July 15, 2008

Holy Hamilton!

by Dan Bilicki In: Baseball

It’s all-star weekend in baseball, only it takes place on a Monday and Tuesday night. But that’s pretty much a weekend, right? I mean it is two days off for those guys in a row and you’ll never see that during the regular season, unlike in every other team sport.

Wow, I knew Josh Hamilton could hit, but 28 home runs in the first round? You have to be kidding me. He also hit three bombs that went over 500 feet! That accounts for three of the longest eight ever. He was even so far ahead in the second round that he quit after four outs and had a total of 32. It’s a travesty that Justin Morneau won the derby crown seeing how his total of 17 in rounds one and two plus his five in the final combined fail in comparison to J-Ham’s first outing. If I’m blaming anyone for the final round collapse, it has to be the pitcher. I don’t mean to rail on the old guy who was visibly tired, but Hamilton would’ve done much better with a fresh arm tossing. He could’ve taken any Rangers pitcher anyway, they’re great at serving up homers.

It really sucks that no Yankees actually took part in the derby but that’s more so because of dumb rules than anything. A-Rod caught some flak for turning down an invite but could MLB not have changed the rules and let Jason Giambi in? The fact that only all-stars can compete is idiotic and outdated. The best mashers in the business should be allowed to compete so the public could see more massive displays like Hamilton’s.

And while we’re at it, shorten the damn contest already. Three rounds is too long as evidenced by Hamilton’s weak final round.

So, moving past baseball’s Slam Dunk Competition (the Home Run Derby), how about some other all-star thoughts from RTP? Well, I’m glad you asked.

Tough call on the starting pitchers for the midsummer classic. In the AL, Cliff Lee over Roy Halladay is a tough one. Doc’s been off the hook and has 7 complete games already. Lee has 12 wins for a team that’s 12 games under .500 and has an ERA of 2.31 (vs. Roy’s 2.71). I think that Terry Francona should have gone for the shock value as well as the sentimental feel and tabbed Yankees closer Mariano “The Hammer of God” Rivera to start. How great of a moment would that have been. I might’ve even teared up a little.

In the NL, as much as I would have loved to have seen Tim Lincecum start, he did so on Sunday, meaning there is probably no chance that the Giants’ wunderkid will be taking the hill at all for the game. Ryan Dempster and Brandon Webb also started Sunday which will limit the NL’s selection out of the pen too. Ben Sheets, who gets the starts — essentially over just Carlos Zambano — has had a nice year and will be plenty rested, but I wouldn’t have picked him if everyone was good to go.

Speaking of closers, Terry Francona had better get this right: Rivera pitches the ninth inning, not Papelbon. Anything else should get Boston’s manager dumped in the East River.

Well I’ll tell you this: As far as closers go, Francisco Rodriguez is having one hell of a contract year. Imagine how much money a team would throw at a guy who — having just set the record for most saves by the all-star break with 38 — could possibly rake in the most saves ever in a season. If Eric Gagne can make $8 million a year after pitching as shitty as he did in Boston, then K-Rod has to be offered at least $13 million. Now, if the Yankees could land him to replace Mo Rivera, maybe that decision to move Joba to the rotation wasn’t so bad.

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