Results tagged ‘ Home Run Derby ’

Skip the Derby, Watch the Tour

This might keep me from being one of the cool kids, but I’m not sweatin’ it because I’ve been there in the flesh, watched it on T.V. and the truth is: the Home Run Derby blows.

It’s boring.  It’s fabricated.  It’s full of… nothing happening.

It’s made for T.V., that’s for sure, but it’s not baseball.  It takes one small, often over hyped aspect of the game and blows it up to the point where it’s just senseless action with little at stake.  Sure, I admit Josh Hamilton’s Yankee Stadium display was something otherworldly, but c’mon, that was just one time it was interesting.  It’s usually just a bunch of mindless yakking from Chris Berman (another over hyped blah) peppered with the occasional home run and a bevy of unclever insurance ads.

Me?  I’ll be watching Le Tour in anticipation of the actual All Star Game (also known as “Better than Christmas” at my house).  And yes, I understand the Tour de France (and the entire sport of professional cycling) has a bigger PED problem now than baseball has ever had, thus possibly “tainting” the experience for unseasoned cycling fans, but let me tell you: if any event warrants blood doping, it’d be Le Tour.

I do not advocate it, but I get it.  These guys are KILLING themselves, over three weeks, every single day, and if it were up to me, they could inject new blood into their own veins as much as they wanted.

Endurance events get me fired up.  That’s one of the reasons why I love baseball so much: it’s a GRIND.  Every day.  In harsh conditions.  Moving forward.  But in baseball you rarely see the agony on the players’ faces.

In Le Tour, the agony starts at the gun and doesn’t reach its apex until the finish line is crossed.  I can appreciate that, and will, much more than listening to obnoxious Chris Berman catchphrases while guys hammer batting practice fastballs over the wall in Kansas City.

Hate me.  It’s cool.  Just don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.

Peace,

Jeff

Expos Jersey = Instant Notoriety

All Star Weekend 7.13.2009 038.jpgI am not so full of myself that I believe everyone wanted
a piece of me during yesterday’s All-Star festivities; but wearing
throwback gear from a team long dead certainly gave me an edge.  As a
walking memory, representing Gary Carter, Andre Dawson and Delino
Deshields with porn ‘stache swagger, I was definitely drawing
attention.  Unfortunately, the security people holding me back at field
level, blocking my attempts at getting a word with Erin Andrews did not
find me as irresistible.

“I need to talk to Erin Andrews.” I told them with confidence.

“Why?”

“Because, it’s my destiny.”

“Get the hell outta here before I throw you the hell outta here.”

‘Nuff said.

Oh
well.  Had to keep my head up.  I was part of the Homerun Derby.  Busch
III was electric.  And despite all the partying, I was somehow still
alive.

The Derby?  Well, it was what I thought it’d be: very
exciting for the first half hour, then pretty boring after that. 
Several balls came close to us in our right field seats, but one guy –
the SAME GUY — caught two balls (one from Ryan Howard and one from Joe
Mauer) and after standing for the three hour event and being
shot down by Erin’s handlers before I even had a chance, I ended up
leaving Busch III ball-less… well, sorta.  Anyway, here are some pics
from Fanfest and the evening’s homerun contest.  Click on them for
closer view.

The ticket:

Thumbnail image for All Star Weekend 7.13.2009 001.jpg
Big Balls:

All Star Weekend 7.13.2009 005.jpg

All Star Weekend 7.13.2009 027.jpg
Three of the ten World Series trophies the Cardinals have brought home.  Read ‘em and weep, sCrUBBIE fans:

All Star Weekend 7.13.2009 008.jpg
Me and Jackie’s duds:

All Star Weekend 7.13.2009 011.jpgMy best impression of an irate Cub:

Thumbnail image for All Star Weekend 7.13.2009 026.jpgThe ‘Lou:

All Star Weekend 7.13.2009 031.jpgSome random guy excited to see me… gee, I wonder why?

All Star Weekend 7.13.2009 043.jpgThe view from our seats:

All Star Weekend 7.13.2009 068.jpgConcentration or solace in my futile attempts at meeting Erin?

All Star Weekend 7.13.2009 053.jpgJ.W. and I… still sober?  What’s wrong with this picture!?!?!

