August 2008

The Filibuster

Despite baseball and basketball being sports born in the good old USA, both national teams have lost touch with winning gold at the Olympic games.  Why do people care so much more about the basketball team losing top standing than the baseball team?

–Jeff

                                                                                     

Quick, name the top three players in baseball. If you did this honestly, you probably came up with A-Rod, Pujols, Miguel Cabrera and so on and so forth. Now, do the same thing for basketball. What’s the difference? When you name the basketball players they all have last names like Bryant, Garnett, Anthony and James. Good ol’ Anglo-Saxon names that sound about as American as apple pie.

ObamaNewYorker.jpgAmericans like their heroes to have names that sound like their own. There’s a reason you see Senator Obama slipping in the polls and it isn’t because John McCain has a better energy plan. When it comes right down to it, Americans, despite being only a couple generations removed from immigrant status themselves, don’t trust immigrants. When a current nominee for the presidency has to deny ties to Islamist terrorists in the same way that Kennedy had to deny that he would take orders from the pope 50 years ago, it’s not hard to see that we haven’t come all that far.

Beyond all that, timing is an integral part of who can actually
represent our country. The baseball season is in full swing and there’s
no way that all those athletes are going to sacrifice their big
salaries or that the teams are going to sacrifice the playoffs for a
couple of weeks of nationalistic fervor. I’m sure that basketball GMs
dread having their best players out there risking injury but at least
the Olympic competition is over before players even need to report for
camp.

However, in the Olympics, it also comes down to something much more simple. Basketball has been around in the Olympics for decades and became a sporting symbol for the Cold War conflict between the US and the USSR. When the Soviets beat the Americans in 1988, it stunned the US sporting psyche in the same way that Sputnik called our national pride into question at the end of the 50’s.

Baseball just doesn’t play the same role. It’s only been an Olympic sport for the past 12 years and the US hasn’t even qualified every time. And beyond that, who plays the role of the villian? What reason do we have to win? Real baseball plays out between May and October in a bunch of stadiums scattered across North America.

So, maybe if Cuba ever becomes a legitimate threat or Venezuela is able to back up the big game they talk with some international clout, then baseball will come to play a similar role to that of basketball. But until then, the Dream Team will be Kobe and company and the Olympic baseball team will be a bunch of college schlubs trying their hardest to make their country proud.

-A

My Friend, Karl Rove

OriolePark.jpgWhen it comes to the Tigers, I’ve realized that the best approach is the approach taken by thousands of animal lovers and jilted lovers the world over:

“If you love something, set it free. If it comes back it’s yours forever. If not, it was never meant to be.”

Now, I love Tigers baseball. I mean, I don’t want to marry it or anything but the feelings I had watching Maggs hit that homerun against the A’s in 2006 to send the Tigers to the World Series, well, they were some pretty strong feelings. It’s like how I felt watching Cecil Fielder back in the day and how I felt a couple weeks ago when my brother and I got to watch the Tigers pile on the Orioles for six runs in the first inning. And it’s because of this love that I had to release the Tigers to their destiny this past week. It’s not for me to decide their fate but there’s nothing I can do to help either. So, I set them free.

However, it seems that some people have taken umbrage with this decision and called me out in public. To this I can only say: Mr. Lung, I denounce and reject your most recent post. Especially its typically red state divisive tactics of preying on the fear people have when it comes to immigration. I didn’t realize the Mssrs. Renteria and Cabrera spoke like some two-bit villian from an episode of Walker, Texas Ranger. But, leave it to the Karl Rove inspired politicking of a red state fan to base an argument on stereotypes and America’s misguided fear of immigrants. I know I’ve mentioned it before, but Major League Baseball would be a very sad sport these days without the new levels of talent brought to the league by our friends from the south. And even if Sheff doesn’t like it, they’re here to stay. So, lets try to keep this debate on the up-and-up and leave behind the caricatures, eh? It’s what Tupac would want us to do.

-A

My Estate Is In Order

Those of you who know me personally know that my obsessive-compulsive disorder has no boundaries.  You know that I am a stickler for preparation, execution, reflection.

