The 2008 XM Satellite Radio Futures Game was a dud. As much as I look forward to this one game every year, I can conclude no other way. I don't know if it is listening to Gary Thorne talk about players he knows nothing about (Fernando Martinez did not advance from the Gulf Coast League to AA Binghampton. He rehabbed a couple games there.) or seeing the weight of Giants' C/1B Pablo Sandoval listed at 180 lbs or the half-empty stadium, but the action on the field played down to the shoddy atmosphere established by MLB outside the chalk lines.
But I am a believer so I did take away some positives. In the first inning, I was impressed by Milwaukee Brewer Mat Gamels' 1st AB. After watching Andrew McCutcheon and Cliff Pennington chase balls from World team starter Carlos Carrasco and hear Steve Phillips/Gary Thorne say these guys are here to swing, Gamel took four balls and went to 1st. In his next AB, he exhibited the same batting eye and walked again. Whether his glove gets him a regular NL gig is yet to be determined, his two AB sample impressed me.
Gamel's former Huntsville teammate, Matt LaPorta, also made a positive impression. it wasn't with his bat though. I was pleased to see the backhanded scoop of a Cliff Pennington ball in the dirt in the 1st inning. For a reported below-average defensive player, he looked better than advertised to me. As for his hitting, I only noted that he had much more of a crouch than I expected for a 6'3 power hitter.
Oakland A's right-hander Trevor Cahill was interesting to see in person. He is rocketing through the A's system two years after being drafted out of high school. Already in AA, he leads the minors with 122Ks. Other than his age, I did not see the gas I expected, but there was enough movement on the ball that he struck out two. He lands with a stiff front leg. Whether that means much I can't say, but I noted it.
San Francisco man-child Angel Villalona left me non-plussed. He chopped a Ryan Mattheus pitch to the firstbase side of the pitcher and waddled his way to first. Playing in a minor league All-Star game at 17 is very impressive. Waddling to first is not.
Finally, the half-empty stadium needs to be commented upon. Due to some home improvement work, I wasn't able to attend, but I did look for best available tickets through Ticketmaster and found a couple in Box 39 - for $225 each!
What the fu...dge is MLB doing allowing Yankee Stadium to charge regular season prices for a game that came nowhere close to being sold out? Do they have any idea that their game looks bad when half the people in attendence are in the upper decks likely because those are the only seats that are "affordable"?
For a game in which most of the players are completely unfamiliar, a closer view is a must for those willing to attend. Is MLB on this or are they too fat on corporate dollars that they think the malaise of the American economy will not trickle down to the exhorbitant costs of attending baseball games?
Wait until the Yankees open their new stadium. Woe is them in 2010 if the Yankees are on consectuvie play-offs misses. The $10+ beers they will be charging in 2010 will be an issue. Nevermind they till of taxpayers dollars the organization sucks up!
For an idea what the seats in the New Yankees Stadium will cost, read Phil Mushnick's column. Outrageous is the word.