Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Random Thoughts on the Derby, The Break

Good afternoon loyal readers and welcome to new readers. As I typically do when I don't have a whole lot of useful information or insight, I ramble. Random thoughts are amongst us once again. And I've got a few thoughts for you.
Texas Rangers Outfielder and Feel Good Story of the year Josh Hamilton hit a record 28 Jacks in last night's Home Run Derby. As 4Real and I discussed during the outburst, he who scores most in the first round will not win the Derby. Hamilton went on to prove this. One thought about the pitching effort. Why was Barry Zito wearing an American League All-Star jersey while he was pitching to Hamilton in the Derby, shouldn't he have worn the National League jersey?

Speaking of the Derby I got to thinking about the epic derbys of my youth...well actually the last time I actually spent time watching any part of the Derby, the late 90s. It got me thinking, how many guys in the Derbys of recent have been connected in some way, shape, or form with PEDs. Whether it be postive tests (Palmeiro), the Mitchell Report, refusing to comment on the advice of an attorney (McGwire), or just the fact that it's just obvious with jumping numbers (Anderson) or body size (Sosa).

I went back over past Derbys and since 1990 there have been 6 Derbys in which the Winner has been aligned to PEDs. Only 5 of the 19 Derbys have been clean (1991, 1994, 2005, 2007, 2008) 2005 shouldn't count because that was the year where they picked 8 different countries represented so PED users most likely would have stepped in for Hee-Sop Choi, Andruw Jones, or Jason Bay.

Also, since 2000's revamped format (each on his own rather than AL vs NL), the winner has been PED aligned 3 times (2000, 2002, 2004). Furthermore the Top finishers seemed to be PED alleged users. In 2001 3 of the Top 4, 2002 the Top 2, 2003 2 of the Top 5, and 2004 4 of the Top 5 were alleged dopers. The most alleged users in a single derby is a 3-way time with 4 alleged users:
1996 - Brady Anderson, Mark McGwire, Gary Sheffield, and winner Barry Bonds.
2001 - Sammy Sosa, Jason Giambi, Barry Bonds, and Troy Glaus.
2004 - Rafael Palmeiro, Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa, and winner Miguel Tejada.

Four other times there were 3 alleged users:
1990 - Matt Williams, Mark McGwire, and Jose Canseco (all of whom lost to Ryne Sanberg).
1992 - Gary Sheffield, Barry Bonds, and winner Mark McGwire.
1993 - Barry Bonds, David Justice, and winner Juan Gonzalez.
2002 - Sammy Sosa, Barry Bonds, and winner Jason Giambi.

In total there were 14 players associated with roids and the Derby.

Enough of that, on another train of thought, the jerseys. I understand it's entirely marketing strategy, but am I the only one who finds it ridiculous they make jerseys for these guys to wear for the Derby and other festivities (are there any other festivities?) but they don't wear them in the game. Don't get me wrong I love the fact that they wear their usual game uniforms for the game and wish this was the common practice still in the other league All-Star games. I just think if they're going through the effort to make these jerseys either wear them in the game or don't wear them at all.

Yes I am aware of the All-Star Futures game. I didn't watch it but I do know that it exists. But I got to thinking about how good of an exhibition is this game? Are these really the future All-Stars of Major League Baseball. I figure we should look back at the last 9 Futures Games, seeing as how the guys in the year's game aren't eligible to play in the futures game. So, how many former Futures players have since become All-Stars? By my incredible waste of time I counted 51 of the Futures players have gone on to play in the Big Game in All-Star Week in later years. I should point out that two of the guys who appeared in last year's game are in this year's All-Star game (Cubs Rookie and Starting Catcher Geovany Soto and Tampa Bay Rookie 3rd Baseman Evan Longoria) On this year's roster alone there are 9 AL players and 15 NL players who were once in the All-Star Futures game:

American League:
Josh Hamilton, TEX (2000)
Evan Longoria, TB (2007)
Joe Mauer, MIN (2003)
Justin Morneau, MIN (2002, 2004)
Dioner Navarro, TB (2004)
Francisco Rodriguez, LAA (2002)
Ervin Santana, LAA (2003)
Grady Sizemore, CLE (2003)
Kevin Youkalis, BOS (2003)

National League:
Lance Berkman, HOU (1999)
Ryan Braun, MIL (2006)
Aaron Cook, COL (2002)
Adrian Gonzalez, SD (2001)
Corey Hart, MIL (2002)
Ryan Ludwick, STL (2001)
Russell Martin, LAD (2005)
Aramis Ramirez, CHC (1999)
Hanley Ramirez, FLA (2005)
Ben Sheets, MIL (2000)
Alfonso Soriano, CHC (1999)
Geovany Soto, CHC (2007)
Chase Utley, PHI (2001)
Edinson Volquez, CIN (2005)
David Wright, NYM (2004)

I don't typically care about All-Star Games, and I was very vocal when The Commish changed the All Star Game format to grant Home Field Advantage to the winning conference. Well this year I care. The Cubs are nearly unstoppable at home, and below average on the road. If this is the year the Cubs "break the curse" and take the pennant we're going to need a victory in tonight's game. That's why I love the fact that there are 6 Cubs (of the 8 selected to the game) available to play in tonight's game. If winning means Home Field, and Home Field could (ultimately) help the Cubs, then I'm glad that the Cubs will be the ones out there deciding it instead of relying on some kid from Florida or LA who's just happy to be there.

Let's go NL, break that 11 year skid you're in.