In My Ohio

On Nick Swisher, Action Hero Against All Odds

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Darren C. Demaree
Nick Swisher had a bad game yesterday. He looked bad at the plate, overmatched really, and if he had never come to the plate at the end of the 10th inning, his box-score line would have shown he was zero for four, with three strikeouts. However, he did come to the plate, with the bases loaded, and he hit a mistake fastball out of the park to the win the game. This is the second time he’s hit a game-winning homerun in the last four games. It’s an incredible accomplishment, but as always, context is key.

Nick Swisher gets paid too much money to perform how he has performed the last two seasons. He’s a first-basemen/right fielder that has hit poorly (.200 5HR, 24 RBI’s) and he’s been paid like an all-star to do as much. He has the bat of slick-fielding shortstop, except he really isn’t even a slick-fielding first-baseman (six errors in forty-seven games). In fact my reaction to his homerun yesterday went in this order: 1) Yes!!!! 2) Thank you, Nick. 3) He really needed that one.

Here’s the thing though, I’m wrong about Nick Swisher. It took me re-watching one of the all-time great movies to understand exactly who Nick Swisher is to us Cleveland Indians’ fans. Nick Swisher is John McClane from the Die Hard movies. He really is. It doesn’t matter what he’s done for the first two hours of the game, how injured he is, how confusing his smile looks since he’s been getting his ass kicked by every henchman/pitcher for the whole of that story/game, he still manages to ensure that we live happily ever after.

So, Nick, who flew in from New York, after a rough and tumble, but ultimately successful run on the East Coast, has arrived at Nakatomi Plaza/Progressive Field in hopes of reassembling his family/Ohio sports fans, and ends up in a slapdash scenario that finds him constantly beating the odds. He is not the cop/player he used to be, but he is blissfully confident/unaware that now is when he is supposed to be done fighting the good fight.

John McClane always ends up bloody, but he also always ends up victorious. Nick Swisher looks like a below-average major league baseball player, until you give up on him. It’s an injured beauty that we can all relate to.

I don’t know if those at-bats take place in a Zen-like place of confident maturity, an ignorance about the player he has become, or the man is just pissed at his poor performance and feels his only chance to right the ship is by hitting the stuffing out of the ball one time.

Tonight, against the Tigers, when Nick starts the game zero for three, with a strikeout and two double-play inducing grounders, you will still see him joking around in the dugout. You will still see him working on his bad legs and tight back. You will see him trying to stay ready, because it doesn’t matter how much glass he’s walked through or how many hulking pitchers have tried to finish him off, he knows something the Tigers don’t know, he’s Nick “Brohio” Swisher, and only he can decide when it’s giving up time.