Don’t quite understand VORP? UZR? PECOTA?
But the baseball basics? I thought everyone knew them.
I was wrong.
And rightly so. Not everyone’s interests align with mine; I shouldn’t look down on those who eschew the grandest game on earth (feel sorry for them, yes; patronize them? No.). Of course, I know this — NOW — after being way out of the loop on a conversation revolving around physics and something called… AFV.
“What is this curious AFV?” I kept asking myself as the cognoscenti carried on, oblivious to my poorly hidden obliviousness. The conversation dipped and rolled, skipped and scooted… “the air to ground ratio” this and “the hyperbolic arc” that.
Later, when I was all alone, I googled this curious AFV, only to find out that I’m a windmill-chasin’ idiot. Because AFV stands for America’s Funniest Videos.
Ha. Ha. Ha.
The lesson is clear: know your acronyms. And since we live right in the middle of technocracy’s jumbled white noise, we’d all do ourselves a favor by learning the hard ones. So, of course, the RSBS interns got to work on providing you, dear readers, with three of the most up-to-date acronyms you’ll ever find:
(Heterosexual Life Partner)
My HLP is Albert Pujols. He doesn’t know this (yet), but he is. He will know sooner if the GD cops would stop throwing this GD order of protection in my face. Uh… it’s getting in the way of my DESTINY*, Mr. Police MAN.
(Lou Intending to Actually Retire)
Admittedly, this is an odd acronym as it only pertains to people named Lou who hold whoop-dee-doo press conferences with the idea of hanging it up for good. And, considering the nature of our thought processes, it requires us to juxtapose the truth with a LIAR. If you’re confused, it’s okay. You should be. Lou Piniella intends to be in the Bobby Valentine and Buck Showalter retirement camp: waiting for a bigger, better paycheck.
And don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.
(Determined Effort to Stalk Top Infielders Nightly, Yearly)
More than any other sport, baseball has a rich tradition of facing, and overcoming, the language barrier. Sometimes it leads to comical misunderstandings, sometimes it just leads to the comical stylings of Ozzie Guillen.
There are times, though, when the language barrier leads to a moment where you can only sit back, watch and then watch again. For instance, if you were watching Bulgarian TV in 2008, you might have seen this:
I have only one question. Who is this Ken Lee and how long until the Pirates sign him?
As soon as I heard about the Mel Gibson stuff I automatically thought of
John Rocker. Thoughts?
I think, “How is it possible that Mel Gibson still has a career and Tom Cruise is considered the crazy one?” I mean, I get it. Jumping on couches on national TV, praying to aliens, dumping Nicole Kidman for Katie Holmes. That’s all pretty crazy. Even if I personally think Katie is a step up over Nicole. But punching out your girlfriend’s teeth, telling her you hope she gets gang raped, dropping the n-bomb like it’s going out of style? Dude, that is all kinds of crazy.
The comparison to Rocker makes sense to a limited extent because both men are racist pigs. But there’s a very important difference between the two men and their body of work. Rocker is straight up ignorant. For better or for worse, he has no idea what he’s saying. Think of him as a real life version of Kenny Powers. Gibson subscribes to a more insidious style. He slings around slurs with a practiced abandon. I’m not saying that ignorance is an excuse but it is something I can understand. Gibson is a vile person who actively represents the lowest common denominator. Think of him as an Australian version of Joerg Haider.
And there’s another important distinction between the two. Rocker launches verbal tirades but that’s where it ends. Gibson likes to use his fists and, if the reports end up being true, also likes using them on women half his size. Maybe it’s different down under but my parents didn’t raise me that way. In fact, I’m pretty sure that if my mom ever heard about me hitting a woman, she’d take the next flight to whatever town I’m living in at the time and beat the living snot out of me. You just don’t do that.
Rocker’s racism, while still dangerous, comes across as kind of cartoonish. But Gibson’s record of racist rants intimates a more fundamental level of psychosis that apparently manifests itself violently. It’s viral and I find it hard to forgive and also much more scary. I guess my point is this, Mark. On the surface the two men seem to have
quite a bit in common. But when you dig into it a little bit, the
comparison falls apart. If I had to make a choice, I’d much rather be dealing with Rocker than Gibson.
I have a confession to make. I did not watch the MLB All-Star Game. But I also didn’t watch the Pro Bowl, the NBA All-Star Game and whatever it is the NHL is doing these days. Most of it was apathy, part of it was being busy. But it’s hard to feel strongly about something that seems so contrived.
