Tough to swallow
I’m a glutton for punishment. Oh, some might say for pizza or pasta or chicken or Turkey Hill iced tea … and I couldn’t exactly argue with any of those.
But, really, this comes down to sports, and my kids.
Either one catches my attention right out of the chute, but when you combine the two, well, I’m locked in for sure. For better or worse.
The end result being a visit to Citizens Bank Park tonight, without a doubt, guarantees “worse” this time … at least partially. I mean, I am getting to spend quality moments with my son at the Phillies game. But, you know, it’s the Phillies, and a game involving them.
Following a near no-hitter at the hands of Washington’s Stephen Strasburg, they’re probably going to unload on the Nationals in this one. But we’re not banking on it.
Instead, we’ll enjoy the evening outside, the warm climes and the quiet that exudes from a stadium filled mostly with empty seats watching a team making a last-ditch run at 100 losses.
Who’s pitching … who cares? We might get to see Bryce Harper hammer a couple homers, as he did Tuesday night.
Us, the security guards, the drink pushers and the concession-stand workers.
Pass me a slice, will ya? …
It’s midweek. Early grid season. Time for that sporadic MLB check.
Zzzzzzz ... ah, but I digress.
Dear, Mike Trout fans: It’s over. Stop clinging to your bro-mantic feelings and let it go. Your boy is not worthy of a second straight AL MVP award, and, even more hurtful to your superficial heart, he ain’t going to get it, either.
A wondrous talent, although how wondrous is a bit debatable, Trout has faded down the stretch this season worse than Tiger Woods has on his professional back 9. At one point after the All-Star break, the Angels CF seemed a shoo-in to not only repeat, but to run away with the junior circuit’s home-run title, challenge for its RBI honors and, generally speaking, further cement his position as the game’s acknowledged best player.
Ain’t gonna happen.
With his team’s fortunes fading along with his own individual ones, Trout has disappeared from the headlines and highlight reels. Meanwhile, the likes of Toronto 3B Josh Donaldson, Toronto OF Jose Bautista and Toronto 1B-DH Edwin Encarnacion have shot up the charts for good reason: production in a postseason push … to cap off an already fine season, especially by Donaldson, who leads all of MLB in (119) RBIs and runs scored (109), has played stellar defense and was the spark that got the Blue Jays past the Yankees in the AL East.
Not for nothing, though, but that Toronto trio hardly comprises the end-all, be-all of “better seasons than Trout.” Baltimore’s Chris Davis, Kansas City’s Kendrys Morales and Eric Hosmer, the Yankees’ Brian McCann and – gulp – Alex Rodriguez have had them as well. So, too, has Seattle’s Nelson Cruz, and Detroit’s J.D. Martinez, and Jose Abreu of the White Sox, and – double gulp – Baltimore’s Chris Davis.
In other words, MLB’s appointed Golden Boy in the AL won’t be taking home any top-player honors for 2015.
Its appointed Golden Boy in the NL likely will be a different story. Washington OF Bryce Harper deserves the hardware. After years of hype that stretch back to his high school days, the left-swinging slugger’s performance caught up to his potential. Finally. At the ripe old age of 22.
Blessed with marvelous all-around tools that arguably top Trout’s in all but speed, Harper looks like he will lead all of MLB in batting average (currently .338), on-base percentage (.467), slugging percentage (.667) and OPS (1.134), and the NL in homers (39) and runs scored (108). Only Colorado’s Nolan Arenado and his out-of-reach, league-leading RBI total (currently 111 to Harper’s 90) will keep him from capturing the NL’s Triple Crown.
Harper’s season, really, is one for the ages – a Ruthian effort that, at least for now, has justified all the glowing accounts of his ability and irritating habits, the hair flips, the helmet tosses, the overstated scowls, of an entitled great he has displayed on the field.
Arenado has had a great season, and Yoenis Cespedes has given the Mets a brilliant, Dom Brown-esque six-week run here, too, but their efforts pale in comparison to what Harper has done all along in 2015.
MIGGY MADNESS: Umm, what the heck is going on with the game’s greatest hitter this decade? Given new life to win the AL batting title with his return from the DL and staked to a 40-plus points advantage at the time, Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera has dropped like a rock in the past couple weeks, seemingly unable to find that beautiful stroke that routinely succeeds at a .350 clip when going good.
His average at the end of August stood at .358. In September, he’s batting .192. Yeesh.
SAY WHAT, SAINT LOU: Considering the Cardinals were 86-46 following games the first of this month, 100 wins seemed a sure thing for them. Uhh, not so fast. Following a 4-8 stretch since then, they’re looking at needing to close with 10 wins in their final 18 in order to hit the century mark. If not, amazingly, they may lose the NL Central to Pittsburgh (87-57) to boot.
WAY OFF: A Facebook friend saw the lineup the Phillies were running out Tuesday night to face Washington right-hander Stephen Strasburg and promptly posted that they might get no-hit. Hah, not even close. They managed a hit, and he didn’t even go nine innings, striking out “just” 14 over eight instead.
- Jack Kerwin | email@example.com