All Star Weekend 7.13.2009 066.jpgOkay, y’all.  I’m gearing
up for the big game tonight, Molina jersey on my back, praying the that
the National League doesn’t embarrass me… again.  This would be as good
a time as any for us to win this thing (not that I really care) and I
have a feeling I’ll have a better shot at meeting President Obama than
I will Ms. Andrews.

She doesn’t know what she’s missing.

Hate me ‘cuz I’m here, just don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.

Peace,

Jeff

Buzzing with Testosterone Fueled Accoutrements

lady killer.jpgI did it.  It’s done.  It’s bad^ss.

Keith Hernandez, say hello to the Lady Killer.

Gotta admit, since crafting the ‘stache, I creep myself out every time I catch my reflection, but I fit right in here at the All-Star festivities in St. Louis.  An old man in a Mets hat even asked me for my autograph (he thought I was Thomas E. Dewey until his caretaker reminded him that Dewey died in the early ’70s).  So I did the right thing, lied and told him I was Dewey’s son.

That was a stellar start to what turned out to be a pretty disappointing day. 

Because after only three outs were recorded in the Futures Game the sky turned black, thunder cracked and it rained… and rained… and rained…

A lot.

After walking the concourse for four hours, drinking my weight in beer and buying more overpriced All-Star trinkets than one person will ever need, me and my buddy decided to book.

So we met some friends, went to a bar and watched the Cardinals beat the Cubs.

Good friends, good game, good times.

And today is gonna get even better.  Admittedly, I’ve never been a fan of the Homerun Derby.  Watching it on TV is about as boring as watching Nascar: boring!  But I have a feeling that being there, in right field, in prime homerun territory, it’s going to be something to remember — especially if I snag some homers using the swagger and intimidation factor of my new accoutrement: the Lady Killer ‘stache.

Watch out!

In order that my aging father can find me easily during and camera shots of right field, I’ll be donning my 1980s era Montreal Expos jersey and cap — making this a special occasion indeed.

So here we go, folks… All-Star fun in full effect!  I will fight my way down to get a word with Erin… and in case you missed that Lady Killer, here are some more photos:

All Star Weekend 7.12.2009 009.jpg

The ticket for Sunday’s events was more entertaining than the actual Sunday events (which included mostly rain):

Thumbnail image for All Star Weekend 7.12.2009 006.jpgThe Stan Musial statue is quite stubborn and refuses to allow “FOX” to be shown in its entirety:

All Star Weekend 7.12.2009 010.jpgPirates prospect, Brad Lincoln, signs autographs while secretly pouting that he’s in the Pirates organization:

All Star Weekend 7.12.2009 027.jpgUS America rocked by St. Louis Cardinal hats… very cool:

All Star Weekend 7.12.2009 031.jpgA kid fighting to stay on his feet… and dry:

All Star Weekend 7.12.2009 037.jpgMe, rockin’ the ‘Spos cap with my friends Brian (left) and J.W. (right).  As I write this, Brian is heading out to Iraq for another tour.  Keep he and his family in your thoughts.

All Star Weekend 7.12.2009 041.jpgAlright y’all… hate me ‘cuz I’m gonna catch a homerun tonight, just don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right (even when I’m wrong).

Peace,

Jeff

H.R. & HRs: We Can Do Better

stop hand.jpgWhen Joe Torre, one of the untouchable paragons of class, is getting slammed for allegedly revealing all the Evil Empire‘s dirty secrets in a book that no one has had the chance to even read yet, I think it’s a pretty clear sign that we’ve run out of things to talk about this off-season.  Manny being Manny being unsigned is now as interesting a story as Bea Arthur is sexy.  The Varitek saga in Boston is teetering on the pathetic.  And when the Rangers look to be the best bet for unreliable dark horse Ben Sheets, does anyone really care anymore?

Zzzzzzzzzzz

How about a new MLB Network drinking game?  It may not be that ramshackle of japery that we created back during the post-season/presidential debate, but it sure will sauce your inhibitions quicker than Rush Limbaugh will make you want to commit suicide.

It’s simple.  Tune in to the Hot Stove Show and anytime Harold Reynolds leads the panel in a symphony of phrases uncomfortably coated by the word “guy”, take a drink.  You’ll be hammered ten minutes in to the program. 