Today, as I prepare to make my way up to the North Side to watch the Cardinals battle the Cubs, I realize that this could be the end.  I’m not hoping for it; but I am prepared for it.

So, if the Cub fans really do make good on their threats to my livelihood, I have prepared the following:

Arizona via Slough, you can have my collection of Allison Stokke pictures.

Prince of New York, you can have my first edition copy of Moneyball and my Jay Mariotti signed photograph of Ozzie Guillen kissing some random guy.  

Flair for the Dramatic, you can have what’s left in my bank account, which you should then donate to the Yankees, because everyone knows the Yankees are hurting for cash.

Some Clubhouse, you can have my thoughts that I scribble on the little notebook I carry with me everywhere.  You might find something interesting to stretch your think-tank.

And of course, you, dear readers, get to have this:

You, I, We will always have that.  Always.

Don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.

Peace,

Jeffy

**Allen Krause gets nothing**

The Art of Irony, Backstabbing & Hopelessness


“Don’t give up, don’t ever give up.”

                         – Jim Valvano (1946 -1993)

Jimmy V is rolling in his grave.

On Thursday, in what became a Red State Blue State first, my once respected colleague and amicable opponent Allen Krause, officially gave up on his beloved Detroit Tigers.  Though they’re only 7.5 games back of the first place White Sox, Mr. Krause could not help but revert back to his status quo of negativity, sighting that the Tigers’ outlandish payroll and futile mediocrity was just too much — an endeavor he hadn’t the heart nor the patience to endure.  It caused shockwaves throughout baseball, causing these guys to say:

cabrera.and.renteria.jpgCongratulations, Mr. Krause, on joining the dishonorable ranks of fellow traitors Judas, Benedict Arnold and Jim Edmonds.

Honestly, this really shouldn’t be all that surprising to me; but in an odd sort of way, it is.  We are US Americans.  US Americans don’t give up.  We never give up.

When the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, did we sulk and cry and feel sorry for ourselves?

No.

Down three games to none in the 2004 ALCS, did the Boston Red Sox give up against the Evil Empire simply because the odds against them winning were next to none?

No.

And what about the spirit of US Americans after 9/11, the Bush administration, a flailing economy, tarnished foreign policies and an ill-conceived war of shadow chasing?  Did we all just throw our hands up in the air and ‘throw in the towel’?

NO!

When one loses hope — when he loses his identity, his affiliation for that which brings him joy — when he loses his propensity for positivism and forces his bleak outlook on the world using the headline Keep Ya Head Up, we — those who remain steadfast in our patriotic alliances to all things good — have no choice but to denounce and reject both the negativity monger and his infectious ideas.

You fooled me, Mr. Krause.  You had me thinking you were with the Tigers all the way — unconditionally.  Yes, you fooled me.  You know, they have an old saying in Tennessee…

For future reference, Mr. Krause, if you’re gonna bail on your team, do us all a favor and please refrain from disgracing the hip-hop legend that is Tupac.  He doesn’t deserve to be associated with your hapless despondency.

Because of you, he’s probably rolling around in his grave too.  And by “grave” I do mean the champagne room in the back of a Las Vegas hot spot. 

Oh yeah, he’ll be back. 

I believe.

Don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.

Peace,

Jeffy

Keep Ya’ Head Up

There comes a point in every season where you realize that it’s time to throw in the towel. For Oakland A’s fans, that point comes in the first round or so of the playoffs. For Royals fans, it’s opening day. And for Cubs fans, well, they never seem to realize that it’s time. But, even though there’s still a lot of games to be played in the season, I’m going to go ahead and say it. I’m throwing in the towel on the Tigers.

Now, normally I wouldn’t be saying something so blasphemous at this point, especially since my friend Mr. Lung will have no small amount of fun with this. But, the fact of the matter is that for all the money the Tigers spent on hitting and pitching during the offseason (12 million on Dontrelle and he can’t even throw strikes in single-A ball???!), they can’t seem to score any runs and the addition of Farnsworth to the bullpen did not help an already woeful pitching staff. So, I’ll admit it. You were right. The Tigers will not make the playoffs and I’m going to be stuck watching the same six teams battle it out in the AL. Sounds great.

