June 2009

A Series of Serious Non Sequiturs

thinking_man.jpgBecause sometimes the world just doesn’t turn in a logical direction…

Tragically, Six Shot Dead in Chicago Over the Weekend…
…Cub fans were quick to blame the absences of a healthy Mark Prior and Kerry Wood.

Guy Tells Me I Should Read His Blog About His Fantasy Baseball Team Because “It’s Awesome”…
…said guy subsequently found not to have been laid since 1998.

Cardinals Make Deal to Land Mark DeRosa…
…he ain’t Matt Holliday; but even Matt Holliday ain’t Matt Holiday anymore.  I like this move, if for no other reason than the fact that it has caused mass hysteria for Cub fans who regret seeing him go to make room for the $30 million .232 hitting Milton Bradley.

Washington Nationals Designate Kip Wells for Assignment…

…because if Dave Duncan couldn’t fix him, no one can (nor cares to)?

Coup Overthrows Honduran President Manuel Zelaya…
…thus proving that the recipe for success in South America is violence… and dictatorship… and coffee.  Lots of coffee.

Cub Fan Heard Slamming White Sox Fan By Referencing the 1919 Black Sox Scandal, Again…

…same fan responsible for blaming six shooting deaths on the absences of a healthy Mark Prior and Kerry Wood.

MLB to Launch Streaming Video of Live In-Market Padres Games…

…this AMAZING feature comes just before you realize that a) the Padres su<k b) there are so many other, more exciting things to do in San Diego like Sea World, Chargers training camp and, of course, Mexico and c) Yes, David Eckstein is that short in real life.

Clint Hurdle Settling in as Analyst on the MLB Netowrk…

…even though his makeup gives him an orangish appearance on television, we shouldn’t focus on the fact that he was just fired by the Rockies, or that since his departure the Rockies have gone on a mad winning streak.  We should be watching Hurdle like we watch the ugly girl at the dance: with a bottle of Jack and a heart full of sympathy.

Republican Governor Mark Sanford Returns to the Office After Screwing Argentinian for 8 Whole Years…
…because apparently having bad taste is a prerequisite to running the state of South Carolina.

And finally…

Nick Green Doing A Great Job As Red Sox Shortstop…

…mostly because his name is not Julio Lugo.

Of course, Green would do a lot better job if he happened to be a healthy Mark Prior or Kerry Wood.

You know this.

So don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.

Peace,

Jeff

The Dog Days of June

interleague_logo.pngJune means two things: the heart of the blockbuster season in the nation’s movie theaters and interleague play in baseball. The big studios unleash their franchise players on a ravenous public while the American and National Leagues battle for supremacy. But, despite obvious cosmetic differences, the two things are not all that different.

By the time interleague play ends and the All-Star break rolls around, a lot of teams have already fallen out of contention. Does anyone really think that Cleveland is going to make a serious run at the pennant or that the Nationals are suddenly going to put it together and ride Stephen Strasburg into the World Series? Maybe they can play spoiler towards the end of the season but after you’ve passed interleague play, there’s not really much reason to watch them.

It’s kind of like the big blockbuster movies. Transformers II might not have much of a plot. Or a script. Or real acting. But it sure looks good on the big screen. Once it’s time has passed in the local cineplex, though, is there really any point to watching it? It’s not going to hang around for long. It’s there to make some money and get out.

And really that’s where we see the greatest similarity between the two. The money. Interleague play is a huge revenue generator for Major League Baseball. Mets and Yankees. Cubs and White Sox. Kansas City and…..well, maybe not KC. But there’s no doubt that MLB and the clubs are raking in the dough as a result of these matchups.

Just like the movie studios absolutely rake in the dough with their summer blockbusters. Sure, it costs a lot of money to make a new Spiderman movie but when it makes back twice as much as was spent, you can bet your *** they’re going to keep going back to the well on that one.