Believe me. 

harold reynolds.jpgLook, I have nothing personal against Harold Reynolds and his self-serving ramblings.  He seems like a genuinely nice man and most of the time I actually get something out of his demonstrations on the diamond; but I sometimes feel dumb listening to his emphatic, annoyingly frequent use of the word “guy”.  Let me paraphrase a sample, dear reader — a hypothetical spew based on several weeks of actually listening to the man:

A guy like Manny… Manny Ramirez is a guy who just doesn’t change a team, he changes a division.  Guys see a guy like Manny in the clubhouse and then guys are suddenly seeing changes.  He’s a guy who has the ability to go out there and be that guy that all the other guys are honing in on — a guy who can beat you every time he takes the field.  And guys on the other side, guys on your side, those guys see that too.  Makes them want to go out there and be more competitive guys, guys that get things done.  You see guys change, not just guys on the team, but guys throughout the division.

I wish I were exaggerating.

H.R.’s inability to find a synonym for “guy” probably wouldn’t bother me so much if he didn’t subliminally infect the rest of the cast with his lecherous verbal disease.  Broadcasting newbies Barry Larkin and Al Leiter have picked up on it, and the ensuing cacophony is near deafening.

But, I keep watching… ‘cuz I love the MLB Network.  I can’t stop watching it.  So I might have a problem.

As much as I love it, there is one block of MLB Network programing that baffles me like a Spaceman eephus pitch.

ryan howard homerun derby trophy.jpgWhoever thought it would be a good idea to rerun old homerun derbies during a prime-time slot deserves to have John Kruk sit on his face during the two hours they’re being aired.  The homerun derby?  Really?  I’m supposed to get excited about watching a bunch of superstars hit lollygaggin’ Jamie Moyer fastballs from two, three, four years ago while Chris Berman entertains himself ad nauseum with his cutesy cleverness?  I didn’t care about the homerun derby the first time; why would I care now?

And even if you do enjoy the homerun derby (when it actually happens each July), do you really get excited about watching it again?  Save Josh Hamilton’s gargantuan effort of 2008 — a contest which he ultimately lost — is there really anything titillating in any homerun derby that makes you say: “Yeah!  Can’t wait to put aside two hours to watch that again!”

MLB Productions has done a fine job of producing edgy, dramatic, quality programs that explore the deep history and colorful characters of the game.  I haven’t been disappointed with one of their productions yet.  So I am both baffled and bored by the network’s decision to rerun past derbies instead of wowing us with original content.  Seems like they’re missing a big opportunity there.

The good news is: if I play the H.R. drinking game, I won’t be conscious enough to watch the derby reruns anyway.

Don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.

Peace,

Jeffy   

Analyze That

Wait. So who won the Home Run Derby? The only participants I even heard about were Chase Utley (for his expressions of love toward New Yorkers and Yankee fans) and Josh Hamilton (who apparently smoked super crack that allows him to destroy baseballs). Oh right. Justin Morneau. Oh well. Nothing to talk about there.

But there’s plenty to talk about when it comes to Josh Hamilton. Or at least that’s what I gather from watching Joe Buck’s play-by-play at the All-Star Game the other night. From Hamilton’s inability to brush his teeth by himself the morning after the Derby (I’m still not sure what Buck was trying to say) to a sloppy and drawn out True Hollywood Story rendition of Hamilton’s life, Mr. Buck managed to alienate most viewers within 15 minutes of the game’s first pitch. And that’s only if you were lucky enough to tune in late and miss the pre-game festivities.

However, none of this should really come as a surprise. Joe even recently admitted that he’s been phoning it in for awhile now. I mean, his on-air performance is about as thrilling as a Hilary Clinton stump speech and almost as inspiring as John McCain’s control of important health care issues.

It’s just sad that this is what Jack Buck’s kid has come to.

Anyway, it could be worse I suppose. He could make odd drunken sounding noises like his broadcast partner, Tim McCarver. Makes me wish for the old days, with guys who could really call a game. Guys like Ernie Harwell. And that’s all I’m gonna say because otherwise I’m going to come across as an old codger. At least it’s better than auditorily fellating an almost Home Run Derby champ.

