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
Saturday, July 05, 2008
The 4th of July was good except for how the Tigers lost at baseball. The Red Sox did not, though, and Jason Varitek got to wear stars all over his gear and get called Captain America all day long, which I bet he's been secretly waiting for since he got that big C. The 'FUCK YEAH AMERICA!!' hat designs were also OK....
...until I saw them on teams whose usual color schemes did not include blue. Teams like the A's, who looked downright absurd wearing their green jerseys with those royal blue hats, and the Diamondbacks, on whom royal blue just does not work. I get that they wanted the hats to be blue so they would still be 100% 'FUCK YEAH AMERICA!!', but if only they'd gone with a much darker blue, it would have looked less bizarre on a lot of teams.
And let us not EVEN get into the HORROR that was the Cleveland hat. On the one hand, you have a racist caricature of a native American with the American flag on it, as if to say 'FUCK YEAH AMERICA CONDONES THIS IMAGERY! THIS IS WHAT AMERICA IS ALL ABOUT!' On the other hand, much of Chief Wahoo's face is covered with the dark part of the flag design, so he looks like he's in blackface. Good work, MLB. Way to go.
The ugliest uniform of the day award, though, goes to the Chicago Wrong Sox, who apparently confused the 4th of July with Memorial Day and decided to wear camo jerseys. Desert camo jerseys. With tan pants. And brown hats. Brown hats with black-and-thus-barely-visible logos (unless they were slightly darker brown; it was hard to tell on TV). Combine that with stuff like Nick Swisher's ugly Buckeye face and you have a sight that no eyeball should ever be forced to encounter.
Labels: baseball, Indians, MLB, uniform, White Sox
Thursday, July 03, 2008
So that game sucked, and the dome sucked, and the series sucked. Unfortunately I can't say that the Rays sucked, because they mostly did not. Playing 'Sweet Caroline' after tonight's loss was a jerkweed kind of thing to do, but I suppose they earned it.
It's not like we as Red Sox fans are in denial over the fact that the Rays are good this season (well, I probably can't speak for everyone). The fact that this particular game featured a complete collapse of the bullpen was what made it so hard to take.
I mean, can Craig Hansen even pitch at this level anymore? I want to say yes-- he's still striking guys out more than he's walking them and, uh, he doesn't have a 135.00 ERA like Fernando Rodney did earlier this season and... uh, he got a haircut, which shows, uh... dedication to the team and. Stuff. Definitely stuff. But HOLY FREAKING CATS was he HORRIFIC in this game. Sure, he came into a shitty situation, consider that fact duly acknowledged, but in 0.0 innings of work he allowed 5 runs: 2 inherited runners, and 3 all his very own. That is not 'slight meltdown', that is 'eeeaaaayyyyaaaaggghhhh gurk gurk splat wibble'
And what of Manny Delcarmen before him, who was just handing the bases to Rays all over the place without recording a single stinkin' out, what of him? Can HE still pitch at this level? Can he do so after a meltdown this intense? If he was a closer, in a way I'd feel better, because closers at least are practically trained to forget outings like this. Run-o'-the-mill middle relievers, however.... well, if they were tough enough to keep from getting psyched out by their own suck, maybe they wouldn't be middle relievers. Also maybe if they were good at throwing baseballs.
So, all of that sucked, a whole bunch of suck, infinite suckulation, but the postgame was made AWESOME by the presence of Mr. Dennis Eckersley, who reacts to bad Red Sox pitching like it's meant to specifically and personally insult him. After ranting a little about Dice K's short (5 inning) start opening the door for Bullpenplosion, they cut to commercial, and when they came back he was smiling in that 'I laugh so I don't start screaming' way he has.
Then he had to assure the audience that he was calm, he had calmed down, so the discussion could begin again.
I do not think that there is another analyst in baseball right now who takes bad pitching so personally, and, if there is, there is most assuredly no one who does it with such amazing crazy rage and pure '70s style.
Labels: baseball, Craig Hansen, Dennis Eckersley, Devil Rays, Manny Delcarmen, MLB, Red Sox