Results tagged ‘ Hugo Chavez ’

Taking the One Less Traveled By

The other day I wrote what I thought was a heartfelt tribute to my good friend, Jeffery Lung. I lost a contest and as the terms of the contest dictated, I had to write an essay in praise of Jeff and that I did. However, it seems that everyone is waiting for the other shoe to drop.

Apparently the ethos of “gotcha’ journalism” has seeped into every aspect of American life to the extent that even a laudatory essay automatically becomes suspect. C’mon people. I am not Keith Olbermann. I am not these guys:

I lost fair and square and so I did what was asked of me.

Now, I could have gone to one of the two extremes. I could have given the Oliver Stone on Hugo Chavez hagiography treatment to Jeff and made myself into as laughable an icon as the director of Platoon has now become. Or, I could have gone the other direction and filled the entry so full of sarcasm and tongue in cheek humor as to lose all sense of the original terms of the contest. Like Robert Frost, though, when I saw two roads diverge in a wood, I took the one less traveled by. The honorable one.

But the honorable path apparently doesn’t mean much these days. You all want to hear me talk about Jeff’s impressive collection of exfoliants and cleansers. Or his inability to find a girlfriend. Or Fernando Tatis’ repeated requests to Jeff to stop sending him pictures and letters about how much alike their goatees look. But I drew a line and I refused to cross it.

So, you can continue waiting for the other shoe to drop, but you’ll be waiting a long time. Jeff is my friend and that means I don’t question his decision to hang a life-size poster of Patrick Swayze over his bed. Really, that is what being a friend is all about. And god knows it’s better than a life-size poster of Whoopi Goldberg.

-A

Hugo’s White Friends

bat_chavez.jpgFrom the beginning, RSBS has been about both baseball and politics. But, it’s easy to lose track of the politics when the baseball plays out like it did this year. Also, the politics have been sucking. I mean, something needs to happen with health care but I’m sick of talking about it and even more sick of hearing about it.

Luckily, whenever I hit a point where American politics isn’t doing it for me, all I need to do is look south. No, a bit further south. No, not Guatemala. Keep going. Ok, there it is. Venezuela and it’s coffee-swilling chuckle-head of a president. So, what’s happening in the mind of el presidente today?

Hm, a little baseball over in that corner of the brain which makes sense. I mean, he is Venezuelan. Yep, definitely a little crazy over in that corner which makes sense since he’s from the same country as Ozzie Guillen. But those are just sideshows. If you really want to know what’s going on just step into the three-ring circus of Hugo’s anti-American paranoia. It’s a non-stop riot of fire-breathing, wild animal taming and tiny cars full of clowns. And this time it’s all about the war the US is apparently trying to launch against Venezuela from Colombia

Here’s the thing, Hugo. Even if we wanted to start that war (which we don’t because, let’s face it, no one really cares about Venezuela), we don’t have the resources to do so. Cutting off ties with Colombia over this makes about as much sense as the proverbial cutting off of the nose to spite the face. Really Hugo, you need to sit back and take a lesson from someone who understands putting aside differences so we can get along. Deuce Poppi, take it away:

Happy Monday, y’all.

-A

Demented Yet Debonair

With the disputed elections in Iran this past weekend following hot on the heels of Kim Jong Il’s announcement that his third son will take over the reins of a dysfunctional but nuclear-armed North Korea, we here at RSBS started to wonder who would take the crown as king of the crazies if we actually did the research. Luckily, the interns had nothing better to do while Jeff and I watched some interleague tom-foolery and they came up with this objective and quantitatively analysed list. So, without further ado, we present the results of the very first RSBS “Demented yet Debonair” contest.

Honorable Mention:
Hugo.jpgHugo Chavez
If at first you
don’t succeed, nationalize! Now, I’m aware that this could also be
America’s motto right now but Hugo has been doing it for so many years
now that he’s an old pro. On top of that, rumor has it that after the
recent introduction of Coke Zero to the country of Venezuela, President
Chavez promptly banned it on vague charges of healthiness. This coming
from a man who drinks enough coffee in one day to single-handedly
support Juan Valdez’s retirement. El Presidente, we salute you.

