January 2012

Pat the Bat: May the Force (of Chase Field’s Left Field Wall) Be with You

When Pat Burrell announced his retirement yesterday, I thought very hard about what exact moment I will always remember him for.  Except, I couldn’t really think of anything.

Oh sure, there was that whole sparking the 2010 San Francisco Giants’ lineup towards a World Series crown thing as well as his square Phillie pinstripes and catchy nickname.  But what else?  What is that one specific Pat Burrell moment I’ll always hold on to, forever and ever?

And then I remembered: June 15, 2011.

The Diamondbacks were hosting the San Francisco Giants that evening and when Chris Young laced a Madison Bumgarner fastball deep to left in the fourth inning, everyone in the ballpark knew it was gone.  Everyone EXCEPT for Pat Burrell.

That’s right.  Pat was on a mission.  In fact, Pat charged backwards with his trademark slow, awkward steps.  But he was DETERMINED and his eyes never left the ball, and he ran AT FULL SPEED until…

Pat smashed himself into the wall.

The video of this feat is HILARIOUS.  Everyone in the entire stadium knew that ball was gone, but Pat tried to channel his inner honey badger and take it down anyway.  He just forgot about that whole wall thing being there.

If MLB had any sense of humor they would make the video of this Pat Burrell career highlight available, but alas, MLB is still run by King Bud, and fun is not allowed.

Don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.

Peace,

Jeff

Feeling Giddy

He’s larger than life.  He’s estranged from his father.  He could possibly eat his body weight in donuts.  And he’s all ours!

Detroit has fallen in love with Prince Fielder and it seems like the feeling is mutual.  Me?  I couldn’t be happier.  One of the happiest memories of my childhood was watching Prince’s daddy crush a ball that flew out of old Tiger Stadium, right over me, my brother and my dad.  You don’t forget that kind of thing.  And now we can go relive it in Comerica Park with Prince doing the honors.  It just feels right.

At the same time, I’m a little worried.  The baseball world hasn’t been this giddy about the Tigers since 2008 when they were shoo-ins to win the World Series.  Shoo-ins, that is, until they ended up falling flat on their face right out of the gate.  This team is too good to fail but, well, if there’s anything we’ve learned in the past few years it’s that nothing is too anything to fail.

All that aside, I’m excited about 2012.  It’s an election year, the Lions should be even better next season and now the Tigers have made a move that in retrospect seems brilliant, even if no one saw it coming.  Verlander and Fister.  Prince and Miggy.  You can forgive me for feeling a little giddy.

-A

Big Trouble In Little Bridgeport

Without question, the blockbuster Prince Fielder-Detroit Tigers signing shock-and-awed the baseball universe.  But for those who huddle en masse around 35th and Shields, still hanging on to what little hope may have remained for the critically criticized 2012 White Sox club, such news only served as confirmation for a long, slow, painful baseball season death.

Will this Irish keening ever stop?!?!  A man needs his sleep!!!

Unfortunately, with the likes of Jake Peavy ($17 million), Alex Rios ($12+ million/year through 2014) and Adam Dunn ($14+ million/year through 2014) holding the team hostage with their collective astronomically unbalanced compensation-to-performance ratios, it appears the situation in Bridgeport is only going to get worse before it gets better.

Which forces the question: what is the shelf life on a Gordon Beckham?  Once the “untouchable dealbreaker” in any high profile trade, it seems like the former first round draft pick is doing his very best Brandon Wood impression.  In fact, there were times last season where Beckham looked as clueless on the diamond as Rick Santorum would at a gay foam party on the beach.

Sox fans can only take so much of “I’m going to work on some things and get better” before they realize YOU’RE LYING.  YOU’RE NOT VERY GOOD.  STOP TALKING.

In fact, the dour mood of the White Sox organization might benefit from a colossal dose of shut-the-hell-up.  People are tired of hearing Jake Peavy say… anything.  People are tired of the excuses for why Gordon Beckham just isn’t that good.  People are tired.  Period.

