December 2011

Happy Christmas, Merry New Year and All That Jazz!


From the bottom of our baseball-politico lovin’ hearts, we at RSBS would like to wish you all a very happy holiday season!  As is tradition here, Mr. Krause, Mr. Mahmud and I will be taking a week off to reflect on the year, spend time with our respective families and enjoy a nice Christmas ale (or ten).

We’ll be back to business as usual on Jan. 1st.

Until then, be merry and be safe!

Peace,

Jeff

RSBS’ Biggest Fan!

Congratulations to Kristen from This Is A Very Simple Game (a damn fine blog in its own right!) for winning the RSBS Biggest Fan Contest, sponsored by Crown Royal.  Soon Kristen will be enjoying Albert Pujols in the bright SoCal sun with well protected eyes as she is going to receive a pair of sweet Oakley Blender Sunglasses.  Hot dang!

And if that’s not hot enough, check out her winning entry below.  Your taste buds will thank you!

Kristen writes:

Caramelized Red Onion State, Blue Cheese State, Bacon Lavosh!

This is a quick and dirty weeknight dinner that tastes gourmet and doubles nicely as a game day snack. But, since you can’t exactly tell how amazing this smells and tastes from the photo, here is the recipe. I get the impression that Johanna cooks but I don’t know if Jeff and Allen do, so the recipe is written for both the well stocked kitchen and the un-stocked kitchen:

Ingredients for 2 Lavosh:

  • 5 slices of bacon (because, hello, Bacon? Is there any ingredient more charismatic?)
  • 1 Red Onion, cut in half and sliced into thin rings
  • 3 cloves fresh crushed garlic  (or one teaspoon dried, if that’s what you have)
  • 2 tablespoons butter or olive oil for cooking
  • 2 pieces lavosh (whole wheat works well here too. If you don’t have access to lavosh, what the heck kind of Trader Joe’s do you have there in Chicago? ;) And/or you can use pita, tortillas, or even pizza dough instead.)
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • Crumbled Blue Cheese (roughly 4 oz. which is to say, basically a palm full. I don’t really prescribe to the tyranny of traditional “standard” measurements unless I am baking or performing some other form of chemistry, LOL.)  I like Trader Joe’s Salem Blue or Point Reyes Blue Cheese if I have it around, but any will work.
  • Optional – 1/2 cup of _______ meat. I used leftover roast chicken the evening I took the photo because we roasted chicken-zilla earlier in the week and had it on hand. But diced deli meat works wonderfully too – turkey, roast beef or, if you’re feeling especially porcine inclined, ham or prosciutto (yum!).
  • Salt and pepper to taste (sea salt and fresh ground pepper if you have it, no worries if you don’t)

Instructions:

1.     Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

2.     Cook the bacon until it is almost cooked to your preferred level of doneness, then set aside. Chop when cooled.

3.     Heat the cooking fat (and use some of the bacon drippings for 1 tablespoon of the cooking fat , if you dare). Add the garlic (if you’re using fresh) and sauté for a few seconds before adding the onions.

4.     Keep stirring the onions. Season with a little salt and pepper (and the dried garlic if you’re using dried) once the onions are coated in the oil. You want to almost fully caramelize the onions – sauté them, stirring from time to time, until they are browned slivers of completely limp, tasty oniony goo.

5.     Put the lavosh on cookie sheets (or prep for a pizza stone if you have one and have time to heat it) and cover each of them in half of the mozzarella cheese in a thin layer stretching out to the edges.

6.     Sprinkle each evenly with half of the bacon, cooked onions, blue cheese and extra meat (if you are using).

7.     Dust both lightly with pepper.

8.     Bake for roughly five minutes, turn and then five minutes more (much longer if you are using pizza dough), until the cheese is bubbly and golden in spots and the edges of the meat and lavosh are crisp and browning.

9.     Cool slightly, slice and enjoy!

10.  Serve with dark beer or red wine (ideally a good, rich Rhone style blend. Feel free to ask if you would enjoy any California-centric suggestions J).

- – -

YUM YUM YUM YUM YUM!!!

Special thanks go out to all those who submitted entries!  We love you all.  Now go make some lavosh and get krunk!

