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.