Joe Santoro: Baseball still greatest game there is | NevadaAppeal.com

Joe Santoro: Baseball still greatest game there is

Joe Santoro

Baseball's All Star festivities this week were more exciting and compelling than 90 percent of the NFL or NBA regular season and playoff games we saw this past season. On Monday we had the Home Run Derby with Bryce Harper hitting home runs in his home stadium in front of his home fans, launching pitches from his father into the night air to win the contest in a miraculous comeback. It put the last two decades or so worth of Slam Dunk contests to shame. On Tuesday the All Star game went 10 innings and featured 10 home runs and pitchers throwing close to 100 mph and striking out 25 hitters. Great players doing great things in great moments. Baseball, if you pay attention to the national media, has no interesting personalities that relate to young fans. But there was Mike Trout, Bryce Harper, Matt Kemp and others wearing a microphone in the outfield and talking to the fans on national television during the game. There was Manny Machado and Matt Kemp taking a selfie on the field during the game. Leave baseball alone. It's doing just fine.

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Is Manny Machado the missing piece that will propel the Los Angeles Dodgers back into the World Series? Well, odds are the Dodgers could have gotten to the World Series without him. But he does solidify the Dodgers' inconsistent and injury-prone lineup. Los Angeles also didn't really give up anything all that important to get him. None of the five players the Baltimore Orioles got for Machado is projected to be the next Mike Trout or Clayton Kershaw. You have to wonder why the Orioles didn't wait another two weeks to see if another team would sweeten the pot.

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The Oakland A's are one of the best stories in all of baseball this year but hardly anyone has noticed. The A's are 13 games over .500 and just eight games out of first place. They're just three games back of Seattle for the second wild card spot. If the A's were in the American League Central, they would be in first place. They're also not doing it with mirrors and parlor tricks. The A's have built a solid organization from the minor leagues up with young talent that's hitting the ground running in the major leagues, players like Sean Manaea, Blake Treinen, Matt Chapman, Mark Canha, Matt Olson and Dustin Fowler. The trade deadline is approaching and the A's are actually considering trying to add a piece or two for the second half playoff run. Give the A's another solid starting pitcher and you might see them playing in the postseason.

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A lot of people have come to the defense of Milwaukee Brewers pitcher Josh Hader this week, saying all of the hateful, cruel and disgusting things he wrote on Twitter should be dismissed as merely silly and immature ramblings of a 17-year-old. That's the last thing we should do. Nobody is saying Hader should be kicked out of major league baseball. But the things he wrote need to be addressed. First of all, yes, he was just 17 at the time. But he's only 24 now. How much maturing could he have done in those seven years he mainly spent as a coddled, sheltered athlete? Part of Hader's maturing process has to be a public acknowledgement what he wrote was wrong and cruel. He has to admit that and own up to it. And, to his credit, he has. But don't dismiss it as just some misguided thoughts of a high school kid. Do you want your 17-year-old to put that sort of hate out on social media? Do you want your 17-year-old to read that sort of stuff?

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Former Nevada Wolf Pack basketball player Cam Oliver made quite an impression during the recently completed NBA Summer League in Las Vegas. Oliver, who was not drafted by the NBA after leaving the Wolf Pack in 2017, played in five games for the Philadelphia 76ers and showed all of the wonderful skills Wolf Pack fans saw from him as a freshman and sophomore. In just 84 total minutes over those five games, Oliver scored 36 points with 27 rebounds. He was just 14-of-39 from the floor (just 1-of-8 on threes) but he was 7-of-10 on free throws and he did have six steals and three blocks. The web site Philly.com wrote of Oliver last week "he's been one of the most athletic players here (in Las Vegas). His dunks have been out of a highlight reel." The 6-foot-8, 22-year-old Oliver is as motivated as ever, telling Philly.com "60 draft picks that went before me, that's my hit list. Whoever got drafted this year, that's 120. So I got a hit list. I have a chip on my shoulder."

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What, exactly, was the point of the Kawhi Leonard-DeMar DeRozan trade this week? It doesn't make either team noticeably better. Leonard is a better player (he plays defense and can shoot the three) but he'll likely only spend one year in Toronto. And DeRozan will benefit from playing for new coach Gregg Popovich. But this trade had nothing to do with basketball on the court. The Spurs were just getting rid of a player who didn't want to play for them and Toronto was just getting rid of a bloated contract (three more years and about $82 million remaining). How exciting.

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North Carolina football coach Larry Fedora is a great example of how selfish coaches can be. Fedora said this week, "Our game is under attack. I fear the game will be pushed so far from what we know that we won't recognize it in 10 years. And if it does our country will go down, too." He also said, "I'm not sure that anything is proven that football itself causes CTE (Chronic Traumatic Encephalopothy)." Tell that to the families of Junior Seau, Tyler Hilinski, Mike Webster, Dave Duerson, Terry Long, Dwight Clark, Rashaan Salaam and others who suffered from CTE until their deaths. Fedora, like all coaches, are just protecting their livelihood, even to the detriment of the safety and health of current and future players. He has spewed forth this sort of cliché garbage (our country depends on football?) for so long he probably actually believes it. But his unenlightened mentality, no matter how ignorant, is also dangerous. Why would you want your son to play for this guy?