However, there’s one aspect of this whole thing that gives me some hope. Despite all the focus on the fanfare and hoopla surrounding the big releases and the marquee matchups, there are little things that slip through the cracks but go on to make all the difference. It can be a “My Big, Fat, Greek Wedding” that maneuvers around between the big boys and not only plays for awhile but also manages to make a lot of money and happily surprise people. Or it can be a so-so series that ends up having a much bigger impact later in the season. Do you really think that if the Yankees were to miss the playoffs by a game or two they won’t look back at that series with the Nationals and wonder what went wrong?

I guess that’s just one more reason why I love both baseball and movies. No matter how cynical I might become or how much I agonize over the state of the game or the state of the industry, there are always the little things that keep me coming back. Especially when it involves the Tigers.

-A

The Filibuster

As a born and bred resident of South Carolina, there isn’t a whole lot
to get excited about when it comes to baseball. The Braves suck, the
Nats suck. Really, we’re pretty limited when it comes to our options.
But here’s my question. If our governor, Mark Sanford, were a baseball
team, which team would he be and why?

Francis
Charleston, SC
__________________________________________

mark sanford.jpgBe not afraid, for the South Carolinian MLB plight has not gone unnoticed during the ostensibly offensive tenure of RSBS.  My sister lived there for a year and I remember her husband complaining that there wasn’t much of a buzz for the game at its highest level — that people got more excited about NCAA Gamecocks baseball than the Major League playoffs.  Look, I don’t blame anyone for not wanting to follow the Braves or the Nationals, as it is obvious that neither team has the “game” nor the “co<k” (proverbial as it may be) to be a bonafide winner.

That’s just the truth.

But let us focus on the crux of your question, Francis, which seems to key in on our special talent of personifying baseball entities with tangible political failures.  While this challenge may not seem as tantamount to society as our Modern Era All-Corrupt Baseball-Poltico Team, it certainly is as important in gauging the ever growing dissatisfaction of the masses and their subsequent loss of face.  Especially in South Carolina — a red state that suffered the humiliation of a US American intent on saving the “education like such as South Africa and, uh, the Iraq everywhere like, such as and” exposed on national television — the tragedy of Mark Sanford must be discussed in terms of its baseball counterpart:

The Chicago Cubs.

But wait!  How can I equate the Cubs with just another high profile politician caught in a sexy web of lies?  It’s quite easy.  Because like Mark Sanford, the Cubs are posers.

Sure, they’ve sorta passed for a wholesome bunch of merry go-gettin’ winners (save Zambrano, Bradley, Lilly, et al) the last couple of years, and they always look good on the surface — good enough to convince the analysts they’ll win it all and good enough to draw in a bunch of weekday party-goin’ drunkards from well-to-do families who are so eager to overpay for an underperforming product that they’ll even sacrifice their dignity… but in the end, let’s face it: a hundred and one years is a long friggin’ time.

To put it bluntly, both the Cubs and Mark Sanford indeed have that swashbuckling debonair, that charismatic sheen, that alluring promise of ultimate perfection.  They get higher and higher… and as soon as they try to take it all the way to the top…

…they fall flat on their face.

Don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.

Peace,

Jeff

Saturday Soliloquy

detroit_frozen.jpgThe pessimist in me always begins to worry when people write good things about the teams I support. So, when I read Gordon Edes’ Yahoo! Sports column earlier today, I immediately threw some salt over my shoulder, made a blood sacrifice and purchased gypsy tears to guard against the evil eye. It’s nice to get some recognition and he did hit some of the right notes, pointing out the seeming flaws in the Tigers’ system and why they shouldn’t necessarily be in first. But then he turns around and jinxes them by also pointing out what they’re doing well. It’s just not right.

I’ve mentioned it many times before but Detroit has so little going for it that the last thing we Michiganders need is to get our hearts broken once again. We could laugh about the Lions. But the Pistons? The Red Wings? If the Tigers go into the All-Star break in first place and then slowly bleed it away over the remainder of the season, it’s going to be killer.

How killer, you ask? Well, considering that Tigers fans are already jumping off buildings near the stadium despite the team being hot, it ain’t going to be pretty when the collapse comes along. However, if there is one thing we do well, it’s that we die hard. Did you happen to notice that line in the story about how the person fell three stories and was still texting? Yeah, that’s how we roll. Unfortunately, there’s still no coming back being frozen solid at the bottom of an elevator shaft, though.

