Tuesday, July 10, 2012

A Midsummer Check Up

The best tweet that TigerBlog read about the Major League Baseball Home Run Derby was this one, from @awfulannouncing:

"A swing-off in the Home Run Derby is matched by the drama of an overtime NFL preseason game."

If you were like TB last night, then you were 1) not watching the Home Run Derby and 2) okay with that.

The Home Run Derby, like the NBA's Slam Dunk Contest, aren't terrible ideas. It's just that the current sporting culture has turned every morning's highlights into a slam dunk contest or home run derby, that there's little unique or interesting about either one anymore.

And then there's the Chris Berman factor.

When ESPN first came on the air, Berman was in the right place at the right time, and his schtick worked for several years. Then, like most schtick, it became tiresome, and now it's just tedious, me-first, notice-me schtick that appeals to nobody that TB knows. In fact, he's enough to get people to stop watching, as opposed to enhancing the telecast.

Tonight is the Major League Baseball all-star game, which was always a favorite event for TigerBlog when he was younger.

Now? There's a better chance that he'll at least watch a little, but he won't be glued to it the way he was in the 1970s.

And the idea that home field for the World Series is determined by the All-Star Game? It doesn't make the game more meaningful, because for one it assumes that every American League player wants to get home field for the Yankees or Rangers, when probably the opposite is true.

TigerBlog has probably watched fewer than 20 total innings of baseball this season to date. Back in the 1990s, he'd watch that many in three nights, back when the Braves were on TBS every night.

The two factors that drive him to watch a baseball game now are rooting against the Yankees and watching/listening to Tom McCarthy on the Phillies games. McCarthy, as you might remember, did Princeton football and men's basketball for years on the radio.

TB also used to monitor the standings closely. And way back when, he used to look forward to Sunday's paper, because it had all of the batting/pitching stats, as opposed to just league leaders during the week.

Between opening day and today, TB has probably checked the MLB standings fewer than five times. 

What? The Nationals and Pirates are in first place? Who knew?

TB's downward spiral with Major League Baseball can be attributed to performance enhancing drugs and an upward spiral in the sport of lacrosse, obviously.

Still, he does regularly check in on Princeton's three Major Leaguers.

Chris Young is back pitching for the Mets, and he's pitching well. Young, the former basketball/baseball star at Princeton, has been exactly what New York needed at the back of the rotation, and he is 2-2 with a 3.41 ERA in his six starts, averaging more than six innings per.

Young, by the way, was only eligible for the 2000 Major League draft because he turned 21 before June 1 that year, which meant the end of his Princeton career after two dominant seasons in both sports. TB can't help but think of how good the Tigers would have been in basketball in 2000-01 had Young been eligible.

Anyway, Young is now 33. Where in the world has the time gone?

The other two Princeton alums are on the Padres.

Ross Ohlendorf, like Young, is back from injury and also like Young has pitched in six games, though he has only started two. Despite an ERA over 7.00, Ohlendorf is 2-0, which he is somewhat owed after his one-win season two years ago in Pittsburgh that featured a reasonably strong 4.07 ERA.

The other Padre is Will Venable, who has established himself as a legitimate Major League outfielder and who by the way is making $1.5 million this year.

Venable has stretches where he plays like an all-star, and while he still strikes out too much, his percentage is down a bit this year from his career. He was in a bit of a slump before the break, and his average is now at .248 with six home runs and 21 RBIs.


Anonymous said...

Lacrosse is both a partial cause of baseball's diminished popularity and the beneficiary of baseball being inherently boring. Long-term, lacrosse will maintain its growth as baseball continues to lose fans and parents prohibit their boys from playing football due to worries about concussions.

The fans and players of a majority of MLB all-star participants already know that they have no mathematical chance to be in this fall's World Series. Why would they be motivated by the opportunity to gain home field advantage? As you point out, logically they should want the other league to win HFA to improve their own prospects down the road.

Brian McD said...

As Scott Bradley has said, "The best thing that ever happened to lacrosse is Little League."