March 2012

Absence of Ozzie Not Enough to Shut Sox Mouth

Jake Peavy sure has a loose yapper.  In fact, it might be even more loose than his formerly detached latissimus dorsi, just one of the myriad things that have led to his supreme suckage in a White Sox uniform.

Sports Illustrated recently predicted the White Sox would lose 95 games in 2012.  I don’t see that prediction as overly hyperbolic.  The Sox were awful last year, and they haven’t done much to improve.  In fact, after dealing Santos to the Blue Jays, I’d even say the 2012 team, on paper, IS WORSE than 2011’s.

Still, Peavy and his Curt Schilling-like tongue is quick to point out that such an observation is off:

“That ain’t going to happen. I can promise you that. This team has too much pride. We are going to compete. That’s all there is to it.” (link)

Whatever you say, Jake.  Whatever you say.

If Peavy is correct (he’s not) and “pride” is all it takes to win ballgames, then why don’t teams just ditch everyone they have to sign 25 George Takeis and just get it over with?

Peavy is now a shell of what he once was.  He doesn’t have the velocity and he doesn’t have the mental toughness to PITCH his way out of mistakes.  He lets his emotions dictate performance.  And he is constantly whining and bitching and talking crazy to the press.

He has done nothing in Chicago but play bad baseball and run his mouth.  Sox fans can only hope he does well enough to get traded by July.

Hate me ‘cuz I compared Peavy’s mouth to Schilling’s, just don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.

Peace,

Jeff

Great Scott! -or- Why I Support the Individual Mandate

The idea behind insurance is that you pay a premium and if things go pear-shaped, there’s a safety net there to catch you.  It may not pay everything but it will pay enough that you won’t be ruined.  This is true for vehicles, this is true for health care and this is true for the guy who got his crotch insured.

The thing about insurance is that it works best with larger economies of scale.  Sure, there are the one-off specialty policies for Bruce Springsteen’s voice or Tina Turner’s legs but the vast majority of insurance policies cover things like health care or vehicle damage.  The larger the pot, the lower your premium because the risk gets spread out.  That’s why Obama made the “individual mandate” the centerpiece of his health care legislation.

For me, this is the most frustrating aspect of the legal challenge to the legislation.  The main challenge lies in the interpretation of the Commerce clause of the Constitution but, like many clauses in the Constitution, this can and has been interpreted many different ways.  Pretty much it just depends on how the Court feels the day it votes. And if the court is feeling especially conservative the day it decides this portion of the case, the “individual mandate” disappears.

The problem with the mandate disappearing is that the young and the stupid who think that they are invincible no longer have any pressure to purchase insurance, shrinking the pot.  This has two effects.  Number one, the pot now contains a greater percentage of people with existing or possible health problems meaning the risk has gone up and the premiums along with it.  The second problem is that when one of these young and stupid people ends up in the hospital, the system is forced to eat the costs because they didn’t have insurance.  What that really means is that your premiums go up again because the cost of that hospital stay has to be payed by someone.

Like it or not, the law evolves.  Prohibition came and went.  The Dred Scott decision embarrassed the nation and then was rectified by the 14th Amendment.  The point is, it’s a living thing and has to be to cope with the realities of a new era.  Baseball did away with the dead ball era, expanded multiple times and even now finds ways to adapt to new conditions.  The law does the same as social mores change and our needs evolve.  Right now, we need a health insurance system that works and until you can show me a viable option, the individual mandate is the only realistic path.

The Court’s decision is still weeks away and the debate is not going to die out anytime soon.  I don’t expect the mandate to survive but as health care costs continue to spin out of control, that decision may end up coming back to haunt the Roberts’ Court like Dred Scott did Justice Taney.  Meanwhile, the rest of us might just have to check in with The Boss and see how we can go about insuring at least a body part or two.

-A

How Will the Padres Become Watchable in 2012?

They hired a sideline reporter.  Her name is Britt McHenry.

And you are welcome.

It’s nice to see old crotchety baseball execs are finally getting the fact that sex sells.  And let’s face it: if you’re going to commit time and money to watching bad baseball, the least the front office could do is give you something nice to look at.

As long as they don’t partner her with Gary Templeton, things could be looking up in San Diego.

Hate me ‘cuz I don’t do all my thinking with my brain, just don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.

