That westerly breeze you folks on the East Coast felt today had nothing to do with Tropical Storm Fay; no, it was the collective sigh of relief from Cardinal fans the world over as the team announced Jason Isringhausen’s season is most probably over.
In what has become an abomination of a year for the formerly revered closer, this once imaginary ending has turned into reality, causing Cardinal fans to yet again face their own unique brand of pessimism: that Izzy’s departure is still bitter-sweet. Sweet in that we can all relax knowing he won’t screw things up anymore. Bitter because we can be sure that someone else will.
And let’s face it: though we’ve all maintained the customary party line that the 2008 Cardinal bullpen woes have been a ‘team thing’, we all know that it began with and was perpetrated by Jason Isringhausen and his lackluster performance(s). As the leader in the bullpen, the go-to guy in the 9th, the man who got things done, Izzy’s inablility to close games this year caused a ripple effect of incompetence all throughout the bullpen. In his destructive wake, Izzy’s fellow relievers found themselves under an immense amount of pressure — pressure they haven’t been able to overcome still to this day.
I am not ungrateful. Jason Isringhausen has put together some great seasons in St. Louis. And there have been times when my cheers were among the loudest. But there comes a time when your best just isn’t your best anymore — when you just don’t have it in the tank — when you discover that yes, the rose does have thorns and now that the pretty red petals have all died and fallen off, all you have left in your hand is a prickly stem with very few aesthetic attributes.
Three reoccuring nightmares have haunted me this season:
1) The Cubs win the pennant
2) The man featured below worms his way back into the political spotlight
3) Izzy enters a game with less than a 10 run lead
While one of those nightmares will continue to pester me until the seaon’s end, at least the last one looks like it is merely a thing of the past.
Don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.
Okay, I’m through dancing around this touchy subject, folks. I’m ready to face it and call it what it is: MLB is obsessed with “recovering” drug addicts and their attempts to get [back] into the big leagues.
If you’re like me (intelligent, charming, full of yourself) then you are decent enough to realize that yes, the Josh Hamilton story is important. It proves that that we, as human beings, do have the ability to overcome adversity and reach the highest levels of success despite our shortcomings if we’re determined, disciplined, good hearted and humble. That much is true.
However, when a player such as Josh Hamilton can no longer be recognized as anyone other than an ex/recovering junkie who just happens to be a successful baseball player, that’s when I have a problem.
And the problem is growing…
Because now Major League Baseball, realizing that the Hamilton story may be losing some of its saleability due to overuse, is desperate to find its next “Josh Hamilton” in Marlins’ prospect Jeff Allison.
Yeah, that’s what I thought too.
And as we find ourselves down to the last six weeks of the regular season, where heated division races are made and/broken, where teams break away from the pack while others fade to black, MLB.com’s front page today ignored all of that and featured a prospect no one has ever heard of — solely because he’s a “recovering” drug addict — “like Josh Hamilton.”
Dear readers, fear not, for I do not belittle the feats of these gentlemen in any way. Honestly, having battled my own personal demons, like Hamilton and Allison, I am no stranger to overcoming the obstacles of addiction. Indeed, I applaud them for their perseverance, their humility, their spirit. They are not the ones to blame here.
We should be shaking a finger at Major League Baseball, the media and every other story-hungry leech out there who can’t see Hamilton (and now Allison) as anything but a story to sell.
Google Hamilton’s name and see how many entries pop up that don’t mention his drug addiction. Watch a Rangers game without hearing about Hamilton’s “incredible comeback”. Bring up Hamilton’s name in any place in Anytown, USA and see what the discussion centers around. His talent? His numbers? No.
His drug habit.
That’s all you’ll hear. That’s all anyone cares about. But let me tell ya somethin’…
Addiction is not a character trait.
Addiction is not a reason to judge.
Addiction is a disease. And just like leukemia, multiple sclerosis or pneumonia, this disease does not define the afflicted. It is merely an obstacle: a hindrance to be overcome, defeated and moved passed but never one to ultimately define the character, the nature or the existence of the one who was chosen to endure its pain.
Don’t hate me, ‘cuz I couldn’t be any more right on this one.
Ever since the accident (see comments), I’ve been having difficulty focusing my thoughts; but don’t worry. I will still find a way to express them in a brilliant, informative manner as is always expected here at RSBS. I am many things, but a quitter without an opinion I am not.
