By Tim Baffoe-
(CBS) One is a 10-year pro whose name wasn’t known by the general baseball public until this year. The other is a league star rebounding from one of the worst statistical season the game has ever seen.
On Sunday, Bryan LaHair and Adam Dunn were selected to the 2012 All Star Game, capping two different feel-good stories on each side of town.
LaHair is finally garnering accolades after being a good soldier for the better part of 10 years in the minor leagues and cups of coffee on big club benches. Had the Cubs not felt Anthony Rizzo needed to tweak a few things at Triple-A Iowa to start the season, LaHair wouldn’t be much of a conversation piece.
But given the full-time opportunity, LaHair has posted a .284/.364/.526 slash line this season and clubbed 13 home runs. National League manager (for some reason) Tony LaRussa has taken notice.
As surly and cynical as I can be when it comes to sports, something about a story like LaHair’s gets to me. Even I can appreciate the story of a guy who put in work for a long time and finally had it pay off.
On the South Side, Adam Dunn has pulled a phoenix, rising from the fiery wreck of a 2011 that charred U.S. Cellular Field and a fan base. As a big free agent signing that year, Dunn did a fine job establishing himself as one of the biggest free agent busts in history.
Just as nobody seemed able to figure out why Dunn was so awful last season, few if any can explain exactly why he has returned to the Dunn of old other than last year hopefully being a fluke. Right now he’s on pace to set career highs in both homers and runs batted in (strikeouts, too, but I’m not going to explain to you why strikeouts don’t hold the value most people think they do.)
And I’m glad for Dunn because I’ve always been a fan of his. It pained me to watch his 2011 and hear the ripplings of Sox fans who wanted his head on a plate.
Now, I’m on the record as finding All Star games in all sports to be pointless and antiquated. The baseball one bothers me more than the others because the genius that is Bud Selig decided to wipe the egg from the 2002 All Star Game from his face with a cinderblock and make the outcome since determine home field advantage in the World Series.
By my very hatred of such a rule, I should not want a guy like Bryan LaHair to have an effect on the postseason of, say, an Adam Dunn, whose White Sox are legitimate playoff contenders as of now. And I don’t. But, unable to control the situation, I can be happy for a guy like LaHair who is finally being rewarded for hard work and by all accounts being a good guy.
Same for Dunn, who worked his tail off to return to his own hitting normalcy and not become the most hated Sox signing ever.
So while I likely won’t enjoy the All Star Game overall, at least there are two individual aspects that will slightly appease my loathing.
Tim Baffoe attended the University of Iowa and Governors State University and began blogging at The Score after winning the 2011 Pepsi Max Score Search. He enjoys writing things about stuff, but not so much stuff about things. When not writing for 670TheScore.com, Tim corrupts America’s youth as a high school English teacher and provides a great service to his South Side community delivering pizzas (please tip him and his colleagues well). You can follow Tim’s inappropriate brain droppings on Twitter @Ten_Foot_Midget , but please don’t follow him in real life. He grew up in Chicago’s Beverly To read more of Tim’s blogs click here.