Peace,

Jeff

Why I am Leaving MLB

The recent New York Times editorial/open letter from a former Goldman Sachs employee appears to have opened the floodgates to those seeking to leave behind a no longer fulfilling employment.  However, RSBS was still shocked when the following letter arrived in our inbox the other day signed simply, Bud S.

-A
________________

TODAY is my last day at MLB. After more than 40 years at the organization — first as a minority owner of the Milwaukee Braves, then in bringing the Seattle Pilots to Milwaukee and renaming them the Brewers, and now as commissioner — I believe I have worked here long enough to understand the trajectory of its culture, its people and its identity. And I can honestly say that the environment now is as toxic and destructive as I have ever seen it.

To put the problem in the simplest terms, the interests of the owners continue to be sidelined in the way the organization operates and thinks about making money. MLB is one of the world’s largest and most important sports leagues and it is too integral to global baseball to continue to act this way. The organization has veered so far from the place I created that I can no longer in good conscience say that I identify with what it stands for.

But this was not always the case. For instance, over more than a decade I made sure that steroids not only entered the game but also redefined it.  By looking the other way while Sammy, Mark and Barry launched bomb after artificially powered bomb, I ensured that baseball once again excited the ordinary American that had been lured away by the corn syrup sweetness of NASCAR and the NFL.

I knew it was time to leave when I realized I could no longer look players in the eye and tell them they could continue to juice.

How did we get here? The organization changed the way it thought about owners. Ownership used to be about overcharging fans, merchandising everything from jock straps to girly colored hats and looking the other way while players shot ‘roids in the locker room. Today, if you treat the team as your personal piggy bank (and use its assets to pay off the divorce settlement with your crazy ex-wife) you will lose the team and the money from its lucrative TV rights.

There used to be three quick ways to become a leader among owners: a) Execute on the organization’s “axes,” which is MLB-speak for persuading your fans to buy tickets or other products that we are trying to get rid of because they are not seen as having a lot of potential profit. b) “Hunt Elephants.” In English: get your fans — some of whom are sophisticated, and some of whom aren’t — to buy whatever will bring the biggest profit to MLB. Call me old-fashioned, but I don’t like selling my clients a product that is wrong for them. I prefer to sell them at least three. c) Find yourself sitting in a seat where your job is to trade any washed-up, aging slugger for much more than he’s worth.  Adam Dunn, anyone?

Today, though, many owners display an MLB culture quotient of exactly zero percent. I attend postseason merchandising and ticket sales meetings where not one single minute is spent asking questions about how we can help owners or hose fans. It’s purely about how we can make this a “September to Remember.” If you were an alien from Mars and sat in on one of these meetings, you would believe that an owners’ success or pocketbook was not part of the thought process at all.

When I was a minority owner I didn’t know where the bathroom was, or how to tie my shoelaces. I was taught to be concerned with learning the ropes, finding out how to charge more for cheaper hotdogs, understanding the process of selling the same volume of beer at three different (and increasingly more expensive) prices, getting to know our players and what motivated them while making sure they had a safe place and a helping hand when injecting steroids in their asses.

My proudest moments in life — owning a Brewers team that posted one of the worst winning percentages over a ten-year period in the history of baseball, joining other owners in colluding and then helping pay the $280 million settlement, overseeing the worst All-Star game in the history of baseball — have all come through focusing on profits and passing the prices on to the fans. MLB today has become too much “the fan experience” and not enough about soaking the suckers. It just doesn’t feel right to me anymore.

I hope this can be a wake-up call to the owners. Make your fellow owners the focal point of your business again. Without fans you will not make money. In fact, you will not exist. But fans are simple-minded sheep who will do whatever you want so don’t worry about them. Get the culture right again, so people want to work here for the right reasons: steroids and making money for the owners. People who care only about making fans happy will not sustain this organization — or the trust of the owners — for very much longer.

Bud S.

Somebody Taze Me!

This Wednesday officially kicks off the 2012 MLB season and even though I’ll probably be fast asleep while it unfolds in the Far East, I’m sure the Japanese will be plenty excited about watching two awful teams compete against one another, especially since there’s at least one Suzuki per nine.

On this side of the pond, we have much, MUCH more to look forward to.  In fact, I might need a good tazing before the Cardinals open up in Miami, just so I’m forced to sit down!