1st Runner Up:
ahmadinejad.jpgMahmoud Ahmadinejad
It’s not
just the snazzy gray suit worn without a tie or the oft repeated urge to wipe
Israel off the map. No, Mahmoud has that little something extra that
makes you think he’s capable of so much more. Maybe it’s the malevolent
twinkle in his eye. Maybe it’s his ability to go from zero to rabid
anti-Semite in 4 seconds flat. Or maybe it’s how he flummoxed all the
pundits and wiped out the opposition in this past weekend’s elections.
Whatever it is, the Iranian president will always be a contender.

Runner Up:
Kim_jong_il.jpgKim Jong Il
In a region where political longevity is often measured in fractions of years, the Kim family has managed to hold onto power for several decades now. How do they do it? Well, let’s just say that it has nothing to do with extra doses of the warm fuzzies. And Kim Jong Il’s announcement that his son, Kim Jong Un, will take over upon his demise combined with new nuclear sabre-rattling just kind of makes observers scratch their heads and wonder what is going on. However, knowing that Mr. Kim is a huge movie buff, I bet the picture all looked much clearer and much better in his head.

Sadly, despite all the craziness in the world today, there can only be one winner of this year’s “Demented yet Debonair” contest. And I don’t think any of our readers will be surprised to see….

WINNER:
bud selig ear.jpgBud Selig
Yep, although Commissioner Selig hasn’t done anything too wild recently, he still has done quite a bit to earn this honor. There was the infamous tied All-Star game and his non-action during the steroid era. He also bears a lot of the blame for the out of control inflation within baseball that has driven many fans out of the park and left it open only to corporate bigwigs and smarmy lawyers. But more importantly, Bud Selig created Alex Rodriguez and Barry Bonds and that’s unforgivable. Granted, he may not be looking to blow up the world or start the Bolivarian revolution but he has besmirched the good name of baseball. That’s not something we look lightly on here at RSBS. I suppose that if he sent Erin Andrews to come and convince us otherwise, though, at least half of us would listen.

-A

Credits:
-Thanks to L for the Coke Zero story


Profiles in Profile

obama white sox.jpgWherever the Chicago White Sox fan-in-chief goes, you can be sure that some part of the American polity will find a reason to complain. And so it has been over the past couple weeks as President Obama visited England for the G-20 summit and then headed to Trinidad and Tobago for a sit-down with his Latin American counterparts.

The funny part about these dust-ups with certain personalities, though, is that they have little or nothing to do with the President’s actual policies and everything to do with his actions. Actions, I might add, that were very open to interpretation.

First, we had the apparent broach of royal protocol when Michelle Obama put her arm around the queen. But is it really a faux pas when the queen is the first to break with tradition and put her arm around our First Lady? I’m going to have to go with a big fat no on that one.

And then some people called foul on what looked like a bow as the President approached King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia. Was it a bow? Possibly. Probably. Does it matter? No. In fact, I don’t really think it’s such a bad thing if we show a little respect to our “special” partner of the past 50 years. There’s a reason we pay less than three dollars for a gallon of gas and the rest of the world pays over five.

Chavez_obama_shake.jpgAnd speaking of gas, the event that really has the punditocracy up in arms and ready to revolt was a handshake between Obama and Hugo Chavez of Venezuela. Yep. A handshake. Imagine that. He actually attempts some sort of rapprochement with one of our top oil producing partners, a country with whom relations have been very strained lately, and the response is derision and cries of treason from the chattering class.

Seriously, I think the only thing worse than being President would be managing a baseball team. Can you imagine being Joe Girardi as your team gives up 14 runs in one inning? Or Manny Acta every day of the season? How about Grady Little after you left Pedro in the game in the 8th? Nope, none of that sounds like fun to me.

In fact, he only way it would even kind of be worth it to have such a high profile position is if you could just go a little crazy with it. Like Mark Cuban. Or Isiah Thomas. Or how about the President of Iran? You have to be someone special to make Mel Gibson seem sane by comparison. But even he has his problems. Don’t tell anyone, though. It’s a secret!

http://www.hulu.com/embed/j7NtpFEKwTX7birk4jJL8A

-A

A Snake in the Grass?

venezuela_tigers.jpgThere is no Irish in baseball. Well, unless you include Jeff Samardzija, formerly of the Fightin’ Irish from Notre Dame. But today is a good day so I don’t want to talk about that. No, today is a day when we celebrate the completely fabricated story of St. Patrick ridding the Emerald Isle of snakes. However, apparently there are snakes aplenty within the comfy confines of the World Baseball Classic.

