October 2008

Grading on the Curve

With the imminent inception of the second round of baseball’s postseason, this marks our last opportunity to mourn the loss of the Cubs. Oops. That was a typo. What I meant to say was “mock the loss of the Cubs.” And for snarky mockery, there’s no better place to go than the deep, deep well that is Jon Stewart and the Daily Show.

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

I suppose I should feel bad for the Cubs in some way. Their loss only highlights what has become a cancer in both baseball and politics: the triumph of mediocrity.

Now, I’m not a strict constructionist when it comes to baseball and I don’t see any need for us to go back to the good ol’ days. But I do think there is something to be said for a time when the best team from each league met in the World Series. Do we really want to see the 8th best team in the NL, coming out of what is arguably the worst division in baseball, playing for a trip to the World Series? Probably not but there also weren’t many people who enjoyed watching the subpar Cardinals organization that won the World Series in 2006. Even this year’s Dodgers have one more win than that St. Louis team.

Mediocrity refuses to limit itself to our baseball stadiums, though. Recently it spilled into our political system with the rise of the charming and completely unqualified first-term governor from Alaska. Honestly, we expect these sort of shenanigans from the Democrats but the GOP? You’re the party of Lincoln, for chrissakes. Grading on a curve is fine in high school but we shouldn’t be setting the bar for a potential VP to the level where being able to complete a sentence is seen as an accomplishment.

It’s possible that I’m just a grumpy old man and really need to let this whole thing go. But as you and I both know, it’s not bloody likely. Call me an elitist, call me a snob but I think the greatest country in the world deserves to have the greatest leaders in the world. And that’s just as true on the baseball diamond as it is in the town square.

-A

Nailing Jell-O to the Wall

“You know, nailing down Sen. Obama’s various tax proposals is like nailing Jell-O to the wall.”
                                                          — Senator John McCain, October 7, 2008

jello.jpgYou know, hearing this line over and over again is like watching that drunk uncle of yours wet himself at the family picnic — you feel sorry for him but at the same time you sorta like the idea of him making a fool of himself.

That being said, let me get to the heart of what’s really bothering me: why must Jell-O, an otherwise innocently delicious treat, be dragged into this foray of US American politics where hubris meets sophism for a night of long, agonizing repetition?  Seriously, I want to know: what did Jell-O ever do to deserve such scrutiny?  Huh?  Can anyone answer me that!?!

Let’s look at the facts, shall we, dear readers?  Jell-O.  It’s sweet.  It’s sticky.  It’s jiggly.

It’s best when chilled.

It’s even better with vodka, in shot form.

And now it’s got me thinking…

If Obama’s tax proposals — which will offer we regular US American joes, who DON’T make $250,000 a year, a break while asking the wealthy to pitch in a bit more — is like nailing Jell-O to the wall, then nailing Jell-O to the wall sounds like something we all better learn how to do.  Pronto.

john mccain is intense.jpgI see what the senator from Arizona was trying to do here.  He was trying to hide his condescension with a sprinkling of cutesy cleverness.  I didn’t buy it.  As usual, he came across as an old, bitter man still damaged from W’s vicious assaults during the 2000 campaign who is completely out of touch with normalcy (here, normalcy indicates those millions of individuals who are struggling right now, including me).

Whilst my struggles (financial, social, mental) weigh heavily on my mind right now, luckily, I am still able to find solace during this special time of year: the MLB Playoffs.  Sure, the Cards didn’t make it, the White Sox blew it and the Cubs aren’t around to ridicule anymore.

But collectively, we, as US Americans have four fine representatives to distract us for the next couple of weeks and I think we all (Red States, Blue States, Purple States) can agree on that.  What’s more exciting than watching the youth movement in Tampa Bay battle the Boston Red Sox (aka The New Yankees)?  While I have been off and on with my predictions this season, I’m gonna jump on the Tampa Bay train (as opposed to the Jason Bay train) because let’s face it: we need change we can believe in, folks; and Red Sox fans have proven that no matter how good they are or how many championships they win, they will still have an energy-draining inferiority complex coupled with roughly a bazillion things to complain about.

The Senior Circuit also offers us an intense battle as we prepare to watch the Los Angeles Dodgers of Los Angeles fight against ‘dem phightin’ Philadelphia Phillies (Mr. Krause’s pick to click).  While I will admit my preference is certainly for the National League style of play, I have a strong feeling that this match-up is going to be a snoozer compared to the AL series.

In fact, I might just go as far as to say that, comparatively speaking, watching the NLCS will be like nailing Jell-O to the wall.

Good pitching always beats good hitting: Tampa Bay v. Dodgers in the finale.

Don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.

