Monday, September 30, 2013

baseball metaphysics for 2013 playoffs

[Hi, I am Raven Mack, and I am an amazing longform philosopher, and perhaps the last real man left inside this entered net of artifice, though I do hope my ride shows up here in the next couple months. You can learn more about what it is to be me at www.ravenmcmillian.com]

Look, I am going to be honest here and admit I’ve barely paid attention for most of the year. My kinda loved but in a generally disinterested way – sort of like your second favorite cousin – Nationals stumbled and fell this season, after pre-season ballyhoo about ticker tape parades through the streets of Washington being inevitable. Now Washington might not even exist as the GOVERNMENT OF AMERICA IS GOING TO SHUT DOWN and we will resort to anarchy and these millionaire baseball players should all be thankful they live in the suburbs because even the gentrified parts of D.C. are going to turn into roving packs of nomadic viking drug gang thugs establishing the identity of enemies by chopping off certain fingers.
But I am also a life scientist, which is not nerd number crunching like pretend real scientists which are more common than Dominicans in the modern American dugout. As a life scientist, I trust gut intuition and metaphysical advancements made in our Universal Auras to decide things. This is often mistakenly confused in baseball world as old school ways of grizzled veterans. Those guys are assholes though, just trying to hold on to their bullshit drunken racialist world view. A true metaphysician is always open to the lessons of the Universe, with every step of every day. One can never truly understand the world in a scientific way, having numbers add everything up, because the world alters itself constantly. Yesterday’s numbers may not apply. Last year’s definitely don’t. Each trend is a brushstroke in the overall big picture painting of Truth, and beyond noticing trends you have sense the trend in trends in order to trend upward, psychically.
So with that in mind, please allow me to jaunt you through this year’s baseball playoffs. I have taken exactly thirteen drops of wild dagga tincture to my tongue, put four drops of yarrow tincture in a diamond pattern upon my forehead where the opening to the traditional pineal gland would be, and meditated on this shit heavily while riding the bus loop all around town two times this morning, while blasting the instrumental version to Killa Army’s Silent Weapons for Quiet Wars in my headphones. I will always wonder if there has been a Fifth Disciple yet.
Anyways, let’s begin with the play-off play-in game, as we work our way through Baseball Metaphysics for Enlightened Degenerates.

PLAY-IN GAME: TAMPA BAY RAYS vs. TEXAS RANGERS – BEST OF ONE

In a psychic sense, this Tampa team has always struggled for identity of self. They were the Tampa Devil Rays, then Tampa Rays, then Tampa Bay Rays, and maybe mixed and matched those things a few other times as well. Even geographically they struggle with identity as they play in St. Petersburg, not Tampa, and the majority of people in that area are Yankees fans, due to the Yankees high profile preseason training facility which is actually in Tampa proper. So naturally, they’d normally just be a bastard step-child of a team, which is what they were at first, but somebody accidentally kept getting good young players and they became a consistently good team that nobody really cares about a lot, including the people of Tampa or St. Petersburg or anywhere.
The Rangers are the opposite end of the spectrum, as controlled psychically by the most drunken racialist old world of baseball curmudgeon of them all in Nolan Ryan. And yet the Rangers have not enjoyed tremendous success in their long history, so they are sort of the bastard step-child of traditional powers. Obviously the Rangers having home field gives them an alleged advantage, but also fuck that because basically the Rays play every game on the road, outside of Tampa, outside of being loved, outsiders of baseball.
Essentially, there are two old world fuckers battling wills here in Joe Maddon – the Ray’s manager – vs. Nolan Ryan. And while Ryan is more well-known and infamous for taking players who don’t perform well behind the dugout to throw fireballs at them for two hours into the early morning as punishment, Joe Maddon is generally loved by his players, because he often buys rounds of drinks at Florida strip clubs, but only beer, no champagne. “Champagne is not bought in the back room at a 300% mark-up, boys, it’s earned on the field of play, and some other motherfucker pays for it,” he often says to them. This type of alcohol-and-tattooed titty fueled motivational technique works well with today’s generation, much better than throwing old man fastballs at their naked bodies in some old American militaristic hazing ritual. Rays will advance.

NL WILD CARD: CINCINNATI REDS vs. PITTSBURGH PIRATES – BEST OF ONE

An NL Central showdown, by default, as nobody else in the National League decided to be worth a shit. There’s something very 1970s feeling about this game, I mean obviously because the Pirates haven’t been good in forever, and Dave Parker wearing the pimp old school Pirates style is so fresh to death it’s pretty easy to completely forget that Barry Bonds actually played as a Pirate (in baseball, not in R. Kelly-style home movies). But here are the Pirates, as well as the Reds, who have dabbled in early postseason rounds in recent years but still make me think of Dr. Johnny Fever and Pete Rose being the real Mike Trout/Bryce Harper argument wrapped up in one red-ass white guy.
That being said, baseball’s magic like the Pirates returning to glory usually come unraveled in the slow painful narratives of playoff series. Hence, the beauty of this one-and-done wild card game, being set in Pittsburgh. The magic can live on for another round, and the Iron City beer will flow happily, and children will be doodling Dock Ellis-style visions in chalk on bricks throughout the city. Though the Pirates have long-shed that glorious look and that glorious period from their franchise, through Andrew McCutchen’s natural born gamecock spirit, which they somehow tricked the corporate baseball demigods into letting them keep in Pittsburgh, they’ve snuck through the cracks in the spreadsheets and sponsorship deals. So let’s enjoy it. Organized baseball will unravel it pretty quickly in an off-season or two.

AL WILD CARD: TAMPA BAY RAYS vs. CLEVELAND INDIANS – BEST OF ONE

The Indians are the false hipster sports love affair of all-time, where we pretend it’s good to wish luck on these sad sacks of a franchise, and make joking references to Major League, probably with a Pedro Serrano obscurity. But let’s think about that: they made a black Latin player portray a racialist character who was brought Kentucky Fried Chicken at one point, and gave him the last name of a hot pepper. Fuck Major League. Fuck the 1980s. Fuck Reagan. Fuck the racialist logo of the Cleveland Indians, and fuck Cleveland. In some instances, there is sadness and economic despair because large swaths of people have been wrongly sacrificed to the evil gods of capital. But in Cleveland’s case, and perhaps large chunks of Ohio, this is not the case. These are spiritless people, who have long ago succumbed to the domestication of their wild thoughts. The Indians are just lucky we all have the Cubs to more easily mock than them. But make no mistake, they are cut from the same self-righteous cloth of proud indignation.
The Rays, as I said earlier, are a born road team, who understand champagne is earned, not bought in the VIP room. And while Cleveland also understands this, as that city is no bastion of high life, the Rays have a destiny this year. And that road does not stop but for a moment in Cleveland.

NL DIVISIONAL SERIES: LOS ANGELES DODGERS vs. ATLANTA BRAVES – BEST OF FIVE

I grew up a Giants fan, so these are my two most hated teams. My dad was a Braves fan, like every casual baseball Southerner who cared more about football was from Virginia to Mississippi at one point. There are thousands of these men, who switch out their Braves hat with their favorite Nascar driver’s number hat, depending on mood. And often times I feel as if MLB is a cartel of corporations where the ones who generate the most interest reap dividends on that throughout the coming years. How else do we explain the Braves continual success? TBS airing Braves game was a big part of the sport’s growth on cable television as that became a thing in our public mass consciousness, and of course now TBS airs playoff baseball. And of course, the Braves have always been a top-shelf team in terms of W/L record. And here they are again. Why is that? Because they scout and build better than anybody?
Hahaha, of course not. America is not a meritocracy; it is an elaborate system of rewards for aiding and abetting the grand conspiracy of fairplay in the name of freedom. The Braves (this is their home, America; they are America’s Team) are more this than anybody not named the Yankees.
So where do the Dodgers stand? I don’t know. They are a premier brand for baseball’s evil gods of capital, and the infusion of Magic Johnson was supposed to impregnate them within our collective consciousness. That has not quite happened yet. And perhaps this series will be that playing out, to an extent, further planting Los Angeles Dodgers long history into our brains, but the Braves will prevail, in five.

