Tuesday, June 8, 2010

In an Ideal world, Strasburg, Harper and Obama save the Gulf

Typically Major League Baseball doesn’t mean a thing until the fireworks are lit on July 4th and again at the All-Star game. I discussed in the previous blog entry that this season has been anything but normal. The 2010 MLB first year player draft is wrapping up, and the #1 pick on the 2009 draft Steven Strasburg, just made his Major League debut with the Washington Nationals. In his debut Strasburg threw 7 complete innings with 14 strikeouts and a bagel in the walk column. In the 7th inning Strasburg was clocked throwing his fastball at 99MPH and his breaking ball at 81MPH. That’s practically un-hittable. Please look past the fact that he accomplished this against the Pittsburgh Pirates. He allowed 4 hits and 2 earned runs and most importantly walked away with the win, a face full of shaving cream, and keys to the white house!!

I was fortunate enough to watch his post game interview on MLB TV and this kid demands a presence around him. He had the journalists basically eating out of his hands in the media room. It wasn't all roses in the media room, the way he drank his post game beverage was his unofficial 15th strikeout. While answering questions he was sipping on a green Gatorade. I don’t have a problem with the color or with Gatorade, but he missed an endorsement opportunity that would have resulted in millions for Strasburg, but he hid the Gatorade logo from everyone, and to make matters worse he sat the bottle on the ground instead of on the table. Gatorade just dropped Tiger Woods, and Strasburg has the potential to be the Tiger Woods of the baseball world.

Strasburg made it to the show which is a great accomplishment. But throwing a 99MPH fastball and a 81MPH breaking ball will only take you to Cooperstown, NY. He needs to look at building his personal brand image and that means endorsement opportunities. Get the money while you can!! The last thing I want is for Strasburg to turn out to be the next Kerry Wood who was a wasted draft pick in my opinion. He needs to build his personal brand, and take the money while people are throwing it him. Once the #1 pick in this years draft, Bryce Harper makes his debut, Strasburg will become a side show pitching next to the freak-show that is Harper's bat. Pitching is awesome and wins you championships, but lets face it
, chick’s still dig the long ball!!

The Washington Nationals have something special with the 2009 AND 2010 #1 draft picks, but they need to monitor Strasburg’s progress and limit his innings over the next couple years, or at least until they can develop Harper and get him ready for his debut. I want to see Strasburg, Harper and Obama meet in the oval office and figure out how to save the Gulf. All three own the city, and since it's our Nation's capitol they own the country. If the three of them can't solve the problem who will? BP? Child Please. The rate at which the oil is spilling into the gulf, I boldly predict that the Nationals will win a world series before we completely clean up the Gulf. At this rate, they'll win one before we even plug the hole...

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

MLB Umpires...HOLY COW!!

Calling all optometrist in the greater Detroit area: I have found the poster boy for your next marketing campaign, but first lets deal with the fat POS pictured to the right à

What would Harry Carey be saying to describe this past month in Major League Baseball? His Cubs are struggling, but the umpires struggles trumps all. Even with the Cubs limping into the month of June, Harry Carey would be belting out his famous line “Holy Cow” to fans everywhere for the excitement that has happened so early in the baseball season.

Major League Baseball has had three perfect games within a 30 day period. Check that, two perfect games, two one-hitters and a legend deciding to call it quits after 22 years. Umpires rarely self promote, but this year has been a rare exception. Joe West called the Red Sox and Yankees “pathetic and embarrassing” due to the absurd amount of time it takes them to play a game. I guess 34 combined world series championships is now considered "pathetic and embarrassing." West also recently got into an argument with a Chicago White Sox pitcher after calling a balk and soon after anger raged with the manager Ozzie Guillen. West actively seeks out the media for attention and even as has his own publicist…yeah, you heard correctly, I said publicist. He has recently hired a public relations firm out of Tennessee to help get him in the news media. Why would a MLB umpire need to seek publicity? It turns out that West does more than just run his mouth during and after baseball games. He’s a prominent recording artist in the country music world! I use the term prominent very loosely. He has hired the PR firm to help promote his personal brand and use the recognition and publicity he gets on the diamond to help jump start his music career.

A lot of people have said that there is no such thing as bad publicity, and I think in West’s case that holds true. He really has nothing to lose. He’s been a MLB umpire since 1976, so it’s safe to say that if negative press forces him to resign, he can then focus on his music career as “Cowboy Bill.” If he left baseball it wouldn’t upset him. He was part of the group who quit in ’99 and wanted more money. MLB basically said “It doesn’t really matter who we have as umpires, our fans aren’t there to see you call balls and strikes.” After the umpires attempt for more money failed miserably West came crawling back in 2002 and has been an umpire ever since.

West’s PR firm probably instructed him to create the controversy on the diamond hoping that it would lead to expanded coverage on ESPN and other sports networks. Mission accomplished. Publicity helps with name recognition and brand reputation, but it's hard to tarnish a brand that no one knows exists, so any media generated with his name mentioned is considered gold in the industry! I would not put it past a PR firm to suggest that West participate in controversial calls on the field to generate media. It's a shady tactic that ruins the reputation of Major League Baseball and also gives other umpires like Jim Joyce around the league a bad name.

Jim Joyce became famous tonight after he missed an obvious out call in the 9th inning to prevent Armando Galarraga from throwing the third perfect game in the last 30 days and the 21st perfect game in MLB history. Joyce stepped up to the plate after the game and admitted he missed it and took responsibility for blowing the call. In his statement he truly believed he got the call right. Joyce refers to it by saying "It was the biggest call of my career, and I kicked the *bleep* out of it." While in tears Joyce goes on to say, "I just cost that kid a perfect game." He apologized to Galarraga and gave him a genuine hug. With a statement like that, you know he's one of the more reputable umpires in the league and also a fan of the game. He might have made a horrible call that will taint the rest of his career, but the guy showed a lot of class admitting that he altered MLB history. Joyce's intentions are pure and sincere while West just needs to take his homemade rocket to the moon (goodluck getting into it!).

By the way, The Kid decided to call it quits tonight...