March 2009

The Abyss, Staring Back

Nietzsche_Family_Circus.jpgI enjoyed Tropic Thunder. I understand why some people boycotted seeing it and I appreciate their arguments but I also think the movie made a valid point about the treatment of the mentally retarded in popular entertainment. Maybe that’s why I was a little taken aback this past week when President Obama made a Special Olympics joke on The Tonight Show. It wasn’t so much that he made the joke because, let’s be honest, most of us have probably made a Special Olympics joke at some point in our lives. I know I have. But as a friend once told me, “It’s not really fair to make jokes at the expense of a group that can’t defend itself.” And it’s not what I expected from this President.

But I was surprised that I experienced an eerily similar feeling yesterday when I checked in at RSBS and read:

As if facing Team Japan in the World Baseball Classic’s upcoming
semifinals isn’t enough pressure on the already limping USA squad…There is much more to fear… for example: Rape!  Dear readers, Ted Bundy, Mike Tyson, Kobe Bryant… these guys ain’t got
nuthin’ on the Japanese
.

Now, I’m not disputing my friend and colleague’s point about the horrific events that took place in Nanking. As a self-confessed sino-phile, I’m sure he is eminently qualified to talk about this tragedy. Beyond that, the historical record tells us that Japanese troops were indeed responsible for those atrocities. But to imply that the current Japanese national baseball team has any connection to that event seems like fear-mongering at best and outright xenophobia at worst.

There are legitimate reasons to fear the Japanese. The US team has been decimated by injuries. The Japanese took apart an excellent Cuban team. And Team USA’s in-game management has been mediocre at best. But there is no reason to resort to tired stereotypes when pointing out the Americans’ impending doom.

Now, I’m sure that no offense was intended and that my co-author was merely attempting to use his post as a satrirical parody of turn of the 20th Century “Yellow Journalism” in America. But, perhaps my friend Jeffy should be mindful of Little Jeffy’s prescient channeling of Friedrich Nietzsche as illustrated above. And Jeffy, don’t hate him ‘cuz he’s right.

-A

Why We Should Fear the Japanese

As if facing Team Japan in the World Baseball Classic’s upcoming semifinals isn’t enough pressure on the already limping USA squad, once the laundry list of abominable possibilities finally settles in, we US Americans could be in big trouble.

Nevermind the impeccable team consciousness so calculated and so perfected by Team Japan during international competition.  Nevermind Team Japan’s quiet gamesmanship deftly defining and defending their world-class status.  Nevermind Dice-K and Darvish.  There is much more to fear… for example:

rape of nanking.jpgRape!  Dear readers, Ted Bundy, Mike Tyson, Kobe Bryant… these guys ain’t got nuthin’ on the Japanese.  Don’t believe me?  Know this: from December 1937 to February 1938, the Japanese raped an entire city!  The then southern stronghold of China, Nanjing (aka Nanking), was completely decimated by the Japanese in a not-so-quiet storm of raging pillage quite akin to the stomping Chris Brown gave Rihanna not too long ago.

If that isn’t reason enough to fear the Japanese, how about this?

Ichiro suzuki running.jpgNot only do they combine situational hitting with speed, they are also known to make sure the opposite clubhouse spread is spiked with magic mushrooms, leaving the competition confused in a burst of beguiling blur.

Yet nothing should invoke more fear in the hearts of Americans than the Japanese group mind.  To illustrate, here’s a clip of Team Japan’s batting practice:

They may not be a hit on Broadway (yet), but the Japanese sure do know how to rhythmically scare the bejesus out of any and all opponents willing to scrap.

US Americans, let us unite!  Persevere!  And conquer!

Don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.

Peace,

Jeffy

paul lebowitz.jpgP.S.  Dear readers, if you haven’t already, make sure you purchase the Prince of New York Paul Lebowitz’s 2009 Baseball Guide.  You can get it *here* and you should get it soon.  It is your one-stop shop for all things 2009 MLB and it has magical powers (and by “magical powers” I mean “table of contents”).  Believe me, this dude knows what he’s talking about.  He’s the clean, charming, polite version of Jose Canseco.

On the real.

(Ichiro blur photo courtesy of Donald Miralle/Getty Images)

Vote for RSBS!