Here are some of the things that have me baseball-tweaking:

The GOOD Blue Jays Uniforms Are Back!
Still mesmerized by the awful logo redesign and poor color scheme that killed Joe Carter’s Blue Jays look in 2003, I can’t tell you how happy I am to see the old logo back.  And royal blue!  No gray!  Alongside the Cardinals, Yankees, Dodgers and Red Sox, I gotta say the classic Jays uni is about as smart and sleek as baseball uniforms come.

Grant Balfour Finally Gets to Be  a Closer!
The 34-year old Aussie has been quietly waiting in the wings of every team he’s been on and now, finally, the Oakland A’s are giving him a shot at the closer role.  I still think closers are overrated, but I like to think that maybe, if Balfour performs well in his new role, he might finally get paid what he’s worth.  His numbers are fantastic and most people don’t even know who he is.  I’m afraid playing in Oakland won’t help his popularity, but maybe Billy Beane will throw him another peanut.  (Also, if you’re wondering, yes, Balfour’s fastball does have an Australian accent.)

Bobby Valentine!
I love Bobby Valentine.  For myriad reasons.  He’s cocky.  He’s loud.  His feelings get hurt.  He’s controversial.  He pisses off players, coaches, umpires.  And he’s a goddamn baseball genius.  HOLLA!!!

Jamie Moyer!
Good grief.  The dude is gonna be FIFTY this year.  FIFTY YEARS OLD.  And he’s still gettin’ guys out.  I absolutely love that.  I love him!  How can you not?!?!

And finally… you probably knew this was coming but…

WE ARE CHAMPIONS OF THE WORLD.

ALL.

YEAR.

LONG.

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

Peace,

Jeff

A Prince and his Palace

I loved Cecil Fielder.  He may have been a crappy father but during a period when the “Bless You Boys” had become more of a curse than a prayer, he was a bright spot in an otherwise dull lineup.  When his boy came up and then became a star with the Brewers, it was fun to watch but I had a hard time really getting into it because, well, he was a Brewer, not a Tiger.  But that has all changed.

I don’t know what Prince will do in a Tigers’ uniform.  I hope he’s going to be a monster in the tradition of his father but after the watching the White Sox live the Adam Dunn experience, it’s obvious that these things are far from certain.  What I do know, though, is having a Fielder in Detroit just feels right.  Welcome back, Prince.  I hope that Comerica is a palace to you like Tigers’ Stadium was to your father.

-A

The Filibuster

Simplistic campaigns to hunt down public enemies (like Kony 2012) are all the rage these days.  When will you all be launching Selig 2012?

Brad
Annapolis, MD
___________________________________

It is no secret that the authors of these pages hold no love for the staunch bureaucratic policies and seemingly never-ending reign of King Bud the Nosepicker.  Indeed, we’ve ripped the man’s decisions in every which way and have even gone as far as to say that George W. Bush would make a perfect Commissioner in comparison (no joke here, we really do think Dubya would be perfect for the job).  But to compare Bud Selig to the heartless, maniacal, baby-raping mass murderer Joseph Kony?  Um… that’s a bit much.

But just a bit.

The good news is, people are getting educated on Kony’s crimes.  And they’re doing something about it (unless *this* derails it).  However, when it comes to the tyranny of King Bud, we already know about the bevy of shenanigans.  There’s just nothing we can do about it.

If I may break from the usual ‘ol crotchety me for a moment, I would like to point out that, in my opinion, the overall state of our national pastime is as good now as it’s ever been.  Seriously.  If you turn your head from the silliness that is King Bud’s All-Star Game, and if make yourself forget about that whole Ryan Braun cheating thing, and pretend like the overall muscle bulge of the 90s and early aughts was caused by “supplements” that can easily be purchased at your local GNC, then you might conclude that, indeed, baseball’s vibe is very good right now.

The networks are fighting to get in on the expanded playoffs.  Parity is slowly squeezing its way into all divisions.  And the Pirates still suck!

More than that, people are still paying money to watch Adam Dunn play.  Erin Andrews is still showing up in dugouts.  And Tampa Bay seems to be in the playoff picture every year now, despite the fact that no one in Tampa Bay seems to care.

But most importantly of all, the St. Louis Cardinals are World Champs!

