Results tagged ‘ Lou Piniella ’

THANKS!!!

thanksgiving.jeff.allen.jpgIn just a short while, we US Americans will begin that hallowed tradition of spending quality time with family by gorging ourselves on a bounty of food, drinking excessive amounts of Johnnie Walker Black and falling asleep on the couch only to wake up with unidentifiable aches and pains in places never before felt.

Well, maybe that’s just me.

In any case, given the copious amounts of bull**** recently posted by my colleague, Mr. Krause, whose intellectual ineptitude forces him to fall into that age-old Blue State trap of logorrhea where valid questions are only answered with an arsenal of equally unrelated questions, I have found solace in you, Dear Readers, and your ability to see that — as usual — I am right.

Thank you.

In fact, since this time of year is all about giving thanks, I am going to rightfully refrain from causing any further damage to Mr. Krause’s ego by letting him be (just for today) and instead would like to take a moment to give my most wholehearted thanks.

Indeed, there are many things to be thankful for today.  I’m thankful that the Cubs have gone 100 years without a World Series title.  I am thankful that the Cardinals are actually considering filling some left-handed reliever roles (even if it is by courting a couple of scrubs).  I am thankful that I live in the Second City — that we have two firery baseball icons who are willing to make fools of themselves by performing a ridiculous rap song for the good of Chevrolet; and I am thankful that senior citizens ride the CTA free, fat senior citizens ride two for the price of one, which is also free.  I’m also thankful that Dubya is on his way out, that an Iowan turkey (ironically not Chuck Grassley this time) will be able to live a long, eaten-free life and that Minnesota has replaced Florida (for now) as the state where your vote might not really count.

But most of all, I am thankful for you, Dear Readers.  For it is you that truly makes RSBS the special little happy place where baseball-politico egos, arguments and aspirations go to make sweet, sweet love.  And for that, Mr. Krause and I couldn’t be more grateful.

We have given our staff the rest of the week off.  Allen has left for that cavernous pit of despair otherwise known as Los Angeles (or Where Souls Go to Die) while I will be spending the rest of the week reflecting on my podunk roots with my quaint family in Springfield, IL — once home to Abraham Lincoln, Barack Obama and of course, Me.

Happy Thanksgiving to all and 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

A Break from All That “Inside Baseball Stuff”

Guess what.

I’m baaaack.

Indeed, after that long and winding baseball-politico season and the ominousness of losing every dime I’ve ever saved due to the current worldwide economic crisis, I deserved a damn vacation.

And vacation I did.

1108081731a_01.jpgI turned off the phone.  Eschewed the interweb.  Relaxed under the sun.  Got tan.  And I did it with family — Lung Family Reunion style. 

Which reminds me, don’t you just hate when you meet the perfect girl and you hit it off right away — so much so that you spend the entire day with her into the evening through the night and find out the next day that she’s your cousin? 

Happens to me every year.

But that’s not what I want to focus on today.  No.  You see, dear readers, while on my vacation, I missed out on some very important happenings: like Gov. Sarah Palin‘s adamant cry to NBC’s Matt Lauer that during the campaign she never got involved with that “inside baseball stuff” that supposedly divided her camp from Sen. McCain’s. 

Look, I don’t even pretend to know what she meant by calling it “inside baseball stuff” seeing how it had absolutely nothing to do with baseball; however, I can appreciate her obviously sentimental regard for greatest game on earth and implying that indeed, it’s complicated.

Because it is. 

The coast is clear now, but how is it that the Cardinals were even considering a trade for Matt Holliday?  A trade that would send away at least two (maybe more) of our most talented youngsters and leave us with a one-year rental of a player represented by Scott Boras?  Has John Mozeliak officially lost his friggin’ mind? 

The answer to that question is yes and I’m quite sure we St. Louis fans haven’t even seen the beginning of it.  Stock up on the painkillers, folks; 2009 could be a long one.

