June 2009

Same Story, New Chapter

zack_greinke_si_cover.jpgLast year was the year of Josh Hamilton. By the time the All-Star game rolled around, you couldn’t turn on ESPN or hit the internet without running face-first into one of the ubiquitous pieces on Hamilton and his recovery from depression and drug addiction. In fact, I think that my colleague, Mr. Lung, may have actually written the best piece I read on the subject.

However, it seems that our esteemed sportswriters may have missed Jeff’s column because the same thing is happening again. This year’s poster-boy is Zack Greinke and even places like Deadspin have begun to focus on his issues along with those of guys like Dontrelle Willis and define them accordingly.

Now, I’m of two minds on this. On the one hand, it is important to destigmatize issues like depression and drug abuse by talking about them. And when athletes come forward and admit even off-handedly that they, too, face these kinds of demons, it’s good for our awareness of the issue. But, when their whole story then becomes boiled down to a point where we see them only as the guy who fought depression or the guy who overcame his drug dependency, we eliminate all the gains and just create a new stigma. They are no longer people. Instead, they become the disease they defeated.

This issue is all the more important because it affects more than just athletes. Thousands of our friends and family members are coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan having seen and experienced things that are truly beyond human comprehension. But when the inevitable depression and its symptoms like PTSD and drug abuse start to rear their heads, the stigma keeps them from being able to seek help. This isn’t a new problem. The same thing happened to veterans of Vietnam, the two world wars and as far back as Ajax in Greek mythology.

I admit that I don’t have an answer to this stigmatization problem. If Sophocles couldn’t answer it and the best minds in psychology today can’t figure it out, it’s probably a little out of my range as well. But, it might be nice if from time to time we stopped referring to Greinke’s “amazing comeback” or Hamilton’s “heart-rending journey” and just appreciated them for who they are. A couple of guys who have overcome the same kind of problems that a lot of us face day in and day out and also happen to be able to do amazing things with a baseball.

-A

Quick! Give Him the Key to the City!

stephen strasburg.jpgWould someone please explain to me how MLB.com (in all its ballsy-get-outta-my-way glory) has no problem calling Washington Nationals’ first round draft pick, Stephen Strasburg, a “future ace” before he has ever put on a Big League uniform?  I speak Chinese.  I speak it really well.  That does not make me the “future ace” of Sino-US diplomacy.

Or does it?

Now that I have suffered through Bud Selig mispronouncing Cincinnati as “Cincin-nattuh”, Harold Reynolds beating the meaning out of the word “signability” and the absence of MLB Tonight (perhaps the most entertaining baseball program on the planet due to its painstaking efforts to suck in the ADD crowd), I think I have a solution to all this draft hoopla.

Listen up, Washington Nationals.  Quickly, throw all the money you have at Strasburg, give him a private jet, a harem fit for a politician and whatever else he could possibly need, then let that boy prove himself at the Major League level.  Right now

The current state of the Nationals is, at best, barrenly bleak: their pitching staff is five Shairon Martis wins above absolutely atrocious, their defense makes Alfonso Soriano look like a diamond wheel gold-glover, Adam Dunn can’t get a properly fitted jersey to save his spare tire, the jerseys they do have are highly susceptible to the occasional spelling blunder (*ahem*, make that, blunders, plural), they suffer from an extreme identity crisis (are we the Nationals/Expos/Senators/Twins/Rangers/the other Senators?), enlist low-brow stomach-churning marketing, are exposed by their inability to properly discharge sausages into the stands, still employ Kip Wells and now they can’t even shoot off fireworks without dumping debris on their own city fire chief (thanks for the tip, Matt).

What the hell could it hurt to put Strasburg in the rotation? 

Throw him into the D.C. fire already.  Let’s see if this kid is indeed a “future ace”, an ace, a back-end starter or a just a plain old joke like the rest of the Washington Nationals.

Do it, do it quickly and do it now.  Just don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.

Peace,

Jeff

My Super Secret Middle of the Week Wish

pedro_zimmer.jpgYou know what this baseball season is lacking? A good brawl. In fact, I can’t remember the last time I saw a baseball brawl that really made me stand up and cheer. I mean, there are classics like Pedro taking out Don Zimmer and Jose Offerman charging the mound with a bat. But these happened years ago. Where’s the good stuff these days?

I’m not saying I’ve lost hope. The next few days will be all about the Yankees and Red Sox renewing their rivalry and we all know there’s no love lost between those two teams. Maybe Beckett throws some high heat and Melky takes exception. Or it could be Mariano throwing behind Youkilis and Big Papi comes charging out of the dugout to right that wrong. It could happen.

But most likely we’ll just see some baseball. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. I mean, New York and Boston squaring off is a time-tested showdown. Once again they’re one and two atop the AL East and seem to be heading for another late-season showdown.