Our matchup is going on now over at The Max blog. Stop by and vote in the next few hours.

-Jeff and Allen

Fortnightly Cravings

colonel_sanders_statue.jpgThe WBC has seen an outpouring of international baseball love that seems to be carrying over into transnational baseball interactions. For instance, within the past week, a Japanese baseball team found the drowned statue of Colonel Sanders that had doomed it to playoff failure for the past 24 years and, in an act of selflessness, offered the bearded Kentuckian’s services to the Cubs. But the Cubs have supreme confidence that this really, finally is their year and have declined the offer.

Now, I’m not the most superstitious guy in the world but even I think that after a 100 year drought, maybe it’s time to try something, anything, in hopes that it will finally end the curse. When this is an accurate video representation of your past 100 seasons:

…can the filth stained statue of a recently de-bespectacled purveyor of 11 herbs and spices really make things any worse?

Instead, it appears that the Cubs will continue to rely on the combination of Old Style beer and frat boy loser-dom that has netted them so much success over the last century. Then again, the Colonel and his “finger-lickin’ good” chicken would probably spell disaster for Zambrano so maybe it is a good thing. I never trusted him anyway, with those “wee beady eyes.”

-A

Credits:
-Story and photo from Deadspin
-Video from The Daily Dish

Obama Falls to GOP Pressure, Poses As Tusken Raider; Oh, Yeah, and US America Wins!

ann coulter rush limbaugh bobby jindal.jpgThough I cannot necessarily prove this theory in conventional form, as an honest human being with an affinity for disclosure, I assure you that I have good reason to believe both Republican juggernauts Ann “She-Devil” Coulter and Rush “Just Call Me Jabba” Limbaugh were hunched over their television sets last night vehemently rooting against Team USA, praying to their hypocritical conservative god that Team Puerto Rico would find a way to quell the dreams and aspirations of US Americans worldwide.

It didn’t work.

Jimmy Rollins and David Wright became the baseball versions of Barack Obama and Joe Biden — once bitter rivals who put aside their differences, bridged the gap and brought home a win when it mattered the most.

Get over it.

That goes for my colleague, Mr. Allen Krause as well.  Because we all know that Mr. Krause would rather see Rollins and Wright duke out that “choke-fest” moniker on the field — the last man standing to be crowned the argument’s winner; but if we US Americans are really about anything, we are about coming together in times of need, when it matters most.

Unless you are a Republican, of course.

And though Obama has done a fine job of staying the course early on in his presidency, it appears he finally gave in and enlightened the snickering skeptics and delinquent ditto-heads by unintentionally posing as a Tusken Raider for the cameras:

obama tusken raider.jpgTusken Raider.jpg
This unfortunate photographic gaffe comes on the heels of an equally embarrassing egregious error regarding the double-talk surrounding those suspiciously infuriating AIG bonuses paid out to the very individuals responsible for schmucking the company’s total worth in the first place.

Are the Dems backpedaling on their original outcries?

Probably.

Does this reflect poorly on the majority administration?

More harm than good, I would say.

Should we blindly follow the GOP sideshow leaders and trust that malcontent dissension is the social bonding agent of the future?

Hell no.

Rollins and Wright.  Braun and Lilly.  Jeter and Youk.

There is a time and place to battle it out, folks.  But when enemy minds come through together in the clutchThat, my friends, is what makes the United States of America the greatest country on earth.

Ah… If only politics would mirror baseball.

Don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.

Peace,

Jeffy

A Snake in the Grass?

venezuela_tigers.jpgThere is no Irish in baseball. Well, unless you include Jeff Samardzija, formerly of the Fightin’ Irish from Notre Dame. But today is a good day so I don’t want to talk about that. No, today is a day when we celebrate the completely fabricated story of St. Patrick ridding the Emerald Isle of snakes. However, apparently there are snakes aplenty within the comfy confines of the World Baseball Classic.