Peace,

Jeffy

Stay Tuned for a Special RSBS Event

McCain_Obama.jpgWith baseball’s furlough strikingly apparent this evening, RSBS presents a one-time, not to be missed, special event at 9PM tonight as Allen live-blogs the 2nd Presidential Debate. Now, we won’t promise it will be good. We won’t even promise it will be entertaining or coherent. But it will be live. Join us as we update throughout the evening, right here, after the jump.
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Death in the Second City

Death.jpgThe mood is still — silent.  Not a breath is taken without force.  Not a soul is able to find content under an otherwise brisk breeze, rejuvenating half-moon.  Yes, dear readers, the White Sox season is over and those who still have the ability to feel are holding back the tears, swallowing their emotions and drowning their sorrows at Jimbo’s right now.

But I couldn’t.

I have a hit blog to write.

And on this evening, with the mass exodus of black-clad Sox fans streaming out of U.S. Cellular field hand in hand, heads on shoulders, feet in mouths, my Southside neighborhood resembles a death train, complete with stunned silence peppered by the occasional Irish keeling.

If New York is the big apple, then Chicago is the big fat lady who takes up two seats on the crowded bus

ozzie-guillen-choke.jpgBecause that’s exactly what the Cubs and Sox both did for the playoffs this season: take up space that could have otherwise been used by a more formidable competitor.  And believe me when I say that I make that statement with the most loving of hearts for my neighborhood Sox.  I wanted nothing more than to see them continue on; but at the end of the day, the grinderball game came to a grinding halt.

So now we Chicagoans are left to ask ourselves: How ’bout ‘dem Bears?

Or: How ’bout ‘dem Dems?

Or: How ’bout ‘dem Hawks hockey?  Does anyone pay attention to hockey anymore?

The answer is: No.  Not if you have any dignity aren’t from Detroit… which reminds me that things could always be worse.  We could all be Tigers fans.

So go ahead Cub fans… hate me.  You already do anyway.  But don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right when I say the Second City is dead and we’re lying in the same ditch together.

Peace,

Jeffy

Early Christmas Present Delivered on the Southside

christmas-present.jpgAs long as teams like the Chicago White Sox continue to beat the odds, the Bee Gees will find comfort in knowing Stayin’ Alive will still get its fair share of plays.  Sunday’s win over the rambunctious Tampa Bay Rays served as yet another excuse to hear that awful song, but I admit, I wouldn’t mind hearing it a few more times given the circumstances.

Indeed, the guts and guile of the Southsiders’ grinderball game showed up — finally — after a pair of sleeper matches in South Florida.  And believe me.  We were watching.

And we were watching very closely.  With a keen eye focussing on the intricacies of this hard fought battle, we at RSBS noticed that the Sox may have gotten a little help from a certain obese, ruddy someone who normally only works one day a year.

Yes.  You guessed it.  Santa Claus is a Sox fan.

He was sitting behind home plate on the first base side.  Every time a lefthander came up to hit, visions of sugarplums danced in my head.  As a man who often thinks like an 8-year-old-child, I couldn’t help but snap this picture:

santa claus is a sox fan.jpgGo ahead, call me superstitious, call me crazy, call me Suzie… if ya believe, ya believe… and there ain’t no use in trying to change my mind.

We can only hope that jolly old St. Nick will stop by the Cell again on Monday… and while he’s at it, perhaps he could light a fire under the Obama campaign’s proverbial ^ss and get them to fight back against the lunacy of the GOP.  I know the DNC party line is to lose big, important, poignant elections like the Cubs lose playoff games… but haven’t we US Americans already lost enough?**

I know it’s only October, but I’m putting out cookies and milk tonight… just in case.

Don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.

Peace,

Jeffy

**If you happen to be a Cub fan (sorry?) then you know more about this sincere feeling of loss than anyone else on the planet.  Don’t worry.  I’ll have my opinion on the matter posted soon.  I’m just taking a day or two to let it all sink in.  That’s all I’ll need.  Unfortunately for you, it’s been 100 years and it’s still sinking in — nice and slow.

The Filibuster

The Lovable Losers, while accurately representing at least one of those monikers, managed to lose three straight NLDS games for the second year in a row. As good a team as they were on paper and throughout the season, is it safe to say that the “curse of the billy goat” is indeed a real phenomenon?

–Jeff
                                                                                      

I’ve seen and heard some pretty crazy things in my time. I have a friend who swears on his life that he saw the ghosts of three children in his room one night while we were both living in Africa. Personally, I had a snake in my house one day that a neighbor told me was the result of a curse. And you know what? I don’t doubt either one of those things. But if you try to tell me that the Cubs lost because of some long dead cloven-hoofed animal, well, I’ve got a bridge up in Brooklyn I wouldn’t mind selling you.

hillary_cubs2.jpgThe fact of the matter is, the Cubs just stunk. They couldn’t field the ball. They couldn’t hit. And they definitely couldn’t score runs. The real problem with the Cubs was not a curse. It was hubris. As you have mentioned several times, including the other day, the Cubs, along with the whole north side of Chicago, were sure that this was their year. It had been 100 years and they had the best team in the NL. What could possibly stand in their way? It was their turn, right? But, the Cubs suffered the same fate as Hillary Clinton. Entitlement is no substitute for elbow grease as both Mrs. Clinton and the Cubs discovered.

