Monday, July 6, 2015

Baseball this 'n' that

Just got back from Bruno Stadium, after seeing the Tri-City Valleycats win two out of three from the Stedler Division leaders, the Lowell Spinners, winning the rubber match, 7-4. The funny part about all of this is that the 'Cats' normally crack promotions team, which has played some pranks with visiting teams in the past, held off on doing so this time. Fortunately, the Spinners will be back in town next month, giving them a month to put together a playlist of the "other" Spinners, the R & B legends from the 70's (i.e. "I'll Be Around", "Mighty Love") to play between innings.

Not only that, but it was also "Bark at the Park Night", meaning fans could bring dogs to the stadium. It's a popular annual promotion, and there were dogs of all breeds and sizes on hand. If the dogs could be counted as part of the attendance, it'd be just another night at the ballpark. Another missed opportunity. Valleycats staffers could've dressed up as Snoopy, Marmaduke, Clifford, etc., to attract the kiddo's.

Hey, it could work.
The Mets only have one player in this year's All-Star Game, and that is the reigning Rookie of the Year, Jacob DeGrom, whose record would be better than it is were it not for the Mets' defense disappearing at inopportune times. Worse, NL manager Bruce Bochy (San Francisco) passed on Mets closer Jeurys Familia, a move that could backfire in the series that started tonight. Familia, with 22 saves in 24 chances, has been lights out since replacing Jenrry Mejia as the closer. Mejia will be activated from the suspended list on Tuesday, and likely will be sharing set-up duties going forward.

Of course, the All-Star starters are pock-marked with injuries, as usually happens. Miami slugger Giancarlo Stanton was voted in despite a broken hand that landed him on the DL right before the deadline. St. Louis' Matt Holliday could be activated in time after being sidelined with a groin injury. Cubs rookie Kris Bryant was selected to replace Stanton on the roster, without all the attendant controversy and speculation over Stephen Strasburg three years ago, when Strasburg was called up by Washington mere weeks into the season and the media, mostly TV types, were practically begging to have Strasburg put on the team. Didn't happen. Detroit star Miguel Cabrera will miss the game as well, as he was DL'd on Saturday with a calf injury. The deadline for voting had already passed by that point.

Bottom line: you just can't predict injuries.
Meanwhile, one Yankee who won't be in Cincinnati is Alex Rodriguez. AL manager Ned Yost (Kansas City) opted for Texas slugger Prince Fielder, who has a higher batting average and slugging percentage, over A-Rod, whose surprising start has healed all the wounds with Yankees fans and New York media, at least for now. Of course, it helps that the Yanks have been hovering around the top of the AL East, which no one expected.

Conversely, remember when all the wags thought Boston would be atop the division? I was one of the few that said it wouldn't happen, and, as of now, I've been proven right. Then again, I picked Toronto, and they're not that far above the Red Sox. Hey, beggars can't be choosers, and can't be right all the time. Similarly, the Chicago White Sox were a popular pick in the AL Central, but they're in a similar strait to the BoSox. The house cleaning will start after the season. If they really want to clean house, maybe retiring "homer" announcer Ken "Hawk" Harrelson (a former Boston announcer in the 70s with Dick Stockton) would be a good first step. His act gets old pretty fast. Homers tend to be like that. If they weren't, maybe I'd listen to Yankee games on the radio.
I found it amusing a couple of weeks back when the Mets entrusted Ron Darling with play-by-play duties while lead announcer Gary Cohen was on vacation. They started this experiment in spring training, in games I didn't get to see, but Darling got in a roller derby reference when he used the line, "he called off the jam". Amazingly, Keith Hernandez didn't call him out on it, and he grew up in San Francisco, which has been a major roller derby city for years. Like, who knew?

Of course, radio announcer Howie Rose, when he was on TV for the now-defunct SportsChannel back in the day, often---and probably still does---used a Honeymooners reference (a mere bag of shells) to describe fly balls in the outfield easily caught. All that tells us is that Howie is every bit a Noo Yawkah. The only TV he does now is voiceovers for Mets promotions, aside from being the play-by-play voice of the NHL Islanders. Ah, for the days when they could rotate the radio/TV coverage in-game.......

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