Tuesday, July 15, 2008
So, Josh Hamilton, huh? I think he can maybe hit the baseball a little bit.
I have to admit that I had basically no expectations for the Home Run Derby. All Star festivities are generally just too much for me-- I get bored with the endless, pointless ceremony; the speeches given by people who, like Chris Berman, really have no business giving speeches; the treatment of the selections as a Srs Big Deal when they're really, REALLY not (see: Varitek, Jason); and so on. The Yankee Stadium lustfest that is this year's All Star Big Story doesn't help either. I'm sure I'd love it if I was a Yankee fan, but since I'm very much NOT, I am more annoyed by it than anything else. WE GET IT ALREADY.
Thing is, I know it's a historic stadium and historical shit happened there and like the entire Hall of Fame played there and what-the-fuck-ever. BUT IT'S NOT EVEN THAT OLD. It's not like this is Fenway or Wrigley. For cats' sake, THEY'RE KNOCKING DOWN TIGER STADIUM EVEN AS WE SPEAK and that gets MAYBE a mention and a couple seconds of video on Sportscenter. Yankee Stadium gets a bloody memorial service. I know that I'm biased, I know that full well, but I think that most everyone who is not a Yankee fan is getting sick of endless parade of wankery.
I mean, I've been to Yankee Stadium. It was kinda cool. It was interesting. It was (gasp!) historically significant and I appreciated that. HOWEVER, it was NOT a spectacularly beautiful park like Comerica or PNC, and it is NOT a perhaps-inconvenient-but-overwhelmingly-charming-due-to-its-age kinda park like Fenway or Wrigley. It originally opened in the '20s, sure, but it doesn't look like a ballpark from the '20s. It looks like a ballpark from the mid-70s, which is essentially what it is, after the remodel.
I'm not trying to hate on Yankee Stadium. Normally I am perfectly content to leave it for the (understandable!) enjoyment of Yankee fans. But this All Star crap is driving me crazy, because they're treating the place like a veritable Wonder of the World, and it just... isn't.
Anyways. Josh Hamilton!
Like I was saying before I got sidetracked into rant-mode, I had few expectations for the Home Run Derby. I had it on for the sake of having it on, but I was doing work on the computer at the same time and was only kind of watching it.
Now, I'm aware of the Josh Hamilton Story. Everyone, at this point, is aware of the Josh Hamilton Story. I know some people who derive immense amounts of joy from the Josh Hamilton Story. Personally speaking, it always skeeved me out a little bit. Of course it's awesome and great that he overcame alcoholism and heroin addiction to get back to where he is now, but I always felt wicked bad for the (Devil) Rays, who believed in him first and really got screwed over by the whole thing.
While it's good for him that finding God helped him to overcome his Issues, y'know, to each their own, it always makes me wince a little to hear another ballplayer thanking Jesus after he had a good game. Like, really? I'm with Jim Bouton on this one-- I'm waiting for the ballplayer who thanks evolution for helping him develop the hand-eye coordination he needed to hit a big homerun. And of course there's the whole race issue, which is not Josh Hamilton's own fault, of course, and many other people have already addressed it in many other places.
The point (there's a point?) is that I was pre-conditioned to be underwhelmed by the Derby, and that while I admit to the awesomeity of his story, I haven't exactly been wholeheartedly squeeing over Josh Hamilton this season.
Then he started hitting.
And you know what? It didn't matter. It didn't matter that this was a player with a somewhat controversial and probably heart warming story. It didn't matter that this was taking place during one of the most overblown 'events' of the season. It didn't matter that ESPN had like 12 guys announcing it and a single announcer would have sufficed.
I defy anyone-- ANYONE-- to watch Josh Hamilton hitting those homeruns and NOT enjoy it. It was impressive and spectacular and it was damn near impossible to keep from saying, "Wow," and, "Holy freaking cats," at the TV. It was awesome in the sense that it actually inspired awe. It was FUN. It was, probably, what the Home Run Derby SHOULD be.
Of course then there was the let-down of the second round, and the hilarious sadness of Justin Morneau actually winning in the end (getting both snubbed for the post-derby interview AND called 'Jason' by the guy giving him his check). But for that period of time when Hamilton was batting during the first round... that was what this crazy All Star crap should be all about.
(Josh Hamilton photo from a Red Sox/Rangers game in mid-April of this season.)
Labels: All Star Game, baseball, Home Run Derby, Josh Hamilton, MLB, Yankee Stadium