This is to you and you only, Mr. Krause: You’re absolutely nuts. You’re absolutely nuts, and you’re absolutely wrong. You’re absolutely nuts, you’re absolutely wrong and your most recent post is absolutely embarrassing.
I have given you a pass on the dumb things that have come out of your posts before — sometimes I merely chided you and sometimes I partook in a bit of playful teasing; but like Hillary and her ill-timed reference to Bobby Kennedy’s June primary assassination, this time, you have gone too far, Al.
And you must suffer the consequences.
When asked if hitting .400 was an unreachable goal, you responded with such infantile and insane statements like:
“…the answer is yes, hitting .400 is an unreachable goal today. There
is so much that goes into just simply getting a hit, a guy who can hit
.300 or better is a catch. I mean, first of all you have to make
contact with balls that are coming at crazy speeds and crazy angles and
then you have to put it into a place where a fielder is not. In the
game today, managers and players alike do their homework and
positioning makes it that much harder to get a decent hit.”
REBUTTAL: You answered the question. I’ll give you that. But your reasoning is reminiscent of George W. in that it’s straight out of Crazytown. ‘Crazy speeds and crazy angles‘? Seriously? The game of baseball (especially this aspect) has changed very little in the last 100 years, Al. ‘You have to put it into a place where a fielder is not‘? Again, since the inception of baseball this has always been the case. Do you even watch baseball? Do you know how it’s played? Have you ever played yourself?
“But the fact of the matter is that the level of competition day in and
day out in the Majors is much greater than it was back when Ted
Williams was scattering the ball all over the field. Besides, he also
froze his head so he can try to come back one day. Only someone who’s
that kind of crazy has a chance at .400.”
REBUTTAL: Really? So you’re saying that when Ted Williams hit .406 in 1941 — when there were just 16 teams in all of Major League Baseball — that the level of competition was less than it is now in 2008? You are aware that there are 30 teams in Major League Baseball now, right? You are aware that nowadays, guys like Geoff Jenkins and Sean Casey and Boof Bonser make it to the majors where as in 1941, they’d be lucky to catch the game on the radio while working at the local laundromat, right? And I’m quite sure that Rogers Hornsby and Ty Cobb didn’t have their heads frozen or anything like that, yet they managed to hit .400 and guess what: they’re Hall of Famers too!
“…the more important matter is what does it matter if someone hits .400?”
REBUTTAL: It matters, Mr. Krause, for the same reason that it matters if someone hits over 60 homers, or hits safely in 56 consecutive games, or gets over 200 hits in a season or steals 100 bases. It matters because it’s really friggin’ hard to do, man! Come on! Get a grip! We’re talking about hitting .400 here, not hitting for a cycle or some arbitrary numbers-related coincidence. Only 33 players in the history of MLB have ever hit over .400 for a season! And no one — I said NO ONE — has done it since 1941! Ty Cobb, Ted Williams, Rogers Hornsby, George Sisler, Joe Jackson… I’d say those names are pretty synonymous with baseball greatness. Again, do you even watch baseball, Allen?
In conclusion, you wrote this:
“No, I don’t think .400 is an achievable goal but I also don’t think
it’s all that important. And that’s all I have to say about that.”
Fine. You’re definitely entitled to your opinion — as wrong as they often are — that it is ultimately an unachievable goal. Who knows, you might even be right. It still seems that the 56 game hitting streak is unrepeatable, so maybe hitting .400 is too. But to say that it is unimportant is absolute blasphemy, heresy, sacrilege. It is disrespectful of the greatest game on earth and the good people (me) who follow it to the nerdiest degree.
Hitting .400 is certainly important, Al.
Don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.
Chipper Jones has been spraying the ball all season and his batting average shows it. Is hitting over .400 for the year an unreachable goal in today’s game?
First of all let me say, ha ha ha ha. You said spray. But now that I’ve got that out of the way I’ll try to get to the more serious business of answering your question.