Picture it: October 2008. The first round of the MLB playoffs are in full stride and not a Red Sox or Yankee is anywhere to be found. Yes. It could happen, folks. For the first time in recent memory, both the Yankees and the Red Sox may find themselves sitting out during the important games. The Rays and Angels look to be locks and it seems that the Twins and White Sox are in a tussle for the other two spots in the AL. I don’t want to get ahead of myself, but it’s hard to dismiss the possibility. Think of the chaos, the madness, the tantrums that would follow. At least emergency rooms in the northeast would be more quiet than usual.
Imagine my horror. Finally over the disappointment of not being able to see Allison Stokke vault her majesty in the Olympic games, I found myself settling on Swedish hurdler Susanna Kallur to satisfy my propensity for body-gazing during female competitions. Yes. My mind was made up. She was going to be the one. And then she knocked down the very first hurdle, fell to the ground and didn’t finish the race, further proving my theory that the combination of beauty and athletic prowess is more rare than me having somewhere to go on a Saturday night.
Envision the face of Barack Obama’s Vice President. Is it male? Female? White? Black? (doubt it) Latino? (double-doubt it) In any case, we should know soon and I have a feeling it will be someone whom we never even thought of. (No, silly, it won’t be me. I’m too busy blogging and raising cain, but thanks for the thought).
Think about it. Wouldn’t that USA/China baseball spat have been more exciting and more newsworthy if some real punches had been thrown? Look, I get it. The Olympics is all about class and sportsmanship but this isn’t the floor exercise we’re talking about here: this is baseball. Our sport. Our way. And we fight. Robin Ventura, Nolan Ryan, Michael Barrett, A.J. Pierzynski… those guys would have tore heads off — they would’ve brought bloody pride to the Red, White and Blue. A knockdown at home plate, some bean balls here and there… jeesh. I was really disappointed.
See the world the way my colleague Allen Krause sees it and see a world that revolves around the wonders and blunders of one irksome Venezuela. Yes, dear readers, I ask the same question you do: What the hell is up with all of these Venezuela posts? This one and this one and this one… I understand that Venezuela is quickly rising the ranks to be the proverbial pebble in US America’s shoe, but come on… Mr. Krause is talking about the degrees of handsomeness between Miguel Cabrera, Magglio Ordonez and Ozzie Guillen. That’s crazy. That’s just plain crazy.
And you know it’s crazy. You know you’ve had enough. And you know there’s no reason to hate me ‘cuz I’m right.
Michael Phelps and a few other American athletes have voluntarily
submitted to a higher level of drug testing in an attempt to head off
any questions about their impressive victories. If the US Olympic team
can do this, why hasn’t baseball taken similar steps to get rid of the
drug stigma surrounding the game today?
In a way, Major League Baseball, behind the leadership of Bud Selig and an overwhelmingly grumpy push from the US Government, has taken similar steps to get rid of the drug stigma, Mr. Krause. I’m not sure if you heard about it this past winter, but the Mitchell Report made quite a stir all over the baseball cosmos, and got a great number of ballplayers thinking “Hey, maybe I shouldn’t put this crap in my body anymore.”
While the drug screening program in baseball is still somewhat lax and random in its procedure, it is still light years better than what it was (non-existent) and does an adequate job by simply scaring people into doing the right thing. This is progress that at one time seemed improbable. Why? Because the don’t-ask-don’t-tell secret of performance enhancing drugs was bringing people to the ballpark. Whether it was the greenies of the 70s or the HGH of the 90s, fans were coming out to games in droves to witness the high octane occurrence of homeruns and 100 mph fastballs. You’ve said it here a million times, Mr. Krause, money is what makes the world go round and if shooting up brings it in then so be it.
Unfortunately, we US Americans sometimes have a conscious; and that’s the only reason why this phase has transitioned to a foreseeable end.
Are players still using PEDs? Probably. Are they using them as much as they used to? No. Not at all. Need proof? How about Richie Sexson, Eric Gagne, Paul Lo Duca just for starters. These guys are mere shadows of what they used to be while on the juice; because of that, I’m convinced that the biggest proverbial battles have already been fought and won.
Could more be done to ensure the sanctity of the game? Probably.
Will a more stringent array of tests similar to those of Olympians Michael Phelps and Dara Torres (both voluntarily) ever be instituted in Major League Baseball? I doubt it.
And here’s why: Player’s Union, Agents, Club Owners, the Players themselves. Try to get anything past these guys that could theoretically threaten profits and you’ll quickly realize you’re dealing with a much higher power than voluntary amateur athletes who compete for a friggin’ medal that everyone will forget about two months from now.
