Sunday, May 28, 2006

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

"The hell do you mean 'Where have I gone?' I just did a Mr. Coffee commercial."

So said Joltin' Joey DiMaggio to Paul Simon. I was reminded of the second-best DiMaggio quote when it was reported that the highest-priced autographed baseball ever sold, signed by Giuseppe Paolo DiMaggio himself along Norma Jean Mortensen, just went for $191,200 at a Dallas auction. When Marilyn visited the troops during the Korean War in 1954, she returned to report to her new husband:
"It was so wonderful, Joe. You never heard such cheering."
To which he stoically replied:
"Yes I have."
Man, what a wonderful thing to be able to say.

Sunday, April 30, 2006

What Keith Said Just Now.

Right now, in the second inning of the Braves-Mets contest, there was a shot of a little boy in his Little League uniform and sitting with his grandmother. She was shaking a carton of Goldfish crackers into his cupped hands, whereupon Keith Hernandez said,
"Are those Goldfish crackers? At the ballpark?"
And then his play-by-play partner, Gary Cohen, goes,
"Well, they have sushi at the ballpark in Anaheim, I understand."
And then Keith goes,
"Yeah, that I understand. But Goldfish?"
Has he been saying stupid shit like this all this time and we should be taking whatever he says with a grain of salt? Or maybe an entire salt shaker? Or did Keith run out of blow and he's been using the foul lines and the batter's box as a poor substitute?

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

1982 Topps #210

Keith Hernandez was a terrific first baseman back in his day. He was an 11-time Gold Glove winner, the 1979 National League co-MVP with Pops Stargell and a 5-time All-Star who smacked a shitload of doubles and took a shitload of walks, the kind of player the Lyle Overbays and J.T. Snows of the world aspire to be. But when Mike Piazza high-fived some chick in the dugout after a home-run during the Mets-Padres game last Saturday night, broadcaster Keith broadcasted:
"Who is the girl in the dugout, with the long hair? What's going on here? You have got to be kidding me. Only player personnel in the dugout."
When he was informed that the chick was the massage therapist for the Padres and a member of the training staff since 2004 and therefore, was player personnel, Keith was unfazed, saying,
"I won't say that women belong in the kitchen, but they don't belong in the dugout."
But then he tried to laugh it off and be all like,
"You know I am only teasing. I love you gals out there - always have."
Naturally, this kind of cements his already-cemented reputation of being a dickhead blowhard, pun intended of the "blow" part of the word "blowhard." He famously feuded with Cardinals manager Whitey Herzog over his coke habit, which presumably led to being traded to the Mets for some guy named Neil Allen and some other guy named Rick Ownbey, where Keith would top even Doc and The Straw by setting a team record in 1986 for Most Blow Blown in a Single Season. He was also nicknamed "Mex" despite his non-Mexican heritage, is a spokesman for Just for Men hair products (which, it should go without saying, women are not allowed to use) and once put Jerry Seinfeld in a very uncomfortable position by asking him to help him move even though they barely knew each other.

As of blog time, the team has reprimanded Blowhard Hernandez but has yet to officially fine or punish him for his remarks and I'm also pretty disturbed by the 39% of readers who actually agree with him. Padres manager Bruce Bochy, who expressed incredulity that her gender was even an issue, certainly isn't one of them and really, it should go without saying that so is the rest of the free-thinking free world. I mean, it's not that he crossed the line because there really isn't even one to begin with, although that's probably because Keith already snorted it.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

You can't just turn on Ichiro like that and leave him unsatisfied.

Schilling leaves Mariners all wet.

Red Sox Nation is also creaming their jeans after his 3-0 start with a 1.64 ERA and 1.44 BAA.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

1971 Topps #2

In an era that was full of them, Dock Ellis was the ultimate counter-culture athlete. To retaliate for a moonshot home run at the All-Star game five years earlier, he beaned the great Reggie Jackson in the face, resulting in Mr. October being carried off the field on a stretcher. He wore curlers in his hair during pre-game warm-ups, which infuriated Baseball commissioner Bowie Kuhn to no end. On May 1, 1974, because he refused to be intimidated by The Big Red Machine like the rest of the National League, he set a Major League record for consecutive hits batsmen to start the game by pelting Pete Rose, Joe Morgan and Dan Dreissen in the top of the first inning. The next batter, Tony Perez, managed to dodge Ellis's headhunting and draw a walk, scoring The Gambler, and Dock would throw two more pitches directly at Johnny Bench before being lifted by his manager. But for all his antics, that doesn't even come close to what he once accomplished to begin a doubleheader one afternoon in 1970.

The most significant events in the history of Man, in chronological order as well as more or less in the order of its importance are:
  1. The Birth of Christ - December 25, 0000
  2. The Death of Christ - Friday, 0033
  3. Man Walks on the Moon - 1968 or '69 or so.
  4. Ellis throws a no-hitter under the influence of LSD - June 12, 1970.
I'm not sure if people can really understand and appreciate the difficulty of accomplishing something like that under those circumstances. Hell, when I'm under the influence, I forget how to watch TV, let alone pitch a ballgame. To clarify, remember back when us kids used to stuff our faces with hallucinogenic substances during Little League practice and then proceed to shag flies and play pepper? Wasn't that absolutely difficult as hell? Now try picture doing the exact same thing only during an actual major league game. Against actual major league hitters. And then you end up throwing a no-hitter. Granted, it was one of the more sloppy no-hitters in Baseball history, with 8 walks and a HBP. But still. Throwing a no-hitter while tripping your ass off? I wish I could eloquently explain just how Dock found himself in such a position but others have beaten me to it, like this terrific piece that appeared in the Dallas Observer last year, or, if you're the illiterate type that can only handle a couple simple paragraphs, these guys also have an effective, abbreviated version. Either way, I, for one, simply cannot fathom the exhilaration Dock must've felt on the mound that day.