Is it wrong, though, that I want to see the fire? I love the idea of A-Rod saying the wrong thing to Papelbon and the whole thing disintegrating into yelling, shoving and then flying fists. Maybe it’s because I’m from Michigan and the only thing we have going for us there is hockey. But Papelbon and Rodriguez throwing down brings a smile to my face.

Maybe, though, it’s just a natural reaction to other world events. When female Russian handballers are going at it like Tyson and Holyfield while baseball players are meekly sitting the bench when their teammates get beaned, well, you know something is a little mixed up in the world. What, you don’t believe me? Well, believe this:

My money is on the blonde.

-A

Credits:
-Video via Deadspin

Identity Crisis

question_mark.jpgListen up, Major League Baseball.  I love you.  I really do; and sometimes being in love means having to bring you back down to earth, to be horribly blunt and to shower you with lots of smack (the slang, not the drug, though sometimes the drug seems like a better option in extreme cases, like when you overflow my inbox with crap I don’t want and never asked for).

MLB, you are not the NFL.  You are not the NBA.  You are MLB.

So while I commend you for trying to drum up interest in something — the first year player draft — that is, on the surface, boring and otherwise three to four years removed (if that) from the current game, I must ask you to please snap out of it

For the record, I do not care about the NFL and NBA drafts either, but I can certainly see why people do.  If you are a basketball and/or football fan, you have seen the potential draftees come up through the highly competitive elite forces of the NCAA.  Bowl games are slammed down your throat.  March Madness is so mad that it doesn’t end until April.  You know the players.  You’ve seen their talents.  You hope your pro team gets a shot at their services.

In contrast, the potential baseball draftees are as familiar to us fans as is a logical, amicable, non-infuriating Ann Coulter.  In the NFL and NBA, if you get drafted, your chances of seeing playing time at the top are almost a given, while most of the guys drafted in the MLB draft will never put on a big league uniform.  Sure, your Griffeys, A-Rods and Verlanders — guys who go in the first round or two — will most likely make it; but the majority of the rest will wallow away in the minor leagues, battle disillusionment, come to grips with not being good enough and before you know it they’re faxing TPS reports behind a desk while reading RSBS for giggles.

So as MLB pats itself on its self-aggrandizing back about televising this overblown shindig so they can sell lots of advertising to companies gullible enough to think that it will actually rival that of its football and basketball brethren, you can be sure that I will be spending my time wisely.  Dear readers, I advise you to do the same; and just in case you can’t think of anything better to do, here are some suggestions:

  • Remember, question and lament the hype of Pete Incaviglia
  • Write hate-mail to Rush Limbaugh and sign it “Jesus”
  • Clone Chris Carpenter
  • Come up with clever gimmicks to sell your new religion start-up (worked for me!)
  • Or, God forbid, watch an actual Major League Baseball game with real-life Major Leaguers

pete incaviglia.jpgIndeed, that is but a short list of things I will be doing instead of watching your draft, MLB.  I will not be listening to Harold Reynolds start every sentence with “Now, here’s a guy…” nor will I sing praises of your precious college phenom Stephen Strasburg when he is — as you already told me he would be — drafted in the first round.  I’ll wait until he collects the league minimum $400K for that.

I know a poser when I see one and it is because I love you, MLB, that I have to call you one to your face.  Go ahead and hate me ‘cuz I’m critical of your identity crisis, just don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.

Peace,

Jeff

The Filibuster

What do you think will happen first: the Iranians blow us up or the Royals win the pennant?

Tim
Blue Springs, MO


__________________________________________

royals_blooper.jpgTim, first of all let me say that I understand your frustration.
Waiting for mutually assured destruction or the return of the George
Brett era Royals can both be daunting and rather fruitless tasks. Remember,
I’m a Lion’s fan. During our glory days, Henry Ford was still signing
the checks over at his eponymous motor company. But fear not! I have
some bad news for you but it’s followed by something a little more
positive.

First, the bad. The Iranians will have the bomb well before the Royals
ever win another pennant. In fact, there’s a good chance that the
Congolese and Nepalese will have the bomb before the Royals head to the
World Series again. I don’t say that to be mean, I just want to be
honest with you. It’s therapeutic.

But now the good news. No one really cares if the Iranians get the
bomb. It’s kind of a dirty little foreign policy secret but most
everyone, even Dick Cheney,
assumes that they’re only a year or two from it happening anyway. If we
were to go in today and knock out the nuclear sites we know about,
there’s enough redundancy in the program that it would probably only
set them back by a few months. Like it or not, the world is going to
have to accept the idea of a nuclear-armed Iran.

