PITTSBURGH - The same thing happens every summer:
I turn on the TV the night before the All-Star game and have the same two thoughts:
1. The Home Run Derby is pretty dumb.
2. Chris Berman is insufferable.
So, I change the channel and catch some reruns of the CBS comedies. It's great to have traditions.
Really, the magic of a real home run is a player succeeds against a pitcher who is trying to get him out.
The home run derby is a bizarro world where the hand-picked pitcher is trying to lay in a friendly pitch so the hitter can blast it.
There are no called strikes, either, so the hitter is welcome to stand there and watch as many pitches as he wants.
If you like that, you'd probably love a quarterback throwing long bombs to a receiver with no defensive players on the field. Or maybe you'd prefer hockey players scoring with no goalie in net.
Not only is it dumb, it goes on for hours and comes with Berman's high-decibel soundtrack.
No thanks. I read that Andrew McCutchen hit a few, so good for him.
The Pirates are back in action on Friday, picking up the season as the Central Division leaders.
Over the last 41 games, which is roughly a quarter of the season, they've been playing at nearly a .700 pace.
The 1927 New York Yankees had a .714 winning percentage. The Pirates' best winning percentage in their three division-winning seasons from 1990-92 was .605.
In other words, .700 baseball represents an unnatural hot streak rather than anything normal.
They're not going to continue at their current pace. That doesn't mean they can't be successful.
Just know it won't always be as smooth a ride as it has been for the past month or so.
That's the nature of baseball and the 162-game season.
For whatever it's worth, one scout who has seen the Class AAA Indianapolis team projects Jeff Locke as the best pitching prospect there.
He wasn't nearly as bullish on Rudy Owens. He thinks Owens with be "just OK" in the major leagues.
Mehno can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org