Monday, July 14, 2008

Josh Hamilton Is Slightly Better Than Decent

The new definition of footnote: Justin Morneau, 2008 Home Run Derby champion.

I was playing basketball against knee brace-sporting white men right about the time Josh Hamilton further proved something I already knew: He's the greatest baseball player in the history of baseball players who play baseball.

It was around 10:00 p.m. EST when I had my "Where were you when Kennedy was shot?" moment. Some gent in the "stands" had his computator with him, and shouted to nobody in particular the following information: "Hamilton hit 28 HRs in the first round!" I will truly never forget where I was when I heard such beauty.

(Thank God I Tivo'd that thing.)

I got out to my car a moment later only to find that my phone had been predictably bombarded with text messages (seven) and voice mails (four). The texts ranged from the obvious ("Josh Hamilton is God"), to the witty ("He sucks"), to the mean ("You glad you played basketball, idiot?"). (Note: The mean text message came directly from Craig's dirty fingers)

I didn't bother checking my voice mails until after I viewed the greatest show since PT Barnum's prime. Shortly after Hamilton obliterated Bobby Abreu's Derby record of 24 HRs in a single round, I checked my voice mail.

In one of those, my buddy Al summed up my feelings completely: "It brings a tear to my eye - I love him."

Just imagine if Edinson Volquez was merely pretty good thus far in '08, as opposed to being extraordinarily extraordinary...

Speaking of No. 36, if Bud Selig doesn't demand a third inning showdown between Hamilton and Volquez it will be the biggest screw-up in his tenure. Which says a lot. It's a semi-travesty that Volquez isn't starting the game, but this would at least salvage that. C'mon Bud, give the people what they want to see...

Other things's on my mind after Josh Hamilton blah blah blah:

Did anyone else see David Ortiz's first words to Hamilton at the end of round one? Just in case, here goes: "GOD DAMN!" Ortiz and Hamilton were sharing a handshake/half-hug when this happened, and I couldn't have laughed any louder. This is because Hamilton likes to thank his Lord and Savior approximately every eight seconds.

How many times do you think Rick Reilly mentioned Hamilton's battles with addiction? 70 times? 90 times? 64 trillion times? We get it, fella. Relax.

Kudos (or massive props, big ups, much love or good job) to the brilliant minds at Yankee Stadium who played music from The Natural after Hamilton's first round and Rocky music during the finals while he was struggling. And the fans need to be commended (or whatever) for recognizing Hamilton's otherworldly performance and trying to take him to another level with standing O after standing O. That be giving me goosebumps for real yo.

One final thought: Here's how you know Hamilton did something truly remarkable tonight...after he finished his opening round massacre the broadcast ceased being a home run derby; it was the Josh Hamilton Show. Nothing else was even remotely important. It reminded me of LeBron's first televised game at Akron St. Vincent/St. Mary's. I'll never forget, they were playing a loaded Oak Hill Academy team and ESPN decided it needed to be shown to the masses. Dickie V and Jay Bilas and Bill Walton were there - it was a BIG DEAL. But anyway, the reason I draw parallels between that night and tonight's Derby is that both broadcasts didn't bother talking about anything else except the obvious story. Oak Hill, as stated, was loaded (as always), but nobody cared - we were watching to see LeBron, and that's all the announcers discussed during the game.

The only difference, of course, is that we weren't expecting greatness tonight - we just knew it was possible.

-Brad Spieser (