June 2012

RSBS Digest: Bats

Bats are useful things.  Sure, they’re made for hitting baseballs but that’s a pretty narrow view.  For instance, you can spin in circles around them and then try to run a race.  It’s not all that efficient but it’s sure fun to watch.

Other uses?  Well, my brother keeps one in his car just on the off chance he gets in a scrape while driving.  You might think it’s silly but, well, this:

So, let’s review.  Bats: useful for hitting homeruns, also useful for hitting people.  Just ask Jose Offerman.

-A

A Pastime Passed Over

Baseball as a sport spends a lot of its time playing catch up.  It used to be the national pastime but arguably it has lost that title to either the NBA, the NFL or NASCAR.  It hasn’t captured the world’s attention in the same way that soccer has and even cricket has more global adherents (although that is admittedly due to its huge popularity in India and Pakistan).

I think a lot of it has to do with the habits of baseball players.  It’s easy to relate to NASCAR because they’re the children of former booze-running outlaws.  Add in it’s rowdy, beer-swilling redneck fanbase and you have a populist’s wet dream.

The NBA has a different kind of allure.  It’s a mix of the hard-scrabble blacktop game along with the finesse and graceful elegance of of today’s elite players.  Is there any other league that has more marijuana violations than the NBA?  I’m guessing no and that reflects an America that has also grown more lenient towards the “devil weed.”

Baseball?  You’ve got PED’s and frat boys drinking overpriced beer.  That’s the America we laugh at, not the America we want to be part of.  We like our sports to have a bit of an edge.  The reason people hate Mark Sanchez isn’t because he’s a sub-par quarterback with a questionable work ethic.  We’d put up with that if he inspired us.  But he spends more time posing for magazines than he does winning football games.  Yes, I know he’s led his team to the AFC Championship game twice but I think we can all agree that it wasn’t so much that he led them as it was him following them there.

Baseball right now is kind of like Mark Sanchez.  It doesn’t have the edge.  It doesn’t make you believe.  That’s why it’s fun to hate the Yankees but its so much more fun to hate the Heat.  My solution?  Bring back Manny and give him lots of weed.

-A

Stick with What You Know

There was a time when I thought I would become a painter.  I had never painted anything.  I was modestly talented at drawing with pencil and paper; but I went to a glitzy art show, which inspired me to buy a basic painting kit and suddenly I had delusions of grandeur.

Except for one little problem: I sucked at painting.

So I quit.

But sometimes, we can’t always quit the things we’re not good at.  Carlos Lee is really good at hitting home runs.  Playing defense?  Not so much.  But El Caballo plays for the Houston Astros, in the National League (I know, I know, hello sweet irony), so if he’s gonna hit bombs, he’s gonna have to fiddle around with a glove on his hand too.

For now anyway.

But that’s not all that Carlos is good at.  Apparently he’s also quite good at sharing his name.  In fact, he has two sons, Carlos and Karlos.  He has a daughter named Karla.  He also has a brother named… yep, you guessed it, Carlos.

Stick with what you know.

And don’t hate me.  ‘Cuz I’m right.

Peace,

Jeff

The Filibuster

Did Ken Kendrick cross the line on his Stephen Drew comments?

Mitchell
Wheaton, IL

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There are a lot of really terrible owners out there.  Of course the one that has most directly affected baseball fans in the recent past is Frank McCourt and his incredible mismanagement of the Dodgers’ franchise.  The fact that the man was able to exit with cash in his pocket just illustrates how wrong that situation was.  But he’s not the only one.  The Pirates have also been victims of poor ownership while the NBA’s Clippers were known almost as much for their tight-fisted owner as they were for their years of ineptitude and sub-.500 records.

Ken Kendrick, though, he cares about his team.  See, Kendrick isn’t just an owner, he’s also the managing partner, responsible for the day-to-day decisions that make a baseball team profitable in the global sense of the term.  And let’s face it, there’s a lot that goes in to making a baseball team profitable.  As an owner, you have to manage your assets and liabilities in such a way that you keep more cash flowing in than is flowing out, not always an easy prospect in these days of overinflated salaries.

The best way to ensure that your team remains profitable is to win.  Fans like to come see winning teams and winning teams can also charge more for tickets and merchandise.  There’s a reason why the cost of Yankees’ tickets goes up year after year while teams like the Pirates and Royals stay relatively constant.  There’s also a reason why the Yankees, despite their enormous payroll, are still one of the most profitable teams in the game.  It helps when you can broadcast most of your games on your own television station but when you’re also selling out the stadium for every game, that makes a big difference.

Which brings me back to Kendrick.  Arizona is not a huge baseball market like the coasts or Chicago.  However, Arizona has had a good baseball team and a baseball team that brings people to the stadium.  Hiring pitchers like Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling helped but as those days are gone, the D-Backs have to rely on new young talent to put butts in the seats.  Talent like Stephen Drew.  So, when Stephen Drew doesn’t play, the D-Backs don’t do as well and they also don’t put as many butts in the seats.  This in turn makes the franchise less profitable, a fact of which the managing partner is very aware.