I suppose it’s somewhat blasphemous to have missed the mid-summer classic. After all, it is an annual rite of passage and ever since King Bud decided to imbue it with meaning, it has taken on slightly more importance. But really, why would I watch Ichiro and friends when I can watch Ichiro’s countrymen instead:
Seriously, Japan. What are you guys doing over there?
Nevermind the fact that the O’s start the second half of the season on a 4-game win streak. Nevermind that they’re 5-5 in their last 10 games. Instead, let us focus on the big picture: they are a mighty 27 games behind the AL East leader.
And that ain’t bad.
That’s Pittsburgh Pirates bad.
Which, is about as bad as it gets.
So, if you’re an Orioles fan (are there any of you left?), be proud; come on down to the UIC strip and pick ya up one of these bleeding teal Oriole hats. No one will make fun of you for it. I promise. In fact, donning one of these lids will just make you…
Hate me ‘cuz I’m with the part-time fashion police, just don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.
I know, dear readers. It’s only been three days. And sprinkled in there I got to indulge in a long awaited Senior Circuit victory in the only All-Star Game that US Americans actually care about. But three days is three days; and without a constant barrage of baseball stuff (pick-offs, home-plate collisions, oppo-taco bombs) I tend to go a bit batty.
Thankfully, our trusted RSBS interns know how to quell my baseball madness as they were able to use their unpublicized delinquent ways to grab me a sneak peek at the much anticipated and poignant decision making tell-all by our 43rd president, George W. Bush. The book is called Decision Points.
And yes, that title (with that author) is an oxymoron.
Still, we think you’ll appreciate these snippets of Dubyan enlightenment:
“I ran the country like I ran the Rangers and if that meant sitting in the bottom of the West, well, then that’s what it takes… or is it took? Tooken? Yeah, that’s what it tooken.”
“I told Mel Gibson, ‘if you’re gonna make a Jesus movie, make sure there’s lots of blood. Whip that Jesus! And make Mary Magdalene hot. No fake boobs, but make her hot.’ Did you know Mel Gibson’s from Austria? He don’t even have an accent.”
“Hehehe… wait til ‘Merica finds out I’m a big Nickelback fan. Look at this photograph… hehehe… it’s hard to say it, goodbye, goodbye. Kinda makes me wanna cry. Hey, that rhymes too! Hot dawg!!!”
“If it looks like a Saddam and it talks like a Saddam then it must be Osama bin Laden! Let’s blow some s*** up!”
Hate me ‘cuz I got to see it before you did, just don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.
I know that it’s considered poor form to speak ill of the dead. But is it my fault that when I think of George Steinbrenner, all that comes to mind is Seinfeld? Sure, he may have been the misguided genius behind the spendthrift MLB we’re now dealing with but he’s also the faceless voice demanding a calzone from sad little George Costanza.
To be honest, I don’t know the first thing about Steinbrenner. I’m sure he wasn’t the saint that all the sports channels and newspapers are making him out to be. He probably also isn’t the devil that I’ve always believed him to be. The truth, like usual, lies somewhere in between.
So how do I feel now that he’s dead? I don’t hate the man. I don’t love him. Actually, I don’t really feel anything. He took advantage of an inefficiency in the system, baseball’s inability to institute a salary cap, to bring all the best talent to his Yankees. He used his YES Network to monopolize revenue from all that the Yankees did. If anything, he was the ultimate capitalist. That may be the one aspect I respect the most.
But he is dead and it’s the end of an era in New York. Like baseball royalty, though, the Yankees have nothing to fear. The king is dead, long live the king.
Growing up a kid in America is synonymous with being a dreamer. We’re taught that anything is possible if we’re dedicated, if we work hard. And we often model ourselves after those we look up to, our heroes.
I always had two: my dad, whom I got to see everyday, and St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Fame shortstop, Ozzie Smith. Many a summer afternoon was spent in the backyard… swinging like Ozzie, diving like Ozzie, smiling like Ozzie.
“I want to be Ozzie Smith,” family members recall me saying, “I want to be Number One.”
So what does one say when he finally gets to have a conversation with his boyhood hero?
“My grandpa had Musial. My dad had Gibson and Brock. I had you, Ozzie.”
And Ozzie’s response?
Of course, I expected nothing but the coolest things from the man who gave us reason to Go crazy, folks, go crazy! Heck, it’s been nearly 25 years since that homerun prompted Jack Buck to give us his iconic call, but I promise you this: to a Cardinals fan, it never gets old.
