I’m thinking I need to come up with some award to bestow on columnists who play the “when I was a kid things were much better” card. Maybe it should be the Golden Age Award or the Nostalgia Award or something, but whatever we call it, it should be given to those writers who use their perfect 20/20 hindsight to denigrate today’s game for not matching up to the game of their youth.
The latest recipient of it would be Monte Poole of the Oakland Tribune who slams the 2010 All-Star Game this morning because there simply aren’t enough future Hall of Famers in it for his liking:
The games, however, aren’t
what they once were. They have become, rather, a collection of men paid
obscenely well to perform at the highest level. The players in Anaheim
on Tuesday don’t have the abundance of cachet found during the actual
golden age. This might explain the record-low TV ratings . . . They play a fine game of
baseball, yes, but they are playing not in the golden age but the age of
gold, the era of wealth. Many wouldn’t have come close to an All-Star
game 40 years ago.
His summary of this state of affairs came earlier in the column when he said “to reiterate, less than 10 percent of the players on the combined
All-Star game rosters have proved worthy of the game’s greatest
individual honor,” meaning the Hall of Fame.
I haven’t looked at the numbers myself, but I recall Bill James once wrote that, roughly speaking, a little less than 10% of active players at any given time have gone on to be in the Hall of Fame. In light of that I’m struggling to see what Poole’s problem — other than a general frustration with modernity — really is.
Poole aside, there have been people saying that the world is going to Hell in a handbasket since approximately five minutes after we first came down from the trees. Amazing that it never actually gets there.
Veteran utilityman Reid Brignac is in camp with the Astros on a minor league deal. The 31-year-old is close to being done as a major leaguer as he owns a career .219/.264/.309 triple-slash line across parts of nine seasons. In an effort to prolong his big league career, Brignac is now attempting to become a switch-hitter, MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart reports.
I’m going to try it out this year. It was something that I just thought long and hard about and I was like, ‘OK, I’m going to try and see how it goes.’ I used to switch-hit when I was younger off and on, nothing consistent. I could always handle the bat right-handed. I play golf right-handed, so I do a lot of things that way that feel natural.
I just want to get to the point where I’m trying to stay in games, not get pinch-hit for, not starting games because a lefty is starting. … That could help me stay in the games longer. I’m trying to add a new element. I play multiple positions and now if I can switch hit and be consistent at it, then that can only help me.
As Brignac mentions, he’s also verstile. He’s a shortstop by trade, but has also logged plenty of innings at second base and third base, and has occasionally played corner outfield.
There aren’t any examples — at least that I can think of — where players began switch-hitting late in their careers and actually succeeding in the major leagues. As the saying goes, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. But here’s hoping Brignac bucks the trend.
Angels shortstop Andrelton Simmons fell off the map a bit last year due to a combination of the Angels’ mediocrity, Simmons’ lack of offense, and a month-plus of missed action due to a torn ligament in his left thumb.
Simmons is still as good and as smart as ever on defense. That was on full display Monday when the Angels hosted the Padres for an afternoon spring exhibition.
With a runner on first base and nobody out in the top of the second inning, Carlos Asuaje grounded a 2-0 J.C. Ramirez fastball to right field. The runner, Hunter Renfroe, advanced to third base. Meanwhile, Asuaje wandered a little too far off the first base bag. Simmons cut off the throw to first base, spun around and fired to Luis Valbuena at first base. Valbuena swiped the tag on Asuaje for the first out of the inning.