February 2012

2012’s Mouthwatering Prospects

The run up to summer blockbuster season is a lot like baseball’s offseason.  Lots of rumors, lots of movement and everyone talking about who’s going to do what and who will be the winners and losers.  Expectations mount as we get closer to the start of the season, as we start seeing all the previews that look great.  With both baseball and movies, though, it’s hard to tell what you’re really going to get until opening day.

Not that this will stop me from drooling in anticipation.  I mean, come on.  The Tigers have Cabrera and Prince at the corners!  Sure, that’s an exponentially compounded defensive liability but the prospects at the plate are simply mouthwatering.  Kind of like the Alien prequel, Prometheus:

And if that isn’t enough to whet your appetite, how about a little brilliance in advertising:

Summer 2012.  Was there a better time to be alive?

-A

Lies, Lies, Lies

In an election year, it should be no surprise that we US Americans are being bombarded with a barrage of twisty little lies.  Whether it’s the Obama camp’s magical math making unemployment numbers “plummet” or Rick Santorum and his imaginary friend pretending that the whole American Revolution and subsequent Constitution thingy isn’t really what it seems, we cannot escape the onslaught of fibbery.

But such fibbery is expected from the political lot.  It is when such vitriol enters the baseball universe that I get extremely pissy.

For example…

“We were able to get through this because I am innocent and the truth is on our side.”
– Ryan Braun

Um… no.  You were able to get through this ‘cuz you’re a multi-millionaire with legit counsel and a Mark Fuhrman wannabe handling your bodily fluids under the direction of King Bud.  Exoneration in this case does not equal innocence, Mr. Braun.  It merely suggests there is reasonable doubt.  You still got more testosterone in you than Kim Kardashian at the NBA All-Star Game.  And it seems just as… icky.

“My loyalty is here (Texas). This is where I’ve been, this is where my family has been. I would love to be here.”
– Josh Hamilton

Now I don’t want to go picking on Josh Hamilton because he’s not very bright, but I do want to pick on him for spittin’ the same stupid lie as every other potential free agent baseballer lookin’ to get paid: ENOUGH ALREADY.  “My loyalty is here”… pshh.  PLEASE.  Your loyalty is wherever they pay you the most.  That’s how it works and we all know it.  Your family is not going to have too much of a problem moving to a different city to chase that pay-puh.  Determine who will give you the most money with the most years and that’s where you’ll go.  To say anything different is a slap in the face of cold, hard fact.  I’m an adult.  I can handle the truth.  Maybe.

“The guy (Alfonso Soriano) works his butt off all the time.”
– Dale Sveum, Cubs Manager

Okay, Dale.  I’m gonna help you out with this one.  YOU NEED SOME NEW GLASSES, BRO.  See, I’ve been following Sori’s career since he was a young pup.  And from New York to Texas to D.C. to the Chi, Alfonso Soriano is THE LAST PERSON ON THE PLANET I would say “works his butt off all the time.”  ESPECIALLY while in Chicago.  In fact, there is an entire faction of Cubs fans who want him crucified!  They wouldn’t flinch an inch if Sori ceased manning left field tomorrow.  Forever.  For good.  Why, Mr. Sveum?  Because Alfonso Soriano is the absolute KING of lollygagging.  His defense is atrocious and he is NOTORIOUS for gazing at might-be homeruns that are actually doubles that drop in for long singles because he doesn’t hustle out of the box.

If you’re here to fix the Cubs, Mr. Sveum, you might want to know what they’ve been used to the last 103 years: PAIN.  SUFFERING.  AGONIZING PAIN AND SUFFFFFFFFEEEEERRRRRRIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIING.

And goats.

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

Peace,

Jeff

A Post of Laughter and Forgetting

This has been a traumatic offseason for my good friend Mr. Lung.  Not only did Tony LaRussa follow his World Series victory with the news that he was retiring from the team, this same TLR has now shown up in the Detroit Tigers’ camp to assist during spring training.  But of course that all pales in comparison to Pujols’ treason.  Not to mix too many metaphors but Pujols’ betrayal for the proverbial 30 pieces of silver has left Jeff muttering “Et tu, Albert?”

But there’s good news!  It turns out that scientists may soon be able to help Jeff erase those memories (It’s a long article but worth reading) and return to the halcyon days of his 2011 post-Series ecstasy.  If that doesn’t work, we can always hope that maybe Albert pulled a Fausto Carmona and won’t be able to perform in an Angels’ jersey.  I mean, it could be worse.  He could have gone to the Cubs, right?  I don’t know if there’s any pill that could have helped with that.

