A daily accumulation of history and present as I follow the 2011 year through the baseball season and reflect on the glories and disappointments of the greatest game on Earth.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Ryan Braun

Our Ryan Howard garden gnomes went off on e-Bay last night with a $34 and $34.33 bid from the same person. Whether it's a dealer or an obsessive fan, I don't know, but let's say we were paid handsomely to see the game. Now, we'll have to wait for our Cole Hamels garden gnomes and the Carlos Ruiz "CHOOCH"ing owl.
Yep... this is real.
So money, money, money... we live in a world that is consumed by it. Some of us earn our money, some of us don't earn enough of it, and others of us flaunt it so that other people feel entitled to it. It's an endless cycle of what makes the world go round, and when it's there, we feel entitled to talk out our asses about whatever stupid thing we believe in in a way that makes us feel we're entitled to run for President of the United States as a Republican... even if the Republicans and all sane people don't want us. In the end, Trump represents a choice so bad that he makes the Obama we know look better (but still not good).
But all the same, it's nice when good people wake up with lots of money for doing what they have to do, day in day out, and representing the face of their company, and for that, it's nice to see the 5year $105million extension of Ryan Braun to stay with the Brew Crew until 2020 represents a team making a decision to reward and identify their team long beyond the current now. Off to a .359 start in the obscurity of the land of Laverne and Shirley, Cheeseheads, and not much else that doesn't have good fur for insulation, there are a lot of guarantees from Mr. Braun. In his last 2 years, he's done 100 runs a season (but not the first 2). He's missed 100RBIs once, 30 home runs once, and .300 once. In this, he's not Albert Pujols, but who is? He's soaked a mascot in beer as many as 37 times a year, while he's also stole 20 bases in a season (never dropping beneath 14). And while he's good for over 100 whiffs a year, he's young and he's likable - kind of a Richie Cunningham with a big stick and a trio of MVPs and Silver Slugger awards since he beat out Troy Tulowitski for the Rookie of the Year in 2007 (and people figured out who he was, which just goes to show what East Coast bias (or not playing in a major metropolis on either coast) will cause you not to do... (after all, Joey Votto only went as a final vote winner and Carlos Gonzalez didn't go at all).
But that's the nature of the game... we sell our stories that the most possible people will buy. We sell the ones that we've sold forever. After all, Big Sluggi did end up on the All Star team and the beginning of his season last year was worse than the beginning of Punch Drunk Love (didn't care to see what happened at the end of either of them). And as we're sold the stories, we stick with them... even if there are better stories yet to come... from more obscure places. And for this, when the World Series (or whatever sporting event we are into) doesn't yield Yankees vs. Red Sox or either of those guys vs. the Phillies, nobody watches because they don't know how to follow a game that doesn't have stars that they have to like the game to know.
I was in a discussion with my dad last night regarding this. He's a Dale Jr. fan that shuts off NASCAR if Junior isn't competitive, and for years, that's what it's been. And I get that Dale Jr. is a popular driver. His dad was great, but so was Kyle Petty's dad Richard, and let's be honest, you can't sell Petty memorabilia if your life depends on it, so we need drivers that we can push - because some day, the guy we're pushing is going to be gone, and then where will we be (see Baltimore and Cal Ripken if you have any questions. They haven't been competitive since 1997, and he stuck around for 4 more years and held down a spot that could have been given to a younger player on a 162-game basis for another full year). Where will NASCAR be if Dale Jr.'s losing streak continues? Will we see more editorials like the one he was talking about where both drivers get credit for a win if they tandem draft together?
It's the same for baseball. We have 30 teams with 25 players on each. Some are old. Some are young. Some are having breakout seasons. Some are crapping the bed. We need to give everyone who is good a moment in the light. How else are we going to sell our mid-season game?
Let alone an expanded playoff scenario.

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