*If the old adage about heroes not living up to the hype in real life is true, then Ken Griffey, Jr. passed with flying colors Wednesday during an interview on ESPN’s SportsCenter.
The future Hall of Famer seemed to be totally disinterested as he laced his interview with one-word answers for veteran broadcaster Linda Cohn, who immediately cut short the segment once she noticed Griffey’s declining attention span.
Griffey’s SportsCenter interview comes as baseball card maker Upper Deck celebrates its 25th anniversary and teams are in the midst of spring training for MLB’s 2014 season. Continue reading →
*Pittsburgh Pirates center fielder and NL MVP Andrew McCutchen surprised his longtime girlfriend, Maria Hansloven, with a marriage proposal in the middle of his appearance on Wednesday’s “Ellen.”
First, he presented Maria with a video expressing his love, then invited her on stage.
“I always envisioned that I would be on the highest mountain in the world,” he said, “and that my voice would be as loud as a lion’s roar — times a billion — so the whole world could hear me, just to tell you how much that I love you.
“I didn’t do any of this for the publicity, I didn’t do any of this for the recognition. I did this to show you that if I could tell the whole world how much I love you, I would do that.”
*Major League Baseball and MTV are teaming up on a new weekly TV series.
Boston Red Sox star David Ortiz, recently named the 2013 World Series MVP, and Pittsburgh Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen will executive produce a 30-episode series to air on MTV2, MTV’s sister network targeting men, to premiere in April 2014.
The series, intended to move beyond game analysis, stats and highlights, will be filmed at New York City’s MLB Fan Cave, a space that mixes baseball with music, pop culture, media, technology and art. The announcement touts that the show will focus on MLB players off the field, offering a glimpse into their personalities and passions through interviews and features, as well as celebrity appearances.
“The MLB Fan Cave has been an enormous success in showcasing the personalities of our star players to young fans and intersecting baseball with pop culture,” said Tim Brosnan, executive vp business at Major League Baseball. “Being able to partner with MTV on a weekly TV series will give us an opportunity to bring that concept to an even broader audience. We are excited to work with the creative team at MTV to develop content that our fans will enjoy.”
The partnership will cross all of MTV networks and platforms, including MTV, MTV2, mtvU, MTV Hits and MTV Jams, and will integrate MLB players into current shows and events. They will also develop specials, weekend programming and other projects.
*We know baseball might not be the most exciting sport to watch at all times.
It lacks the pulse-pounding intensity of football, the constant motion of basketball, or even the artistry of top-level soccer. No, it’s a sport that requires a great degree of patience and appreciation for its own, unique charms.
These days, with our attention spans crunched down to nothing thanks to the modern of on-demand, I-want-it-now Internet culture, it is – admittedly – a lot harder to sit through a baseball game. There just always seems to be something more exciting out there. It takes a special, special baseball player to transcend that malaise, to be so overwhelmingly good that you can’t take your eyes off him whenever he’s on the field, like Jackie Robinson did when he broke in and like Barry Bonds (at the height of his non-steroid peak) could.
The good news is that we have one of those players active right now. Andrew McCutchen is the starting center fielder for the Pittsburgh Pirates. That’s not the special part, of course – there have been a lot of starting center fielders for the moribund Pirates over the past decade. What’s special is everything else about him. The 25-year-old McCutchen, at an age when most of us are still trying to figure out what we want to do with our lives, might be the best player in all of baseball. He’s batting a mind-boggling .369, with 22 home runs, 66 RBI and 14 stolen bases – numbers that make him the clear favorite for the National League MVP, a breathtaking combination of power, speed and hitting skill. He’s also got the Pirates – one of the worst franchises in sport for a long time – primed to make a serious run at the playoffs, which is a feat worthy of canonization all by itself.
The other thing that makes McCutchen unique? He’s an African-American superstar in a sport that increasingly losing any sort of presence in the African-American community. If all goes according to the current rankings, McCutchen and the sport’s other award-worthy African-American stars – like David Price of the Rays and Matt Kemp of the Dodgers – could be playing well into October. What a boon that would be for a deserving superstar like McCutchen, and the game as a whole.