AL DIVISIONAL SERIES: DETROIT TIGERS vs. OAKLAND ATHLETICS – BEST OF FIVE

The A’s have yet again built something from nothing. They make a habit of it. There should be some lesson as to how America rights itself and makes itself more like the public relations it pushes off on the world in how the A’s beat out the Angels – who have made two of the highest of high profile signings the past two years – to conquer the AL West. There should be a lesson about what we do to make ourselves great, individually as well as collectively. But that won’t happen. Sports Illustrated will dedicate a sidebar to them, and then talk about how amazing Mike Trout is in the off-season. The A’s, much like Oakland itself, is a stubborn relic to a dead age, that somehow refuses to die off because it only understands survival. But baseball is not evolution, not a triumph of human spirit over the mechanisms of industry. Baseball is an industry. And Oakland and its Athletics are too thrift store-y.
Okay, I know you think to yourself, “But Raven Mack, Detroit is as fucked as anywhere in America. Why wouldn’t it be abandoned by baseball?” That’s easy, bitch. Because Detroit has tapped into the two opposing mentalities of baseball’s most glorious glories, in one team. On one side, you have the white privilege of hard-nosed pitching as represented by Justin Verlander, as well as the unearthing of this Max Scherzer dude. White privilege from the pitching mound means a lot in baseball – look at all those Braves teams. This time of year, you always hear announcers talk about a solid core of starting pitching, which invariably – though they are not obvious about it – comes down to “what team has two white dudes who will pitch a lot of good shit?” That is the one essence of baseball, and the Tigers have that shit locked down.
The other glorious glory is the cocksure strut of lesser people being big with their bats, in a thinly-veiled parable for penis envy. What pair of men have better represented that in recent years than Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder? You have a Hispanic man who has become the first to win a Triple Crown in I don’t know like 300 years, and you have a crazy black guy named Prince who is chubby and smiley and just generally not a threat to your well-being it seems. I don’t think any team before this Tigers team has better combined the two glories of baseball of white privilege and white cuckoldry through offensive firepower. The Indians don’t stand a chance, even holding home field advantage. The Tigers in four.

NL DIVISIONAL SERIES: PITTSBURGH PIRATES vs. ST. LOUIS CARDINALS – BEST OF FIVE

Here is where baseball’s evil gods of capital get heavy-handed on the magic of Piracy of Spirit. There is nothing more painfully baseball than the Cardinals. Just reading the name of the team conjures up old white men sitting on front porches smacking at no-see-ums while AM radio crackles out the ball game. Sure, nowadays it’s old men smacking NSA Nanobots while listening to the game on internet radio, but it is that same fucking boring tradition that baseball markets so well to old and overthinking white people. This is why academics have written more books about baseball than any other sport in America, perhaps combined. There is nothing magic about academia – it is a systematic re-analysis and presentation of our collectively bargained notions of what constitutes high civilization. This collective bargaining is often done behind ivy walls the large majority of us do not know how to get through the gate to, but hey, that’s just how shit is. The magic will come unraveled, forcefully at times when in whatever they are saying is Busch Stadium now, and this will not be as fun as we all would like. Save your acid for the off-season, as this is going to be a bad trip. The Cardinals in four.

AL DIVISIONAL SERIES: TAMPA BAY RAYS vs. BOSTON RED SOX – BEST OF FIVE

And here is the Rays destiny, to play road dog foil to the mighty and pretentious Boston Red Sox. This will be the best dogfight of the divisional round, and the Rays will scrap and fight every inning in Boston. But again, the Rays weakness will be their lack of a spiritually powerful aura at home. In Boston, you are playing in a fire trap where thousands upon thousands of wretched souls whose only spark in life is the fucking piece of shit baseball team they’ve rooted for over three or four generations. In Tampa, you have smatterings of people who care because they feel like it’d be the polite thing to do being the team has been pretty good and hanging around for so long. That is weakness of possession of home, which gives the dastardly Red Sox an opportunity to slip a knife into all of our hearts.
And let’s make no mistake – with no Yankees to portray the Evil Empire in this year’s post-season, the Red Sox more than make a good Plan B. They are just as Evil although a far less successful Empire over history. Unfortunately, our hate will do no good, as hate never does, and the Red Sox will triumph in a full scrap of five games.

NL CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES: ATLANTA BRAVES vs. ST. LOUIS CARDINALS – BEST OF SEVEN

God, what to root for here? The Southern insurance salesman or the Midwestern psychology professor? As noted, the Braves embody that corporate spirit, which is a signature trait of every New South success story, like Atlanta or Charlotte, NC, or wherever the old ways of the South have been replaced by big business and endless sprawling box stores. But the Cardinals, they represent that as well, and they also represent something more.
In America, we have often confused ourselves with black-or-white dichotomies, when actually our hearts are grey. This is true of the political argument of Religion vs. Science, which runs as a thread throughout so many of our modern arguments. However, the truly successful American bastards who run everything are a greying of the two – accepting the benefits of science but also trusting in an unseen Christian God that guided us with his blessings into World dominance. The St. Louis Cardinals are the living, breathing, 40-man roster example of that grey heart of Christian science. You can embrace your beneficial corporate citizens all you want, but none of those big box stores are gonna have potato salad on a Sunday morning. The Christian scientist grey heart secret backbone rulers of America and manipulators of even the evil gods of capital understand this. This is why the Cardinals are known to always find a way, while the Braves are always known to be runners-up. Atlanta has the capital spirit of baseball, but not the holy spirit, which is kind of hard to even pinpoint to be honest. It’s some sketchy, awful shit, that doesn’t feel good, especially if you don’t find personal salvation in it. But that’s the Cardinals, and that’s what they bring. Cardinals in six.

AL CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES: DETROIT TIGERS vs. BOSTON RED SOX – BEST OF SEVEN

And here is your moment of glory, folks, for those that enjoy the triumph of human spirit over the industrial cogs of capital, although a common misconception that somehow Red Sox Nation represents human spirit does exist. And it’s not like you have roving packs of Tigers fans roaming opposing stadiums, not nearly as likely as you are to see roving packs of wild dogs wandering the abandoned parts of Detroit. But there is beauty in neglect, which is why we all love pictures of dilapidated shit so much. Something has to exist in a strong manner in order to even achieve dilapidation. Castles made of plastic get busted up and fall apart and end up as part of the floating detritus island in the middle of the Pacific where birds ingest it to die but perhaps revived post-Fukushima into mutant plasticized condordactyls to breath plastic fumes over our cities and snuff us in some post-modern dragon fantasy come to life. Thus, the beautiful abandonment of past glory like seen in abundance in Detroit IS beautiful because it reminds us of the greatness of our humanity. Our greatness is recessing though.
That’s why this series will be beautiful. The Red Sox are the Red Sox – some of the names will be familiar, some will be new, but there are no names on the backs of the jerseys – it’s just shitty Red Sox. But the Tigers will be this glorious parade of misfits and outcasts at the plate, of aw shucks pitchers on the mound, and that grand cavalcade of minor figures that have big momentary roles here or there on the long narrative stage of the long baseball playoff series. And this one will be long too. You’re gonna get the full seven, and it will bounce a couple of different ways, but in the end – for the moment – the triumph of human spirit will prevail, characters will win over a faceless blob of Red Soxery, and perhaps we can stop pretending Red Sox fans are America’s version of soccer hooligans (not even close, in terms of twisted beauty nor in terms of needing to fear them, even slightly), and we can settle down to enjoy a World Series sans Yankees or Red Sox, which actually is most years, isn’t it? Hahaha, fuck you ESPN.