However, here’s the better news. Despite occasional
crackpot pronouncements by certain leaders, the bomb tends to moderate
those who possess it. What’s the old phrase, “With great power comes
great responsibility?” Once you have the bomb, you kind of have to take
care of it. Otherwise, it’s possible that it just might blow up in your
face…..pun intended.

So, Tim, take a lesson from Kubrick and Sellers and learn to stop worrying and love the bomb. Really, what do you have to worry about anyway? Let’s be honest, when the bombs start falling, Missouri is going to be some prime real estate. In fact, it will probably be the only untouched part of the country. Sleep tight, Timmy! You’re safe. Because, when you think about it, why would you nuke some wheat fields, a few cows and a really crappy baseball team?

-A

Lord, What Have I Done?

erin andrews 2.jpgMake one declaration to the worldwide interwebosphere about how you’re going to do everything in your power to land a date with the most beautiful woman in sports broadcasting and suddenly you’re considered a creepazoid stalker who could use a lesson or two in social tact.

Creepazoid?  Maybe.  Tactless?  Probably.  Stalker?  No, sir.

I made my intentions very clear; and I’m pretty sure I was a perfect gentleman.  It’s 2009, y’all, and the internets is where it’s at.  I mean, you can do everything on this crazy series of tubes: order takeout, save money on your car insurance, get Twitter-blocked by Barry Zito.  Why should chasing Erin Andrews be any different?

“But, Jeff,” my mother said, “what if your girlfriend reads this?”

“My girlfriend does not read this blog, Mom.”

Boy, was I wrong.

I tried to play down my actions of sneaking around my girlfriend’s back to get a real shot at Ms. Andrews, but she wasn’t as understanding as I had hoped.  At least now she knows; and I am happy to report that she hasn’t broken up with me over this so things are working out pretty well.  I mean, let’s face it, a couple of cigarette burns to the chest are well worth her allowing me to continue on with my special project.

Still, there is just one small problem: Erin Andrews is a lot more mobile than I.  And, well, ESPN hasn’t helped me with passing on my messages (sweet as they all are).

Fear not!

What Fulbright Scholar would let such foibles deter him from accomplishing his task?

Indeed, I have a plan.  You see, I bought tickets to the 2009 All-Star Game in St. Louis.  I’ll be there for all the fan festivities: old-timers game, home-run derby, futures game — four days of pure debauchery — and a possible encounter with Ms. Andrews herself… that is, as long as Joba Chamberlain doesn’t get in my way (but who would make him an All-Star this year anyway?).

Hate me ‘cuz I got skillz, just don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.

Peace,

Jeff

Baseball in First Class

jeff_allen_nats_pose.JPGA little over a month ago, Jeff and I had the pleasure of attending a couple Nationals’ games together. The first night was your usual ho-hum, Pujols hits a homer, sitting out in right field sort of affair. But the next day was the first time I ever sat behind home plate. It was, in a word, amazing.

You could see everything. Every pitch, every adjustment by the catcher and counter-adjustment by the batter. And if that wasn’t enough, we got to sit in the special seats. You know, the seats that get wiped off before you sit down. The seats that are cushioned. The seats where a waiter comes to take your order and ten minutes later your food appears. It was the baseball equivalent of flying First Class.

Days like that make you realize that not all change in baseball is bad. Bleacher seats, stale beer and even staler hotdogs are not essential to the enjoyment of the game. In fact, drinking a Blue Moon instead of an Old Style might even help you appreciate it a little bit more. Having space in your seat is nice and not having your neighbor sitting on top of you is beyond wonderful. Don’t get me wrong, Jeff’s a great guy and you couldn’t ask for a better friend or seatmate at a ballgame. But, well, maybe I’ll just let this video explain it for me:

Happy Friday!

-A

Credits:
-Video via The Daily Dish

Guest Relations

Jeff and Allen are cool.jpgDear readers!  There is finally a reason to read a news magazine!  That’s right, folks, the June 8th edition of Newsweek will be guest edited by neo-con-politico-pundit-funnyman, Stephen Colbert.  Don’t know who he is?  Don’t worry.  Neither does Kanye.  And Kanye is awesome.  

Admittedly, I haven’t read Newsweek since my high school AP History class and even then I was more interested in the pictorial court drama of O.J. Simpson than the actual news, but you can bet I’m gonna read this one because no one knows faux headlines like Colbert (well, maybe Katie Couric).

And I am not alone.  The buzz around this avant-garde editorial decision is already hyping the masses, which got me thinking… what kind of immediate and notorious media blitz would errupt around the interwebosphere if MLB.com allowed Mr. Krause and I (and our RSBS cronies) to guest edit its website and inform baseball fans galore on all the game’s most exciting threads.