Look, I don't want to seem like I'm promoting recreational drug use but everybody knows that parties are more fun when you're drunk, the love you feel for your friends when you're on estasty can literally make you weep with joy and Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band is actually tolerable when you're stoned. Delivering a no-hitter on acid? I'm sorry, but next to literally walking on the moon, that has to be among the single greatest feelings any human has ever felt in civilized civilization, however artificial.

Dock Ellis claims to have never pitched a major league game without the aid of substances, mostly amphetamines. But in a day and age when all a player has to do is grow out a grizzly beard to be considered a rock star, Dock's punk rock aesthetic and brutal honesty about the sociological nature of Baseball is severely missed. And because Fate sometimes appreciates irony more than Irony herself, Dock Ellis now works as a drug counselor for the Victor Valley Penitentary in California.

Monday, April 10, 2006

What Alex Said the Other Day.

The Yankees are in last place at 2-4 right now as Boston's dashing and brilliant decision to hand the closer's job to Jonathan Papelbon (who has already saved 3 games) over Keith Foulke has contributed to a quick 5-1 start. It's worth noting that Foulke's contract calls for a $7.5 million option for 2007 to automatically vest if he finishes 53 games this year so this move might have every bit to do with cash as it does with winning baseball games. It's also worth noting that the Yankee pitching and hitting, Pythagorean-wise, is on pace with Boston so far but anyway, whatever, did you hear what Alex said the other day in the New York Times?
When they give you lemons, you’ve got to make lemonade, and when they give you oranges, you’ve got to make orange juice. Tonight, we tried to make tomato juice out of lemon juice or something. It just didn’t work out. I don’t know if that’s a good quote.
Actually, Alex, yeah, that's a great quote.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

I had no idea civil rights leaders were nostalgic for Jeff Kent.

Jesse Jackson: Bonds needs protection.

Well, of course. Opposing pitchers will just keep walking Barry unless he has a good hitter behind him.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

1976 Topps #101

Or as the French are wont to say, "Pierre the Penis."

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Philadelphia is still Phtupid: The Sequel.

It really oughta be the third installment, since I was too caught up in catching Coco's train to Boston to discuss its byproduct, the Jason Michaels-for-Arthur Rhodes deal.

But 28 year-old Jon Daniels, the new Texas Ranger wunderkind GM, has masterminded some sweet deals this off-season, trading overrated hacktastic malcontent Alfonsoriano for run-producing machine Brad Wilkerson, which is already starting to gray some hairs on Jim Bowden's crown, now that Alfonsoriano has rightfully bitched about having to learn a new position so close to Opening Day. Daniels managed to convince Philadelphia to give him Vincente Padilla for nothing more than a PTBNL. Granted, Padilla is no Pedro Martinez. He's barely Pedro Astacio. But he is a useful pitcher for a team that has little choice but to throw shit against a canvas, see what sticks and hopefully get lucky enough that some of the shit won't stink. This time Jon Daniels has sucker-punched the Phillies once again by giving up outfielder David Dellucci for Robinson Tejada, plus nepotic prospect Jake Blalock.

What's especially curious is that the Phillie's starting pitching is a mess and Tejada was a rare bright spot for them last year. After Jon Leiber and Brett Myers, really, who's left? Can they count on Gavin Floyd? Or Ryan Madson? Or Cory Lidle? Or, God forbid, Ryan Franklin? Now, I like Dellucci. I like Dellucci a lot. But if the Phillies wanted a fourth outfielder, then why didn't they just keep Jason Michaels instead of giving up a much-needed arm for Dellucci? Not to mention that A) J-Mikey can hit lefties unlike Dellucci, giving Chuckie Manuel less reason to play him and B) with recent acquire Aaron Rowand, a center field platoon is far, far less necessary than it was last year. Where is Dellucci going to find at-bats? It just seems like such a waste of a good bat, a decent arm and a bench spot, especially when they already have International League MVP Shane Victorino. It's just all so phtupid. Phtupid phtupid phtupid phtupid. By the way, if you haven't already, you may as well get used to me busting on Philadelphia because it's going to go on all season long.

Oh, hey, look, a dead horse. I'm going to go beat it.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

50 x up the ass - Cy Young = 0.

I don't mean to start a trend with consecutive posts about the love lives of New York (or recently-formerly New York) pitchers but Anna Benson just filed for divorce from her husband, Orioles pitcher Mr. Anna Benson. Why is this noteworthy to me at all? Well, if you've seen the recent baseball "preview" issue of FHM (which is a lesser version of Stuff, which, in turn, is a lesser version of Maxim, which is still a shitty, if guilty-pleasuresque magazine), there's something of a frank interview between the soon-to-be-ex-spouses Benson where he and she discuss his potential reward if he should ever win a Cy Young. Anna says:
If you win one, you can do anything you want to me. I'll do anything...That's 50 free times up the ass for real. I'm just saying.
To which Kris replies:
Which is kind of exactly what I thought. But I find it especially curious that this should occur right after being traded to Baltimore, who recently hired Leo Mazzone, probably the best pitching coach the game has seen. He's squeezed great years (well, great for them) out of the likes of Kevin Millwood, Denny Neagle, Jaret Wright, John Burkett and Damian Moss, to say nothing of the Maddux/Glavine/Smoltz trifeca, all whom have at least a rational Hall of Fame argument. While I don't expect Benson to win any Cy Youngs, if anyone can push him above the averageness he's been mired in, it's Mazzone. I actually expect a step or three forward for the guy who usually hands in a BABIP that's better than the rest of his numbers suggest. I just hope for his sake that the advantages of bachelorhood and living up to the potential that made him the #1 overall pick in 1996 is more of a motivation to improve than fucking Anna Benson 50 times up the ass.