And how is it that Lou Piniella received the Manager of the Year Award?  Don’t get me wrong:  I have nothing but respect for Sweet Lou and I admire his guile, but this year he did what he was supposed to do (sorta) which was manage an extremely talented, high-priced ball-club to a winning season.  That’s like me getting rewarded for drinking beer and watching football on Sundays.  That’s what I do, people!

The Cubs were on cruise control all season until October and Lou didn’t have to work nearly as hard as the likes of Tony LaRussa or Joe Torre to get the job done with less talent. 

The one thing Lou was supposed to do this year (win playoff games) never happened.  I see that as one thing and one thing only: failure.  F-A-I-L-U-R-E.

On the other side of the Second City (my side), complications arise with Jermaine Dye and his future in a White Sox uniform.  Rumor is: Kenny Williams wants to get some fresh legs in exchange for the veteran outfielder who had a resurgent season in 2008.  I understand Williams’ point of view, but I’m pretty sure there will be rioting in the streets if Dye is traded away.  Even more rioting if Big Fat Bobby Jenks is dealt (which is also floating around the rumormill).

Just let me know if and when that’s going to happen, Kenny, because I’ll make sure to be back in South Padre until the Southside firebombing lets up.

I suppose Gov. Palin was right.  This “inside baseball stuff” is complicated.  And I gotta hand it to the Republicans.  They ran a good laughable race.  And the tides seem to be turning for the GOP: Mark Foley, while still making excuses for his pedophilia, is at least speaking to the media again; Alaska has more problems than just Palinmania; and Norm Coleman has a 209 vote lead (as I write this).

Like my boy Tupac used to always say: “Ya gotta keep ya head up.”

Don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.

Peace,

Jeffy

Premature Jubilation

old cub fan.JPGThey say that the great state of Chicago‘s drinking water — drawn from the great Lake Michigan — is some of the finest, purest tap water in all of US America.  Seriously?  I’m beginning to wonder…

Again, my hat is tipped to the Chicago Cubs, their players, their front office and yes, even their fans for winning the National League Central Division title.  Job well done.  I’ve commented on blogs galore, I’ve shaken your hands, I’ve stopped calling the cops when you fire bomb my house. 

Congratulations on doing what you were supposed to do.  You were picked to win the Central.  You went out and spent a lot of money to win the Central.  So, it should be no surprise that you did indeed win the Central.

But I have absolutely no patience (nor the stomach) for this kind of crap sprawled across my Sunday paper:

this is the year cubs.jpgIf it weren’t for my sadistic infatuation with the shooting incidents finely described in the Metro section, I’d cancel my Chicago Tribune subscription in a New York methamphetamine minute because their escalating sensationalist style of journalism is growing too tiresome to be considered real reportage. 

Publishing a new book entitled This Is The Year?

The year for what!?!?  Winning the division?  Because that’s all you’ve done so far.  Congratu-friggin-lations on that.  You won the NL Central.  You did that last year too.  Remember?  Where’s the book for that great feat of baseball achievement?  Oh, there isn’t one?  Well then, let’s write a book about this year then without having actually done anything of real importance?!?! 

Is this for real?  What else have you done this year that warrants a book banking/hoping/praying you’ll win the NLDS and then win the NLCS and then… win the WS?

This is exactly the reason why Cub fans hate themselves.  They let the media and the hype and the curses and the exploding payrolls inflate their egos beyond the realms of sanity, so much so that they actually believe “this is the year” when they’ve still got a whole lot of work to do… just like they did when all they had to do was record five outs against the Marlins or win three games against the Diamondbacks or whatever the case may be this year. 

Sure, it’s been a hundred years and the media loves this kind of story… look: I get it.  But, don’t you think publishing a book called This Is The Year is a bit like asking that girl you like but haven’t talked to yet to marry you

Yeah.  Good luck with that.

I’m sure your manager, “Sweet” Lou Piniella, one of the smartest, classiest managers in the game, is loving your gung-ho holier-than-thou approach to the toughest part of the season.  Because we all know (cue the sarcasm) that the playoff games preceding the world series crown are really meaningless, especially if you’ve got a book called This Is The Year.

Nothing guarantees a victory like premature jubilation. 

