MLB had a major feelgood moment over the weekend. Miguel Cabrera hit his 500th career home run on the road against the Toronto Blue Jays and the Jays’ fans demonstrated a significant measure of class by giving him a standing ovation until he came out of the dugout to receive their acknowledgement. Five hundred home runs may not seem so important given that three MLB players have hit over seven hundred home runs, but Cabrera’s blast puts him in rarefied company because Cabrera joins a list of only eight players who have hit 500 home runs AND have a lifetime batting average of .300 or more Here is that list:
- Henry Aaron
- Jimmy Foxx
- Miguel Cabrera
- Willie Mays
- Mel Ott
- Manny Ramirez
- Babe Ruth
- Frank Thomas
- Ted Williams
There is good reason to keep an eye on Cabrera’s stats for the rest of 2021 and into 2022 because he is poised to join another all-time exclusive list of hitters. As of this morning, he has collected 2,955 base hits. Barring catastrophic injury, he will get to 3,000 hits probably in 2022. [Aside: He could go on a tear and collect the 45 necessary hits this season, but the Tigers only have 36 games left on the schedule this year; that would require him to get on base at the rate of 202 hits for a full season; he has only done that once in his career back in 2012.] When he accomplishes that feat sometime early in the 2022 season, here are the six players waiting to welcome him to that exclusive club:
- Henry Aaron
- Willie Mays
- Eddie Murray
- Rafael Palmiero
- Albert Pujols
- Alex Rodriguez
One more “exclusive club” that Cabrera belongs to is a list of really good outfielders that the Miami – – née Florida – – Marlins had on their roster and traded away. That list includes:
- Miguel Cabrera
- Marcel Ozuna
- Giancarlo Stanton
- Christian Yelich
Maybe that list of players traded away by the Marlins helps to explain the fact that the Marlins have had only one winning season in the last eleven years…
On Sunday night, MLB staged another oddity game; that was the annual Little League World Series Classic in Williamsport PA. The purpose here is to have the game played in small-town PA at the time of the ongoing Little League World Series as an attempt by MLB to energize the next generation of its fanbase. I know; that sounds great; moreover, I am sure that it got a resounding huzzah from the MLB execs when it was pitched to them as a glimmer of an idea. In reality, that is a rather feeble effort.
If MLB wants to engage kids into its fanbase, might I suggest that they find ways to play a lot more games in the afternoon when kids might be more likely to be in attendance and to put a lot more games on TV in “baseball country” at hours of the day when kids are likely to be awake and tuned in. Staging the game at night in Williamsport is like preaching to the choir. The kids and parents involved with the Little League World Series are already baseball fans; MLB need not recruit them by having a pair of major leaguers show up to play next door to where the kids play. Anyone tuning in at night to see a late game is already a baseball fan and that is not optimal viewing time for kids as the “next generation of baseball fans.” So, the real question is this:
- How many kids around the country tuned in to watch the Angels and Indians play a baseball game in a stadium other than the one the Angels and Indians would normally play in?
From my perspective, this was simply a televised night game in the middle of the regular season. Kids who regularly watch regular season night games are already “hooked on baseball;” kids who do not watch those sorts of games have no reason to care about or tune into the one in Williamsport.
And speaking tangentially about the Little League World Series, I tuned into one of the games and was watching distractedly until I saw a manager challenge a call by the umpire and they went to instant replay. In the Little League, they went to replay! Doing a bit of research, I learned that they have been using a replay challenge system in the Little League World Series since 2010. Here are the rules:
- Each manager gets one challenge. If the call is overturned, he gets another one.
- In extra innings, each manager gets a challenge even if he lost one earlier in the game.
- The last play of every game is reviewed on instant replay.
- Every call is subject to challenge except called balls and strikes.
Finally, I will close today with an observation by former UK Prime Minister, Benjamin Disraeli:
“I feel a very unusual sensation – – if it is not indigestion, I think it must be gratitude.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………