“It never went away,” chuckled a candid Ozzie Smith, “and as a matter of fact, it’s still reverberating today. I have little kids coming up to me, reciting that. So yeah, it’s pretty cool.”
Indeed it is pretty cool and so is Ozzie Smith, the man: 15 time All-Star, 13 time Gold Glove Award Winner, Hall of Famer and all around good guy.
The seriousness of prostate cancer cannot be overstated. In fact, 1 out of every 6 men will experience the disease, as it is the second-leading cause of male cancer-related deaths in the United States.
“I’m just here to encourage all men 50 or older (40 or older for African-American men and those with a family history of the disease) to get involved, talking with their doctors about prostate health. Because with early detection, prostate cancer isn’t only treatable, it’s beatable.”
As was Ozzie’s signature game plan on the field, the best way to beat this disease is with strong defense. And if anyone knows anything about defense, one need look no further than The Wizard.
After a decade plus of abnormal offensive numbers in baseball, Ozzie sees the current renaissance of pitching and defense themed ball-clubs as a natural, cyclical part of the game.
“It’s the way the game is supposed to be played. You can get a lot more out of playing the game the proper way than just building your team from an offensive standpoint.”
If you’re looking for an example of such managerial strategy, Ozzie suggests we look at those teams at the top.
“The Atlanta Braves in the East, I think they’re one of those teams. Not a whole lot of power, but they certainly do the little things that it takes to win. The Cardinals have always been one of those teams that have done that and I think it’s part of what’s allowed the Cincinnati Reds to lead their division this year.”
Such game theory often begins with the manager and Ozzie Smith was lucky enough to serve under one of the best, one of this summer’s Hall of Fame inductees: Whitey Herzog.
“As a manager, the goal is always to make players better than they are. Whitey was certainly one of those people. The relationship we had was of admiration and respect. A good manager, like Whitey, only has two rules: be on time and give a hundred percent. As a professional athlete, that’s all you can ask, to be given the opportunity to do what it is you do. If you can’t abide by those rules, then you shouldn’t be playing.”
And as we gear up for the 2010 All-Star Game in Anaheim, it’s a pretty safe bet that the players involved abide by those rules. One cannot be the best without giving his best. As a 15 time All-Star himself, Ozzie was quite comfortable being at the top of his game. When asked to describe his fondest All-Star memories, he was quick to answer.
“The first one I had a chance to go to in 1981 and then my final one in 1996, those two really stand out. The first one simply because of the excitement of going to your first All-Star Game and the festivities, the lockering, visiting with guys you admired from afar and played against, having a chance to play with them was very special. Then the reception I received in Philadelphia for my final one was very, very special.”
Yep. It sure was. In fact, I fondly remember… crying. I was 17 years old, my hero was retiring and I was morbidly afraid of baseball without Ozzie.
But I quickly learned: no one can take away memories, no one can take away dreams. The game continued on and Ozzie never really went away. The moments he created are remembered today. His work ethic is passed down. His desire to help those in need, to educate, to make life better wherever possible through public service, as he’s doing with the Depend Campaign, all these things make him forever an All-Star.
Forever a hero.
Forever a reason to go crazy, folks.
Written by Jeffery Lung
Special thanks to
Kristin Adams of Taylor PR for arranging the interview.
Click *HERE* to read Jeff’s interview with Dave Winfield.
to read Jeff’s interview with Ken Griffey, Sr.
Yesterday’s World Cup final reinforced a hypothesis I’ve been working on. The final game is always a let down. Yes, Spain did score a nice goal at the end of the overtime but the rest of the game was better avoided. And, in the interest of full disclosure, that’s exactly what I did.
Now, compare that with the previous day’s third place game or even either of the two semi-final games. The final game of a series just never lives up to it’s hype. Even when you think of your favorite World Series memories, usually those are from a game six or maybe an earlier game that helps extend the series. When it’s a final, teams are too careful and it’s the game and the fans who suffer.
If you still aren’t convinced, think about a few of those games. While not a World Series, the Cubs-Marlins series in 2003 featured Bartman and a total breakdown by the Cubs but that disaster was what got the Marlins to a game 7 in which they destroyed the Cubs. Bill Buckner’s infamous boot happened in a game 6 as well. Sure, there have been game 7 heroics but it’s the early games that give us the memorable moments.
Sure, I’m going to keep on watching the finals. Missing a Superbowl or a World Series game 7 would just feel wrong. But, it’s the game 6 I’ll not so secretly be looking forward to.