In fact, hitting a pitch at the major-league level might be one of the hardest things known to man.
That’s why I keep shaking my head at Kris Bryant. The Cubs third baseman hit a home run off the White Sox’ Chris Sale at the All-Star Game on Tuesday night, and as thrilling as it might have been for Cubs fans, it was also something of a shrug. Of course he hit a home run. Because that’s what he does.
Aside from a few mini-slumps and a lot of strikeouts, Bryant has made it look easy since making his debut April 17, 2015. He played in the National League All-Star team last season, had 26 home runs and 99 runs batted in, and won the NL Rookie of the Year award. He went to the playoffs with the Cubs. This year, he has a league-leading 25 home runs at the break, as well as 65 RBI, and his team is in first place in its division.
Too easy. Well, not Mike Trout-easy. That’s effortless easy. Bryant isn’t there and probably will never get to that level defensively. Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado, 25, has won a Gold Glove three straight seasons and probably would have had a better shot than Bryant did at stopping Eric Hosmer’s hard one-hopper in the All-Star Game.
But still. Everything else looks pretty easy for the 24-year-old.
He had a number of things going for him. I don’t want to say his success can be explained by genetics, but his double helix does look suspiciously like the seams on a baseball. His father was a minor-leaguer in the Red Sox organization. Also, his dad threw batting practice to him every day since his son was in the second trimester. So, yeah, it was either baseball or astrophysics for the kid.
The sport is supposed to be hard. It’s supposed to be humbling. It’s supposed to be cruel. So far, it’s 0-for-3 against Kris Bryant.