If you read this blog, it is likely that you are a sports fan and if that’s the case, you probably watch ESPN and SportsCenter. Makes sense, right? If you do watch SC you were treated this week to an unlikely occurence. A top ten play that came directly from McCoy Stadium and specifically, Lars Anderson. The folks in Bristol, Connecticut rarely dip into the minor leagues for their highlights. With so much going on now, it’s especially surprising. NBA and NHL playoffs, Major League Baseball, the French Open, Soccer, Golf, The Indy 500, you get the point.
What did the 24 year old Californian do that earned him a coveted spot in the top ten? He hit himself with a baseball. Well, not actually himself, but his likeness on the giant video scoreboard in right centerfield at McCoy. A homerun that travelled an estimated 450 feet hit “video Lars” in his left shoulder and knocked out a bank of light bulbs on the board. It was pretty impressive. The highlight premiered at number 8 and by the time I saw it the next morning, it was entrenched at number 10. The typically laid back Anderson took it in stride. “There’s been a few around the same distance. I’m not really sure.” Lars said it took him some time to figure out the damage he’d done. “I didn’t really know until I got back into the dugout and my teammates were like ‘man, you just hit yourself on the scoreboard’. It’s kind of hard to see when you’re running down to first, so I didn’t know until I got back to the dugout.”
Always analytical, Anderson was flattered by a comparison to Robert Redford in the movie “The Natural”, when a home run by Redfords’ character Roy Hobbs knocked out some lights, but he found holes in my theory. “I always though it was funny in the movie because it took place in the 30’s or 40’s and they didn’t even play night games at that point. But hey, Robert Redford is cool. I’ll take the comparison.”
Lars admitted to geting a kick out of seeing himself on SC. “Yeah, it’s always a trip, because it’s something that you see every day. The Top 10. It was cool. People wanted to talk to me about it. It was fun.” Anderson added that he had heard from a lot of people after the national coverage. “Yeah, a lot of texts and a couple of phone calls.” Anderson has been bashing the ball lately and says he feels pretty comfortable at the plate. “I’ve actually felt pretty good the whole month (May). We’ve been winning and it’s been fun. Not a whole bunch to complain about.”
Anderson has been a first baseman for his entire career. In an effort to increase his versatility, the Red Sox have had hm play in left field a little bit. A fish out of water? No way, says Anderson. “It’s been really fun for me. I feel like a ten year old again, learning a new position. I’m really excited about it. I feel really comfortable. It’s a joy to see my name on the lineup card in left field.” Lars explains the new skill set he’s trying to perfect in left. “Good outfielders get good reads. It makes it a little easier. I’m working on it every day, during batting practice and of course, during the games. That’s a huge part. I’m not the fastest guy in the world, so I’m working on angles to the ball and I don’t have the strongest arm either, so I have to hit the cutoff man. Just play fundamentally, man. The outfield is the last line of defense. If you make in imprudent play in the outfield, it turns a single into a double, or worse. Playing the outfield, you really have to keep your head on your shoulders.” Anderson has been working on his arm strength and is pleased with the progress. “My arm’s getting better. I’ve been playing a lot of ‘long toss’ and learning to get on top of the ball a little bit. I’m noticing improvement, which I’m proud of.”
Let’s just hope that the next time Lars Anderson makes the SC Top 10, he’s in a Major League uniform.