In honor the 25th anniversary of the movie Major League, I am attempting to chronicle the events of the movie from the perspective of a sports blogger.
Leading off for your Cleveland Indians…
The Cleveland Indians will play their season opener tomorrow, and their leadoff hitter will be Willie “Mays” Hayes. While I’ll be the first to admit that he’s got a pretty cool nickname, I’m not quite convinced that he’s going to be a solid option at the top of the order.
The traditional job of a leadoff hitter is to get on base and score runs. Often times, a team uses its fastest player in this role, because generally, the faster a man can run, the easier it is for him to get around the bases.
Hayes certainly has the necessary speed for the job. From what we saw in exhibition games, Hayes is easily the fastest player on the team, and I’d be willing to bet that he’d be able to hang with just about any other player in the league.
Unfortunately, as the old saying goes, “You can’t steal first base.” Hayes’ speed isn’t going to do him much good if he can’t get on base, and he didn’t get on base nearly enough in Spring Training games.
It seems that Hayes isn’t content just being a speedster; he also wants to hit some home runs. Unfortunately, based on all the pop ups he hit in spring games, he can barely get the ball out of the infield on the fly, let alone over the fence.
Manager Lou Brown has seemingly been trying his best to make Hayes understand that you can’t beat out a pop up, and the more Hayes hits the ball on the ground, the better his chance of reaching base.
Remember when Hayes hit a pop up and dropped to the ground to do push ups? Many of us laughed at it, while others denounced Hayes as an attention seeker. But it seems that he isn’t egotistical as much as flighty. During batting practice, Brown forced Hayes to do push ups every time he popped up. Apparently, Hayes didn’t realize that the practice shouldn’t continue during actual games.
By the way, this is an example of why people shouldn’t feel too bad for Brown. Yes, this may very well be his only shot at managing a major league team, and yes, he’s been given a team that doesn’t appear to have much (any?) chance at success. But with low expectations comes freedom. The Indians are full of players who are so desperate to make the team that they’ll jump through hoops – or in this case do push ups on demand.
If Hayes is fortunate enough to remain in the league for a few seasons, you think he’ll be quite so willing to do those extra push ups in a couple of years?
For now, the hope is that the message gets through to Hayes and he becomes a slap hitting machine who is a menace on the base paths. Of course, it seems just as likely that he doesn’t figure it out, and he’ll be just another lousy player on a team that seems to be full of them.
We’ll get our first indication of which way he’ll go tomorrow.