The difference between asking Michael Phelps to take a rigorous amount of drug tests to prove his purity and asking Manny Ramirez to do the same can be summed up in two words: Scott Boras.
Boras, evil incarnate, who single-handedly changed sports forever, will hunt down your children, cut off their heads and sell them to Colombian witchdoctors if it means he’ll get 10%. I guarantee you, if Boras represented Phelps (which would never happen whilst Phelps maintains amateur status), Andrea Kramer would be lucky if Phelps even acknowledged her existence after winning 8 gold medals.
Money. Money money money money money. Money. Money money money money. Money. Money money MONEY!
Of course, public relations and digesting the fact that hardworking US Americans actually do want to be assured that their national pastime isn’t being abused both factor into MLB’s stricter regulations; but MLB and its myriad components, from the owners to the players to Joe Blow who spent $48.50 of his paycheck to sit in the upper deck, will continue to do whatever they have to to straddle the precarious line between profit and purity.
It hasn’t been perfected in politics (see Bill Clinton, the Kennedy’s, John Edwards) yet, so it’s no surprise that baseball hasn’t a clue either.
I’m just glad that I can go to sleep at night knowing that I am PED free. A bulging forehead, weak libido and distending testicles wouldn’t be good for my image.
Don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.
Regular readers of RSBS know that I have a special place in my heart for Venezuela. And really, why not? It’s a fascinating place and lends itself to all sorts of interesting discussion. They have a wealth of oil, a wealth of baseball talent, a wealth of beauty and wealth of crazy. And since Jeff and I both share an affinity for two out of those four things it’s only fitting that RSBS take up the debate.
My partner here at RSBS pointed out in a comment on a recent post:
“The Venezuela team (including Maggs, Santana, Cabrera etc) is threatening to not compete in the WBC sighting (sic) poor per diems and lack of organization as reasons not to play.”
Now, why would elite baseball players making millions of dollars per year threaten to pull out of the World Baseball Classic over some measly travel and lodging expenses? Personally, I think it has something to do with a much deeper rooted problem endemic to Venezuela.
Yes, in a land with so much wealth the unfortunate fact is that this wealth has been unequally distributed. And I’m not talking about the oil money which has accrued in the hands of well connected elites. No, I’m talking about the fact that while Venezuelan women are beautiful and have won more beauty championships than the women from any other country, the Venezuelan men seem to have lost out in the looks department. So of course they act out via other avenues.
Luckily for them, the Venezuelan men men are eerily good baseball players. Rumor has it that El Presidente himself actually joined the military in order to make his way to Caracas and play baseball. Apparently he got a little sidetracked on the way but others among his compadres have made their way into the Major Leagues where they have had major impacts. From Carlos and Ozzie Guillen to Asdrubal and Miguel Cabrera, Venezuelan baseball players are integral to the success of many MLB teams. But they just aren’t very good looking.
So, when you’ve got talent but you look like a toad, what’s a guy to do? Well, either you move to the US and become a highly-paid baseball superstar. Or, you throw a coup, invite the whole country and hope the oil party keeps raging. Go-go-go Hugo.
A special thanks goes out to all of you (four of you to be exact) who participated in the Back-to-Back-to-Back-to-Back Sweepstakes! Splendid jobs all around in twisting and grinding those creative muscles to find the quintessential back-to-back-to-back-to-back scenario. But of course, dear readers, like any other competition, we can only crown one winner. And this one stood out:
“Back to back to back to back free drinks from a good looking bartender. I think that would be kind of nice.”
For his titillating proposition of getting free booze from a hot drink-slinger, how can we not give the crown to Nate from Cubtastic~?
Though we appreciate the creative efforts of the others (all three of them) we at RSBS have a soft spot in our hearts for beautiful women and of course, alcohol. You see, it helps us forget about the woes of our favorite teams.
And we at RSBS do not discriminate against Cub fans… or Yankee fans… or Republicans. Well, maybe we do against Republicans, but you get the idea.
So, without further ado…
Now, on to the prize…
I said we would do whatever we could to make your dream come true. Unfortunately for you, I’m a liar. To make this up to Nate — and all of our dear readers — I decided to give you the next best thing: more background on the character of Ichiro Suzuki.
Why? Because his face was plastered all over MLB.com today — that’s why. Plus, the strong response to an earlier post explaining why Ichiro refuses to speak/learn/utilize the English language demanded that we further explore the psyche of this infamously secretive Japanese superstar.