Well, wonder no more ‘cuz we already started on the following headlines (just in case they come’a knockin’):

Fortune Teller Madame Zelda from a West Baltimore Shanty-Town Proclaims Cubs Might Win It All in 2208
…against their crosstown rival the Chicago Brewers of Milwaukee, Wisconsin

ESPN to Broadcast All Royals Games for an Entire Month
…subject to blackout where good baseball teams are appreciated

Did You Know President Obama is a White Sox Fan with Muslim Roots, a White Mom and an African Dad? That’s Crazy!!!
…it really is

Beat the Streak! Accurately Predict How Many Times Milton Bradley Will Go on the Disabled List and Win Free Gift with Purchase!
…minimum purchase of $500 to be eligible

David Ortiz Is Actually Cecil Fielder
…ah, yes, now it makes sense

Vote for Your Favorite Steroid Enhanced All-Stars; Cheating Welcome!

…Hint: Select Manny Ramirez for every position, for every team, forever

Entire MLB Network Staff to Be Fired Except for Mitch Williams

…’cuz Mitch is the only one worth saving

Mitchell Report Sequel Due Out Next Spring Entitled “THE MITCHELL MINORITY REPORT”
…features the plight of a distraught and sensationalized Tom Cruise jumping on couches determined to catch only minorities using PEDs before they actually use them

Charles Barkley to Write Weekly MLB Editorial Featuring Nothing but F-Bombs and P-Drops
…why? Because we can… we want to… and we know the FCC could use the money

And finally…

Please Buy Old Yankee Stadium Urinals
…’cuz we gotta pay C.C. and A.J. and Tex and A-Rod and Jeter and A-Rod’s child support and alimony and attorney fees and publicist and strippers and estranged cousin in the Dominican Republic and his child support and alimony…and….

MLB.com, if you’re reading, it’s time to give RSBS its guest editing wings and take this show to a new, exciting, frightening place.  And I guarantee that, in the end, you will hate me.

Just don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.

Peace,

Jeffy

Illogical Extremes

beer_league.jpgA couple years ago I started playing softball regularly. We played 7-inning slow pitch games once a week and there was always one thing I could count on. The next day I would be too sore to do much of anything. Now, I’m not as weak as that sounds but when you’re out there, you want to go 100% on every play and it takes a toll.

So I can’t even imagine how the UT-Austin and BC teams felt this past Sunday after playing 25 innings the previous day. That’s almost three full games with no rest. And if that wasn’t enough, one Texas pitcher went 12.1 innings. I’m not sure how his arm is still attached after that.

A performance like this once again calls into question the work ethic of a lot of big leaguers who regularly jog out infield grounders and lollygag around the outfield. I understand that it’s a long season but these unpaid kids are running out every play during an insanely long game while major leaguers making many times over the league minimum of $390k curse as they power walk down to first. I may not be the traditionalist that my friend Mr. Lung is but you learn on day one in Little League that you run out every hit and even I take that as gospel.

However, it’s also possible to take the idea of running everything out to a somewhat fanatical extreme. Don’t believe me? Check this out and you might change your mind.

-A

Credit:
-Video via The Daily Dish

GM Goes Government; Washington Nationals Should Consider the Same

gm bankrupt.jpgGeneral Motors is busted.

My dignity (whatever there was of it) is also busted.

And in case you haven’t noticed, the 2009 Washington Nationals are most definitely busted.

Now I realize that it has become cliché hack to go after the lowly Natinals and all their shame — that by marauding these lesser-known squibs I am just one of many basement-confined jokesters, another savvyless cheapshotateer who gets off on landing lowblows wherever I can.

But that’s me.

‘Cuz when you’re bad, you’re bad; and the Washington Nationals are beyond bad.

With a sub-stellar 13-36 record as of the first of June, touting a team ERA of 5.69 and Kip Wells in the bullpen, I think it is time we US Americans seriously consider showing the Washington Nationals a big-time government bailout.

Because if Julian Tavarez can’t save the Nationals, then who in the world can?

GM made crappy cars.  For years, GM didn’t listen to its consumers.  Simply put, GM didn’t care.  They were/are insane: doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results.  And now GM is virtually as obsolete as their “planned obsolescence” business model: an absolute example of eating your own s*** and dying a terrible death.

adam dunn natinals.jpgLuckily, there is still hope for the Washington Nationals, albeit grim.  Despite fielding a beer-league softball team, they are averaging about 21,000 people per game.  And even if half of those fans are wearing the visiting teams’ duds, that money is still green.

If the government knows anything, it knows how to take money from everyday Joes like us and spend it irresponsibly.  So, save the franchise, Capitol Hill!  I don’t care about GM, but I do care about about the Montreal Expos Washington Nationals and they deserve my tax dollars because let’s face it, Adam Dunn has gotta eat (a lot).

Don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.

Peace,

Jeff

(GM Image courtesy of the Cleveland Leader)

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