WORLD SERIES – ST. LOUIS CARDINALS vs. DETROIT TIGERS – BEST OF SEVEN

Tigers have the home field advantage because of the All-Star game, and it’s last year’s World Series losers in the Tigers vs. the year before that’s winners in the Cardinals. The World Series is a mass media manipulated barrage of American car commercials and the beautiful long narrative of postseason baseball turns into you wanting to stab Joe Buck and Tim McCarver with Ronald Reagan’s shin bone. The triumph of human spirit is always – ALWAYS – completely commandeered at this stage by those Evil Gods of Capital, as sacrificed to continuously by one Budweiser Hale Selig, the commish of baseballs. Calling the Yankees the Evil Empire sort of clouds the fact that MLB is a more likely beneficiary of such a title, as they more than enable the Yankees to be the Yankees. And how baseball remains relevant is something of a mystery to me, as it gets predictable and unexciting at this final stage. This is where the magic has been drained already, and there are no real heroes, just some guy who gets a Cadillac on the field and talks to Tim McCarver about the Cadillac he just got while champagne drips from his pre-minted World Series Champions 2013 hat.
A large part of what is wrong with America is that this is no longer where dreams are made; it is a place where we pretend dream narratives are being acted out by scripted performances. We are a Duck Dynasty DVD in a Wal-Mart Supercenter country now, no longer the land of Andy Griffith. And you might say, “Well good, fuck Andy Griffith,” and though I don’t disagree with that I also have to ask you, have we progressed? I mean, fuckin’ Duck Dynasty man. That shit ain’t real. None of this shit is real any more. It’s just people pretending and calling it real. People pretending to work, pretending to innovate, pretending to create, pretending pretending pretending.

There is no American Dream, thus is there is no hope for a sober Miggy Cabrera to triumph over the fucking white bread ass Cardinals. There is no hope for a happy-go-lucky, chunky-but-funky Prince Fielder and his beautiful bi-racial family to stand on a pedestal and be accepted as pure Americana. Nope. This is not the land of that. This is a land of Bob Costas taking up 12-minutes of our time for a sanctimonious media reprimanding about how we’re all on his polysyllabic lawn of yore, and how we should get off, and learn some respect. This is a land where the Tigers and the Detroits and the wildlings of spirit and the warriors of the human condition have the big corporate paw of oppression push their head down into beta position, and assholes like the St. Louis Cardinals win another World Series, in six games, but maybe five. It’s a sad fucking state of affairs, but that’s the World we live in.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Blue Jays at the Break: Contemptible Jerksquad, or Sorry Sack of Butts?

This improbably horrendous Blue Jays season is really heating up!
Let us be frank with one another, as we are all of us friends here, and owe each other at least that much: this has been awful, and probably shameful. The only thing truly rad that has happened thus far in this utter butt ( butter utt?) of a Blue Jays season is, of course, the franchise-record tying eleven-game winning streak, but in truth that only truly served to remind us of two grim realities. The first of these is the still harrowing fact that Tony Fernandez no longer plays for the Toronto Blue Jays (he did, you will recall, in  the 1987 and 1998 seasons which also saw eleven-game streaks). The second is that the Blue Jays are so damn far behind that they both began and ended an eleven-game streak in last place. They are beyond done, and I hate it.

Perhaps the only true good to come out of this hideous maelstrom of the worst butts ever imagined in the darkest mind of a season is that we have, together, discovered Munenori Kawasaki, who we have all of of course seen be amazing in this interview at least a couple of times, but why not enjoy it anew? Why wouldn't you do that? You are not a busy person, not like a nurse or a person who is on call a lot or anything like that.

Of course I am pleased that Jose Bautista, E5, and Brett Cecil (!) have all been in All-Star fettle, but on the whole I simply cannot escape the feeling that all is blasted. 

(FUN FACT: if you Google the phrase "all is blasted," the first page of results shows Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, of course, and also a Baseball Feeling I wrote following an eleven-inning Blue Jays loss to Cleveland in which I explain my policy of never staying up for extra-inning games.)  

Anyway, doom. 

KS

Sock The Dingers & Dent the Scoreboard, That's What Freddy Wilpon Hates

Welcome All-Star Game $$$

After a thorough, and well-deserved shaming on Twitter overnight, I finally am addressing head-on an issue that has been internalized for all of this baseball season, namely, that Baseball Feelings is a worthy endeavor and I have to do my part to make it whole again.  A first quarter of mostly abhorrent baseball, saved only by the appearance of Matt Harvey every fifth day and the emergence of Marlon Byrd, Marlon Byrd of all people! as a legitimate offensive threat, has made my baseball feelings seem mostly unimportant.  However, there are tales to tell, and I will in a first-half recap to follow this post, but first, onto more pressing matters.  

As the only person unfortunate enough to have Mets allegiances on Baseball Feelings Dot Com, it seems that it falls to me to welcome all of the other teams to Citi Field for the 2013 All-Star Game.  Hello.  Come in. Please wipe your feet and don't touch anything.  

In all seriousness, there are few things quite as awesome as your home team hosting the All-Star Game, not the least of which is Kevin James playing in the celebrity softball game and Ashanti, Ashanti, on our own field!

In the time since it was announced that Citi Field would host the 2013 All-Star Game, the enthusiasm it created came with a fair share of naysaying, namely, that the Wilpons were being thrown a bone by friend Bud Selig, it was a blatant attempt to generate revenue for the broke-as-fuck Mets and boost season ticket sales for a year.  That's fine.  I get that. However, that doesn't mean that I get to enjoy this for the following reasons:  

I Am Predicting a Good-Ass Home Run Derby
And not just because Pitbull is doing a pre-Derby concert or whatever.

I remember back in the late 90's, Coors Field got the ASG and everyone was like "OMGGGGG YOU GUYS, THERE ARE GONNA BE SO MANY DINGERS" and, as it turns out, the Derby was mostly forgettable for the one reason that "Yup, home runs are prominent in Colorado, and, look at that, the Home Run Derby had many homers."  It was expected.  However, think back on the great Derbies and its like, balls ricocheting off of rock sculptures and fountains and stuff, and we come to realize that we appreciate it when there is more bonkers stuff to hit in the Derby than the possibility of the ball leaving the stadium. Enter Citi Field, with the Pepsi Porch in right field, the Shea Bridge in left, and the Home Run Apple Hat in dead center, and this is gonna be like a real-life version of The Bigs Pinball Edition and oh man you guys it is gonna own so hard.    

Throw in like, 50 Chris Berman chop shop jokes, and trying to make Corona jokes and Dutch Kills and shit, and we are going to be in heaven.  Loud cheers as David Wright deserves will be pretty sweet as well. 

Matt Harvey Is The Hero The Mets Deserve

As referenced earlier, one of the only sources of enjoyment in the first half of a woeful (and yet improving!) Mets season was the emergence of Matt Harvey as just the best.  In my humble opinion, there's nothing better in baseball when a pitcher on your team can just straight up blow a fastball by basically everyone on someone else's team, and that's what Harvey's been doing for most of the season (save for a couple of hiccups against the Marlins and Diamondbacks of all teams) and since Bruce Bochy is not a jerk like Tony LaRussa, it's a pretty safe bet that Harvey will get the start in the ASG at his home field.  

