Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Abreu vs. Puig would have been worthy

Let me state up-front that I could care less about the Home Run Derby.

The whole exhibition of watching baseball sluggers take their best whacks against batting practice pitchers to see who can hit the most balls into the outfield seats just isn't that thrilling.

THERE IS SOMETHING intriguing about going to a ballgame and catching the pre-game ritual of watching a hitter try to gain his timing so that he doesn't go into the game and get skunked by real-life pitching.

It can be relaxing. It can even be entertaining in its own way. But it's not the whole show.

Even though EPSN would have you think it was from the spectacle they broadcast Monday night, and which fans packed their way into Minneapolis' Target Field. I couldn't bear to watch it, even though I'm a baseball fan and think the All-Star Game to be played Tuesday is a fun ritual.

But listening to broadcaster Art Berman go on and on about how baseball "history" was being made by the phony spectacle? That was too much to have to bear.

NOW HAVING SAID all that, I have to admit that a part of me kind of wishes that Chicago White Sox slugger Jose Abreu had chosen to participate in the event.

For what it's worth, Abreu is the Cuban star who defected and wound up with the White Sox, and is turning into the very ballplayer the Chicago Cubs wish they had -- someone to entertain the fans with on-field antics while the team rebuilds.

Abreu is also the American League leader in home runs (29, thus far) and is near the top of the league with 73 runs batted in.

But Abreu is of the type of ballplayer who seems to think that the whole Home Run Derby exhibition will throw off his swing and wind up hurting the White Sox in the long run.

IT MAY BE true. Although there's a part of me who thinks such ballplayers are taking themselves way too seriously, and THAT is what will wind up hurting the ball club.

It would have been interesting to see Abreu take his cuts and try to show off the power on a national stage that White Sox fans have been seeing thus far this season.

That kind of attention might have even been useful to the White Sox organization. And it would have made for an entertaining spectacle.

Although there's also the part of me that would have liked to have seen such a show become a showdown between Abreu and Yasiel Puig -- the Los Angeles Dodgers slugger who also is a Cuban defector of sorts.

AND YES, THE two men do know each other. Both of them played for Cienfuegos in the Cuban League before they decided to flee for bigger and better money playing beisbol in the United States.

I'm sure any personal touch could have added to the event's flavor.

Instead, we'll likely have to settle for seeing Abreu get a lone at-bat at some point in the game to be played Tuesday. Perhaps we'll get lucky and it will be a hit that has a role in an American League victory.

Although I suspect the fact that another White Sox All-Star, Alexi Ramirez, is complaining of a bad back. Because since I suspect this year's All-Star game is meant to be a Derek Jeter farewell show, it isn't likely that a fellow shortstop is going to get many moments.

THEN AGAIN, I suppose White Sox fans could face the predicament of the Cubs -- whose "star" pitcher, Jeff Samardzija, got elected to the team right after the Cubs traded him away.

Of course, the American League-best Oakland Athletics (59 victories thus far this season) probably have better use for a worthwhile pitcher than the Cubs do.

For anyone can give up the home runs flying over the ivy and out of Wrigley Field on any given day!


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