More Independence

Two in a row? You betcha! It is a multi-day holiday, after all. But no, I’m not planning to do baseball posts all week.

First, a couple of followups on the Home Run Derby last night.

Much flack on the Internet over the choice of Pitbull as the introductory musical act. Oddly enough, there doesn’t seem to be anyone questioning whether the Home Run Derby needs an opening musical act in the first place. Seriously, what’s the relationship here? Are they trying to compete with the Superbowl Halftime Show? If so, they really need to up the spectacle level: a few blasts of fire just don’t cut it.

But I digress. The complaints about Pitbull seem to boil down to three:

  1. He sucks – That’s a matter of opinion. He’s sold enough records that someone must like him. Moving on.
  2. He’s not from New York – Everything else at the Home Run Derby was designed to showcase New York and the Mets new(ish) stadium. Why not get a musician from New York. A good question. Maybe no local musicians could figure out what purpose an opening musical act would serve? Or maybe they figured that the bad publicity would be likely to outweigh the benefits?
  3. He lipsynced the show and did a lousy job of it – It seems like every large-venue act includes some “assistance” in the form of “fill-in” tracks. Much as the notion offends, it’s going to happen. Did he do a lousy job? I don’t know. I watched the show and thought his motions were a bit behind the audio, but ESPN seemed to be having audio issues throughout the entire Derby. At times I heard bats hitting balls before the balls even left the pitcher’s hand. I’m not going to ding Pitbull for a technical glitch.

Next up: I realize my comment yesterday about the entertainment value of the ball shaggers could have been misinterpreted. No, I was not implying that I hoped that one of the kids would get hurt. Nor do I think I could do any better if I was out there. I’m just saying it’s like watching a pack of puppies chasing tennis balls: cute, frenetic, and occasionally spectacular. The kids’ range of skills is highly variable, and watching them try to balance “If I make this catch I’m going to look so cool on national TV” against “OMG, it’s going to hit me in the head” makes for great viewing. For the record, I saw two great one-handed catches, but my favorite play of the evening was a ground ball that went straight through the legs of three different kids before someone corralled it.

OK, enough on the Home Run Derby. Let’s talk about trades. In particular, John Brownson had a good comment on the subject yesterday, noting that baseball is a business, and most players will be traded at some point in their careers, even though there are some you as a fan don’t want to see go.

All unfortunately true. The flip side is that there are still players who spend their entire careers with a single team, and there are players you’re glad to see go. Realistically, the best you can hope for is that when a hero goes, the return is good (see, for example, Ken Griffey Jr. for Mike Cameron–Cameron might not have been the all-around superstar/face of the franchise that Junior had been, but the Mariners did get some pretty good years out him.) And when a hero declines, sometimes the best thing you can do is wish him well (i.e. Ichiro, whose post-Mariners performance has been a significant step up from his last couple of years as a Mariner. And it’s certainly not his fault that the return on the deal has been fairly uninspiring to date.)

In the case of Rauuuuuuuul, why would the Mariners trade the core of the current offense, a man who’s on his third stint with the team and popular with the fans? As John said, it’s a business. This season is, from a “wins = putting butts in the seats” perspective, going nowhere. Rauuuuuuuul is unlikely to have another fabulous season next year at age 42. Better to trade him to a team that thinks a clutch bat would make the difference in their playoff run and try to get a younger player who can help the team down the road.

Why “towards the end of the month” as I said yesterday? We’ll cover that in the baseball post I promised for the end of the month. If events play out as I expect, we can talk about where Rauuuuuuuul went, what the Mariners got in return, and why it happened when it did. If he’s still with the Mariners, you can watch me publicly flog myself before I cover why the end of July is significant.