Monday, March 27, 2006

1989 Topps #647

Because everybody knows that celebrities are better people than the rest of us, they deserve to have the most mundane details of their lives broadcasted for public consumption. Furthermore, if you have any kind of chink in your celebrity armory, your shortcomings will be exposed and magnified in such a way that the reporting of such shortcomings will be given front-page treatment by media members who suddenly get a Woodward & Bernstein complex and act as if their discovery were the second coming of Watergate. This is especially true in New York City, where the New York Daily News published a story on the bastard love child of celebrity fireballer Randy Johnson. If you'll forgive such indulgence in criticizing the private lives of people better than me, what I don't understand is why Johnson, who will have made not a penny less than $143,687,500 by season's end in his career, is suing his baby momma for a paltry 97 grand for back day care payments plus interest. Granted, I don't purport to know all the ins-and-outs of this case but let's go over the facts. First off, checking in at 6'11", he's the tallest player in Baseball's history. Add that with his freakish ability to hurl 100 mph fastballs and statistically speaking, he's literally a freak of nature. Not to overuse a baseball cliche, but that's strike one. Second, scroll back up and look at what he looked like in 1989, around the time this child was conceived. Dude is ugly (and let's not even get into his pre-Yankee mullet years. On second thought, let's.). Plus he still hasn't learned how to shave, which doesn't bode well for potential post-coital snuggling and spooning. Strike two. Now, it's 1989 and RJ has yet to learn how to harness that fastball into becoming The Greatest Left-Hander Who Ever Walked the Planet. He's an ugly-ass 6'11" nobody who's not yet famous enough to get laid. Strike three. Who in the hell is going to sleep with him? Let's be honest. This woman, whoever she is, has done him a giant favor just by giving it up. And now Randy is suing her for being goodly enough to sleep with him? For 97 grand?

Apparently, this all started when his baby momma asked him to front the cash for his daughter's car and to pay her tuition for community college. I supposed Big Unit (by the way, let's ask her to verify that nickname) is trying to make a larger point by proving that she shouldn't be allowed to get away with extorting him. But is this really extortion? Depending on the kind of car they were trying to get their hands on, I guess this could be construed as being a bit extravagant. But he can't cough up the $87.42 it costs for his daughter to take algebra classes at the local community college? Even putting aside the obvious moral and legal obligation to be financially responsible for passing on your freak-of-nature genes, shouldn't he be more than happy to write out a check just to have her shut the fuck up and not be on the front page of every paper in the city?

Oh, by the way:
George Clooney was totes seen at 57th and Madison likeohmigodforrealnowayshutthefuckupseriously!

Friday, March 24, 2006

The end of the arroyo.

What an interesting week for the Red Sockings.

First, two-time MVP Juan Gone Gonzalez signed a minor league contract to shore up the lack of outfield depth. He's a kind of no-risk, high-reward signing, as his last two seasons have been something beneath sad and pathetic. Unhealthy since 2001, he found no takers for his services in 2004 until the lowly Royals came calling, which lasted all of 138 plate appearances. Last year, his season lasted literally three pitches, as he re-aggravated his strained hamstring grounding out.

Also, Hee Seop Choi was snagged off the waiver wire after he was discarded by the new and dumber Dodger regime. This was especially irresponsible on L.A.'s part because really, does anyone expect Hamon to play all 162 games at first? How much Choi will play is anybody's guess, especially with Jack Thomas Snow sharing first base duties with The Greek God of Walks. But he's the best kind of player that you can get for free and even if his tenure in Boston ends up like Roberto Petagine's, it's better to have him and not need him than to need him and not have him.

But the big splash they made was trading Bronson Arroyo (plus cash) straight up for Wily Mo Pena. I don't want to say I already predicted this, but he did go against his agent's advice but signing too cheaply and thus making him that much more appealing to crappy teams with no real hope for contending. Needing a platoon mate for Trot Nixon's crappy performance against left-handed pitching and realizing that the likes of Juan Gone, Dustan Mohr, Adam Stern and Fleet Willie Harris will only help so much, Prince Theo went out and scored 24 year-old lefty-murderer Pena, whose power is about as raw and unrefined as it comes. Still, as young and cheap as he is, he could make a very apt replacement for Trot once he lives via free-agency after this season. The Fenway Faithful are likely to mourn the loss of a fan favorite and bitch about the front office but it's easy to forget that Theo is largely responsible for Bronson having a major-league career at all. If he hadn't been astute enough to pluck him from the waiver wire in 2003 (when none of the other 29 wanted him), Bronson would've been exiled to journeyman purgatory or worse yet, out of baseball completely. Now he's a pseudo-rock star multi-millionaire and with the rotation seven deep (eight, if you count Jon Lester), he was the most expendable of the 40. Personally, I think being traded out of Boston is punishment for putting out that cringingly embarrassing grunge cover album. I mean, c'mon, Bronson, really. The Verve Pipe?

