March 2010

RSBS Presents: Virtual Worlds

50_year_old_computer.jpgComputers have made our lives much easier.  They do our taxes, write our research papers.  They give us access to whole worlds of information we might never have known existed.  Interested in particle physics?  Wikipedia will give you a crash course or an even more simple explanation and then point you in the right direction to learn more.  Dating a body pillow more your speed?  Wikipedia can also point you in the right direction for all your assorted otaku interests.

The internet allows access to communities that might not exist otherwise or that might have steep barriers to entry.  Checking the classifieds for your local branch of NAMBLA probably isn’t going to reveal many results.  Troll around on the right message boards and chances are that you’ll gain entry relatively quickly.

However, with so much information out there, it’s easy to get lost.  And sometimes you just don’t quite know where to start.  Since we here at RSBS consider ourselves custodians of the needs of our community, we decided it might be helpful if we provided a brief primer introducing people to some of the larger worlds that exist out in cyberland. 

With that, we present an RSBS guide to virtual worlds:

Second Life
second_life_logo.jpgIf your first life isn’t going so hot, why not give a second one a shot?  You’re a morbidly obese unemployed diabetic in the real world?  That doesn’t mean you can’t be an Amazonian warrior goddess in the second one.  Just remember to eat in the real world because that big juicy steak you’re sharing with some Fabio-esque hunk doesn’t count for real world calories, even if the credits are costing you real world money.

Facebook
facebook_logo.jpgWhen we say Facebook here, we’re really referring to the entire social networking scene.  If you finally gave up on staying current a couple years ago, that means MySpace.  If you really had issues, Friendster.  The one thing they all have in common is allowing you to be cyber friends with people you already interact with in real life.  Unfortunately, this also forces you into awkward decisions when people you don’t really like attempt to friend you.  Our advice for you here is to set your standards low and your privacy settings high.

Fantasy Sports
DEAF_FANTASY_LOGO.jpgSo, you think you can run a team better than Matt Millen, huh?  Ok, that’s a given.  Some dude living in a village in Papua New Guinea could do it better.  But when you get a bunch of middle aged guys together, all of whom think they’re the next Theo Epstein, those thoughts intermingle and before you know it, you end up with fantasy baseball.  In the interest of full disclosure, the RSBS team are both full on addicts.  But that’s not to say that playing fantasy will make you the next hit baseball blogger.  If that kind of causality were true, all you’d have to do is hoover up a couple grams of blow to become the new manager of Texas Rangers.

The Blogosphere
Still haven’t found your niche?  Well, we do have one more option.  Maybe you really want to share the boring, mundane details of your life with anyone who has the misfortune of stumbling across your site or maybe you’re under the misguided notion that you need to forcefully champion some underrepresented opinion.  Or maybe you are just convinced that the entire world wants to read your take on baseball, politics and the intersection of the two. *ahem*  Well, if any of these are true, the blogosphere might be the place for you.  However, the competition is fierce.

Hopefully this little guide has helped brighten up the murky waters of the internet worlds for you.  If not, you can always grab one of those old AOL disks and start from scratch.  If even that is too much for you, the disks also make fantastic coasters.

-A

Tiny Tigers Fans Rev Up for 2010

Just so we’re clear, indeed, this is a personal attack on Mr. Krause, his home state of Michigan and his undying allegiance to a team that just ain’t any good anymore.

(It is also a photo essay on the subsequent decay of US American youth)

kid smoking.jpg

kid drinking.jpg
Don’t hate me, ‘cuz as awfully blunt and harsh as it is, you know I’m right.

Peace,

Jeff

(1st image courtesy of I HATE MY PARENTS; 2nd & 3rd images courtesy of 9GAG)

Recess Time

fun_and_games.jpgPresidents often use the time-honored (or dishonored, depending on who you ask) tradition of the recess appointment to fill positions that have been blocked by the Congress.  Usually these are judges that one party is holding up because of some ideological dispute or just to prove a point.  Nothing says “screw you” quite like, well, like screwing you.

