February 2012

Feeling Less Than Equal

America has become an unequal place.  Yes, there’s the enforced salary cap equality of sports like football that has led to a more competitive game.  But in general, the haves and the have-nots of baseball more accurately reflect what’s really happening in our society.  Sure, money doesn’t always ensure that you’ll win it all but there’s a reason why the New York Yankees are the winningest team in MLB history while teams like Pittsburgh, Green Bay, Oakland and Denver have flourished in the NFL.

Inequality in sports is bad enough but the inequality between people matters even more.  What does it say about a country when a Congressional committee hearing on contraception has exactly zero female invitees?  I think it’s safe to say that even Kenny Powers respects women more than Darrell Issa.

Inequality also appears to be rearing its ugly head among the Republican presidential contenders, although at least one of them doesn’t necessarily see that as a bad thing.  If I didn’t know any better, I’d say that Santorum was trying to throw the race by saying the most patently offensive things possible.  And yet, he’s not only still in the running, he’s also somehow leading Mitt Romney in polling for upcoming important contests.  This continued surge of Santorum (…ahem) seems to prove not only that a portion of the country supports his worldview, it also shows us that quite a few Americans really are batshit insane.

Inequality tends to right itself eventually.  The conspicuous consumption of the 1920’s and the ensuing Depression led to a recalibration in the 30’s and 40’s.  Today, a similar series of events has left a recession that seems to tenaciously hold back growth outside of a fraction of the population, while a small-scale revolt against income equality has risen up in areas of the country.  Are we seeing another recalibration?  Me, I’d say there’s hope because there’s one place where we are all still equal.

-A

Don’t Make the Last Out

Gary Carter has left us, but the footprint he left on our national pastime remains as big and strong as he was during his 19-year career.

When I was 7 years old I watched Game 6 of the 1986 World Series.  That one game had a huge impact on me, my imagination and why I eventually became the baseball-lovin-monster I am today.

It was the first time I’d ever witnessed “a miracle”, the first time I really understood you need 27 outs to win a baseball game and the first time I realized that there is no substitute for hard work.

Years later, as a teenager, I recall hearing Gary Carter tell his version of what took place in Flushing that night, that during his at-bat that started the astonishing go-ahead rally his only thought to himself was “Don’t make the last out.”

That resonated with me.

Don’t make the last out.

Don’t ever give up.

Don’t give any effort but your best.

Rest in peace, Number 8.

Jeff

What Detroit Can Teach Us

“Ideology is just a pejorative word for principles in which you happen not to believe.”

-The Economist, 11 February 2012

Ideology colors everything.  For the dyed-in-the-wool conservative, Obama’s healthcare plan is a socialist plot that threatens the very foundation of the United States.  For the liberal, it’s a half-assed compromise that sells out to big business and especially insurance companies.  In reality, it’s the first step toward reining in out of control healthcare spending that simultaneously provides a laughable level of actual service.

And ideology goes further than that, filtering everything through a lens of principles and beliefs.  This is fine to a certain extent when the debate is constructive and leads to better proposals and more responsive policies.  But when ideology goes too far, it leads to a total lack of common sense.

For instance, take the uproar over Chrysler’s Super Bowl ad.  Setting aside the fact that Clint Eastwood is apolitical at best, it’s hard to see how this car ad could be taken as anything but a commentary on the tough economic conditions Americans have faced over the past few years and how Chrysler wants them to know that they went through the same thing.  Look at it again:

Me, I see a pretty darn effective car commercial.  But conservatives see a hidden campaign for Obama’s re-election while liberals interpret it as anti-union.  It makes me wonder what they’d see in last year’s Chrysler Super Bowl commercial:

Xenophobia?  Racism?  Socialism?

Here’s what I think.  Detroit is a metaphor for America.  And Detroit has had a rough decade.  But Detroit hasn’t given up.  Look at the Tigers and Lions.  Look at the new line of Fords.  Hell, look at what Chrysler is turning out.  That, my friends, has nothing to do with ideology.  It has everything to do with inspiration.

-A

G’head, Jeremy, Yer Doin’ It Right!

Move over, Keith, there’s a new number 17 in town and he’s got everyone going so LINsane that those all-night disco-caine parties from ’86 look like an afternoon tea.  That’s right, folks.  Just when you thought you might finally be over that Tim Tebow hangover, in walks the first EVER American born Chinese to play in the NBA.  And boy can he play!

(If you don’t know who Jeremy Lin is by now, then it’s time to OPEN YOUR EYES)

Don’t worry, I’m not gonna go into some long philosophical diatribe on how Lin’s soft swishing three serves as the perfect metaphor for a hard-working, faith-based US American populous because, as you might already know, THAT’S CRAZY TALK.

What I am going to do is urge you to jump on board the LINvincible Train so you’re not all alone out there on Planet Boring.  Besides overusing the same lame LIN puns, the LINvincible Train also features dramatic spin-moves and celebrity bandwagoneers… like the Colorado Rockies’ Jeremy Guthrie!

It’s amazing what getting out of Baltimore can do for a pitcher’s offseason creativity.

G’head, Jeremy!  Yer doin’ it right!

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

Peace,

Jeff

Setting the Mahmud

RSBS Special Correspondent and potential Grammy host, Mr. Johanna Mahmud reports:

I’ve lost my…

Rooster Cogburn, my John Mclane, my  Jules Winnfield.