And the answer is yes, hitting .400 is an unreachable goal today. There is so much that goes into just simply getting a hit, a guy who can hit .300 or better is a catch. I mean, first of all you have to make contact with balls that are coming at crazy speeds and crazy angles and then you have to put it into a place where a fielder is not. In the game today, managers and players alike do their homework and positioning makes it that much harder to get a decent hit.
Every few years this question flares up again when someone has a career season. Larry Walker in the 90’s made a brief run at .400 and now here comes Chipper. But the fact of the matter is that the level of competition day in and day out in the Majors is much greater than it was back when Ted Williams was scattering the ball all over the field. Besides, he also froze his head so he can try to come back one day. Only someone who’s that kind of crazy has a chance at .400.
However, the more important matter is what does it matter if someone hits .400? Does that number show how valuable they were to their team? What if someone on the Giants hit .400 but, because they never had anyone on base and no one decent coming up to bat after them, the team still lost most of their games and that player rarely crossed the plate? Would anyone really care? It would be a nice statistic but a players’ value to their team cannot be summed up in ratio of the number of times they get on base to the number of official at-bats they have taken. I’ll take the league leader in OBP over the batting champion any day of the week.
So, I guess my final answer to your question comes in two parts. No, I don’t think .400 is an achievable goal but I also don’t think it’s all that important. And that’s all I have to say about that.
Your book touched my life, my father’s life, reminded me how much my dad means to me.
You were passionate about journalism — respected, admired, cheered.
You were passionate about politics — working for the little guy, like me. I always knew you were on my side; you always fought my fights.
You were passionate about baseball — Yankees, Nationals, Hall of Fame, the grand game.
Sundays will never be the same.
And I’m sure gonna miss you, Tim.
Rest in peace,
Irony is one of life’s little gems. Intelligently designed to point out the absurd fecundities of human thought, these cute little poking japes never fail to make me stop and think for a moment — sometimes longer than a moment.
Milton Bradley has a very hard time playing with others. George W. Bush lost the popular vote but won the presidency. Rusty Kuntz showed no signs of rust nor female genitalia. Oedipus Rex vowed to destroy the man responsible for bringing plague and doom to the city of Thebes (while all along he was the real culprit – wink, wink). Gaylord Perry wasn’t gay, nor was he a lord — of any kind.
Isn’t it ironic?
(And no, I am not quoting her)
So imagine how surprised I was today when I decided to check out Chipper Jones’ stat sheet, to follow his progression towards hitting above .400 on the season. Imagine the shock! the awe! the confusion! when I saw his press photo staring back at me like I was the witness to a drunken vehicular homicide in some Podunk Georgian backwoods village, sifting through a lineup.
Is this the photograph the Braves blast on the jumbo-tron at Turner Field when he comes to the plate? Is this the photograph that is published in the game-day press kit? Is this the photograph that little kids offer up to Number 10 to have autographed?
He looks like he just rolled out of his hotel after an all-night bender of booze, barfights and benzodiazepines that he topped off by wrapping his lips around a rusty tailpipe.
In other words, he doesn’t look so ‘chipper‘.
Ah, the irony…
Don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.
To be whole, you must be broken.
When the British imprisoned Gandhi, did he give up his string of peaceful protests? When Judas ratted out Jesus, did J.C. stop spreading the gospel? When Hillary blasted Obama for being associated with a hifalutin crazy-talkin’ preacher, did he cede the race, kill the birth of hope politics or spit on the dreams of US Americans to see real change?
No. They didn’t.
Now, as the St. Louis Cardinals find themselves in a similar predicament, the task is at hand: persevere, stay the course, rise from the dead if need be, but most importantly: keep on doing what you’ve been doing. Keep winning.
Without question, Albert Pujols’ injury is a devastating blow to a team who has already overcome an onslaught of adversity. Losing three seasoned veterans to other clubs, losing an ace starter, losing a key utility man to the evils of addiction, these are just a few of the obstacles they’ve been forced to overcome — not to mention the fact that no one — NO ONE — even gave them a fighting chance before the season started.
