The Great Stories Happening In Baseball
RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Rachel Martin. Time for sports.
(SOUNDBITE OF SPORTS THEME MUSIC)
MARTIN: This past week, the Yankees' Alex Rodriguez held a press conference. This was just after he'd been suspended by baseball for charges of using performance-enhancing drugs. There were a lot of tough questions about whether he'll ever play baseball again. And A-Rod made a valiant effort to deflect such questions.
NPR's Mike Pesca joins us now to focus on one of those deflections. Hey, Mike.
MIKE PESCA, BYLINE: Hey. How are you?
MARTIN: I'm doing well. So you're watching this press conference.
MARTIN: Alex Rodriguez clearly does not want to answer these tough questions.
PESCA: No. He's not very good at deflecting, but what are you going to do? So Alex Rodriquez has kind of dominated the news cycle and set our news agendas, sports reporters - wrested away the news agenda, let's say. So what I kind of did was thought about one of the things he said, which is really just a platitude, and I decide to run with it. Here's what he said.
ALEX RODRIGUEZ: You know I got to tell you, I haven't thought that far ahead. But I hope that for one moment, with this appeal process, we have an opportunity to take a little bit of a timeout from this, and give the fans of baseball an opportunity to focus on all the great stories that are happening in baseball right now.
PESCA: Let's do it. Go ahead and handle it. Yeah.
MARTIN: What a giver, Alex Rodriguez is.
PESCA: Right. Right, I'll take him up on that. Let's talk about the great stories in baseball.
MARTIN: All right, great stories. Give me one.
PESCA: Yeah. All right, I'd like to talk about a player, a pitcher and a website. The player I'd like to talk about is Mike Trout. He turned 22 years old this week, and a lot of stories are written under the headline: Is He The Greatest 22-Year-Old Ever? The answer: Yeah, duh.
PESCA: The question should be: Can he become the greatest player ever? And it's an unfair question. And the answer is, of course, how could you possibly project that out? And I'll grant you that. But if you could project it out and if you were to take a leap, there's a good case that this guy, he's got one in three quarters seasons of baseball under his belt...
PESCA: ...he's well on his way - we can't say well - but maybe on his way to becoming just the greatest ever. OK. I'll acknowledge, it's an overstatement, but according to, you know, advanced statistics - things like Wins Above Replacement and other ones...
PESCA: ...he's - last year, where he came in second in MVP race - the 21st best season in baseball history, and this season he's gotten better. He's such a good hitter and he's so much better at defense. And all the other good hitters in baseball an amazing player - can run, can hit, does a lot for the community. Absolutely, yeah.
MARTIN: OK. Great story number two?
PESCA: The pitcher is Matt Harvey, and he's arguably the best pitcher in baseball this year. And the great thing about him is he pitches for the Mets. The Mets are a bad team; without Harvey, they're a really bad team. And when Matt Harvey is on the mound for the Mets, he makes the team relevant, he brings excitement to the stadium. It's a kind of baseball centric thing.
MARTIN: Your choice: Good story number three or your curve ball?
PESCA: Yeah. No, I'm going to go to this website called Tater Trot Tracker.
PESCA: And just measure how long it takes a guy to round the bases after a homerun.
PESCA: Yeah. Admiring the ball, slowing down to walk, leaping on to home plate absolutely counts against a player. And so this year, the slowest trot was Todd Helton, who took over 30 seconds to round the bases. And then of the top 10 slots, eight of them are David Ortiz of the Red Sox. This guy takes a long time. If you've ever seen him physically, you know why.
MARTIN: See, that just seeds my theory that there are not that - I shouldn't say this on the radio - but they're just slow, baseball players. They just don't seem very in shape.
PESCA: Well, look at - Adam Rosales rounded the bases in 16.4 seconds. I mean that guy is quick. He loves to round the bases quickly. Tater Trot Tracker has them all. And it also has a breakdown of when Luke Scott took 35 seconds to round the bases 'cause he pulled a hamstring during his homerun trot.
MARTIN: There you have it, NPR's Mike Pesca. Thanks so much, Mike.
PESCA: You're welcome.