Results tagged ‘ International baseball ’

Polymathic Ponderings

the thinker.jpgEver since the accident (see comments), I’ve been having difficulty focusing my thoughts; but don’t worry.  I will still find a way to express them in a brilliant, informative manner as is always expected here at RSBS.  I am many things, but a quitter without an opinion I am not. 

So…

Picture it: October 2008.  The first round of the MLB playoffs are in full stride and not a Red Sox or Yankee is anywhere to be found.  Yes.  It could happen, folks.  For the first time in recent memory, both the Yankees and the Red Sox may find themselves sitting out during the important games.  The Rays and Angels look to be locks and it seems that the Twins and White Sox are in a tussle for the other two spots in the AL.  I don’t want to get ahead of myself, but it’s hard to dismiss the possibility.  Think of the chaos, the madness, the tantrums that would follow.  At least emergency rooms in the northeast would be more quiet than usual. 

Imagine my horror.  Finally over the disappointment of not being able to see Allison Stokke vault her majesty in the Olympic games, I found myself settling on Swedish hurdler Susanna Kallur to satisfy my propensity for body-gazing during female competitions.  Yes.  My mind was made up.  She was going to be the one.  And then she knocked down the very first hurdle, fell to the ground and didn’t finish the race, further proving my theory that the combination of beauty and athletic prowess is more rare than me having somewhere to go on a Saturday night.

susanna kallur 2.jpg
susanna kallur.jpg
Envision the face of Barack Obama’s Vice President.  Is it male?  Female?  White?  Black? (doubt it)  Latino? (double-doubt it)  In any case, we should know soon and I have a feeling it will be someone whom we never even thought of.  (No, silly, it won’t be me.  I’m too busy blogging and raising cain, but thanks for the thought).

Think about it.  Wouldn’t that USA/China baseball spat have been more exciting and more newsworthy if some real punches had been thrown?  Look, I get it.  The Olympics is all about class and sportsmanship but this isn’t the floor exercise we’re talking about here: this is baseballOur sport.  Our way.  And we fight.  Robin Ventura, Nolan Ryan, Michael Barrett, A.J. Pierzynski… those guys would have tore heads off — they would’ve brought bloody pride to the Red, White and Blue.  A knockdown at home plate, some bean balls here and there… jeesh.  I was really disappointed.

See the world the way my colleague Allen Krause sees it and see a world that revolves around the wonders and blunders of one irksome Venezuela.  Yes, dear readers, I ask the same question you do: What the hell is up with all of these Venezuela postsThis one and this one and this one… I understand that Venezuela is quickly rising the ranks to be the proverbial pebble in US America’s shoe, but come on… Mr. Krause is talking about the degrees of handsomeness between Miguel Cabrera, Magglio Ordonez and Ozzie Guillen.  That’s crazy.  That’s just plain crazy

And you know it’s crazy.  You know you’ve had enough.  And you know there’s no reason to hate me ‘cuz I’m right.

Peace,

Jeffy

And the Winner Is…

trophy-cup.jpgA special thanks goes out to all of you (four of you to be exact) who participated in the Back-to-Back-to-Back-to-Back Sweepstakes!  Splendid jobs all around in twisting and grinding those creative muscles to find the quintessential back-to-back-to-back-to-back scenario.  But of course, dear readers, like any other competition, we can only crown one winner.  And this one stood out:

“Back to back to back to back free drinks from a good looking bartender. I think that would be kind of nice.”

For his titillating proposition of getting free booze from a hot drink-slinger, how can we not give the crown to Nate from Cubtastic~?

Though we appreciate the creative efforts of the others (all three of them) we at RSBS have a soft spot in our hearts for beautiful women and of course, alcohol.  You see, it helps us forget about the woes of our favorite teams. 

And we at RSBS do not discriminate against Cub fans… or Yankee fans… or Republicans.  Well, maybe we do against Republicans, but you get the idea.

So, without further ado…

Congratulations, Nate!

Now, on to the prize…

I said we would do whatever we could to make your dream come true.  Unfortunately for you, I’m a liar.  To make this up to Nate — and all of our dear readers — I decided to give you the next best thing: more background on the character of Ichiro Suzuki. 

