Some careers are inextricably intertwined. Mantle and Mays. Byrd and Magic. McEnroe and Conners.
So, it seems, will be the fate of Joey Gallo and Kris Bryant.
Gallo, of course, is the next big thing for the Texas Rangers. Bryant, for the Chicago Cubs.
Each represents the next generation of power hitters in a sport where honest to goodness power not generated from a needle is at a premium. Gallo and Bryant have the kind of power that make batting practice must-see viewing. The kind of power that makes grown men in front offices salivate.
For the last three seasons, they have been the two top home run hitters in the minor leagues. And now, each is on the verge of being called up to their respective big league clubs.
Gallo has two home runs this spring so far. Not to be outdone, and as a precursor to the rivalry we can expect they will certainly be having over the course of their careers, Kris Bryant has six, having hit two in a spring game yesterday that he didn’t even start.
Both teams, the Cubs and the Rangers, are going to have to make an important decision very soon. When do they promote their top slugging prospect? Because both teams are starving for positive news. Both teams are the most snake bitten teams in baseball history.
The Cubs have actually been goat bit. Since the Curse of the Billy Goat, in 1945, this has been a sad sack of franchise that hasn’t sniffed a World Series.
The Rangers black cloud descended on them with two outs in the ninth inning of Game 6, and it hasn’t stopped shit-storming on them ever since.
Kris Bryant was targeted to begin the 2015 season in AAA, but he is quickly changing minds. The big decision that Cubs have to make is this: do they call him up now and start his free agent clock? Or, do they wait two months so his free agent clock doesn’t officially start until next year, thus getting four “free” months out of him? Teams do this all the time.
But teams that feel they have a legitimate shot at contending risk the ire of their fan base? “Couldn’t we have won a few more games with Player X in our lineup instead of in the minor leagues?” Yes, but the temptation to squeeze one more year out of him is too great.
Gallo, who is two years younger than Bryant (and, for purposes of comparison, three months older than Odor), will almost certainly start the season at Frisco. Don’t expect him to stay there too long. He may, like most Texans, take the short migration to Austin, home of the Round Rock Express AAA team.
But, baseball is a butt in seats business, first and foremost. And the further the Rangers fall out of contention this year, and the more and more fans stay away in the thousands like they did last season, the more tempting it will be to give them a reason to come back.
Expect Bryant to be wearing a Cubs uniform by June, if not sooner by popular demand. Expect Gallo to be wearing a Rangers uniform by September.
Then, from that moment, the great Gallo and Bryan home run rivaly between will officially start. My slugger is better than your slugger.
I can’t wait.