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The Clincher

Man, these Wingnuts. They’re just a really, really good team. What more can you really say? Every time you think they’re going to go on a little skid and let a team back in the race, they reel off another winning streak and put it out of reach. After today, it could be out of reach for good. The Wingnuts are going for their eighth win in a row, which would clinch the American Association North Division first-half title. You know, the AANDFHT. Rolls right off the tongue.

How many All-Stars will this team have? Conceivably — though it won’t happen because there aren’t enough spots — it could have 10 — would you pick against Joe Muich, Steve Pearson, Josh Horn, Greg Porter, Dustan Mohr, Kelly Hunt, Derek Blacksher, Will Savage, Gabe Medina or Adam Cowart? Even Brad Davis has a legitimate chance. Richard Salazar. Justin Young. I think I get my ballot soon, so I’ll look over the numbers for the other North Division teams before I make my picks, obviously. But if Wichita is eight or nine games better than the second-best team in the division, they deserve to clean up on All-Star selections.

And truthfully, the Wingnuts are way, way ahead of every other team in the league. Kevin Hooper displayed sheer genius in putting together this team. Not that it’s perfect by any stretch, but he found guys who have reached the upper levels of the minor leagues and have plenty of incentive to get back to affiliated ball. The team is stocked with smart veterans who have good approaches. It’s really fun to watch. I’m not one to tell people what to do with their time, but any baseball fan in Wichita should come to Lawrence-Dumont Stadium, because as a fan I think this team would be easy to fall in love with.

Today, Will Savage will be going for his second consecutive no-hitter. That’s fun just to type, because the chances of it happening are very slim. That Savage even threw one no-hitter is pretty unlikely in itself because he doesn’t strike many guys out and most often pitches to contact. But there is more than one way to dominate, and if you can get 27 guys to hit easy groundballs, then you’re more than doing your job.

Before I go, I want to get a couple of plugs in. First one is for the recently concluded-for-the-summer Miracle Baseball League. I did the P.A. for two weeks of this league, which is for mentally and physically handicapped children, and I loved it. I’m not going to talk about how inspiring the kids are or anything like that, because to me that would downplay the fact that it just feels good to see kids — any kids — with smiles on their faces and having fun. I loved them all but I think my favorite was Tucker. He played for the Cardinals and looked a little bit like my nephew, Evan, and Tucker ALWAYS was smiling. I’m actually pretty sad that I won’t get to see him anymore. He brightened my day.

But also big props to Wingnuts pitchers Davis and Blacksher, who took time out to go hang with the kids yesterday and present medals to the Cardinals and Yankees teams. Davis and Blacksher also signed autographs for the kids and anyone else who wanted them.

The second plug is for The Kevin Hooper Show, a program hosted by Emily Maier on Channel 49. This is a shameless plug, because I’ve been trying to talk Emily into letting me on the show, but so far she’s been lukewarm about the idea. Emily is a former stud bowler and national champion at Wichita State, but clearly she has yet to grasp my multimedia superstardom. By the way, pretty much nobody in the world gets channel 49, but Emily does a serviceable job, at best.

That’s all for today. Talk to you soon. Here’s a clip of the world’s greatest singer, Don Henley, sounding the best I’ve ever heard him: