April 2012

Ten Titillations!

April counts, yo!  And here are some reasons why, after just one month into the season, I’m as jazzed as Mitt Romney during a temple garment clearance sale!

The Oriole Way
I am old enough to remember the Orioles being a staple of sound, fundamental baseball.  And though those days seemed to disappear into Jeffrey Maier’s malicious mitt, it looks like they may be back!  Let’s hope they are back to stay.

The AL Central
The Tigers are going to run away with the division you say?  Not so fast.  I know it’s only been one month, but the White Sox and Indians are right there with ‘em, and unless the Tigers start putting a hurtin’ on the opposition instead of Jewish folks at a New York hotel, things could get interesting.

Bobby V
Love him or hate him, he makes things interesting.  And oh how interesting things have been for the Boston Red Sox.  I LOVE IT!!!  The NBA may have all the drama, but when every day could be your last as a Red Sox, I start craving chicken, beer and video games.

The Not-So-Natinals
Best starting rotation in baseball.  Bryce Harper.  Strasburgers.  Um, throw in a presidential race worth watching and I’m ready for Mr. Krause to buy season tickets.

The Pujols-less Cardinals
I’m not gonna bask in AP’s struggles, but I am gonna point out that the Cardinals have yet to lose a series (except that one against the Cubs where they were gifted a win by the umpiring crew).  Onwards and upwards!

The AL West
Have you seen a Rangers game lately?  I’ve been watching them almost every day!  THAT’S how ya git’er done, folks.  Meanwhile, the Halos are as nervous as Rick Santorum at a Santorum Party!  As the Yankees and Red Sox learned before them, a bazillion dollars worth of free agent signings does NOT a champion make.

The Toronto Blue Jays
Not only do their uniforms look right again, but they’re also making the AL East insanely good!  If only they could make Colby Rasmus less whiny.

The Youth Movement
I remember the excitement involved with Ken Griffey Jr. breaking into the league.  Chipper Jones too.  Now that Bryce Harper and Mike Trout have made their debuts, a similar buzz is in the baseball air.  Throw in a slew of sophomores and third year players making headlines and baseball looks to be badass for a very long time.

Pitching!!!
The Year of the Pitcher enters its THIRD year and I couldn’t be more excited!  As a self-confessed pitchers duel fiend, I live off serious heat, nasty breaking balls and backdoor sliders.  We’ve already seen a perfect game and some no-hitter flirtations.  But it’s the heroics of Joe Saunders, Kyle Lohse, Colby Lewis and the like that really get my gears greased.

And finally… the most titillating of them all so far…

ADAM. FREAKING. DUNN.
As a longtime resident of the south side of Chicago, the last thing I wanted to do was waste my summer days talking folks down off the ledge like I did last year.  But since it appears Dunn sold his 2011 soul to Albert Pujols, I’m free to party my ass off at the fake B-Dubbs on 35th & Halsted.  HOLLA!!!  And buy me a drink!

Go ahead, hate me ‘cuz I’m easily titillated, just don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right!

Peace,

Jeff

The Filibuster

Is pitching so good because guys aren’t juicing anymore or are pitchers just better than they were ten years ago?

Kathrine
Downers Grove, IL

___________________________________
This reminds me of when people ask if the Civil War was more about slavery or the fundamental differences between an industrial North and agrarian South.  The answer to the baseball question is pretty much the same as the answer to the Civil War question.  It’s both.

The apparent decrease in the use of PEDs in baseball has had an effect.  It’s unlikely you’re going to see many more 70+ homerun seasons in the near future.  But it’s easy to forget that it wasn’t just the hitters who were juicing during that period.  Roger Clemens taking a jab in his pale, fleshy ass was just as much a part of the era as Barry Bonds’ application of random creams and gels.  More than that, assuming that players are no longer juicing just because there hasn’t been as much of it in the news is naive at best.  It’s more likely that they have simply discovered a different, less traceable form.

Meanwhile, there’s no denying that some spectacular pitchers are playing the game these days.  Beyond the hype of guys like Strasburg, Lincecum and Verlander, even the mid-range starters have gotten better.  When the Rangers can add Neftali Feliz as their number five starter, that’s a sign there’s some scary talent out there.  The Nationals have become a force mainly through the development of guys like Strasburg, Storen and Zimmermann.  Pitchers are pitching not only better but smarter and that’s causing problems for hitters.

These things are cyclical, though.  Just because pitchers are handcuffing batters this season doesn’t mean the sluggers won’t figure out what’s going on next year.  It’s an arms race (literally and figuratively) between the two sides.  But it’s not just because of one aspect or another.  It’s the entirety of the situation.  You know, kind of like the Civil War.

-A

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

Subsidizing Beauty

It has been quite a while since we last checked in with our friends in the baseball crazy nation of Venezuela and during that time, things have gone from bad to worse.  Obviously the bad could only be Venezuelan superhero Mr. Ozzie Guillen and his self-confessed love of Fidel Castro.  We expect that sort of thing from El Presidente Chavez but Ozzie?

Even worse, though, is what’s happening to prices and stocks of essential goods over there.  The point of this article is that the government has been forced to subsidize beauty supplies which is understandable in a country with so many beauty queens.  But what I found more interesting is this sentence: “Premium toilet paper…is expected to slowly disappear from the shelves.”

I don’t know about you but if you’ve ever spent time in a country like Venezuela, you know that premium toilet paper is more than a luxury.  It’s a necessity.  Its slow disappearance from the shelves also means the gradual disappearance of your colon.

Speaking of colons and Colons, what happens to Venezuelan baseball players under the Venezuelan subsidy regime?  Is there a clause in there to underwrite cowhide for baseballs, leather for gloves and maple for bats?  Let’s be honest, after beauty queens, Venezuela’s only real cash crop is baseball stars.  Unfortunately the article doesn’t address this topic but let’s keep our fingers crossed.

-A

Stop It, Chicago Cubs, Just Stop It

*Dear readers, pardon me while I step away from being an unbiased observer and put on my wrathful fanboy hat*

Stop it, Chicago Cubs.  Just stop it.

You are a 6-win team thus far, and while yes, your last two wins (unfortunately, against my World Champion St. Louis Cardinals) were full of drama, let us not forget: you suck.

But you wouldn’t know that watching your celebrations the last two nights.  Unbridled bedlam.  Unwarranted one-upsmanship.  Beating your chests then dogpiling like you won the goddamned World Series?

Please.  You were the beneficiary of TWO blown calls.  Also, you are a terrible team.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t celebrate a walk-off victory, because it is only natural to do so.  But there is celebration and then there is what you’ve done two days in a row: act like blithering fools.

Consider a touch of class, or at least a nod to the baseball gods umpires who handed you a victory on Tuesday night.

Hate me ‘cuz I speak it straight, just don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.

Peace,

Jeff

Brendan Ryan Finds His Ironic Legacy: Keeping His Mouth Shut

We learned many things from Jim Joyce, Armando Galarraga and the infamous Imperfect Game of June 2, 2010.  We learned that throwing beer bottles at the wall may cause significant DAMAGE (to the beer bottle, possibly the wall too).  We learned that styling one’s facial hair after the Pringles man cannot disguise MISTAKES.  And we also learned that the best way to avoid controversy, is to AVOID controversy.

So when Philip Humber threw that wild 3-2 breaking ball two feet off the plate on Saturday and Brendan Ryan checked his swing, I felt all of the fury, all of the tension, all of the RAGE from the Imperfect Game ALL over again.  Except homeplate umpire Brian Runge called it a swing, AJ Pierzynski threw the ball to first and the celebration began.

OH BUT THE CONTROVERSY!!!

In my house, I had a hard time celebrating Humber’s gem because I was already seeing the asterisk-calling headlines, I could already hear Mariners fans (all three of them) flooding the sports talk shows with vitriol.  And as Brendan Ryan argued with Runge about the call, I knew it was time for me to go outside to get some fresh air before my phone started to blow up with imperfect texts.

Except… none of the above actually happened.  Brendan Ryan dropped the subject.  He tipped his cap and moved on.  The networks — as if taken over by an Orwellian machine of greater good (a fantasy in itself) — didn’t even show the replays of Ryan’s checked swing.  The Wizard said “Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain” and I — WE ALL — gleefully obliged, even though it sorta felt dirty doing so.

We owe that guilt-stained dirty feeling to Brendan Ryan.  In fact, whether it is a good thing or not, Philip Humber’s perfect game will live on unscathed by controversy because Brendan Ryan simply let it go.  He shut his mouth.  He went about his business.  And now we are to forget.

For a guy who was labeled as “a distraction” and a “clubhouse cancer” during his St. Louis Cardinal tenure, it’s nice to see Brendan being recognized for something else.  Admittedly, I never would have bet it’d be for saying… nothing.

Don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.

Peace,

Jeff

Turning to a Life of Crime

via Deadspin

You probably won’t be too surprised to find out that this guy is a serial killer.  It’s not so much the grizzled facial hair or the weirdly screwed shut eye as it is the other eye that says, “I really wouldn’t mind eating your liver.”

via The Smoking Gun

With this guy, too, it doesn’t come as surprise that he’s doing some time.  After all, how are you supposed to find a legitimate job with a mug like that?  If he hadn’t turned to a life of crime, I don’t think there would have been all that many other options.

It’s a little more surprising when a guy with a beautiful wife, money coming out his ears and a baseball team does the same:

AP PHOTO/NICK UT via Grantland.com

But make no mistake, this man is just as much of a criminal as Crazy McEyeballs up there at the top.  The only difference is that the guy with the nice head of hair didn’t spend a day in prison and walked away with several million in cash for his crimes.

