Beauty. It’s a concept bathed in bias and subjectivity. We know it when we see it, yet the very definition of the word is so convoluted and subjective as to render it pointless. Its power is at various times breathtaking, awe-inspiring, and devastating. In ancient Greek mythology, the beauty of Helen of Troy led to a war that killed thousands, as the Achaeans laid siege to the city of Troy for a decade. The beauty inherent in the works of Mozart, Beethoven, and Bach lives on today. In the late aughts, we were gifted with Juan Francisco and his swing.
Like the baroque style of Bach, Juan’s swing is not easily appreciated by all. It is, in its most base form, exceptionally violent, and a Fat Juan plate appearance is approached with unadulterated aggression, an almost feral rage, indiscriminate hacks, and questionable plate discipline. Let us look upon the majestic beauty that accompanies an approach that was once described by Carson Cistulli as “swinging your ass off.”
Watch as he sets up. The not-so-subtle cocking of the hips and the front foot. The incredible rotation and sheer power generated upon release. The reckless abandon with which he swings is more beautiful than the results-a long, arcing, home run into the fourth deck of the Rogers Centre.
Jake Peavy made a critical mistake. That pitch is as close to “down the middle” as you are legally allowed to throw a baseball and still call yourself a major league pitcher. Juan Francisco has a career .210 ISO. He has a .302 ISO in 2014. He is absolutely crushing the baseball. That is not the pitch you want to throw to someone who is crushing the baseball. The following is another pitch that was ill-conceived, and is accompanied with a strong pimp job.
Old Fat Juan is arguably even more fun and beautiful than new Fat Juan, and I guess we have the Brewers to thank for ruining this for us. The front foot is legitimately out of control. He is 100% swinging his ass off. The pimp job is very, very, strong. Look at it. Marvel in the way that no part of that swing is teachable by Tom Emanski. Fred McGriff does not endorse Juan Francisco. And yet this swing, aesthetically, is even more beautiful than the last. I can say, in very subjective but not uncertain terms, that Juan Francisco’s swing on September 12, 2011, in which he launched a 500+ foot home run, makes every Chipper Jones/Junior Griffey/Larry Walker swing look like a Jorge Constanza swinging bunt attempt. I have never seen anything more beautiful. I like to imagine that Rodrigo Lopez, a mere 60.5 feet from our hero, hesitates just a split second before tracking that ball because he is mesmerized by stunning visual his own incompetence created.
This is Juan striking out. There is nothing I can say that I haven’t said already. The pitch is very ugly. The swing isn’t. Ferocious cut? Check. Complete, 100% commitment to swinging? Check. Even while flailing at a slider out of the zone, the aesthetics are incomparable. Juan Francisco in the box is poetry in motion–a physical manifestation of the dark literary masterpieces of Shakespeare–with the tragedy of a thousand swings and misses offset by the pure joy and beauty of each climatic blast.