Presidents wield supreme executive authority and that makes it easy for them to make these kind of moves.  Legislative powers are spread out between 535 (mainly) crusty old men and even supreme judicial power is divided up between 9 judges.  But the president is one person and that means he can make decisions much more quickly when he needs to.

So, here’s the question.  Where could a baseball team take a lesson from the president in this matter?  The manager is already relatively free to play who they want when they want but most don’t have the power to unload a guy who’s underperforming.  Team owners are pretty much expected to pony up the money and then get out of the way.

When it comes down to it, if there’s one guy who can exercise executive power in the ballpark, it’s the GM.  The team owner endows the GM with the ability to make huge decisions affecting the present and the future of the franchise and the GM is expected to repay that trust with quality acquisitions and wins.  When the guy is Brian Cashman and the bank account is bottomless, that works out pretty well.  When the guy is Isiah Thomas and an entire league no longer exists because of your actions, well, that’s a different story.

But if the GM is like the president, how would he go about making a recess appointment?  If you ask me, pretty much everything done during the offseason is a recess appointment.  Trades and moves made during the season take place under the watchful eyes of millions of fans.  Once the World Series is over, the diehard fans still take notice and the news will get some play but there’s so much else to keep track of, any hubbub dies away pretty quickly.

So here’s a hint for any of you budding GMs out there.  You want to follow in the President’s footsteps and make a recess appointment?  Just wait til people’s heads are turned the other way and then make the trade you know will infuriate everyone.  They don’t have to like it, they just have to get used to it.

-A

Credits:
-Photo via Skull Swap

The Filibuster

Guys, the season is starting in a few days and I still haven’t seen an
honest to god prediction out of you yet.  What do you think?  Is there
anyone who can keep the Yankees from repeating?

-Lee
Sandusky, OH
____________________________________

We haven’t made any predictions yet?  Oh yeah, I guess predicting that the Detroit Tigers will suck this year isn’t really a prediction, it’s just a known fact.  Considering that it is that time of year when everyone is making some sort of bold statement as to who is gonna win and who isn’t, I think you’re right, Lee.  It is time for RSBS to jump into the prognostication pool (that sounds like something one would find in Vegas) and so we do as only we at RSBS (I, Jeff, not Al ‘cuz he’s a slacker) know how.

Shall we?
(subliminal messages start now)

kourtney kardashian bikini.jpgNL East
Compared to its AL counterpart, this division isn’t quite the sexy beast it used to be.  The team to beat is the Phillies; and while the Mets look to give a better effort than last year if healthy while the Braves and Marlins lurk behind with plenty of potential, I still don’t see how the Phillies can lose this division.  Oh wait.  Yes I can; his name is Brad Lidge.

Yet I think the Phils still win it.  Ya can’t get much worse than Lidge was last year and they still won the league.

Phillies.  Probably.


jenna fischer 2.jpgNL Central
Come now, is there really any competition here?  Yeah, sure the Brewers can bop with the best of them but have you seen their pitching staff?  Exactly.  The sCrUBS?  Er…. no.  The Astros?  Stop playin’.  The Pirates?  The Pirates!?!?  Ha!  The only team in this division who might give the Cardinals a run is the Cincinnati Reds, and for that to happen Aroldis Chapman and Johnny Cueto have to both deliver the goods like seasoned professionals (they’re not) and Aaron Harang would have to keep his ERA under 10 (he won’t)… not to mention the fact that Dusty Baker would have to not destroy someone’s arm (he will).

Cardinals.  No question.

heidi derosa.jpgNL West
Hmm.  This is an interesting division.  My heart says San Fransisco but my heart also says I should be able to drink a fifth of scotch and still be able to dance the merengue with some amount of poise.  In other words, my heart is a goddamn liar.  There are too many question marks in the Dodgers young pitching staff that I can’t put my money on them.  So I turn towards the Rockies — a team with balance, a team with Tulo, a team with purple pinstripes.

