June 2011

“His Game Is Like Waves…”

RSBS Podcast regular and Second City performer, Mark “Pie” Piebenga shares with us his thoughts:

“His game is like waves,” Miguel Cabrera said. “Right now, he’s worried because he’s not hitting too much, he’s not hitting for average. I said, ‘Don’t worry. It’s going to be your time. Get your timing, be ready. It’s a long season. We’re going to need you.’ And you see what happened today. He got a big home run for us today.”

This quote is, of course, apropos of Ryan Raburn. Of course why? Because he hit a grand slam off the White Sox Jake Peavy on Sunday who during the same inning worsened a “tweaked groin into a full strain.”

I do think there are some valuable moments in that quote. A lot is at work here. 1.) Cabrera’s hubris. 2.) profound truth for life, and for success in baseball. 3.) Cabrera looking out for a much less-well-paid teammate.

Vis-à-vis 1.) Cabrera cranked his second home run in 24 hours Sunday. Bringing his total up to that point to 13. Which is a lot.

Vis-à-vis 2.) Your own conclusions are most important here, but I’m quite taken with the part about “his game is like waves… get your timing. It’s a long season. We need you.” Isn’t that what we all want to hear as human beings? And isn’t it encouraging? To be needed due to your merit is to have significance. That is something we all want.

Vis-à-vis 3.) Cabrera is making $20 million this season to Raburn’s $1.3. Neither is hurting here, and it’s not like Raburn is a newborn rookie pulling down $425,000. Which is still quite a sum. Also, is it strange that I feel a little dirty clicking on the Tigers roster on ESPN.com knowing that I’ll find their wages on there? It seems like that should be listed in a separate place from their other personal information.

Regardless of the considerable money involved, it’s still an esteemable trait to look after your teammate in the press.

Finally, I would posit that the Grand Slam is the most artfully-named maneuver in all of sport. It describes its own magnitude with alacrity. It is lightly pompous, but so then is the feat, which lends credibility to the title. It is borrowed by professional tennis, the sincerest form of flattery. It is flip, apt, and proud.

In short, it’s a perfect moniker.

–Mark Piebenga

Meta-War

We Americans enjoy declaring war.  However, we only tend to make the declaration when the battle must be fought against an abstraction.  Declare war on Sudan for its genocide in Darfur?  Nah, too many bureaucratic hurdles.  Declare war on terrorism, as ill-defined as that term may be?  Sure thing.  Same goes for the war on drugs, still going strong after three decades.  Now aside from the fact that what is and isn’t classified a drug happens to be random at best, the whole idea bears some serious scrutiny since the rate of drug use has actually increased during this “war” according to the government’s own statistics.

What’s even more worrisome is the knock-on effects this abstract war has had on parts of American society.  No, I’m not talking about our abysmal rate of incarceration (although it is disgraceful).  I’m talking about something much more important, much more fundamental.  Something that should have been enshrined as an inalienable right in the Bill of Rights.  Beer-league softball.

Apparently over the past six years, the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), the office responsible for waging the “War on Drugs,” has played in the same Congressional Softball League as a team made up of players from drug policy reform groups.  And each season the ONDCP team has somehow managed to avoid playing the reform team, even when the schedule pitted the two teams head-to-head.

That’s right people, the drug war is slowly ruining our recreational softball leagues.  Luckily, there is a solution.  Declare war on the war on drugs.

-A

Setting the Mahmud

RSBS Special Correspondent and Podcast uber-stentor, Mr. Johanna Mahmud reports:

[Lennie] said gently, “George… I ain’t got mine. I musta lost it.” He looked down at the ground in despair.

Is Jim Hendry Lennie? Is Tom Rickketts? Or am I?

My dear little Cubs… so cute… so adorable. I just want to pet you and stroke you and love you… and pretty pretty pretty rabbits… DONT MAKE ME RIP YOUR HEAD OFF!!!!!

Pet the rabbit. Pretty rabbit. Snap the rabbit’s neck and do odd things to the stable boy while you’re at it.

This isn’t love.  This is obsession.

Why did he give out such terrible contracts? That’s a lot of money for crazy people.

This monstrosity is Hendry’s lasting legacy on a life wasted in futility. Thanks a lot, Jim.

What I would give for some stoicism on this team. There’s no leader from top to bottom of this rotting corpse of a franchise. There will be no Pujols. There will be no Prince.

AA meetings feel like a Las Vegas night club compared to the atmosphere of this dogged out team.  I’m going to water seal my deck now and then auto-erotic asphyxiate without touching myself. Too much work. SEX WITH A LAWNMOWER.

