The game is in San Francisco. The fans are on his side. He’s batting second, which will maximize his at-bats in an abbreviated appearance. Pitchers are under pressure (if not direct orders) not to avoid him – and strikes are pitches he can hit.
Yesterday, he was the star of the show during his one big media melee/appearance. He seemed and sounded so at peace with the craziness around him. Sure, he’s a bit of a d-bag, but he carries himself like he IS the Home Run King, above the media trying to trip him into saying something jerk-ish.
I’d say the biggest news is that he re-committed to playing again in 2008. It might not be with the Giants – in fact, I’d bet that it WON’T be with the Giants; he should head for the AL, where he can sit back as a DH and pile on his HR record.
But here’s what I guarantee: While the fans of San Francisco cheer him tonight, declaring their loyalty as publicly as it gets, the moment he leaves, they’ll boo him like he was never theirs. Who's the REAL jerk in that scenario?
More ASG: This Time It Counts, Again. The AL’s 9-0-1 record over the last 10 All-Star Games is impressive, but keep in mind the very real (and continually controversial) stakes: Home-field advantage in the World Series. (Maybe today is the day to revisit Scott Boras’ inspired idea for a best-of-9 World Series with the first two games at a neutral site and wrapping in post-season awards and the Hall of Fame announcement.)
MLB Home Run Derby: Vlad Guerrero wins the title over Alex Rios. (I’m sorry: That thing was ENDLESS. I only tuned in for a few minutes, but I couldn’t believe how much it dragged on and on. The demise of the Derby and the Dunk Contest are two of the more regrettable erosions of the sports landscape over the last 20 years.)
More MLB All-Star Game: Dan Haren and Jake Peavy will start for their leagues. Nice to see Bay Area star Haren get the start over Leyland’s boy
(* - I know I said "Bonderman" instead of "Verlander." That's because I'm equal parts lazy and crack-addled, which is quite a combo -- but also explains the mental hiccup. All apologies to everyone for the confusion and for further reminding everyone how truly and sincerely ignorant I can be.)
NBA Summer: Kevin Durant overrated? I'm not ready to declare that yet, but Durant is having a lot of trouble. He scored 18 points against the Knicks, but it was on 4-of-19 FG shooting, his second straight atrocious performance. Again: Given how paltry the defense is in Summer games, what does that portend about Kevin Durant’s ability to score against REAL defenders? (It's only been two games, but admit it: You expected him to dominate from the get-go.)
More: OK, at this point, I am entirely about the point output by the rookies. That’s why I was so blown away by Marco Belinelli over the weekend (and last night: 23 points! He’s terrific.) And why Rodney Stuckey’s 27 points for the Pistons last night made me think: OK, he might match the hype. (Mike Conley: Only 8 points? Welcome to the realization that the kid can’t score.) Knicks rookies Wilson Chandler and Demitris Nichols combined for 25 points in the Knicks’ win over the Sonics, with each shooting 50 percent from the field.
And, yet, the big news was that vet Marcus Banks set a Summer League record (yes, they keep records for those things) with 42 points last night. Yes, it’s “only” Summer League, but that’s still impressive. (Again: If it’s “only” Summer League, why can’t Kevin Durant do that?)
Dan Patrick is leaving ESPN, but either doesn’t know what he wants to do next – or simply won’t announce it: He saw how much fun this Dan was having as an out-of-work blogger and said, “Yes! Get me some of THAT!”
Regardless, it’s the end of an era at ESPN that began with the epic “Big Show” era with Keith Olbermann that combined with the “This Is SportsCenter” ads to put ESPN on the fan-cultural map. In the last 6-7 years, Patrick felt more and more like a relic from an earlier time. (Not using "relic" in a bad way... he was subsumed by a sea of wannabes around him.)
I can understand why he’d want to do something else, although I sincerely wonder what he CAN do, besides sports. He doesn’t strike me as versatile as Olbermann to carry his own news-focused show. And although Patrick has the smarminess to pull off hosting “Price is Right,” he’s a little bit too smug to fill the role. I guess he’ll try to become a syndicated sports-radio guy. (What’s the difference between that and what he’s doing now, except that he won’t have the audience he has now?)
College Football: One more reason that EDSBS and Orson Swindle is the best thing going in college football blogging, even at the height of the sport’s offseason twilight zone.
Varsity Dad...no, Varsity Mom: Congrats to Kim Clijsters, whose pregnancy was announced (by her dad) today. Expect this to be a big sensation in Europe.
Mea Culpa from Monday: I didn't mean to diminish the epic-ness of Federer's Wimby finals win over Nadal by reminding everyone that his fifth straight title was hardly unexpected. And the year-over-year TV ratings increase bears it out: Federer-vs-Nadal drives viewers. (So does a Williams in the women's final... women's final ratings were up even bigger.)
Warning: Just one day away from the slowest sports day of the year! (Am I really going to have to make our big topic of discussion ESPY Awards predictions? Apparently so.)