And that'll be a lot of fun, and it will give him the audience that I feel he deserves.  If he had any kind of run support at all, its possible that he could be 12-1, 13-1 by now, and it will be cool to see this start as a potential peek into a future when the Mets might again be somewhat relevant. 

More National Shake Shack Exposure

Sportswriters be eatin', so check Twitter searches for Shake Shack beginning tonight and you will all see what I mean.  

Anyway, I hope you all enjoy the All-Star Game and that seeing Citi Field in primetime makes you want to hop on a plane or bus or something to go and see it, because it is a really nice place to watch baseball games.  Please pick up at least 10 pieces of trash on your way out.  

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Important Shane Victorino Update

Not so long ago I wrote a post where I compared Shane Victorino to Joffrey Baratheon, First of His Name King of the Andals and the Rhoynar and the First Men, Lord of the Seven Kingdoms and Protector of the Realm, which allowed me to present to the world the most perfect marriage of gifs:   



Now, it's my pleasure and privilege to continue this corollary of spoiled jerks by giving you this little bit of perfection, courtesy of Mr. Koji Uehera:


That will show our little king to get off his throne every once in awhile!  

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Baseball Feelings Update: Fewer Baseball Feelings than Anticipated

R. A. Dickey, seen here knuckling one in
The streaking Toronto Blue Jays have won three straight (three!) to claw their way back to the .400 mark and now sit a mere nine-and-a-half games behind the American League East-leading New York Yankees -- isn't that the greatest? It reflects poorly on my past self to admit to you that there are times in my life where I could totally have said something like that entirely in earnest; such is the embarrassing level of hope and optimism and earnestness I am, at times, able to summon as regards the fate of this, the baseball team of my fondest feelings. But I do not say so with sincerity at this time, and not because of any real scorn I have for this particular incarnation of the Blue Jays, or anything. I am not all that miffed about big deals not looking so hot right now, nor at poor production from players we thought might well rake/throw smoke, nor yet from injury woes. The thing for me so far this season, with regards to my feelings concerning baseball, is that they have been barely existent. 

What factors have led to this seemingly stunning reversal? Certainly the disastrous start to the Blue Jays' season cannot be overlooked entirely, as I would no doubt be attending to matters more closely should these Jays have found themselves at (or even near) the top of the division standings. But mostly, I think, it is simply that other things have commanded my interest of late, more than any deliberate turn away from baseball, exactly. The reading of books proves to be, in many respects, a more pleasurable use of my evenings right now, even if sometimes those books turn out to be kind of scary books and I end up getting freaked out a little and then having nightmares. Also, I have been ripping a number of sick solos, and each sick solo clocks in at around ten minutes, so it doesn't take long to eat an hour that way. I have been enjoying riding my skateboard (in the mode of skateboard thrashing) in the evenings whilst attending to small errands. And finally, the hockey playoffs have proven a fine ambient sporting background against which I have been pursuing several of the aforementioned activities. Sure, I have had games on the radio as I return home from the gym, say, but when I do so it is mostly Jack Morris not being as good as Alan Ashby talking about about baseball. 

All of this is to say, I have yet to truly take up this baseball season properly, and, in the end, may not. This happens every few seasons, so I am not alarmed or anything. Perhaps when the weather turns consistently warmer, and the Stanley Cup has been awarded, and the grass is totally in need of reel mowing (more so), I will get totally into things as the Blue Jays rise to the .500ish mark that a team of this calibre has to eventually get to, and then linger on the periphery of the playoff race just long enough to make the season not feel like a complete write-off. Or something. 

KS

Thursday, April 25, 2013

This Season Is Really Stupid So Far

not a representative image
Such is the extent of the calamity thus far that yesterday I didn't even really want to wear my Blue Jays hat to the grocery store but it was raining and the hat itself is inherently stylish as hell so I relented and wore it but as I put it on I was thinking thoughts along the lines of well fine. It's nice that they grabbed a game in Baltimore -- walked-in runs in extra innings make for the most heroic and daring of victories, seen from a certain, incorrect perspective -- but man oh man this has been brutal so far. I think the only thing keeping me from all-time-high levels of minding is that I am paying not the slightest attention to the world of sports media punditry. Because I am guessing they are being intolerable constantly on this subject.

KS

Saturday, April 13, 2013

The Blue Jays Week That Was: Arguably It Is Too Early For Despair But Hear Me Out

I see your problem right here: your ankle is all fucked up
When Dustin Parkes -- formerly, I guess of Drunk Jays Fans and now, I guess, mostly or perhaps indeed entirely of the Getting Blanked blog, but who can say -- tweeted a few days ago that no team had won the World Series after a 2-5 start since the 2012 San Francisco Giants, it was a moment of levity I welcomed, even if it doesn't actually mean anything. Like, it was itself a statement suggesting a 2-5 start doesn't mean anything, which of course it doesn't, but neither does it mean anything that the Giants won the World Series after starting that way, which I know he wasn't implying so why am I even mentioning it? But I do wonder what percentage of World Series-winning teams started their seasons 2-5. Probably not many but there is no way I am going to look that up. 

But now 2-5 has become 4-6, and nobody in the AL East is really playing all that well to start the year, so it is a 4-6 that puts the Blue Jays a mere game-and-a-half out of first place. Under normal circumstances I would declare this situation to be no biggity, in fact the least of all biggities. And I guess that situation, the 4-6 of it all, truly is no biggity, even if the only starter who has really looked that great is J. A. Happ for some reason. But it can only be seen as an enormous butt of the lowliest order that Jose Reyes, who is delightful as hell to watch play baseball and who is hitting like .400 so far, slid hideously into second base last night and probably exploded his ankle.

The earliest indications are that it might only be a wicked sprain, which would cost Reyes (and my enjoyment) no more than a month, probably. If there's something broken, it could be three months or more. Hey hey! 

Actually, OK, I was about to descend into despair for a moment, but things will probably actually be pretty alright, maybe: good pitchers usually end up being good pitchers, so I have faith the rotation will be way better than it has been; Jose Bautista isn't hitting yet and missed three games with some minor hassling injuries but he'll soon begin launching stuff on the reg; and there's no reason to think the rest of the lineup (minus Cabrera) can continue to hit this poorly. I bet the Blue Jays will spend almost all of the next few months at or slightly above .500 and then we'll see what's up in August. 

I would note in closing, though, that I have found myself not even really minding the Blue Jays shaky start this season, and not just because I am enlightened enough to realize that ten games at the start of the season mean no more than ten games in June, and you'd barely even noticed if your team went 4-6 over a ten-game stretch in June. Instead, the reason for my not minding seems to be that I am not all that emotionally invested in any of this yet, surprisingly uninvested, in fact. Maybe it's because I've been kind of super busy (for me, which is admittedly a pretty low bar), or maybe it is just that this is going to be one of those baseball seasons that, for whatever reason, I pay less attention to than others, and wind up outside more and also reading more books. The ways of the heart are a mystery, basically, so what can you even say.

