Monday, July 09, 2007

OK, I Confess, I Like The HR Derby

Here in San Francisco at the All Star Game, tonight will be, admittedly, a weird one for me. As those of you who have read this blog regularly or heard me pontificate on the radio understand, I fancy myself as a traditionalist when it comes to sports.
I am not much for gimmicks. Never have been. Doubt I ever will be.
Still, in a spate of contradiction, I do have this strange attraction to the Home Run Derby at the All Star Game.
Seeing great power hitters drive the ball deep into the night, at least when you are seeing it live as opposed to on television, holds this odd fascination for me.
It goes back to the 1980s, when I had just started on the Tigers’ beat at The Oakland Press. There was a home run hitting contest at Tiger Stadium. It was part of something major league baseball was putting on. I forget the exact details. Only that Darrell Evans of the Tigers was facing Tony Armas of the Red Sox. And they were crushing bombs. Armas hit several over the left field roof. It was the first time I had seen that. Also, I watched it from the field level, not many feet from the batter’s box.
Of course, it means little. What makes baseball such an extraordinary challenge is the balance between a pitcher trying to get out a hitter with everything he has to offer. A home run derby is little more than slow pitch softball in that way. I also haven’t liked the way the Home Run Derby has taken away from the All Star Game itself. And it lasts way, way too long.
But having said all that, you’re darn I will be watching tonight. And with great interest.

Random Thoughts

- The Tigers are just a half-game behind the Red Sox for the best record in baseball. Amazing isn’t it?

- Salomon Torres is the ideal candidate for the Tigers to acquire for bullpen help. He can’t wait to get out of Pittsburgh, the Pirates can’t wait to get rid of him and he can still pitch. I hear Jim Leyland liked Torres a lot when he scouted the Pirates for the Cardinals.

- The ESPN movies and mini-series are usually more comical for their caricature aspect than anything to be taken seriously. But they’re fun. I will watch “The Bronx Is Burning.” Can’t help myself. The best one they have had so far was about Bear Bryant at Texas A&M. The worst one was the one about Bobby Knight.

- I don’t see Marcus Thames as an everyday player. I see him as a valuable piece of the puzzle as a bench player. Thames is the type of player you ride while he is hot, but sit when he cools. Eventually the holes in his swing get exposed if he plays too much. The Tigers are using him perfectly. I know this isn’t a popular thought right now, but Craig Monroe is the much better player.

14 Comments:

Anonymous Marty said...

You mentioned last week that the series against Boston would be a telling series. What did you think of the way it turned out? I'm not sure what to think, because Boston has been struggling lately, but it was an impressive sweep nontheless.

11:44 AM 
Blogger Fred Brill said...

Book,

Hitting the long ball in the All Star derby is like watching John Daly or Moe Norman crush golf balls off of Coke bottles. It doesn't hold my attention all night and is akin to The Master's par three tourny the Wednesday of Masters week.

I would much rather see the All Stars compete in an old fashioned hit-field-and-throw comeption. Show me all your skills. Not just the long bombs.

But that's just me - and my little pontification (I thought I was the only one who used that word!).

Moe Norman - There's an odd duck for an ESPN movie. I wonder if anybody ever did one about him.

Enjoy the game and be a Fan. Can't wait to hear about it through your blog.

Red Sox - we swept 'em. Who saw that coming?

Not me.

Atta-boys!

12:13 PM 
Blogger Steve said...

I agree completely about Marcus Thames. He has been in the league a while and there is a reason why he has never been an every day player. But, with the way the Tigers utilize him he is a valuable piece. However, I think that Craig Monroe is the same type player, not to the degree that Thames is, but not a true every day player. Very hot and cold.

12:18 PM 
Blogger maddog52 said...

Sorry I missed the blog last week I'd like to add a bit to your MVP claim. Yeah I think you can make a case for Guillen. I agree its not ordonez. My pick would be sheffield. He truely has changed this offense. We were middle of the pack last year. We add him and boom best in the bigs. First half has come and gone and the Tigers went to the break with a might roar. I think there is no question the team is good and could be extra special this year. We all said it last year. If you could put a solid bat in front of Ordonez or put a solid hitter behind him he would be like he is. Lets face it teams have to pitch to somebody. I just think if you look at what happen the games Sheffield wasn't in the lineup.

Another guy I'd give at least consideration is Granderson that cat should be in the All star game. He has played gold glove center field easily. He has been better then predicted his second season a top the order. Answering all criticism that he can do it. I was really hoping someone would pull out and he would get inserted cause he deserves it.

On the tigers going forward. I like our chances. I think it all depends on what moves are made at the deadline. I think Miner and Durbin have been good fits for the bull pen I am sorry I still don't trust Jones. Yes with a four run lead. Not with a 1 or 2 run lead. I'd like to see another move in the bull pen at the same time I don't think it is as bad to sell the farm on. I'd like to see Leyland stick with Thames a little bit more. Especially while he is hot. I hope MOnroe can work out the kinks. I'd hate for us to make a brass move cause this is the time he starts to heat up and this is the time you want that. However if by the deadline he is still struggling and not doing squat why not make a move. It's about winning now. I hate it when teams shrug their shoulders and talk about tomorrow when it isn't even here yet.


