September 2012

The Filibuster

What race are you paying more attention to? The AL East? AL Central? Presidential?

Mark
Barrington, IL

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I suppose that since this is a baseball blog, I should probably say baseball.  And, I am keeping an eye on the AL Central, even if the maddening inconsistency of the Tigers has driven me into a self-protective shell.  When it comes to politics, though, I just can’t keep myself away.

This is a big year for politics.  It’s not just Romney and the Republicans in an attempt to repeal everything that Obama accomplished his first term.  It’s also an opportunity for Americans to tell the Tea Party that they don’t represent America.  A resounding defeat for Romney could finally show the Republicans that they need to remove the Tea Party cancer that eats at the GOP and their ability to effectively govern.

This past week showed once again how out of touch Romney is and why his Tea Party hijacked presidency would be disastrous.  The contrast between Romney’s hasty statement regarding the events in North Africa and Obama’s studied response just illustrates once again which man provides real leadership.

That being said, it’s interesting to note the similarities between the presidential campaign and the baseball season.  Both of them last much of the year and it’s hard to tell what’s going to happen until pretty late in the game.  Two months ago the Pirates looked like they actually had a shot at making the playoffs.  Six months ago it still wasn’t clear who the Republican nominee would be.  However, at this point, with less than two months to go before everything is settled, the pieces have started to shake out and the picture has become a little more clear.  Or at least we have a clearer idea of who the winners won’t be.  Trying to say with any certainty who will still be standing on D-Day is nearly impossible.

I guess the difference for me is the drama.  Yes, baseball has plenty of drama but the stakes are limited.  Whichever team wins the Series retains their title as champion for one year.  The world doesn’t change, except for the world of that team’s fans.  An American president can change not only the course of the nation but also of the world.  And it only happens once every four years.  Now that’s some drama.

Still, I’d really like to see the Tigers end this White Sox charade once and for all.  As for the AL East, screw the coasts.

-A

Marge, Meet Mitt

Remember Marge Schott?  Despite owning a team that won the World Series and being one of the first women to own a baseball team without inheriting it, she’s still best known for her racist slurs and comments on Hitler’s domestic policies.  MLB eventually pushed her into selling the team in an effort to end what had become a huge embarrassment to the game.

Now, Mitt Romney hasn’t yet come out in favor of Hitler’s domestic policies and, although his church has some interesting views on minorities (as do most religions), he hasn’t yet had a George Allen moment. However, he illustrated this week why he isn’t ready to be President.

It’s interesting that Romney’s snafu took place on September 11.  The thing that still stands out in my mind about that day in 2001 was the sense of unity afterward.  Sure, it didn’t last, but for a few weeks we truly were all “just Americans.”  We rallied around our country in its time of need and banded together to support each other.

Compare this with Romney’s response to the killing of US Ambassador Chris Stevens this past week.  Instead of rallying behind the President, the country and the diplomats standing in harm’s way, Romney offered the following statement:

It’s disgraceful that the Obama administration’s first response was not to condemn attacks on our diplomatic missions, but to sympathize with those who waged the attacks.

Now, aside from being patently untrue and misleading, a fact which Romney was made aware of and still refused to recant, it was also hardly the time or place to make such a statement, while the attacks were still ongoing and it was unclear how many people had died.  It’s also telling that the statement was made without having all the facts and contained blatant lies.  Granted, unapologetic lies have become a mainstay of the Romney-Ryan campaign but when it comes to Americans serving and dying for their country overseas, there’s simply no excuse for slandering them and their Commander-in-Chief.

It’s still possible that Romney could win the election.  It’s also likely that he will continue this line of attack.  But it’s essential that American voters see Romney for who he really is, just like MLB eventually had to do with Marge Schott.

-A

Malarchuk, Theismann and McCarthy: A Humbling Triumvirate of Danger

One and a half times.  That is how many times I have been able to watch the Brandon McCarthy play where a darting Eric Aybar comebacker destroys the Oakland A’s pitcher’s skull.  Holy mother of invisible friends, that hurts.

The first time I saw it my stomach dropped and I got real dizzy.  When the replay was shown again — this time in slow-motion — I anticipated the skull crushing but still wasn’t able to get through it.  I thought I was going to be sick.

I was sick the first time I saw Clint Malarchuk get his neck sliced by a Steve Tuttle’s skate back in Buffalo too.  In fact, I remember asking my dad if it was even real, hoping that the spewing, rhythmical blood staining the ice might be some cute Hollywood trick designed to draw in more fans.  Sadly, the situation was quite real.

As was Joe Theismann’s career ending leg snap, courtesy of Lawrence Taylor.  Even Homer Simpson had a hard time stomaching that!

The truth is, as much as we enjoy our professional sports, they do carry with them an incalculable element of danger.  Even with all that open space in Oakland, a ball can still easily find one’s head.  It found Brandon McCarthy’s, and it will find someone else’s too someday.  It’s all a part of the game.