KS

Friday, April 5, 2013

Nationals destroy Marlins with awesomeness

Can't promise I'll post a lot this season, as I flailed out during last year's quest for .500 ball which ended up with the fucking playoffs. Can you believe that? This year hopes are even higher, with motherfuckers being like "World Series, yo." Whatever man it's a long season.
Nonetheless the first three game series went well, with Strasburg and Gio shutting shit down, Davey Johnson going to the bullpen early, and even Jordan Zimmermann looking good as fuck yesterday. I mean it is the Marlins so let's not get carried away, but there is a dangerous thing I want to talk about that could perhaps be our downfall. That thing is The Ultimate Harper.
On twitter a dude asked how the Nats could have gotten rid of Beast Mode, who is already being rather beastly in Seattle. I offered the theory that perhaps it was for the best of everybody that Beast Mode psychology not be allowed to ferment too heavily into the brain of the young and still impressionable Bryce Harper. Because Bryce Harper is kinda crazy. Like he's crazy athletic, and after two blasts in his first two at-bats, including this one to Jayson Werth hiding in the crowd...
he's on pace for like 148 HRs this season. But will he play the entire season? Here he is yesterday, Charlie Hustle 3000ing his way into scoring from first on a double...
Note the stiff blow to the jawbones, and yet the little crazy fucker with the rockabilly hair jumps up. He is Natitude basically, and it was probably best not to infuse that with too much Beast Mode, because let's face it, DC is a doomed town for sports. Our stars end up becoming broken (what up RG3?) or ran out of town like miscreants (what up Agent Zero?) or just never quite live up to the hopes and hype of a desperate public (what up Ovi?). And now the Nats have what looks to be maybe the player of his generation in Bryce Harper.
Actually let me address this Mike Trout/Bryce Harper debate that seems to be ongoing. Mike Trout is a baseball player, and although a good one, he's just some white guy who plays baseball, no different than Joe Mauer or Will Clark or really 19 thousand other white guys who were pretty good at a white guy sport (not counting the Hispanics, because lolol how can you count them all?) Bryce Harper is something different - a thing that happens very rarely. I seriously think he has Pete Rose qualities in that he plays on a different level than everyone else, and ultimately he will have some sort of horrible downfall out of boredom of fucking around with all these very regular white guys and Hispanics all his life. My fear is that The Ultimate Harper will be too Beastly and reckless in situations like above and destroy himself.
And yet at the same time that's my hope too. Fuck self-preservation. Self-preservation and pitch counts and retard chess like that is the worst part of baseball. Bryce Harper is going to destroy shit this year, and other teams are going to try to destroy him. I would put the over-under on bench-clearing brawls at Nats game this year at about 4, and up it to 5 or 6 if the possibility of facing the Cardinals in the playoffs looks very real late in the season. And I'm fine with that. I trust no man more than Davey Johnson to get this haphazard team of youthful wildlings into good fighting spirit. Let's not forget Johnson's greatest claim to managerial fame was the '86 Mets (who these Nats are often compared to in preseason previews), led by Darryl Strawberry (who had an underwhelming overall career considering his initial promise, but cocaine does that to you) and Dwight Gooden (who I don't know, was pretty great but coming out the same time with same fanfare as Roger Clemens, we certainly don't see him as like a Roger Clemens equivalent do we, and I'm not speaking with regards to what a douchebag Clemens is). I guess what I'm saying is that although sure The Ultimate Harper if allowed to be too much like he'd want to be will probably destroy himself and be Dickie Thonned by the Diamondbacks or some shit, I don't care. If you got 'em, smoke 'em. I would like that to be what Natitude is all about, if a PR term can ever actually be about anything real at all.
So yeah, that's what I have to say after our first series of the season. I'll try to check back in after the Reds series this weekend in Cincinnati but it's also getting spring and I've got some garden planting to do, so no promises, okay?

Blue Jays 10, Indians 8: There Were Like A Zillion Dingerz, Which Is The Ideal Number of Dingerz

middle-infield camaraderie might not mean a damn thing to you McNulty but it means a hell of a lot to me
Woah, dingers! Like so many! Let's see OK there was Jose Bautista's, then J.P. Arencibia hit one into the second deck I believe, then E5 with the mighty three-run wallop, and then finally Colby Rasmus who comes to the plate to what sounds like a parody of contemporary country-radio country music but which is I fear probably just contemporary country-radio country music. There were Indians home runs as well, it is perhaps worth noting, if only in passing. I will not detail them here because I do not want to pretend like I cared about them because intellectual and emotional honesty is important. Mark Buehrle wasn't really any good, which is bad, but he takes a Halladay-esque approach to not fucking around between pitches out there, so I will never ever be mad at him, I promise. There was nifty glove work from Emilio Bonifacio as he smoothly turned two with Jose Reyes, I was told by means of radio communication from Jerry Howarth and (*long inhale*) Jack Morris (*long exhale*) who, I guess I should say, really isn't terrible or anything, but he isn't all that good either, and he sure as heck isn't Alan Ashby, who is, I would argue, the most underrated broadcaster in baseball, and probably like the third or fourth best there even is. The Blue Jays could win ninety games this year (as they of course will) and I would still be like "I miss Alan Ashby" instead of talking about how Jose Bautista has eighty home runs. 

KS

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Indians 3, Blue Jays 2 (F/11): I Have A Policy

eyeeeeaaaawwwwaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhh
I had almost all of this one on the radio (the computer radio) while I was engaged in other, extremely important activities and exercises befitting a human of my status and attainment, and it was actually kind of a honey. Brandon Morrow threw like a million pitches en route to being pretty awesome at times (this is his way), and Maicer Izturis improbably hit the first dinger (let us hope the first of many dingers) of this Blue Jays season. He also totally rushed a throw from third and winged it past E5 at first, allowing the go-ahead Cleveland run to score late, but, I mean, who among us. The number of throws from third I myself have hucked into the woods is totally disproportionate to the number of innings I logged at the hot corner in my youth, so I was not upset, particularly. And anyway after that Jose Bautista totally homered! I took my headphones off and raised my arms in jubilation! Things were thus tied after nine, and I called it a night. 

I did this because I have a policy and that is that it is not worth watching extra inning baseball games except in certain rare instances, and this is why: if I watch like thirteen innings and the Blue Jays lose, I will feel like I have wasted my life and all is blasted. If I watch like thirteen innings and the Blue Jays win, I will feel pretty good about it, but not that much better than if I skip out after nine and just find out later that they've won. There will be perhaps the slightest pang, the faintest sensation that it might have been neat to see that, but I will mostly be happy they won and move on with my affairs. But, again, to sit through an extra-innings loss is the worst, and I will not do it. 

If this strikes you as foolishness, which it almost certainly is, I will say in my defense that I have stayed patiently in my seat throughout the duration of hundreds of baseball games at the SkyDome, many of them utter shit-shows, without leaving early. I think I have left maybe three baseball games early ever, and in every case, if memory serves, it was because of concerts and shows and stuff. So do not think I am one of those people; the particular brand of foolishness I am advancing here is in some respects, I think, without precedent.

KS

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Eff The Haters, R.A. Dickey is the Goddang Best Y'All or You Keep Rockin' Toronto







Indians 4, Blue Jays 1: Yes But Also Baseball

Jose Bautista, seen here looking like I feel whenever I think about Jose Bautista
Tonight was a judo night, which is a night even more sacred than a baseball night -- even, indeed(s), a baseball opening night -- so I didn't really catch any of the game except that except except except when I got in the car to go to judo there was totally baseball on the radio and when I got back in after judo there was totally also baseball on the radio and sure the Blue Jays were losing and it didn't sound at all awesome in that respect however the out-of-town update revealed that Yu Darvish had been striking out all of the Astros and was perfect through a substantial number of innings and on the whole my thoughts and indeed my feelings were like baseball yusssssss.

