Wednesday, May 09, 2007

The designated hitter

-My parents have been married for nearly 30 years, a phenomenal fact for which I thank God every day. They absolutely do not fight, ever.

"Okay," I can see you asking. "That's great, but what does your parents' long and fightless marriage have to do with the designated hitter?"

Oh darlings, it has everything to do with the DH. The only time I've ever heard them argue is over the merits and drawbacks of the DH. Some people think that's ridiculous, and that surely these two people have something bigger about which to argue. I think it's a perfectly valid thing to fight over, and have entered a number of debates about why the DH makes managing baseball too easy, and takes away some of the purity of the sport.

This has been an issue on the table for years in our household. It comes up from time to time, and we all have a merry laugh that something as seemingly trivial can cause such division in our otherwise harmonious family. But tonight, according to a commercial for the Missouri Lottery, this argument puts us among baseball's craziest fans. These commercials (which I'd link to, but I can't find yet; sorry!) feature some ridiculous show of ultra-fandom like "You haven't washed your lucky socks since 1985 -- Or removed them." or "You watched every game of the 1985 season -- consecutively." The punchline (if that's what it would be called in an advert) is that there are easier ways to show you're a hardcore Royals fan, like buying the new Royals-themed scratch tickets from the MO lotto.

One that my dad and I saw for the first time tonight reads like this:
"The DH argument has ruined two friendships...

...and a marriage."

Dad and I were talking on the phone when the commercial first aired, and laughed heartily for quite a while. Did they write that commercial about us specifically?!?

-Last night, the O-Royals took 13 innings to down the Sacramento Rivercats. They loaded the bases (on 3 walks, if I remember correctly) in the 10th but did not score, which was kind of frustrating. But then in the 13th, Mike Aviles of all people -- definitely more of a scrappy speed guy than a power guy -- smacked a home run to end it. I was impressed with our bullpen for holding the tie as long as they did; as a follower of the Royals for so long, I generally take the attitude that once we hit extra innings it could take a miracle for the bullpen to hold up.

Aaanyway, yesterday's game was pretty strange for me, as Nebraska alum Shane Komine took the mound for Sacramento. It felt so wrong to root against him after all the time I spent cheering him on in his Husker days! I ended up getting the best of both worlds, as Special K dominated for a few innings, but the Royals offense picked up in the middle of the game. So I got to see my team do well enough, and got to see a former Husker excel as well. I'm so spoiled sometimes!

-My extra access to various O-Royals players has made me think a lot about who they are, why they are in AAA Omaha, and what they are doing to make it to The Show (whether they've been there before or not).

For example, I'm one of many who has criticized Angel Berroa for his fall from grace after his Rookie of the Year season in 2003. It was easy for me to criticize, because I did not know who I was dealing with. He was just a guy who I had heard was goofy, but was ultimately more a compilation of statistics than a person to me. (That sounds really heartless now that I have finished typing it. But the thing is, I don't know many players personally, so I don't have too much to go on besides their numbers. I hope you know what I mean.) But this article in the Kansas City Star, combined with the fact that Berroa is my favorite player to be around at work, makes me feel bad about ever having spoken harshly about him.

Sure, he has his weaknesses on the field. From a strictly baseball standpoint, Berroa is a guy who swings at bad pitches, has a tendancy to ground out (often in DP situations), commits errrors a lot, and almost never walks. But he's a person. He's a person who works hard but LOVES baseball (and life) so he smiles and jokes all the time. He's a man of the people and signs autographs for almost anyone who asks -- he has a special weakness for his youngest fans, as he himself is a father. The guy mentioned in the KC Star article is someone I know; he's a season ticket holder and a pretty vocal heckler. But I'm pretty sure that Angel will still sign autographs for him, despite all the mean comments. (As an aside, I'm pretty sure I was about 2 feet away when the situation described in the story actually happened.) Of course Berroa wants to get back to the majors, but he's not a mopey guy. He is wise enough to know that being bitter about his demotion will do nothing to help him get back to the bigs.

In the article, Sam Mellinger describes Omaha as a place where fans only show up for "goofy promotions." As a member of the O-Royals' promotions staff, I almost take offense to that, but then again a lot of what we do is pretty goofy. But the people we bring on the field for promotions are that many more people for Berroa to pick on, joke with, or startle with his loudness. And as well as that goofy atmosphere does suit Berroa's personality, I hope for his sake he doesn't have to be in it for too much longer.

P.S. Tomorrow is, as mentioned in the article in the Star, Thirsty Thursday. Drink up, Royals fans!

UPDATE: Mark Teahen just got yet another assist, throwing out a runner at home to end the inning!! He had an astounding THREE assists on Saturday, and one more over the weekend, plus the one just now. I think it's safe to say he is adjusting pretty handsomely to right field, yes?

Also, I can not for the life of my type the word 'soul.' For some reason I always want to put a 'd' at the end of the word. I mention this because that word is in the name of my favorite baseball blog, Joe Posnanski's 'The Soul of Baseball.' If you're looking for some great reads on baseball from someone way more knowledgable than me, go read it. He's great!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Ha! good blog.

(ha for the DH part, very insightful with the berroa part. not inciteful.)