In Las Vegas, NV, we don’t have a pro sports team from any of the four major professional leagues. The closest thing we have is the Las Vegas 51’s, the Triple-A affiliate of the New York Mets, and, if you can count a college team, the UNLV Runnin’ Rebels during college basketball season
As a result, when Bill Foley announced he was going to try to bring an NHL hockey team to the Las Vegas Strip, excitement for the mere possibility has been through the roof.
While the speculation and fanfare that comes with wondering if and when that may occur has kept Las Vegans optimistic about landing our first professional sports team, some of the city’s best individual products since Greg Maddux and Andre Agassi have erupted into headlines all across the baseball world.
Kris Bryant received a lot of attention prior to the season. The Bonanza High School grad was tearing it up in spring training, and gave the Chicago Cubs little choice when it came to the debate of promoting him to the majors.
Even though Bryant was good enough for the opening day roster, the Cubs eventually elected to leave Bryant in the minors for a couple weeks just so they could squeeze another year of control out of his contract.
Getting his first start on April 17th, it took some time for Bryant to launch his first major league home run. It finally came on Saturday, May 9th, against the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park, which is, arguably, the Cubs’ home away from home. Bryant returned to Wrigley Field that Monday and christened the newly-renovated left field bleachers with his second career homer, and first at Wrigley.
As of Friday, June 5th, Bryant is now second in home runs on the Cubs with seven, and is batting .272.
With all of the hype surrounding Kris Bryant, Bryce Harper, the original Las Vegas baseball phenom, took a back seat.
Harper didn’t help himself when he made a few cocky remarks in spring training about the Washington Nationals’ ability to a make a run for a World Series.
To make matters worse, the Nationals started the season off in a manner reminiscent of their former incarnation, the Montreal Expos, with a record of 7-13.
Since then, the tide shifted dramatically and the Nationals are now contending with the New York Mets for first in the NL East.
Beyond any doubt, Bryce Harper has been the hottest player on the team, if not in the league. Entering Friday, Harper lead the National League in multiple categories, with a slugging percentage of .706 and 18 home runs.
The amazing thing about the 18 home runs? Nine came in a span of just 11 games.
Last, but not least, is the newly called up rookie Joey Gallo of the Texas Rangers.
Prior to his promotion on June 2nd, the former little league teammate of Bryce Harper was batting .314 with nine home runs, a slugging percentage of .636, and an on base percentage of .425. All of this coming off of a 42 home run season in the minors in 2014.
When Adrian Beltre landed on the disabled list, Gallo was yanked from Double-A. He greeted the majors with a home run in his first at bat on Tuesday night against Jeff Samardzija of the Chicago White Sox.
The next evening Gallo struggled, along with the rest of the Rangers, against Chris Sale, but eventually hit the second bomb of his pro career, making it perfectly clear that he plans to stay in the show.
Las Vegas may be a while away from being a pro sports city, but at least we have some awesome individual representations in baseball for the time being.
Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images