Much attention has been focused over the past few days on the Venezuelan fans booing of Magglio Ordonez. Now, when you seem to have become the lapdog of old friend of RSBS, Hugo Chavez and you are playing in front of a bunch of people who left Venezuela because of Hugo Chavez, well, it makes sense that something has to give. And so far that something has been any residual love for Maggs.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all about booing hated players. My brothers have made a sport of riling opposing outfielders from the cheap seats in left field and I’ve been known to throw a few choice words the way of batters during tight softball games. But the thing those people have in common is that they play for the opposing team. When you have become a pariah to even your own fans, it might be time to rethink your actions.

I’ll admit, I hated Maggs, too, but only when he was on the White Sox. Once he joined the Tigers and especially after that killer blast against the A’s that sent the Tigers to the 2006 World Series, he could do no wrong. But supporting the man who has managed to turn his capital city into the murder capital of the world? That might not have been the best choice.

Against Puerto Rico, some of the hatred seemed to subside and in a tight game, the Venezuelan fans were cheering every hit their team could muster. But pity the man if he pulls a Buckner or manages to strike out at an inopportune moment. Maggs, you’re on notice.

-A

The Filibuster

Africa_Baseball.JPGSo far the 2009 World Baseball Classic has provided plenty of
nail-biting drama, including upsets by the Netherlands, Italy and
Australia, proving the magnitude of baseball’s global potential.  In
recent years the NBA has had success in sending the message of its game
worldwide and to some degree, so has the NFL.  Realistically speaking,
does baseball have a shot at becoming a truly universal sport and is it
premature to think that little kids in London might some day replace
the soccer ball with a baseball?

– Jeff

____________________________________________

In many ways the WBC is like any other tournament. You get your share of upsets and surprises and there’s always some sort of Cinderella story. But, at the end of the day, the teams that are supposed to win usually do. Look at the run the Americans made in this year’s Classic, edging out Canada with some late inning heroics and treating Venezuela like Hugo Chavez treats the rule of law. But, when it came down to it. They faltered against Venezuela the second time around and then embarrassed themselves against Puerto Rico. The same thing is going to happen to the Netherlands and other pretenders.

Here’s the thing, though. Calling this exhibition the World Baseball Classic is a misnomer at best and an outright lie at worst. Team Italy? A bunch of American baseball players who happen to have Italian last names. Same thing with with the Dutch. Actual baseball does not exist on the European continent nor does it have any role in the sporting lives of millions of Africans and billions of Indians (with the exception of Rinku and Dinesh). Even in the Americas, baseball is far from being the most popular sport and pales in significance to soccer. In its own birthplace, the USA, baseball comes in third behind the NBA and the NFL in terms of popularity.

So, what are its chances of becoming a truly worldwide phenomenon? Somewhere between slim and none and slim is on his way out of the building. There are really two issues here and they happen to be two sides of the same coin.

Number one is the worldwide popularity of soccer and the ease of entry into playing the game. Stuff a sock with some rags and you’ve got yourself a makeshift soccer ball. Offsides can be a somewhat difficult concept at first but the rules are relatively straightforward. If you can get the ball into the goal, you score. It’s that easy. And you can play on a dirt field, the middle of the street or even indoors. Realistically, it’s hard to say that more than half the world’s population can be wrong.

By contrast, baseball is a prohibitively expensive sport, especially when you’re living on less than 2 dollars a day like a majority of the world. At the least, you need a glove, a bat and a ball but none of these are easy to come by. You need a space that’s big enough in which to play and you need enough people to field a couple teams. Once you add in the intricacies of the rulebook and the relative slowness in the speed of play, well, I think it’s safe to say that baseball’s spread has been contained.

Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to see the popularity of baseball expand. I think it’s a wonderful way for the US to conduct soft diplomacy. And I think it’s one of the few areas in which we’ve had constructive interaction with Latin America. But, I don’t think it’s very realistic to think it will happen. The competition is too stiff and the barriers to entry are too high.

This isn’t to say that the WBC has no place and that we should give up. It’s great that every few years different countries get a chance to show their skills and it’s particularly fun to see the Cubans emerge from their isolation. But a tri-yearly celebration of international baseball is not going to overcome the incredible headstart that soccer holds, nor is it going to make it possible for a poor kid in Port-au-Prince to get a glove and go play catch with his friends. Unfortunately, that is where the warm fuzzies of the WBC run smack into the cold, hard truths of real life.

