All-Stars, Wimbledon, Lakers, and More
July 9, 2012

With baseball's All-Star game in Kansas City Tuesday, the Home Run Derby tonight, Wimbledon now over, and some recent NBA news, some random thoughts about all of the above...

Prince is (Home Run) King: Prince Fielder won Major League Baseball's home run-hitting contest tonight, and becomes the first player to do it as a member of both leagues. This year's Home Run Derby wasn't quite as memorable as some in the past, but it was still a good show. Fielder (now with the Detroit Tigers after beginning his career with the Milwaukee Brewers) defeated Toronto's Jose Bautista in the finals. They were the only two in the eight-man contest who have hit 50 homers in a season.

Oh Captain, My Captain: Each of the two leagues named a captain to pick the rest of the guys that competed in the derby. Last year's winner Robinson Cano of the Yankees was booed heartily in Kansas City because he selected the Angels' Mark Trumbo instead of a Kansas City Royal. Trumbo was cheered when he hit some of the more prodigious homers in the contest, while Cano ended up getting sarcasting applause when he didn't hit any. The National League captain was Matt Kemp of the Dodgers, and he was eliminated in the first round after hitting just one home run.

Derby Don'ts: I know the Home Run Derby can get a little monotonous, but the ESPN on-set interviews during the competition have got to go. They talked to Matt Cain about his perfect game while Carlos Gonzalez was hitting, and interviewed Josh Hamilton about his memorable derby performance while Andrew McCutchen was at the plate. The George Brett interview during the second round was entertaining for a couple of minutes, but there was action going on, and very little commentary. Not that those guys necessarily need the attention, but I think it's disrespectful to them, and also to the viewers. I will say, though, the cut-away shot of John Kruk eating ribs that Brett brought on the set was hilarious.

Pulling a Jeter?: Washington Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond is apparently doing what Derek Jeter did last season—skipping the All-Star game despite being healthy. I criticized Jeter last year for being a normally classy guy doing a classless thing. What the heck is Desmond's problem, and who is he to skip the game anyway? It should be like hockey—if you miss the All-Star game, you should also lose some regular season time.

NE1410S? (Saw that on a license plate once, get it?): I like the major tennis tournaments, but 4am to noon is a bad window for me. I did get up around 8 to watch the men's final Sunday morning between Andy Murray and Roger Federer. I turned on the television just in time to see Federer win the second set, and tie the match at a set apiece. Murray is from Scotland, and was the crowd favorite, but I was rooting for Federer to get his seventh Wimbledon title. After a brief rain delay, Federer won in four sets. Murray's emotional consolation speech to the crowd was a highlight, and so was the shot of Federer's three year-old twin girls—one was posing for the camera, and the other was blowing kisses at daddy.

Yes, Virginia, You Won It Too: ESPN, which broadcast “The Championships”, kept saying over and over again Murray was the “first player from Great Britain to reach Wimbledon final since 1938”, and even had those words scrolling across the bottom of the screen. You would think with Title IX and gender equity, the network would be more aware. Virginia Wade won Wimbledon in 1977.

You Can't Be Serious!: As arrogant and bombastic of a player as John McEnroe was, he has to be the best tennis analyst out there. The entire ESPN announcing ensemble is great, but McEnroe's recall of past matches, especially those in his era, is remarkable. If you play the game, you can probably learn a lot more, but his “tennis-ese” goes over my head at times. It's also fun to have Chris Evert on the broadcasts too.

Nash Bridges: Laker fans should be happy with the acquisition of point guard Steve Nash from the Phoenix Suns. With his passing skills, Nash “bridges” the gap from good team to great team (like that?). The Canadian-born free agent reportedly didn't want to come to Los Angeles until persuaded by former rival Kobe Bryant. Nash is one of the greatest point guards in NBA history, and in my opinion, John Stockton is not a bad comparison.

Stay Away, Superman!: I used to be a big Dwight Howard fan, but I hope he does not become a teammate of Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Nash and company. First of all, the drama that he has created about where we will or not play has been ridiculous, and secondly, the Lakers would likely have to trade Andrew Bynum and maybe even Gasol to get him. That price is too steep. Howard, who got the “Superman” nickname after wearing the cape during a dunk contest, will be a free agent after this next season. He is seeking a trade, and could end up in Metropolis—or at least Outer Metropolis (known as Brooklyn).

Sports Glitz and Glamor: The ESPY awards are Wednesday night, but they don't seem to be what they used to. The awards have been during the summer for the last few years, but they used to be on in February. You may recall that it was the first ESPYs in 1993 when a dying Jim Valvano gave his “Don't give up. Don't ever give up” speech. Sometimes there is some news value, but just about the only reason to watch these days is to see what the female athletes look like all dressed up. (Brittney Griner, who are you wearing?)

Autos in the Outfield: A visiting player was struck by a car Saturday night while playing a baseball game. Actually the player hit the car while trying to catch a fly ball. The compact Scion was parked in right center field as part of a promotion when the Marysville Gold Sox hosted the San Luis Obispo Rattlers. Steven Lozier didn't make the catch, and ended up in the hopsital for tests. Nothing was broken, thank goodness. Lozier suffered bruised ribs and a sore knee, and the Scion received a huge dent. The promotion had gone on two previous seasons without incident, but hopefully won't continue next year.

Holy Hardball, Batman!: In the last paragraph of my April 9 column, I mentioned that I watched a movie called Holy Land Hardball—a documentary about bringing professional baseball to Israel. It turns out that the one of the players in that league, Aaron Levin, is now the head coach of the San Luis Obispo Rattlers, who were in Marysville to play the Gold Sox this weekend. Levin had been texting me scores of their games all season. I had no idea I was getting texts from a movie star!

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