Yet despite all of the above, the Cards sit just 2 1/2 games behind the Cubs (as I write this), and they’ve gotten there with hard work, solid pitching, timely hitting and gutsy performances. Pujols is and always will be the catalyst, but they wouldn’t be competing in the NL Central if it weren’t for the blue collar efforts of a mostly unheard of supporting cast.
Ludwick, Ankiel, Schumaker, Molina, Miles, Franklin and Lohse = Guts, guts, guts, guts, guts, guts and guts.
So why change anything now? Put Duncan at first base, adjust the batting order, put on that jockstrap and let’s grow a pair! Don’t lose a step! Do NOT panic! Do not get crazy, give up hope, make a stupid move or cede the race!
In other words, keep the same, simple attitude and forget about the baseball pundits that are now saying the Cards haven’t a chance in the world. According to them, we never did (see 2008 current standings, 2006 final standings for evidence of how this has been overcome before).
It’s only June. It’s far from over. And I’m right. Don’t hate me for it.
Admittedly, it was a good run. Not great, but compared to the cataclysmic string of non-action I experienced for the better part of almost a year, one could honestly say it was “good”.
Though, one would be hard pressed to say much more about it than that.
Sure, I hadn’t been on a real date since September. And yeah, the spring air got me energized and in just one week I had met three really attractive, interesting women, who — SURPRISE — actually showed interest in me. So, yeah, after a couple of dates I narrowed the choices to just one, putting all of my efforts into swooning her, charming her, whisking her away. And I admit, before long I felt myself falling in… yeah, no, what I mean is: I actually liked her. No, no, I wasn’t getting ahead of myself, but it was clear to me that I actually might harbor some potential feelings down the line — that I wasn’t exactly the mass of impregnable steel I thought I was. And to me, things were going just swell. I even realized that maybe — FINALLY — I might make a surging recovery from the hapless nights of Old Style, Tombstone pizzas and and an endless loop of King of Queens reruns that I had become so, so used to.
It all stopped — suddenly. Like an Aaron Miles foul ball destroying Juan Encarnacion’s unsuspecting face…
Fade to black.
But, dear readers, fret not, because there is an upside to the death of my social life and its name is Baseball.
My MLBtv subscription, and the live games it provides on demand, is much easier on the wallet than dinner and drinks out on the town — more filling than the awkward moments of silence — more satisfying than the barrage of clumsy kisses.
Baseball will never play mind games.
Baseball will never question my sincerity.
Baseball will never send me bland, impersonal text messages.
Baseball will never be offended by my arrogance.
Baseball will never stray from being completely honest with me.
Baseball will never be intimidated by my overwhelming good looks.
Baseball will never drop kick my ego.
Baseball will never ignore my phone calls.
Baseball will never judge me.
And that’s why no matter how down I get, no matter how depressed, how much I want to sit around and feel sorry for myself, all I have to do is turn on the game, sit back, relax and remember that baseball makes me feel good.
Sure, it can’t cuddle with me, cook, or give me a heej, but in the end, who needs all that anyway? With the Windy City Classic less than two weeks away, an exciting NL Central battle escalating and an explosive Southside squad knocking the snot out of the ball, I know I and everything around me, will be just fine…
…at least until October.
After that I might need some serotonin reuptake inhibitors.
Don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.
Thursday night’s brawl between the Rays and the Red Sox showcased, once
again, that baseball players just can’t fight very well. So, here’s the
question (in two parts): 1) What is the best baseball brawl you’ve ever
seen and 2) which 2 players would you most like to see duke it out?
While it’s true that baseball players tend to be awful at fighting on the field, there is no doubt that a bench-clearing brawl is one of the most exciting parts of the game. In every case there is some kind of ‘other’ energy at play as soon as a hitter decides to charge the mound and whether he lands a punch or not, most people would be lying if they said they didn’t enjoy watching that kind of drama unfold. The brawls tend to be explosions of emotions that have been built up over a long period of time: clubs with histories, beanball wars, personal vendettas, et al tend to set the stage for the best fights in the game, and I totally get off on seeing those frustrations blow up. The Prince of New York wrote a great post (*click here to read*) on the dueling psychologies of baseball brawl analysis and he’s absolutely correct in his conclusion that most people enjoy them (or get off on them like me) — even if they try to conceal it.
