Poor Shin Soo Choo. Playing in what could be his final season in the bigs before having to serve up to two years in the South Korea military, Choo is easily the Indians best player during a season deemed "lost" Sunday after the team traded Russell Branyan back to Seattle.
Choo is about the closest thing to a five-tool player Cleveland has seen in a long time. For those that don't know, a five-tool player is one who excels at hitting for average, hitting for power, has baserunning skills and speed, throwing ability and fielding abilities.
He's the only deserved All-Star they've got, and playing for the Indians, currently the American League's second worst team, isn't going to win him any favor in his home country.
Choo could get out of military service if he participates and wins the gold medal for his country in this year's Asian games. Baseball has been voted out of the 2012 London Olympic games, and Choo wasn't allowed to play in the 2008 Beijing Olympics thanks to another stellar move by MLB commish Bud Selig. The least the Indians could do is trade him to a contender for the rest of the season so he could have a shot at helping a team win a World Series which might get him out of military service, and goodness knows they'll trade him for next to nothing. Hopefully things work out for Choo so he can stay in the big leagues without missing a step.
The Pittsburgh Pirates are 29th in the big leagues in batting average, 28th in home runs, 30th in runs batted in and 30th in hits. You don't have to look any further than that to see why they are 25-50 on the season. The Pirates have had some decent pitching performances but they just haven't backed it up. Case in point Sunday against the Oakland Athletics. Russ Olendorf and Evan Meek combined to give up just three hits and three runs (which should have been two if not for catcher Jason Jaramillo dropping a pop up that would've ended the eighth), but the Bucs couldn't score when they needed to leaving eight on base in a 3-2 loss. Simply put, a boost in offense would help the team tremendously in a division that isn't exactly a perennial powerhouse. And this is coming from a Cincinnati Reds fan who will admit that the NL Central hasn't been traditionally strong in recent years. Here's hoping for Pirates fans that they can get something going to snap out of the funk their currently in to build on for the future.
Once again last week, it wasn't the most skilled golfer in the field winning the U.S. Open, it was the guy who kept his head afloat. I'm not taking anything away from Graeme McDowell's even-par performance. But I am saying the USGA turns its courses into torture devices for its majors, and it's just they way it likes it. On the 17th hole Sunday, only seven out of 83 guys hit the green, and two were chunked so badly that they just rolled up onto the surface. On No. 14, there was no possible way to keep the ball on the green. Three feet short and it rolled back to the fairway. Three feet long and they rolled all they way off the back of the green. These guys are good, but they're not good enough to spin the ball hitting into glass. Look for more no namers to take U.S. Opens in the future. (See McDowell, Lucas Glover, Angel Cabrera, etc ...)
I know some people are into World Cup soccer, but I can't figure it out. I can see and admire the skill and conditioning it takes to play the game (If you recall a few years back I did a Sports Editor vs. Quaker-alum Zahra Scullion who about tore my arms off as I tried to play goalie). But the sport just seems to lack the constant movement or excitement that we in America tend to need to hold our attention spans for more than 30 seconds. If someone can truly tell me what the appeal to watching soccer is, I'd love to hear it. I can understand if you play it, because I've made the same argument for golf, which a lot of people hate to watch but don't mind playing. And I'm not knocking it at all. I just really want to know what it is that appeals to fans of the sport. It's the most popular sport worldwide, so I'm obviously in the dark here. Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.
"This is a simple game. You throw the ball. You hit the ball. You catch the ball."
'til next time ...
E-mail B.J. Lisko at firstname.lastname@example.org