Monthly Archives: July 2009

A dream deferred: Pence doesn’t make it into the ASG

Alas, the young protagonist wiled away the biggest day of his baseball career riding the pine.

Richard Justice sums it up nicely in a column on the subject.

Pence said he definitely felt like part of the National League team, that he enjoyed meeting Trevor Hoffman and others.

About all he didn’t do was play. NL manager Charlie Manuel, that sly fox, apparently was saving Pence for extra innings.

Pence’s journey is just beginning. He’s 26 years old and in his second full major league season. He’s smart and enormously talented and almost surely will be here again.

“It definitely was a great experience,” Pence said. “I wouldn’t say it was everything I hoped it was going to be, because I want to play, and I want to win.

“It’s disappointing, but it gives me a reason to fight even harder and come back next year and have a chance to play. It was nice being part of the best in baseball, even though I didn’t get to play. I felt like I was part of the game.”

Just to see his face on the TV screen with the big mashers and the basepath thrillers was something else, from my fan’s point of view. Tejada, for his part, laced a nice single up the middle.

On another note, McCarver and Buck have gone beyond annoying. They are limp and drowsy in the booth these days. When Carl Crawford made a fantastic catch against the left field wall, Buck’s tone didn’t waver in the slightest. “And he makes the catch.” McCarver immediately added, “I don’t think that would’ve been a home run. It probably would not have…. Oh, yeah, that would have been a home run.” I mean, good grief, can we not get someone in there who can at least pretend to enjoy themselves during the season’s most a) lighthearted and/or b) important moments? It’s getting to the point where they detract from the experience, rather than just not adding to it. Before it was all the schmaltz. Now even the schmaltz, the Yankees and Red Sox-loving, is exhausted, limping along like a great-grandmother to the market each day, like always.

And this at a time in baseball when the sport is trying to attract young urban audiences. Aside from Buck’s association with football, this pair is about the least appealing one I could imagine to do that, to excite non-fans enough to draw them in. There are the players in place to do so–the Ryans Howard and Braun, Crawford himself, Sizemore, Ichiro (an older player who is still as thrilling as he was on his first day), &tc. Now MLB and Fox need to catch up with their media representatives, on the game’s most prominent promontories.

Spaceman Bill Lee considers McCarver the smartest player he played with. Thats all well and good, but dont use that power, sir, to overanalyze everything.

Spaceman Bill Lee considers McCarver the smartest player he played with. That's all well and good, but don't use that power, sir, to overanalyze everything.

2 Comments

Filed under Media Events

Hunter Pence is an All-Star!

The new All-Star

The new All-Star

Not to gloat on homer-isms, but Hunter Pence’s selection to the All-Star team is a warming sight for an Astros fan mired in a mediocre season.

Since the retirements of Biggio and Bagwell, the Astros have searched for a player to join Lance Berkman as iconic members of the team. Carlos Lee is a great hitter, but often declines the opportunity to sprint down the first base line or impress in left field. Tejada is a fun player to watch, and brings great energy, but the steroid whispers and his altered state of age have deflated most of the potential for unconditional love from the fan base.

Which leaves us with Hunter Pence to play the Robin to Berkman’s laid-back Batman. Pence throws like a goofball, and swings like a goofball, and he looks like Beaker from the Muppet Show. But I’ll be damned if he’s not a player, who complements Tejada’s veteran confidence with child-like enthusiasm and brio.

Beaker

Beaker

Look at Hunter Pence’s stats, and they don’t cry out St. Louis, Ho! He’s hitting above .300, which is grand, but he’s on pace essentially to hit 20 home runs and 66 RBI. Not particularly atmospheric…. And Miguel Tejada has made the team, as well–the result of a remarkable .325 average, and his 84 RBI pace–so one can’t claim that Pence is an asterisk, a result of the Every Team Represented clause. Nor was he voted in by an ignorant fan base, but by the players. I can only surmise that the style of the man’s play has measured positively in the eyes of the managers, coaches and players who round out the reserves. Berkman himself (a crowded first base position) and Adam Dunn didn’t make the team.

I’m enjoying the fan’s sense of parental pride with the Pence selection. The same style that makes him remarkable made him improbable. He was only called up in 2007 when he would no longer be denied by the veteran-friendly Astros management, satisfying the desires of the fan base, who sensed a few months before his capacity for success. And now, having upped his on-base skills and his power–as we hoped he would–he’s on the up-and-up, and let’s hope his team follows.

1 Comment

Filed under Players