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Monday, March 26, 2012

The Biggest Sports Story in the Nation

This isn't a blog post about March Madness, Tim Tebow (**shudder**), Peyton Manning, Tiger Woods or whether the Yankees or Red Sox won or lost last night. In my mind, those come in a far distant second to what happened on Saturday down in Florida. Of course I'm talking about Justin Morneau's 2-for-2 game with 2 home runs and 5 RBIs. Every report had indicated that, although Morneau was still batting around .100, his timing was closer. La Valle E. Neal wrote about "loud outs," "hard hit balls" and pop-ups that Morneau had just missed. Still, though, it was hard to get past the fact that Morneau only had three hits all spring -- all singles. But then Saturday happened. Check out the replays, if you haven't already. The first home run, especially, was well struck. But the second one might have been more "vintage" Morneau: he hit it out to right-center with that signature 1-handed swing where his left had leaves the bat, and the right hand does most of the follow-through. It was exciting to see.

I'm not going to make too much of it, of course. It was just Spring Training, Morneau is still batting under .200, and he hasn't played first base in over a week, leading to speculation that Chris Parmelee has perhaps played his way onto the 25 man roster to start at least the first part of the season at first base (with some right field possibly mixed in). But still, I think we should be excited that Morneau is playing in games -- in fact, one side of the debate concerning his recent role exclusively at DH is that it simply gives him more at-bats, and allows him to focus only on batting, rather than defense -- and that those "loud outs" may start falling in for hits. I know a few bloggers are down in Ft. Myers, or are headed there shortly, and I'll be curious for a firsthand, non-media observation of how Morneau looks. Sure, he may be skinny, but he hit the baseball a combined 800 feet on Saturday.

Although it's unrealistic as fans to get ahead of ourselves because Morneau hit two home runs in an exhibition game, it is appropriate to consider what those hits could signify in the larger context, namely, that the swing is coming around. And with that being said, I'll leave you with this vintage Morneau clip as a reminder of what that swing looks like when it's at its best.

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