Jeff & Al

A Christmas Wrap-Up (Part 2)

Continuing with the end-of-year holiday tradition here at RSBS, it’s time to separate myself from my imaginary girlfriend (NSFW) and ask the interns to lock my office door so I can get down to the meaty reflection of what was the RSBS year 2011.  Additionally, I must begin the sad, fiery purge of Albert Pujols memorabilia.  For those of you who went to public schools, you know that maintaining a fire within a small, confined room may cause ill-fated side effects, so before I start to look like Bert the chimney sweep, let me get to it…

First of all, no year would be a good year without you, the dear RSBS reader.  THANK YOU, for your readership.  THANK YOU for your emails, your tweets, your comments, Facebook shares and FingerTagging!  And THANK YOU for continuing to make writing about the baseball-politico world a treat for us every single day.

Like my riveting and oft rousing colleague, Mr. Krause, I too have been very impressed with our special correspondents.  For me, nothing says sweet Miggy-I-Love-You quite like Mark Piebenga’s His Game Is Like Waves.  It presented Miguel Cabrera in a new light — that of teacher, and, considering how much Mark has taught me about what life should be about, I continue to find its lesson fitting (and helpful!).

And though I often refer to Mr. Johanna Mahmud as “the man who introduced me to the glories of the Deftones” and “the guy who schooled me on the NBA and proved why I should be madly in love with Derek Rose”, I still have room to refer to him as “the guy who writes Setting the Mahmud“!  Dude puts the “tit” in titillating with every piece.  The last article he wrote was inspiring, if only because he found a way to get a naked Yu Darvish, an ugly sweater wearing Johnny Matt Damon and a crying Paula Deen all in one place; but, like Al, I have to admit that there’s real brilliance in his Theo-fied Arthurisms.  Still, I’m a sucker for equating dead people to the performances of Adam Dunn and Miguel Tejada.  Good work, good sir.

Meanwhile, no year-end applause would be complete without a nod to my longtime friend and confidant, Mr. Allen Krause.  Known for his cynical twists on the political establishment and undying love of all things Detroit Tigers, it has been a pleasure to write on his wing.  Sometimes he’s so “on” that he finds literary genius in imagery.  Indeed, that endearing Krausian wit is often highlighted by rational thought.  Sometimes it points out the un-fact-checked obvious, other times it gets serious, with a real call for responsibility.  And, just in case you think Mr. Krause’s Libertarian-bashing makes him a soulless, automated Obamatron, this reflective piece will convince you otherwise.

But when it comes to knockin’ ‘em outta the interwebs park, I have to kowtow to the RSBS Presents series.  The brainchild of Mr. Krause, RSBS Presents has enlightened us on the finer points of fandom and how to stay classy while reminding us that, ultimately, positivity has upside during times of turmoil.  But the best of them all was learning how to score a Republican.  And here I thought it involved finding Jesus and quoting Alex P. Keaton.

Happy Christmas, Merry Hanukkah and long live King Kwanzaa!

Jeff

A Christmas Wrap-Up (Part 1)

Every December we like to take a look back at what happened during the year in RSBS.  And with Christmas upon us and the annual RSBS holiday break about to take place, it’s that time of year again.  Granted, there’s no way we could do this without all the hard work put in by the interns so I want to take this opportunity to personally thank them and ask them to keep up all the good work next year.

Now, before I get to the part you’re all waiting for, I want to take a moment to recognize a couple other people without whom this blog would be a much sadder place.  The regulars probably know him best from his appearances on the podcast but for me, his occasional pieces really put into words what I wish I could express.  In particular, this year I appreciated Mark Piebanga’s midseason post about Don Kelly.  For me, it crystallized who the Tigers were at that point in the season.

Similarly, the brilliant ranting and raving of Johanna Mahmud always bring a mid-week smile to my face.  Whether he’s once again lamenting the shortcomings of the Cubs via musical theatre allusions or cautiously hoping for change with the arrival of Theo Epstein, Jo hits the nail on the head as often as not in a way only he can.  However, the edition of Setting the Mahmud that really did it for me was his takedown of the Red Sox in the key of Arthur.  Nothing says b*tchslap quite like setting your role model loose on the AL underperformer of the year.

For the main event, though, I thought long and hard about the season my co-author had.  I watched with amusement his two-part Libertarian “coming out” as he confessed his love for the still-feisty Ron Paul.  I also applauded along with everyone else as Jeff completed his first marathon, and this from a guy who, two years ago,  was out of breath after running a block.