Rockies.

San Francisco joins as the Wild Card.

erin.andrews.jpgAL East
Yankees, Red Sox, Yankees, Red Sox… bla bla bla.  Not this year, folks.  Yankees, Rays, Yankees, Rays… and Brian Matusz.  The Yankees are the best in baseball.  Hard to argue against that.  The 2010 Red Sox are not the Red Sox we’re used to seeing.  They made a major mistake by not bringing back Jason Bay and they’re gonna suffer for it.  The Rays… this is the year for them.  It’s now or never.  And just for fun, let it be known that Brian Matusz of the Baltimore Orioles is one hell of a pitching phenom and a reason to tune into their games every once in a while.

Yankees win without even trying.

Rays take the Wild Card.

lucy liu.jpgAL Central
With so much money going towards roster scrubs and the recently anointed singles-machine, Magglio Ordonez, the Tigers of 2010 will look more like the Tigers of 2003.  Okay, maybe not that bad, but still, they ain’t goin’ anywhere.  The Twins will be in the race, but I suspect they will be playing a lot of doubleheaders this year due to that new open air stadium; and their team is still built for turf.  I don’t see them catching the White Sox, who in my opinion have the best starting five of any other team in the Majors.  If Peavy stays healthy and Floyd and Danks kick it up a notch, I don’t see how they could be beat.  Keep your eye on Gordon Beckham too.  He’s gonna be a superstar.

White Sox.

Allison.Stokke.jpgAL West
Like its National League version, this division causes me fits.  The Rangers are right on the cusp of doing something great; but then I look at their pitching staff and see a bunch of crooked numbers on the board against them.  The A’s?  Uh… no offense, but if you rely on Kurt Suzuki to produce all your offense, I cannot take you seriously.  The Mariners look like they should be much improved; but I’m not drinking that kool-aid yet ‘cuz as of now, they haven’t done jack.  And how can I possibly bet against a proven winner, a team that gets it done year after year after year? 

The Angels win the West.  Why?  ‘Cuz they do everything right.

And they have a rally monkey.

Playoffs
Now when you put all these pretty teams together, choosing one over the other is no easy task.  They’re all yummy winners.  They’re all well-proportioned hot.  They’re all doable talented.

So what is one to do?

Personally, I like to fantasize about a world where they’re all in the same room, having fun and going at it with uncompromising competitive bite.  But understanding how unrealistic that is, I guess I have no choice but to choose one. 

Or two.

These two:

jenna fischer 2.jpgAnd again, my lying, cheating, pipe-dreaming heart tells me that the Cardinals are better than the Yankees.  Yet, I’m smart enough to know that saying as much is not only unrealistic, it’s just plain fantasy.

Still, one can dream, right?

Hate me ‘cuz I get ya all flustered, just don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.

Peace,

Jeff

***SEND US YOUR FILIBUSTERS****

Something on your mind?  Want to see Jeff and Al sweat (separately, not
together, eww)?  Think you got a real stumper?  Send us your Filibuster
question(s) by commenting or emailing them to us at
kraulung@gmail.com. 

***Unwanted Victoria Secret catalogues and bootleg copies of Predators also welcome.

(all images scraped from the interwebs)


Makers and Breakers

Records are a huge part of baseball.  When a player comes along and makes an all out assault on a record previously though impregnable, we all take notice.  Did anyone 20 years ago think that Gehrig’s consecutive game streak would ever be broken?  But then along comes Ripken.  Same thing the summer of ’98 when Sosa and McGwire went back and forth on their way to shattering Maris’ record.

Sometimes, though, I prefer just focusing on the record makers instead of the record breakers.  Take a look and I think you’ll agree.

Happy Saturday!

-A

Scouting Report: Tony LaRussa’s Comedic Skills

I’m a comedian. 

And like everyone else, I too, am a critic.

