“huge gamble.” Of course, you could argue that an even bigger gamble
took place when Pete Rose threw down money on games or when Tim Donaghy
decided to just throw a few games in the NBA. What do you think is the
biggest gamble (legal or otherwise) that has taken place in baseball
recently and how does it compare to McCain’s?
Gambling, throwing all you’ve got behind one decision, taking a risk… these are paramount aspects of the game of baseball. Without them, the game would be boring. When players and managers break from the norm and go out on a limb, we get excited: distancing oneself from the same old thing causes excitement.
And there has been no shortage of temerity nor bold decision making in our most beloved game over the last several years. Of course, as a Monday morning quarterback, it’s easy to call these moves audacious, ill planned, unrefined after the fact. Sometimes, as in the case of the GOP’s pick of one Sarah Palin, the decision need not be analyzed over and over again to find sound reasoning: there just isn’t any.
Like Grady Little leaving Pedro Martinez in Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS after giving up three straight hits with only five outs to go and a three-run lead. That was dumb no matter how you look at it. And if it weren’t for 2004 and 2007, Sox fans would still be teeming with angst.
Like scores of players (McGwire, Bonds, Giambi, just to name a few) cheating their fans and cheating themselves by altering their physiology in order to make an extra multimillion or three, break records, tarnish the game. While I understand the desire to perform at the highest level possible, I tend to admire the natural approach over the Frankenstein method. With information regarding the rigorous side effects of performance enhancing drugs being as known as ABC’s — these guys took a big, dumb gamble and now — for the most part — we despise them for it.
But in my opinion, the biggest recent risk sure to backfire on the gambling party was the cave-in decision made by the Red Sox to ship Manny Ramirez out of Boston for Jason Bay. The baseball pundits have spoken, and I have to agree: Jason Bay — no matter how good he is — is no Manny Ramirez. The Red Sox may squeak into the playoff picture, but they are not near as good now as they were with Manny in the lineup and I expect they won’t make it too far without him. The whining and crying of Ramirez was nothing new to Boston’s brass and erasing him from the team not only left a hole in the four spot, it also diminished the impact of one David Ortiz.
And losing Ortiz at-bats to walks sure does make a difference in the wrong direction.
Of course, there are always those gambles that seem ludicrous yet turn out to be smart in the end as well.
Like Cardinals manager Tony LaRussa batting the pitcher in the eight hole to create more opportunities for Albert Pujols. Though seemingly odd because it was such a staunch break from the norm, essentially what TLR has done is make sure AP gets up in the first inning, then contributes as a clean-up hitter for the remainder of the game. It’s hard to argue against that logic and I’m surprised more managers haven’t followed suit.
TLR isn’t the only NL Central manager who has gained notoriety for his arduous risk-taking skills. “Sweet” Lou Piniella, when faced with an ailing Kerry Wood, had nothing but faith in a young rookie call-up from Notre Dame. He threw Jeff Samardzija in the limelight and hasn’t looked back since. With Samardzija pitching as well as he has in recent months, the Cubs bullpen, for the first time that I can ever remember, has suddenly become an asset rather than a liability.
But no gamble in recent memory has turned out as splendidly as that taken by White Sox GM Kenny Williams in trading Chris Carter to the Diamondbacks for Carlos Quentin. Sure, one could argue that giving up a relatively unknown minor league first baseman for the once considered underachieving Quentin was hardly a risk. But put in perspective: trading Garland for Cabrera and Linebrink, cutting Podsenik, resigning Uribe, demoting Josh Fields, putting faith back in Joe Crede while giving a young Alexei Ramirez a shot at second base… Kenny Williams has been a very busy man and the moves he’s made — while controversial — have all turned out for the better. The White Sox have rediscovered their grinder swagger and as I predicted at the beginning of the season, have made a case for winning the AL Central and beyond.