That being said, I have to admit that I often feel let down when a Coco Crisp or a James Shields wails and misses outright… or when an Iwamura throws a couple of sissy-punches that are more for show and less impacting. It’s like watching softcore pOrn on Cinemax: show me the real thing or I’m better off watching reruns of Full House.
The best baseball brawl I’ve ever seen?
I think we all know there is only one right answer to that question, so before I reveal what everyone already knows, let me make some honorable mentions:
Big Z v. Michael Barrett; Big Z v. Gatorade Cooler
Hands down, Carlos Zambrano is the most explosive personality in the game right now. An atomic fist fight waiting to happen, Big Z showed some real hutzpah last year when he decked his own catcher, Michael Barrett, in the face after an onfield dispute regarding pitch selection or whatever… who cares… this fight was awesome. Cardinal fans always love to see internal dissension in the home dugout at Wrigley, but what made it even more awesome was the jacked up face of Michael Barrett the next day. Of course, in the end, this fight was the catalyst that got Barrett out of Chicago, setting the stage for Rookie of the Year candidate Geovany Soto to make his breakthrough as the Cubs’ catcher. I’m hoping that Big Z can find a reason to hate Soto too, but I’m not putting any money on it.
What I am putting money on is that if Big Z gives up a go-ahead homerun to Matt Kemp late in an otherwise flawless pitching performance, not even the Gatorade cooler is safe. Don’t believe me? Check out the pounding Zambrano gave this poor, helpless, inanimate object.
Izzy Alcantara’s Foot v. Catcher’s Face
Besides having a really cool name, this Pawtucket minor leaguer will go down in history as one of the smartest basebrawlers of all time. To ensure that the catcher wouldn’t hold him back, he gave him a swift back kick to the face! What is sad about this fight is that when he finally reached the mound, he let everyone down by dancing around and ultimately getting mauled himself (*click here to watch*). Ah, such wasted potential.
Mike Sweeney v. Jeff Weaver
If ever there were two lameball pacifist fighters pitted against one another, these would be the two. This fight didn’t even have anything to do with pitch location; it was all about something Weaver said (allegedly) behind his glove. Sweeney didn’t like it and charged the mound while Weaver had his back to the plate. What does make this an awesome fight is that Weaver had no idea Sweeney was coming and by the time he turned around, it was too late. Much like Alcantara, Sweeney used a diversion tactic by first slinging his batting helmet at Weaver before taking him to the ground and landing a few solid body blows. Good times.
Good times aside, these fights are equally catatonic in comparison to the greatest basebrawl of all time:
Nolan Ryan v. Robin “Sissy-pants” Ventura
There’s nothing quite like making a mannish dash for the mound to fight someone who is old enough to be your father and then getting put in a headlock only to have your skull, nose, jaw pounded on by the strikeout king. I can’t say enough about how bad*ss the Ryan Express was in this matchup and I highly doubt anyone will ever come close to equaling his solidly aggressive performance — ever. This fight is as unlikely to be surpassed as is Joe Dimaggio’s 56 game hit streak. It just ain’t gonna happen.
But there are some fellas I’d like to see go up against one another in the near future. Albert Pujols is only one bad pitch away from knocking the snot out of Brandon Backe. As their ongoing series of differences escalates, I believe Backe realizes more and more that he has absolutely no chance against an angry A.P., but if anything, Backe has already proven to the world that he’s not exactly Fulbright quality. I eagerly await his date with number 5’s right hook.
But the potential ironclad matchup I deem most notable, most exciting, most entertaining would be: Milton Bradley v. Carlos Zambrano. Both of these guys are nuts! and suffer from extreme anger management issues. No one, no thing is safe when these two are on the field and that includes first base coaches, pitching hands and the aforementioned sufferings of that poor, helpless Gatorade cooler in L.A.