Just ask Al Gore.

And don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.

Peace,

Jeffy

The Filibuster

Everyone is calling McCain’s choice of Sarah Palin as his VP a
“huge gamble.” Of course, you could argue that an even bigger gamble
took place when Pete Rose threw down money on games or when Tim Donaghy
decided to just throw a few games in the NBA. What do you think is the
biggest gamble (legal or otherwise) that has taken place in baseball
recently and how does it compare to McCain’s?
 
– Allen

                                                                                    

mccain palin.jpgGambling, throwing all you’ve got behind one decision, taking a risk… these are paramount aspects of the game of baseball.  Without them, the game would be boring.  When players and managers break from the norm and go out on a limb, we get excited: distancing oneself from the same old thing causes excitement.

And there has been no shortage of temerity nor bold decision making in our most beloved game over the last several years.  Of course, as a Monday morning quarterback, it’s easy to call these moves audacious, ill planned, unrefined after the fact.  Sometimes, as in the case of the GOP’s pick of one Sarah Palin, the decision need not be analyzed over and over again to find sound reasoning: there just isn’t any.

Like Grady Little leaving Pedro Martinez in Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS after giving up three straight hits with only five outs to go and a three-run lead.  That was dumb no matter how you look at it.  And if it weren’t for 2004 and 2007, Sox fans would still be teeming with angst.

Like scores of players (McGwire, Bonds, Giambi, just to name a few) cheating their fans and cheating themselves by altering their physiology in order to make an extra multimillion or three, break records, tarnish the game.  While I understand the desire to perform at the highest level possible, I tend to admire the natural approach over the Frankenstein method.  With information regarding the rigorous side effects of performance enhancing drugs being as known as ABC’s — these guys took a big, dumb gamble and now — for the most part — we despise them for it.

manny ramirez dodgers.jpgBut in my opinion, the biggest recent risk sure to backfire on the gambling party was the cave-in decision made by the Red Sox to ship Manny Ramirez out of Boston for Jason Bay.  The baseball pundits have spoken, and I have to agree: Jason Bay — no matter how good he is — is no Manny Ramirez.  The Red Sox may squeak into the playoff picture, but they are not near as good now as they were with Manny in the lineup and I expect they won’t make it too far without him.  The whining and crying of Ramirez was nothing new to Boston’s brass and erasing him from the team not only left a hole in the four spot, it also diminished the impact of one David Ortiz. 

And losing Ortiz at-bats to walks sure does make a difference in the wrong direction.

Of course, there are always those gambles that seem ludicrous yet turn out to be smart in the end as well.

Like Cardinals manager Tony LaRussa batting the pitcher in the eight hole to create more opportunities for Albert Pujols.  Though seemingly odd because it was such a staunch break from the norm, essentially what TLR has done is make sure AP gets up in the first inning, then contributes as a clean-up hitter for the remainder of the game.  It’s hard to argue against that logic and I’m surprised more managers haven’t followed suit.

TLR isn’t the only NL Central manager who has gained notoriety for his arduous risk-taking skills.  “Sweet” Lou Piniella, when faced with an ailing Kerry Wood, had nothing but faith in a young rookie call-up from Notre Dame.  He threw Jeff Samardzija in the limelight and hasn’t looked back since.  With Samardzija pitching as well as he has in recent months, the Cubs bullpen, for the first time that I can ever remember, has suddenly become an asset rather than a liability. 

kenny williams.jpgBut no gamble in recent memory has turned out as splendidly as that taken by White Sox GM Kenny Williams in trading Chris Carter to the Diamondbacks for Carlos Quentin.  Sure, one could argue that giving up a relatively unknown minor league first baseman for the once considered underachieving Quentin was hardly a risk.  But put in perspective: trading Garland for Cabrera and Linebrink, cutting Podsenik, resigning Uribe, demoting Josh Fields, putting faith back in Joe Crede while giving a young Alexei Ramirez a shot at second base… Kenny Williams has been a very busy man and the moves he’s made — while controversial — have all turned out for the better.  The White Sox have rediscovered their grinder swagger and as I predicted at the beginning of the season, have made a case for winning the AL Central and beyond.