I don’t know what political affiliations Kenny Williams has, if any, but I do know that the GOP’s decision making skills pale in comparrison to the Sox GM. The invasion of Iraq, the atrociously late and unorganized response to Hurricane Katrina victims, the gross misspending of our inflated tax dollars… and now putting Palin — a woman so unqualified to lead a nation that I can’t help but tell myself this is all just a big joke (punchline to come?) — in line for the highest office in the land; all I can say is:
That was dumb.
And let me tell ya, you can go on and hate me for my wordy rhetoric, my inspiring the people, my loose analysis of managerial decisions, but you shouldn’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.
“The men and women who serve in our battlefields may be Democrats and
Republicans and Independents, but they have fought together and bled
together and some died together under the same proud flag. They have
not served a Red America or a Blue America – they have served the
United States of America.“
— Barack Obama, August 28, 2008
We here at RSBS realize
that we have spent a great amount of time this season in what some
simple-minded individuals might consider exacerbating the divide
between hard working baseball-loving Americans. But let me just clear
the air and say that what they see as divisive, we see as unifying. We do what we have to because we can, we will and most of all: we care. When we see injustices, when we endure the pains of partisanship, hear the cries of the people, we have little choice but to report the truth and expound cautionary messages.
And sometimes we might just piss you off.
Well, not today, folks.
After last night’s call for unifying hope among color and party lines, I have nothing in my heart but love. Apparently, I wasn’t the only one:
as you already know: I’m no idiot. It is painfully clear that John
McCain’s “congratulations on a job well done, Senator” was as smarmy
and spurious as it was preplanned beyond anality. But I’m feeling
splendid today. I’m feeling patriotic. I’m feeling swept up in an
emotional wind of change. I’m ready to reach across the aisle and be
nice to someone for no other reason than to be nice to someone. And
just for today, I want to believe that McCain’s gesture was at least
rooted in good will.
So, here’s my crack at it:
Dear Cub Fans:
have a really great team this year. I’m not just saying that. You
do. Your team has the best record in baseball (at the time of this
publication) and they have what it takes to go a long way on both sides
of the field. The Cubs’ pitching is great. Cubs’ hitting is timely.
Your team has a wise and great leader in Lou. I know I give you a hard
time for the banality of your collective souls, for being obnoxious, for your whining and crying all the time; but hey, I just want to tell you job well done on supporting your team for actually playing well. That’s so good of you.
Dear McCain Campaign:
You did a really cool thing in choosing Sarah Palin as your Vice Presidential nominee.
Job well done. I’m not even going to mention that your whole campaign
platform against Senator Obama revolves around his alleged
‘inexperience’ in politics. And on that note, I won’t bring up the
fact that she has next to no high profile ‘experience’ in
leadership. And believe me, I’m not going to waste time calling this
move what it probably is: a meager attempt to shift focus from the
strong warning shot of change resonating throughout this great land.
Yes, Senator McCain. You really are a maverick. You are awesome.
Dear Yankees Fans:
your team isn’t so hot this year. So what. Jason Giambi’s fashion
statement is pretty cool. Sure, it will never match the infamy of Giambi-on-Juice, but hey, at least it reminds us of one of the greatest Yankees to ever wear the pinstripes, right? Okay, so the Giambi mustache won’t be a classic; but it will be remembered.
And in a season that has a million reasons why you’d want to forget it,
at least Giambi came through in the clutch by taking your mind off all
of your woes, if just for a day.
Dear A.J. Pierzynski Haters:
really admire your persistence and passion for hating one baseball
player so much that you would comment on this blog by using the phrase “AJ P is a piece of crap” (see comments, fourth one from the bottom). That is classy. That is brilliant. And it stands out as a truly mesmerizing use of the English language. Job well done, A.J. haters.