Monday, March 20, 2006

1988 Topps #18 (error), #18 (corrected)

Al Leiter handed the ball off for the last time in his storied career in spring training last week, capping a...Oh, wait, hold on.

Haha. Whoopsie. See what I did? Silly me. I made the same mistake Topps made in 1988 when they put the picture of some guy named Steve George and called him a future star. I'm sure Stevie was pretty stoked until they also started calling him Al Leiter. But there are far more insulting things to be mistaken for than Al Leiter, who ended his major league career by getting Eduardo Perez to ground out to third in a spring trainging game. I'm sure he had thought of much more romantic endings to his life's work but the two World Series rings (Toronto in 1993 and Florida in 1997), his no-hitter against the Rockies on May 11, 1996, the two trips to the All-Star Game and topping 200 strikeouts a year twice is a career Baseball should be toasting to. Though he played much of his prime in a pitcher's park, any team in the game would've found a place for Al Leiter in their rotation. He was better at throwing a baseball than most of us will ever be at anything and he'll be the only reason not to turn the channel when he's articulately describing the physics of a slider in the booth while Timmy McCarver is sticking the sharp end of pencils up his nose and Joey Buck is coloring pictures of ligers on the back of his placemat.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

As if apartheid wasn't embarassing enough.

A phenomenal congratulations is in order for the United States. Facing elimination from the WBC after being defeated by Canada, the U.S. and A rallied and showed South Africa the true meaning of oppression by bitching-slapping them 17-0 in yesterday's contest. Of course, this is very much consistent with the history of Canada doing something better than the United States and the United States responds by beating up a country much, much smaller than them. Nevertheless, Johnny Damon, Derek Jeter, Junior Griffey, Alex Rodriguez, Chipper Jones, Derrek Lee, and Chase Utley did their country proud by doing away with those pesky Afrikaners. Roger Clemens, 7-time Cy Young winner and arguably the greatest pitcher who ever lived lead the way by pitching 4 1/3 innings of shutout ball against a bunch of 19 year-old kids who have almost no professional experience playing baseball and didn't even know the sport existed until about eight days ago. Way to go, Rocket!

17 cheers for the red, white and bleu!

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

March 14, 1960 - March 6, 2006

"Kirby Puckett's going to be all right. Don't worry about me. I'll show up, and I'll have a smile on my face. The only thing I won't have is this uniform on. But you guys can have the memories of what I did when I did have it on."

Monday, March 06, 2006

1985 Topps #47

Hey, ladies. How you doin'? I'm Dave. Dave Rozema. So, uh, come to Tiger Stadium often? No? Because I was going to say, I've never seen you around here before. What's that? I look too old to be the batboy? Ha, ha. Oh, no, I'm not the batboy. I'm a pitcher. Yes, I'm serious. Yes, really. Oh, since '77. I went 15-7 that year and I placed 4th in the Rookie of the Year voting. I even lead the league in walks per 9 innings. Only 1.4! Yeah, I had pretty good control in my day. Dunno what happened to it, though. Hey, did I mention we won the World Series last year? Yeah, we had a pretty good team. Lance Parrish, Alan Trammell, Lou Whitaker, Jack Morris, guys like that. Did I play? No, I didn't see any action in the playoffs. No, I don't know why. I guess Sparky thought the other pitchers were better or something. I would've done good, though, totally. I really would have. They did give me a ring, though, for being on the team. You wanna see it? No? You sure? Because I can just run back into the locker room and get it. It's really neat. No, that's okay. No, I understand. You have to get back to your seat, that's cool. Yeah, I know, the game's almost starting. Hey, maybe after the game, we could go somewhere a little more private. You know. Get to know each other and stuff. No? That's okay, I understand. I mean, it's probably best, now that I'm not starting anymore because I need to be ready at a moment's notice out of the bullpen so I can't stay out late and party all night. It's not like the old days when I went 15-7 and placed 4th in the Rookie of the Year voting. Are you sure you don't wanna, like, hang out and stuff after the game? Because I'm only going to be playing for two more years. I won't even make it to my thirties. You sure? Because pretty soon it'll be too late. No, that's cool, I totally understand. I have stuff to do anyway. I told Sparky I'd get him a ham sandwich and I promised the clubhouse attendant I'd help him pick the dirt out of everybody's cleats. See you later. Nice meeting you. I guess.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

1981 Topps #372

John William Johnstone Jr. was a not-bad role player for eight teams over twenty years but I'm sure he is perfectly content being his generation's answer to Jimmy Piersall who, not so incidentally, was Jay's first roommate in baseball when he came up with the Seattle Angels in 1966. He made life interesting for his teammates, visiting the stadium's hot dog stand during games in full uniform, assisting groundskeepers between innings, leading the league in hotfoots every year and once locked Tommy Lasorda in a hotel room. Though his numbers were far from Hall-worthy, who else in any profession has managed to stretch not one but three autobiographies out of such a career? I mean besides Abraham Lincoln. Booker T. Washington had two but Gandhi only wrote one and Benjamin Franklin never even finished his.

