The Urena Express: 7/14/21

Steven Urena

By Steven Urena —

All-Star Game —
Major League Baseball has the best ASG in all sports. PERIOD. I’ve tried to sit through the Pro Ball or NBA ASG, and it just doesn’t do it for me. 

The main reason is because you can go all out in baseball and not necessarily worry about getting hurt or getting another athlete hurt. Pitchers throw cheddar for their one inning, hitters try to hit the long ball, and there are smiles all around.

Ever since I was a kid, I always looked forward to the ASG. My most memorable one was in 1999 when it was held at iconic Fenway Park. The All-Century Baseball team was announced. Pedro Martinez struck out the first four batters of the game and five total (Barry Larkin, Larry Walker, Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire, Jeff Bagwell). Ted Williams threw out the first pitch and was honored at the game. Williams came out in a golf cart and greeted all the players. 

That moment still brings tears to my eyes. My son’s middle name is Theodore, after the greatest hitter who ever lived.

Home Run Derby
Pete “The Polar Bear” Alonso defended his crown on Monday. He’s a big dude with some serious pop. I must say, I disagree with the statement he made after the derby. Alonso said he was the best power hitter on the planet. Currently, he sits at 17 home runs. There are 30 other players tied or beating him in this category. Thirty! I firmly believe he’s got power. However, he still has a lot to prove for that statement to be accurate.

There was another very interesting stat that kept popping up on my feed. Pete Alonso has made $1.47 million since being in the show. He’s now made $2 million for winning the home run derby. Nothing hones your skills like necessity. If I were making the equivalent of MLB slave wages, I’d be fired up too. Well played, sir. 

The home run derby has its moments. I enjoy tuning in every year. Every year, I am amazed at the raw power and strength of the big poppers. In my opinion, it’s far more entertaining than the slam dunk contest or any skill competitions football holds.

All-Star Game Con’t.
The AL pulled off the victory over the NL…again. The game itself was not a thriller, but, hey, it’s baseball. Baseball in and of itself is not wildly exciting. The hardcore fans will always love baseball. The average fan wants to be entertained. They don’t enjoy a great pitcher’s duel or the slow pace of a 5-2 ballgame. MLB is constantly looking for ways to speed up the pace and attract the average fan. I just don’t see it happening. You either love baseball, or you don’t.

Vladdy Jr. was the night’s biggest thrill. His moon shot in the 3rd inning was enough to win him MVP honors. Jared Walsh saved the AL in the 8th inning with his sliding catch. If that ball falls, the NL might have had their first victory over the AL since 2012. I enjoyed watching the pitchers do their thing. Their fastballs were up in velo, and their off-speed pitches were nasty. 

You know what was also nasty? Those uniforms. 

Face of Baseball
My wise friend, BMTEducator, sparked an interesting conversation on social media this week. Who is the face of baseball?

If you ask me, it’s Shohei Ohtani. Ohtani is must-watch TV. He’s throwing 100 mph and hitting balls into orbit. No other player in baseball is doing that. Any time you draw Babe Ruth comparisons, you are doing something special. 

I’ll never forget the scene in “61*” when Roger Maris (Barry Pepper) asks manager Ralph Houk (Bruce McGill) if he could sit because the pressure had got to him. Houk explains to Maris that, at the moment, he’s bigger than the game. He owed it to himself to go out and do something special. The 1961 season belonged to Roger Maris, and that was his moment. Right now, Ohtani is bigger than the game. This is his time. We’re just along for the ride.

BMTEducator made a strong case for why MLB needs to invest in Tatis. The kid is marketable. He “pops” out of the TV screen. Tatis has it all. The looks, the style, the talent, and he’s young. Everywhere I look, I see Tatis jerseys. Kids love Tatis. He reminds me a lot of Ken Griffey Jr. In Little League, we all wanted to be “The Kid.” Tatis has that kind of star power. If he keeps performing, he will, without a doubt, be the face of baseball.

MLB Draft
The MLB draft is just about finished. Six of the first ten picks were college kids. I predict we’ll see the Vandy boys (Leiter and Rocker) in the show sooner than later. They’ll spend one year in the minors. The other kiddos, flip a coin.

Kids, go to school. Adults, tell your kids to go to school. The chances of a kid playing professional baseball in this country are 0.02. That’s less than one percent. That number represents anyone that steps foot on a professional baseball field, not just the majors.

Let’s face it, most of us are not going to sign for $8 million or $1 million. If you’re lucky enough to sign for $1 million, you’re going to lose a major chunk of it. You’re going to pay taxes, pay your agent, buy a car, buy a house, give money to relatives and friends, blow it on stupid things and use it to get through the minor leagues. By the time you’re done playing, most of it is gone. If you were smart, and most of us are not smart, you invested it. 

The process is more important than the results. Chase your dreams, work hard, and don’t ever let anyone tell you that it’s impossible. Just remember, the odds are against you, so make sure you have a helluva Plan B.

The Urena Express appears every Wednesday at
Contact Steve Urena at:
Twitter/IG: @theurenaexpress

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