KS

Monday, April 1, 2013

A Baseball 2013 Preview by the Most Regular Guy on Earth in America

So the baseball has started and the internet is alive with people pretending it’s some glorious thing like daffodils blooming or the phlox turning purple and pink and showing how they’ve creeped another four inches since last spring. But look, baseball is lot like poetry and swing dancing and shit like that in normal people don’t really give that much of a fuck. I mean the white professional class in baseball cities cares because it’s an obvious way to fuck off an afternoon of work but pretend you are still working by taking some dude who might buy something at some unforeseen and barely imaginable point in the future.
Unfortunately a lot of baseball waxing and waning poetically is done by creepy baseball fetishists who think every kid dreams of being a baseball player still. These dudes also are from the 1980s school of Sports Illustrated sports writing who dream of being collected by the Oxford American at some point, and become angry at Grantland analytics charts (although to be fair, Grantland analytics charts and mathematical baseball theorists are just as fucking fruity as poet baseball fans… basically anything you can get a Ph.D. in should not be involved in baseball talk being most baseball players barely go to college if at all and most are either drafted out of high school or they are from a black Hispanic country and pretend to be 16 when they are 14 so that they can pretend to be 18 when they are 20 and play baseball in America).
Sidetracked into my brain bitching about shit, sorry. What I came here to do was give you a preview of the upcoming baseball season with full predictions by the Most Regular Guy on Earth in America, who is me. Let’s start in the American League, because it comes first alphabetically.

AMERICAN LEAGUE WEST
(As you can see I’m starting out west to reverse standard patterns of your brain that start on the east. Fuck your brain. These are in predicted order of finish.)
#1: Anaheim Angels of California near Los Angeles – I don’t know man, they seem to sign everybody on earth so they have to be allowed to win something one year. They added Josh Hamilton to Albert Pujols as last year’s big free agent signing, potentially creating the largest most expensive underperformance in baseball history outside of most 21st century seasons of the Yankees. But they’ll win the division. Why? I don’t know man, bunch of famous fuckers on their team.
#2: Oakland Athletics – Essentially the anti-Angels, the A’s are infamous for doing wacky mathematical nonsense to find great players in piles of discarded hard drives ever since Seth Rogen’s little brother did that for them in the ‘90s or some shit. A commonly uncited reason for Athletic awesomeness though is the green and yellow color scheme. No professional sports teams really rock that, other than the As, and the now-defunct Seattle Supersonics. That, combined with Rollie Fingers mustache, and me seeing a picture of the weird Elephants shirt Ty Cobb wore when he played for the Philadelphia Athletics, gives them more psychic power than you can really fuck with. And they will wild card it up, because all of this shit is wild.
#3: Texas Rangers – Josh Hamilton’s straight edginess was the only thing that kept Ron Washington from being full-blown Ron Washington, which in his true wild habitat is sort of like one of Fred Sanford’s friends who would go to clubs with him and try to get him to play that fucking crazy washtub bass contraption. That type of full-blown wackiness is a little too much for an actual baseball team because about 45% of all baseball players are uptight assholes who want perfectly repeated routines during games, not some crazy duck-walking dude wired on life and powdered cocoa extract talking nonsense gibberish at them.
#4: Seattle Mariners – Sadly, perhaps the east coast bias is true because this is the most anonymous of teams out there, meaning they will find it hard to compete and win games when they are busy seeing how many AT&T passwords are just password123 and calling it “hacking”. Hackers make for horrible hitters too. On the plus side, baseball Beast Mode Michael Morse is now in Seattle along with football and original flavor Beast Mode of Marshawn Lynch, which hopefully will create some sort of chaotic power vacuum that allows for fun animated gifs galore. Ultimately that’s all I ask from baseball.
#5: Houston Astros – The Astros were so shitty they were going to get relegated but then somebody was like, “Baseball doesn’t have relegation. This is America you fuck,” so whoever was in charge was like, “lolol that’s right, well let’s move them to the AL, just for the fuck of it.” So essentially, in his devious ways, Bud Selig traded his Milwaukee Brewers to the National League for the Houston Astros, and all the AL got was this shitty striped throwback J.R. Richard jersey.

AMERICAN LEAGUE CENTRAL
(The Midwest is literally rusting back into the earth, and if it wasn’t for Mexican cartel leaders wagering large sums of money on games based around their main American hub of Chicago, two of these teams would just have one-third of their games simulated by EA Sports to save us all time and money.)
#1: Detroit Tigers – You may not know this but Justin Verlander is basically Monsanto corn in human form, which is a pretty good argument for genetically modified baseball players in my opinion. I know Verlander is a good dude because I bumped into him one time in Goochland County and we shared some stories outside of George’s Tavern store, and scratched off a shit load of lottery tickets. Eventually I hit a $20 scratcher and was like, “Oh shit! I’m gonna get me four chicken thighs and a forty! Well, not the forty because I quit drinking, so a big spicy V8 instead.” Verlander laughed and said, “Man, Miggy said that EXACT SAME FUCKING THING to me just last month.”
#2: Cleveland Indians – The MSM aka Lame-stream Media is not reporting these things, to keep panic down but there are already marauding gangs of post-Apocalyptic half-feral humans roaming the streets of Cleveland. They could care less about baseball, and most of what they consider true rock-n-roll will never even consider a thing like a “Hall of Fame” something you’d do, as halls of fame are a sign of over-civilization, and marauding gangs usually are against too much civilizational behavior, generally speaking. That being said, the Indians are still real, meaning they exist.
#3: Kansas City Royals – The Royals so desperately want everybody to believe they are the new Rays, building a strong team from within, being smart and practical, all that shit. Royals PR people are constantly trying to convince news sites and baseball experts to tout this talking point, but then they just end up being the Royals again.
#4: Minnesota Twins – The Twins are literally a machine that will never work correctly without a short, stocky black dude as their spark plug. It’s very literal, and until they replace Kirby Puckett, they’ll never be shit, no matter how many non-descript white guys do shampoo commercials. Also who the fuck buys enough shampoo to justify there being commercial endorsements for it? Do you buy special shampoo? Haha, fuck that. What’s wrong with you?
#5: Chicago White Sox – The White Sox are essentially back to being the shitty White Sox nobody cared about, though somebody made a good LaMarr Hoyt joke on twitter earlier, so they always have that to fall back on. Really, in my mind, the White Sox will eternally be nothing more than LaMarr Hoyt’s facial hair and Greg Luzinski’s gut muscles.

AMERICAN LEAGUE EAST
(Basically the UEFA of MLB. At least one of these assholes always gets a wild card. Also I just made a veiled soccer reference inside an internet posting about baseball, which means I just plus-oned at internetting, which equals a half-minus at real life.)
#1: Toronto Blue Jays – They have oddly accumulated one of the strangest teams ever. Like if someone was to tell you, “Hey, a baseball team is going to amass a ridiculous amount of potentially still in-prime talent, out of nowhere, for the fuck of it,” you’d never have guessed the Blue Jays. I would’ve said Marlins, then Red Sox, then maybe the Phillies. But there it is. How long will it last? I don’t know. I don’t give a fuck. I just want to have sex up against the window of the outfield hotel room again, but they won’t let me rent the room any more after last time. For as liberalized as their health care is, Canadians are actually fairly conservative, especially with regards to exhibitionist goat sex.
#2: Tampa Bay Rays – Always a disruptive force in the AL East, which is funny considering most everybody in the Tampa/St. Petersburg area is a Yankees fan. It’s kind of like the shitty neglected son is always trying to outdo his asshole dad that everybody thinks is the greatest, so he just ends up being awesome out of spite. That’s the Rays, who literally only will ever sell out Yankees games at home, for eternity. Also wild card, trust me bro.
#3: New York Yankees – Watching the Yankees fail is always great. If you are a Yankees fan, I hope you live a long and suffering life, because you are probably a horrible person, as an individual as well as collectively when amongst others who think like you do. That being said, I’m always thankful for the Yankees signing and acquiring players because it helps me know who to hate. And the next few years, watching A-Rod go from perhaps the greatest player ever to baseball’s Lance Armstrong, oh man that’s going to be so fun to watch. Some people just look like they are born assholes, and A-Rod is one of those some peoples.
#4: Baltimore Orioles – The Orioles are fun and all I guess, but it’s kinda sad to watch Adam Jones career, as he’s the last American-born black kid to have played baseball. Truly the slow-ending of a great era. Imagine life without Jackie Robinson’s civil rights or Willie Mays’s greatness or Dave Parker’s menace. It’s sad. It’s a shame we have to import all our black people who play baseball nowadays, but it’s also a sign that baseball is not as relevant to Americans as the poet-philosopher-theoretical physicist-bloggers would have you believe. RIP Black American Baseball Player – God needed dudes who love sports cars, cocaine, and Loni Anderson, all three circa 1975.
#5: Boston Red Sox – It’s weird because the people who are Red Sox fans are more wretched than the people who are Yankees fans, but somehow it is way easier to hate the Yankees. Not sure why this is culturally. At least we can all be thankful the Red Sox are back to sucking. They should totally wear more green jerseys with shamrocks and shit like that appeal to their completely open-minded and non-racist fanbase. Also if you could somehow cross-breed Red Sox baseball fans with Israeli soccer fans, you would have most open-minded and non-racist fanbase that ever existed. Actually maybe that’s what Bill Simmons actually is?