So, why has Ichiro stayed in US America all this time? Is it the money? The fame? The Starbucks on every corner?
If your children had to be exposed to this type of educational programming in Japan, you would stay in US America too:
Gross. That is just plain gross.
Don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.
The way the balls were jumping out of The Joan today, one might have thought that the Chicago Air Show started a day early. That wasn’t the case. No. Those were homeruns flying out of the ballpark, not F-14s, and at least four of them flew out in a row: back-to-back-to-back-to-back.
When you say that out loud, it sounds like a bad rap song.
And it got me thinking…
Rarely do things as delightful as homeruns occur four times in a row (especially in the post-PED era) … so when they do, it surely is magical. What else would I like to see back-to-back-to-back-to-back?
Back-to-Back-to-Back-to-Back Saves by the St. Louis Cardinals Bullpen:
Because of the rarity of this now-merely-theoretical possibility, I am beginning to think that the 2008 Cardinals are looking more and more like the 2007 Cardinals. And folks, let me tell ya, that ain’t a good thing.
Back-to-Back-to-Back-to-Back Republican Sex Scandals:
Foot tappin’ in an airport bathroom stall, meth dealin’ gigolos, married northeastern governors who just happen to dig guys more than their wives… keep ‘em comin’!
Back-to-Back-to-Back-to-Back French Male Olympians Crying After Competition:
Why? Because the only thing better than watching a Frenchman cry is watching four Frenchmen cry — in a row. “Zee wemen… zay sink zee cry-eeng… eez sexy.” Ah, the French are such easy targets sometimes.
Back-to-Back-to-Back-to-Back World Series Titles for a Team NOT Named the Yankees:
It could happen. No. Seriously. It could. Okay… no. You’re right.
Back-to-Back-to-Back-to-Back Presidential Terms for the Democratic Party:
FDR did it — by himself — and he was awesome. I’m not saying let’s rewrite the Constitution. I’m just saying we could use a good twelve to sixteen years to get some s*** done — for real.
Back-to-Back-to-Back-to-Back RSBS Posts Where Allen Krause Doesn’t Offend a Great Number of People:
Look, in this case, I agree with you, Mr. Krause; but somebody has to stop those Christians from firebombing my house! Enough already!
Back-to-Back-to-Back-to-Back Evenings Where I DON’T Receive a Soliciting Phone Call from the Number 800-450-9135:
I signed up for one non-profit organization that stands for making the earth a little bit better place and now, every day, non-stop, I get anonymous phone calls from this number asking me to donate to (insert random charity name here). No. I’m through giving my money away. Why do you think I’m still single?
Back-to-Back-to-Back-to-Back Pow-Wow Sessions with the Staff of Arizona via Slough:
I realize that I’m starting to sound like a real perv here, but trust me: I’m not. I’m interested in his staff because they are smart problem-solvers with real world experience and decorated graduate degrees. That’s it. That’s the only reason. Oh — and they know how to order Chinese food properly as well. Very important.
I leave the last one up to you, dear reader. Leave us with your back-to-back-to-back-to-back dream and we’ll see what we can do to make it come true.
I promise. It won’t include rhyming.
You can hate me ‘cuz I’m a dork… but don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.
Oh man. One of my favorite topics. Focus on the Family, James Dobson and the complete absence of logic and reason. This is the man who accepts the biblical book of Leviticus’ definition of homosexuality as an abomination but ridicules Sen. Obama’s “fruitcake interpretation” of the Bible when Obama mentioned some obviously outdated passages from the same book. For Mr. Dobson, the only rules in the Bible that apply are those that help him retain his perch as the Right’s watchdog of doctrine.
In some ways, “purist” baseball fans and Mr. Dobson have a lot in common. They both like to talk about the good ol’ days, when things were pure and simple but also manage to ignore the irony when they take advantage of how much better things have gotten since those days. By the same token, they like to pick and choose which parts of the ancien regime they like and which are just anachronisms.
Sorry guys, you don’t get it both ways. If Leviticus convinces you that homosexuality is an abomination and we have to live with that as the rule, we also need to accept that slavery is all right because Leviticus says that, too. And if the DH destroys the purity of baseball, then so does the fact that players have to remove their gloves and equipment from the field while batting. Times change and ideas and games must evolve if they want to stay relevant.
