FLUSHING, N.Y -- Sunday afternoon, I watched the Sirius XM All-Star Futures Game from inside a glass box of non-emotion. Hey, give me a break; it was air-conditioned, and after nearly 20 years in Our Great Pacific Northwest I melt easily. Anyway, I was sitting next to Craig Calcaterra, and it would have been rude of me to find a seat from where I could actually watch the game. Here, then, are a few thoughts about the Futures Game from 482 feet away (a/k/a auxiliary media area) ...
Boy, Bud Selig sure picked a lousy way to honor Larry Doby.
Doby, as you're no doubt aware, integrated the American League just a few months after Jackie Robinson broke through in the National League. Jackie Robinson's number is retired, and they make movies about him, and the Rookie of the Year Awards are named after him (really, they are). All this makes plenty of sense, the latter because Robinson actually won the National League's first Rookie of the Year Award. But doesn't Doby deserve something? Sure, they put him in the Hall of Fame a while back. And there was some celebration or other, a few years ago.
You know what Doby's got now, though? "At the conclusion of the Sirius XM All-Star Futures Game, the Larry Doby Most Valuable Player Award will be presented." Sunday, Reno's Matt Davidson got it. Four years ago, someone named Rene Tosoni hit an RBI double and won it.
I gotta think Bud Selig can do better. Why not name the American League's Rookie of the Year Award for Doby? This was actually Craig's idea, and he quickly allowed that baseball probably can't "take something away" from Robinson. But doesn't he have enough, with the retired number and the movies and all the rest? Would anyone really object to this relatively tiny diminution of Jackie's considerable legacy?
I doubt it very much. C'mon, Bud. You're retiring soon, and it doesn't seem that you're going to accomplish much else before you leave. Make this good thing happen.
A bunch of minor-league team names are still terrible.
Yeah, I know you know. But we didn't see anywhere near the whole minor-league roster, and yet there were players from these clubs:
And then there are the Shorebirds, who use the Great Blue Heron as their logo ... even though the Great Blue Heron isn't actually a shorebird.*
* It's a wading bird. And if I'm a nerd, then what are you?
Seriously, sometimes I wonder if Minor League Baseball isn't specifically targeting me -- or least people like me -- who actually care about names and words and the relative appropriateness thereof. Or can we just blame Commissioner Bud for this one, too?
Ah, but then we'd have to give him some credit for the good ones. Northwest Arkansas Naturals and Montgomery Biscuits and Louisville Bats and Savannah Sand Gnats and Corpus Christi Hooks and Modesto Nuts and Hillsboro Hops are lovely. It just seems they get more of them really wrong than really right.
Remember when the Diamondbacks traded for Didi Gregorius and Grant Brisbee couldn't understand why? I didn't understand, either. And now I especially don't. Down in Class AAA, they've got this kid named Chris Owings playing shortstop and batting .350! Granted, John Sickels writes that Owings "is an impatient hitter and erratic fielder" and I'm sure John's right. Owings has drawn only a dozen unintentional walks in 95 games this season, which is sorta silly if you think about it. But gosh, he sure was impressive in the field Sunday, making a great play on a fly to short right field and showing all the right actions while turning a double play.
Admittedly, I don't pay a great deal of attention to minor leaguers. I follow a few of the top guys, and I look the rest up when they're promoted to the majors or traded or something. Still, I'm surprised I've never heard of George Springer, an Astros farmhand who's hit 26 home runs this season ... and has more steals (28) than homers. That's impressive. Of course Springer strikes out too much ... but don't they all? The kids these days. Oy.