“You love me! You really love me!”
Freddie Freeman of the Atlanta Braves and Steve Delabar of the Toronto Blue Jays were chosen by fans as the winners of the 2013 All-Star Game Final Vote.
I gotta say, I’m rather shocked at the NL result. I woulda thought that Yasiel PuigMania would have carried the day. And that if it didn’t, someone at Major League Baseball would turn this into some Soviet-era election in which the glorious voice of the proletariat cried out for Puig to win despite the longest of odds or something. Guess not.
Not that we should take too much from this. The voting procedures for this were even more gonzo than the regular All-Star voting, with Twitter hashtags counting as votes in the final hours before the polls closed. That, combined with open campaigning made this something less than a scientific referendum.
But it may be a broad referendum on what people want the All-Star Game to be. I feel like a Puig vote is a vote for the All-Star Game as spectacle and excitement and what people may want to see, regardless of some measure of merit. I feel like a Freeman vote is one in which people look at overall value (and Freeman, having played all year has added more aggregate value to the Braves than Puig has to the Dodgers) and decided to reward a greater body of work over a big splash. Maybe this voting is even too silly to determine that. I don’t know.
But I do know that, barring Puig as an injury replacement in the days leading up to the All-Star game, he’s going to be sitting at home and watching on TV. And Jonathan Papelbon will be happy.
As for Delabar: relief pitcher beats out other relief pitchers and it’s hard for me to work up much emotion of any kind about that. But at least this relief pitcher has a great story, so that’s nice.
Cubs starter Jake Arrieta, the defending National League Cy Young Award winner and author of two no-hitters, considered quitting baseball a few years ago when he was bounced up and down between the major leagues and the Orioles’ Triple-A affiliate in Norfolk, Virginia.
At the time, Arrieta was having trouble living up to his potential as one of the Orioles’ top pitching prospects. He started on Opening Day in 2012, but finished the season with a 6.20 ERA and was very quickly moved back to Norfolk after four mediocre starts to begin the 2013 season.
As CSN Chicago’s Patrick Mooney reports, Arrieta was considering quitting baseball so that his family could have a regular life.
We were at a point where I had other things that I could segue into and establish a career elsewhere. Not that I wanted that to happen, but I didn’t want to continue to go through the things we were going through and moving from place to place in the minor leagues at 25, 26 years old.
Baseball is something that I’ve loved to do since I was a little kid, but it’s not everything. I had to reevaluate some things. I knew I could always pitch this way, but there were times where it seemed like maybe I wasn’t going to get to that point.
It’s just part of life that we had to deal with.
Mooney also points out that Arrieta had a business background having gone to Texas Christian University and would have done something in that field if he had hung up the spikes.
This has been brought up because Arrieta’s teammate Tommy La Stella considered quitting baseball as well recently, as the Cubs demoted him to Triple-A. Though La Stella received a lot of criticism, Arrieta can relate to La Stella. The right-hander said, “I know that there were things that he was going through and dealing with (that) we may not agree with and understand.”
There’s an interesting article over that the New York Times in the wake of the Colin Kaepernick stuff. This one is about the history of the National Anthem at sporting events.
The anthem is a fixture for as long as those of us reading this blog have been attending games and it’d be weird if it wasn’t there. But it hasn’t always been there, the Times notes. Indeed, it was not a regular fixture until 1942 when it was added for the obvious reason that we were at war. The other major sports leagues all adopted the anthem soon after. The NBA at the inception of the league in 1946 and the NHL in the same year. The NFL’s spokesman doesn’t mention a year, but notes that it’s a non-negotiable part of the game experience. The non-negotiability of it is underscored by the comment from the MLS spokesman who notes that they felt that they had no choice but to play the anthem when that league began play in the 1990s.
I like the anthem at ballgames. It just seems like part of the experience. I like it for its own sake, at least if the performance isn’t too over the top, and I like it because it serves as a nice demarcation between all of the pregame b.s. and the actual game starting.
But this article reminds us that there is no immutable structural reason for the anthem at games. Other countries don’t play their own anthems at their sporting events. We don’t play it before movies or plays or other non-sports performances. It’s a thing that we do which, however much of a tradition it has become, is somewhat odd when you think about it for a moment. And which has to seem pretty rote to the actual ballplayers who hear it maybe 180 times a year.