Which reminds us that these people we watch and cheer and boo, they’re real people.  They bleed too, just like us.  And while they may have more zeroes in their bank accounts, they are putting themselves in danger for our enjoyment.  I think it’s important to remember that.

A baseball, a skate, a weakside linebacker, they can all become deadly weapons, at any time.

Get well soon, Brandon.  And here’s to hoping you get that threesome someday.

Peace,

Jeff

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Andy Williams had it all wrong.  I’m sorry, but I’ll take September’s non-stop MLB pennant chasing + NFL + Notre Dame losing to Michigan combination over cold and snow and fake Santas any day.  In fact, since it’s an election year, we get even more drama to go with our Irish-trouncing, and if you wait until the end of this post, you’ll even see that the Republicans have JOKES!

But first thing’s first: TUNE IN TO BASEBALL.  My lord, between the AL Central showdown, the A’s/Angels wild card battle and the AL East title three-way, I can’t imagine a more exciting scenario (except maybe a non-baseball related three-way, but that’s for a different blog).  Consider the NL wild card race and the fact that one of the three AL East teams could also nab the last AL West wild card spot and now allow your mind to be blown (again, maybe better for another blog).

And I haven’t even mentioned the myriad story lines decorating the start to the NFL and college football seasons!

The fact is, for dudes like Mr. Krause and I, it really doesn’t get much better than this.  Unless you want to throw in some flaccid punchline deliveries (ZING!)…

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

Peace,

Jeff

Not Just a Punter

The closer we get to the election, the more the rhetoric heats up.  Both sides fling out unbelievable claims trying to sway the “undecided” voter who somehow gets to decide every election.  Both parties try to get propositions and amendments on the ballot as well in an effort to get normally apathetic voters out to vote and hopefully, by extension, then also vote for that party’s guy.  It’s a cynical tactic, especially when you realize that these “tactics” affect real people.

I think that’s why I appreciated the letter Minnesota Viking’s punter Chris Kluwe recently wrote in support of Baltimore Raven, Brendon Ayanbadejo.  His second point is particularly important as it brings up something that should hit close to home for any baseball fan.  Yes, while we generally prefer that our sporting heroes don’t remind us of the difficult realities faced by many people and while many of us prefer to use sports as a means of escape, sports and the athletes who play them have a unique ability to reach a mass audience and to change social norms.  Jackie Robinson wasn’t just a baseball player.  He was the death knell of Jim Crow.  Hopefully guys like Kluwe and Ayanbadejo can do the same to this insane war on human rights being waged right now in the US.

-A

P.S. I can’t wait to hear Baseball Serendipity’s response to this one.  If it’s anything like last time, we’ll all be in for a treat.

The Filibuster

What happened to the Twins?

Seth S.
Saint Paul, MN
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Ah, yes, the Minnesota Twins.  What did happen to those paragons of fundamentally sound baseball?  An analysis of such depth requires patience, dedication and an insatiable hunger for the truth, so I put the RSBS interns to the task and they have provided the following slide show:

2010

New ballpark! Yay! It’s…er… HUGE!

I CAN HAZ $184 MILLIONS!?!? IN EXCHANGE I’LL STOP HITTING HRs!

Ouch! Who turned out the lights?!?

DOH! DAMN THOSE DAMN YANKEES… AGAIN!!!

2011

Never fear! Tsuyoshi Nishioka is here!

And then… his leg is broken. Thanks for nothing, Nick Swisher! Damn you, damn Yankees!!!

And the rest of the Twins 2011 clubhouse… barely breathin’.

2012

Y U NO MOVE IN FENCES!?!? AGGH!!!

When will Justin’s ouchy-head be fixed? I need help, dammit!

Aaaaand this guy…

Nope, not even the healthy return of Morneau could make the pain of the above image go away.  In fact, 2012 sorta seems like a good time to reset everything.  Surprisingly, the Twins do have some decent offensive production (Mauer, Morneau, Willingham, Plouffe), but their pitching has been atrocious.  Like, Kent Hrbek farting in your face type of “atrocious”.  The average ERA of their six starters is over 5 and they have been blown out (lost by 5+ more runs) 23 times so far.  And the bullpen?  YIKES!  Don’t ask them to hold a lead ‘cuz it’ll be difficult!

Like old baseball men love to say, “You’re only as good as your pitching”, and, well, when your pitching resembles the bottom of a porta-potty and the rest of the team can’t stay healthy, awful is pretty much what ya get.  Don’t believe me?  Ask the perennial sCrUBS.

Hate me ‘cuz I made you look at that famous Mauer back hair guy again, just don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.

Peace,

Jeff (and interns)

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

Some Happy for Yer Friday

As we enter the beginning of the most exciting time of year (baseball playoffs and football season and an election, oh my!), I think it’s important that we keep in perspective that which brings us the most joy.  Sure, hosting a Guinness keg party while dressed in my Yadier Molina jersey flanked by the Shannon twins is pretty much the happiest day of my life (that hasn’t happened yet but might), I still know that even if all that other stuff falls through, I will always have baseball.

