Casual baseball fans may be in for a surprise when they study the rosters of the American and National League teams for the mid-season classic, this year scheduled for July 10 at Kansas City.
Oh, the usual, familiar names will be around — Josh Hamilton, Jose Bautista, Derek Jeter — thanks to fan voting, which is weighted heavily on popularity and name familiarity rather than merit.
So when names like Trout, Trumbo, McCutcheon and Castro show up, don’t be surprised. There is a constant changing of the guard in the majors and this year is no different.
So who is Trout? He’s Mike, a great hitter with the Los Angeles Angels whose offensive exploits this year were partially overshadowed by the non-hitting woes of Albert Pujols, the $256 million free-agent signee who barely hit his weight through the first two months of the season. Trout played 20 games in AAA Salt Lake City and batted .403 before being called up to the Bigs. In his first 50 games, he had seven homers and a batting average of .344.
Trumbo is Trout’s team-mate, Mark. Remember the M and M Boys of the Yankees in the 1960s (Mantle and Maris)? This Angels T and T duo (TNT is the obvious nickname for the pair) might be just as explosive.
A second-year third-baseman, Trumbo belted 18 homers in his first 65 games this season and had a slugging percent of .610, trailing only Hamilton and ‘Big Papi’ David Ortiz in that category.
McCutcheon is Andrew, of the Pittsburgh Pirates, who haven’t had a winning record since 1991. A centrefielder and the epitome of a five-tool player (hits for average, for power, has speed, a strong arm and great fielder), McCutcheon’s name surfaces when fans start talking about the best player in the game today. And the Pirates? They’re over .500, thanks in large part to McCutcheon’s heroics.
Castro? He’s Starlin Castro of the Cubs and he’s a slick-fielding shortstop who plays for a lousy team. Somebody has to represent the Cubs in the Mid-Summer Classic, so he’s likely to be their representative.
Tune in to the all-star game broadcast and you’ll certainly see the familiar names. It won’t take long for the newcomers to become household names, too.
• Janice Hough of leftcoastsportsbabe.com: “Ryan Leaf said at his sentencing ‘I’m lazy, selfish and dishonest.’ Was he talking about why he should be sent to prison, or announcing a future run for Congress?”
• Greg Cote of the Miami Herald: “Major league umpires are now wearing military-style cooling packs under their heavy gear to combat the heat. Fans responded by saying they’d prefer the umpires suffer.”
• Another one from Cote: “The Panthers picked 23rd in the NHL Draft, which is generally considered to be the largest gathering of white teenagers outside of an Eminem concert.”
• Steve Simmons of Sunmedia, on Twitter: “First reason to worry about Leaf draft pick Matt Finn: His favourite player growing up was Bryan McCabe.”
• Twitter:@Dave_Stubbs “With a $687,500 contract, #Habs Ryan White will only have $687,500 left after budgeting for his haircuts.”
• R.J. Currie of sportsdeke.com: “White Sox slugger Adam Dunn is on pace for 260 strikeouts in one season. Which would beat the old record of striking out 223 times, set when I was dating.”
• Currie again: “Word out of Winnipeg is the Bombers’ new stadium won’t be completed this season. Same goes for most of Buck Pierce’s passes.”
• TNT’s Charles Barkley, explaining all the anti-LeBron James sentiment: “Everybody hates the homecoming queen because she’s pretty. All the ugly girls hate the homecoming queen. And all the dumb kids hate the smart kids. That’s just the way it is.”
• English track coach Charles van Commenee, not worried about teen sprinter Adam Gemili competing in the Olympics: “It’s not like I am sending my 12-year-old niece to fight al-Qaida.”
• Another one from Currie: “The Toronto Blue Jays pitching in brief: Right-handed, left-handed and short-handed.”
• Ex-closer Eddie Guardado, when told in 2008 that the Twins had traded him for Rangers pitching prospect Mark Hamburger: “What? I was traded for a hamburger?”
• Brad Dickson of the Omaha (Neb.) World-Herald, on college football’s proposed four-team playoff: “Details still have to be worked out, including how to make sure that Boise State finishes fifth every year.”
• Comedy writer Alex Kaseberg: “At the Olympic Trials, Ashton Eaton set a world record in the Decathlon, 9039 points despite competing in a torrential downpour. But in the London Olympics he could face harsher conditions; a torrential downpour, bad food and virtually no dental care.”
• Rick Ball, B.C. Lions radio broadcaster, when smoke obscured the uprights in Edmonton during a point-after attempt: “It’s like the back of Cheech and Chong’s van.”
• Ben Burnett: “Toronto signed 49-year-old left-hander Jamie Moyer to a minor league contract, according to a report on the team’s website. “His fastball sounds great if you convert to metric.”