-A

Michael Jackson Would’ve Been Great Baseballer Had He Known What the Bat Was For

michael jackson.jpgThis is not a cheap shot.

In fact, my 1979-1988 inner-child is sobbing uncontrollably at the loss of his hero — the late, great pop sensation, Michael Jackson.

As a young, impressionable child, I had but two passions: baseball and moonwalking.  One of them I held onto well into adulthood, the other I let go once things… well, once things got weird.

Still, I never lost my appreciation for the musical genius of the original M.J. and always hoped that one day he’d eschew complete facial and epidermal reconstruction in favor of good old US American past times like baseball, apple pie and rich white men screwing their secretaries. 

Turns out Michael did give baseball a shot…

But it didn’t turn out so well.

Some people are born with a bat in their hands, some are born with a microphone.  Only one was born to be the King of Pop.

Rest in peace, Mike.

Rest in peace,

Jeff

Reefer Madness

reefer_madness.jpgThere are home runs and then there are home runs. When a guy like Ryan Howard hits one off the sweet spot, chances are it’s going to travel a longs ways. However, when someone like Scott Podsednik gets one out of the park, you assume that there must have been a strong gust of wind somewhere around the end of its ride.

Similarly, there are drugs and then there are drugs. Now I don’t want to say that some drugs are all right because it’s true that most have some sort of side effect. But even implying that PED’s and a drug like marijuana have the same kind of effect on sports and the players or that they should be punished the same way is pretty ignorant.

That’s why I’m curious about this Geovany Soto admission. I don’t think it’s any secret that a lot of professional athletes enjoy a little visit with Steve Green every now and again and it has become even more prevalent and less stigmatized among the younger generation. But, MLB under Bud Selig has often shown a tin ear when it comes to these sorts of things. Their response to Soto’s test will show a lot about what direction they plan to head.

If it was up to me, I’d hand out the minimum. A slap on the wrist, some drug counseling or something along those lines. But you never know when and where reefer madness is going to strike and my guess is that they’ll come down disproportionately hard on Soto after screwing the pooch with the PED debacle. Hopefully they’ll see it my way but if it turns out that Soto is also growing a little on the side, maybe even mixed in with the ivy in the outfield, well, then all bets are off.

-A

A Tardy Lament, Poetic Ode for Ye Olde Wilson Betemit

wilson betemit.jpgGordon Beckham’s triumphant entrance into Major League Baseball did not come without supreme sacrifice.  To make room for the rookie phenom, Chicago White Sox suits were forced to say goodbye to one of their greatest unknown infielder journeymen: Wilson “I Signed with the Braves When I Was 14 Years Old” Betemit.

Like the hopes and dreams of Cub fans during a National League Division Series, so too was Wilson hastily gone from this fair Second City of ourn.  And, unfortunate was I, having not had a chance to offer my official farewells to old number 15.

So here I lie my scornful lament, for a better place than this there is not to vent…

No one ever made hitting .200 so effortless and so easy,
No one ever wore Chris Sabo glasses so restless and so sleazy,
Your name is mispronounced, your voice all but groused, and your slide into second makes me queasy.

Traded with Marquez and Nunez for Swisher and K. Teixera,
Your batting average with the White Sox was as dry as the Sahara,
You came from the Dominican, with the attitude of Gilligan, and stats from the dead-ball era.

From the Braves to the Dodgers to the Yanks to the Sox,
To the streets of designated assignment buried deep beneath the rocks,
Remember we cared, remember all that we shared, but in the end you were let go ‘cuz you su<k.

Don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.

Peace,

Jeff

Living Up to My Responsibilities…..Eventually

i_love_albert.jpgMy esteemed colleague, Mr. Lung, called me out recently (ok, yesterday) about the fact that I have not yet lived up to my end of the bargain we made regarding the Tigers-Cardinals series this past weekend. And he’s right, I haven’t. However, I want to assure him and our readers that I’m good on my word and I will pay up in full very soon.