Drew’s 2012 salary is $7.75 million.  He’s the highest paid player on the team and accounts for over 10% of the Diamondback’s payroll.  He also hasn’t played a game for the Diamondbacks in nearly a year.  As an owner, and especially as the managing partner, I imagine that would not sit so well.  Sure, Drew had a pretty bad injury but he has the best doctors in the game working on him and if his boss says that he’s way over schedule for his return, well, I’m inclined to agree with him.

So, did Kendrick cross a line in his comments on Drew?  In my opinion, no.  He’s a frustrated manager who doesn’t believe his employee is acting in good faith and those actions are affecting the businesses profitability.  Sounds like he has every right to be honked off.

-A

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

The Impending Apocalypse Becomes Imminent

We’ve been warning our readers about the impending zombie apocalypse for a while now.  In fact, we even went so far as to make some suggestions on how to prepare.  Well, it turns out it’s a good thing we did so because on the zombie apocalypse clock, we’re about a millisecond from midnight.

The signs have been there for several years but it took some crackerjack sleuthing by the RSBS interns to sift through all the grisly stories and distill out the horrible truth.  If you go back nine years ago, to 2003, you find the infamous case of the man who decapitated himself while trying to flee an arrest (link contains graphic photos).  Or is that what happened?  As we all know, you have to decapitate a zombie to kill it so maybe the “fleeing arrest” story was just a coverup to keep people from freaking out about zombies.

However, even if you dismiss the man on the fence, the events of the past couple weeks should assure you that the apocalypse is upon us.  First, in late May, Canadian police began to find blood-soaked packages in the mail containing human body parts.  You know who else likes to dismember people?  Zombies.

A couple days later we heard about the Maryland college student who not only killed a man who had been living with his family but also ate his heart and brain.  Ate his brain?!?  There’s only one other being I know of that likes to eat brains.  Zombies.

And if that isn’t enough to convince you, how about the man conveniently known as the “Miami zombie” who was shot while trying to eat a homeless man’s face?  I can only think of one reason to eat someone’s face and that’s because it’s the easiest way to get to their brain.  I’m pretty sure there’s another group that instinctively knows the quickest way from point A to point B (as in brain), is a straight line.  Mathematicians.  And zombies.

Now, just in case you think I haven’t done enough to prove that the apocalypse, zombie or other, is upon us, think about this.  Currently the Orioles and White Sox are leading their respective divisions and the Pirates are in second.  Yeah, kind of makes you want to stock up on bottled water and sawed-off shotguns, doesn’t it?

-A

Do or Do Not, There Is No “Try”

Oh, look, Starlin Castro went and did something stupid.  Surprise, surprise.

And, oh, look, Dale Sveum and the Cubbies brass talk the talk, but eschew the walk while doing something quite similar to twiddling their collective thumbs — thumbs that tend to be stuck in proverbially unpleasant places.

Hmm.  Haven’t we been here before with Castro?  Yes.

Hmm.  Haven’t we heard the same old “we gotta change the Cubs culture” mantra before?  Yes.

Hmm.  Haven’t we been bombarded with mythical imagery supposedly brought in on the wings of a SABR nerd?  Yes.

And yet here we are, witnessing the same old Chicago Cubs.

LOSERS.

I believe Albert Einstein was the one who said “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over, expecting different results.”  Einstein was a pretty smart fella.  Maybe it’s time the Cubs took notice of that notable quip of truth.

Instead of threatening to bench a spoiled star with as much talent as he has cluelessness, why not just bench him?  Why not teach him a lesson?  Why not teach the entire team — a team that is continuously caught with its inflated head in the clouds — and show them that there are no more third, fourth, fifth chances?

I’m a Cardinals fan.  To the death.  Part of being a Redbird fanatic is jousting with our arch rivals; but our rivals to the north are so bad that it just isn’t fun anymore.  I long for the days when our regular season match-ups actually mean something.

Unfortunately, as long as the Cubs continue to simply “try” to get better mentally, with little effort, rather than actually DOING anything about it, I’m afraid we’ll just have to rehash that same old “Brogglio for Brock” snafu.

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

Peace,

Jeff

Bad Ideas

Bad ideas are everywhere.  All around us.  Sometimes they’re blatantly awful.  Sometimes they take a while to figure out.  But whether it’s a delusional moron (who supposedly has the invisible ear of “gawd”) scheming to kill gay folks or a real life horror-show cutting up his friends and eating them, bad ideas are abundant.

Unfortunately, that doesn’t stop them from happening.

Even if one should know better.

That’s right.  During a recent Red Sox game I became fixated with the primordial ugliness of our good flopsweatin’ friend, Vicenteticus Padillicarpeus (known to some as Vicente Padilla).  Before I knew it, I was doing a Google image search of the man.  Why?

I wish I knew.