Ichiro 2.jpgWhy?  Because his face was plastered all over MLB.com today — that’s why.  Plus, the strong response to an earlier post explaining why Ichiro refuses to speak/learn/utilize the English language demanded that we further explore the psyche of this infamously secretive Japanese superstar.

So, why has Ichiro stayed in US America all this time?  Is it the money?  The fame?  The Starbucks on every corner? 

No.

If your children had to be exposed to this type of educational programming in Japan, you would stay in US America too:

Gross.  That is just plain gross.

Don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.

Peace,

Jeffy

Allison Stokke & Colby Rasmus Will Be Missed… Roger Clemens? Not So Much

Allison.Stokke.jpgFinally, there is something to distract me from  the escalating woes of St. Louis’ bullpen, the blooming ERA of the White Sox pitching staff and the rumor mill officially known as Veepstakes!.  Yes, dear readers, it is time for another Olympiad.  The story lines are plenty, but first and foremost my focus will be on whether or not the Chinese follow through on their promise to change the weather to their specifications.  They have made great strides in weather modification (I heard the North Koreans gave them a hand with the necessary plutonium) so I really look forward to seeing them turn off the rain and turn on the sunlight.  I am also curious to see how successful they are in duping athletes into thinking that the ominous, smoky, gray haze really is just fog and not smog like the big bad foreign devils claim.  And of course, we all look forward to watching sappy melodrama after sappy melodrama, narrated by Bob Costas, featuring Olympians who overcame war, severed limbs and mange to compete on the world’s stage.

Interesting as the above may be, still, as a proud US American, I must say that the two main story lines I looked forward to the most will not be present in Beijing.  And this, dear readers, makes me sad.

Because ever since Deadspin made her an internet sensation, I have long dreamed to watch California pole-vaulting vixen Allison Stokke turn multicultural heads.  When I found out she didn’t make the USA team, I was crushed.  In my depressed stupor, I chugged a 40 oz., plucked out a few of my eyebrows, and drunk-dialed everyone I knew. 

No one answered the phone.

If you’re one of those people unfamiliar with the greatness that is Allison, you don’t need to know much.  These pictures will provide all the necessary information:

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colby.rasmus.jpgBesides Ms. Stokke, the presence of St. Louis Cardinal top-prospet Colby Rasmus will also be missed.  Touted as the ‘next big thing’ in the Cardinals farm system, I have been ravenous to watch him play.  With a measly .249 average and just 11 homeruns in 329 at-bats, I know he hasn’t had quite the year everyone expected him to at Triple-A Memphis, but there’s no telling what putting on the Red, White & Blue uni could do to a player.  Unfortunately, a leg injury will keep him from making the trip so I will be left to watch Davey Johnson manage the likes of Gronkiewicz, LaHair, Segovia and Bacsik — very US American-like names that I’ve never heard before.

Roger Clemens 2.jpgOf course, there will be one big name I’m glad I won’t have to see play, whine, cry, shoot-up, whatever and that is Roger Clemens.  There was some hinting that he might make a run at pitching for Team USA and all I can say is that I am very pleased that general manager Bob Watson quickly dismissed any potential shenanigans involving Mr. Clemens.  After the Marion Jones fiasco, the last thing US America needs is to have another steroid scandal — especially one involving the most detractive PED user this side of the Atlantic.

chewbacca.jpgThe decision to keep Clemens at home with his underaged and/or married love affairs was elementary my dear Bob Watson and I thank you for making it.  In fact, I, and the rest of US America, applaud you for it.  That being said, I don’t quite agree with your hasty acquisition of Chewbacca for the starting pitching rotation.  His fastball is a little weak and I’m not so sure he’s from our country — or planet for that matter.  Did you check his birth certificate?

Don’t hate me ‘cuz I ask the tough questions, Watson, and don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.

U-S-A, U-S-A, U-S-A!