But, at least you’ll be joining me while the Cardinals become another also ran and the Brewers and Cubbies run away with the division.

tupac.jpgHowever, let me break the Tigers and Cards down for you in terms that are germane to this blog. The Tigers are Hillary Clinton, spending lots of money, going into debt and the whole world is sure they’re going to represent them come the end of the season. But when it comes down to it, a couple really bad moves end up killing them. And the Cardinals are Ron Paul, a great story with a lot of the right elements but, in the end, they just don’t have all the pieces you need to make it to the payoff round.

So, at this point I’m guessing this is making you feel about as good as it makes me feel and that ain’t good. So, I’ll just let it go and pour out a little for my fallen friends, the Detroit Tigers. Maybe I’ll get lucky and they’ll come back some day like I’m still sure Tupac is going to do.

-A

Things I Learned On a Soxxy Tuesday Night

whitesox.tigers.8.5.08 008.jpgLet’s get something straight, folks.  Despite the stigmatic undertones preached by the Dear Abbys of the world, it is perfectly acceptable to attend social events by one’s self.  While I wouldn’t recommend showing up alone to your own wedding, taking in a baseball game by yourself is absolutely respectable — cool even.  It shows confidence and a maverick persona.

And when Ken Griffey, Jr. — one of the greatest to ever play the game — arrives in your city to play for a team you support and respect (against the dreaded Tigers no less), you show up, with or without company. 

I find that going to games by myself allows me to focus more on the game.  I don’t have to chitchat, don’t have to get up and get food or beer for anyone; I can simply watch the game.  Wholeheartedly.

Doing so causes one to become inexplicably introspective… to be alone with his/her thoughts… to flounder in the ethos that is the grandest game on earth.

And this is what I learned:

Will-Call Kiosks Should Be Open to Those Who Bought WILL-CALL Tickets:
The supposed perk of buying your tickets ahead time is that you don’t have to stand in line with thousands of sweaty, unprepared, drunk Tiger fans.  I get to the game early so I can take in the sights, smells, women… to mentally prepare for the magic not to stand in line for 45 minutes.  So, White Sox Ticket Sales Operations Manager: please turn the Ticketmaster kiosks back on.

Everybody Still Hates Magglio Ordonez:

The greatest player who never was while wearing a White Sox jersey, Maggs definitely brings out the boo-birds like no one else.  Oh-ee-oh… Maaaaaa-gli-o!  Oh-ee-oh… Hope he has security at his hotel (if you want to know what hotel he’s staying in, email me ;-)

If You Show Up to a Sox Game in 2008 Wearing an Albert Belle, Ray Durham or Sammy Sosa Jersey, You Are NOT Cool:
Seriously, folks.  Let’s be real.  And no, a Scott Podsednik jersey is not acceptable either.  You want a sure thing?  Go for a Hall of Famer or a retired jersey.  Baines, Fisk, Minoso, Aparicio.  Heck, go for Dye or Jenks right now (in 2008), but buyer beware

Ken Griffey, Jr. Looks Great in Black Pinstripes:
This photo isn’t the best — that’s what you get for sitting in the upper deck — but trust me.  The man looked dapper as dapper could be in his new duds.  And the crowd welcomed him with an unconditional electric love.  It was something I’ll always remember.  It was truly a special moment.

whitesox.tigers.8.5.08 006.jpg

U.S. Cellular Should Be More Careful With It’s Ad Campaign Slogans:
“U.S. Cellular: Believe in something better”

Yeah, I do.  It’s called Verizon.

Just Because I Go to the Game by Myself Doesn’t Mean I Want to Listen to the D-Bag Behind Me Lie to His Girlfriend All Night Long:

“Yeah, so I know Minnie Minoso. He’s a good friend of my dad’s. Yeah. We go way back. You heard of Frank Thomas? Yeah, I have his personal cell phone number. Yeah, but it’s in my other phone so yeah… and well, I mean, I know Pudge but he doesn’t like to be bothered so I try not to call him unless it’s important…”

Yeah, sure.  You know Minoso, Thomas and Carlton “Pudge” Fisk and yet you’re sitting behind me in the 528 section?  Yeah, sure, that’ll get you laid.