So for now, I can take a couple more years of bassackwards politickin’ from the usurping Milwaukee millionaire.

But I swear, Brad, if he reigns for more than two more years, you, me, Mr. Krause and the entire baseball universe are taking to the streets with Louisville Sluggers and Molotov cocktails (not to be confused with pet names for Kevin Millar).

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

Peace,

Jeff

_ _ _

Have a topic you want to see us Filibuster? Send us your Filibuster questions by emailing RSBSblog@gmail.com or by commenting below.

Pink on Pink on Repeat

If you follow this blog, you know that I am not a fan of pink baseball caps.  I pretty much feel the same way about them that Rick Santorum feels about anything that smacks of fun: it’s a sin.  I can get behind pink bats for breast cancer awareness and maybe even pink bases for one day.  But people who show up to baseball games wearing pink hats?  Nope.  That just isn’t appropriate.

I’m not sure what it is about pink hats that annoys me so much.  Almost every club has alternate caps that they wear from time to time to switch things up.  However, the alternates tend to reflect the official colors of the team.  In reality, alternate caps and jerseys are just a way for teams to generate revenue and that’s a brand of capitalism I can get behind.  With the pink hats, though, I honestly don’t see how they can be making enough money to make it worthwhile.  I’m sorry but a pink Detroit Tigers’ hat is just wrong.  Despite my feelings toward the New York Yankees, I still don’t feel right seeing one of their caps in pink either.

But as much as I dislike the unholy spectre of pink baseball hats, it pales in comparison to my feelings for the no-talent asshattery of Brittany Smooch:

Seriously, if I was forced to choose between watching either this video or Two Girls, One Cup on a loop for 24 hours, there’s a good chance I’d ask for rat poison instead.

Happy Saturday!

-A

Situation Chipper

The 2012 season will be Chipper Jones’ last, signifying for me a quaint full circle of baseball life.  From a goofy-grinned rook to an over-the-hill vet, I had the pleasure of witnessing it all, and I can’t help but tip my cap to the future Hall of Famer for all he’s done throughout his career, on and off the field.

With that, here is what immediately enters my mind whenever his name comes up:

The 1995 Season
Infuriated by a silent October in ’94, I vehemently quit on Major League Baseball.  I will have nothing to do with those crooked chumps!  Who do they think they are taking away my Fall Classic!?!?  Troglodytes the whole lot of ‘em! 

Yeah, but… see, there’s this guy named Chipper.  He’s with the Braves.  He’s gonna be a superstar.

And he was.  23 bombs.  86 RBIs.  And one cool stroke, from both sides of the plate.  By the second half of the ’95 season, all had been forgiven and I was hoarding baseball cards of a man with a goofy name.

The 2008 Season and Media Guide Photo
Now a lot of stuff happened between 1995 and 2008, but I want to focus on the monster season Chipper had.  I recall arguing here with my lugubrious and oft-crotchety colleague, Mr. Allen Krause, whether or not Chipper could realistically hit .400.  He made a good run at it, but had to settle for .364, and in the process provided one of the worst media guide photos of all time:

All-Star Weekend 2009
I had the good fortune of attending the ASG in St. Louis and taking in all the awesome that comes with such an extravaganza.  As you can imagine, heavy drinking was involved, and on the evening of July 13, at a seedy bar deep in the heart of Soulard, I was an accomplice to my friend losing a $100 bar bet on whether or not Chipper played any significant time at any other position than third base during his career.  I found out it only takes a few vodka bombs to forget that Chipper spent a some years manning left field for the Bravos.  I think my pal has forgiven me for that absentmindedness.  Now if only we could remember how we ended up in Sauget smelling like frosting, covered in glitter.

Yes, I’d say Chipper had a brilliant career, even if the last few years have looked more like an AH-64 Apache helicopter crash after attempting to push its limit.  What’s THAT look like?  Glad ya asked!

Happy Friday!

Jeff

Truly Master of His Domain

It’s nice to be the world champion in something.  For instance, Jeff still has another few months during which the Cardinals are the world champions in baseball.  That’s a good feeling.  Me, I’m not part of a world champion anything.  But when I consider the possibilities, things in which one could be world champion, well…

…I think I’m all right being regular old me.  It certainly beats that title.

-A

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