Jeffy

Lost in Translation

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Not long ago I happened to see Ichiro Suzuki doing a post
game interview with an US American reporter.  Standing firmly by Ichiro’s side was his
translator; and all correspondences were filtered through him.  Disgusted, I couldn’t help but mumble a few
choice phrases (in multiple languages).  You
mean to tell me that in seven and a half years, Ichiro Suzuki still hasn’t
picked up the English language?  Really?  Not even a little bit?  His inability to at least try and speak the language of the people who pay him wouldn’t have bothered me when he was a rookie, but he’s been playing in the
States for a long time now — constantly surrounded by English speakers,
bombarded with English at every turn — and yet he feigns ignorance and acts
surprised when someone tries to actually use English to communicate with him.

As an ardent supporter of multi-culturalism and a strong lobbyist
for forcing young children to learn at least one foreign language in primary school, I couldn’t have been more
ashamed of Ichiro’s apparent lack of effort. 
Seriously.  I wanted to shake
him.

And then I remembered…

I remembered that Ichiro must still have the emotional scars
that resulted from using the English he was taught in this dynamic, ground-breaking, utilitarian language
program:

So I forgive you, Ichiro.

And I’m very, very sorry you had to go through that.  (*On a side note: I’d like to go on record
saying the Japanese are kind of weird)

Don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.

Peace,

Jeffy

Technorati Profile

Something We Can All Appreciate

The world is full of enough hate, folks.  Cubs/Sox.  Cubs/Cards.  Elephants/Donkeys.  Red States/Blue States.  

It’s true.  I’ve endured enough. 

So I’m getting out of town.

As we US Americans celebrate our independence from the evil Brits and the Cubs go to Busch to get a tush-kickin’ from the Cardinals, I’m going to an absolutely neutral site: Michigan.

There may not be a television there in the backwoods of Sister Lake, but I will be up-to-date on all the homeruns, RBIs and stolen bases.  While I’m sitting back getting sunburned on a boat with a Miller Lite in my hand, I’m sure my house will be firedbombed, but hey, that’s what insurance companies are for, right?

At least there’s something that we can all (Cub fans and Cardinal fans alike) agree on and that is that this video captures the essence of what makes baseball the most beautiful game on the face of the earth.

Enjoy… and don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.

Peace,

Jeffy

The Filibuster

Thursday night’s brawl between the Rays and the Red Sox showcased, once
again, that baseball players just can’t fight very well. So, here’s the
question (in two parts): 1) What is the best baseball brawl you’ve ever
seen and 2) which 2 players would you most like to see duke it out?

– Allen

                                                                                       

While it’s true that baseball players tend to be awful at fighting on the field, there is no doubt that a bench-clearing brawl is one of the most exciting parts of the game.  In every case there is some kind of ‘other’ energy at play as soon as a hitter decides to charge the mound and whether he lands a punch or not, most people would be lying if they said they didn’t enjoy watching that kind of drama unfold.  The brawls tend to be explosions of emotions that have been built up over a long period of time: clubs with histories, beanball wars, personal vendettas, et al tend to set the stage for the best fights in the game, and I totally get off on seeing those frustrations blow up.  The Prince of New York wrote a great post (*click here to read*) on the dueling psychologies of baseball brawl analysis and he’s absolutely correct in his conclusion that most people enjoy them (or get off on them like me) — even if they try to conceal it.

That being said, I have to admit that I often feel let down when a Coco Crisp or a James Shields wails and misses outright… or when an Iwamura throws a couple of sissy-punches that are more for show and less impacting.  It’s like watching softcore pOrn on Cinemax: show me the real thing or I’m better off watching reruns of Full House.

The best baseball brawl I’ve ever seen? 

I think we all know there is only one right answer to that question, so before I reveal what everyone already knows, let me make some honorable mentions:

zambrano_v_barrett.jpgBig Z v. Michael Barrett; Big Z v. Gatorade Cooler
Hands down, Carlos Zambrano is the most explosive personality in the game right now.  An atomic fist fight waiting to happen, Big Z showed some real hutzpah last year when he decked his own catcher, Michael Barrett, in the face after an onfield dispute regarding pitch selection or whatever… who cares… this fight was awesome.  Cardinal fans always love to see internal dissension in the home dugout at Wrigley, but what made it even more awesome was the jacked up face of Michael Barrett the next day.  Of course, in the end, this fight was the catalyst that got Barrett out of Chicago, setting the stage for Rookie of the Year candidate Geovany Soto to make his breakthrough as the Cubs’ catcher.  I’m hoping that Big Z can find a reason to hate Soto too, but I’m not putting any money on it.

