Earlier this week, MLB was making a big deal out of David Wright being just a homerun shy of hitting for the cycle. Was this just a marketing ploy to get more people to watch the game or is hitting for the cycle really that big of a deal? In other words, is it really an achievement of great baseball prowess or is it just a silly coincidence that happens to be somewhat interesting? Keep in mind that guys like César Tovar, Vic Wertz and Randy Hundley (hardly household names) have hit for the cycle, yet no one seems to care.
Interesting question, Mr. Lung. And I must say, I’m of two minds on this. First of all, if a guy is able to pick up 4 hits in a nine inning game, that’s pretty good. And if three of the four are four extra bases, that’s even better. I only wish the Tigers could start doing that on a regular basis. And I’m talking as a team here, not just any individual player.
However, I have to say, and I’m sure you agree with me here, that hitting for the cycle is in and of itself nothing more than a fluke. Why should we care more about a guy who gets a single, double, triple and homerun in one game than we should about a guy who hits four homers in a game? The simple answer is that we shouldn’t.
Now, I understand that as the salaries of ballplayers continue to rise and as parks are charging more and more outrageous prices, MLB wants to get it’s cut and that means getting more people interested. Sometimes that means hyping something that really isn’t that big of a deal. And why not pick something that has a somewhat esoteric name like, “The Cycle?” I respect that.
But any true baseball fan can see through the hype and pick out what’s behind MLB’s ploy. It’s money, pure and simple. And this brings me to something even more important than Reyes and Wright and their ball-thumping theatrics.
This past week we saw Evan Longoria, the Rays
soon-to-be-star third baseman, sign a long term contract for less than he
probably could have gotten if he waited for free agency. And he also waived his
arbitration rights. Now, I know that some members of the player’s union are up
in arms over this move but I like it. I think baseball players deserve what
they get paid (although this is a topic for another time) but I also think that
the situation needs to be pulled back into shape. The line between team loyalty
and getting what you deserve has been distorted in the last few seasons and
something had to be done in order to bring it back into somewhat of a stasis.
Longoria’s contract, although it’s just a small part of the trend, could help
with this correction. And to be completely honest with you, I think that when
the average fan sees a ballplayer acting like an average guy instead of a prima
donna, that’s going to be the best marketing MLB could have asked for.