May 2012

A Rewarding Venture

Apparently, we’ve been going at the problem all wrong.  No, I’m not talking about the Tigers’ inability to hit baseballs to the spaces where opposing teams’ fielders are not.  I’m talking about the quag… quagmi…. quagmi…. really bad situation that is Afghanistan.

See, while we’ve been pushing education for women, community policing and other counter-insurgency tactics, the guys we’re trying to turn them against do stuff like this.  Sure, we do attack with drones and stuff like that but we don’t poison little girls…which would make you think that the rest of the people would run straight into the wide-open arms of Uncle Sam.  But, not so much.

However, there may be another option.  It turns out that maybe we just need to offer more reward money.  I just wish we would have known earlier.  We could have stopped up bin Laden’s finances and then just waited until he turned himself in to collect the award.

-A

Just a Bit Inside

A few weeks ago, umpire Greg Gibson found himself on the wrong end of the following headline:

Umpire Greg Gibson Took A Stephen Strasburg Fastball To The Crotch

Which obviously begs the question, should Gibson now change his name, perhaps considering the following as an option?:

All kidding aside, umpires have a crappy job.  Pretty much the only time anyone notices you is when you blow a perfect game or get nailed in the ‘nads by a Strasburg steamer.  With the advent of the home run review system, the job got even crappier.  As radar guns and pitch monitors get ever better, it’s probably only a matter of time before people start making noise about taking that responsibility away from the umps as well.

Today, though, on the day after Memorial Day, I just want to take a minute to salute the men in blue who put life, limb and the ability to procreate out there on the line everyday.  Now, get yourself a pair of glasses, get back out there and try not to give this game away, too.

-A

Paul Konerko: The Unsung Hero

On this Memorial Day — a day set aside to focus our attention and our appreciation for the service men and women who dutifully protect our nation — I would like to point out a similarly constant source of awesome who has quietly made being a south sider something to brag about.  His name is Paul Konerko.

“Paulie” (as he is affectionately called by White Sox fans) has done nothing in Chicago but hit 400 homeruns, drive in 1265 runs, hit .284 and carry an OPS of .865, all while flying way under the national radar of the worldwide leader in schlub and other poignant media corporations.  Oh you can bet opposing pitchers know who he is, but his public persona is a bit of a mystery.  He’s a quiet, reserved guy.  He’s not out gallivanting with actresses and pop stars.  He isn’t taking his shirt off and posing for GQ.  He doesn’t run his mouth to the press, or at umpires, or… at all.

He’s the lunch pail baseballer.  He shows up to work, works hard, then quietly goes about his business.  He’s the type of player you want your kid to idolize.  He’s the guy all the dads wanna hang out with, who all the ladies want to be close to.

He’s Paul Konerko — south side hero, midwest superstar.  The quiet, unsung hero.

I tip my cap.

And to all our nation’s heroes, we here at RSBS dutifully salute and thank you for your service.

Happy Memorial Day!

Jeff

The Filibuster

Steinbrenner says the Yankees aren’t for sale. A few billion would be tough to turn down though, so do you believe him?

Kevin
Ferndale, MD
___________________________________

I still remember the first time I missed out on my first billion.  In fact, it was just a couple days ago when no one took me up on my brilliant idea to go mine asteroids.  Seriously people, where are your priorities?

Selling the Yankees, though?  A team with a new park, an amazing history and a corporate and real fan-base unmatched anywhere else in baseball?  If the Dodgers are worth $2.175 billion, a team with broke-down finances and a fickle group of fans, you can only imagine that the Yankees would fetch a price well north of that.

But, the Yankees are not for sale, at least not according to Hal Steinbrenner.  And honestly, I don’t blame him.  For a guy like Frank McCourt, the Dodgers were simply a means to an end.  For a family like the Steinbrenners, the Yankees are a way of life.  The Yankees without a Steinbrenner would be a like a snickers without the peanuts.  Sure, it’s still tasty but it’s no longer a Snickers.  It’s a Milky Way.

So yeah, I believe Hal.  Even if I can’t help but picturing him responding to the question of selling the Yankees with a soothing, “I’m sorry, Dave.  I’m afraid I can’t do that.”

“Dave, this conversation can serve no purpose anymore. Goodbye.”

The other part of the equation is that although the Yankees may be worth $2.5 billion today, just imagine how much they’ll be worth in another few years.  The Yankees are more than a baseball team, they’re a global brand easily recognizable on the hats of millions of people around the world.  There is practically no large city in the world where you can walk around without seeing someone wearing a Yankees’ cap.  Hell, holding on to the Yankees isn’t even speculation.  It’s just plain and simple good sense.

Meanwhile, the rest of us are going to have to be content with our possible billion dollar schemes.  For me, that means dreaming of space asteroids and slowly going mad.  “Dave, my mind is going. I can feel it. I can feel it. My mind is going. There is no question about it.”