-A

Tiger Spring!

RSBS Special Correspondent and Wikipiebenga Creator, Mark “Pie” Piebenga reports:

As soon as Victor Martinez went down, I thought, “well, season’s over.” [1] But then the Tigers won the Fielder sweepstakes (at a cost that boggles the mind: apparently Little Caesar’s is a pretty lucrative organization. Everybody reading this please buy a five dollar Hot N Ready so they can pay the Prince. And here is my obligatory admission that the back end of that contract is going to be a total nightmare). A season that looked suddenly suspect just as suddenly became the most exciting spring I can remember.

If they can keep healthy, and get production anywhere close to last year from Delmon Young, Alex Avila[2], and Brennan Boesch’s first half, and get consistent quality from Messrs. Verlander, Fister, Scherzer, and Porcello (not to mention the newly Dotel-ified bullpen), it augers Another Very Interesting Year To Be A Tigers Fan.

There are still some big question marks. It’s looking like a platoon of Ryan Raburn and Ramon Santiago at second, which doesn’t do us a ton of favors at the plate. With the diminished defensive range and crInge worthy batting of the once-exceptional Brandon Inge,[3] the Miguel Cabrera return-to-third experiment will be interesting and hopefully not embarrassing. Danny Worth and Don Kelly[4] will probably spot start there as well. Finally, can Austin Jackson achieve leadoff effectiveness even approaching two years ago?

For the last seven years or so I’ve approached the start of the season with same kind of a nervous ambivalence. The most positive outlook I’ve had could be described as ‘cautious optimism,’ which I feel now. It’s a very strange feeling to see the Tigers as the projected favorite to win the A.L. Central (hell, until last year, we hadn’t done it since 1987. Didn’t even do it in ’84.) The Tigers have been good lately, but as a typically suspicious and superstitious fan, I’m always nervous. In ’06 they got in the playoffs as a wildcard. When they forced the 163rd game with the Twinkies in ’09, I never had the feeling that we were a legit contending team. Last year they didn’t really seem to have any implicit dominance until rifling off that twelve game winning streak in September. (My father and I credit ourselves for that, having seen live their last loss before the streak started at a blinding hot day game Sept 1st, when the Royals came to Detroit.)

Speaking of which, I am very nervous about the Kansas City Royals. They were rated the 11th best team in the league in the ESPN prospects power rankings (I don’t know if this is a remotely useful metric, but Buster Olney seems like a smart guy). At the game with my dad September First we were sitting along the third base line, and during a lull in the game Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas was shooting the bull with the umpire and throwing the ball around. He was basically standing in the coache’s box, well behind third and in foul territory, and dude scooped up lazy grounder that came his way. Barely breaking eye-contact with the ump, he made a throw off his back foot that looked casual as hell, but judging by the angry snap of the leather Eric Hosmer’s glove at first, it could’ve been shot from a rifle. The lineup is getting spooky over there.

It’s foolish to make predictions about what’s going to happen, and we’re still forty four days till opening. Naturally when things don’t go your way for a couple of decades, you begin to doubt that anything good is going to happen. But the Tigs lately have provided all one can demand of any team, and that’s meaningful baseball in August and September. It will be really interesting to see what this team does in the face of injuries, statistical regression, and the rigors of the season.


[1] I can be a little dramatic.

[2] Verlander’s remarkable season was well documented. While he was hardly under the radar, I think a brief digression on Alex Avila is in order here. He had a .389 OBP (10th highest in baseball), an .895 OPS (8th in the AL), and hit .295. All while catching 133 games, and ranking top five among AL catchers in most defensive categories (e.g., tied for 1st with 40 runners caught stealing). And one of my least/most favorite things was the sheer number of times he got hit by deflections. I know catchers get hit all the time, but honestly I can’t remember seeing anything like his 2011 season behind the plate. (for example, check out sparks flying off his mask, and him getting hit in the neck.)

[3] He seems ever so far removed now from his ridiculous first half in 2009 that made him an All-Star (21 HR before the break!).

[4] Don Kelly fielded eight positions in 2011, everything except 2B. It’s well documented that I am transfixed by this guy, and his huge ALDS Game 5 dinger versus the Wankees made me so happy for him.

