Why Second Place Matters

by Ryan

This ball probably went about 502 feet. Or maybe somewhere in the high 470s. Whatever, did you see Josh Hamilton freaking hit last night?

Wait, wait, let’s backtrack a bit.

Ah yes, this is the big news story we all should be talking about. Brett Favre blahblahblahblahblah “I’m a premature quitter” blah blah blah.

You know what? Screw you Brett Favre. Last night we found more important things to think about.

Josh Hamilton absolutely stole the show last night, and I for one couldn’t be happier. I normally don’t find much to get excited about during the Derby, but to see a kid like him just rake like that was outstanding. Probably the coolest thing I’ve seen in Yankee Stadium since Mark Bellhorn’s home run in Game Seven of the 2004 ALCS.

The story of his past will be told over and over again, but seeing someone live “The Dream” in front of millions of people was a refreshing twist on something that had become so trivial. The Home Run Derby didn’t have the most star studded of lineups, nor did it have a Yankee to be a crowd favorite. However, it only took two home runs for Hamilton to become the star of the show, and before it was over everyone was chanting his name.

The Derby is pointless. It’s simply another chance to put a trophy on your mantle, and while I give Justin Morneau all the credit in the world for the win, the story of Hamilton’s performance has to be remembered in the long run. We’re not here to talk revisionist history and declare Hamilton the winner, but he gave us something more than the Twin ever will last night.

In this era of instant history people are constantly searching for special moments. The Home Run Derby certainly lived up to the hype, which is surprising at best. Hamilton’s performance may satisfy that desire for greatness many have, but for me its significance lies in its value when compared to the other “stories” the sports world follows.

How special is it to see a guy putting his life back together before your eyes when put up against an over the hill quarterback refusing to fade into the background? Favre going on television whining about playing time and feeling wanted is just absurd when you think about how privileged Captain Wrangler is compared to Hamilton.

Where Favre is clinging to a world he knows so well, Josh Hamilton is just trying to survive his own demons. Brett talks of an itch to play football, unable to be a normal person, a “former quarterback”. Hamilton knows that same itch, except giving in for him would be committing career suicide a second time. For Hamilton the tag “former” will always apply, along with it “recovering”, “addict”, or “alcohol.”

Baseball and football are mere games. However, we cherish their play and those that participate, claiming them heroes for something they are paid to do. The accolades we rain down on these athletes is hyperbolic, and Favre is one of the biggest benefactors of this verbal praise. Hamilton’s show last night will only add to the compliments he receives, but it seems so much more appropriate at the moment.

Listen, I’m not here to give you a moral lesson or anything, so let’s just say that last night was pretty freaking cool, no matter who ended up winning.

Watching Josh Hamilton swing for the Utz sign over the bleachers reminded us what sports is all about. Sports are supposed to be fun, and watching a meaningless contest on an off day was just plain fun.

Watching Favre pout “On the Record” reminds you that the “other” side of sports sucks sometimes, and only makes you look like a whiny bitch.

3 Comments

  1. firsttimelongtime

    Really great post. I think you eloquently said what a lot of people were thinking while watching sportscenter this morning.

    Even if I was rooting for Morneau as a Twins fan, what Hamilton did last night was really awesome.

    Any opinions on Reiley and some of the things he had to say last night? Between accusing MLB of being racists for having no Latino players in the derby (though several turned mlb down), him saying the words “cocaine” and heroin” a combined 35473 times, and claiming that “It’s a lousy night to be an atheist!” when Hamilton was batting?

    I think ESPN will be regretting that huuuuuuge contract sooner than later. It is just a matter of time before he offends someone.

  2. Ryan

    I thought overall the ESPN broadcast was pretty awful. Gammons is the only bright spot for them, and even he had to watch what he said when talking about slugging percentage and all that other “nonesense”. Joe Morgan is an idiot, and flat out doesn’t relate to baseball anymore, which seems impossible but certianly isn’t.

    Reily is going to be overused because of that contract, and here was a perfect example. He was out of place and the comment about Latinos, while interesting at the least, was uncalled for. I’m not sure the angle he was going for, but so far I’m not buying what he’s selling.

    It’s not the most popular thing to say on the internets, but with a pedestrian event like the Derby I’d rather have someone like Simmons cracking jokes than Reily try his back-page magic on television. At least you wouldn’t mind watching a game with Simmons. (As long as it’s not a Pats game…)

  3. Zach

    Exactly what I would have said. And Reilly really should just stop talking and stick to writing. The Worldwide Leader does have a tendency to be able to screw up a good thing.