It's 10 days or so until the All Star Game, which is usually reserved as the halfway point of baseball. However, the official halfway point is now gone, and where are we? What do we have to say about the baseball season that truly sums it up?
In the 10th year of his career, Adam Dunn was a high stakes big money free agent that was supposed to get 40 big swings despite the fact that his average wouldn't be "great" and he would strike out a lot.
What did Ozzie Guillen and the White Sox get? Ozzie got even more high blood pressure than normal, which definitely causes him to tell it like it is and to have baseball columnists wonder why he's still in management (though I have to say that I think he's awesome). The White Sox got a .171 hitter in 234 at bats (he's seriously challenging Dan Uggla for futile zero of the year).
For the 7 home runs that they bought with $12million (ok - $6million since it's the first half of the season), they got 100 strike outs. While that's good enough for 2nd place (Drew Stubbs is still in first place with 112 - there's no catching abject futility, is there), there's a sign around Mudville (located on the otherside of Wrigleyville) that Chicago isn't going to be represented in the post season and next year will be another rebuilding year for both the south and the north side.
So while a player that should be hitting in 4 at bats every game for the first 85ish games could be doing some damage, he's getting about 2/3 of the at bats he could be getting because he's a liability. When you look at the facts - 1732 punched outs in 1517 games for his career - you see danger to the playing and the rooting and the paying. It's clear as day, but now he's an albatross for the White Sox. He's got 4 years and $56million to go for Obama's team, so we have to wonder... when will Ozzie crack and start kicking Dunn's ass like it was a catcher's mask?
On the other side of the Second City, there's Carlos Pena, who pretty much sucked all year, but is at least a little better lately. He's got 76 whiffs in 251 at bats. He's carrying a .219 average (.171 for the last week, mind you). He does at least have 17 home runs in the homey capacity of Wrigley, with it's wind blowing out in these nice summer days (the kind of thing which helps our favorite steroids mirages transcend from attitude to baseball altitude until they're asked to answer questions on the witness stand, eh Sammy Sosa).
Texas, Detroit, Oakland, Boston, Tampa Bay... and the Cubs... they're all trying and have tried to figure out what to do with a problem like Carlos in the same way that the White Sox are joining the Reds, Diamondbacks, and the Nationals in dealing with a problem like Adam.
At some point, baseball is going to say that we can't all be Rob Deer. We can't flirt with the Mendoza Line all year and hope that it will get better... especially when the home runs aren't clearing the walls... especially when the player needs to ride the bench to figure it out or because he is a liability.
It's times like this that the defensive play of David Ortiz... you know... he who isn't a true player because he can't make Terry Francona bench Mike Cameron or Darnell McDonald in favor of moving Adrian Gonzalez to the outfield in order to get Big Sluggi's 4 at bats in (at .300 batting average, mind you) actually seems like it's an over rated thing. Mind you - the fact Francona wouldn't play him all of the inter-league games - that's scary because once you get past Jacoby Ellsbury in the outfield, Boston pretty much sucks. JD Drew is fortunately about to get his unconditional retirement for the purpose of never letting Philadelphia fans chuck D cell batteries at him from the 600 level of Veterans Stadium again (in retrospect, the anger should have been celebration - other than the first September he played in 1998, he was pretty much hype over hall of fame).
So this brings us to the question - what is a baseball player supposed to be?
While many players look to crack the leagues, some veterans hold down spots just because. Other players play half of the game, although they do that well, and make us wonder about the logic of inter-league or the DH (or Astroturf - oops, I've come unstuck in time again). And maybe we wonder about other things, too, like a home run derby that will be shockingly devoid of names and power because the big boppers only bop, so they won't make it and the big names will probably opt out because they'll be too afraid to hurt themselves in a meaningless "exhibition" game.
Which only makes us wonder... what's wrong with this game today?