I’d give my left (ahem) to see Big Z pitch Bradley inside and just see what happens. If there is a god…
…but just in case there isn’t, we’ll always have the mysteriously entertaining rituals of Ko
rean baseball brawls:
Don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right…
The level of ineptitude at the Washington Nationals franchise astounds both lifelong and casual fans. I’m not just talking about the players and their approximately 45 errors in one inning on Tuesday night. I’m not just talking about hitting the lead-off batter with the third pitch of the game. No, it gets even worse. On top of having a totally horrifically terrible team, the Nats also have possibly the worst grounds crew in baseball. I had the opportunity to see this first hand on Tuesday night.
I had settled in to my seats in right field and prepared to eat the wonderful hotdog and chili cheese fries sitting in front of me when I noticed the biggest, darkest cloud I had ever seen rolling in. The umps decided to start the game anyway but soon the rain came in and I watched the first three innings from underneath an umbrella. Finally, the umps realized that the puddles on the field were impeding play and the lightning was getting dangerously close so they called a rain delay. I sat tight, hoping the rain would pass but it eventually got to be too much:
So, I migrated to a new perch underneath an overhang and watched as the comedy of errors unfolded.
First, it took way too long to get the tarp down. Then, they didn’t lay it out correctly. But the real fun was when they tried to get it back up after the delay finished. As the Cardinals’ starter, Kyle Lohse, said, “I don’t want to get down on the grounds crew but maybe they could tighten up a little bit next time.” Yeah, it was that bad. Somehow the process involved flipping the tarp, flipping it in another direction, flipping it once again and then folding it up. At one point the tarp was upside down in right field and it appeared that a hippie colony might be using it as a tent.
However, the crew finally got it together and made it off the field as the game started back up….which lasted about another inning until it started raining again. And the grounds crew came back out. At that point, it just wasn’t worth it anymore so I headed home.
The coda to this story is that a friend of mine was on the DC Metro a couple days later and was standing near a person who works on the grounds crew. This was particularly funny because the game was already in progress and they were just then heading in. But anyway, this person was explaining that no one ever shows up on time, if they even show up at all. They then went on to explain how they were coming in the next day to sell some homemade food to other members of the crew but they weren’t actually going to be working. I have a feeling I know what that food is. Brownies anyone?
There are a lot of things at U.S. Cellular Field (aka The Joan) that have the potential to creep me out: that feeling of loss I get after spending fifty bucks on seven Miller Lites and never catching a buzz; that strange foot tapping from the stall next to me in the men’s room; that chili-cheese nacho induced sleep-stopping jolt of fear at four in the morning. Yeah. Sure. There is no doubt that these situations can freak me out a little bit, but when it comes right down to it, they could just as easily happen in any ballpark in Anywhere, USA.
However, to my knowledge, the good folks at The Joan really do know how to go above and beyond in the ‘creepy’ department. They have proven that they can not only freak out children, but adults as well and force all those in attendance to shake off the willies every time a White Sox batter comes to the plate.
The stands have eyes.
On the lip of the grandstands that wrap around from the left field foul pole, behind home plate, and back out to right, is a thin video board that most parks use for advertising or god forbid: scores, balls and strikes, pitch counts, radar gun, etc. In fact, when the visiting team is hitting, they tend to throw some of those arbitrary numbers up there. But when the Sox are hitting? No way. Why is that?
The stands have eyes.
And it’s not just a photograph of the players’ eyes. No. It’s an approximately sixty second looping video complete with blinks, scowls, crud, tears, whatever. If you want to see the batter’s cheesy press photo, his stats, interesting notes about his childhood, check the center field scoreboard. If you want to get that creepy, icky, dirty feeling of being watched and in the process get distracted from what’s actually happening on the field so that when Thome hits a racing foul ball right towards you (‘cuz he wouldn’t hit one fair) you’re not paying attention, consequently get hit in the orbital socket, bleed out, make a scene and die… then keep looking at those damn eyes.
And just because you’re dead is not an excuse to hate me ‘cuz I’m right…
The friggin’ stands have eyes! Look!
