Tuesday, July 14, 2015

All Star game thoughts

In pre-game festivities, it was pretty cool they trotted out four guys that were voted the greatest living legends in the game of baseball. Sandy Koufax, Willie Mays, Hank Aaron and Johnny Bench. All Hall of Famers, of course, and definitely worthy of the honor. What went unnoticed was all four were National League players. Curious.

Per usual, the latest and greatest sensation of the stage, screen, videos and vocals (allegedly) was presented to sing the National Anthem. Just one question -- if she's so noteworthy -- how come I never heard of her? Didn't know her name then and can't remember it now.

Nevertheless Bimbo and her back-up Bimbettes went on to butcher the National Anthem. What is it with these people? Don't they understand they are privileged to be on such a stage in the first place? They are there to sing a song honoring our country. They are NOT there to show off their "dubious" talents by jerking it around. Is it just too difficult a concept for them to comprehend that singing it the exact way Francis Scott Key wrote it during the War of 1812 is appropriate? And jazzing it up is disrespectful? You never see this happen at NHL rinks when a world-class singer belts out O Canada. Then again, they have a way of getting operatic tenors to do the honors -- people that can give one goose bumps with their voices -- rather than trotting out the latest here today, gone tomorrow twit like the Americans have become so fond of showcasing.

Idle thought: What do you think would happen to other such singers if they took it upon themselves -- with the world watching -- to mangle their country's National Anthem? The guess here is most European nations would not be amused. Others around the world might react a bit harsher. As in, that singer would never be heard of again for showing such disrepect to their country. If not summarily executed, perhaps a long prison sentence doing hard labor in a Gulag somewhere would be imposed. Either way, it would definitely serve as a deterrent to the next singer of their National Anthem. Trust me -- they'd get it right -- as it should be. Only America tolerates this nonsense.

During the game itself, home plate umpire Tim Welke had a very strange strike zone. Evidently, ankle-high pitched balls are now called strikes in his myopic world. It happened over and over again. In a regular season game the batters would likely have screamed bloody murder, but they let such things slide in the All-Star game. Nevertheless, there's only one thing a batter can do with a pitch at his ankles. Hit a ground ball. Welke may be a veteran ump, but if he bothers to watch the tape of the game later, he should be embarrassed by some of the strikes he called. They weren't even close.

True to form, the hypesters were in full stats from hell mode going into and throughout the game. They have more superlatives than the Guiness book of records these days when it comes to players. Everybody's the greatest at something. Objective criticism is no longer allowed. The politically correct thing.

Sure enough, they gushed over National League starting pitcher Zach Greinke of the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Zackster hadn't allowed a run in his last 36 innings of pitching. True, that's impressive.

But once the game started, Greinke didn't make it through the first hitter he faced without giving up a run. Mike Trout lined his fourth pitch into the right field seats for a homer. Oops. No doubt ZG is a great pitcher, but it turns out the All-Stars from the other team can hit a bit too, even as they had to deal with Welke's crazy strike zone.

That brings up another idea. During All-Star games, playoffs, and the World Series, supposedly the "best" umpires are selected to officiate the contests. And unlike regular season games, there are 6 of them rather than 4.

So why not rotate them every inning? After one inning behind the plate, that umpire goes to first base. The one on first to the right field line. The right field line ump to second base. And on around the diamond. The third base ump would put on the chest protector and face mask and assume duties behind the plate, etc. Look at the upsides. The pitchers rarely last more than one inning, so a different strike zone to the new pitcher wouldn't be a problem any more than a regular game. The umps themselves would probably like it. They get to walk around a little bit instead of standing like statues in their original positions for hours. At the end of innings, by the time one team came off the field and the other went on, plus the pitcher's 8 warm-up tosses, the umps could easily shift with time to spare. They're supposed to know all the umpire positions and be the best at them -- right? So move them around. I fail to see a downside to this change in the games.

In the end, the American League triumphed and their league champion will have home field advantage in the World Series. Good luck trying to figure out which team that might be. And home field advantage doesn't mean squat in major league baseball games. Anybody can beat anybody else in any given game at home or on the road. It's been proven over and over again.

But for now the ALers have bragging rights over the "senior circuit". Too bad they didn't have a player considered "top 4" all-time worthy for the pre-game festivities. That was an NL sweep. But Sandy, Say Hey, Hammerin' and Johnny B were a very impressive group.

Maybe they should have sung the National Anthem in four-part harmony barbershop quartet style instead of the B-girls. Bet they'd have got it right....

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