I don’t know what political affiliations Kenny Williams has, if any, but I do know that the GOP’s decision making skills pale in comparrison to the Sox GM.  The invasion of Iraq, the atrociously late and unorganized response to Hurricane Katrina victims, the gross misspending of our inflated tax dollars… and now putting Palin — a woman so unqualified to lead a nation that I can’t help but tell myself this is all just a big joke (punchline to come?) — in line for the highest office in the land; all I can say is:

Wow.

That was dumb

And let me tell ya, you can go on and hate me for my wordy rhetoric, my inspiring the people, my loose analysis of managerial decisions, but you shouldn’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.

Peace,

Jeffy

That’s a (W)rap

Okay, Mr. Krause.  You said your answer was simple, but in fact, it wasn’t.  Spoken like a true politickin’ politician, you pulled the ‘ole ‘leave the answer up to the reader’ move.  Nice job.  Passing the buck has never appeared so graceful.

The right answer is: Shawn Chacon is replaceable.  Blackball the guy, turn your back on him, punch him in the nuts, whatever — anyone who behaves like that doesn’t deserve the opportunity to play baseball at the Major League level and doesn’t deserve to make Major League dollar$.  If I physically attacked my boss at work tomorrow I’m pretty sure word would get around (after I’m fired) to those in the Asian art world that I was bad news.  No way I’d get a job in the industry again and I wouldn’t deserve it if I did. 

If someone like Alex Rodriguez or Albert Pujols attacks his GM (neither ever would), I could entertain the idea of giving him a second chance based only on the idea that there is no replacing an Alex Rodriguez or an Albert Pujols.  But Shawn Chacon?  A paragon of mediocrity?  No way.  I can’t wait to pull into a Texas service station and have him rotate my tires.

But who cares anyway?  Much more exciting things in the news today…

Like Kyle Lohse’s outstanding ESPN primetime performance against the now below-.500 Manuel-era Mets.  Lohse has been an absolute stud this season.  Everyone credits Dave Duncan — as they should — but Lohse must get props for putting the plan into action.  Speaking of Dunc, I’m pretty sure Orel Hershiser was getting mad wood every time he brought up Dave Duncan during the ESPN telecast, which seemed to be every home inning.  It’s okay.  I was getting the same reaction.

kyle_lohse.jpgAnd there was a lot of reaction from the sore-losing Northsiders in the Loop today.  Hey, all you loser sCrUB fans who gave me hell last weekend — who refused to answer my phone calls, emails, text messages during the Southside whoopin’ ya’ll took this weekend, I got two words for you: EAT IT!

I feel better now. 

And so does Nick Swisher… and Jim Thome, obviously.  Don’t look now, but these two streaky hitters are getting hot and there’s no limit to the damage they can do in tandem alongside Quentin and Dye.  Look out world, look out.

Now that the Windy City (Crosstown) Classic is over, and we’re all even, I think it’s time to pay homage to the absolute worst commercial in the history of Chicago.  Leave it to Chevrolet to think it’d be really awesome for an old Italian and an aging Latino to perform a rap song about baseball in the Second City.  Not since Puff Daddy and Mase destroyed the legendary memory of Biggie has the music world seen such an abomination of a duo. 

In case you missed it, or in case you don’t live in Chicago, here it is.  I’m just warning you: Don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right:

Peace,

Jeffy

The Filibuster

John McLaren, the fiery, F-bomb dropping manager of the Mariners just
lost his job, perhaps in part because of his profanity laced tirade.
Bobby Cox set a career mark for ejections last season. And Lou Pinella
always seems to be cussing out someone, no matter if his team is in
first or last place. Does it really make a difference when a manager
hollers at, kicks dirt on or otherwise abuses the umps and who does it
best?

– Allen

                                                                                       

I believe it was 1985 or 1986.  I was just a bright-eyed kid who would hold his breath as he walked into the chasm of old Busch stadium — overwhelmed and overjoyed by the simple lush green of artificial turf. They were known as the runnin’ Redbirds back then and Vince Coleman was on the front line. 