I have a fond memory of attending a book-signing for his then-just-released Over the Edge at my local mall when I was eight years old and I specifically remember him as nothing less than good-humored, warm, cordial and most refreshing of all, unpatronizing, an important character trait that did not escape a third-grade lad who had already begun to develop a healthy contempt for adults in general and authority figures in particular. He even personalized my book with the inscription, "Good luck and don't forget to get good grades in school," advice that I followed to the letter up through about seventh grade or so. Also, somewhere in my mother's crawlspace is a signed baseball my younger brother kept throughout his own childhood and whenever chance presented itself, he added another signature to the ball, resulting in what I'm sure is the most mediocre collection of autographs ever collected on a single ball. But what I most remember about this particular ball was that the sweet spot was graced with Mr. Johnstone's signature, as he was the first person to sign. Subsequent ballplayers would notice Jay's autograph and their reactions ranged from eyerolls to a condescending sneer, as if Greg "Not a Very Good Player" Gross contributed more to Baseball's landscape and Larry "What an Asshole" Bowa wasn't an absolute asshole.

What I never understood is whatever happened to Jay Johnstone. He spend a year as a Yankee broadcaster and another year for the Phillies but because morons like Timmy McCarver and the nepotic Joe Buck are clogging up precious air space in the booths, Jay was never able to convert that Colgate smile and brilliant sense of humor into something more than just roles as the lead-off Seattle Mariner hitter in the original "Naked Gun" or Booth Announcer #2 in the seminal Rowdy Roddy Piper classic "Body Slam." Why all that natural charisma didn't at least translate into a role as The Father in a long-running sitcom about a snotty wise-cracking English butler in the suburbs is simply beyond the comprehension of this author.

Friday, February 24, 2006

1986 Topps #345

Baseball has the power to mortalize men as much it can do the opposite. Herb Score, Dickie Thon and Tony Conigliaro had promising careers derailed when they were struck by balls, either pitched or lined. Ray Chapman was famously killed by a pitch thrown by Carl Mays in a 1920 game. In 1940, Willard Hershberger filled in for an injured Ernie Lombardi. Though he played rather well, his teammates whispered that a particular game versus the New York Giants would not have been lost if Lombardi were playing instead. Two days later, after Cincinnati lost again to an inferior Braves team in extra innings, Hershberger slit his throat and wrists in a Boston hotel. Lombardi himself would attempt the same in his old age.

In Game 5 of the 1986 American League playoffs, Donnie Moore came in the ninth inning of a 5-4 game with two outs to shut down a rally against Boston. Literally one strike away from sending the Angels to the World Series, Dave Henderson promptly smacked a home run for the lead and the Red Sox were able to win the game and eventually the pennant. Two years later, the former All Star was out of baseball and in 1989, he shot his wife three times during an argument before turning the gun onto himself.

By many accounts, Donnie Ray Moore was not a happy person. He battled depression, alcoholism and drug abuse and it would be irresponsible of us to single out that one pitch to Hendu as the source for all his misery, however tempting it may be after seeing the devasted look on his face in the locker room afterwards. But since athletes are sometimes branded by their crushing failures more than they are by accomplishing feats the rest of us can only name, there are those who say that Moore was simply never able to put the incident all the way behind him. For some, the boos they hear as the result of one game can completely negate the rush of cheers they heard in the 375 games before.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Shut up shut up shutupshutup.

Dear A-Rod,

My admiration for you as a ballplayer is already teetering on reluctance, even though in the past I've actually defended you when people were bitching about how you were sinking the Texas Rangers with your $252 million contract. After all, I reasoned, if you were going to overpay for anybody, it may as well be the guy who is about to enter the prime of the greatest career ever from a weak-hitting position. It wasn't your contract that was the problem; it was (among other examples) paying Chan Ho "Shitty Pitcher" Park $12 million a year and Darren "How the Hell am I Worth $7 Million a Year?" Oliver $7 million dollars a year. People are also fond of saying that you signed with a last-place team just for the money while conveniently forgetting that the Rangers had made the playoffs in three of the previous four years you joined. Therefore, you had every reason to believe that they would continue to be competitive.

When you won the 2003 AL MVP, people asked, "Well, how valuable can he really be if his team finished in last place?" and I'd say, "Because, dummy, what could be more valuable than a Gold Glove shortstop who hits 50 home runs a year?" Even after the infamous fallout of the non-trade of you for Dumb Blonde Ramirez with the Red Sox, I still didn't blame you for wanting to join the Yankees. I mean, who wouldn't want to share the left side of the infield with their girlfriend for the most storied franchise in sports history? And still, even after all that, I had to objectively agree that you deserved the MVP last year over Cookie Monster Ortiz. While he had a sick 1.001 OPS and didn't field at all, you had a slightly sicker 1.031 OPS while playing outstanding defense.