But the real marathon was the baseball season and if you don’t believe me, just go back through the record.  It started in April with Franklin’s blown saves and four months later, Jeff had all but given up on the Cards (and totally given up on the Rays).  Just a few short weeks later, though, his dreams came true while attending his first World Series game and a few days later, that dream reached its apex as the Cardinals won the World Series.  But as happy as he may have been in that moment, and all joking aside, I don’t think any of us could possibly understand how hard the Albert Pujols news hit him.  Baseball, just like that marathon, has its extreme highs and lows.  In 2011 we watched Jeff live them both.

-A

Don’t forget our awesome Oakley Blender sunglasses give-away, made possible by our friends at Crown Royal!  If you would like to win these sweet shades, all you gotta do is send us a picture showing why you are RSBS’ biggest fan.  Email it to us at RSBSblog@gmail.com.  The winner will be announced this Saturday, December 24th.

Setting the Mahmud

RSBS Special Correspondent and Trombonist Extraordinaire, Mr. Johanna Mahmud reports:

“Hello little man, boy, I heard a lot about you.”

The news is in the for MLB, and well, there is no news.

But Paula Deen got hit in tha damn head with a ham!!!

Wish I  threw it.

But there is a ham fighter (and occasional nude male model) on the loose. The Rangers couldn’t keep C.J. Wilson but they sure ponied up to possibly sign Yu Darvish. After the Los Angels signed Alberta de la Pujols, Texas had to do something and they definitely went BIG.

I don’t speak Farsi or Japanesy-Chinesey like Jeffy, but I’ve been all over this kid for a couple years and am eager to see him pitch in the Bigs. I finally have a Middle Eastern brother to watch!

Decision making while tired has happened many times whilst signing Asian ballplayers has been bad, (see Fukudome, Kosuke or K, Dice) but I think this cat has it going on. He’s extremely consistent statistically, has a powerful arm and my manometer is blasting! I will make a pilgrimage to Arlington to see him, which means I’ll probably have a woman shooting at me eventually. Everybody’s packing down there!

Anyway, this was early Xmas for me, (even though the Prince isn’t a Cub yet) so I got my reindeer sweater and I’m blastin this bomb.

“Jesus, that’s wet.”

Have a great whatever you do!

–Johanna Mahmud
Follow Johanna on Twitter!

Santa Krause Comes Early This Year

I know it’s early but I just got too excited and had to give you my Christmas present.  I hope you like it.  It is from the heart after all.

Happy holidays!

-A

Santa Krause wants to keep on giving, too, with our awesome Oakley Blender sunglasses give-away, made possible by our friends at Crown Royal!  If you would like to win these sweet shades, all you gotta do is send us a picture showing why you are RSBS’ biggest fan.  Email it to us at RSBSblog@gmail.com.  The winner will be announced this Saturday, December 24th.

Forget Me, Forget Me Not

It is my hope that, a year from now, the likes of Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry and Arte Moreno’s checkbook exist merely as fuzzy postulations of the delusional masses — mere hiccups in the digestive tract of progress.  Of course, I realize one of these three is never going to go away, so I have to do what I can to temper the sadness it has caused.

But sometimes things go away, never come back and leave us wondering… what if?

Slap bracelets?  Hello?!?!  Where have you gone, fine fashion accessory from my youth?

Meanwhile, let’s examine those forgotten baseballers of 2011 and determine if they should forget me, or forget me not.

Milton Bradley
FORGET ME.
Dude, seriously.  115 plate appearances in 2011 was 115 plate appearances too many.  Known exclusively as an overpaid hot-head wife-beater who had ONE good season, there’s no reason for Milton to get another chance.  If his outrageous childlike behavior and .212 BA over the last two seasons aren’t any indication that it’s time to forget this loser, maybe the fact that NO ONE LIKES HIM is.

David Eckstein
FORGET ME NOT.
It’s difficult for me to believe that no one had any use for this scrappy go-get-em baseballer in 2011.  How did the Padres — a 91 loss team! — not have any role for Eckstein last year?  The dude does just about everything and he does it all right.  He’s a leader, a teacher, a fighter.  In my opinion, many teams could have used his services last season and I don’t see how that situation would change in 2012.  Any team’s super utility role should be considered for the former World Series MVP.