Yes, the T-Shirt-Throwing Promotion Girl Looks Hot on the Outside, but Inside She’s the Devil:

whitesox.tigers.8.5.08 007.jpg
Sometimes the truth only comes out in pictures, my friends.

The Battery of Buehrle & Pierzynski Never Before Looked So Golden:

whitesox.tigers.8.5.08 012.jpg

Contrary to Popular Belief, the Tigers Still Su<k:
That Kyle Farnsworth trade has turned out to be beneficial for every team in the Major Leagues except the Tigers.  Grrrr.

…and finally…

Good Things Do Come to Those Who Wait:
After 13 innings, a hoarse voice and cottonmouth, I decided to leave.  Of course, in the 14th, Swish won it with a walk-off homer and now I hate myself.

But hey, at least I learned something.

Don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.

Peace,

Jeffy

Allison Stokke & Colby Rasmus Will Be Missed… Roger Clemens? Not So Much

Allison.Stokke.jpgFinally, there is something to distract me from  the escalating woes of St. Louis’ bullpen, the blooming ERA of the White Sox pitching staff and the rumor mill officially known as Veepstakes!.  Yes, dear readers, it is time for another Olympiad.  The story lines are plenty, but first and foremost my focus will be on whether or not the Chinese follow through on their promise to change the weather to their specifications.  They have made great strides in weather modification (I heard the North Koreans gave them a hand with the necessary plutonium) so I really look forward to seeing them turn off the rain and turn on the sunlight.  I am also curious to see how successful they are in duping athletes into thinking that the ominous, smoky, gray haze really is just fog and not smog like the big bad foreign devils claim.  And of course, we all look forward to watching sappy melodrama after sappy melodrama, narrated by Bob Costas, featuring Olympians who overcame war, severed limbs and mange to compete on the world’s stage.

Interesting as the above may be, still, as a proud US American, I must say that the two main story lines I looked forward to the most will not be present in Beijing.  And this, dear readers, makes me sad.

Because ever since Deadspin made her an internet sensation, I have long dreamed to watch California pole-vaulting vixen Allison Stokke turn multicultural heads.  When I found out she didn’t make the USA team, I was crushed.  In my depressed stupor, I chugged a 40 oz., plucked out a few of my eyebrows, and drunk-dialed everyone I knew. 

No one answered the phone.

If you’re one of those people unfamiliar with the greatness that is Allison, you don’t need to know much.  These pictures will provide all the necessary information:

allison stokke 2.jpgThumbnail image for Allison.stokke 3.jpg
Thumbnail image for allison-stokke 4.jpgallison.stokke 5.jpg
colby.rasmus.jpgBesides Ms. Stokke, the presence of St. Louis Cardinal top-prospet Colby Rasmus will also be missed.  Touted as the ‘next big thing’ in the Cardinals farm system, I have been ravenous to watch him play.  With a measly .249 average and just 11 homeruns in 329 at-bats, I know he hasn’t had quite the year everyone expected him to at Triple-A Memphis, but there’s no telling what putting on the Red, White & Blue uni could do to a player.  Unfortunately, a leg injury will keep him from making the trip so I will be left to watch Davey Johnson manage the likes of Gronkiewicz, LaHair, Segovia and Bacsik — very US American-like names that I’ve never heard before.

Roger Clemens 2.jpgOf course, there will be one big name I’m glad I won’t have to see play, whine, cry, shoot-up, whatever and that is Roger Clemens.  There was some hinting that he might make a run at pitching for Team USA and all I can say is that I am very pleased that general manager Bob Watson quickly dismissed any potential shenanigans involving Mr. Clemens.  After the Marion Jones fiasco, the last thing US America needs is to have another steroid scandal — especially one involving the most detractive PED user this side of the Atlantic.

chewbacca.jpgThe decision to keep Clemens at home with his underaged and/or married love affairs was elementary my dear Bob Watson and I thank you for making it.  In fact, I, and the rest of US America, applaud you for it.  That being said, I don’t quite agree with your hasty acquisition of Chewbacca for the starting pitching rotation.  His fastball is a little weak and I’m not so sure he’s from our country — or planet for that matter.  Did you check his birth certificate?