But now? With this whole WBC thing? At first, I thought it was funny how you were walking on eggshells by trying to be patriotic to two countries at once. But like most things that were originally funny, now it's getting annoying. I mean, have you really listened to what you said the other day?
"Just to make it clear, I only spoke once and then I spoke again three months later. All the garbage in between was Major League Baseball. I didn't go back and forth. I said once I wasn't playing, and then at the end I said, 'So OK, I am playing.'"
What? Not-uh. Last year at the All-Star Game, you totally said:
"I am going to play for the Dominican Republic and I am going to make the Dominicans feel proud...I want to say it out loud: I am Dominican...I am Dominican, and that's the flag I will represent in the World Classic...We will have a great team and we will try to win the title so that all the Dominican people will feel proud of their ballplayers and of their own nationality."
Five months later (not three but who's counting? Besides me, I mean.), you were all,
"When faced with the decision to choose between my country, the United States of America, and my Dominican heritage, I decided I will not dishonor either."
And then you were all,
"In recent weeks, following dialogue with caring friends and players, both Dominican and American, I reached the conclusion that if I played in the Classic, I would play for the United States and honor my American citizenship."
And now you're trying to tell everybody you didn't say what you really said and that Major League Baseball was "leaking information" when it was really you saying what you said the entire time? Whatever. Stop acting like a passive-aggressive pussy already. You're being a total bitch.
"The game of baseball has been my whole life. It's given me everything I have. If I didn't think this was better for the game, the growth of the game, I wouldn't be playing. I felt that I owe this to the game. I've made the right decision. I'm very proud to be playing for the USA team. I plan to enjoy it."
Shut up. I don't want to hear it anymore.
"Most people are not going to understand. They're going to ridicule me and make fun of it. Unless you understand my background and where I come from-"
I said shut up! God.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

1988 Topps #468

When this author was but 11 or 12, his father took him, his younger brother and his then-best friend to a Phillies game at Veterans Stadium, a concrete coliseum that resembled a cross between a toilet bowl and an unflushed toilet bowl with humongous turds floating in it. The Phillies of those years were, of course, those turds. However, no one sucked worse than Darren Daulton, whose abysmal sublevels of suckitude were so legendary in Philadelphia that they were almost unimaginable. No one could possibly suck this bad and still be good enough to be on a non-Philadelphian major league roster. In 1985, he batted .201. He made progress in 1986 by batting .225, only to undo such improvement by batting .194 the next year. In 1988 and 1989, he batted .208 and .201 respectively but suddenly, he took a giant step forward in 1990 with a very unDutch-like line of .268/.367/.416. These numbers for a catcher would be much more appreciated in the Moneyball era of the now but he sucked anyway. Almost as if he were trying to prove that he sucked, he went back to batting .196 the following year.

But in 1992, something amazing happened. Right before our very eyes, Dutch not only stopped sucking but became a great player; one of the best catchers in the game. To this day, I don't know what happened that offseason. Maybe he caught onto to the benefits of exercise and nutrition a bit earlier than everybody else. Maybe he starting eating Wheaties. Maybe he starting eating steroids. But Dutch clubbed 27 home runs, became only the 4th catcher in Baseball history to lead the league in RBI and his fantastic .908 OPS was 4th-best in the National League. He repeated such success the next year and part of a pretty good (if slightly flukish) line-up of Phillie hitters that went to the World Series. He became a three-time All Star, helped the Florida Marlins win a ring by hitting .389/.455/.667 in the 1997 World Series and from a performance/position perspective, was one of the most valuable players in the game during his prime. He even married a one-time Hooters spokeslady, which is more than enough to make any man feel redeemed for batting .194. Perhaps no one in the history of any sport has salvaged the suckiness of his career as well as Darren Daulton did.

But while reversing his own fortunes is admirable, he has been arrested several times for DUI, speeding, refusing to take a Breathalyzer test, failing to appear in court and for beating his poor wife. I mean, isn't it bad enough that she wasn't blessed with the smarts to not work at Hooters? Which brings me to the point I've been digressing from since the second sentence of this post. Coming home from
John Kruk's bachelor party one night, he and Lenny Dykstra drunkenly wrapped a car around a tree. Sometime shortly before that aforementioned game my father took us to, the three of us were walking the complete circle (much like turds whirlpooling down a toilet) above the 300 level of the stadium and came across the bullpen where Dutch was warming up one of their crappy pitchers. With my kid brother in tow, my friend and I leaned over the railing, got his attention and shouted, "Friends don't let friends drink and drive!" Dutch promptly chucked a rosin bag at us but not before we were able to run like hell and self-congratulatory laugh our fools heads off over our ingenious wit. It is a story I have nostalgically repeated numerously ever since and I was shocked to find this article from Sports Illustrated. I am disappointed to report that it was not a rosin bag Darren threw at our heads but rather:
...just a mirage of innumerable particles constantly speeding up or slowing down. But the Fourth and Fifth Dimensions remain unseen by most people. Their vibrations are at a lower frequency.
I mean, wow. So if a tree falls and no one hears it, does it make a sound? If that rosin bag ended up hitting one of us, would we have been hurt? If a man hits .194 and every newspaper reports that it happened as millions of people witnessed it, did it really happen after all? Say what you will about Daulton becoming Baseball's answer to Tom Cruise but frankly, I think this article explains a lot. If you don't believe me, scroll back up and look at his baseball card from 1988, particularly the top left-hand side. Where is the rest of the bat? I always thought it was accidentally airbrushed by some hack intern in the Topps art department or maybe Dutch had been hitting with only half a bat for the first half of his career before he realized he could triple his home run total by hitting the same way everyone else does. This has been bothering the hell out of me for 17 years but now I see because all this time, I wasn't using my sixth sense and my vibration was at a lower frequency. The rest of the bat just isn't fucking there.

I don't know what to believe anymore.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Oh, Coco!


