March 2012

Namely a Name

Yesterday was election day here in the Chi.  I was there bright and early, standing in line with old ladies and a man who smelled like gasoline.  Working class neighborhood.

We have regular old boring names like Jeff. Bob. Joe. Myrtle. Louise. Evelyn.

I look down at my ballot and get dizzy from these crazy names!  Newt. Mitt. Barack.

Immediately my mind strays from politics, and does what it often does when it would rather be doing something else… focusing on baseball.

My favorite baseball names, in particular.

Candy Maldonado. Boog Powell. Calvin Schiraldi. Pete Incaviglia. Elias Sosa. Willie McGee. Boof Bonser. Homer Bailey. Catfish Hunter. Urban Shocker. Rocco Baldelli. Razor Shines. Al Kaline. Goose Gossage. Yadier Molina. Dick Pole. Fernando Tatis. Ugueth Urbina (despite his homicidal tendencies). Dickie Thon. Harmon Killebrew. Tom Candiotti. Ray/Bob/Bret/Aaron Boone. Coco Crisp. J.J. Putz. Rusty Kuntz. Oil Can Boyd.

And, perhaps my very favorite, Kevin Bass, if only because I pronounced it Kevin Bass (as in, the opposite of treble) for a long time before being corrected on the little league diamond with snickers (not the candy bar) and jeers.  Still, to this day, I prefer my pronunciation.  It is much more marquis worthy.

Sadly, none of the above were on the ballot.

Ron Paul it is.

Happy Hump Day!

Jeff

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Moonbases and Porn and Franchises, Oh My!

As electoral campaigns get rolling and as the candidates feel a need to distinguish themselves, the quotes become more and more interesting.  Sure, there is the obvious craziness of Newt Gingrich and his moonbases but that’s just a drop in the bucket.  You expect that sort of thing from a bipolar former Speaker of the House.

But what about Rick Santorum’s pledge to ban pornography in the United States?  Number one, anyone who feels this strongly about so many “vices” must have a real problem.  Has he even heard of Mark Foley or Ted Haggard?  Number two, the states that most support Santorum, the so-called “Red States” who revel in their religiosity, also happen to be the largest consumers of porn.  Are you really going to tell me that they’ll let Mr. Santorum take away their dirty little secret?

Finally, how would you even go about doing away with porn?  Are you going to start censoring the internet and blocking sites that you consider “morally reprehensible”?  The only place I’ve ever visited where they’ve been even moderately successful with this approach is Saudi Arabia.  I don’t exactly see that as a model for the US.  Besides, you’re going to have about as much luck banning porn in the US as MLB has had in banning PEDs from baseball.  Where there’s a will, there’s a way, and as long as boys and ballplayers are around, there will always be a will to access porn and PEDs.

Luckily it’s not just Mr. Santorum who’s divorced from reality.  In an effort to prove that he, too, is just a regular guy, Mitt Romney recently let us know that he loves sports just like us.  In fact, he has “good friends” who own NASCAR and NFL teams.  Now, I don’t know if Mr. Romney enjoys car racing or football but there’s a pretty major difference between enjoying sports and being friends with people who own the teams.  If you can’t make that distinction, you probably ought to go back and audit Running for Office 101.

I realize that I’m being pretty hard on the Republicans here.  But, since they’re the ones in the middle of a heated primary fight, they tend to also be the ones making the ridiculous statements.  I’m sure Obama will come out with some of his own once the general election gets underway but for now, he can just sit back and let the other side say what they want.  Sounds like a plan to me.  Moonbases and porn and franchises, oh my!

-A

Michael Kay Reacts to Andy Pettitte’s Prodigal Return

*Special cap tip to the one and only Prince of New York, whose new book, Paul Lebowitz’s 2012 Baseball Guide, (a must-have for any serious baseball fan or fantasy baseball junkie) has just come out on Kindle.

Don’t do any baseball drafts until you’ve read this tome.  It’s a tradition I’ve come to love.  Goes well with beer.