After Carlos Zambrano’s latest outburst of craptitude, it’s obvious even the manager can’t do anything about this self imploding behemoth.

And Quade is Bruce Kimm with better hair. “Well I guess they’ll figure it out, and we’ll try and win games and stuff kinda?…” After Z’s comments, Quade said he’d let his teammates deal with it. WOW. He couldn’t control the team’s play at all or improve it, but now it’s obvious he has no control over the players either.

Z is no leader*. His teammates HATE him. He’s a grandstander and a fraud.

You know what? Just say we stink. Don’t call out your fellow players for throwing the “wrong” pitch. Pitch selection is being questioned? Unbelievable.

“Theriot can’t hit a fastball well.” Except if Marmol throws a better slider, Theriot is out.

“We stinks” [sic] was the only worthwhile and (entertaining) thing Z said.

People who like what Carlos did, hey, are you out of your damn fool minds?!? Its b.s.  It might make the fans feel better, but it ain’t gonna do jack.

Z will waive his no trade clause, but it doesn’t matter.

The Cubs’ primed days are over. No farm system. Just beat me sadistically so my brain goes to sleep until the NBA season starts again in… January??? (gahhhhhhh!!!!!)

I would love to hear Z’s thoughts on other problematic issues like… Paul Revere: “What are you doing running around with that green lantern Paul?”  The Japanese nuclear plant issues? “That’s not the concrete pump I would have used.”   Health care reform bill?  “Yea? Well your death panel sucks.”

The team is in a total free fall. The best thing Tom Ricketts can do is be one of us. But he has pissed it all away by scuttling the true point that the team sucks and injuries aren’t the only problem.

Suspend Zambrano???

How about hiring a president that knows how to hire a real GM.

Good afternoon, real “Cubs” fan Colonel Ricketts. What’s you’re fricking plan?? It’s impossible to build without a farm. And no money. So… either borrow more money from Daddy Warbucks or do a little research and get a real living person who knows how to run a baseball team.

–Johanna Mahmud

*I have a screen grab of Carlos Zambrano’s face I wanted to include here as one of the photos; unfortunately I was naked and some/most of me is also in the picture.

Poetry From the Politicoes

It’s refreshing to observe that stupidity still reigns supreme on both sides of the American political spectrum.  This past week brought us two sterling examples.

On the left wing, a grand jury formally indicted John Edwards for illegal campaign contributions among other things.  Now, if you have somehow forgotten, this is all connected to the child that Edwards fathered while cheating on his cancer victim wife.  As bad as that may be on a moral level, on an intelligence level it went even lower because he continued to run for the nomination during all of this somehow believing that no one would ever find out.  I’m not sure if that counts as hubris or just plain, old-fashioned stupidity.

Luckily, the right wing continues to support gaffe-making machine and friend-of-mediocrity-everywhere, Sarah Palin, in what we can only hope is a Steven Colbert inspired humorous campaign for the presidency.  Let’s roll the tape:

Seriously?  I’m pretty sure that “The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere” is de rigueur for all schoolchildren.  On the bright side, Palin’s newest adventure in creatively reinventing history allowed for this quip from Politico’s Ben Smith: “Palin makes Bachmann look like Longfellow.”

I’m sure there’s plenty more to come from both sides since we’re only a week into June of 2011 and the elections don’t take place until the end of 2012.  It’s also safe to assume that we’ll be bringing it all your way, occasionally with a little baseball flavor.

-A

Picking on the Kid with No Legs

Sunday’s second Albert Pujols walk-off dinger against the Cubs in as many days should’ve ignited an in-your-face happy dance of epic proportions.  In fact, in my house, it did.

But, when I raced to rub sweet victory in the faces of my Cubs fan friends, most of them could not be reached (they weren’t watching the game) and those who were, simply didn’t care.

It’s only been a few years since the Cubs fielded a decent squad, and as a Cards fan I remember very well the aches and pains of those 2007 and 2008 seasons; but for Cubs fans, I might as well be remembering 1969.

Dear readers, this is not your Yankees/Red Sox rivalry.

And while I love it that we rest high above the Cubbies in the standings, I don’t love that our rivalry has suffered because of it.  Gone is the fire, dead is the ribbing.  Cubs fans — those who remain — are either fiscally responsible realists staying home, far away from the hoopla, or they’re drunken DePaul freshman who use baseball games as an icebreaker to what will become a long evening of poor decisions.