Unfortunately, it looks like that “tired” is going to morph into a bonafide coma, at least through 2014.

Hate me.  Go ahead.  Just don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.

Peace,

Jeff

Candidates Say the Darndest Things

One of the best parts of election years is watching the candidates say things that you know are going to come back and bit them in the ass.  The classic example is George Bush Sr’s famous “Read my lips: No new taxes” quote.  It’s kind of like guaranteeing a victory in the NFL playoffs or calling your shot in baseball.  If you make good on it, you look like a genius.  And if you don’t, well, you just look like an ass.

The thing about GB Sr., though, is that his promise was rather benign.  No new taxes.  Sure, that sounds good even if it isn’t really all that realistic.  And compared to what the candidates are saying this time around, well, it also sounds rather sane.

Consider Newt Gingrich’s recent promise to colonize the moon by 2020.  Now aside from the fact that there is really no good reason to establish a permanent base on the moon nor any feasible way of doing so, it also seems like maybe we should focus the immense resources needed for such a mission on infrastructure projects or the like, things with tangible benefits that can not only be shared by all citizens but also put the those same citizens to work.  Call me crazy but that’s just how I look at things.

When it comes to crazy, though, the moon base is only one of Gingrich’s many issues.  In fact, the more you look at what the guy says and does, the more you realize that he probably is legitimately mentally ill.  Megalomania, irrationality, wild mood swings.  It’s all there on the public record and in the numerous articles written about the former Speaker.

I don’t know, though.  Even though it’s terrible for the country and would turn the general election into a joke, there’s a part of me that wouldn’t mind seeing Newt get the nomination.  Who knows what other gems might be uncovered as he reaches for the highest office in the land?  More than that, at least his crazy is kind of fun.  It’s much better than the kind of crazy that says rape victims should “Make the best out of a bad situation.”  That, my friends, is truly insane.

-A

It’s My Party and I’ll Gloat If I Want To

Only a few weeks remain before pitchers and catchers report to spring training, which means we’re that much closer to the 2012 baseball season beginning with the St. Louis Cardinals reigning as CHAMPIONS OF THE UNIVERSE!!!

Hot dog!  What more could a Fredbird fanatic like myself ask for on his birthday?

How about a decent bullpen?

*POOF*

And there it is: a beautiful, beautiful bullpen!  Fernando Salas, Lance Lynn, Scrabble.  And Motte to close?!?!  Wow!

I have to go back many years (at the height of Izzy-mania to be exact) to remember going into spring training sans a bullpen worry (or nightmare).  Having a closer whose calling card is missing bats is just the exclamation point!!!

And now for something completely different:

Happy Friday!

Jeff

Mr. Lung, Superstar

I’m a day early but these things are rarely exact.  No one really knows for sure if Jesus was born 2,012 years ago, for instance.  But I can tell you for sure that Jeff was born 33 years ago as of tomorrow.  I just hope that Jeff doesn’t decide to follow in Jesus’ footsteps.  See, after disappearing for 30 years between his birth and the start of his ministry, Jesus managed to piss off the entire Roman Empire and the Jewish elite in three short years and get himself killed.

I don’t want to say the allusion is exact but for the past three years Jeff has been pissing off the MLB empire and the baseball elite (including getting kicked off Barry Zito’s Twitter feed).  So far there have been no threats against Jeff’s life but MLB is sneaky like that.

It’s a day early but happy birthday Mr. Lung.  And please, beware of crowds bearing palm fronds.  You know what happens a week later.

-A

The MLB Network’s “Baseball IQ”: A Swing and a Miss

To say I have resentments over Major League Baseball’s long-standing tradition of being completely out of touch with its fans is like saying I’m not worried about the future of the Republican party: IT’S EXTREMELY UNDERSTATED!!!