-A

Bit Tidding Tidbits

Baseball chick.jpgPut away that bottle, throw away those needles, quit workin’ that corner, folks!  Baseball is back!  Finally, we have something to live for again…

Here is but a sampling of the goings on around the league:

Alex Rodriguez Homers in Spring Training Opener
Immediately after he hit that bomb, all controversy of A-Rod’s MVP PED use and the subsequent tarnishing and questioning of his character disappeared like the hopes and dreams of Pirates fans.  Well, maybe not, but one can fantasize, right?

Ryan Dempster Has Yet to Say Something Stupid
Last year during spring training, Dempster guaranteed Cub fans a World Series title.  His foot-in-mouth silence at the start of this season practically guarantees another stellar regular season record, followed by a quick division series exit to the tune of 101 years.  Which leads me to the fact that…

Cub Fans Still Hungover from 2008, 2007, 2003, etc.
A simple stroll through Wrigleyville these days will yield much more than the average Barleycorn date-rape and trust-fund-baby all-night-party — both of which have long been synonymous with the neighborhood.  Nowadays you can still see the aftershocks of that disappointing NLDS performance against the Dodgers in the face of this guy and this guy and these guys.

Khalil Greene On Pace to Replace Ozzie Smith as Shortstop Icon
Don’t look now, but after one spring training game, off-season blockbuster acquisition Khalil Greene is on pace to hit .333 this year — which is way better than his .212 average of 2008!  While John Mozeliak sits back and strokes his pompous ego, we Joe Six-Pack fans are left daydreaming of that fifth-place NL Central finish.

Yankees Lend a Helping Hand: Willing to Pay Off the Country’s $1.75 Trillion Deficit
Okay, this is a lie; but the Yankees unwillingness to cooperate just proves how anti-American the organization really is.

Ann Coulter Is Still Crazy
An excerpt from her February 25th blog post reads:

“But as long as the nation is obsessed with historic milestones, is no
one going to remark on what a great country it is where a mentally
retarded woman can become speaker of the house?”

Ann, sweetie-pie, remember: we had a mentally retarded man with a fancy-rich last name as president for 8 years.  Let us have our speaker and please stop talking.

Indians Fans and Cub Fans Breathe Collective Sigh of Relief
Joe Borowski, possibly the all-time scariest closer for all the wrong reasons, officially announced his retirement.  There are parties in the street.  Check ‘em out.

Tigers Fans Better Off Watching Hockey
After my esteemed colleague and Tigers apologist Allen Krause wrote his annual lament on the sad state of his team, one clever commenter riffed:

“When the tigers crush your soul as they inevitably will, just remember to look on the brightside, we still have the Red Wings.”

Enough said.  Thanks, D.K.

No One Cares About Blagojevich Anymore
Or Roland Burris… or Dick Durbin strong-arming Burris to get out of town… or the poor economy… or world hunger… or the climactic dictatorship of one Hugo Chavez… dude, who cares?  There’s baseball to watch!

And at last…

The MLB Network Is Seriously Affecting My Loyalty to American Idol

I apologize to all my supporters, for it is true: in my living room, the MLB Network has temporarily taken the place of American Idol. Two weeks have gone by and I haven’t watched a single A.I. episode.  I know, I know.  This situation is difficult to accept for all.  But believe me when I say it hurts me more than it hurts you.  For some reason, Barry Larkin’s nonsensical ramblings and Al Leiter’s delusions of grandeur are just way more entertaining than Ryan Seacrest’s hair and Simon Cowell’s cliche Britishness.

Don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.

Peace,

Jeffy

Here’s Your RSBS Democracy

Axl Ali.jpgWell, “they” were wrong about something. Guns N’ Roses have officially released “Chinese Democracy” but the People’s Republic of China is still, well, the People’s Republic of China. Nice work, Axl. “Chinese Democracy” did come along before Chinese democracy. Sometimes proving the other guys wrong is a victory in and of itself.

Sadly, my good friend Mr. Lung is no Axl Rose. Now, god love him, he sure tries and you would think from his tag line (“Don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right”) that he is often right. But, that would make you just as wrong as the anonymous “they.” Simply saying something doesn’t make it true.

For instance, if you were to ask Mr. Lung about Lou Piniella winning the NL Manager of the Year award this year, he’d say something like, “And how is it that Lou Piniella received the Manager of the Year Award?” I know this because that is exactly what he did say earlier this month. Now, I didn’t address this somewhat egregious statement at the time but I feel it is only fair to do so now.