Dear Detroit Tigers:
You guys are doing an awesome job of acting like you still care about
the remainder of the 2008 season. I know that your thoughts are really
on what type of yacht you’ll be purchasing for that winter cruise
around the Venezuelan coast, what with all that money you raked in this season without having to… well, you know, win
games. Believe me, I think I know how hard it is to feign interest in
something that I’d rather not be doing just so I could collect some
dough, so I commend you all for your standout steadfastness in pretend attentiveness. That’s what I call a job well done!
Don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.
Every media outlet has been full of Olympic coverage for the past few months. We watched as French surrender-monkeys and dentally deficient Britons tried to tackle, steal or otherwise snuff the Olympic flame during its journey to the Bird’s Nest and then we saw the Chinese defy gravity to set the torch alight and begin the games.
Although the passing of the torch always seems to provoke strong emotions, these emotions tend to play out differently depending on the setting. When Jesse Owens overcame the Fuhrer’s supposedly invincible Aryan champions at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, he tried to defuse the situation by saying that Hitler had shown him respect. Michael Phelps managed to show a touch of class this year as he overcame Mark Spitz’s decades old record.
But sometimes the old guard is reluctant to let the torch out of their grasp. When the Yankees had the Red Sox in a 3-0 stranglehold during the 2004 ALCS, it seemed that the old guys had a little life left in them. But they should have realized that they had used up all the gas in the tank during the previous year’s ALCS. The Yankees may have won that 2003 series but in reality, Pedro Martinez body-slamming Don Zimmer was emblematic of the rivalry’s not too distant future. And in 2004 they proved it by fighting back to win the ALCS and then the World Series.
A similar fight broke out during the primary season as the junior senator from Illinois took on the Clinton juggernaut. And when the dust finally settled at the Democratic National Convention last night, it was obvious that the party the Clinton’s created was now firmly in the hands of Sen. Obama. Sure, there were a few last grasps for the torch (Hillary’s non-concession speech back in June for example) but the look on former President Clinton’s face during Sen. Clinton’s speech Wednesday night told the whole story.
So, how does one pass the torch gracefully and not get burned in the process? Well, you could take a lesson from Ted Kennedy (2008 Ted Kennedy, not 1980 Ted Kennedy)
Or you could look to Richard Nixon who so graciously handed off to Gerald Ford in 1974. However, I suggest avoiding the example of the 1997 and 2003 Florida Marlins. Or Jay Mariotti. Burning bridges and fire sales are tacky even in the best of times.
“It’s wonderful to be here in the great state of Chicago.”
— Dan Quayle, 44th Vice President
Dear readers, the dust never seems to settle on the always emotional Chicago baseball debate. An incessant contest of he-said/she-said peppered with never-ending rapid fire quips that are as old as the milk in my refrigerator (that’s really old), this argument (like Republican attack ads) simply will not go away. Just when I thought everything had been said ad nauseum, message boards and blogospheres started to blow up again with more of the same…
Like in *this recent story* where presidential hopeful Barack Obama is blasted by commentors galore for his remark:
“You go to Wrigley Field, you have a beer, beautiful
people up there. People aren’t watching the game. It’s not serious.
White Sox, that’s baseball. Southside.”
Come on, folks. Why act like you’ve never heard this before? The sentiment is as old as the argument itself. The Sox fan says this and the Cubs fan comes back with: Remember the Black Sox.
Sox Fan: Well, remember the goat.
Cubs Fan: Oh, yeah, well remember we pack the house for every game while you’re lucky to have a handful of fans in the stands.
Sox Fan: Oh, really? Yeah? Well, try not winning a world series for a 100 years.
And so on and so on until the end of time or until someone gets hurt.
I think the bigger, more admirable story here is that Barack Obama chooses to distance himself from the popular political move of making everyone happy. He’s a Sox fan. He’s sticking to it even if that means pissing off a great number of his constituents. I think it’s safe to say that his steadfast affiliation with the Southside is a great breath of fresh air after the fallout from the much publicized Rudy Giuliani fiasco, not to mention Hillary Clinton’s adamant declaration to be a die hard Cubs fan, then a Yankees fan, then a Cubs fan again.