So let’s see what TLR can do:

1. Delivery: Bit of a rambler; needs to get to the punchline quicker; could vary vocal inflection for nuance. (Grade: C+)

2. Audience Control: Didn’t let the ump get one word in. (Grade: A)

3, Timing: Average; nothing spectacular; good thing his focus is managing a World Series bound baseball club featuring the grandest player (and subsequent man-crush of the masses) in the game today. (Grade: C)

No worries, Tony.  Leave the jokes to me.  You go get us that ring.

And don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.

Happy Friday!

Jeff

Existentialism Revisited

Dancing_Erin.jpgRSBS has devoted many pages to an ongoing debate between the great minds that form the RSBS duoverse.  No, I’m not referring to our liberal vs. conservative clash over the way the game of baseball is played.  And I’m not talking about the unending fount of sophistry springing from my colleague regarding the eternal question, which team is better, the Tigers or the Cardinals.

No, our fundamental debate is much more existential and with its subject back in the news, now seems the right time to revisit the topic.

Erin Andrews.

That she is an attractive woman is not open debate because that goes without saying.  But my co-blogger’s unhealthy obsession with Ms. Andrews sometimes makes me wonder what goes on inside his head.  She’s cute but she’s not that cute.  And she’s a Florida Gator which automatically deducts a point from the ten point beauty rating scale we all know so well (a much less harsh deduction than the 2.5 point penalty meted out to any graduate of the University of Notre Dame, a university who’s men’s basketball team recently went down in delightfully ignominious defeat during the first round of the NCAA tournament I might add).

However, even I have to admit that she’s looking very nice on Dancing With the Stars.  And that’s saying something when you’re up against Nicole Scherzinger and a very svelte looking Pam Anderson. 

I’m not saying that Jeff has won this debate, not by any stretch.  But, since I can admit when another person has a legitimate point, I’m admitting that in this instance Ms. Andrews is looking good.  That being said, she’s still no Allison Stokke.

-A

RSBS Presents: Black Holes

black-hole-galaxy.jpgOne of the most peculiar realms of science is understanding what exactly goes on inside of a black hole (and no, folks, we ain’t talkin’ about the vile emitting from Milton Bradley’s mouth).  Widely understood as a “deformation of spacetime caused by a very compact mass” — an area from which nothing can escape the immense gravitational pull of its centerblack holes are like the underground club scene of the cosmos: all kinds of weird s*** can happen… and does!

To me, the most interesting aspect of a black hole lies at its very center, past the event horizon, down the rabbit hole, settling on an infinitesimal point known as the singularity.  If you were unfortunate enough to be sucked into a black hole and lucky enough to survive the trip down its core, by the time you reached the singularity you would surely be a shredded mess, the result of being filleted by the strongest forces theorized by the human mind.

But boy would it be an exciting death!

The oddest thing about the singularity is that once we start working in and around that point, we realize that the laws of physics become completely erroneous and unnecessary.  That’s right, dear readers, when you get to the singularity, Einstein’s theory of general relativity makes no sense at all.

And while black holes and their singularities may be intangible to us from our terrestrial vantage point, if you look around you today you will see all sorts of things that could cause one to think we may be close to such a singularity — a place where what we see is so shocking, so odd, so perplexing that it just doesn’t make sense…

The Good Guys Win: Joe Mauer
Twins fans were so afraid they would lose their hometown hero to the evil chops of the Yankees and the Yankees 2.0 that doomsday scenarios and flat-out decrees of apostasy had already been accepted as fact.  But in the end, the Twins had to sign Joe — for the sake of their new stadium and for the sake of their fans.  And they did, for a very reasonable price.  Oh, and by the way, the Twins are not a small-market team, so this situation is getting even more black-holish by the minute!

nancy.pelosi.jpgLiberal US Americans Actually Accomplish Something
After eight long years of maddening sound bytes, phantom wars against phantom enemies for phantom purposes and an all-out assault on reason, the liberal majority in the House got together and passed a health care bill that might actually work.  Oh yeah, sure, not everyone is happy about it and the most concerning aspect is how we’re going to pay for it; but, in my opinion, the sheer fact that you won’t be financially punished for being sick anymore indicates a huge step forward.  And besides, since when do US Americans care about national debt?  Here, in the great state of Illinois, for as long as I can remember, the political machine has been borrowing money from the FUTURE to pay for current projects.  I hear that Illinois is rich in the future, so I’m gonna see if I can get in on that too.  I need a Lamborghini.

