Friday, August 5, 2011

Brief Sunday update: Johnny Giavotella called up; quickly nicknamed Gia; intelligentsia wonder what great prospect Gia is already holding back

Johnny Giavotella better be the second coming of Frank White.

If not, a lot of the Kansas City sports intelligentsia will be sorely disappointed.

Last night, a sports talker began the 11:30 p.m. segment with something like this: "Tomorrow will be an exciting day for Kansas City sports fans because the Royals have finally called up Johnny Giavotella."

I don't know if it works this way in other towns.

(It does. Watching Astro's broadcast this afternoon, all the talk, and I mean all the talk, about the exploits of their minor league players, despite the fact that half the players on the field this Sunday were minor leaguers a few week ago. Same conversations with the rookie families in the stands as Royal's broadcasts. And a kid from Austin celebrating his birthday who plans to be the Astro's general manager when he grows up and predicts a world series victory for the 'Stros in 2013. This is just so Kansas City...
Greinke, by the way, up 6-0 and perhaps on his way to victory 10...
Astros' announcers admit "this game isn't very interesting" down now 6-1 so they've focused on discussion of a kid they've obtained by trade who the organization has just moved up from the Florida State League with -- the brass say -- "a can't miss bat." I guess when your major league team is going nowhere for years and years, the most interesting thing is the future... Not a very Zen way to live, eh? Certainly familiar to Kansas City fans...)

But it sure does in this place. The savior is always just around the corner. The grass is always greener in Omaha. The excitement is never a pennant race -- it's something off in the distance, a promise for the future, the next flavor of the month.

And so, Kansas City fans create their own excitement in the dog days of every losing season, waiting for the new savior from Omaha to arrive.

What do you think Detroit fans were cheering tonight? Their league-leading Tigers, no doubt, racing for the post season.

And now, it's the bottom of the second and Johnny Giavotella is at the plate. The announcers have already nicknamed him Gia. They are, it is clear, already his buddy. The excitement is palpable on screen and in the announcers' voices... save Mr. White, who was once a rookie and has met his share of rookies, and -- given the way he has been treated -- obviously feels he owes little to the Royals' brass in the way of shilling for their latest call up.

Gia looks at a ball. That's good news. Obviously a money ball player willing to take some pitches. Certain fans are thinking how angry they are with Chris Getz for hitting so much above his average this season and fielding so well that Gia has been held back from their eyes.

And on the next pitch? Well, it is with sadness that it must be reported he grounded weakly to the second baseman who flipped to second for one out and the shortstop fired to first for two, ending the inning. One announcer, with real sadness in his voice, announces Gia -- "The good news story of the day" -- has grounded into a double play in his first at bat. But never fear, he says, "there will be many more at bats for this young man."

Far be it for reality to interrupt the good news story of the day.

I have nothing against Johnny Giavotella. He has an excellent name for baseball -- a sort of pre-Jackie Robinson, pre-Roberto Clemente, pre-Ichiro, kind of second baseman name. And, as the last great call up we couldn't wait to see, Mike Moustakas (another pre- everything name) trudges back to the dugout, head down, after striking out -- he has just 10 hits in the last 20 games for a .177 batting average -- I'm wishing Gia well. A second baseman like Frank White doesn't come to a city's faithful every day.

But now that Gia has two major league hits under is belt, and a ninth inning walk, I'm wondering who HE is blocking from "our" view. Indeed, what great player at Northwest Arkansas or Round Rock or Wilmington, is he blocking? Some member of the Kansas City sports intelligentsia is no doubt asking that question in a post somewhere on the Net as we speak.

As long as Kansas City fans look on baseball this way, the brass will never be forced to put a winning team on the field. Not at the major league level anyway. It'll always be blue sky and next year.

--Lofflin -- feelin' sorry for the kid because he didn't make these promises but will have to live up to them. The sports talkers and the club brass created this hype for their own improvised purposes.

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