Professional baseball in the Dominican Republic is played by the same written rules as the domestic version we know and love, but with a heavy dose of cultural flair, some of the unwritten rules go right out the window. Players celebrate big plays with passionate exuberation, and the fans soak up every drop. The Liga de Béisbol Profesional de la República Dominicana (LIDOM), also known as the Dominican Winter League, is in the “Round Robin” phase of their extended postseason, and the Estrellas Orientales, for whom Padres uber-prospect Fernando Tatis Jr plays, is leading the league. Last night, they were tied in the bottom of the ninth against the Tigres de Licey when Tatis did this amazing thing:
Let’s break this down into pieces:
- Tatis had a really good “regular season” for the Estrellas. Through 95 plate appearances across 25 games, Tatis hit .263/.379/.488 for an .866 OPS, with three home runs and seven stolen bases. He struck out 20 times and drawn 10 walks. But he’s turned it up in this round, hitting .268/.379/.518 for an .897 OPS with three homers, three triples, and four stolen bases in just 15 games.
- It was the bottom of the ninth inning with two runners on. The pitcher for the Tigres de Licey was Jairo Asencio, who is no schlub. He saw MLB service in parts of four seasons with the Braves, Cubs, Indians, and Orioles. Yeah, he’s 35 years old, but the point is that Tatis wasn’t facing some BP schmuck.
- The count was 0-2. When a hitter should be “protecting the plate”, Tatis didn’t protect anything; he saw a pitch grooved down main street and it was “clobbering time”.
- He knew he crushed it right away, and he flipped the bat somewhere into the upper atmosphere. The form was fantastic. It was a classic two-handed no-look upward chuck with complete and utter disregard to where it would come down. No camera angle provides evidence that it came down, so for all we know it was raptured just like Prince’s guitar after he finished melting everyone’s face in a George Harrison tribute. The bat achieved immortality, taking to twitter to make sure we never forget about it:
Hey guys it’s me. Still up in the air. Please tell fernando to come get me.— Tatis’ Bat (@TheLordsBat) January 11, 2019
- Upon verifying that the line drive he smoked cleared the wall, Tatis unleashed a fist-pump that would have knocked the wind out of 1985-era Mike Tyson while the dugout poured out onto the field. He then proceeded to do the bull dance up the first base line to the joy of everyone in attendance. As he trotted around the bases, fans celebrated atop the dugouts while waving flags and grown men wept tears of joy (notably a white-haired gent who I can only presume won a sizable wager thanks to Our Savior).
- Tatis galloped home to a throng of teammates who mobbed him with hugs, butt-slaps, and raucous cheers. One dude in a green cap was left hanging, but he didn’t seem sad about it.
- In a postgame interview, he dedicated his performance to “the boys, the team, and San Pedro” in an act of selfless sportsmanship. What a team player.
Padres fans, I hope you’re ready for this. Tatis might not break camp with the team, but when he does, I expect to see flags and signs and exuberation from every single one of you! In closing, I’ll leave you with an assortment of the ridiculousness that has been The Tatis Experience in this LIDOM season.
Oh, and he just turned 20 about a week ago. BAH GAWD.
“El Niño” @tatis_jr continúa destrozando a Doña Blanca en la @LIDOMRD. Veamos el cañonazo con dos a bordo que ayer pegó con @EOBASEBALLCLUB.— Padres de San Diego (@LosPadres) December 24, 2018
: Liga de Béisbol Profesional de la República Dominicana pic.twitter.com/SXzLAUgoqZ