All I know now is that a little big of ugly is a bad idea.  A whole lot of ugly is a night without sleep.

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

Peace,

Jeff

Bottom of the Ninth in Venezuela

We have good news and bad news over here at RSBS.  The good news is that the people of Venezuela could soon see themselves with an actual government instead of a cult of personality.  The bad news is, RSBS could soon have to find a new baseball loving world leader it can make fun of.  Sure, Fidel is still out there but he’s more of a hermit than a leader these days.  And other baseball-crazy countries seem to have more pressing issues to attend to which means less time to turn their countries into Bolivarian Republics or anything along those lines.  No, I’m afraid that when Hugo goes, the crazy goes with him.

So, RSBS is putting out the call.  Help us find a new world leader (or at least some sort of opinion-maker) who loves baseball but is just a little loose in the cranial wiring.  My first thought was Mitt Romney but since he might possibly be a unicorn, I don’t know as though he’s a viable option.  Hillary Clinton seemed good, too, but it’s hard to play nice with someone who claims to be both a Yankees and Cubs fan.  Granted, that’s still better than Bill Richardson’s claim to simultaneous Red Sox and Yankees fandom.

It might just be that we’ve hit a cold streak.  World leaders love soccer and whatever sport their national team is good at.  Baseball?  It’s just too much of a niche.  But hey, there’s always Japan!

-A

The Filibuster

It used to be a badge of honor to have served in the Armed Forces and even stars like Ted Williams and Joe DiMaggio did their time.  Does it bother you at all that this new crop of ballplayers has never served and probably never will?

Daniel
Harrisburg, PA
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While serving in our nation’s armed forces may still be seen as a badge of honor for Americans, it does not bother me one bit that modern day baseballers don’t take part.  I haven’t ever taken part either, so why would it bother me that they don’t?

I am a big believer in sticking with what you’re good at.  If you happen to be really good at throwing 90 mph splitters to Big Leaguers, then please, focus on throwing 90 mph splitters to Big Leaguers.  If you’re really good at leading groups of armed men through hostile urban environments, then please, focus on leading groups of armed men through hostile urban environments.

In my opinion, one of the greatest tragedies in baseball history is missing out on the golden years of baseball production from the likes of Joe DiMaggio, Ted Williams, Bob Feller and many more.  Think of how much better their already herculean numbers would be had they not taken a break to join the military ranks!

Look, I’m no dummy.  I understand that their collective decision to leave baseball for the armed forces came at a poignant time in history — a time when the entire future of the planet rested on defeating the Axis Powers.  It was either defeat evil incarnate (y’know, the guys killing innocent people en masse) or succumb to the insanity of megalomaniac, intolerant tyrants.

It was also a time before the internet, before instant access, when no one could see what was behind the curtain.  Looking back, one could even say the US Government used such high profile athletes as pawns to get more everyday joes to enlist.  Heck, if Teddy Ballgame is serving, then so should I!

But those days are no more.  It’s hard to keep any sort of secret and when the wars we are fighting are against invisible enemies in caves we can’t see and in countries rich with oil where we probably shouldn’t be anyway, then it’s pretty hard to convince somebody he should give up his talent, his career, his life.

As far as I know, our military isn’t hurting for more participation.  With smart bombs and drones and missiles more accurate than a Greg Maddux two-seam fastball, not to mention the bazillions of taxpayer dollars regulated for military spending, I think it’s best that our Matt Hollidays and Matt Kemps keep their bodies where they belong: in the outfield.

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.

Do Work: The BaseBald Way!

Image courtesy of Mark Katzman

A few years ago, a good friend of mine burned a handy mantra into my brain: DO WORK!

While it may sound like a simple phrase, you’d be surprised how difficult it is for some people, to actually do work, to make a difference, to turn dreams into reality.  There are doers.  And there are do not’ers.  I like to think of myself as a doer.

And I am not alone.

In fact, the good folks at the St. Baldrick’s Foundation are constantly doing work — not just work, but good, excellent WORK — to help enrich the lives of children who suffer from cancer by devoting time and effort towards funding childhood cancer research.  Outside of the US government, the St. Baldrick’s Foundation funds more in childhood cancer research grants than any other organization, and they do so through driving folks to show their support by shaving their heads.

Since 2000, over 240,000 volunteers have shown their support by shaving their heads and now the foundation is stepping up to the plate with the BaseBald campaign!

For many of us, being a kid is synonymous with little league, but for those children victimized by cancer, such a life is not guaranteed.  Please take a moment to check out the BaseBald website and consider helping out in any way possible.  So far, 25 teams from around the country have taken part, raising over $270,000 towards research.

If you’re really feelin’ it, find an event near you and consider a cue-ball look for a good cause.  I plan on getting my head shaved on June 23 at the Irish Oak in Chicago.  Besides, if it works for Michael Jordan, Brian Urlacher and Matt Holliday, I’m sure it will look good on you!

Do Work!

Jeff

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