-A

The Filibuster

It looks like Albert is off to a rough start in LA.  Have you caught yourself checking in on him yet?

Ian
Paris, TX
___________________________________

If by “checking in on him” you mean stalking his Facebook page, dialing his phone number then hanging up real quick and annoyingly asking our mutual friends if he’s really happy with his new lover, then no.  I haven’t done any of that.

But I have watched an unhealthy amount of Angels games early this season (BECAUSE I CAN’T HELP MYSELF) and I have to admit: even watching Albert struggle early on is no consolation for his loss.  There is no consolation.  Period.  None.  So it does me no good to dwell on it anymore.

IT’S OVER.  FOREVER.

And that’s okay.

It is no secret that Albert’s decision to leave the St. Louis Cardinals left me DEVASTATED.  I was in deep mourning for most of January.  As February rolled along, I found myself dealing with the five stages of grief more intimately than I ever wanted. But by the end of March, I’d finally reached the road of acceptance.  I had no power to change anything anyway, so I could choose to be miserable or I could choose to move on.

I chose to move on.

Albert Pujols provided me with some of the greatest memories of my entire life.  It is my decision to hold those memories dear, to never let go, but to also accept the change that is reality and be one with it.  Harboring any ill will towards the man who brought me such joy has zero benefits.  Just like I wish myriad ex-girlfriends the best in their individual lives post-Jeff, I also wish Albert the best.  That being said, when he strikes out or grounds into a double-play, I become human at times and secretly engage in a bit of childish taunting.  But this is not done with a hateful or angry tone.  I am mindful of it. I acknowledge its silliness. I immediately let it go.

AP may not be off to a torrid start when it comes to power numbers, but the homers and RBIs are going to come.  And when they do, I’ll tip my cap just as I would anyone else: while hollerin’ “GO CARDINALS!!!”

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

Peace,

Jeff

You Are What You Eat

If you have a stomach strong enough to stand the neverending barrage of political headline craptitude, then you might already know that the Mitt Romney camp is eager to point out that Barack Obama ate dog as a child.  Obviously, this is pretty important stuff.  As the Republicans know, you are what you eat (is Astroglide edible?), and no doubt, Obama’s youthful ingestion of doggie treats certainly makes him unfit for a job as demanding as the presidency.

Which got me thinking about my favorite baseballers and what they eat.  Sure, some probably go for too much hot dog and not enough arugula salad, but let us examine to make sure.  The interns have graciously prepared some slides.

Jonathan Broxton

Eats…

McPizza.  Right?  Weighing 300 lbs. as a baseball player ain’t easy, but when you only pitch every once in a while and you eat crap like the above, then it’s easy as McPie.

Tom Gorzelanny

Eats…

Baby Ruth.  Duh.

Josh Hamilton

Eats…

T*****s.

Dee Gordon

Eats…

Nothing??!!  Dude is about to disappear!

And finally (you probably knew this was coming)…

Prince Fielder

Eats…

The known universe.

To be exact, this idea references a fascinatingly disturbing thought theorized by famed astrophysicist, Neil DeGrasse Tyson.  One could look at it the way he explains — that an entire universe could be within each and every one of us.  Or, you can think (like me), that dude doesn’t get that large unless he eats everything in the entire known universe.

Either way, don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.

Peace,

Jeff

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes!

Technically the Cold War ended in 1991 when the Soviet Union finally fell apart.  However, the war has stayed pretty chilly down in the Caribbean where the US and Cuba continue to party like it’s 1969.  As a reminder of how chilly things remain, just take a look at the recent blizzard that blew through Miami when Ozzie Guillen made the mistake of declaring his love for Fidel Castro.  But then a funny thing happened.  Sure, Ozzie got a five-game suspension, and yeah, plenty of people got pissed off, but no one tried to kill him and people are still going to Marlins’ games.  The times, they are a-changin‘.

On the other side of the world, things are changing as well.  Previously the province of rappers, drunk investment bankers and Joba Chamberlain, “making it rain” has been taken to entirely new levels on the Arabian peninsula:

Frosty in Florida, rainy in the desert?  Looks like climate change is more widespread than we originally thought.

-A

“It’s Powered by Tradition”

I only lived in Chicago for a couple years but I can vouch for the fact that it’s a divided city.  Each little section corresponds to a certain ethnicity and the gaps in between are pretty much filled with yuppies.  But more importantly, there’s the huge divide separating the North and South sides of the city, a divide best exemplified by the Cubs up north and the White Sox down south.

Although we know all about the rivalry and mutual dislike between the two groups of fans, not to mention their socio-economic disparities, sometimes that difference can only be truly explained in pictures.  Moving pictures, to be more exact.  And no, I don’t mean Ozzie and Lou.  I’m talking Ron Swanson:

That, my friends, is a rivalry.  Powered by tradition.

-A

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