Little League in 104 degrees

by Jim Hague

This is the reason why I became a sportswriter 28 years ago, days like today. I’m going to sit in the oppressive heat and cover a Little League baseball game. Sure, I’ve covered Super Bowls, World Series, NCAA Tournaments and the lot during my career, but today, it’s Little League in 104 degrees.

So it reminds me of the reasons why I like Little League. And with all proper due to David Letterman, here are my top 10 reasons why we all should like Little League.

1. No free agency or contract squabbles
2. Admission is free
3. Everyone plays, regardless of how bad you are
4. Jon and Kate and the Octomom could field their own teams with just their kids
5. The games are always played to a manageable time
6. No Wayne Hagin or John Sterling
7. If you’re playing right field, you can get your homework done or have a salami sandwich without having to worry about a ball being hit to you
8. Johnny’s mom is smokin’ hot
9. The hot dogs are way cheaper than Met or Yankee games.
10. Win or lose, there’s always ice cream after the game.

Just a reminder why Little League is great
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It appears as if Carlos Beltran is going to get traded by the Mets in the matter of days. All indications point to that taking place. Am I happy about it? Hardly. He’s having a great season, better than anyone could have predicted. Hell, when he announced in spring training that he was moving to right field on his own accord, I thought that was a sign he was never going to play again, so this performance has surprised me.

Now, if the Mets are going to trade him, I hope that they get more than a bag of balls for him, that they get a player or players of value and not just warm bodies to fill out the roster.

And if Beltran is leaving, let’s not immortalize him as he walks out the door, much like the way respected sports columnist Bob Klapisch did the other day in the Bergen Record.

In his column, Klapisch wrote that Beltran is the most under appreciated player in Mets history and the best position player the franchise ever had.

Well, in rebuttal, Beltran, despite his nice numbers, could not shine the shoes of two other position players, namely Darryl Strawberry and especially Mike Piazza.

Both Strawberry in the 1980s and Piazza in the late 1990s-early 2000s captivated audiences every time they strolled to the plate. You sat on the edge of your seat waiting for something spectacular to happen. You anticipated greatness. They frightened the opposition and galvonized the Met lineup, making everyone around them that much better. They were the faces of the Met franchise.

Did Beltran ever do the same thing? Not at all. He was a very good player, but never embraced the star stature. The galvonizing Mets were definitely Jose Reyes and David Wright before it was Beltran.

Sure, Beltran put up nice numbers, but let’s face facts. The man never wanted to be a Met in the first place. He only signed with the Mets when the Mets offered the most money. And after he got here, he was sullen, removed, distant from the fans, the media, his teammates. Remember the game he hit two homers and when the fans wanted to give him a curtain call, he was refusing at first? He only went out to acknowledge the fans when Julio Franco pushed him out of the dugout.

Plain and simple, Carlos Beltran was a very good baseball player and among the best to play for the Mets. But an immortal? Best-ever? Hardly.

And it’s very hard to forget the image of a helpless Beltran standing there in Game 7 of the 2006 NLCS, looking at the bending curveball of Adam Wainwright. If he swung the bat and struck out, I think everyone would have a better impression of him. Instead, he stood there and looked at strike three.

Do you think Strawberry or Piazza would have just stood there without a fight? No way.

So let’s not immortalize Beltran if he leaves. I don’t want him to leave, because he definitely can still play and makes the Mets a better team. In a perfect world, I even hope that there was a way he could re-sign with the Mets and stay for a few more years.

But he’s not the best Met ever. He was never even the best Met player while he was here. How can he be the best Met player, better than Strawberry or Piazza? That’s absurd.

==========================================================================

If I was an NFL player, I’d want someone to represent my union better than NFLPA chief DeMaurice Smith. In fact, I’d take Curly Howard over Smith.

Just when you thought that the player’s union was drawing closer to an agreement, they changed their minds, now wanting a clause to be able to back out of the CBA after seven years of the proposed 10-year deal.

How could the players go from being in accordance of the proposed deal from the owners to now stating that they won’t even discuss a vote until Monday overnight? And want to make changes? Were they not informed of the negotiations and terms?

Sure looks that way. I heard about five different NFL player reps in interviews Friday and they all sounded like they had no clue.

The owners gave in to a lot of the players’ demands, like no 18-game schedule, a rookie salary cap and get this _ no more two-a-day practice sessions. You can be rest assured that provision was inserted to the deal without the approval of the league’s coaches. Giants coach Tom Coughlin must have spit out his morning coffee when he heard of that plan, because Coughlin has always professed three-a-day sessions at times.

It looked like the players were set to agree, but then the last minute change of plans.

I have to blame Smith, for not keeping the players properly informed.

So I vote for Curly.

Howard, not Lambeau. “Moe, Larry, the cheese, Roquefort, Roquefort.”
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You can read more of my work at http://www.hudsonreporter.com, http://www.theobserver.com and http://www.dailyrecord.com

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Posted on July 24, 2011, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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