NATIONAL LEAGUE EAST
(I am switching the geographical order this time to keep you confused. The NL East is an amazing place, full of amazing stories of baseball franchises with varied histories and futures that cross like Megabuses in the interstate night.)
#1: Atlanta Braves – Yes, I am saying the Braves will win the division, even though everyone on Earth is like, “WOW MAN THE NATIONALS!” Why? Because the Braves always win, even when they don’t. And then they go to the playoffs, and don’t win, even when they do. That is the dichotic nature of the Atlanta Braves, and it has to be enforced constantly by ill-humored baseball Gods, who actually live in Venezuela and are going to be even more ill-humored this year since Chavez is dead and Castro is dying.
#2: Washington Nationals – I am a Nats fan as much as the Most Regular Guy on Earth in America can actually be the fan of a baseball team. And it sure looks like wonderful things will potentially happen, doesn’t it? Two problems though. First, there is the psychically crushing end to last season’s miraculous playoff appearance. That shit kills souls, who never play good post-season baseball ever again. Secondly, Washington sports teams are cursed, perhaps in a karmic sense due to their close proximity to the American government, which is as ill as it comes, because it’s not dictator ill where you know shit is fucked; it’s marketing campaign ill, where you trick young girls into signing up for prostitution by making it seem cool and freedomly. So because of having watched this play out for many many years, I know that Strasburg is going to have his elbow splinter into three pieces or Bryce Harper is going to get arrested with transgender prostitutes in Baltimore or horrible horrible things are going to happen. Still though, they’ll get a wild card, because that’ll make it even more horrible when it ends again in traumatic fashion.
#3: Philadelphia Phillies – Man, fuck the Phillies.
#4: New York Mets – The Mets are never something I can hate because A) not the Yankees, and B) listening to AM radio from New York at night when the only station you pick up is 660 and hearing weird old dudes who are Mets fans talk about Mets shit. Plus lately I’ve been having recurring dreams where I’m a crazy old Dominican dude who builds secret drug compartments in SUVs for drug dealers at my shop along Jerome Avenue in the Bronx, and when I’m in that guy’s head in my dreams, he fucking loves listening to the Spanish broadcast of Mets games while working in his shop. It’s almost tricked me into ordering a Johan Santana jersey to be honest.
#5: Miami Marlins – As America falls, and the post-Apocalyptic marauders seen in Cleveland start to be nationwide, things like the Marlins new ball park will slowly dilapidate into these garish photos on some South American/African/Asian sub-continent Reddit sub-folder, kind of like the Chernobyl ferris wheel. The thing is, we shouldn’t feel bad; it’s just as hilarious this impending failure of America as the fall of communist Soviet Russia was. Immense failures of human civilization are always hilarious; that’s part of the natural beauty of baseball. (Note: That last sentence is designed to be the one you quote and tweet out when you are building your Personal Brand online by sharing stupid fucking links to stupid fucking shit like this article.)

NATIONAL LEAGUE WEST
(I’m not even panning across the country in order because seriously, fuck your brain and how it thinks things are supposed to go. I even contemplated not even doing this in order of finish, but I promised I would at the beginning, and I never break a promise, ever.)
#1: Los Angeles Dodgers – You know how annoying George Steinbrenner was, and football owners like Jerry Jones or Dan Snyder are? You may not realize this but you will come to regard Magic Johnson like that as well. He is cut from that same cloth, and his goofy, want-to-win-ness will eventually turn to overbearing, power-mad, assholeness. In a way, it’s refreshing that we have gotten to a point in American racial history where a black man can end up being an overbearing over-wealthy asshole like Magic will become, especially in baseball, where there will never be any more black American-born baseball players ever again. Also of note is how racial divides are not scientific at all but purely a political creation, which ultimately means when you hate a particular race, you are kind of hating a certain form of politics, although it actually is not hating politics because it plays into the hands of political goals. Shit is tricky nowadays. I go through a lot of yarrow tincture because of this.
#2: San Francisco Giants – The Giants are consistently consistent, and though I’m sad that the kid from Dazed and Confused finally cut his hair off, I’m hoping he balances this with some weird mustache. Wait, no I don’t, because the Giants are the ones with the stupid giant black beard thing going in their bullpen. Brian Wilson is the worst, a sports example of that hipster asshole type who doesn’t actually like anything, just accumulates weird tidbits of weirdness to be like, “I am so weird, aren’t I? But no, I’m normal. Just weird.” It’s all so forced and not organic at all, although organic is a government label not an actual thing so I would imagine Brian Wilson’s goofy bullshit may be certified organic, which just goes to show you shouldn’t trust labels, ever, because you have to ask yourself, who is deciding how the labels are applied? Also, wild card for the Giants, because why not.
#3: San Diego Padres – The Padres I don’t really care about. They do weird camo uniforms sometimes and it’s hard to believe a team could make camouflage uniforms look stupid but they somehow did it. If your organization can do something like that, how can I believe them to ever build a baseball team worth writing a half-witty blurb about?
#4: Arizona Diamondbacks – Always rank them at the bottom because it doesn’t feel like they really exist. “Arizona Diamondbacks” always sounds to me like a made-up team from a movie or TV show, like who Kenny Powers gets signed by when he goes back to the Major Leagues, pitching against the Orlando Breakers or Colorado Rockies or some other made-up shit like that.
#5: Colorado Rockies – See above, but also add in the fact Colorado is the whitest state on the American Earth, and full of people you should not ever like. They are the Yankees fans of the American socio-economic ladder, and instead of calling in to sports talk radio, they hire lobbyists.