He walked to lead off the first inning and on the very next pitch he stole second.  The ump called him out.  Coleman went nuts.  He got in the ump’s face, threw down his helmet and the crowd (me included) erupted with a supporting roar.  It wasn’t enough to change the umpire’s mind because two seconds later, he tossed him. 

Immediately, Whitey Herzog stormed from the dugout and dashed towards second base.

Absolute pandemonium. 

He got tossed too.

I was only six or seven years old, but I got it.  I was pumped.  I was charged.  I would’ve fought to the death for Whitey.

And that sentiment rings true still today for players and fans.  Why do managers argue calls, risk being fined, and make scenes in front of 30,000 people?  It’s part of their job.  They are paid to lead, to discipline, to encourage and to fire up the troops.

Some are passive-aggressive (Bobby Cox), some are aggressive (Lou Pinella, Earl Weaver, Billy Martin) and some are just lameballs (Willie Randolph).  No matter what the style, the purpose is the same.  This is elementary.

As for who is the best?  I’m not sure that any current manager could touch the combativeness of Earl Weaver or Billy Martin.  Perhaps “Sweet” Lou Pinella is the closest we have as he always puts on a good show and his teams seem to respond: they win.  And isn’t that the most important thing?

Of course, there’s always room for a loony toon or two, and I think we could all agree that minor league manager Phillip Wellman of the Mississippi Braves is the quintessential example of how sometimes one can take the whole arguing with the umpire thing a bit too far.  If you live under a rock and don’t know what I’m talking about, check out this footage from June 2007:

Nutjob.  Yes.  But at least he was committed.  And confident.  Confidence can go a long way, especially if you’re looked up to as a leader and you have no clue what you’re doing half the time.  Of course, I can’t relate to that.  I can’t relate to that at all. 

Don’t hate me cuz I’m right.

Peace,

Jeffy

I Have a Dirtly Little Secret Too

Edward_Brooke.jpgYesterday Barbara Walters came out and admitted to having a long-time affair with former U.S. Senator Edward Brooke.  It only took her 30 years to disclose, which makes the story that less exciting, but hey, she had a reputation to uphold.  Now that no one cares about her anymore, I see her confession as a very smart move.  There is no such thing as bad press…

paulette_daly.jpgUnless you’re Roger Clemens.  As if using performance-enhancing drugs to get an edge and then lying to a federal grand jury wasn’t enough, it has now become known that Clemens probably had a predatory affair with a 15-year-old girl.  But wait, there’s more: infamous golfer John Daly’s ex-wife, Paulette, is now accused of have having an affair with Roger too!  Yikes!  Drunks, cheaters and hot-heads, boy, that Paulette sure knows how to pick ‘em!  Coincidentally, my mother called me this afternoon to report that she too had an affair with Roger Clemens; but she was quick to point out that she ended the relationship shortly after he said “Your son throws like a girl.  Let’s shoot him up.”

Thanks, Mom.

So all this truth-telling has moved me to disclose my dirty little secret too.  I’m not proud of it; but it’s time to come clean.  A few years ago, when I was at very low point in my life, I had a promiscuous relationship with a mouse.  Yes, a mouse.  We had a love child, and though I haven’t seen him since he was born, I keep track of all of his accomplishments through the newspaper.  Here’s the only picture I have of him.  No matter what distance is between us, I will always love him.  He’s so cute.  I think he has my ear.

mouse_with_ear_on_back.jpg

And if this isn’t enough honest drama for you, the Cardinals v. Cubs series kicks off tonight.  Though the managerial matchup of LaRussa v. Piniella is not as fiery and bound for mischief as LaRussa v. Baker, remember, LaRussa and Piniella have some history too.  Who doesn’t remember the 1990 World Series?

Oh.  No one remembers it.  That’s right.

Nevermind.

In any case, the Cards win this series AND the respect of ESPN.  Okay, maybe only the first part is true, but you know what I mean.

Just don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.

Peace,

Jeffy

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