I want to get back to the idea of curses, though. Athletes and sports fans tend to be a superstitious lot and so the notion of a curse makes perfect sense in that context. Hell, I’ve been a Lions fan for years and if any team’s fans have the right to believe they’re cursed, the Lions’ sure do. But really, the Lions are just a terrible team with poor management. Curses are the easy way out.

Believing in curses is like believing in god. If it’s what gets you through the day and keeps you from chopping up someone on a bus, go for it. But the idea of some guy cursing a team because he couldn’t watch a game with his goat 60 years ago makes only slightly more sense than the idea of the entire world being made in 6 days, six thousand years ago by some omnipotent being with a split-personality disorder. Again, if you buy that I’m willing to throw in that bridge for only a few dollars more.
http://www.thedailyshow.com/sitewide/video_player/view/default/swf.jhtml

So here’s a short but sweet answer to your question: The Cubs lost because of hubris and curses are the “opiate” of the fans. And yes, it really is that simple.

-A

Rub a Dub Dub: Chicago Cubs = Chicago Flubs

chicago flubs.jpgI didn’t say it first.  No.  The Chicago Sun-Times did.

But it’s true nonetheless.

I would say I’m sorry, but I’m not, so I won’t; because when you jinx yourself by promoting a book touting that This Is the Year before you’ve even played a playoff game, boo your own players on a consistent basis and attempt to assault members of the opposing team with baseballs from the left field bleachers, you deserve to suffer again… and again… and again.

And you will.

Dear readers, you know I’m no dummy, so I won’t be like my oft intellectually-challenged cohort, Mr. Allen Krause, and say this series is over right now because it’s not and it won’t be until the Dodgers win that third game.  I know better than to count a team out before the games have been played, so I won’t; but, indeed, I must disclose the ecstatic nature of my psyche as I witness this ever-growing tension from the most obnoxious fan base is baseball. 

No other baseball team, no other group of fans, no other sports franchise knows how to jump the gun and get excited over absolutely nothing quite like those good old Northsiders.

And that’s why they deserve to find themselves looking like this:

sad cub fans.jpgRecently, my colleague, Mr. Krause, compared me to the vibrant, vivacious, viscous Gov. Sarah Palin.  While it’s easy to see how she and I may have a few things in common (i.e. being a smart dresser, turning heads wherever I go, saying things that some would consider ludicrous like the White Sox might just bounce back and win the World Series) our most fundamental commonality is probably the simple fact that people hate us. 

Look folks, it’s easy for the Cub nation to hate me (and believe me, they do) but unlike hating Sarah Palin, you can’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.

Peace,

Jeffy

Debateulousness

20080928_bidenpalin.jpgIn the spirit of the times, I’d like to further explore the art of analogy by combining three apparently disparate notions into one explosive idea. As we all know by now, tonight brings us the first and only Vice Presidential debate of the season. And although both candidates were brought onto their respective teams for very specific reasons, they also both have an unerring knack for saying the wrong thing at the wrong time.

In many ways, the VP candidates mirror my own experiences as well as those of my friend and co-writer, Mr. Lung. You see, when it comes down to it, I’m Joe Biden and my friend is the very living, breathing embodiment of Sarah Palin.

Now, I know what you’re going to say. And yes, it’s true. Jeff is the cute one. But there’s more to life than that. There’s also style, substance and, of course, the swimsuit contest:

The situation becomes even more eery when you look at the similarities between the prospective VPs and the teams that Jeff and I support. Gov. Palin comes from a middle of nowhere town that no one really cares about and the same can be said of the Cardinals. Sen. Biden hails from a once great rust belt city (Scranton, PA) that, like Detroit (the team and the city), has fallen on hard times. The Cardinals deck themselves out in red, the color of the GOP, while the Tigers are happiest in blue, a Democratic color that really brings out Biden’s eyes.

The most important question we have to face, though, is whether this matchup will end up like the 2006 World Series where the Tigers’ gaffes cost them the Series (very possible when it comes to Biden) or is this like the 2007 and 2008 regular season when the Tigers manhandled the Cards (think Palin with Katie Couric)? There’s only one way to find out and that’s by tuning in at 9EDT tonight. Go Biden (Tigers, me)!

-A 

Allen’s Post-Partisan Playoff Preview

bush_firstpitch_2008.jpgIn an effort to better equip our readers for the MLB postseason, we here at RSBS want to take this opportunity to break it down along lines we understand better.