-A

The Fleecing of US America

In what seemed to be just another routine trip of posturing down the runway Sunday evening, Miss USA Crystle Stewart and her subsequent fall (both figurative and literal) at the Miss Universe competition has become more than just a physical mishap.  In fact, this unfortunate slip has become the ultimate iconic representation of the current state of our nation and the hardworking US Americans who inhabit it.

anheuser busch clydesdales.jpgIn the last 24 hours, we have witnessed seasoned veteran journalist John McLaughlin resort to the ridiculous stereotyping of a pre-civil rights era nation, the strong-arming acquisition of an American staple by an elitist foreign entity that relies on the cowardly tactics of threats and foreboding reminiscent of one A. Hitler and the possibility that we US Americans may be watching Brett Favre throw a football wearing a helmet that doesn’t have “G” on it

If all this has you down, dear reader, and all you want to do is sit back, relax and watch the Home Run Derby tonight, let me remind you that it is not the Home Run Derby — it is the STATE FARM Home Run Derby and you will be bombarded with a bazillion commercials over two hours urging you to buy insurance for when the big bad Iranians try to blow us up.

Is nothing sacred anymore?

What’s next?

Will the there be a ban on apple pie?

Will Red Sox Nation run out of things to complain about?

Will the Cubs win a World Series?

I would try to go somewhere, take a vacation, forget about it all… but with Chicagoland gas prices hovering around $4.35 a gallon, I can’t afford it.

So I think I’ll just go to sleep.  And while I do, I’d appreciate it if you don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.

Peace,

Jeffy

The Filibuster

Among the most anticipated All-Star break events is the
coveted Home Run Derby (presented by State Farm?).  This competition is one of ESPN’s most highly
rated programs of the year, yet they seem to find a way to drag it out and make
it harder and harder to watch.  It now lasts
2 hours, which is extremely irritating. 
Have the people at ESPN and MLB lost touch with their public and if so,
what should be done to make it more enjoyable?

 

– Jeff

                                                                                      

I love the home run derby. Just like I love the slam dunk contest. And it’s quite obvious that we are not alone in these sentiments. Nothing really highlights a big game like a monster shot to left field or an authoritative dunk. And even when both are taken out of context, they’re still spectacular to see. However, the powers that be are aware of this, too, and as I’ve said many times before, sports today exist for the purpose of entertainment and entertainment is all about making money. In that respect, the slam dunk contest and the home run derby are American capitalism at its finest. And, when you take it into context, it kind of makes sense.

guerrero_derby.jpgLet’s set the scene. First off, the derby didn’t even come into being until the 1985 All-Star Game. In January of 1985, Ronald Reagan took the oath of office for a second time after destroying Walter Mondale the previous November. It seemed that America had finally regained some of the swagger it lost during the oil shocks of the 70’s and the debacle in Vietnam. And really does anything allow for swagger quite like a home run? The derby was a natural outgrowth of the Reagan 80’s and it’s current form owes much to Reagan and the evolution of capitalism during that decade.

Capitalism demands increasing returns on investment to keep investors sated. And there are no bigger investors in sports today than ESPN and the major broadcast networks who feed our need for 24 hour entertainment. Miss the 11:30 SportsCenter and it’s still waiting for you at 12:30. They live to serve but they also exist to make money. It’s like CNN and politics. As much as they said they wanted the Democratic primary to be decided they also lived for the idea that it might be fought all the way to the convention because then they’d have something to keep people coming back. Well, the derby keeps baseball fans coming back every year and it makes sense that the networks would take advantage of our fascination with these feats of uberhumanity.

If people tune in to watch the event, they’re probably going to stay until the end to see who wins. ESPN knows they have a captive audience. But ESPN makes its money from selling advertising at the highest possible rate and they get the highest possible rate by televising events that draw in key demographics. It’s the perfect storm and they want the storm to last as long as possible. Playing the derby out over rounds and allowing as much advertising as possible means that a fun event becomes interminable for the fans but it means that the network is going to pocket a nice chunk of change from everyone who ponies up tens of thousands of dollars to parade their products across the screen during every little break. We may not like it but this is the two-edged sword that is American capitalism.

So, let me try to answer your question simply. Have ESPN and MLB lost touch with their public? No, not at all. They know exactly how long we’ll stick around and they’re going to make sure that McDonalds, Pepsi, Axe Shower Gel and State Farm get in as many pleas for your business as possible. That’s America and that’s the reality. And even though it sometimes annoys me, I still love it.

-A

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