Friday, July 13, 2012

All-star hype


By CHRIS MILLSPAUGH

The annual Major League All Star game is an exciting event watched by millions of people all over the world. Even if the score is as lopsided as it was on Tuesday (8-0), there are enough colorful stories about the players supplied by the announcers to keep your interest piqued. Much like the announcers for the Olympics every four years, it seems that every participating athlete has a unique story of struggle and redemption. It's hype and it does its job well.

This style of rags to riches, the thrill of victory and agony of defeat and tales of overcoming the odds was begun by Jim McKay in the 1950s as the ABC program "Wide World of Sports" debuted featuring little-known sports and athletes from all over the globe. McKay and his staff would compile tons of information behind the scenes to present compelling and informative tales of the participants for its audience.

I had a dream last week after the game in which an announcer five years from now was providing "color" for the 2017 All Star Game and it went something like this:

"Now stepping up to the plate is the Seattle Mariners' sensational rookie, "Blaze" Green. Green, who is 38 years old, was a walk-on in spring training this year and has torn up the league so far at the All Star break with 31 home runs, 85 runs batted in (RBIs) while batting a sizzling .391. He's a switch hitter who hits the ball to all fields with power and even leads the Majors in stolen bases with 47. Green takes a ball outside. It's quite a story, ladies and gentlemen—one that is, frankly, hard to believe, but totally true. (Green fouls off a slider on the outside corner.) Blaze Green is a convicted arsonist and spent 12 years incarcerated in federal prisons in the Northwest. Apparently a pyromaniac, Green set 106 fires in the Tacoma, Wash., area and 41 blazes in Seattle, including at the Space Needle during the 1990s and 2000s, finally being nabbed as he attempted to burn down Safeco Field. (Green takes a ball in the dirt.) While in prison, Green excelled at baseball and over the years had virtually every Major League scout visit and offer him a contract to play when he got released. (Green triples off the wall in the right field corner.) He signed with the Mariners this year when he was sprung in the spring, saying, 'I owe it to the community and Safeco Field.' What a story!"

"Now coming to the plate is Norris Thorris, a former child molester and registered sex offender out of Detroit, Mich., representing the Tigers. Thorris bats right, is hitting .306 and plays centerfield as he is not allowed to be within 200 feet from, well, anyone. On deck, waiting to bat next is "Stretch" Mogamdamgondo, the former death squad child soldier from Kenya who leads the majors in home runs. Wait 'til you hear his story! (Thorris slams a double down the left field line. ...")

Nice talking to you.




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