Manny Ramirez
FORGET ME.
Like Dexy’s Midnight Runners and Vanilla Ice, Manny being Manny has long lost its charm.  The man is a cheater.  A wife beater (notice the theme here?).  A creep.  He was caught (AGAIN) ‘roiding up and instead of acting like a man, ‘fessing up and handling his business with dignity, he ran away and hid from his fans, not saying a word.  Now he wants back in.  Not only that, but somehow he has snaked his way out of serving the 100 game ban deemed necessary for repeat ‘roid offenders and lucked out with only facing a 50 game suspension.  Manny reeks of insidious ego.  STAY AWAY PLEASE.

Johan Santana
FORGET ME NOT.
Never thought I’d say this, but I feel sorry for the Mets.  I really do.  Just a game away from the World Series in 2006, who knew they would fail so hard in 2007, sign the biggest free agent pitcher on the market to a $137 million contract, fail even harder in 2008, then fall into baseball hell with more problems than the Congressional Reform Act?  There was a time when Santana on the bump meant I had to watch that game.  With all of his recent injuries, I doubt that will ever be possible again, but I still want to see the man pitch.  And soon.

And finally…

Brandon Webb
FORGET ME.
I’m still trying to figure out how Webb was able to land a $3 million contract last season after not having pitched AT ALL since 2008*.  Indeed, he had a good run from ’06 t0 ’08, getting guys out with one of the nastiest sinkers I’ve ever seen,   but when your rotator cuff no longer rotates, I think it’s time to stop chasing the glory that once was.

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

Peace,

Jeff

*Actually, Webb pitched 4 innings in 2009.  He gave up 6 runs off 6 hits before his arm fell off and he disappeared from baseball relevancy; but in my opinion, that hardly counts as “pitching”.

Also, FORGET RSBS NOT and our awesome Oakley Blender sunglasses give-away, made possible by our friends at Crown Royal!  If you would like to win these sweet shades, all you gotta do is send us a picture showing why you are RSBS’ biggest fan.  Email it to us at RSBSblog@gmail.com.  The winner will be announced this Saturday, December 24th.

Good Night Sweet Hitch

With all the craziness of the free-agent market, the Ryan Braun saga and Tim Tebow’s impossible ascendancy over the past few weeks, it was easy to lose track of the other big stories. Not at RSBS, though.  Especially not when one of those stories was the untimely death of the hard-living, hard-charging and hard-nosed Christopher Hitchens.

He may not have always been likable but you always had to admit that he had a point.  I particularly enjoyed his takedown of the not-so-saintly and surprisingly sanctimonious Mother Theresa.  It’s even better when you hear him say it because that dry, British delivery gives it the little extra zip that really drives the point home:

Goodbye Christopher.  And since you knew as well as I that there’s no after-life, I’ll just say thank you.

-A

Some Happy for Your Saturday

Has losing your living legend got you down?

Do you see Halos everywhere you look?

Tired of trying to compute just how many zeroes Number 5 left you for?

I’m so with ya.  In fact, I’ve been so blue the last 10 days that the RSBS interns decided to dig up something special to make me smile.


I don’t know about you, but I done fell outta my chair.

Happy Saturday!

Jeff

A High Priest in Tweed

A lot of baseball purists hate Bill James.  By attempting to intellectualize aspects of a game that had up until then been left to “experts” who used their gut feelings to lead teams in one direction or another, James sought to overturn baseball orthodoxy.  These experts/purists/fundamentalists hate James because they no longer get to employ their mystical powers to direct the religion of baseball.

This should hardly come as a surprise, though.  Baseball is a uniquely American sport and Americans are uniquely anti-intellectual.  It only makes sense that a group of people who disparage America’s professors and other learned people would also disparage someone who tries to apply reason and science to America’s pastime.

But those who hate intellectuals the most are also those who fear them the most.  The old school scouts hated James because his emphasis on the quantifiable aspects of baseball undermined their previously hallowed positions as arbiters of all things baseball.  They feared losing their previously sacrosanct positions so these high priests of the game had to evolve or risk becoming irrelevant.

Something similar is taking place in the Republican party today.  The party of belligerent anti-intellectualism has somehow embraced a self-styled intellectual as their new savior.  The truth, though, hides a little deeper in the phenomenon.  Newt, intellectual that he claims to be, brings nothing new to the game.  He’s merely a priest dressed up in the trappings of an intellectual but he uses this affectation to scare his flock into believing what sounds intellectual to them.  Newt is riding high on this image but hopefully his new religion will soon follow the same path as the baseball scout’s “sure thing” and the Contract With America.

-A

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