In the rarest of cases, I’m all for the organized booing of an athlete or athletes.
This coming Friday, Saturday and Sunday will present such a time.
Here’s your duty. Yes, a deep responsibility for the baseball devotees of Pittsburgh: If you’re a fan worth your salt and will be inside PNC Park on any (or all) of those aforementioned days, you must boo Mets third baseman David Wright.
Booing Wright is what’s right.
In anticipation of the Major League Baseball Home Run Derby to be held on Monday in New York at Citi Field – which undoubtedly has some corporate sponsor I don’t feel like looking up – Wright was charged with the duty of selecting the four-man National League side.
He has a spot on the team and, as captain, picked the following three gentlemen: Washington’s Bryce Harper and Carlos Gonzalez and Michael Cuddyer of the Colorado Rockies.
Certainly, not many should have a problem with the selections of either Harper or Gonzalez.
As of Tuesday, Gonzalez was leading the National League — and was third in baseball — with 24 home runs.
Harper, who is just 20, is one of the brightest young talents in the game and has hit 13 home runs this season even as he’s missed more than 30 games with a wounded knee.
Gonzalez and Harper, all well and good.
But, the selection of Cuddyer? Ridiculous.
And Wright’s logic behind the selection? Even more ridiculous. Wright’s crux for the pick was that he and Cuddyer, who both grew up in Virginia, have been longtime pals.
“I grew up with Michael,” Wright told the New York Daily News. “I think that he’s one of the more underrated players in the game. And, obviously, the friendship had something to do with it. And his production had a lot to do with it. You’re talking about a guy that’s got 15 or 16 homers. He had a 27-game hitting streak. For me, that was my choice.”
For clarity sake, as of Tuesday, Cuddyer had 15 home runs with 9 of those coming in altitude-aided Colorado. Cuddyer also has hit .362 at home against a .317 average on the road this season for the Rockies. Quite simply, he’s a product of his atmosphere.
Know who isn’t, and who should be in the Home Run Derby? Pirates third baseman Pedro Alvarez.
Through games played on Monday, Alvarez had 22 home runs, third in the National League behind Gonzalez and Philadelphia’s Domonic Brown (23).
Had Brown been that third pick, there would not be much of a beef. But Cuddyer? Come on.
There are a few more reasons why Alvarez would have made a better pick. The most glaring is that Alvarez has as much raw power as anyone in the game; his authoritative left-handed swing had the potential to captivate both those in attendance at the Home Run Derby and those watching on television attempting to tune out the horrific play-by-play that must be endured every year.
Anyone happen to see that ball Alvarez hit off the batter’s eye on Tuesday night?
Think there are a lot of guys in baseball who can do that? No. Not a chance.
Maybe more, though, is the fact that Alvarez is a Dominican-born, New York City resident. Alvarez grew up in baseball-crazy, largely-Spanish-speaking Washington Heights, where his appearance in the Home Run Derby would have made that portion of the City stop and pay undivided attention.
And, lastly, from what view — other than that of Wright and any Colorado fan — does it make sense to have exactly half the NL representatives from one team? Explain how, in any form, that grows the game or creates a buzz?
For his part, Pirates manager Clint Hurdle offered, “Obviously our fan base will have an opportunity to show their feelings this weekend when the Metropolitans come into town. We have a passionate group here in Pittsburgh.”
Indeed, this city is full of passionate fans; zero question about as much.
The passionate fans here in Pittsburgh have a clear and concise assignment in the coming days: Boo the hell out of David Wright.
He deserves it.
The decision Wright made to exclude Alvarez from the Home Run Derby shouldn’t go unnoticed.
Colin Dunlap is a featured columnist at CBSPittsburgh.com. He can also be heard weeknights from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. on Sports Radio 93-7 “The Fan.” You can e-mail him at email@example.com. Check out his bio here.