Don’t Blame Braun

I feel a little sick to my stomach when I hear about someone getting off on a technicality.  Illegal search, improper handling, failure of the arresting officer to read the suspect their rights.  The list of possible screw-ups is endless.

But you know what’s even worse than seeing someone get off on a technicality?  Watching someone get convicted for a crime they truly didn’t commit.

I’ll be honest, just like all of you, I have no idea whether or not Ryan Braun is guilty.  He claims he’s innocent, MLB implies he’s guilty and the fan is left to wonder what the real story is.  But whether he’s an innocent charged with a crime he didn’t commit or a ne’er-do-well who got off on a technicality, the fact of the matter is that Braun has been cleared and this story never should have been in the press in the first place.  More than that, if Braun was guilty of using PEDs, MLB has no one to blame but itself for his exoneration.

The reason courts and commissions have procedures is so that at the end of the process, you can be absolutely sure that the person was dealt with fairly and deserved the consequences of their actions.  Even though it makes me sick when a criminal goes free because a DNA sample was mishandled, you can’t put that on the criminal.  It’s the fault of the lab or the officers who did the mishandling.

Same goes for Braun.  This isn’t a story about him using PEDs.  No, this is a story about MLB screwing up a procedure that was set in place to assure fairness and impartiality inthe judgement.  MLB has no right to disagree with the arbitration panel’s findings.  If the organization had done their job correctly we’d either just now be finding out that Braun was a cheater or we’d have never heard anything at all.

I don’t like the Braun case.  Whether he juiced or not, this story taints him, taints MLB and taints the game.  However, instead of attacking Braun, the mob should be pointing their fingers at the only known guilty party, an organization that again and again fails to deal appropriately with the issues it faces.  Don’t blame Braun.  Blame Bud.

-A

__________________________

After a grueling off-season training regimen, the Filibuster comes back even bigger and badder then ever next Sunday.  Maybe you want to know what the RSBS crew thinks about divisional realignment.  Perhaps you’d like to make Allen see red by asking his feelings on pink team caps.  Or maybe you’re just wondering why asking Jeff the question “Boxers or briefs” leads him to respond “Depends.”  No matter what the query, send it to RSBSBlog@gmail.com and we’ll let you know what we think.

Gut Punched by a Halo

Albert Pujols is an Angel.

I understand he’s just going about his business, but I sorta feel like every time he opens his mouth or takes a swing with that halo on his head he’s deliberately punching me in the gut.

“Here.  Take that, mang.”

Ouch, Albert.  Ouch.

It’s one thing to get over an ex-lover, but it’s another thing to get over an ex-lover when SHE’S TOTALLY IN FRACKING LOVE WITH SOMEONE ELSE.  And when she goes around showing off her newfound bliss that DOESN’T INCLUDE YOU, it makes getting up in the morning pretty dang difficult!  Not even the toughest of tough guys can get rid of the awful, looping image of his ex-girlfriend having hot-love action with some other dude.  It’s just… sickening.

*SIGH*

At least I have a back-up plan.

Happy Friday!

Jeff

Guinness, RSBS and the Largest St. Patrick’s Day Party Ever

If you’re wondering who has the world record for fitting the most hard-boiled eggs in their mouth at one time, there’s only one resource: The Guinness Book of World Records.  Same thing if you want to know when and where the world’s largest omelette was cooked.  But the thing about these records is that when you look them up, you probably won’t find your name listed.  At least  until now.

This year, RSBS is partnering with Guinness and a bunch of other blogs to break the record for the biggest St. Patrick’s Day party….ever.  And we want you to be part of it.

The principle is easy.  If you’re 21 or older, just follow THIS LINK to the Guinness website, and once you’re in, click where it says “Join The Party.”  You’ll have to enter your first name, country and zip code in order to pledge to join the party and be part of the record.

But, much more importantly, in the “optional code” box, enter the code “REDS” and Guinness will send $1 to RSBS, a dollar which we’ll be donating to Baseball Tomorrow Fund participant, Noble Network Charter Schools.  That’s right, for each pledge that goes in under the RSBS name, you’ll be helping us provide baseball equipment to a bunch of kids in Chicago.

The interns search for the downside. Maybe it's at the bottom of that pint glass?

Trust me, we’ve tried to find the catch to this.  We even put the interns on the case but all to no avail.  Your pledge to join the largest St. Patrick’s Day party ever not only gets you in the book, it also helps bring baseball to kids who might not get to play otherwise.