-A

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

Speculators, Mount Up!

Every once in a while my friend Jeffery comes up with an idea that surprises me in its intelligence.  Granted, his “I’m voting for Ron Paul because the gold standard is shiny!” moments tend to overshadow his more lucid thoughts but I’m the type of guy who gives credit where credit is due.  So, when Jeff advocates for the one-year contract, I have to applaud his chutzpah.  Sure, it will never happen for a legion of reasons but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad idea.  Unlike this:

Just because something is a good idea doesn’t mean it’s right, though.  For instance, paying less money for gas seems like a good idea to most of us.  And oil speculation seems like a bad idea.  But if you take a look at this and this, you might just start to realize that cheap gas doesn’t make so much sense and oil speculation might not be so bad.

Just like traders buying “future” barrels of oil, baseball players’ salaries are simple speculation.  You pay A-Rod a quarter billion dollars because you think he’s going to be able to continue putting up the same numbers for 10 years.  Same goes for Pujols and all these other guys with monster salaries.  You hope that by giving an extended contract, you’re actually avoiding paying less than what the market will say that player is worth and you’ll wind up with a profit.  That’s pretty much “speculation” in its most basic form.  And just like buying future oil, it’s not necessarily a bad thing.

For the rest of us, the options are a little more limited.  I don’t have major league skills.  I’m never going to make a million dollars because of my ability to hit a ball or throw a ball or pretty much do anything with a ball.  But that doesn’t mean I’m not going to speculate.  I’ve even got my eyes on a pretty spectacular opportunity.  Anyone want to throw in on an asteroid with me?

-A

A Serious Call for the One-Year Contract

Here’s an idea that will never become reality, but just for fun, let’s think about it.

Albert Pujols, while somewhat showing glimpses of his old self, is on pace to hit 15 homers and drive in 70-some RBIs — a whole lot less than the Halos thought they’d get from a a man making $24 million  a year… FOR THE NEXT TEN YEARS.

And how about the $20 million a year the Red Sox are paying Carl Crawford… FOR THE NEXT SIX YEARS.  Good thing Theo got out of town!

Of course, Theo already knows, you don’t have to go outside of Chicago to find a big, fat pile of head-scratching contracts.  Alfonso Soriano and Carlos Zambrano (yep, sCrUBBIES are still payin’ the bulk of that awful) are the most high profile, but until this year, the Dunn, Peavy and Rios contracts made Kenny Williams one of the south side’s most hated.

If only front offices could act like the rest of the planet when it comes to doling out large sums on a contract basis, perhaps they could save themselves years of embarrassment and avoid the ear-piercing “we’re in rebuilding mode” verbiage.

The truth is, when money is on the line, pro athletes perform better.  Consider the beyond stellar starts of Andre Ethier, Josh Hamilton, Mike Napoli, Kyle Lohse, Jake Peavy, Zack Greinke and many, many more.  The one thing these fellas all have in common is… THEY’RE IN CONTRACT YEARS!

If your paycheck is on the line, you try harder.  This is FACT.  But if you have the means to fall back on (Albert, Carl, et al.) and you have no pressure to git ‘er done ‘cuz you already got BAZILLIONS in the bank, what incentive is their to be the superstar you’ve always been?  I don’t care how bad@ss you are, the trend in performance speaks loudly: once a player reaches his monetary apex, he regresses.

There’s nothing wrong with paying a dude $25 million a year if he puts up $25 million a year numbers.  So why not reward those who do and save money (and face) by doing it on a year-to-year basis?

In the real world, if you underperform, you’re gone.  Period.

In the baseball world, the $100 million contract rarely works for both sides, yet teams keep handing them out; and then they wonder why there is backlash from the fans, media and baseball-politico bloggers who think very highly of themselves.

Don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.

Peace,

Jeff

Making It Rain: An RSBS Tutorial

With summer temperatures slowly creeping up on us, the potential for flop-sweat induced wedgies at the ballpark is on the rise, making an afternoon or midmorning rain shower a pleasant respite for anyone wanting to spend some serious time unstuck at the game.  Though it is not widely known, making it rain isn’t quite as difficult as one might think.  Here are three simple methods:

1.  Be Different


As my doleful and oft unctuous colleague, Mr. Krause, taught us, sometimes, making it rain is just a matter of doing the opposite of what’s expected of you.

2.  Be Ignorant


This is an easy method for rain-making, especially for those US Americans who reside in the realm of absurdity.  I recall Focus on the Family asking their invisible friend to make it rain in Denver, to drown out the “changes” being outlined by Obama at the 2008 DNC.

3.  Be Livan Hernandez


This is the easiest, most economical way to make it rain.  In fact, I’m doing it right now… to the guy in the cubicle next to me.

Hate me ‘cuz I makes it rain, just don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.