Don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.

Peace,

Jeff

The Filibuster

Dear RSBS Linguistics Dept.,

How the hell do you pronounce Mike Stanton’s new name?  Is it “Gee-an-carlo” or “Jon-carlo”?  I’m going to keep pronouncing it “Mike”.

Jonestein
(pronounced “Joan-steen”)
Fort Worth, TX
___________________________________

Being a nation of immigrants means that US phone books are full of many sometimes unusual names.  Some of my favorites include Christian Okoye, the KC Chiefs’ Nigerian Nightmare; Juan Pierre, who can’t seem to decide if he’s French or Spanish; and, of course, Barack Obama.  Unless you’re a modern-day Nativist, like the un-ironically Catholic Newt Gingrich, you realize that this inflow of names, traditions and cultures makes our country a more interesting place.

That makes me wonder how a guy like Stanton got tagged with the name “Mike” in the first place.  He was drafted by the Marlins, a team based in south Florida where there is no shortage of hispanic first or last names, out of southern California where the same holds true.  So how, in either of those environments, does a guy like Stanton get forced into assuming a name he has never used?

I find it even more interesting that I’m answering this question the day after St. Patrick’s Day as the Irish were undoubtedly one of the primary targets of mid-19th Century Nativism in the US.  Part of it was poverty, part of it was religion.  But all of it was xenophobic.  150 years later, not only are people with Irish last names found everywhere in the United States, we also dedicate a day to them each year on March 17th.

True, sometimes this influx of last names from all corners of the earth leads to problems.  For instance, I’m not really sure how Keith Jackson would handle a name like Ndamukong Suh.  But athletes, just like any other American, have the right to use and be called by their real name.  Sure, it might get mispronounced from time to time but I think that if the tables were turned and it was any Tom, Dick or Harry arriving in another country, they’d still rather be called by their own name.  Hell, sometimes it even works out in your favor.  My last name often gets mispronounced as “Cruise,” which leads to getting asked if I’m related to Tom.  I just smile, give a non-committal answer and let them keep pronouncing it however they want.

-A

P.S. I’m pretty sure he’ll respond to either pronunciation.  I’d just avoid using Mike.

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Don’t Get Pinched: Clink a Pint and Do Some Good!

Kiss me, I’m Irish!

Okay, I’m not Irish.  I’m Scottish.  We make the whisky.  But when it comes to beer, it just doesn’t get any better than Ireland’s very own Guinness!!!  I’m assuming you already have a pint in your hand.  If not, GET ONE!

And while doing so, please take a moment to join RSBS and Guinness in setting the world record for the largest St. Patrick’s Day party on the planet!  It’s easy.  Just go to Guinness.com, verify you’re 21 years or older, then click “Join The Party.”  Just type in your first name, country and zip code and then 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.

To show our appreciation, think on the following:

It also happens to be the combined blood alcohol content for the 2011 Red Sox starting rotation.

And the only active baseballers I can think of named Patrick right now are… none! Since Pat the Bat retired, I can’t think of a single one player named Patrick.
So that would be right around the same time the Cubs celebrate 8,853 years without a World Series title.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Jeff

A Very Graphic Graphic

If you ask most baseball players if it’s justified for a pitcher to hit them with a pitch, I’m going to guess they’ll most likely say no.  Likewise, if you ask most NFL receivers if it’s OK for a defender to spear them while they’re stretched out for a pass, they’ll probably say no.  In general, it’s pretty hard to imagine someone thinking that it’s all right for someone else to hit them.

Well, unless you’re a Jordanian woman:

Graph via The Economist

We’re a week late for International Women’s Day but that doesn’t mean the topic is no longer germane.  Remember, you probably wouldn’t purposely throw a ball at someone during a baseball or softball game so you probably shouldn’t be punching your wife or girlfriend either.