What I am putting money on is that if Big Z gives up a go-ahead homerun to Matt Kemp late in an otherwise flawless pitching performance, not even the Gatorade cooler is safe.  Don’t believe me?  Check out the pounding Zambrano gave this poor, helpless, inanimate object.

Izzy Alcantara’s Foot v. Catcher’s Face

Besides having a really cool name, this Pawtucket minor leaguer will go down in history as one of the smartest basebrawlers of all time.  To ensure that the catcher wouldn’t hold him back, he gave him a swift back kick to the face!  What is sad about this fight is that when he finally reached the mound, he let everyone down by dancing around and ultimately getting mauled himself (*click here to watch*).  Ah, such wasted potential.

sweeney_v_weaver.jpgMike Sweeney v. Jeff Weaver
If ever there were two lameball pacifist fighters pitted against one another, these would be the two.  This fight didn’t even have anything to do with pitch location; it was all about something Weaver said (allegedly) behind his glove.  Sweeney didn’t like it and charged the mound while Weaver had his back to the plate.  What does make this an awesome fight is that Weaver had no idea Sweeney was coming and by the time he turned around, it was too late.  Much like Alcantara, Sweeney used a diversion tactic by first slinging his batting helmet at Weaver before taking him to the ground and landing a few solid body blows.  Good times.

Good times aside, these fights are equally catatonic in comparison to the greatest basebrawl of all time:

ryan_ventura.jpgNolan Ryan v. Robin “Sissy-pants” Ventura
There’s nothing quite like making a mannish dash for the mound to fight someone who is old enough to be your father and then getting put in a headlock only to have your skull, nose, jaw pounded on by the strikeout king.  I can’t say enough about how bad*ss the Ryan Express was in this matchup and I highly doubt anyone will ever come close to equaling his solidly aggressive performance — ever.  This fight is as unlikely to be surpassed as is Joe Dimaggio’s 56 game hit streak.  It just ain’t gonna happen.

But there are some fellas I’d like to see go up against one another in the near future.  Albert Pujols is only one bad pitch away from knocking the snot out of Brandon Backe.  As their ongoing series of differences escalates, I believe Backe realizes more and more that he has absolutely no chance against an angry A.P., but if anything, Backe has already proven to the world that he’s not exactly Fulbright quality.  I eagerly await his date with number 5′s right hook.

But the potential ironclad matchup I deem most notable, most exciting, most entertaining would be: Milton Bradley v. Carlos Zambrano.  Both of these guys are nuts! and suffer from extreme anger management issues.  No one, no thing is safe when these two are on the field and that includes first base coaches, pitching hands and the aforementioned sufferings of that poor, helpless Gatorade cooler in L.A.

I’d give my left (ahem) to see Big Z pitch Bradley inside and just see what happens.  If there is a god…

…but just in case there isn’t, we’ll always have the mysteriously entertaining rituals of Ko
rean baseball brawls:

Don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right…

Peace,

Jeffy

The Loaner

By Noah Fence, Associated Press

CHICAGO/WASHINGTON D.C. — In a surprise Red
State Blue
State
revelation, a
campaign aide (a guy named Madelyn) says Allen Krause lent himself $6.40 in the
past month.

Politically wounded and financially strapped, Krause
recently plunged back into the RSBS debate against his longtime foe: the
superiorly intelligent, charismatic, rising baseball-blogger-star Jeffery Lung.  This surge comes after a long hiatus where Krause
did nothing but sit back and take a vicious verbal beating.  Facing tough decisions like whether he should
pay the rent or pay a ghost writer for his questionable posts, Krause decided
it was finally time to dip into the old savings account for the much needed six
dollars and forty cents.

