Giancarlo Stanton will be in the Home Run Derby

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I don’t really care that much about the competition aspects of the Home Run Derby. I do, however, like to see mammoth blasts for their own sake, either in sheer distance or in quantity. After all, what’s the most memorable Home Run Derby thing ever? Josh Hamilton putting on the laser show at Yankee Stadium, right?  Well, he didn’t even win the competition that year, so who cares?

Which means that fame of the player or even home run count at the break doesn’t mean much to me as far as that competition goes. Just give me big strong dudes, even if they’re merely Wily Mo Pena-style BP-only guys.

Giancarlo Stanton is certainly better than that — he’s sporting an .886 OPS right now — but given what he’s done in BP and on random home runs over the past couple of years, he should be in the Derby whether he’s an All-Star or not. Which makes this, from Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald, welcome news:

Giancarlo Stanton landed a ball in the center-field, upper-deck seats at Marlins Park during batting practice Wednesday, leaving his disbelieving teammates shaking their heads. The Marlins’ 22-year-old slugger will be putting his power on display for an entire country to see on July 9 when he takes part in the Home Run Derby in Kansas City.

Stanton confirmed that he was chosen to participate.

“We’re in there,” he said as he trotted off the field following batting practice.

I predict many fountain shots at Kauffman Stadium.

Theo Epstein named The World’s Greatest Leader

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Fortune Magazine has put out a list of The World’s Greatest Leaders. Not the greatest business leaders, not the greatest leaders in a given industry, but the Greatest Leaders, full stop. The greatest according to Fortune: The Cubs’ Theo Epstein.

For some context, Pope Francis was third. Angela Merkel was 10th. Lebron James was the next greatest sports leader, ranked 11th. Take Fortune’s methodology with a grain of salt, however, given that it has John McCain above Merkel — what, exactly, does he lead now? — and Samantha Bee in the top 20.

So what makes Theo the world’s best leader according to Fortune?

The Cubs owe their success to a five-year rebuilding program that featured a concatenation of different leadership styles. The team thrived under the affable patience of owner Tom Ricketts, and, later, under the innovative eccentricity of manager Joe Maddon. But most important of all was the evolution of the club’s president for baseball operations, Theo Epstein, the wunderkind executive who realized he would need to grow as a leader in order to replicate in Chicago the success he’d had with the Boston Red Sox.

I don’t want to take anything away from what Theo has done — he’s a Hall of Fame executive already in my view — but I feel like maybe one needs to adjust for the fact that this is a baseball team we’re talking about. They’re the whole world to us and their brands are nationally and even world famous, but as an organization, sports teams are rather small. There are guys who run reasonably-sized HVAC companies with more employees than a baseball team and they don’t get the benefit of an antitrust exemption and a rule which allows them to get their pick of the best new employees if they had a bad year the year before.

Really, not trying to throw shade here, just thinking that being the spiritual father for 1.2 billion Catholics or running a foundation that serves 55 million needy children — like the woman who comes in at number 14 — is a bit of a tougher trick.

But this will make a great framed magazine article on Theo’s wall in Wrigley Field.

 

 

Marcus Stroman named World Baseball Classic MVP

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United States starter Marcus Stroman was named Most Valuable Player of the World Baseball Classic after helping lead the U.S. to its first ever WBC title on Wednesday night in an 8-0 victory over Puerto Rico. Stroman flirted with a no-hitter through six innings, but gave up a double to lead off the seventh before being relieved by Sam Dyson.

Stroman also pitched 4 2/3 scoreless innings against the Dominican Republic in Pool C play on March 11. He struggled in Pool F play against Puerto Rico last Friday, surrendering four runs in 4 2/3 innings.

The WBC MVP award understandably goes to a player of the winning team. However, Wladimir Balentien of the Netherlands deserves special mention. In 26 at-bats during the WBC, he hit a double and had a WBC-high four home runs, 12 RBI, and 12 runs scored while putting up a .615/.677/.1.115 batting line. That’s MVP-esque as far as this tournament is concerned.