Purgatory Online

Tuesday, July 15, 2003

Aw, it was an empty threat. You knew it, I knew it, and the American people knew it. Read? Read a book?? Read a book with words?!?

And, of course, I'm glad I did tune in (at 8:00 Eastern, 7:00 Central), because Garret Anderson won the Home Run Derby last night, beating Albert Pujols in an exciting final round. Anderson is the first Angel to ever win the Derby; to call this an upset is something of an exercise in rhetorical restraint. It's becoming fashionable to refer to GA as one of the most underrated players in baseball - which is true - but it's not like he hits monster shots that people ignore. Anderson himself puts it best: "I don't look at myself as a home run hitter but I know I'm capable of hitting the ball out of the park. . .That swing that I was using tonight is not a swing that I try to use during the season. It was strictly for trying to hit balls over the fence. During the season, mentally and physically I don't do that. I look for mistakes and try to hit them hard."

Exactly. Which is why he's second in the league in slugging, despite having "only" 22 home runs so far. He led the majors in doubles last year (56), and is just two off the lead this year (30). This is a guy that was dogged early in his career for being somewhat lackadaisical, and was even benched in the middle of the game once by then-manager Terry Collins for failing to run out a grounder. I don't think anyone says that about him anymore, and I suspect Collins deserves a fair bit of credit for waking him up to the fact that, in this league, talent is never enough. Anderson has developed into a player that fans can not only admire for his performance, but also respect for his attitude (and his refreshing lack of showboating), and I, for one, am glad he's an Angel for both of those reasons.

As an aside, Jim Caple at ESPN has a pretty entertaining article arguing in favor of using aluminum bats during the Home Run Derby. I think he's about 50% serious. I'm in favor of using aluminum bats too, I'm just in favor of using them to beat that jackass Chris Berman with. Is there any more annoying guy in the history of broadcast sports? He makes Bill Walton look like Ernie Harwell.

Ah, well. It should be fun to see how Mike Scioscia manages tonight. Both he and Dusty Baker seem fairly laid back about the game, and why not? It's not like there'll be a lot of tough decisions involved, from a managerial standpoint. They're all pretty good players, you know.