Monday, March 31, 2008

This was an eventful weekend. There were frauds packed on frauds packed on even bigger frauds. The LA Dodgers and the Boston Red Sox set an attendance record for a baseball game. This naturally disproves Hank Steinbrenner's contention that America is more of a Yankee nation than a Red Sox Nation. Which brings us to the first fraud of the evening.

The notion that this game means anything in any respect is absolutely goofy. From Kareem Abdul Jabbar throwing out a pitch (and throwing like a girl to boot), this was a festival of frauds. Of course they set an attendance record, they played in a bigger venue and one customized to fit as many people in as possible. The left field wall was barely 200 feet from home plate. How much more ridiculous could the farce have gotten?

The fact that over 115,000 people turned out to watch this game means very little. It certainly doesn't prove that more Americans root for the Red Sox than any other team out there. After all, had teams like the Yankees or Cubs been invited to a circus like this, could we have seen a similarly large crowd? I bet either of those teams could have helped the Dodgers set this record. To say nothing of the Giants, the Dodgers' archrival.

And to make a claim that America is overrun with Red Sox fans from this weekend's exhibitions, one would have to assume that there were more Red Sox fans than Dodger fans in attendance. From this Eric Neel piece on ESPN's Page 2, that doesn't ring true. But Red Sox Nation has always had a knack for spinning stories from nothing and making themselves look bigger and better than they really are.

And then there was the Bill James appearance on 60 Minutes. I find it hard to believe that any person who thinks that Chase Utley is the most underrated baseball player in the league and who would take David Wright if they could build a team around one guy is a baseball genius.

To start with, Chase Utley could cure the common cold in his spare time and still not manage to be underrated. I think it must be a Federal statute that commands ESPN to include him in as many highlights as they do. God knows it can't be his overall performance or his contributions to the Phillies winning ways, what with the fact that the Phils have yet to win anything with Utley. Or maybe it was his star turn as the heart and soul of the American entry in the World Baseball Classic.

And as for David Wright, he strikes me as a papier mache version of A Rod. He'll put up good numbers in a given season, but I'd rather depend on any other Met to get a big hit at a big moment. And if he's the long term future of baseball, then it's going to be a tough time for MLB going forward.

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