Don’t hate me ‘cuz I ask the tough questions, Watson, and don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.

U-S-A, U-S-A, U-S-A!

Jeffy

Russian Roulette

deer hunter.jpgJason Isringhausen.  Ryan Franklin.  Ron Villone.  Kyle McClellan. 

Spin the chamber.  Pull the trigger.  See who you get.

russ.springer.jpgOn Sunday night, you got Russ Springer in the 8th inning.  You also got the rocket-like go-ahead homerun Shane Victorino catapulted off the aging journeyman reliever, which ruined a splendid starting performance by Todd Wellemeyer.

So it’s the same old story in St. Louis.

The bullpen is about as reliable as GW Bush is eloquent and the Cardinals have done a wonderful job of losing tight ballgames all season long because no one in the pen has been able to close the deal.  No one instills fear.  No one throws better than my grandma.

While John Mozeliak looks more and more like Ann Coulter, the Cardinals look more and more like a rollover ballclub that realistically can’t compete with the rest of the division, league, sport.

Dear readers, the dreaded paradigm shift seems to have begun.  Don’t adjust your monitor; what you are witnessing is real.  It appears that the Cardinals of today are not the Cardinals of yesterday.  They went from a heady go-get-em front office to a sit back and pray for the best front office in just one GM switch; and I’m afraid that in baseball, that philosophy doesn’t ever work.

Look at the Royals.

I have gone to great lengths to adequately describe — with videos and pictures — the extreme pain and anguish involved in watching the Cardinals try to hold a lead late in the game.  Presently, I feel that I am at a loss for expression.  How can I go any lower?

I’m afraid I can’t.  But I am an US American and US Americans don’t give up.  We never give up, even when a bitter, out-of-touch GOP presumptive nominee fails to realize that he received donations from a prominent hotelier who just so happened to sire the very vixen said nominee compared his opponent to in a scrupulous attack ad meant to instill psychological distrust among the mass of US Americans.  No, we don’t give up in the face of such abuses of power, and we won’t give up in the fight against mediocrity.  

To prove that this calloused plight is real, I recently started the Bring Bruce Sutter Out of Retirement Campaign.  While I go door to door to bring back Bruce, I also arranged for Dave LaRoche to school the Cardinals bullpen on the finer points of the Eephus pitch exhibited here:

It might not seem like much, but it’s more comforting than TLR and Dunc spinning the chamber and hoping they don’t get their brains blown out.  Of course, the optimist in me realizes that things could always be worse…

We could be the Tigers after all.

Don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.

Peace,

Jeffy

On Gift Horses, Mouths and Looking Therein

As is true of any East-Coast liberal elite (born, transplanted or otherwise), I love the finer things in life. Wine tasting, Sunday brunch and, of course, Jon Stewart. Despite the fact that he is an unabashed Mets fan and supporter of all things New Jersey, I still believe there is no finer news source on American television. That’s why I watched with interest as he touched on a topic that my friend, Mr. Lung, recently brought up.

http://origin.www.thedailyshow.com/sitewide/video_player/view/default/swf.jhtml

 

Watching this kind of reminded me of RSBS‘s good friend, Manny Ramirez, and the events that led up to his “transfer” to the Los Angeles Dodgers of Los Angeles. I mean, you want to talk about someone taking a crap on the people paying his bills, Manny would have to be right up there. He’s far from the worst and at least with Manny we kind of expect it. After all, there is a reason that the phrase “Manny being Manny” has become accepted in the baseball lexicon.

However, although other players may not have the chutzpah to come right out and say the same things as him, they usually find a way to show their true feelings (right along with their true colors).

For instance, when Kyle Farnsworth found out last week he was being traded from the Yankees to the Tigers, he cried. Yes, a grown man making millions of dollars a year cried like a little baby because he had to move from the Big Apple to the post-apocalyptic wasteland that is Detroit. I can understand being upset but crying? C’mon man. Have a little pride. I’ve been pretty up front about my distaste for Mr. Farnsworth but even I expected better than that.

