Touching 'Em All - All Stars, Old Stars, and Hitting to the Stars
Credit: Bleacher Report
Welcome back to Touching ‘em All. A weekly dose of baseball for those missing other sports, or in love with America’s pastime on America’s weekend. Here’s a rundown:
First Base - All Star Teams - The AL and NL All Star teams are coming out. Right now, Bryce Harper and Aaron Judge are vote leaders in their respective leagues. Not a ton of surprises. One thing I’m thankful for, though, is that for the first time in a couple of years, the ballots weren’t stuffed by overzealous fans. The Royals of 2015 and the Cubs of 2016 comprised the majority of their league’s starting rosters, whether the players deserved it or not. This leads me to believe that All Star appearances are for the fans, and not for Hall of Fame resumes. Feel free to agree.
Second Base - Rockies’ Uphill Battle - The Colorado Rockies had a great jump out of the gates this season, and threw another wrench in the now very convoluted NL West. Considering the Rockies’ pitching staff has been solid all year, and their offense is always dangerous, it’s a recipe for success. But lately, the Rocks have been sliding a little bit. Though every team goes through one of those, the Rockies have a unique issue that’s starting to seep into the picture. One of the harder things to do in sports is be a pitcher for the Rockies. With the altitude and all coming into play, pitchers either have to keep low in the strike zone, or worry that their hanging pitches get mashed into space. If their offense struggles just a little, and their pitching has altitude sickness, the team may fall even further.
Third Base - Older Players - Bartolo Colon was recently designated for assignment by the Braves after a lackluster start to the season, with an ERA somewhere in the zillion region. He may stick around somewhere, but my guess is he’s reaching the end of the line. Jaromir Jagr of the NHL is in a similar spot at age 44, where teams are reluctant to give them a call due to their age, even though both Colon and Jagr are rather healthy for their age (Colon’s healthy is a double entendre). I don’t know what will become of athletes when I’m in my 40’s, with nutritionists and strength/conditioning coaches and not being on the Mets helping athletes stay on the field, but I hope to see some athletes with prolonged careers like Big Sexy.
Home Plate - Juiced...Balls? - June of 2017 saw more home runs than any other month in MLB history. Fact. A myth going around is that the baseballs being used are somehow altered to give the advantage to hitters…? That sounds silly. Some would say, like Mets pitching coach Dan Warthen, that the balls are being thrown harder but moving less, thus getting hit farther. Well, Dan, why don’t you and other pitching coaches around baseball try and combat that? Hitters didn’t complain when earlier in the decade pitchers seemingly always had the edge. Juiced baseball theories are a wild goose chase. Don’t read into this.
Bonus Cantos - VR Derby - Apparently, at All Star Fanfest in Miami, you can play a home run derby with Virtual Reality. Cool, sign me up! I guess you hold some kind of object in your hand, and it’s as if you’re in the Derby, hitting balls out of Marlins Park like your idol behemoth named Aaron Judge...or Giancarlo Stanton...or smaller guys who hit baseballs far. But this little game looks fun, and I want to play it. I’m not a power hitter in real life, I’m more of a slap-happy singles and doubles guy, but that doesn’t mean I can’t dream about the long ball. Chicks dig that, so hey!
What other stories do you think I should cover on Touching 'Em All? Let me know in the comments.