|A Look Around MLB (Week 4)||| Print |||Send|
Written by Adam Adkins (Contact & Archive) on April 24, 2008
The NBA‚Äôs all loaded up on stars, too.¬† LeBron James.¬† Kobe Bryant.¬† Shaquille O‚ÄôNeal.¬†¬† Chris Paul.¬† Kevin Garnett.¬†¬† Dwyane Wade.¬† Allen Iverson.¬† See?¬† They‚Äôre good to go.
My point in bringing this up is that both of those sports are driven by their stars and not as much by the sport themselves (okay, fair, the NHL is toast, but they shouldn‚Äôt be.).¬† Look at baseball and football (American that is).¬† Baseball isn‚Äôt nearly as star driven at all.¬† The best marketing tool for baseball is a warm, sunny afternoon with lemonade and a brat, sitting with Dad or Uncle or Grandpa at the ballpark.¬† MLB doesn‚Äôt need anything else to sell baseball; it sells itself.¬† Sure, the higher-ups may want certain match ups in prime time, like the dream match up of Yankees-Dodgers (Coast to Coast appeal!), but even if not, it‚Äôs okay, because someone‚Äôll be watching.¬† David Stern would have a heart attack if by June the two teams left standing are the New Orleans Hornets and the Philadelphia 76ers.¬† Sure, basketball fans would watch.¬† Heck, I‚Äôd even watch, and I personally would rather talk about the game then watch it. ¬†
However, regardless of that (mindless rant), the NHL has Ovechkin and Crosby, the NBA has LBJ and Bryant‚Ä¶ my question to you is, who are the baseball equivalents?
Alexander Ovechkin:¬† Left-Winger and Russian Goal-Scorer Supreme
I kind of smell Mets SS Jose Reyes here.¬† Both young, foreign, exciting players.¬† But Ovechkin can be argued as the best hockey player in the world.¬† You can convince me of that.¬† But I can‚Äôt be convinced that Reyes is the baseball player in the world. ¬†
My pick is Reyes‚Äô teammate, David Wright.¬† Young, exciting, and among the best in his sport.¬† You most certainly could convince me that Wright is the best ballplayer in the world.
Sidney Crosby:¬† Center and The Future of Hockey
This one won‚Äôt be quite so easy to follow up.¬† You see, Sid does have the ‚Äúfuture tag‚ÄĚ on him, but he‚Äôs also quite alive in the present, and as it stands right now, if healthy, ain‚Äôt no one better than the Kid.¬† You can argue Ovechkin all you want, but if the NHL re-drafts tomorrow, Crosby is going #1. ¬†
Can you say that about any baseball player?¬† Maybe David Wright.¬† Maybe Alex Rodriguez.¬† Anyone else?¬† I can only think of one, and he‚Äôs certainly not a lock, but he has as much potential as the super-stud we all create with our 360‚Äôs.¬† That‚Äôd be Justin Upton, of course.
Baseball and hockey are difficult to compare, though, but one thing that‚Äôs always comparable is the way the leagues play up to their stars.¬† Sure, the NHL might only have two or three TV ads a week, but they usually primarily promote Ovechkin and Crosby.¬† Baseball‚Äôs different than that, though.¬† Biggest star in the game?¬† A-Rod?¬† Jeter?¬† Ortiz?¬† Junior Griffey?
It‚Äôs not about the stars nationally.¬† Jeter‚Äôs a folk hero in the Big Apple, and Ortiz is the most popular guy in Boston.¬† Regionally, yes, stars are important, but nationally, baseball really does seem to just sell itself.
So, Hank Steinbrenner (or Hankasaurus, Hankaclops, Hankastein, or Hank Satanbrother, whichever) ran his mouth this week about moving Yankees pitcher Joba Chamberlain into the starting rotation.¬† As everyone by now ought to know, Hank really likes to hear his own voice, but more often than not, Hank‚Äôs right.
For instance, his quip about managing a baseball team being easy is very right.¬† It‚Äôs essentially just plugging the circle peg into the circle hole.¬† It‚Äôs not that hard to screw up.
Don‚Äôt get me wrong, though.¬† As a Yankee fan, I‚Äôm pretty terrified that one day the Hankasaurus will go nuts and nuke the team, no doubt.¬† But I‚Äôm also a little impressed; Chamberlain should be in the rotation.
I know, Rivera won‚Äôt hang on forever.¬† But just look at Rivera for a moment.¬† He wasn‚Äôt a kickass starting prospect turned reliever; he was a miserable failure as a starter.¬† Cashman and Gene Michael then decided to try Rivera as a reliever, and they struck gold. ¬†
What I‚Äôm saying is, give Joba the chance to fail as a starter.¬† If he can‚Äôt make it, fine, he can be a dynamite Relief Ace then.
Just give him the chance.¬†¬† ¬†
In some late-breaking action news, the Reds have fired their GM, Wayne Krivsky.¬† Good move, guys.¬† Krivsky, the man who traded two solid everydayers for a bunch of trash relievers with broken shoulders, has made some decent moves (the theft of Brandon Phillips, for instance), but has been generally a bad GM.
Walt Jocketty, ‚Äėclose personal friend‚Äô of Reds owner Bob Castellini, has been reassigned from ‚Äėadvisor and personal eye over the shoulder of the General Manager‚Äô to the shortened version, ‚ÄėGeneral Manager‚Äô.¬† We all knew why he was there, and it‚Äôs good that the Reds went on with it.¬† Jocketty, along with the young talent the Reds have (some of which was drafted from Dan O‚ÄôBrien, Krivsky‚Äôs predecessor), should succeed in the near future.¬† Jocketty gets the props, but I‚Äôm not sure I can blame all of their failures on Krivsky; most of them, though.
Lastly, to close this out, I‚Äôd like to congratulate Ken Griffey Junior.¬† He‚Äôs currently (Wednesday night) at 597 home runs, three away from 600.¬† Griffey‚Äôs a first-ballot no-brainer, and the potential exists that he could be the first player inducted into Cooperstown with 100% of the vote.¬† He‚Äôs certainly got mine.
It‚Äôs sad that the media (ESPN) isn‚Äôt making a bigger deal about Griffey being so close to such a milestone.¬† Griffey‚Äôs the only player from the 90s without some sort of steroid story attached to him, it seems, and maybe that‚Äôs why he‚Äôs not getting first-page attention for his greatness.
It‚Äôs been great to watch you, and I will be clapping for you as you round the bases for the 600th time.