The 2007 season has brought many highlights and controversy. (controversy in the MLB? NO!!!) So here are a few observations at the halfway point of the 2007 season.
DIGGING YOUR OWN GRAVE- Bud Selig must have wanted to slam his head against a wall when Barry Bonds got voted into the All-Star Game. For the next three days Selig will have put on a fake smile that even politicians would be amazed by, and weather the love the attention Bonds will receive. Now let me say first say this, I despise Barry Bonds. The man clearly cheated to get two of the most hallowed records in baseball, and his ego is nearly as big as his pumpkin sized head. But this is what I like to call karma. Selig turned his head when Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire brought fans back to the game in the 98' home run love fest, when it was obvious that both players were on some type of enhancers. Now that the records are going to be broken by a player that isn't fan friendly Selig will have to grin and bear it. And his decision on whether to attend Bonds' breaking of the wonderful Hank Aaron's 755 is a double edged sword. If he shows up then he endorses arguably the game's biggest villain. If he doesn't show up then he looks like a commissioner who wants to have his cake and eat it too. Sorry Bud, it looks like your only hope of preventing this mess is to end every San Francisco game in a tie in the middle of the 1st inning.
And is there is a more delusional fan base than the San Francisco Giants' crowd? How do you cheer for a guy like this? I am reminded of Bob Dole's comment about Saddam Hussein when the U.S. used to support him. Dole said, "He may be a son of a****, but he is OUR son of a****." Let's apply that to Barry Bonds and the Bay Area. Here's to hoping that Bonds has to break the record on the road and has his knees shattered by the earthshaking jeers he hears. The scene could be a lot like Aaron's was, with fans chasing Bonds as he rounds second base, only this time it will be to beat him to a bloody pulp.
ROLL THAT BEAUTIFUL BEANE FOOTAGE- Say what you want about Oakland's recent lack of success in the playoffs but there is no doubt that Billy Beane is one of the best GMs in the game today. He continues to bring in tons of talent and makes shrewd business moves. Beane was ripped as the A's let the former big 3 of the A's, Zito, Mulder, Hudson go. Now egg is on the face of all his critics, none of the 3 have been nearly the pitcher they were in Oakland, Zito is one of the biggest free agent busts of the year, and Oakland holds one of the best pitching rotations in the ML with Cy Young hopeful Dan Haren, Joe Blanton, Chad Gaudin, and Rich Harden. If I was George Steinbrenner, and thank God I am not, I would put all of my efforts into getting Beane, and then hand him the keys to the team.. The man could singlehandedly turn the currently disappointing franchise around. He continually gets the most out of his team for half the price.
GOOD WILL HUNTING- While Ryan Braun has shown an unbelievable amount of flair recently my first half NL Rookie of the Year would have to be the Houston Astros' Hunter Pence. The center fielder currently leads the NL in batting average with a .342 average, has 42 RBIs, 39 runs, 15 stolen bases, and keep in mind he didn't start the year in the majors. He is one of the highlights in an otherwise underwhelming Astros' season.
WHO KNEW WHAT THE BREW COULD DO? The biggest surprise of the 2007 first half would have to be the Milwaukee Brewers. It seems that Milwaukee's talent came out of nowhere. Their lineup is outstanding. Prince Fielder, J.J. Hardy, Ryan Braun, and Corey Hart have all at one point this season been the hottest hitters in the game. And at this point you could argue they are the best team in the National League. I would love to see a NL Pennant matchup of the Mets and Brewers. It would be a bout with some of the most talented young players in the game.
IN A-ROD WE TRUST- I have never been a fan of Alex Rodriguez but the guy can play ball. His first half of this year has been awe inspiring and he is my pick for the AL MVP so far. Who would have ever thought that we would be cheering for A-Rod to be our savior and pry the all time home run record out of Barry Bonds' greedy hands? Many will argue that Rodriguez can't win the MVP because he is on a losing team, but how is it his fault that the team around him is a letdown? Rodriguez has kept this Yankees squad alive. Without him the Yankees could be near the bottom of the AL East. And he won the MVP before on a sorry Rangers' squad so don't bet against him. The only thing as impressive as A- Rod's offensive season is Magglio Ordonez's improbable first half.
Having said that, it is hard for me to sympathize for A-Rod too much when it comes to his publicity. You put yourself in the center of the spotlight when you accept a 25 million dollar a year contract, go to the media crazy town of New York, and walk around with strippers while your wife wears shirts with obscenities on them. And on the field Rodriguez has pulled some of the most classless baserunning blunders of all time. His punching of the ball versus the Red Sox in the playoffs, sliding into second bass with his cleats high at Red Sox' Dustin Pedroia, and shouting at Blue Jays' third baseman Howie Clark with the ball in air were three of the most Bush-League moves ever.
FOREVER YOUNG- This season has brought one of the most debated Cy Young talks in recent history. Dan Haren, Josh Beckett, C.C. Sabathia, John Lackey, Johan Santana, and a few other pitchers all can make a case for the AL award. And Jake Peavy, Brad Penny, and Chris Young are all putting up big numbers in the NL. Outstanding. For my money I would be torn between Sabathia or Haren in the AL, and give the nod to Peavy in the NL. Peavy not only brings a great ERA but is the leader in strikeouts in the NL. Don't count Carlos Zambrano out of the race, and look to Johan Santana to have a scorching second half to possibly take the award again.
So there you have it. I'd write more but it's time to start studying for summer classes. It is refreshing to be able to focus on the positives in baseball after hearing so much about the steroid controversy. Now if you don't mind I have to grab a bottle of Chloraseptic and some lemon and honey tea to warm my vocal cords up. I have to be in top yelling shape to boo Bonds when he breaks Hammerin' Hank's record. Take care everyone.