Hello and welcome to another Wednesday of deep thoughts. As I sat Tuesday night watching the All Star game, I struck me that the baseball season was half way over. Yeah…I know technically this is not the half-way point, but for me…the All Star game signifies the mid-point of the season. Today is July 16th…damn, where does the time go? Soon we will be talking football training camps and then fall will be upon us. But, I will not jump ahead.
For those of you that watched the All Star game, I think you will agree that this was a pretty well-played game. Derek Jeter got another start at shortstop and added a double and a single to his career All Star game hit total. Although I did not vote for Jeter, I appreciated the opportunity to watch him in one last All Star Game. For my money, MLB is the only game that offers an All Star game that is worth a damn. The game is a chance to honor those players that have had a great season and to provide the fans a chance to see their favorite players. When I vote, I specifically look at the numbers. But I acknowledge that players like Derek Jeter have earned the starting spot based upon putting together many great years. In my opinion, the All Star game is for the fans. I was rather pissed when reading comments to an article Tuesday night. A fan was complaining about Jeter being the starting shortstop for the AL and how unfair it was that another more qualified player was possibly left off the roster. He went on to say that the All Star game only comes around to each city once in a long while and that the fans want to see the best players not old players like Willie Mays…really? I would walk to Houston if I could turn the clock back to watch Willie Mays play…in his prime or not. What many fail to realize is that seeing a Derek Jeter will mean much more to some 11 year old kid than watching another AL shortstop. In 30 years or so that 11 year old kid will be talking about the time he saw the great Derek Jeter. This is a moment in baseball history and will forever remain with those fans in attendance Tuesday night.
It is funny how we seldom appreciate greatness as it appears routinely in our lives. I knew Jeter was a good shortstop, but I never really stopped to see what the guy was doing. He never hit a ton of HRs, so he sort of flew under the hype radar. He simply did his job better than any of his peers…day after day, year after year. With the two hits in Tuesday night’s game…Jeter finishes with 13 hits in 27 All Star at bats…an average of .481. Only three players have had 2 three hit All Star games…Mays, Yaz and Jeter. The greatness of Jeter was disguised by the routine way that he went about his business. Never did Jeter seek the limelight. I had to laugh at the response Jeter gave Tuesday night when asked about the reason that he worked so hard at doing his job…”my team had a habit of cutting players that did not play hard.” Can you imagine Jeter being cut by the Yankees? That is so Jeter…not putting himself above being replaced. There is something special in this approach and I wish more players adopted this attitude. Derek Jeter is a throw-back for sure…but I saw another player Tuesday that fits the same mold…Mike Trout. Now, Trout does not exactly fly under the radar, but what I see is a guy that wants to play the game the right way. He takes care of his business and supports his teammates. Off the field, he understands that his actions reflect upon his team…just like Jeter. It is refreshing to see a 22 year old being a professional. I know my friends that are Tiger fans would have liked to see Miggy pick-up the MVP trophy on Tuesday…but I figure Trout was due.
The other big news from the game Tuesday was Adam Wainwright commenting that he gave Jeter some cookies to hit. He backed off this statement when he realized that his statements were going crazy on twitter. The reality is that even if this is true, it does not demean the night for Derek Jeter. It does make Adam Wainwright look like a putz for not having the sense to keep his mouth shut. I understand players wanting to show respect to a Derek Jeter, but I have no doubt that Jeter would have preferred to see Wainwright’s best stuff. Even so…a cookie at 90 mph does not hit itself. The All Star game is an exhibition game and the fact that Wainwright chose to challenge Jeter instead of attempting to deceive him should be perfectly acceptable. I am glad that this will be the last All Star game for Bud Selig. Hopefully, the new commissioner will make at least one change...remove the home field advantage going to the winner of this game. This game is an exhibition game for the fans and does not need anything else to make it important. Let the team with best season record have the World Series home field advantage.
I saw a great tribute to Jeter this week and felt it was only fitting that I add it here…I join those in this video tipping my hat to the career of Derek Jeter.
By the way...the AL won 5 to 3.
Ooops...someone at the All Star game forgot to add Derek Norris to the list for car signs...thank goodness for teammates.
