I guess I broke about even with my over-analysis of the Derby contestants. I picked an Utley-Hamilton final because both are so good at hitting line drives, but Utley was unimpressive and Hamilton was the exact opposite. However, the two finalists, Hamilton and Justin Morneau, had LD%’s of at least 19%. Maybe some day I’ll do a little research and see what correlations, if any, exist with batted ball tendencies and Derby success.
The commentating from the ESPN crew was awful. ESPN gets a lot of heat — some of it unnecessary — from bloggers, but this criticism is 100% deserved. They should feel embarrassed for putting that rag-tag group of “analysts” on national television. Rick Reilly made me want to punch my television multiple times and the only benefit from that is that I might have decided to go HD while shopping for a new one.
Reilly wasted no time by pontificating on how racist the Derby is since all eight contestants were of the Caucasian variety (though he mentioned that Vladimir Guerrero declined, as if that didn’t invalidate his point), and Ryan Howard wasn’t there to defend the Derby crown he won in 2006 and lost last season.
It gets worse.
He injected — no pun intended! No, seriously! — the steroid controversy early on while Grady Sizemore was hitting homers into the upper deck. “Who needs steroids?” Reilly wondered, because that’s exactly what baseball fans needed to be reminded of as they watch some of the game’s best power hitters hit 450-foot home runs.
It gets worse.
As Hamilton was on his way to setting the Derby record for home runs in one round, Reilly exclaimed, “It’s a lousy night to be an atheist!” The fellows at Fire Joe Morgan, as usual, do a great job of finding the humor in it. I don’t think Reilly meant it as a jab against atheists, but it was not a funny joke at all and it could be taken as offensive by some people. Replace “atheist” with any minority group that it’s not okay to hate in this country, and Reilly’s microphone would have been muted and he would have been canned after the contest.
As I mentioned in my previous entry, I did agree with Morgan’s analysis of Utley’s failure to hit lots of home runs. Morgan said that Utley was conscious of trying not to over-swing and as a result, he was tentative and wasn’t getting those powerful swings we’re used to seeing in real games.
However, it was just embarrassing because on multiple occasions, he claimed that Hamilton made an out and then we watched the ball sail 460 feet into the upper deck in right field.
As for the others, Chris Berman was his trademark unbearably annoying. I actually thought about violently jamming Q-tips into my ear drums, but then I realized that I have a mute button.
Steve Phillips was his trademark ignorant. I can’t really say anything bad about Peter Gammons or Karl Ravech or John Kruk.
ESPN is one of the most successful networks ever in the history of time, so I can understand their mindset in keeping with the status quo, but they really need a shake-up in how they do things on that network. They’ve basically turned into the sports version of MTV. MTV used to play music nearly non-stop, but now it’s turned into the one channel that is provided for you in hell. Nearly 24 hours of reality television. ESPN is Titletown U.S.A. and Who’s Now? and My Wish and The Bronx is Burning. Even on SportsCenter, it’s the sports version of TMZ with their constant gossiping the love pentagons between Alex Rodriguez, his wife Cynthia, Madonna, Lenny Kravitz, and Hank Steinbrenner. Or it’s about what Brett Favre wrote in his text messages.
They have hopped from the quality bandwagon onto the quantity bandwagon. And you know what? Most of the American public is sadistic enough to derive enjoyment out of it, so it’s successful. It’s actually smart of ESPN to do this in terms of profit. However, I think that with the popularity of sports blogs and the high level of discontent with ESPN that already exists, they could be at risk of alienating a sizable portion of their viewership. It could be a little pebble that rolls down a steep hill and becomes a huge boulder by the end of the descent.
Food for thought.
Yeah, he didn’t fare too well. However, he made the night completely worthwhile by dropping this beauty:
Josh Hamilton and Bobby Abreu
In case you were wondering, Abreu still holds the record for most home runs hit in an entire Home Run Derby with 41. Hamilton finished with 35 after breaking Abreu’s single round mark of 24 by hitting 28 in the first round.
Hamilton probably could have hit more, but he voluntarily ended his second round after recording only four outs, since he was guaranteed a spot in the finals anyway. It’s likely that he took any swings in the second round just to stay warm.
Think of the Children!
If my memory serves me correctly, Hamilton did not hit a single home run with a Gold ball. Why does he hate children so much?
The AL MVP Award
I’ve seen these comments made already, and just in case any of the people who made them are reading my blog, I’d like take this opportunity to tell you that Josh Hamilton is not any more deserving of the AL MVP because he set a single-season Home Run Derby record.
Ian Kinsler is the AL MVP presently. He is not Josh Hamilton, so this may come as a surprise, but, in fact, Kinsler leads the entire American League in VORP. Yep, he even has more VORP than Joshy.