I almost feel bad about making fun of the Cubs… in the same way that I sometimes feel bad for making fun of Sarah Palin.

It’s not nice to make fun of those who have disabilities.

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

Peace,

Jeff

The Filibuster

Will you be watching the MLB draft? LOL.

Mark
Chicago, IL

____________________________________

The MLB draft is to professional sports drafts like the Tony awards are to major awards shows.  It happens and I’m sure there are people who care but those people are the exception, not the rule.  Here’s the problem.

The MLB draft doesn’t matter because the players drafted, with very few exceptions, are not going to make any sort of short-term impact.  Most of them are barely known at this point because that’s not how baseball works.  Sure, there may be some stud who comes out of college already boasting an MLB level pedigree but in reality, most of these guys, if they even ever make it to the big leagues, are going to be playing a few years in the minors to get ready.  Baseball requires a level of apprenticeship that just isn’t necessary in other sports.

The NBA and NFL drafts play well on TV because not only have these guys already played on the national stage and in the national spotlight, fans and teams also make the assumption that they will have an immediate impact.  Guys like Reggie Bush and LeBron James can start every game of their rookie campaign and instantly make a team relevant.  In baseball, that just isn’t the case.

That being said, I can appreciate what Selig would like to do.  Sure, MLB’s revenue may be growing but a little statistical analysis will show you that this growth is dwarfed by that of the NBA and the NFL.  To keep up and remain relevant, MLB must constantly search for new ways to entertain, new ways to create revenue and new ways to attract new recruits.

Unfortunately, pimping the MLB draft isn’t the way to do it.  I’ll explain by going back to the Tony awards for a second.  The problem with the Tonys is that theatre is no longer relevant in the US.  Film and TV have both surpassed it in terms of entertainment and cultural and societal critique.  That’s why people have Oscar parties and chat about the Emmies but couldn’t care less about the Tonys.  Similarly, MLB doesn’t hold the same cultural relevance at this point in time as either professional football or basketball.  Sure, the fans still care but people not only watch the NBA and NFL games more regularly, they’re also willing to watch the two leagues’ drafts.

So you make a good point, Mark.  And to answer your assuredly rhetorical question, no, I will not be watching the MLB draft just like I won’t be watching the Tony awards.  MLB needs to make itself relevant again before there’s any chance that I will.

-A

An Evening of Firsts

Some days, when I leave my office dead to the world in the evening, I have a baseball itch that the television and computer just can’t fix.  Yesterday was one of those days.  So, following the drill, I raced home, changed into more comfortable gear and headed straight for Sox Park.

My friend, Pie — a semi-regular on the RSBS Podcasts and an all around Tiger lovin’ fiend — came with me.

And boy were we in for some treats.

Not only was the weather perfect, but so was Brent Morel’s glove skills and Carlos Quentin’s stroke.  The game moved along at a nice, brisk pace… except when young Tiger hurler Andy Oliver was busy walking the bases loaded and giving up cheap runs.  But perhaps the most satisfying part of this early summer contest is that it bore three firsts, something baseball is apt to do.

For example, last night Adam Dunn got his very FIRST hit off a lefty this season!  And it was of the slow dribbler infield variety, proof that the baseball gods love extended metaphors even for big burly worthless(?) free agent signings!

Also, this game featured a homerun by none other than Juan Pierre!  Only his 15th career homerun in 11+ seasons, I had to ask Pie if I was dreaming when he pulled the ball up and out of deep right center as it was the very FIRST homerun I’ve ever seen Juan hit with my own eyes.

And, with the White Sox ultimately winning the game, last night presented to me the very FIRST time I’ve ever seen a disgruntled fan (my friend, Pie) take his scorecard — the same scorecard he meticulously filled out in detail during the entire game — and throw it away.

He threw it away!!!

I cried.  A little.  I hate to see a good scorecard die the same death as chewed gum, empty water bottles and hot dog boxes.  But in this case, I am just filing this one away with the rest of the extended metaphors.  May they extend until they can extend no more…

Hate me ‘cuz you can, just don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.

Peace,

Jeff

DSK and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

With the Mets no longer tenaciously controlling last place in the NL Central, New York really needed something else to talk about.  Stage right, enter Dominique Strauss-Kahn.  DSK, as he’s more commonly known, is a big name in foreign policy and international banking circles but wasn’t exactly a household name outside of France.  Luckily for NYC (and unluckily for DSK), that all changed a few Saturdays ago.