Peace,

Jeff

Ambassador Bryce Harper

When most people hear the word “diplomat,” they experience a faint sensation of cocktail parties and a life on the international jet-setting circuit.  But if you ever wondered exactly what a diplomat does, this recent account of the negotiations surrounding a Chinese dissidents departure for the U.S. is nothing short of fascinating.  However, I still think the best work done by America’s Foreign Service is its sports diplomacy programs.  In China this meant building on the opportunity offered by Yao Ming and bringing over other NBA stars.

In Latin America these programs go under the name “baseball diplomacy.”  It makes sense.  Most MLB teams have at least a scout and sometimes an entire infrastructure in Latin American countries in order to seek out and recruit promising young talent.  Why not build on those ties by using the baseball players as ambassadors of American good-will?  I’m pretty sure there’s no better way to illustrate the American Dream than by sending guys who are actually living it.

The only problem is, the guy who is truly living the dream right at this very moment hails from the U.S. of A., not Latin America.  Seriously, does it get any better than being Bryce Harper?  The guy is nineteen years old, talented beyond belief and finds himself playing on a team that seems to have finally put the pieces together.  Not bad for a guy who still can’t legally drink and who only recently became eligible to vote.  Oh, and I forgot to mention this:

Yep, I’m pretty sure I’d take “being a ballplayer” over “being a diplomat” any day of the week.

-A

The Filibuster

Taking into account the fantastic starts for Baltimore, Washington and the Dodgers, which one surprises you the most?

John
Fredericksburg, MD

___________________________________

The only thing that suprises me about the Los Angeles Dodgers this year is that they sold for over two billion dollars.  TWO.  BILLION.  DOLLARS.  Holy Koufax, Batman!  That’s Albert Pujols money!!!

With legitimate superstars like Matt Kemp and Clayton Kershaw anchoring the team, it was only a matter of whether or not off-the-field issues would cause a disturbance.  Now that there aren’t any, they’re free to do their thang, and as long as that includes Andre Ethier knocking in everyone in front of him and stellar performances from castaways like Chris Capuano and the longtime hookin’ lefty, Ted Lilly, then it really is their division to lose.  Kemp is currently on the 15 day DL and they’re still mowing through the opposition.

To me, the Nats aren’t a suprise either.  I think the consensus among learned baseball folk was that they were going to be good soon, it was just a matter of how soon.  With Michael Morse sidelined due to injury and an anemic offense through the first several weeks of the season, it seemed like they had some time before they’d be that team to beat; but pitching wins championships and their pitching has been as impressive as the St. Louis Cardinals’ travel day attire.

The real surprise — the real head-shaker du jour — is the cartoon bird in Baltimore bringing a moribund and aloof baseball club back to serious life.  Last year saw them get off to a good start, and I thought they might really be making a move back to the Oriole Way, but their youthful inexperience eventually backfired, ending in a bucket of Showalterian scowls.

But consider the performances of Jim Johnson, Matt Lindstrom, Pedro Strop, Luis Ayala, Darren O’Day and even Kevin Gregg — yes, KEVIN GREGG — and you’ll see that it’s easier to win ballgames when your bullpen doesn’t come in and yack up the place.  For those of you who follow the Birds, you know that a yackin’ bullpen has been as much a staple of the beltway as corrupt politicians screwing their constituents.  Yeah, well, not everything can change.

Just as excited as I am about the Orioles’ resurgence, I’m equally as revved about the Toronto Blue Jays, yet another AL East team that just won’t back down.  They’re hitting everything.  They are pitching with authority.  And their Canadian poster-boy is keen on taking on the silliness that is MLB umpiring, one batting helmet at a time.

Also, there’s this:

Ah… to be 8 years old and Canadian… no suprise there.

Hate me if you want, 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.

Boring and Tame, Just Not the Same

Change and I don’t get along too well.  I remember when the Cardinals introduced the Sunday home game alternate cap — the navy blue one with the red bill and the profiled bird.  I couldn’t sleep for weeks.

WHY?!?!  WHY ARE THEY DOING THIS!?!?  WHAT IS WRONG WITH THE REGULAR CAP!?!?!

Things are better now; but living in Chicago, I became quite used to the kind of daily drama inherent in a city where Ozzie Guillen is employed.  Now, with him gone, life is just… boring?  I mean, Adam Dunn is hitting.  Jake Peavy is pitching.  The Cell hasn’t caught on fire.

What fun is that?

I miss the good old days — the days when the city stopped for the Crosstown Rivalry, the Windy City Classic.  I miss seeing Sweet Lou bump bellies with umpires, AJ Pierzynski gettin’ cold cocked by Michael Barrett, listening to drunk frat boys explain the infield fly rule to washed out bimbos while double-fisting $7 Old Styles.

Is nothing sacred anymore?!?!

Until I see Dale Sveum and Robin Ventura do a rap song about bad contracts, I’m gonna have to think not.

Happy Friday!

Jeff

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