After weeks of yes-no-maybe-wait-I-don't-know trade talks, Prince Theo and Mark Shapiro finally hunkered down and the Sox of Boston got their center fielder. Guillermo Mota failed his physical (which shouldn't be surprising if you heard about this) and Boston had to throw in a PTBNL or cash to sweeten the already-pretty-sweet pot. Meanwhile, Cleveland had to wait out the formalities on the Arthur Rhodes-for-Jason Michaels trade to Philadelphia. Y'know. Just in case they should suddenly need a left fielder who can also beat up cops. I'm not sure if that's the kind of slugging teams look for but whatever. He's still a heckuva fourth outfielder.

For all the players exchanged, this is basically a challenge trade of two terrific young players so it may take upward of five years to see who wins out. Though I'd be reluctant to forfeit Andy Marte (possibly the best prospect in the game), the Red Sox desperately needed a replacement for Johnny Metro and found a great one in Covelli Loyce Crisp. In addition to being a speedy leadoff hitter who will be younger, oh-so-much cheaper and (dare I say it? Yes. I dare.) better than their last speedy leadoff hitter, Coco Crisp has one of the best names in Baseball since me. Because of this, the Sox should recoup half his salary in jersey sales alone.

As for the other guys, they serve as slight upgrades for the Indians. I like Mota ever-so-slightly better than David Riske, who will be pelted by tomatoes all summer long as he comes out of the bullpen to give up lead-blowing home run after lead-blowing home run in Fenway. I like Kelly Shoppach less than I did a couple years ago but the exact same thing could be said for every single prospect in the history of ever that doesn't live up to my expectations, however modest. Still, I'd recommend him more than Josh Bard, who will battle John Flaherty in spring training for the miserable privilege of catching Tim Wakefield's knuckler.

Friday, January 20, 2006

It's hard to miss somebody who didn't even really leave.

Prince Theo of Boston has shedded his gorilla suit and returned to preside over his loyal subjects. His retirement was short-lived and by many accounts, wasn't even all that retired, as he was reportedly still making phone calls on their behalf. Still, while this is certainly good news for the front office, it's not like they were in the shambles that many believed it to be and they weren't worse off without him. In his kinda-sorta absence, co-GMs Ben Cherington and Jed Hoyer snagged Josh Beckett, Mike Lowell and Guillermo Mota for prospects they were never really going to use, fleeced an All-Star second baseman for a back-up catcher and cut their losses on Edgar Renteria by trading him for grade-A prospect Andy Marte. They have no center fielder or regular shortstop, though I think the latter can be filled with a creative platooning of Loretta, Tony Graffanino and Alex Cora until Dustin Pedroia is ready, which could be much sooner than everyone expects. Still, I can't imagine them doing things much different than Theo would've done; for all his boyish charm and people skills, even he wouldn't have kept Johnny Damon from bolting. At any rate, a formal announcement to his official title is expected in a few days and in the meantime, I have complete faith of their ability to replace their old caveman-turned-metrosexual center fielder.

In other Boston news, Bronson Arroyo signed for the low, low price of approximately 3 years, $12 million. Considering what the Mr. Anna Bensons and Alyssa Milano's Ex-Boyfriends of the world are making, this is a terrific deal for Boston. On the other hand, Arroyo's agent is right in thinking that this is somewhat naive of the guy named after one-seventh of The Magnificent Seven. It's one thing to pledge your allegiance to Red Sox Nation but it can be another thing to make yourself cheap enough so you'll be more vulnerable to be traded to a crappy team. In terms of dollars versus performance, Bronson is one of the better values around and could find himself on a crappy non-contender if the right deal presents itself. If I were his agent, I would've told him the same thing. But I also would've advise him to keep the white-boy cornrows and to not put out shitty cover albums of shittier mid-90s grunge songs, so I might not be the best guy to ask.

Isn't it presumptuous to call it a classic if it hasn't even happened yet?

In the great debate over the relevancy of the World Baseball Classic, Buster and Jimmy offer their collective four cents. No one cares about the opinion of an anonymous blogger posing as a dead 19th century ballplayer but for the record (as long as I'm recording it), I've been having my own internal debate and here is the full, unedited transcript of my Point-Counterpoint on the subject:

Point: I don't care.

Counterpoint: Me neither.

Point: Let's play video games.

Counterpoint: Okay.

In a perfect world, it would be a nice idea but it's just going to be a glorified spring training exhibition. Not all of the best will be playing and those who are will be mailing in half-assed performances in their completely-justified paranoia of getting injured in a meaningless game. Not to mention pitch counts will be monitored more closely than the Bush Administration does your telephone. But if it makes a couple people happy I just might ended up paying a little attention to it.

Still, there's been a humorous (if you're the type to find humor in poking fun at the weaknesses of others) subplot to all this and I agree with B & J on one thing: A-Rod is a passive-aggressive pussy.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Philadelphia is still Phtupid.

You can call Pat Gillick brutally honest if you want to and I realize he's only had the job for 77 days but I'm wondering if his tenure in Philadelphia is going to be just like his one in Seattle; a series of non-moves and missed opportunities to better the team and push them over from coulda-shoulda-woulda almost-contenders to actual perennial contenders. I mean, they don't call him "Stand" Pat for nuthin', folks. Like a guy in a poker game who doesn't want any more cards because he likes the hand that he already has. Y'know. Stand Pat. That's why they call him that. Because that's what he does.

Phil Sheridan from the Philadelphia Inquirer sez:
The new GM rightly says that it will all come down to his ability to find a true No. 1 starting pitcher. Not somebody else's carefully sheltered No. 2 and not a No. 3 with delusions of grandeur, but a legit top-of-the-rotation ace.