-A

RSBS Digest: Time Travel

Unless we’re talking about the cavernous anatomy of a female Kardashian, despite my best efforts, I still have not been able to pinpoint the location of a reachable and workable worm hole.  Hadron Colliders the size of Prince Fielder’s appetite are also difficult to find these days.  And let’s not even start talkin’ about the insane price of rocket fuel!

So how do I propose we travel back in time?

We open our eyes and take in the train wreck that is the Republican primary!

Want to live in a world where a woman’s reproductive rights don’t matter?  Vote Republican!

Want to live in a world where your life is governed by an invisible sky daddy whose literary tome is as angry, erratic and suspect as a Manny Ramirez press conference?  Vote Republican!

Want to live in a world where the ONE candidate who ACTUALLY MAKES SOME SENSE is so shunned that he doesn’t even have ONE person embedded in his campaign to report what is actually going on?  Vote Republican!

We might not be able to travel back in time to stop the JFK assassination or Don Denkinger’s blindness during the ’85 Series, but as the above scenarios prove, we can go back about 100 years without much effort.  Just know that, if we do, it may only be a matter of time before they may decide it is okay to own human beings and to kill others simply because they believe in a different fairytale.

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

Peace,

Jeff

The Luck of the Irish

At first blush, baseball doesn’t seem to have all that many ties to Ireland.  Sure, St. Patrick may have used a blunt, bat-like object to whack away at the snakes invading the Emerald Isle but the Irish are more of cricket/soccer/rugby sort of nation.

However, there’s one thing that baseball fans and the Irish can agree on and that’s the fact that their preferred sport, whatever it may be, goes down even better with a nice tall beer.  I think that’s probably the main reason that RSBS‘ ongoing collaboration with Guinness to create the World’s Biggest St. Patrick’s Day Party makes so much sense.

St. Patty’s is only a few short days away and, as the muppets remind us each year, it’s a day fraught with emotion:

This year, before you begin boiling your cabbage and corned beef, help RSBS make that emotion joy for some kids in Chicago.

-A

Situation Normal?

Last year the Pirates tried to put an end to my relentless attack of literary low blows.  Shortly after the All-Star break they were atop the NL Central and my head was appropriately buried in the sand (not kidding; by the way, it sucks.)

But then came Jerry Meals’ blown call and down, down, DOWN came the Pirates, settling into yet another comfortably uncomfortable 90 loss season.

Look, I’ve been burned before too, so I sorta feel for Pittsburgh.  At the same time, insanity is still doing the same things over and over again expecting different results, right?  So why should anyone in Pirate land be surprised?

THE FRONT OFFICE AIN’T DOIN’ IT RIGHT.

With the exception of Andrew McCutchen in 2005, the last 20 first round draft picks taken by Pittsburgh is a who’s who list of overblown talent busts.  Among the KINGS OF NOBODYLAND are the likes of Bobby Bradley (1999), John VanBenschoten (2001) and Bryan Bullington (2002) — great sounding names, but swings and misses nonetheless.

Neal Huntington and the rest of the front office can say they’re doing things differently, but as long as they keep hoping Pedro Alvarez spends as much time perfecting his baseball tools as he does looking at the ground feeling sorry for himself, I’m afraid they have a long way to go.

Isn’t it about time they bring up those two Indian dudes?

Hate me.  It’s all good.  Just don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.

Peace,

Jeff

The House that Ron Paul Built

There aren’t a whole lot of things that Mr. Lung and I agree on.  Or rather, we generally agree on the big picture things (capitalism is generally preferable to communism) while disagreeing on the smaller things (no, the dead ball era was not a superior form of baseball).  However, we usually agree that Cubs fans are the Midwest’s intellectual neanderthals.

Turns out we might have been just slightly off on that.  Or maybe “Cubs Fan 77″ is simply the exception that proves the rule.  Either way, Mr. 77 pretty much calls it exactly the way I see it.

Call me crazy but there’s a part of me that kind of wants to see Mr. Paul’s house.  I’m pretty sure it would like something like this:

-A

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