Hype, I'm finding, is a funny thing.
Normally, I hate hype. I'm a substance guy. I want to see meaning behind a story, talent behind a player, research behind an idea. Hype has none of that. Hype has an instant "wow factor," an ability to titilate, and absolutely nothing else.
Hype is making a major appearance this weekend and next weekend in major league baseball. We're in the midst of interleague play, which is all about hype. Some story will tell you that "this is the first time the Pirates and Tigers have met since the 1909 World Series" or some similar nonsense. The story will try to work in the names of Honus Wagner and Ty Cobb even though they both died long before interleague play was an evil moneymaking scheme in some greedy MLB officials' head. But none of that will have anything to do with the game at hand. A story like that isn't about anything but hype. The teams on the field have no connection to each other, so let's invent a connection.
The hype this weekend is about Manny Ramirez returning to Boston to play against his former team. It's an interesting enough story, even though it means nothing to the players or to the game on the field. Fox is airing Saturday's game and I'm wondering if I am going to watch it. I don't know if I can take countless replays of Ramirez's famous emergence from the door of the left field wall at Fenway after making a pit stop.
Next week, the hype will be about Joe Torre's first opportunity to manage against the Yankees since he left the the team. Torre's appearance will have zero impact on the game, but he will be forced to talk endlessly about his time with the Yankees, just as he was forced to talk about Manny before Friday's game in Boston.
I plan to be far away from a television during that particular weekend series.
While these stories irritate me, I don't know whether to blame the media or fans' appetite for their constant appearance.
But here's the funny part.
I'm all about hype when it comes to rookie sensations. Well, a certain rookie sensation.
Steven Strasburg pitched last night, and I was rooting for an electric performance from him against the White Sox. He was pretty damn good. Ten strikeouts and no walks in a no-decision as the White Sox won in extra innings.
Personally, I was hoping for a no-hitter. I've got that purple refractor up on ebay, you know, and I can use all the positive Strasburg press I can get.
So keep that hype machine going on Strasburg, at least until that card gets sold (how's that for evil moneymaking schemes?) Although after three straight tremendous performances, I'm starting to wonder if hype is the right word.
It's weird to root for hype after rooting against it all these years. After suffering through ESPN's endless coverage of Terrell Owens, Brett Favre and, yes, Manny Ramirez, it's about time I benefit from certain media's extravagant exaggeration.