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Elly De La Cruz Is The Guy

WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 05: Umpire Quinn Wolcott #81 hands the bat of Elly De La Cruz #44 of the Cincinnati Reds back to him as manager David Bell #25 looks on in the second inning against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park on July 05, 2023 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images

Elly De La Cruz is your new favorite player, period, full stop. Not just ours, yours too. We met in excretory session (which is parliamentary procedure-ese for "sat around shooting the bull") last night and decided for you, so don't complain you didn't have a say. You didn't. We know what's best for you, and unless you want to be replaced with AI subscribers, you'll just say thank you and get on with your days.

De La Cruz has been a revelation since being called up by the Cincinnati chapter of Baseball Anonymous on June 6, to the point where he needs special minding by opponents in hopes of unnerving his inner tranquilo, and given that last night's opponent was the inert Washington Nationals, they started early. Manager Davey Martinez complained to the umpires that the plastic knob at the bottom of De La Cruz's bat needed to be questioned for magical powers, so crew chief Adrian Johnson called Knob HQ, a.k.a. the league office, for clarification. Because it was the ungodly hour of 7:30 p.m. and there were only nine games going on then, nobody could be found because minding the actual games is apparently someone else's problem, so De La Cruz had to bat without the Bat Cap Of Unlimited Power and struck out.

Eventually someone was found to tell Johnson, and through him Martinez, that the knob had already been cleared for use for the first 25 games of De La Cruz's career, Thus, when De La Cruz led off the fifth inning, he and the Plastic Sheath Of The Gods got a meaty 84 mph slider from Josiah Gray and did this:

Yes, before the ball completed its trip to Heathrow, De La Cruz pointed to the bat and made sure everyone understood the international sign for "Check this." It was a grand moment, just enough to let Martinez know that it ain't the bat, it's the batter, and because Martinez was clearly looking through the discards trying to unnerve the rookie and came up 455 feet of empty, he took exception to De La Cruz's gesture.

"I am not trying to penalize this kid. I'm not. I love the way he plays the game," Martinez said. "I didn't like his antics after he hit the home run. We can do without that. He's only got two weeks in the big leagues, but he's going to be a good player."

Actually, we CAN'T do without that. Being suspected of using his alchemy skills to turn plastic into titanium can be a hurtful thing for a young lad, so when De La Cruz did the deed it was only natural that he explained himself in a way that did not include crossed middle fingers to the sky.

And since you're wondering, the plastic knob is in fact a knob made of plastic and nothing more—as far as we know. It normally holds a swing tracker, an electronic telemetry device the team uses in spring training and batting practices. The knob itself doesn't have any electronics, but De La Cruz, who has used it since 2021, likes the feel of its plastic cover, as he explained through an interpreter after the game while everyone sat in the clubhouse waiting for news that the ball had landed.

It was a grand moment in a month full of them for Your New Favorite Player, as his slash line of .316/.356/.536 and OPS+ of 131 (plus the 11 steals; can't forget that he is also The Flash) would suggest. Since his call-up, the Reds are 20-6, and their attendance has essentially doubled after years of indifferent indifference to indifferent results. And in what would be the first real ethical challenge to his skill set, De La Cruz found the subtle yet pointed gesture that pays off everyone at the table. A showman and a god in a month? Tough to beat that. 

Trust us on this. We asked ourselves and we all agreed on your behalf. This is the guy.

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