The fact of the matter is that Lou deserved that award. Yes, he had a great team given to him and yes, there were very high expectations. But he also proved his managerial chops in navigating a way through those high salaries and high-strung temperaments. He made a bold and at first maligned move by switching Kerry Wood to closer and it ended up paying off huge dividends. He found a way to work around Soriano’s injuries and even packed away Michael Barrett when it became obvious that he and Zambrano couldn’t be in the same clubhouse. For charting those waters while in the glare of the Chicago media alone I’d say he deserved the award, not to mention the best record in the NL and a second consecutive playoff berth.

So, Mr. Lung, I guess my advice to you is to leave the boasts and the idle threats to those who do them best. You, my friend, are no Hugo Chavez nor should you aspire to be.

-A

Dismissal & Détente

I have been accused by some people of writing too much about Venezuela on this blog. But it’s hard not to write about this wonderfully dysfunctional country when they just keep finding ways to amuse. Now, if Mr. McCain were our president I’m sure he would have already gone in and occupied the country since war is the first and only answer.
However, cooler minds had prevailed up until this point and we had managed to stay out of a p!ssing match with our South American wannabe nemesis.

In the same way I have tried to avoid conflict with my friend and co-blogger, Mr. Lung. I figured that by letting him say what he wanted and not responding, I could avoid the tension and childish escalations that now define the U.S.-Venezuela relationship. In both instances, those days are now behind us. From now on, I will call it exactly like I see it.

Mr. Lung, you are wrong about instant replay. Reviewing disputed home run calls makes the game more just. And the game stops for less time than a commercial break so where’s the continuity problem many opponents have decried? If there were umps down the baselines in the outfield like there are in the playoffs, then you might have an argument. But there aren’t so I’ll have to kindly ask you to go home. You have 72 hours to pack your bags and leave.

Now, I hope this doesn’t provoke some sort of diplomatic incident. I hope you don’t get sick on some sushi and throw up all over my shoes. And I hope you will still continue to sell me your otherwise unrefinable crude oil.

However, if I may be so bold, I would like to make one final effort and extend an olive branch to my once and future friend. And this symbol of peace comes, strangely enough, directly from President Chavez’s rambling diatribe dismissing the US ambassador this week. I think we can all agree on this one thing:

Hugo.jpg

That’s enough … from you, f—ing Yankees.”

F—ing Yankees indeed.

-A

Venezuela: A Debate

Regular readers of RSBS know that I have a special place in my heart for Venezuela. And really, why not? It’s a fascinating place and lends itself to all sorts of interesting discussion. They have a wealth of oil, a wealth of baseball talent, a wealth of beauty and wealth of crazy. And since Jeff and I both share an affinity for two out of those four things it’s only fitting that RSBS take up the debate.

magglio-ordonez-smiling-180.jpgMy partner here at RSBS pointed out in a comment on a recent post:

“The Venezuela team (including Maggs, Santana, Cabrera etc) is threatening to not compete in the WBC sighting (sic) poor per diems and lack of organization as reasons not to play.”

Now, why would elite baseball players making millions of dollars per year threaten to pull out of the World Baseball Classic over some measly travel and lodging expenses? Personally, I think it has something to do with a much deeper rooted problem endemic to Venezuela.

Miss_Venezuela.jpgYes, in a land with so much wealth the unfortunate fact is that this wealth has been unequally distributed. And I’m not talking about the oil money which has accrued in the hands of well connected elites. No, I’m talking about the fact that while Venezuelan women are beautiful and have won more beauty championships than the women from any other country, the Venezuelan men seem to have lost out in the looks department. So of course they act out via other avenues.

Luckily for them, the Venezuelan men men are eerily good baseball players. Rumor has it that El Presidente himself actually joined the military in order to make his way to Caracas and play baseball. Apparently he got a little sidetracked on the way but others among his compadres have made their way into the Major Leagues where they have had major impacts. From Carlos and Ozzie Guillen to Asdrubal and Miguel Cabrera, Venezuelan baseball players are integral to the success of many MLB teams. But they just aren’t very good looking.

So, when you’ve got talent but you look like a toad, what’s a guy to do? Well, either you move to the US and become a highly-paid baseball superstar. Or, you throw a coup, invite the whole country and hope the oil party keeps raging. Go-go-go Hugo.

-A

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