The loan more than doubles what he has contributed thus far.

And it’s not really working.

Though his affiliation with the Detroit Tigers is
unwavering, his dignity and reputation haven’t been so lucky.  Outsmarted, outwitted and outwritten in his
public arguments against Jeff Lung, it is evident that not only does Lung carry
the baseball message of hope into the streets, he carries it around the globe.

“Wo hen xihuan Long Jiefu. 
Ta hao bang, hen congming.  Yinwei
you ta, suoyi wo ai kan
bangqiu a!” said Chinese Minister of Defense General Liang Guanglie after
reading every single RSBS post after a busy morning of war games.

“Lung’s is a message of hope – of striving to be better, of
caring for your fellow man.  It’s a
message that made me say ‘forget pitching, let me hit and patrol centerfield’” said
St. Louis Cardinal Rick Ankiel after a star-studded performance of his own on
Tuesday night.

Meanwhile, Krause’s lack of determination and point of view
remain hindering no matter how much money he loans himself.

jim leyland monkey.jpg

“Right now, that guy [Krause] gives us a bad name.  We got a monkey on our backs.  We can’t win. 
We can’t hit.  And that guy
[Krause] ain’t helpin’ the cause here.  Get that **** outta my face,” said Tigers
manager Jim Leyland.

Though we tried to contact Krause headquarters for comment,
that guy named Madelyn said he was locked in a bathroom busy putting his foot
in his mouth.  

Awesomeball!

Maozedong3_1MLB has officially invaded China, and despite growing concerns (or the complete denial) of political unrest in the much-disputed province of Tibet, everything is going just swell!   For China, this entire event is considered a blip of a test run before the unveiling of their true grandeur as the host of the 2008 Olympic Games.  For US Americans, this is the beginning of making a lot of $$$ in a virtually untapped market.  And what better way to showcase our national past-time to China than to have the San Diego Padres (a bunch of bat-wielding religious zealots!) and the Los Angeles Dodgers (a group of fleet-foots named after dodging danger!) play to a 3-3 tie–the ultimate proletariat resolution to conflict.  (*Another, more effective way is to simply shoot your opponent.)

JiangyawnsOf course, the Chinese already arduously follow a sport with similarly  anticlimactic outcomes.  It’s called soccer, or futbol–zuqiu in Mandarin, of which I’m a fluent speaker, because, yes I’m brilliant.  And arrogant.  And stubborn.  And sleazy.  In other words, I am China. 

Seriously though, I do fancy myself as an intellectual capable of overcoming cultural boundaries, stereotypes, and all that other smart sounding stuff.  My four years living in China are testament to this.  In fact, prior to my Fulbrightonian quest to become the world’s most renown sinologist (still working on that; we thank you for your patience) I knew that there was some history, albeit brief, of baseball in China, but I never gave it much thought.  Taiwan (not China by the way), because of its American and Japanese military/political presences, had a better grasp of the game–played it even–but weren’t that good.  Watching a televised Taiwanese professional contest is about as exciting as watching presidential candidates arm-wrestle: interesting, but for all the wrong reasons. 

In my experience, the Chinese (back to the Mainland now) find the actual name of the sport, bangqiu, more appealing than the sport itself.  Loosely transliterated from the English "baseball", bang means "great!", "awesome!", "grand!".  Qiu means "ball".  Naturally, Aweseome!ball sounds like the rip-roarin’ time that it is.  However, when my scary Communist Party Official professor, Mr. Wang Jianguo asked me "what exactly is baseball?" and I answered with a twenty minute diatribe explaining balls and strikes, the bases, three outs, 9 innings, etc, I got a terse response: "Sounds too complicated to be embraced by the masses.  It doesn’t sound ‘awesome’ at all."