Politicians live under a microscope and they have a reputation for being sleazy for a damn good reason.
I find it quite difficult to even find a solid argument against that so don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.
Whoo wee! The Democratic National Convention is in full stride! How about that Michelle Obama speech!?! Smart lady; but she didn’t say anything I (a card carrying Dem) hadn’t already heard, so I’m going to skip the commentary all together (just for today) and get right to what’s going on:
I’m an uncle!
Again, yes, my sisters are having kids like crazy. But let me tell you, dear readers, this child’s birth has much more at stake than usual. Depending on how you look at it, the impact of my young nephew’s entry into the world is paramount. You see, Caleb Ryan (that’s his name) is the son of my sister (a devout Cardinal fan) and my brother-in-law (a die hard Cub fan). Indeed, Caleb Ryan’s fandom future is of the utmost concern.
If he is to be a Cubs fan, he will offend his mother (not to mention me and the rest of our big, bad, Cardinal family).
If he is to be a Cardinals fan, he will offend his father (who could easily take me in a fight, not to mention the rest of his Cubby crew family who could also probably take me in a fight — each of them, one by one, until the end of time).
Caleb’s choice will not be easy. An entire genetic line awaits his decision. And so I cringe at what I feel is already the inevitable.
For his father is a Cubs fan and the father has the most influence in this decision, right?
My sister, though devoted in her Cardinal Nation following, still probably couldn’t name anyone on the team except Albert Pujols (because he’s Pujols) and Adam Wainwright (because according to her, he’s “super cute”).
On the other hand, my brother-in-law is a force of baseball trivia — a man who knows the game (and his team) inside and out — one who probably would never allow the birds-on-the-bat to be displayed across his young son’s chest.
After much consideration, I have come to the conclusion that I am, at last, okay with that. Because if my sister and her husband have proven anything during their four year marriage, it is that their relationship is the ultimate paragon of compromise: they give and take, stretch and lean, move in tandem up-and-down and side-to-side, always staying in tune with one another through thick and thin (and any other cheesy cliche you can think of). To put it in perspective, folks, their license plate reads: CUBNLS.
For this, they have my highest respect. So too does their child: Caleb Ryan.
And that, dear readers, until the end of time will always be worth more than any game, any city, any rivalry — ever.
I know it’s asking a lot of my new nephew, but I sure hope he doesn’t hate me… at least not ‘cuz I’m right.
White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski will probably never come close to winning an MVP award during his career. His name will never be muttered in the same breath as hall of fame catchers Bench, Berra and Campanella. And due to his fiery — and sometimes ‘dirty’ — style of play, A.J. might never be accepted and/or respected by anyone other than his teammates (if he even gets that much).
But one thing will always be true: A.J. Pierzynski makes things happen.
A.J. is the guy you hate to play against because you never know what type of shenanigans he’s going to pull at any given time; he’s the guy you want on your team, whether you like him or not, and he proved why, yet again, in yesterday’s game against the Tampa Bay Rays.
Having made a bone-headed base-running play, A.J. cleared his mistake by mustering up another Academy Award winning performance when he purposely threw an elbow to Rays third baseman Willy Aybar, creating the illusion that Aybar had somehow obstructed him on the base path. The ump took the bait, called A.J. safe and awarded him third base, which would ultimately lead to the Sox winning the game.
If your eyes work, you’ll clearly see that the ‘obstruction’ in question was a complete fantasy — entirely created by A.J. and A.J. alone in what has now become just another Pierzynski moment that translated into a win. And while seeing the replay does make me feel a little uncomfortable (because it was ‘cheating’ after all) I cannot deny that a win is still a win no mater how it happens. Tongue in cheek, I can’t help but be glad that A.J. is on the Southside.
But if he isn’t on your team; you probably hate him.