By now, everyone has heard that LeBron James is headed back to Cleveland. I will not pretend that I knew where LeBron was headed. But, I had a sense that he was tired of carrying the entire load in Miami. I read a very interesting article by Bill Simmons. You really should check it out...http://grantland.com/features/god-loves-cleveland/
Simmons makes some very bold statements regarding LeBron. He calls him an NBA genius; “unparalleled NBA genius” were the exact words that Simmons used. He feels that James follows in the footsteps of Larry and Magic and of course…MJ. At first glance, I scoffed at these comments. Yes, there is no doubt that James is a great player…but to put him the company of these three, is beyond what I can accept. After reading Simmon’s thoughts…I do admit to having more insight into the actions of LeBron James. I know what some of you are probably thinking…James is an attention whore. He cannot win without a strong supporting cast. But, if you take a close look at the team he won two championships with in Miami…that is not totally the case. In fact, if you want to take a close look at the supporting casts of Bird, Magic and MJ…I suppose you would say that they might have had a superior group around them. Certainly anyone would have to agree that those championship Laker and Celtic teams were loaded with talent. Even MJ needed Pippen to win championships. There is a clip of MJ stealing a game in the Simmons’ link…it sure brought back some great memories and reminded me just how good MJ was…damn.
I suppose what bothers most of us about LeBron it is not so much what has happened but the manner that he went about it. The “Decision” for me was the beginning of my dislike for the man. I saw this event as a self -absorbed act that was beyond selfish. The big three getting together to create a championship team in Miami smacked of arrogance and contempt for the system. In truth, the NBA is not what it was 20 years ago. The league is full of players more concerned with their “brand” and bank account than playing the game as a team. I suspect that this is why so many jumped gleefully onto the Spurs championship bandwagon and were delighted to see Miami go down in flames. But, the actions of others are not the fault of LeBron. I really do think that LeBron got tired of carrying the heavy load in Miami and realized that the Big 3 was more LeBron than Wade and Bosh. Hey…I don’t feel sorry for Miami, they have 2 championships to show for the 4 years of LeBron and that is not such a bad deal for them. In truth…they got what they paid for and in the end, got what they deserved.
I really thought that the letter published in SI was a perfect way for LeBron to announce his return to Cleveland. In fact, I think compared to the “Decision” it was a stroke of genius. Now, we can discuss who wrote the letter or whose decision it was to write the letter…but ultimately, it was on James to make the choice. I do know that how James returned to the Cavs was a whole lot better than how he left. Comparing his 4 years in Miami to four years in college is sort of corny, but it also sort of works for me. When you stop and realize that James has played in the league for 11 years and he is still not 30 years of age. Perhaps James did need to go to Miami to figure out how to win? Maybe he returned to Cleveland because he was tired of being the villain? This got me to thinking…LeBron has gone from villain to hero with this move. What other villains have successfully made this transaction? I came up with a short list of what I consider to be the most notable. If I have forgotten a few, please throw them in. Here is my list:
I know that for some of you, there is nothing that LeBron James can do at this point to change your opinion. But when I take a close look at James, I see a kid that has grown up with less than a favorable role model. He did not attend college and have the influence of a college campus or a college coach. In spite of this, the man has kept his nose clean. He has not been arrested and is not in strip clubs partying it up. This is man has a family and it is my hunch that there is real substance in his move to return to Cleveland. Thomas Wolfe says "you can't go home again"...but LeBron is attempting to prove otherwise. It could be that LeBron is added to above list; only time will tell. If LeBron can win a few championships in Cleveland, I will be happy for the Cav fans. With the bad times they have been through, it would be great to see them celebrate. But...to become a hero for me, James will need to stay in Cleveland. For others...I don't think it will matter. At the end of the day, LeBron James must learn to be true to himself and his family and in the end, that is all that will matter.
I could not finish this week without taking a moment to mention that Alex Rodriguez is being sued by his attorney for non-payment…I don’t know if I find this more funny or ironic. Character sure has a way of exposing itself, doesn’t it…
That’s all I have today, but I will leave you with a bit of Jack Handey…
"One thing kids like is to be tricked. For instance, I was going to take my little nephew to Disneyland, but instead I drove him to an old burned-out warehouse. 'Oh, no,' I said. 'Disneyland burned down.' He cried and cried, but I think that deep down, he thought it was a pretty good joke. I started to drive over to the real Disneyland, but it was getting pretty late."
"Too bad you can't buy a voodoo globe so that you could make the earth spin real fast and freak everybody out."
Thanks for stopping by and feel free to leave a few deep thoughts of your own…