And sometimes, within the game of baseball, we can find something much simpler that pushes the happy button.  I know a lot of folks have been wrapped up in the admirable and impressive play of Mike Trout.  People are just as infatuated with his grace and dominance as I was am infatuated with Stephen Strasburg and all things Strasmas.  It’s the little injections of youthful awesomesauce that often remind us why we love baseball so much.  It is a kid’s game after all.

But sometimes waiting for the next big thing isn’t necessary.  I have found that out this year by following Coco Crisp very closely.  My history with Crisp has been one of hilarity, peppered with some dazzle.  And while his offensive numbers may not hypnotize scouts, enough can never be said about how he plays the game.

He plays hard.  He plays to win.  He’s in on every pitch and he goes balls-to-the-wall.  In fact, I have gotten to the point where I’m watching replays of his relay throws and conducting frame-by-frame analysis on his routes to fly balls.

If I could get to Oakland, I’d rather watch Crisp long-toss than Cesepedes take BP.

Okay, so maybe I’m lyin’ a little bit in that last sentence, but one thing is for certain: Coco Crisp’s defensive play is worth focusing on and if you focus long enough, you’re probably going to see something that puts a smile on your face.  Maybe even an afro.

Happy Friday!

Jeff

¿Que Hora Es?

If there’s one problem that baseball management and the Republican party have in common, it’s in trying to relate to hispanics.  And whether it’s cultural differences, the language barrier or continued attempts to push everyone with a hispanic sounding last name out of the country, the problem won’t be going away anytime soon.

However, we here at RSBS prefer to be part of the solution so we have a suggestion for both the GOP and MLB front offices.  The answer is “education.”  If you don’t at least make an effort to understand the culture and the language, you’re going to find yourself on the wrong end of the bat nine times out of ten.  I’m not saying you need to learn how to merengue or be able to tell the difference between a Venezuelan and Mexican accent, but you should at least have some basic level of understanding.

Now, I realize that with the end of season approaching and the general election in full swing, neither Republicans nor baseball’s movers and shakers have much extra time on their hands.  Luckily, YouTube has once again come to the rescue.  Give it a try and see if you don’t notice your multicultural empathy meter running over within minutes:

It couldn’t be any simpler.  All you need to know is, “¿Que hora es?”

-A

R-Money and Self-Loathing Middle Class

My entire family votes Republican.  I am not kidding.  With the exception of me and my siblings, my entire extended family pretty much votes a straight ticket.  This makes sense for about half of them since that’s the military half of the family.  Republican administration=increased defense spending=job security.  But the other half are blue collar workers, many of whom saw their union jobs either shipped south of the Mason-Dixon line to right-to-work states or out of the country all-together.  Clinton may have been the one who signed NAFTA but the idea behind it, and the resulting job losses across the rust-belt, were all Republican initiatives.

The point is, it doesn’t make much sense for a paper-mill worker like my dad to be voting Republican.  I can kind of understand why a millionaire former baseball player like Curt Schilling now shills for the GOP.  Tax breaks and loopholes keep his nest-egg more ostrich-sized while the rest of us deal with our quail egg savings.  And if you think any part of the middle class will come out ahead under a Romney/Ryan administration, you need to pull your head out of the sand.

You know, this story could be told much more easily via pictures.  Let’s try that.

Serendipitous truth in advertising:

R-Money – rapper, Mormon, Republican candidate for President:

Now, why exactly is anyone from the middle class or any fiscal conservative planning to vote for this guy?  I guess I should just ask my family.  Chances are, they’ll be doing so.

-A

Workin’ Hard or Hardly Workin’

Does Justin Verlander ever sweat?  Seriously, does he?  Not only does his velocity rise late in the game, but he also does it with an air of easiness that makes us mortals hate ourselves as we pile on another helping of chips and salsa.

I don’t doubt he’s one of the hardest workers in baseball.  Like Chuck Norris, Justin Verlander’s off days are probably harder than any busy day at the office I’ve ever had to endure.  In fact, I bet Verlander could kick Norris’ butt, especially since Chuck is currently distracted by the unfounded promises of his invisible friend.

Chris Sale has a Verlanderish look in his eye.  It says: I’m here to kick some ass and I’m gonna keep a straight, determined growly face just to show you that I really am an animal inside.  Except once the lid comes off that attitude and runners start spilling onto the basepaths, Sale loses his game face.

Maybe he just needs time to work on it.

It took Verlander some time too.  This whole ‘getting stronger as the game goes on’ phenomenon wasn’t something that Verlander started his Big League career with.  He learned it.  He perfected it.  And now he’s cutting through a hot knife with butter and swimming through land and threatening death with a near-Verlander experience.

Hate me ‘cuz I’m rallying around Mr. Krause’s hero today, just don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.

Happy Labor Day!

Jeff

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