I lost Whitney this year AND my all-time favorite Cub, Aramis Ramirez. Armariezz. THAT’S WHAT I CALLED HIM. Didn’t call him A-RAM OR ARAMIS. I always called him Armariezz. THAT WAS HIS NAME.  I wish Whitney and Aramis had things to sing together to the Brew Crew but she’s got better things to do now than hang out in MlilaAAAAuwaaakayyy…

Since I can’t hang with Armariezz anymore then I wanna hang with Adrien Brody, Andre 3 Million and Gael García Bernal from that Gillette commercial.  That’s a bad@$$ club!

So much hipper than when they had Federer, Henri and Tiger. Can’t believe it happened.

–Johanna Mahmud
Follow Johanna on Twitter!

Crack Kills and Other Stuff You Already Knew

Are you paying attention to all this, Josh Hamilton?

Whitney Houston’s death — while not a surprise — is a sad story indeed.  In fact, anytime a colossal talent such as hers is lost to the underworld translates into a melancholy tale; but her spotlighted career the last decade and a half has been more than that.  It’s been a messy train wreck in slow motion.  I’ve just been waiting for it to stop.

Now it’s stopped.  For good.

Addiction ain’t no joke.  And it cares not who it destroys.  You can be the best singer in the world or the most talented athlete on the diamond.  It doesn’t care.  It will consume you if you don’t get help.

I only hope that people are paying attention.

With that in mind, Mr. Krause made me hip to one of Whitney’s lesser-known interweb gems.  Here, take a look for yourself: *Vid Link*.  (For some reason, all embedding of this video — and ones like it — has been disabled)  Make sure you pay special attention to Monsieur Gainsbourg at the 58 second mark.

Call me crass, but that’s a Whitney moment to remember.  She was hot.  She had the best voice on the planet.  And the entire world was at her service.  Yet none of the above was enough to slay the dragon of addiction.

The damn thing breathes fire.

Don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.

Peace,

Jeff

RSBS Turns Four!

Four years ago today, I wrote the first post in RSBS history.  It was terrifyingly awful.  What terrifies me even more is that at that time in 2008, I had incredibly high hopes for the Tigers’ upcoming season based on some high-profile acquisitions they had made.  Four years later, I’m still haunted by that 2008 season and experiencing no small amount of deja vu (all over again).

If there’s one thing that gives me hope, though, it’s the fact that sometimes triumph is born from the ashes of despair and failure.  That first post was awful but the throw-away line at the end ended up becoming Mr. Lung’s regular sign-off.  And even though Dontrelle Willis didn’t work out for the Tigers, Miguel Cabrera has been a godsend.  Paired with Prince Fielder, I can’t say as though there has been a more feared power duo in the AL since the days of the Bash Brothers.

Sometimes you have to let go of the past and just realize that it’s over.  So, with that in mind, happy fourth birthday Mr. Lung.  And a special thank you from both of us to the interns for their years of unpaid but essential work.  But most of all, thank you to our loyal readers who keep coming back, in spite of RSBS‘ inauspicious beginnings.  Hopefully in 366 days we’ll be blowing out another candle together.

-A

Et Tu, Molina? (Pars Duo)

A few years ago I wrote a cautionary piece foretelling the eventual departure of one Yadier Molina — SUPREME JEFFY MANCRUSH — if the Cardinals somehow didn’t resign Albert Pujols to a long, career stabilizing contract.  I wrote it flippantly, thinking this will never happen in real life.

And then real life hit.

Albert Pujols is gone and Yadi doesn’t seem to be as in love with the Cardinals as the Cardinals faithful are in love with him:

“I love the city. I love the fans, I love the park. But it’s out of my hands. Whatever they like to do is how it is … They let Albert [Pujols] go. It’s business for the team, too. It’s out of my hands.” (source)

Um… wrong.  One, dearest Yadier, it most certainly IS in your hands.  And two, the Cardinals DID NOT “let Albert go.”  They made him a very good offer, one that would most likely highjack the team for the latter half of this decade, one that would have made Albert a very, very, VERY rich man.

And he declined.

For more money.

I don’t have a problem with millionaire ballplayers chasing the money — but I do have a problem with framing the situation in a salacious manner.  To say the Cardinals did not put any effort in retaining Mr. Pujols’ services is as reckless as it is inaccurate.

Here at RSBS, it is no secret that Yadier is my most beloved Cardinal.  The St. Louis brass would be wise to pay the man whatever he wants, and I would applaud their efforts to do so.

But if I’ve learned anything about professional sports the last few months it’s that I’ve been clinging to the delusion that athletes give a f*** about the “home team”, about creating a “legacy”, about “loyalty”.

It’s about money and it will always be about money.  I’m okay with that now.

If the Cardinals do the right thing and throw bank at Molina to keep him, then I’ll be ecstatic.  But I also live in reality these days, so I’m fully prepared to see him in a Halos jersey in 2013.

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

Peace,

Jeff

Kenny Powers, Speaking Truth to Power

The unofficial start of the baseball season is fast approaching and that can mean only one thing.  It’s almost time for season three of Eastbound & Down!

For those of you who have not yet succumbed to that lovable scamp, Kenny Powers, you owe it to yourself to check him out.  And if you’ve checked him out previously and didn’t care for his blatant racism, misogyny and general ignorance, well, you probably have a good point.  But me, I can’t wait for Kenny to get back on the field.

See, Kenny Powers isn’t like the rest of us.  I could try to explain but I think it’s better to just let him do it in his own words: “…From one Gifted Young Athlete to another: don’t kill yourself trying to make sense of all the madness…It’s not our fault we’re awesome, playboy. It’s Jesus’s.”

-A

The Political Super Bowl Commercial You Didn’t See

There’s all kinds of odd in Florida.  Thanks, Mark Oxner, for taking it to an entirely new level.

I CAN HAZ SPRING TRAINING YETZ?!?!?!

Happy Friday!

Jeff

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