See, there’s a problem out there today. We all have responsibilities in life and it’s important that we live up to them. For instance, Kyle Farnsworth is responsible for providing me with tales of his suckitude and for that I thank him because he completely fulfills that role. Likewise, the Cardinals will continue to disappoint Jeff after that high point they hit in 2006 and when his man-crush, Albert, leaves in a couple years, he’ll be left with nothing but a DVD set of highlights from that magical year.

There’s another thing we could always count on, though, which isn’t so true anymore: ballplayers being there for us. Things like calling home run shots, hitting one out of the park for a sick kid or being there before and after the game to sign autographs. But that’s just not the case anymore.

For instance, the new Yankee Stadium was purposely designed not to be the most fan friendly place and when you’re paying a week’s salary to go to the game, well, that kind of matters. And I’m sure every baseball fan has heard the Alex Rios story by now and seen the video. I’m not saying that harassing a ballplayer is justified but it seems like the distance between the players and the fans just keeps growing. Again, I’m not saying they should be going out for a beer with us after the game but is signing an autograph going to kill you, buddy?

Anyway, I guess my point is that I am not a Yankee, seeking to duck the fans and escape when the game is over nor am I an Alex Rios ignoring fans and autograph seekers. When it comes down to it, when I’m faced with my responsibilities, I man up and take care of it. However, unfortunately for Mr. Lung and our dear readers, I am a procrastinator so you’ll have to wait.

A

Dessert CAN Make You Happy

Fortune Cookie.jpgDear readers, let us all agree that the game is the game.  It’s balls and strikes, it’s first to third, it’s infield shifts and 3-0 green lights.  From Baltimore to Fresno to Okinawa to Calgary, baseball is a game.  Or rather, baseball is the game.

Yet we follow it for the people.

Without the story lines, Kirk Gibson’s homerun is just another homerun, Derek Jeter’s dive into the third row is just a catch, Adam Wainwright’s curve to get Inge swinging is simply, just a curve.  Stories make these plays so momentous, so glorious, so gut wrenching. 

We wouldn’t have it any other way.

So you can imagine my excitement at getting to meet Tom Walsh from the Rocky Mountain Way, a fellow baseball blogger with a commitment to the game, to its people, while his journey brought him to Chicago last Monday evening.

jeff lung and tom walsh.JPGI took him to Beiguo, a gem of a Chinese restaurant in my Bridgeport neighborhood where they know me as that “baseball guy”, deep in the heart of the Southside.  Hearing Tom’s stories about the fascinating people he has met and the powerful stories they have shared during his cross-country trek following the game reminded me exactly why baseball is the greatest game on earth. 

It brings us together.

With baseball as my loyal ally, fellowship with like-minded fans, familiar or strange, is never difficult.  Whether you live in Taiwan or Tacoma, we, as baseball people can always share in the power, the memories, the communitas that is the game.

Sure, if you wear your Cubbie blue and I wear my Cardinal red there’s a chance we might argue a bit, disgrace both of our mothers and end up in the hospital, drunk, but in the end, you’ll shake my hand and I’ll shake yours.  Because we’re baseball people.  And baseball people are the best kind of people.

Full of cumin spiced lamb, Yangzhou fried rice and a keener sense of Todd Helton, I wished Tom well on his journey and as he drove off west I looked down and realized my fortune cookie was unopened.  Quickly, I snapped it in two, grabbed the small strip of paper, held it to the light and read:

Dessert CAN Make You Happy.

Don’t hate me, ‘cuz that couldn’t be any more right.

Peace,

Jeff
(Image courtesy of Tom Walsh)

A Shameless Jab at My Loser Colleague

loser.jpgIt has been four long days since the Cardinals beat the Tigers in interleague play.  My uppity yet miraculously still a bit tolerable colleague, Mr. Krause, lost the bet he initiated and all the while we have yet to see this loser uphold his end of the deal.

We [me, dear readers galore and the RSBS interns] demand to see Al donning some variation of the birds on the bat very, very soon.

Let it be known…

…and don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.

Peace,

Jeff

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 67 other followers