After all, we the FANS are what make professional baseball work.  WE are the ones who pay $30 for a nosebleed, who dish out $8.50 for a crappy beer.  WE are the ones who have to see therapists when our favorite superstars go wherever the money takes them and WE are the ones who, despite what happens in the offseason, can’t wait to get back to the ballpark and throw our hard earned money around.  So when we get dissed by the governing hands of the sport we love so much, IT HURTS.

The NBA set up its own network in 1999.  The NFL perfected the craft in 2003.  And the NHL (yes, that’s the one where they play hockey) started its own network in 2007.

It wasn’t until 2009 — a good TEN YEARS after the NBA set the precedent — that MLB finally gave the fans the opportunity to experience baseballgasms 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.  I can hardly remember life before MLBN, and I don’t want to.

But there has been something missing in its programming.  Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE the lineup of shows they’ve been rolling out.  Brian Kenny’s new Clubhouse Confidential is fantastic.  Prime 9 is a classic.  And nothing beats MLB Tonight.  Yet the very nature of baseball fandom — getting lost in the numbers playground and tooling around for hours — seems to open itself up to a… TRIVIA SHOW!

Enter Matt Vasgersian and Baseball IQ, which premiered on the Network last night.  Vasgersian’s cool.  Baseball trivia is cool.  How can this possibly not be a kick @$$ show?

Quite easily actually.  Rather than having real fans as contestants — y’know, the type of Joe Plumber uberdork (me?) who will argue and bet stats in a bar ’til the beast looks beautiful — they instead use MLB employees:

“It will be a 32-person bracket with one participant representing MLB.com, each of the 30 clubs and the National Baseball Hall of Fame — featuring everyone from front-office personnel to equipment managers to scoreboard operators and museum curators.”

Um… (channel Eddie Murphy Delirious voice) dat’s not iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiit.

MLB employees?!?!?!?  Would you watch Jeopardy if the contestants were limited to the authors of the Encyclopedia Britannica?!?!?!

Okay, so the “prize” money is donated to charity.  Whoop-dee-doo.  If I wanted to watch a charity event I’d go to a golf course.  Or a walk-a-thon.

The MLB Network had a great opportunity to connect with its fans — the very people who keep the Network going — by allowing everyday folks who live/eat/breathe baseball but don’t get paid for it to shine.

Instead, they produced the equivalent of an Alfonso Soriano swing at a ball in the dirt, low and away.

WHIFF.

Don’t hate me.  ‘Cuz you know I’m right.

Peace,

Jeff

For Your Viewing Pleasure

Yorvit Torrealba tells an ump what he really thinks:

My question:  So, why did you swing?

-A

Best Picture


This has the potential to knock Field of Dreams from its perch.

Don’t hate me. ‘Cuz I’m right.

Peace

Jeff

Showdown at the Country Ham House

I told myself that I wasn’t going to write about politics today.  Yes, this blog is all about baseball and politics but with the Republican primaries going on, it seems like all I can do is mock the ridiculousness of the candidates.  So, today, I wasn’t going to do this.  Then I read about “the incident that almost was” yesterday at Tommy’s Country Ham House in South Carolina.

Yes, I know, the zaniness of Newt and Mitt both scheduling events for the same time at Tommy’s Country Ham House is almost unfathomable.  It’s like a British farce without the intelligence.  Or the British.  Actually, I guess it’s just kind of a farce.  I particularly like the fact that Newt seems to be intent on making the contest as high school as possible.  The exact quote is, “I have a question. Where’s Mitt?  I don’t think they have New England clam chowder on the menu.”

This guy is seriously being considered as the next president of the United States?  It’s only a matter of time before he resorts to yo’ momma jokes.  “Hey Mitt, yo’ momma’s so stupid, she named you Mitt.”  To which Romney will of course reply, “Your name is Newt.”  I ask again, these guys are seriously being considered as the next president of the United States?

Anyway, so much for not writing about politics today.  I blame the Ham House.  And South Carolina.

-A

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