For instance, the idea of faith used to be commonly accepted, everything happens for a reason and sometimes you just have to accept that because you can’t understand it. Nope. Sorry. That’s not always true. Katrina destroyed New Orleans because the levees were not up to par, not because god was mad at America. And the Cardinals didn’t make any moves at the deadline because they have crappy management, not because the management knows something we don’t. In fact, to be fair, you can say the same thing about the Tigers’ trade for Kyle Farnsworth.
So, where does this all leave us at the end of the day? Simple. Baseball is a game that has evolved and because of that, it grows more popular every year. And James Dobson is a fossilized relic of another time and like all fossils we should look at him and take the story of his demise as a warning for ourselves.
Ever wonder how everyone on the planet — except the umpire — managed to see that Matt Holliday totally missed the plate on that thrilling tie-breaking play at home against the Padres?
Ever wonder how they went on to sweep the Phillies and the Diamondbacks in the NLDS and NLCS respectively?
Well, now we know. We all know. The secret is out. His name is Jesus and he will now take your prayers.
Because if Focus On the Family Digital Media Director Stuart Shepard had it his way, the entire Democratic Convention would be under a sea of god-like proportions. For those of you non-Christians out there, that’s fancy talk for a whole lot of friggin’ water.
Luckily, someone over there realized that asking its followers to pray in unison for an awful thing to happen to the opposition may not be the best way to go about it — perhaps because it goes against the very fundamentals they are supposed to be preaching. I don’t know. I’m certainly no expert.
But I know that though the conspiracy prayer in Denver may have worked against the Padres, Phillies and Diamondbacks, there may still be a logical reason for it: God was desperate for some playoff excitement. And He needed to erase the psychological damage those awful MLB Dane Cook television spots that were thrown in our faces ad nausem did.
I’m pretty sure He hates me too, but not because I’m right… even He knows better than that.
Dear readers, I may not be a religious man (unless you call screaming “goddamn it!” at the television every time Tony LaRussa goes to the bullpen being religious); but I do believe that the world has a certain order to it — a general plan of well-being that should never be tampered with or questioned. I may not like it, but in the grand scheme of things, there’s a reason why the Redbirds didn’t make any moves at the trade deadline. There’s a reason why Kenny Williams kept Juan Uribe on the Southside. There’s a reason why my counterpart, Allen Krause, is a bit delusional in his posts.
Knowing this, I know I shall not dare test the waters of fate.
So that is why I’d like to offer Hillary Clinton Campaign Communications Director Howard Wolfson a great big RSBS “EAT IT!“ for his crybaby rumblings of heretical hindsight and coulda-shoulda-woulda politics.
After Senator John Edwards’ extramarital affair became public late last week, Wolfson offered this statement:
“I believe we would have won Iowa, and Clinton today would therefore have been the nominee [had Edwards' affair been public at the time]…Our voters and Edwards’ voters were the same people… They were older, pro-union. Not all, but maybe two-thirds of them would have been for us and we would have barely beaten Obama.”
Sure, Wolfie. Sounds good. Easy to say now even if it is just loosely based speculation. Did you speak with all of the Iowa voters who cast ballots for Edwards? Did all of those Edwards supporters contact you personally to tell you they voted for him but would’ve voted for Hillary if they knew Johnny was out fumbling with a lady who wasn’t his wife? Really? Is that how you got all of this inside information? And what if you did win Iowa? Obviously, that means you would’ve swept every other primary too, right? No competition at all because winning Iowa makes you a lock to win the nomination? Uh, excuse me… were you even watching the primary? Uh… did you see how friggin’ close it was all the way to Puerto Rico?
Mr. Wolfson, I’m afraid such staunch statements do absolutely no good for a Democratic party that already risks the perils of division simply because your people won’t get on the winning team in the fight to make a difference in November. Referencing what could have happened if what happened didn’t happen doesn’t do a whole lot in the way of progression. It just makes you look like a whiny sore losing crybaby who won’t be satisfied until he gets what he wants; but, as you, I and the rest of US America clearly see: that just ain’t gonna happen.
This puling rant reminds me of a certain Northside faction who — to this day — continue to put all the blame on a fan for their 2003 NLCS shortcomings rather than simply admitting to being outplayed by a superior team.
This divisive tirade reminds me of a certain blogger (RSBS‘ very own Mr. Allen Krause) who — to this day — continues to put all the blame on the shoddy defense of the Tigers’ pitching staff for their 2006 World Series fall rather than simply admitting to being outplayed by a superior team.
Give credit where credit is due, people… and quit your whining.
Don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.