Anyway, I’m sure there are even better examples out there (aside from the obvious Latrell Sprewell and Shawn Chacon) but I’ll leave them for our intrepid readers and the always watchful Mr. Lung.

-A

The Filibuster

So, Manny is a Dodger? The entire world was sure he was heading
south but now he has joined an already cramped outfield in L.A. And, as if that wasn’t enough, he has joined Joe Torre and Nomar out there! The
question is, will Manny being Manny fly in Tinseltown and can you think of
any other stranger storylines in the last few years?

– Allen
                                                                                     

mannyRamirez.silohuette.jpgAh, yes, the infamous Manny-being-Manny question.  Will it fly?  Will he be accepted by his new manager and teammates?  To find out, I shook my Magic 8 Ball and it replied: “All signs point to yes”.

But I already knew that to be the answer.

Admittedly, Manny Ramirez looks quite odd in Dodger blue; but I have to remind myself, Manny Ramirez looks odd in any uniform.  He is an absolute nutcase reminiscent of one Space Man Bill Lee — an individual who goes out of his way to be quirky, weird, individualistic.  I think Manny is inherently incapable of being anything other than an escalating characterization of himself.

And the fans love it — always have.  That is why, as the years go by, his antics become more and more documented, loved, embraced.  This is the man who forgot to cash a million dollar check that the Indians wrote him for his services because he didn’t have time to go to the bank.  This is the man who lolly-gags in left field and is revered for it.  This is the man who David Ortiz labeled as: “One crazy mother-(bleep)”.

Will it be weird seeing him next to Joe Torre and Nomar Garciaparra in the dugout?  Sure.  Will it be weird seeing Manny sitting next to anyone in the dugout?  Absolutely.  The man is a magnet for oddity — from high-fiving fans while making a play to writing signs expressing his desire to move to Green Bay, anything Manny does is just plain weird.  Because of this, I think he is a perfect fit for the Dodgers and their organization.

Having lived in L.A. for a stretch, I can vouch for the oddity of their fans.  Infamously, Dodger fans show up to the game late and leave early.  In their defense, yes, traffic is rough in L.A., but it wouldn’t take much to plan for such inconveniences so one could show up by first pitch.  And it’s sad to watch the mass exodus of fans heading for the freeway during the 7th inning stretch.  Such collective disregard comes off as arrogant — a stigma I feel covers all L.A. sports teams.  Like going to a Lakers game, it’s a place to be seen.

alyssa.milano.dodgers.jpgSo, given the mediocre-to-lukewarm state of Dodger fandom, will Manny being Manny fly in Tinseltown?  I don’t see why not.  They love Jeff Kent and he’s a complete ^sshole.  But to make sure, I decided to check in with the ultimate Dodger fan, the barometer for all things Dodger blue, the lovely, expressive, illuminating Alyssa Milano.  On her MLBlog, she wrote a nice piece on Manny, which clearly shows that they (Dodger fans) will accept whatever strange occurrences may come with his acquisition.  I only hope that there are plenty to speak of by the end of the year, because I don’t think Manny will be in Hollywood after the end of the season; the evil plottings of Scott Boras will see to that.

Strange a story as this is, is it really that strange when it’s all said and done?  No.  Not really.  Manny has been crying this same game for years; it was only a matter of time before it happened.  There have been stranger storylines this year:

I Used to Smoke Crack but Now I Smoke Fastballs: The Josh Hamilton Story

I Could’ve Tagged Two Guys Out at the Plate on the Same Play but Dropped the Ball: The Ramon Castro Story

I Threw Five Wild Pitches in a Playoff Game and Now I’m a Rock-Star Centerfielder: The Rick Ankiel Story

But no story has been stranger than this made-for-TV minor league drama in which an unsuspecting, cute ballgirl makes the play of a lifetime, giving the likes of Spider Man and Endy Chavez a run for their money:

Take it or leave it folks, just don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.

Peace,

Jeffy

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