"I'm talking about a guy with power, a guy who can stop a losing streak, who can strike people out," Gillick said yesterday.

What? Like who? Even if they use Bobby Abreu as a bargaining chip as rumored, who the hell is available on the market that can bring that to Philadelphia? Nevermind that Abreu is easily the best player on the Phillies, arguably the most complete all-around hitter in the game and has a complete no-trade clause. Who can they get? Barry Zito? Possible, but Oakland can't afford the $28 million Abreu is guaranteed through this year and next. Even if Patty-Cakes agrees to eat even more salary than he's already chewing for Jim Thome, Zito has been continuing his steady decline since his 2002 Cy Young campaign, with his strikeout rate going down at the same rate his walks are climbing. He doesn't have power and he won't strike people out. Dude'll get hammered in Citizens Bank. Matt Clement? Another maybe, in a package deal, but he's certainly not the top-of-the-rotation star that Philadelphians have in their eyes. I've also heard the oh-so-low Mark Prior rumblings but while Jim Hendry has made some dumbass moves, trading Prior will not be one of them.

Given their needs and a prolific-ish offense, I can see how Abreu is expendable in the right deal. But if it's pitching they were after, then why didn't they make a run at the Let's Overpay for A.J. Burnett Sweepstakes? He wouldn't have been the stopper they're looking for, but at the very least he would've continued Philadelphia's fine-honed tradition of compiling a rotation full of #2 and #3 starters. Going into 2006, their rotation options consists of a guy who could actually be pretty darn good, followed by a guy who's just okay, two guys who suck, one guy who's out until at least July with Tommy John surgery, a completely unpredictable 23 year-old, a guy they can't figure out a role for, and some guy named Robinson Tejeda, who somehow started 13 games for them last year without my noticing.

Is it really necessary for the Phillies to play this year? I mean, can't we just award them third place and get it over with?

Saturday, January 14, 2006


Nomar to play for Mexico in World Baseball Classic.

Funny, I thought he was Jewish. What with the nose and the cheap contract and all.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

1986 Topps #649

Y'know, Ronny boy, you might've gotten the starting job over Kid Carter if you're weren't so busy congratulating the opposition on their run-scoring abilities, especially when they were actually in the middle of scoring a run.

Monday, January 09, 2006


Since I don't want to be one of those illiterate bloggers shooting off at the mouth and presenting things that aren't true as facts, I would like to retract my last post about available pitchers and note that two days before I had opened my big stupid mouth, Al Leiter had signed a minor-league contract with the Yankees and Byung-Hyun Kim re-signed with Colorado. I also completely neglected to mention Jeff Weaver as an available option, which he should take as an insult since he's a pretty good pitcher who should make plenty of teams happy with his performance, if not the dollars he'll eventually get.

Unlike, oh, say, everyone else, I'm still a believer in Kim. People forget that the kid is only 27 and probably the hardest-throwing submariner in Baseball's history. When Prince Theo traded one of the most overrated players in the game for him during the 2003 season, I remember wondering just how drunk he must've gotten Arizona to screw them up the ass like that, to say nothing of trading nothing for Curt Schilling when he finally decided to call them in the morning six months later.

Alas, it didn't work out for Boston. Though he helped stabilize an otherwise shaky bullpen with a 3.16 ERA in 79.1 innings of work, he blew a 12th inning save in Game One of the 2003 playoffs against Oakland, which preceded flipping off the booing Fenway faithful as he was introduced before them a couple days later. Closing championship games clearly isn't Kim's strong suit, as he also blew two 9th inning saves for the Diamondbacks at Yankee Stadium during the 2001 World Series. And that was when he was just 22. That said, you'd have to wonder about the emotional psyche of a kid who has clearly demonstrated not only the inability to handle high-pressure situations but also the public humiliation that comes in its aftermath. Fucking up three different crucial games in front of a televised audience of millions by the time you're 24? That's enough to make any man sensitive enough to give the middle finger to anyone else that boos him for it.

Psychological evaluations aside (which I won't pretend to be smart enough to accurately make), Kim is more than talented enough to justify the $1.5 million he's guaranteed in 2006. He's still young enough to get his shit together and have a damn good career but unfortunately for all the natural talent they may possess, some people just aren't mentally wired to handle being professional athletes and Kim may be one of them. Which is kind of exactly why I root for him.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Another Philadelphia Pholly.

Because the Phillies are dumb, they signed pitcher Ryan Franklin to a one-year contract worth $2.6 million. It isn't the dollars that I'm concerned with (in fact, that's damn reasonable money for a fifth starter these days); it's that they signed him at all. I mean, are they aware that the man has given up 95 homes runs in the past three years, all while calling Safeco (a notorious pitcher's park) home? I realize that the pickens on the FA table are slim these days, what with Byung-Hyun Kim, Kevin Brown and Al Leiter being your best options. But why, why, why, why, why, WHY in hell would Pat Gillick make such a dumbass move as to sign the most flyball prone hurler in the game to play in Citizens Bank Park? Look, Pat, getting Aaron Rowand to cover center and gobble up those extra flies was a nifty move but the fact remains that he can only catch balls that fall INSIDE THE PARK. Anything that goes over the wall is pretty much out of his hands. I also realize that moving out the fences a few feet will help as well but if I haven't said this before (and I'm too lazy to scroll up a couple lines to see), Safeco Field is a notorious pitcher's park. If it didn't make any difference there, why should it make any difference in Philly?