Exciting News Out of Cincinnati Reds Camp
You have to go back quite a few years to find anything worth anticipating from the Reds in March, but this year is different.  Under the wise hand of former Cardinal front office legend Walt Jocketty, Cincinnati signed Cuban defector Aroldis Chapman during the offseason, hoping he would live up to his international hype.  And boy does he!  Thought by many to be an ace-caliber pitcher going into this season, Reds fans have a whole lot to be excited about for a change… of course, that is… until Dusty Baker blows out his arm and ruins his career.

Forever.

Hate me ‘cuz I test the limits of physics, just don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.

Peace,

Jeff

If the Pirates Were More Like Pirates

Somali_Pirates.jpgWe at RSBS often lament the chronic disgrace that the Pittsburgh Pirates organization has become.  The home of players like Roberto Clemente not only continues to lose at an unfathomable rate, they also show no signs of turning it around anytime in the near future.  Throw in the fact that they have basically resorted to reality TV contests to drum up interest and you almost feel embarrassed for them, mainly because they obviously don’t have the good sense to feel embarrassed for themselves.

What the Pirates need is a mentor, someone who can show them how to get back to their swashbuckling ways.  Pirates used to strike fear in the hearts of sailors and the National League.  That can happen again.

If I can be so bold as to make a suggestion: the Pirates need lessons from real pirates.  And I’m not talking the Johnny Depp, cavorting around in makeup kind of buccaneer.  I’m talking the armed to the teeth while hijacking a supertanker kind of pirate. 

As luck would have it, The Atlantic recently provided a blueprint for what has made the Somali pirates successful and there are definitely some lessons the NL Pirates can take to heart.  For instance, how about this truth-berry?  “You don’t want your pirates running off with the loot! Be sure to
incentivize your workforce and set compensation levels fairly.”  If history is any guide (Jason Bay, Nate McLouth, Aramis Ramirez), this might be a good place to start.

Or how about this?  “Each pirate should bring his own firearm in exchange for a class A share
of the profits.”  More firearms means more firepower.  Which also means that bringing guys like Rinku and Dinesh on board probably isn’t going to cut it.

If all else fails the Pirates possess one final option, an option that frankly I’m a little surprised they haven’t already exercised.  Why not do like their namesakes and just hijack the Yankees or Phillies, then hold them for ransom?  “Sure, we’ll let you go.  As soon as you give us Cliff Lee.”  It’s something to think about and certainly couldn’t do them any worse than what they’ve done to themselves the past 17 years.

-A

Predator(s)

predator alien.jpgI didn’t think it was possible to make a better Predator film than the first, but then I saw the trailer for the latest incarnation and I got that same tingly feeling I get from watching that Smoltz-Morris World Series match-up from 1991 — a game that has a strong argument to be labeled the greatest post-season baseball game ever played.

Like Chris Hansen is the greatest on-air predator-catching person in the history of investigative television…

And Manny Ramirez is the most prolific ballplayer with Predator roots (he’s only 2/3 human) as I pointed out nearly a year ago today…

Sure.  I’ve got Predators on the mind.  But I know I’m not alone. 

And though this post doesn’t have much to do with politics (we’re getting health care I heard) nor baseball save the Manny reference, it is important that I prove to you that I am not alone, by showing you an even better version of “American Gothic” than the original “American Gothic”:

american predator gothic.jpgSee.  Now, aren’t ya glad you read this today?

Exactly.

So don’t hate me, ‘cuz I’m right.

Peace,

Jeff

(Image courtesy of B3TA)

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