Maybe you’ll never make it into the book as the world record holder for most cockroaches eaten in one hour but anytime someone brings it up, you’ll be able to say that you were part of world’s largest St. Patrick’s Day party.  Add in the fact that you’re helping RSBS bring baseball joy to some kids in Chicago and it’s an even more meaningful record.

-A

P.S. Guinness and RSBS remind you drink (and break world records) responsibly.

Setting the Mahmud

RSBS Special Correspondent and long-time supporter of the Green Party, Mr. Johanna Mahmud reports:

Chess is life.

I love pitching rivalries, matchups within divisions and the occasional interleague throwdown. That’s a giant piece of cake for me!!!

What pairing will be this year’s best? Let’s examine the possibilities, with Bobby Fischer setting the stage…

“I play honestly and I play to win. If I lose, I take my medicine.”

Yu Darvish/King Felix!

“I like the moment when I break a man’s ego.”

Stephen Strasburg/Josh Johnson!

“Chess is war over the board. The object is to break your opponents mind.”

Jon Lester/C.C. Sabathia!

“Chess is a matter of delicate judgement. When when to punch and how to duck.”

Johnny Cueto???  Hmmm… Matt Garza??

PROBABLY NOT.

My personal favorite pairing of all time — the one that really captivated me — is, of course, Bobby Fischer/Boris Spassky. Sometimes Bobby battled himself even! (Fast Eddy Felson and Minnesota Fats come in a close second).

I’M A DORK.

Baseball can’t start soon enough.

–Johanna Mahmud
Follow Johanna on Twitter!

How the Play-in Will Play Out

I couldn’t be more excited that the NCAA seems to be extricating its head from its nether regions to finally consider instituting a college football playoff.  The only thing better than the thought of the classic matches to come is salivating over the classic matches that could have been.  Sure, I know that Michigan wouldn’t have had a chance against Florida in that 2006 matchup but most people thought Ohio State was going to plow the Gators under so you never know.  That’s the thing about football and a one-game playoff system.  It sucks when you’re on the losing end but it’s great when you win.

But baseball is different.  Sure, there’s a thrill to ending the season on a one-game intra-division playoff and some of those games have become instant classics.  However, despite being the baseball progressive half of the RSBS duo, I find myself wondering about the MLB expanded playoffs.  A play-in wildcard game?  Sure, it’s great for ratings.  And obviously it means a lot more than something like the NCAA basketball play-in game.  But I’m just not sold on it.

On the money side I get it.  A one-off play-in is bound to be a huge financial bonus.  Last year it would have meant keeping the Red Sox and their fans around for one extra game and MLB loves those ratings bonanzas.  But the beautiful thing about baseball is that its also about playing consistently.  You have to play well over a 162-game grind, which only gives you the chance to do it all again in grueling 5 and 7 game series.  The extended series in baseball are like life while football’s one-and-done playoff model feels more like the movies.

I’m sure I’ll come around.  MLB has finally taken care of the uneven league issue and and with even divisions, teams now have more incentive than ever before to win their division.  The play-in is great for strong divisions where a couple good teams trapped behind a spectacular team will finally get a chance to make the playoffs.  But, do we really need to have 3 NL East and 3 AL East teams in the playoffs every year, even if one of them falls out during the play-in?

-A

And Rod Barajas In the Role of Sugar Coating

Make sure you’re sitting down.  Take a deep breath.

Journeyman catcher Rod Barajas is “thrilled to reunite with (A.J.) Burnett on Bucs”.

THRILLED!

Funny, in the above linked article he never says he’s “thrilled” with anything, but then again, who on the Pittsburgh Pirates would be?

Can we just call the A.J. Burnett trade situation what it is: EMBARRASSING.

Embarrassing for the Yankees because they gave him all that cash.  Embarrassing for A.J. because he got all that cash only to become Brad Penny.  Embarrassing for the Pirates — THE LOWLY PIRATES — because they were the only ones desperate and baseball-stupid enough to take him on.

Considering the money the Yankees are eating on this deal, it really does look like the Pirates got a bargain, of course, until one realizes they now have A.J. Burnett on their team.  Coaches, teammates and clubhouse doors beware.

In the meantime, I’m sure Rod Barajas is enjoying his brief moment in the public eye, even if it is as a sugar coated red herring.  When ya play with the Pirates, ya gotta milk every second ya get.

Don’t hate me, ‘cuz I’m right.

Peace,

Jeff

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