Much attention has been focused over the past few days on the Venezuelan fans booing of Magglio Ordonez. Now, when you seem to have become the lapdog of old friend of RSBS, Hugo Chavez and you are playing in front of a bunch of people who left Venezuela because of Hugo Chavez, well, it makes sense that something has to give. And so far that something has been any residual love for Maggs.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all about booing hated players. My brothers have made a sport of riling opposing outfielders from the cheap seats in left field and I’ve been known to throw a few choice words the way of batters during tight softball games. But the thing those people have in common is that they play for the opposing team. When you have become a pariah to even your own fans, it might be time to rethink your actions.

I’ll admit, I hated Maggs, too, but only when he was on the White Sox. Once he joined the Tigers and especially after that killer blast against the A’s that sent the Tigers to the 2006 World Series, he could do no wrong. But supporting the man who has managed to turn his capital city into the murder capital of the world? That might not have been the best choice.

Against Puerto Rico, some of the hatred seemed to subside and in a tight game, the Venezuelan fans were cheering every hit their team could muster. But pity the man if he pulls a Buckner or manages to strike out at an inopportune moment. Maggs, you’re on notice.

-A

RSBS TV: 2009 AL West Preview

Produced, shot and edited by Atonal Studios.

Special thanks to Theo Roll.

California knows how to party. Texas and Washington? Jesus and rain. How did these teams end up in the same division anyway?

(For best playback results, watch in High Quality)

- – – –

And don’t forget to check in regularly over at The Max blog to vote in their ongoing March Madness tournament pitting the top 32 MLB fan blogs against each other.

The Filibuster

Africa_Baseball.JPGSo far the 2009 World Baseball Classic has provided plenty of
nail-biting drama, including upsets by the Netherlands, Italy and
Australia, proving the magnitude of baseball’s global potential.  In
recent years the NBA has had success in sending the message of its game
worldwide and to some degree, so has the NFL.  Realistically speaking,
does baseball have a shot at becoming a truly universal sport and is it
premature to think that little kids in London might some day replace
the soccer ball with a baseball?

– Jeff

____________________________________________

In many ways the WBC is like any other tournament. You get your share of upsets and surprises and there’s always some sort of Cinderella story. But, at the end of the day, the teams that are supposed to win usually do. Look at the run the Americans made in this year’s Classic, edging out Canada with some late inning heroics and treating Venezuela like Hugo Chavez treats the rule of law. But, when it came down to it. They faltered against Venezuela the second time around and then embarrassed themselves against Puerto Rico. The same thing is going to happen to the Netherlands and other pretenders.

Here’s the thing, though. Calling this exhibition the World Baseball Classic is a misnomer at best and an outright lie at worst. Team Italy? A bunch of American baseball players who happen to have Italian last names. Same thing with with the Dutch. Actual baseball does not exist on the European continent nor does it have any role in the sporting lives of millions of Africans and billions of Indians (with the exception of Rinku and Dinesh). Even in the Americas, baseball is far from being the most popular sport and pales in significance to soccer. In its own birthplace, the USA, baseball comes in third behind the NBA and the NFL in terms of popularity.

So, what are its chances of becoming a truly worldwide phenomenon? Somewhere between slim and none and slim is on his way out of the building. There are really two issues here and they happen to be two sides of the same coin.

Number one is the worldwide popularity of soccer and the ease of entry into playing the game. Stuff a sock with some rags and you’ve got yourself a makeshift soccer ball. Offsides can be a somewhat difficult concept at first but the rules are relatively straightforward. If you can get the ball into the goal, you score. It’s that easy. And you can play on a dirt field, the middle of the street or even indoors. Realistically, it’s hard to say that more than half the world’s population can be wrong.

By contrast, baseball is a prohibitively expensive sport, especially when you’re living on less than 2 dollars a day like a majority of the world. At the least, you need a glove, a bat and a ball but none of these are easy to come by. You need a space that’s big enough in which to play and you need enough people to field a couple teams. Once you add in the intricacies of the rulebook and the relative slowness in the speed of play, well, I think it’s safe to say that baseball’s spread has been contained.

Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to see the popularity of baseball expand. I think it’s a wonderful way for the US to conduct soft diplomacy. And I think it’s one of the few areas in which we’ve had constructive interaction with Latin America. But, I don’t think it’s very realistic to think it will happen. The competition is too stiff and the barriers to entry are too high.

