Sunday, June 3, 2012

Random Thoughts

Since I haven’t had time to put together many complete thoughts lately, this week’s story is a montage of bits and pieces.

Contrary to popular opinion among Major League pitchers, sometimes batters do hit good pitches. Ask any pitcher who gives up a home run, or any long hit, and he will invariably say:

“It was a hanging curve/slider/changeup.”

Yes, sometimes that is exactly what happened. But the reality is – are you listening pitchers – Major League baseball batters really do know how to hit Major League pitching.

There have been a lot of 'purpose pitches' in baseball lately. Last week, the Red Sox and Rays nearly had a brawl. The media guys are freaking out over the whole thing. Get a grip - it's the way the game is played. You hit my guy, I hit yours - we're even. As long as they're not throwing at a guy's head, it's no big deal. It is the way the game has been played for more than one hundred years.

It’s a shame that Major League umpires no longer seem to have what it takes to do the job. Too many umpires now engage in and even initiate arguments with managers, players, and coaches. Not only that, but the umpires of today have such short fuses that no one is safe. A manager used to be able to plead his case without fear of being ejected.

In today’s game, it is no longer possible for this to happen – umpires looking to make a name for themselves and put on a show are far too quick with the hook. I’m not a fan of White Sox announcer Ken ‘Hawk’ Harrelson, but his recent on-air tirade against an umpire needed to be said. Harrelson took a lot of heat for his tantrum, but if umpires had the integrity they should have, we wouldn’t need to talk about this at all.

I’m not talking about umpires making mistakes – everyone makes a mistake occasionally. Television replays often show that the umpires make the correct calls more often than not.

No, this problem is the umpires who are looking to throw someone out. They are looking to not only start, but to escalate a bad situation, when what they should do is stand their ground, close their mouths, listen to an argument until they have heard enough, then turn and walk away. Harrelson was correct when he said:

“They have no business umpiring because they don't know what the game of baseball is about."

Congratulations to Met’s pitcher Johan Santana on his recent no-hitter. The two-time Cy Young Award winner missed the 2011 season after shoulder surgery put his career in doubt. Coming back this year, Santana has pitched well, and a few days ago, he pitched the first no hit game in the history of the New York Mets. Even if you are not a Met fan, you have to appreciate what it takes for any pitcher to have a game like that.

Which brings up the next point about being a baseball fan. My family roots for the Houston Astros, and the Texas Rangers. This won’t be a problem until next season, when the Astros move to the American League and become division rivals with the Rangers. We are Astros fans first, but this will be difficult, as we want to see the Rangers do well.

An Astros fan page on Facebook has recently fallen victim to rants and raves from people who insist that you can’t be a fan of more than one team. At least one member of that page has taken a lot of heat for talking about the Rangers on the Astros FB page. Diehard Astros fans (of which he is one) have written some harsh words about this man, simply because he believes that a true baseball fan is a fan of the game of baseball. He and I believe that a true fan may have one favorite team, but it is still possible to follow and root for other teams as well.

My wife saw me watching a Tigers/Twins games one Saturday afternoon.

“Why are you watching those teams?” she said.
“Because I love baseball,” I said. “I love watching any baseball game. I want to see great plays and great players from any team playing the game.”

My friend Floyd and I agree that a true baseball fan is a fan of the game of baseball. Stand your ground, my friend.

Those of you who play fantasy baseball appreciate the strange feeling of finding yourself rooting for a player who is on your fantasy team, but plays for a real team that you would normally root against. For example, Yankee outfielder Curtis Granderson is on my fantasy team the Dugout Dregs. I am most decidedly not a Yankee fan, but since Granderson plays for me in the Lone Star Fantasy League, I have to root for him.

The other day was the first day of summer vacation for us, and what better way to spend it than to watch our son Brendan play baseball. He had a great game: 2 for 4 with a single, a triple (the first of his life), and three runs batted in. He made a spectacular running catch at shortstop to stifle a rally, and he took a throw from an outfielder and from twenty feet past second base, he fired a strike to the plate to stop a runner from scoring from third. That team has seen him throw before, and they chose not to test his arm – it was a good choice, as that runner would have been out.

“That’s my kid out there,” said my wife Tiffany with a huge smile on her face.
“That’s my brother!” said Emily – a star in her own right.

Although we love watching Brendan play, we’re not proud of him just because he is a great athlete. We are proud of him because he plays his heart out – he gives everything he has every second he is on the field. Not everyone plays that way, and we appreciate that our son strives to do his best. We also appreciate that our children support and root for each other – most of the time anyway.

© 2012 LTM

No comments:

Post a Comment