And I can see why: He’s a chatter box. He gets under your skin. He throws temper tantrums. He uses the Jedi Mind Trick on susceptible umpiring crews (see 2005 ALCS) and gets away with it. He creates plays out of nothing — and in doing so — is personally responsible for at least two to three fabricated wins every season. When it comes down to a heated battle for a playoff spot, those two to three wins could be the deciding factor in whether you’re playing baseball or golf in October.
Don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.
Earlier this week, Jamaican Usain Bolt proved to the sporting world that indeed speed sells. With MLB’s recent crackdown on PEDs subsequently limiting the homerun game, is it possible that baseball will start to see an increase of importance on the running game or have we already seen the last of players like Rickey Henderson, Vince Coleman and Lou Brock?
Running is a much more complicated process than it was when we played tag in kindergarten. As our good friend Sen. Obama has shown us time and again, it is not without its pitfalls. And as Chinese hurdler, Liu Xiang, showed us, it is not without its pain.
But there are some people who just make it look easy. Michael Johnson, Carl Lewis, Usain Bolt. All of them make sprinting look as simple as hitting a home run looks for Manny Ramirez. Maybe they’re genetic freaks (or just straight up freaks as in the case of Manny), but there’s no denying they have a talent that 99.9% of the world just doesn’t have. It’s not so much what they do or how they do it but the fact that they can go out and replicate the feat on a consistent basis that sets them apart.
However, running does play an important role in the great American pastime. As much as I hate to have to think about it, much less mention it, one of the reasons that Cardinals beat the Tigers in the 2006 World Series was because the Cardinals had a running game that always put them in a position to score while the Tigers relied on brute strength that seemed to escape them when they needed it most. So, in that respect, I would argue that the question is moot in and of itself.
The running game has always been important for clubs that can’t afford to go out and buy sluggers. Now, the question is if the decrease in power will start to affect the Yankees, Tigers and Red Sox of the world. Again, I’d have to say that successful teams have usually found a way to combine the two elements.
Look at the Oakland A’s of late 80′s. Although they had the two most prolific juicers outside of Sammy Sosa on one team, they also had Rickey Henderson, Mr. “Rickey’s the Best” himself. And Canseco, although he could pound the ball, also did quite well for himself on the basepaths.
However, thoughts of Mr. Canseco and his ill-begotten physique bring me to another important point. Speed and doping aren’t always mutually exclusive. In fact, sometimes they’re regular kissing cousins as the the pride of Canada, Ben Johnson, can attest to. The crackdown on PEDs in MLB might lead to a general and overall slowing down of the game from the way it is played today. Remember, it wasn’t just the the Barry Bonds of the world who were looking for that little extra. It was also the Roger Clemens. And who knows how that might have also played into the speed game.
So, I think the answer to your question is that we have not seen the end of an era and that players who have great legs and a great jump will continue to be sought after. The thing that you have to take into account, though, is that you can’t steal a base or try for the hit-and-run unless you have someone on base in the first place. That was Rickey’s true talent, his ability to get himself in scoring position. And if you want to take it full-circle, it’s also the talent Mr. Obama has shown to this point in getting himself nominated. However, now we have to wait and see if he can find a way to bring it home just like Mr. Bolt.
It’s official. Joe Biden will be Barack Obama’s running mate for the 2008 presidential election. I’m okay with it. Really. I am.
I only hope that this duo will be reminiscent of the one-two punch of Schilling and Johnson who took it all the way in 2001.
I only hope that this duo will look more like Gehrig and Ruth on the field rather than Gehrig and Ruth off the field.
I only hope that this duo has enough to beat the critics and become the mighty force that Big Papi and Manny Ramirez became in Boston.
Will Biden being Biden become the hottest new catchphrase of 2008? While my hopes against that happening remain high, I would be a liar if I didn’t admit my anxiety that Biden may demand a trade at the very last minute.
