If you haven’t been paying attention to Major League Baseball this season, then it’s time to wake up. Because you’re missing quite a show.
It’s not even June and we’ve already seen a perfect game pitched by Philip Humber and a no-hitter by Jered Weaver. Josh Hamilton hit four home runs in a game against the Orioles on May 8 and by May 29 Melky Cabrera reached 50 hits…in the same month. Chris Sale even struck out 15 batters on Monday and didn’t even pitch eight full innings.
Baseball will never touch the love affair that America has with football, but 2012 already has the makings of the most exciting season in recent memory. When you consider that the Orioles and Nationals are in first place while the Phillies and Red Sox are stuck in the cellar of their divisions, that’s exciting stuff by itself. (Or, at the very least, intriguing stuff.)
So are young players Bryce Harper and Mike Trout, who are raking Major League pitching despite the fact that they’re not even old enough to buy their teammates a beer yet. When you think about what Carlos Beltran and Rafael Furcal are doing in St. Louis, it’s not as if baseball is entirely a young man’s game either. Players from all ages are doing incredible things and making baseball a must-watch every night.
The game has become interesting off the field as well. Since his five-game suspension Ozzie Guillen has held his tongue but he’s still a ticking time bomb waiting to go off. Apparently so is Indians’ closer Chris Perez, who all of a sudden has turned into a walking quote. What’s great is that Perez is also pitching his ass off, so he’s not making headlines just for being a mouthpiece. Just days after he hit one of the more you’ll ever see, Reds rookie Todd Frazier also saved a man’s life by using the Heimlich Maneuver while eating at a downtown Pittsburgh restaurant.
A no-handed home run and the Heimlich Maneuver all in the same week? Fantastic.
Yes, the law of averages is bound to catch up, as we’ve already seen with Albert Pujols. El Hombre entered play on May 6 with a batting average of just .194 with no home runs and five RBI through 114 plate appearances. Since then, he’s raised his average to .238, has blasted eight home runs and has driven in 23 runs. At some point things will come back to the mean in baseball and maybe the intrigue will die down with it.
But whether you’re a diehard or casual fan, it’s fun to watch Major League Baseball these days. Bud Selig has a good product on his hands and the best part is it’s a steroid-free product. (Well, not entirely steroid-free; just ask Guillermo Mota.) Thanks to the nightly feats of guys like Hamilton, Cabrera, and Matt Kemp, the storyline is no longer about how some big-headed monster is chasing down the home run record. Good, clean baseball is on display at ballparks across the nation.
And how refreshing is that?