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Sports & Fitness // Keeping Score
Bob Hogue

A Summer Of Baseball Memories

Dateline: Grand Canyon. I always wanted to write something like that. I’ll admit that the location has very little to do with my story, but the beautiful national park is where I found myself during Major League Baseball’s All-Star break this month, so why not take advantage of it?

As I spent a few days of vacation enjoying the amazing splendor of the West, I also realized that this has been a very busy year of travel for me. In the past few months, I’ve traversed the country from Hawaii to Cape Cod and San Diego to D.C. and many cities and states in between. I’m very lucky to have a job in the sports business that allows me the opportunity to see this great country.

During many of the stopovers, I try to see if I can catch a major league game and I’ve witnessed great venues this spring and summer – Baltimore’s Camden Yards, Boston’s Fenway Park and L.A’s Dodger Stadium (my three favorite ballparks), as well as San Diego’s Petco Park, Anaheim’s Angel Stadium, and Chase Field in Phoenix. I’ve seen, in person, the past few months an impressive list of teams for an island sports fan – the Dodgers, Angels, Braves, Red Sox, Brewers, Giants, Padres, Orioles and Rays.

I’ve seen firsthand come-from-behind ninth-inning wins in Baltimore, great pitching in San Diego and Anaheim, first-place teams in Boston and Phoenix, and the emergence of a star in Los Angeles – 2013 truly has been baseball paradise for me. And we’ve still got half a season to go!

I keep up with our island baseball stars. Shane Victorino deservedly has garnered the most ink this year. The Maui native was hitting .290 at the break, despite having a few issues with his hamstring. He’s become a popular figure in Boston during his first season with the Red Sox. His speed, experience and 110 mph intensity have created some of the excitement that elevated the Red Sox to baseball’s best record at the break. If he can keep from hurting himself further, he should help Boston deep into the post season.

Former Waipahu High School star Jerome Williams also had a good first half of the year. In fact, Williams was one of the few bright spots during a dismal start for the Angels, both as a starting pitcher and a reliever. At the midpoint, the big right-hander had cooled off a bit to a 5-5 record and a 4.60 ERA. The Angels have improved since their weak beginning to steadily move toward the .500 mark, as they hope to get back into contention in the AL West.

Over in the National League, former St. Louis Crusader Brandon League watched his L.A. Dodgers team turn around its season, but only after he took a lesser role with the club. League was the Dodgers’ closer the first couple of months as the Blue Crew languished in last place in their division. League’s win-loss record of 3-3 and an ERA of 6.25 eventually pushed him into a spot reliever’s role – but with the emergence of rookie sensation Yasiel Puig, the Dodgers climbed out of the cellar and became a serious contender in the NL West.

In the NL East, Hawaii’s Kurt Suzuki has struggled at the plate for the Washington Nationals this summer, hitting just .219 at the break. But the Nats are hanging around in second place and might just give the Atlanta Braves a run for their money over the next few months. The veteran catcher can have a big impact in that chase for first place.

For sure, I’ll be watching – whether it’s on the ticker or in-person at the ballpark.

Baseball’s summer of 2013 is grand indeed.

senatorbobhogue@ yahoo.com

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