Quick hits:

Here is a shock. The lions really piss me off. Our defense looks like garbage on paper. A guy like Donavon Darius has been released. A clog (yeah he is troublesome, but being the lions you can't be picky) in tank johnson sitting out there. I am just disappointed they are making a move. Especially with Darius. Get the guy for a year fine. HE is ten times better then Stanley Wilson. HEck even that kid from seattle that was cut. kelly Herndon or what ever his name is.
The wings.. I would sweat. I think they are in better position then they were expected to be in. Eventually the nursing home will stop producing players and they will have to get younger. I thought it sucked they missed out on Smyth, but I still think they can get a productive guy.

The pistons signed billups great. They still need to make a move. I thought grant would have really helped out. i think they should go after Mo. Pete. Not for the full mid level but at least part of it. If they don't make amove I am fine with it. Cause I think that mid level would be perfect to use next year when a whole slew of good talent is available.

12:28 PM 
Anonymous Andrew Winkle said...

Pat the Book,

One thing you should be able to bet on and win is Maggs finally hitting one out. OK that's a low blow on my part.

After the way the bullpen performed this weekend, I'm wondering if the Tigers need to make this move for Torres. I realize one very good series doesn't cure all the ills suffered by the relief corps. Yet, Minor looks awfully good and Grilli did get the win on Saturday night. I guess the real question is what price do the Tigers pay to obtain him?

I can't say that I agree with you on Marcus Thames. My primary reason is that Thames has never been given the chance of being an everyday player. You never really know what a player is capable of until they're actually given the opportunity. Just look at the way Chad Durbin filled in as starter while Kenny Rogers was rehabbing.

I just don't like dismissing someone without actually giving him (or her) a fair and honest chance to either succeed or fail. Plus, his defense play has definitely improved this season.

Secondly, did you see that mortar Marcus launched Sunday afternoon? Not to mention that grand slam of his a few day before. My, oh my, that kind of power DTE should have on the grid.

12:52 PM 
Anonymous Danny said...

Pat, how can you not like the Home Run Derby in whatever incarnation? It's big fun to watch.

Did you ever watch the old Home Run Contests in black and white on TV? They used to have Mickey Mantle and a lot of superstars.

Once (in the 80s I think) we drove down to Ohio somewhere to get the Mick's autograph at a signing. When my turn came while handing him the ball I asked him about the old home run contests and why he always batted right handed. Well, he asked me if I have a couple of minutes to hear a story!! I laughed and said of course. So he begins to tell me the story that they only had one camera and they couldn't film him hitting from both sides or left handed.

By this time he has turned into Mark Twain and is telling me all kinds of stories about other baseball stuff - much to the chagrin of the hundreds of people in line. He was very charming and very polite, nice to see. Truly an unforgettable afternoon!

Tigers found a way to win this week -grinding it out. Whatever it takes. Beat the good teams, won at home, and gave up no runs in 12 innings to the Bosox. These guys are not only good, but know how to win.

Cheers, enjoy the game and the derby!

Danny

2:36 PM 
Anonymous lennyw1971 said...

Book, I'm with you on the Home Run Derby. The only thing that frustrates me about the Derby is that MLB changes the format too often, but overall I'll take it over the All-Star Game itself.

When is the last time us fans have heard so many baseball scribes and ESPN analysts say that the Detroit Tigers were the best team in baseball and should win it all?... an unbelievable feeling!

My guilty pleasure for an ESPN series was "Playmakers". It wasn't the best acting, but it gave us somewhat of a glimpse into the decadent, deceitful world of the athlete. I'll be glued to the tube for "Bronx is Burning".

Book, I know that good SF seafood is just calling your name... enjoy!

6:31 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Marty,
I think the way the Tigers closed the first half was incredibly telling. At the All Star Game, a friend of mine did informal poll of the writers about who would win the World Series. The Tigers came out on top. Their bullpen is still a work in progress, but otherwise this is an excellent team. The Boston series was just affirmation.
Caputo

3:30 AM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Fred Brill,
I agree about the other skills contests, but it's not going to happen because of the injury risk. The Red Sox flaws are starting to show. As for the home run derby, I found it be a little underwhelming, to be honest with you. It lasts too long. The fans seemed to enjoy it and it is a made for TV event.
Caputo

3:32 AM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Steve,
I talked to a lot of people about Monroe at the All Star Game and I have come to the conclusion that most people don't think he is that good. It might be that the Tigers have outgrown him. You know, kind of like they did with Mike Maroth.
Caputo

3:34 AM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Maddog52,
I like the Tigers chances, too. I would be surprised if they aren't in the postseason. The Tigers have so many MVPs. Sheffield is definitely one of them. Just look how much better their lineup is with him in it? He is just a really good player. Love the way he plays angry.
Caputo

3:36 AM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Andrew Winkle,
It was weird how Mags had trouble pulling the batting practice pitcher in the home run derby. But I'd keep doing what he is doing. It is producing tons of runs. Thames has a lot of holes in his swing, but his bat is incredibly live. He has true power. He hits the ball farther than any Tigers hitter. That is saying something.
Caputo

3:40 AM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Danny,
LOL...I am trying to think if there were any lefties in that contest. I remember Aaron, Mays, Mantle, Al Kaline, Killebrew, Bog Allison, Dick Stuart...I think Eddie Mathews - and he was left-handed. It was a classic. I wish they would play again instead of poker and pool.
Caputo

3:43 AM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Lennyw1971,
Actually I ate a lot of Italian food in SF. They have some great restuarants in the North Beach area. It is strange to hear the Tigers talked about so glowingly nationally. I heard it every day I was in SF. Then it was, see you in the postseason. It is expected the Tigers will be there.
Caputo

3:45 AM 

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