Now, in retrospect, DSK’s path to the Riker’s perp walk seems like the culmination of a really bad day.  You’re in your expensive hotel room, about to fly business class overnight to have a chat with Angela Merkel.  Then bam, you’re doing an early morning shuffle in front of the NYC press corps.  Which isn’t to say that DSK is the first person to have a really bad day.  Look at this guy.  First, the homerun goes right over his head.  Then, a beer comes showering down all over it:

The main difference is that the unlucky recipient of the beer shower didn’t sexually assault a maid in his expensive hotel room (I assume).  And to be fair, that is a pretty big difference.

There’s a lesson in this for all of us.  Sure, you may be at the top of your game.  Yes, you might be the assumed front-runner for the Presidency of La France.  And it’s even possible that people will make excuses for you like, you’re being framed or engaging in a tragically nihilistic form of self-sacrifice.  However, when it’s all said and done, there’s really only one thing to keep in mind.  The lady who comes and offers you turn-down service is only there to handle the bed sheets.

-A

This Is MLB… and THIS Is MLB on Drudge

There are two taxing and equally debilitating activities that I force myself to partake in, every… single… day.  I swallow a big@$$ horse-pill that’s supposed to make my cartilage stronger; and I read all of the headlines on The Drudge Report.

If I had time, I would also stick rusty needles under each of my fingernails.

Why do I do these things?  I take the horse-pill ‘cuz it comes highly recommended by my doctor, and my doctor is a smart dude (he hates the Cubs, man!).

And I check in with The Drudge Report because it’s important to know what the “other” side is thinking, how they’re scheming, how they’re fear mongering and how they’re faring in other popular GOP pastimes.  But mostly I just like to laugh at how Drudge turns a headline like “Wall Street Baffled by Slowing Economy” into “WE ARE ON THE VERGE OF A GREAT, GREAT DEPRESSION”.

That’s how the dude gets hits.  He scares traffic to him!

Indeed, I tip my cap for his savvy, but I wave my finger at his twisted incitations.

And to put things in perspective, I instructed the RSBS interns to take three recent MLB headlines and hand them over to Matt Drudge, just to see what would happen.

Here’s what we got:

- – -

Original Headline:”White Sox enjoy another sweep at Fenway”

Headline on Drudge: “SHOW ME ALEXEI RAMIREZ’S BIRTH CERTIFICATE DAMMIT!!!”

- – -

Original Headline: “Holliday, McClellan both land on Cards’ DL”

Headline on Drudge: “HOLLIDAY NEVER F$&*ING TOUCHED HOME, HE NEVER TOUCHED IT, HE NEVER TOUCHED IT, I CALL DO-OVER!!!”

- – -

Original Headline: “Swisher’s Swat Solidifes Sweep for Yankees”

Headline on Drudge: “OMG JORGE POSADA SUCKS, THE BRONX IS BURNING AND WE’RE ALL GONNA DIE!!!”

- – -

Hate me ‘cuz I got the connections to make it happen, just don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right!

Peace,

Jeff

Setting the Mahmud

RSBS Special Correspondent and Podcast schlemiel, Mr. Johanna Mahmud reports:

Alms for the Poor (or Trying to Feed 10,000 Voices)

I like Mike Quade. I really do. I just wish I could identify at least ten players on his team. I’m having a hard time recognizing my Cubs. The disabled list is filling up like the Titanic. Is Tony Campana an actual professional baseball player!?! Is Blake DeWitt!?!??

The Cubs barely broke 30,000 people in the stands on a glorious weather-wise Memorial Day.

I’m a Cubs fan… but I don’t talk about it in public. During Cubs games, I often find myself calling an old friend, folding laundry, reading a book, picking up new hobbies like bird watching.

The Ricketts bought the team hoping to make money and they’re… NOT. They keep trying to borrow money, but that’s not working either.

Between the b.s. landmark status they can’t get around, Alderman Tom Tunney’s rooftop issues and the fact that they STILL don’t have their own TV station, the Cubs can’t make any money to save their pinstripes. Stupid decisions keep being made because Hendry is baseball-impaired, so I say we at least grab some damn coin somewhere.

Cut down the ivy and put up billboards. NO ONE WILL CARE.  JUST DO SOMETHING.

Because people aren’t coming. They can’t do it anymore. Most of us would prefer hanging out at the filling station or a Mexican carwash.

Do the Cubs really think money will just show up like Kreskin would will it in his mind?

Maybe they should just sell some Ohio State college football memorabilia instead.

–Johanna Mahmud

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