Dsc00107_3
This hiccup in my international relationship building project really left a sour taste in my mouth.  So, 8 years before MLB ever played a game in China, I took my message to the streets, professing my love and faith for my country’s greatest, awesomest, grandest game.  I found the one outlet in all of Beijing (a Japanese store no less) that actually had baseball gloves, balls, bats, and I started showing up in parks, hanging out and hitting pop flies into wide open spaces otherwise occupied by diligent university bookworms until someone would approach me to see what in the world I was doing.  Occasionally, curious onlookers would get past the fact that I was a whitey who spoke their language and would actually stay quiet long enough to let me explain the gists of the game.  But more often than not, I didn’t get very far. 

Eventually, a certain 50-something Mr. Qian Deping became interested in what I was professing.  After he made certain I wasn’t a Christian missionary using an obscure, odd angle to push Jesus, he began to show up more frequently; he became my biggest fan.  Okay, my only fan.  Having his undivided attention, I began to realize just how difficult it is to adequately explain the rules of baseball to someone who has never even seen or heard of it before.   Mr. Qian didn’t follow most of what I taught; and he was very adamant against the idea of ‘three strikes and you’re out’. 

Qianxiansheng_2
"No.  Three strikes is not good," he said.  "There must be another way."

"I’m afraid not.  Three strikes and you’re out."

"This is not a good game for the people."

"Why?  I think it’s a great game for the people.  It celebrates individuality in the spirit of team, community, common goals."

"The people will not like it.  They will not like being ‘out’.  They want another try."

As much as the people may not like being ‘out’, Mr. Qian finally got up the nerve to throw the ball around with me.  He threw like a girl.  I couldn’t help but laugh. 

"The people simply throw.  There is no distinguishing between ‘like a girl’ or ‘like a boy’."

He had a point because I couldn’t get him to throw like a boy.  He was stuck in his ways, and quite comfortable.  His reinterpretation of the game included banning base-stealing because "stealing is a crime" and shortening games to only 8 innings because "eight is a lucky number and nine is not."   

How could I argue with such logic?

I handed him a bat, stepped off 60 1/2 feet and threw him a lazy fastball.  He just stared at it as it passed by, hitting a cement wall behind him.  "You’re supposed to hit it, Mr. Qian.  Just rear back and take a swing."  I took a little off the next one and watched–in slow motion–this 50-plus year old man windup the most unorthodox swing and crush the ball to what would’ve been straight away center field had it been a ballpark and not a campus quadrangle. 

I turned and watched it soar, fly high through a grey sky with that song from The Natural repeating in my head while time froze.  Every hair on my body stood up.  Tingles rushed from head to toe.  For a few seconds, I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.

The ball landed among a bunch of lounging Beijing University students who screamed and scattered like shrapnel upon its descent, looking in every direction for a culprit, a foreign devil.  All eyes turned to me.  In unison their glares scolded me for my tomfoolery. 

But the deafening celebratory cackles of ecstasy by Mr. Qian broke up any ensuing retaliation by the student mob.  I turned back to where home plate would have been and saw Mr. Qian holding the bat high above his head like a Tusken Raider, screaming sounds of victory to all who would hear.

"I did it!  I did it!  I won!"

Mr. Qian was a winner on that day (grab the Kleenex) and so was I.  I may never have gotten to see him figure out how to run the bases or catch a ball or pitch in the strike zone, but for that one brief moment I was an integral part of mending two cultures that had grown accustomed to bickering over differences.  Finally, the game I loved proved a fine (though at times confusing) ambassador to the people I had worked so hard to understand, to be a part of.

That was all the proof I needed to know that someday China would get baseball.  It will take some time–well, honestly, it will take a very long time.  But if the Chinese people as a whole are good at anything, it’s copying things that have already been proven successful.  Whether it’s mass producing bootlegged DVDs or creating faux designer clothing or reinventing our national pastime as their own, I expect that eventually our broadcasters will be stumbling over names like Zhang Jianguo, Zhu Fengming, Li Ningshou, Jiang Jiahe, He Weili and Mou Daiguo.  Who knows, maybe we’ll even be able to get an order of pot stickers and gulao jirou at the game.  But no fortune cookies, please. Nothing could be farther from truly authentic things-Chinese than fortune cookies.  Those are designated especially for American ******. 

Don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right (yinwei wo shuo de dui, suoyi, bu yao hen wo).

Peace,

Jeffy   

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