Just like the primaries and the general election, baseball also has its own storylines. There are the fairy tale Rays, the quietly impressive Angels, the never-say-die Brewers and those loveable losers themselves, the Cubs. However, sometimes these stories and those from the political arena bear an uncanny resemblance to each other.

If you’re wondering where I’m going with this, you don’t have to wait any longer. Here it is. The first, quadrennial RSBS Presidency Postseason!

American League:
GOPElephant.jpgWe start with the new kids on the block. Both the GOP and the AL came into existence a while after their older siblings but they both became powerhouses rather quickly. Quite frankly, both the Republicans and the free-swinging American Leaguers have also been putting their older brethren to shame in recent years. The AL’s Ronald Reagan, the New York Yankees, can’t be with us this year but we still pay our respects to those who try to carry the pennant.

When it comes to this year’s participants, it only makes sense to start in Abraham Lincoln’s home state and look at the Chicago White Sox. Unfortunately, the White Stockings are sadly reminiscent of the prescient yet unappreciated Ron Paul. They fight and they fight, just to even get into the dance but even though they seem to have the right pieces, it just ain’t gonna’ happen. No one appreciates them but that’s how these brutal games work.

Mike Huckabee and the Tampa Bay Devil Rays have to be two of the most compelling stories of the year. They’re fresh, they’re chock-full of talent, they lost a ton of weight and wrote a book about it. But even though they make a great run at it and continue to push despite knowing they’ve already lost, the fact of the matter is that they, well, lose. Put them down for the semis but that’s where the story ends.

On paper the Los Angeles Angels (of Anaheim) have to be the most impressive team, eerily evocative of their doppleganger, Mitt Romney. They have everything going for them from the best closer in baseball to really great hair. But looking good on paper doesn’t always translate to real world success. Early defeat dooms both and they’ll look back and wonder how it happened.

Which leaves us with the soon-to-be AL champion Boston Red Sox. A while ago, the Red Sox just couldn’t put it all together. There was Bill Buckner, the epic 2003 failure against the Yankees and a basic inability to get things done. Basically, they were circa 2000 John McCain. But similar to the phoenix that was the 2004 Red Sox, McCain has come soaring back in 2008. As soon as you count either one of them out you’re going to be in a whole world of hurt. And that’s why, just like McCain, the Red Sox will advance to the final.

National League:
DemDonkey.jpgThe NL, like the Democrats, is an enigma. They seem to have the talent, the flair, the running game but they just can’t put all the pieces together. Yeah, there are flukes like the Marlins, the Cardinals and Jimmy Carter. And every once in a while a real dynasty (the old Cincinnatti Reds, Bill Clinton) comes along. But that’s about as rare as a lump of steak tartare. So, how do the perennial also-rans figure in this year?

Just like her team, the Chicago Cubs, Hillary Clinton appeared to have everything going for her. The large war-chest, the aura of inevitability. And just like Hillary, I expect the Cubs to make it to the semifinals. However, that’s where it ends for both of them. It’s a nice story but it just won’t cut it.

Meanwhile, the Milwaukee Brewers bear an uncanny resemblance to Mike Gravel. They don’t really seem to know what’s going on, no one is quite sure what they’re doing here and most everyone just wants them to leave. As they go quietly into the night, people will ask themselves if that really happened. Yeah, it did but don’t worry about it.

On the opposite end of America, from a cosmopolitan megalopolis where $400 haircuts are the norm, come the Los Angeles Dodgers, the soulmate of John Edwards. Yep, they may have come from humble roots but you’re not kidding anyone these days. The question is, will Alyssa Milano turn out to be the Dodgers’ Rielle Hunter? Either way, neither the Dodgers or Mr. Edwards are going to stick around long enough for us to find out.

And that brings us to the Philadelphia Phillies. Yep, that’s right. Long-suffering Philadelphia is our Barack Obama, a story that tells us that, yes, we can. Trust me, I didn’t see it coming anymore than you did but baseball, like politics, is a funny game. They both look kind of different (Obama, in fact, may have gotten his ears from the Phillie Phanatic) and neither one of them would be the obvious pick but somehow they both make it through and remain standing in the end.

World Series:
However, all of this only brings us to the final act. And this one is a doozy. The heir apparent to the fortunes of the AL East against a former also-ran from the NL East. Like McCain and Obama, both teams have the pedigree to be crowned the champions but it is a contest and, like the Higlander, there can be only one.

 So, how does it end, you’re probably asking? Well, although I don’t expect either McCain or the Red Sox to lose their heads (HA HA HA), this is the year of the “How’d they get there?” scrappers. That’s right. Get excited Philadelphia! C’mon and say it with me now: Yes, We Can!

-A

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