On the same night that Barack Obama became the definitive Democratic nominee and furthered his journey by taking the next step to becoming the president of hope for all US Americans, I too made a bold move that finally gave the people what they wanted. Yes, dear readers, it is true that since late April, I have become somewhat of a recluse and have not made any public appearances at a baseball stadium near you. This decision had nothing to do with those endearing fans who have urged me to come back into the light and everything to do with the fear mongering Cub fans and subsequent paparazzi that have simply been unable to leave me alone. After my shotgun rise to fame, the careening death of my humility and myriad run-ins with the high demands of fans and foes alike, I ultimately found myself spent — empty of emotion, void of volition, destitute of destiny.
But sometimes the voice of the people is so loud and so strong and so motivating that not even I can ignore it.
And so it came to me in the middle of the night — that thunderous roar of resurgence inspired by the people — that no longer would I allow myself, my fans, my chimeric offspring, nor any other US American or world-inhabiting life form to continue down the path of never-ending disappointment. No. It was time to get out. It was time to go to The Joan.
The Royals were in town. The Sox were standing atop the AL Central (still are). And the people were ringing in my ears.
When I first stepped outside my Southside home I was pleasantly surprised to see that the paparazzi, hopeless that I would ever show my face in public again, were already gone. I walked the few short blocks to the #8 Halsted bus stop at 29th & Halsted and to my delight, this is what I saw:
What a beautiful sight to see no one around. The coast was clear. I could breathe easy. Then the bus came. Reality set in. Chaos ensued.
I barely made it out of there alive! As soon as I stepped on the bus it started — the ambush of photographers, autograph seekers, ill-parented children. Someone, somebody tipped them off to my arrival and I’m pretty sure it was my personal stylist, Miguel, who is, coincidentally, now dead. I had nothing to do with his death (he was hit by the #62 Archer bus in a freak accident) but it’s obvious that he deserved it. I’m lucky I survived on the #8 myself.
But I did. And I was determined.
Unfortunately, it just wasn’t going to get any easier at the game. A fog had set in over the city, eerily setting the stage for yet another blitzkrieg on my stardom, and not even Jermaine Dye (who is much more looming in person) could protect me from the evildoing Royals fans:
Yes, folks, Royals fans hate me too. They hate me for my arrogance, righteousness, intelligence. They hate me because I’m a Cardinals fan. They hate me for my unending defamation of Don Denkinger, for my highly praised baseball-politico forum of RSBS and because I root for my neighborhood Sox. But the main reason they hate me is ‘cuz I’m always right.
And one Royals fan couldn’t stand to see me in my element — to see me make a graceful entrance to the section 110 box seats, greeted with fanfare and treated with respect. No. It made him turn blue and then it made him turn on me:
I only blacked out for a second, but in that time A.J. hit a single and Carlos Quentin knocked him in by blasting a 2-run homer that landed just feet from me and the RSBS entourage. I came to and noticed my cellphone was blowing up with text messages from my counterpart, Allen Krause, who was attending the St. Louis Cardinals v. D.C. Nationals matchup. At the same exact time that I was getting beat up by a drunk Royals fan, Allen was getting his teeth kicked in by the Nats’ Elijah Dukes, who actually read Al’s blog entry, way back when, attacking Dukes for his predatory passes at a 17 year-old foster child. It was raining heavily in D.C. and while the Cards were pounding the ball, Al just couldn’t take the excitement, the rain or the pain. He texted me to say he was going home.
But I stayed. The Royals fan was kicked out of the park by my — ahem — the White Sox security:
The Sox would continue to score runs, with homeruns from Alexei Ramirez and (hold your breath!) Nick Swisher, further adding to the Royals’ dismay.
And at the end of a colossally eventful night, the people got what they wanted: Obama won the nomination, Jenks pitched the 9th, the Cardinals beat the Nats, Elijah Dukes beat the snot out of Tiger-lover Allen Krause, and I got out of the house.
Life ain’t worth livin’ if ya don’t take some risks sometimes… and life ain’t worth livin’ if you hate me ‘cuz I’m right. Just ask that Royals fan.