Hold on to your seats, folks, dear readers, my fellow US Americans…
We’re just gettin’ started.
Don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.
Let us take a look at who’s crying about nonsensical surface crap today:
Hillary Clinton: “I wasn’t even vetted”
So? Who cares? You lost the primary. Get it? You lost. That means: you didn’t win. Why not being chosen as the party’s candidate should make you an automatic lock to be vetted for V.P. is beyond me. US America already decided that you weren’t the one to represent, so why should you be considered for the position? Since when does losing make you eligible to be second in command?
The answer: it doesn’t.
Those Who Won’t Accept the Fact that Money Can’t Buy Everything
Finally, it ain’t all about the benjamins, folks. The Yankees, the Tigers… they’re not going to make the playoffs this year despite their big fat payrolls. This makes me extremely happy. Now you know how it feels — Yankee fans — to be a midwesterner rooting for a small market team. How you’re feeling right now is how we feel almost every year. Doesn’t feel very good, does it? Well, now you know. Oh… and Tiger fans… you know this feeling all too well; it’s just extra special sad for you this year since you decided to pretend to be the Yankees with your wallets this season. Whoops.
Cub Fans Who Are Upset that they Haven’t Been Crowned World Series Champs Yet
Look, I get it. The Cubs are good this year. They’re really good. As much as I hate to admit it, you won’t get an argument out of me. The thing is (and believe me, I know: see St. Louis Cardinals 2004, 2005 as to why): you have to play through August and then September and then the playoffs (NLDS, NLCS, WS) and then you have to win all of those series too to be considered the World Series Champs. You can’t just go and crown yourselves with six weeks left to play. My advice to you? Chill the hell out. Let the Cardinals and Brewers battle for the Wild Card and just be glad you’ve made it this far because we all know the Cubs — if anything — will always be the Cubs (double meaning intended).
Cry all you want, but don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.
With the imminent advent of a new football season, it’s time for RSBS to explore areas where a brown, oblong ball and a small, white ball overlap. The basics are pretty clear in that they both include a ball and two opposing teams but beyond that, there really isn’t that much they have in common. Maybe the silly tight pants? However, there is one area where they bear a striking resemblance.
Baseball today subscribes to the adage that you can’t win without a dominant closer. He can be a finesse guy, he can be an overpowering guy but he has to be able to shut down the other team for somewhere between 1 or more innings at the end of a game. This ranks them right up there in the same category as field goal kickers.
Now, before you start complaining, I fully recognize that both field goal kickers and closers are gifted with incredible physical talents. There’s no way I could kick a 50 yard field goal. In fact, there’s no way I could kick a 15 yard field goal. Similarly, I probably can’t throw a baseball more than 60 miles an hour, much less hit that tiny little strikezone.
But that doesn’t change the fact that both kickers and closers are specialty guys who come in for very specific tasks that have evolved with their respective games. And the rewards for these thankless jobs are relatively miniscule. Except on rare occasions, their best hope is just to remain invisible while attempting to succeed. Because when they fail, you can be sure their picture will be splashed across the front of the sports section (or the front page of various blogs).
Closers come from different backgrounds, sometimes converted starters who just can’t handle the innings anymore or guys with funky deliveries who can’t last outside of 25 pitches. And kickers tend to be guys who got kicked off the soccer team in high school or who were just too small to play any other position. Seriously, can you imagine Martin Grammatica playing wide receiver? He’d die, simple as that.
I suppose everything in life these days is heading towards more specialization and it’s rare that you find a renaissance man who can perform more than one task (unlike the ubermensch pictured here). But it’s kind of a shame that guys like Carlos Zambrano and Micah Owings are more the exception than the rule.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m no purist and I have no desire for things to go back to the days of Babe Ruth or Bronko Nagurski. If you think players get injured a lot now, just imagine if they had to do double duty. But, I think we can shed a single tear for the end of an era before we except our new, super-specialized overlords.