This isn’t to say that the WBC has no place and that we should give up. It’s great that every few years different countries get a chance to show their skills and it’s particularly fun to see the Cubans emerge from their isolation. But a tri-yearly celebration of international baseball is not going to overcome the incredible headstart that soccer holds, nor is it going to make it possible for a poor kid in Port-au-Prince to get a glove and go play catch with his friends. Unfortunately, that is where the warm fuzzies of the WBC run smack into the cold, hard truths of real life.

-A

Recession, Recede!

Don’t look now, folks, but with less than a month to go, the Major League Baseball season is right around the corner, ready to pounce and ready to perhaps take your wallet:

baseball statue.jpgAnd while some speculate that the current economic crisis will severely hinder and affect baseball as well as the game’s overall attendance, I like to think that baseball will be just the thing that kicks us all in the collective ^ss and gets our minds thinking about things other than plummeting stocks and dwindling 401Ks. 

The good news is: we are already seeing signs that point to positive attendance numbers. 

The bad news is: people are really hurting.

I know it.  You know it.  We can’t turn on the evening news anymore without being fear-mongered to death by stock prices horrifically reminiscent of Jason Voorhees, Freddy Kruger and Dick Cheney.  Such scare tactics seem more responsible for soft markets and second-guessing investors than anything else.  We are being bombarded by negativity!

So I can’t help but ask: Isn’t the state of the economy more of an attitude than it is a tangible barometer for life?  Can we not convince ourselves that everything will be okay, that our bank accounts will be okay, that the Cardinals might make the post-season?

Despite King Bud’s ominous foreshadowing, the fact remains: we Joe Six-Pack US Americans (and some Canadians) need baseball.  We need to have that summer escape, experience that trite tranquility, find that bubbly beer-man.  Without it, we would be lost.  Believe me.  I remember 1994.

And it almost killed me.

Sure, we will all have to make sacrifices.  In fact, I have already begun instituting a frugal fiscal program that will eventually afford me the ability to go to the ballpark this season:

Instead of Johnnie Walker Black, I’ll drink Johnnie Walker Red.

Instead of Giordano’s, I’ll eat Little Caesars.

Instead of going to Kelly Clarkson concerts, I’ll watch American Idol Rewind.

And boom!

Simple as that, I have a few extra dollars to blow on $5 hot dogs and and $7 Old Styles.

But I will be happy… and that’s the most important thing.

Don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.

Peace,

Jeffy

(Image courtesy of these guys)

Cub Slingin’

richard simmons cub fan.jpg

During a recent social outing, a Cub fan friend of mine (yeah, I know; I ain’t perfect, folks) mentioned how much he enjoyed RSBS now that I had seemingly lightened my unadulterated bashing and verbal vexing toward his beloved Northside team.

Upon reflection, I realized that I had indeed let my guard down… and noted that a good old Cub ego squashing was well overdue.

So in the confounded interests of being hack — carefully considering the fact that hack sells — I reluctantly invoke my inner Jeff Foxworthy in order to remind Cub fans just who they really are.  

I declare:

  • If you pop your collar, skip class and hang out at John Barleycorn with a pocketful of GHB, you might be a Cub fan.
  • If you remind Southsiders about the 1919 Black Sox scandal at least once a day, you might be a Cub fan.
  • If you think Wrigley Field is anything other than a dilapidated craphole with more falling parts than Amy Winehouse after happy hour, you might be a Cub fan.
  • If you consider urinal trough diving an official sport, you might be a Cub fan.
  • If you do not work yet can afford season tickets, you might be a Cub fan.
  • If you are my brother-in-law and you made a baby with my sister, you might be a Cub fan (thanks a lot, Patrick, for ruining the Cardinal blood line).
  • If you think the word “choke” only applies to baseball teams and has absolutely no physiological connotation at all, you might be a Cub fan.
  • If you think a baseball game is just an excuse to shotgun Old Styles and annoy anyone within ten feet, you might be a Cub fan.
  • If you think Magellan is the name of a shoe insert, you might be a Cub fan.
  • If your team’s biggest fan is an impeached corrupt politician with Lego hair, you might be a Cub fan.

And of course, the most obvious sign can only be this:

If you sincerely hate my guts, you must be a Cub fan.

Go ahead and hate.

Just don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.

Peace,

Jeffy

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 66 other followers