NATIONAL LEAGUE CENTRAL
(The most poetic of all divisions, and I mean that in the bad way, but also the good way, partially. Does that make sense? Let me put it to you this way: this is the division that gives us things like memories of Dock Ellis or Dave Parker or Pete Rose as Charlie Hustle or goats going to baseball games but not getting to go so witchcraft taking place, more than any other division in baseball, which is a wonderful thing no doubt. But it also gives us Bob Costas’ soliloquies, and all the myriad of ridiculous self-important internetting that has been derived from such a thing, and that is a horrible thing.)
#1: St. Louis Cardinals – Did you know that Cardinals fans have written more books than any other professional sports fanbase, ever? They average 2 books written per every 5.3 fans. The Cardinals baseball team lives by that standard as well, essentially “tl;dr”ing their way to success year after year. They will do it again this year, and probably next year, and forever, and it will always seem painful to watch happen and nobody will ever remember a single piece of it, even as Bob Costas machines start to spread once artificial intelligence learns how to procreate, and there will be all these little flying drones performing indignant soliloquies constantly, everywhere, about how much better everything used to be when it was better and how everything is horrible now because of this horrible thing that is happening. Those days are coming.
#2: Cincinnati Reds – The Reds have become successful again by signing more guys that sound like fictional characters from a Young Adult novel about baseball than any other team. Dudes like Joey Votto and Homer Bailey and Bronson Arroyo are creating this weird magical element where what seems like it fictionally should happen actually happened last year in that they won a pennant. It’s a risky way to build a successful team because once the larger public realizes these guys actually exist and aren’t just a fictional creation from some book, the magic loses its power and the team starts to lose that psychic traction, which is more necessary in baseball than any other sport. Thus the Reds won’t repeat in the playoffs this year, because reality will catch up to them.
#3: Milwaukee Brewers – It says a lot for how shitty the Brewers actually are when their owner is the commissioner of baseball and he still can’t successfully fix them winning a World Series. This is part of why baseball is less relevant to your average American – they are not as good at engineering things as the NFL or even the NBA is. All major sports are fixed, to a certain extent, and to not realize that is na├»ve and consumer of you. I bet you buy shit because of advertisements too. Hahaha, you fucking fool; they are using your own brain chemistry against you, making our human species weaker and more vulnerable to extinction. And you don’t even fucking care, sitting there acting like a baseball game is a real competition between people who actually care one way or another whether they have more runs than the other team. Fucking pitiful.
#4: Pittsburgh Pirates – I always hope this year is the year for the Pirates but it never is. We should just be happy with half-year’s where Pittsburgh throws a victory parade when the Pirates would’ve gotten a wild card berth if the season ended during the All-Star break, and be stoked about that, then let the rest of the season go as it usually does.
#5: Chicago Cubs – What can be said about the Cubs that hasn’t already been said, to death, already? I actually feel sad for Cubs fans because a lot of them can’t help what they were born into. I mean I don’t laugh at Pakistani children who can’t sleep because of drone warfare, do I? Essentially, it’s the same thing, except instead of not being able to sleep at night because of the constant fear that your home may be accidentally destroyed by a missile that kills your family and yourself, you are kinda bummed your baseball team never ends up winning enough games to play a few more games.

PLAYOFF PREDICTIONS
Wild card round: Giants humble the Nats again Iron Sheik style; A’s over Rays in road greys during late September days (well one).
Divisional series round: Giants over Braves (again, because it’s the playoffs and Atlanta); Cardinals over Dodgers (stupid fucking Cardinals); Tigers over A’s; Angels over Blue Jays (because realizing it’s the playoffs is gonna freak out Toronto, trust me).
Championship series: Cardinals over Giants (stupid fucking Cardinals); Tigers over Angels.
World Series: Tigers over Cardinals, because I have faith that humanity can be wild and intelligently reckless and rebuild itself from this post-Apocalyptic nightmare we are already halfway inside the middle of, rather than sit around and write a bunch of goddamned books about how it should be and not do a fucking thing and humanity dies while it is busy over-analyzing itself in a self-important manner. Because ultimately that’s what this World Series will be about. Ultimately, that’s what everything is about.

Friday, March 29, 2013

A Soft Spot in My Heart for Triples and Astros and Oakland's Swings - Baseball Players as Game of Thrones Characters, Part Two


Welcome back to our Opening Weekend preview of both the 2013 baseball season, and the third season of Game of Thrones!  It was nice of Major League Baseball to realize that everyone would be glued to the GoT season premiere and act accordingly by programming a game featuring the Astros, wasn't it?  Without further ado, let's continue our comparison of Major League Baseball players to our favorite Westerosi inhabitants!  

Nelson Cruz is Khal Drogo



When you're featured in ESPN's The Body issue, there's a great deal of attention focused on your physical attributes, and Nelson Cruz, as told by Michael Young, has all of them.  
"Nelly goes about 6'3, 230 pounds and he's country strong.  We were in the weight room one day and some guys were benching 315 pounds.  Nelly walks in and says 'Let me hop in.'  And he just starting pushing 315 right away.  Without stretching.  As a warmup set."
I assume that the part of the story where he got an ingrown toenail and had to miss a quarter of the season was omitted, but the fact of the matter is, that when Cruz, like Drogo, is on the field, he's a game-changer and a destroyer of worlds, but the most seemingly minor of scratches can sideline him for weeks at a time.  Trust me, I've owned him in fantasy for the past four years and sometimes I can't help but think I want to smother him with a pillow.  Then he hits two homers and steals a base, and he's my moon and my stars again.  

 David Eckstein is Tyrion Lannister



Short, but winners all day y'all.  

Josh Hamilton is Bronn



There's nobody you'd rather have on your team, and there's nothing he'd rather have than that money.  

Scott Boras is Walder Frey



Nobody ever WANTS to do business with Scott Boras.  However, when one agent controls a majority of the best talent in baseball, when you're assembling a winning team, you need to go to him, hat in hand, and sell your soul.  That's the case with Robb Stark when the young king, eager to reach King's Landing to rip Joffrey's guts out and save his sisters, makes a deal with Frey to take on one of his little wiener kids as a squire, marry Arya to another of his wiener kids and, worst of all, marry himself to one of Frey's daughters that Walder deems suitable, all to cross a bridge.  

Much like teams that sign Boras' clients often find themselves with buyer's remorse in the sixth or seventh year of the deal, so too did Robb Stark regret making the deal when he fell in love, but as it all turned out, it was no big d.  



Thursday, March 28, 2013

The 2013 Toronto Blue Jays Season Is Probably Real Life

always remember to limber-up even if it is just baseball you will be playing
This year I have done maybe my best job of ignoring spring training ever, especially if you consider the extent to which the Toronto Blue Jays are actually totally interesting even to the non-partisan, and are entirely worth paying attention to, or as worth paying attention to as any baseball team is worth paying attention to in spring training (which, again, to me, is basically not at all ever). It occurs to me just now that perhaps my indifference to spring training is not entirely unrelated to my profound disinterest in prospects, in that spring training itself is largely a study of prospects, sure, but also in that spring training is pretty much the prospect of the season. Unless you are a regular season baseball player playing in a regular season baseball game I am sorry but my uncommonly burdensome and involving duties and responsibilities preclude the possibility of me being baseball interested in you in the slightest, for which, again, I apologize but this is how it must be for me and indeed for us both

But after Matt reminded me that holy shit baseball starts this weekend (also Game of Thrones, a subject in which I have attained expertise through arduous study that cut pretty directly into my Baseball Mogul time now that I reflect on the shape of my life and experiences over the last year), I went to the MLB site and looked at the probable starters for the first three Blue Jays games, and it was like, holy smokes, all that stuff that happened this winter totally actually totally happened, because it's gonna be R. A. Dickey, Brandon Morrow, Mark Buehrle, and then Josh Johnson (and well OK fine sure also J. A. Happ a little). But what the fuck, right? Like, obviously I was aware of everything that was going on as it was going on, but it is worth noting, I think, that this is real and everything. 

It was somewhat discouraging that the once most boss-like Ricky Romero got sent most thoroughly down, all the way to Dunedin, but man he was brutal last year so what else can you do? As everyone has already totally noted, this isn't really like Roy Halladay going all the way down to change his arm slot and return to the majors as one of the best pitchers of his generation, because Romero is not a kid anymore, and it's nothing major like that they're going to try to switch up with him; they would just like it if he could figure out how to not be awful at pitching, and I sympathize with that, because I got fairly tall fairly quickly when I was a kid and so could throw pretty hard relative to my age for a while there and spent a lot of time on the mound even though I pretty much walked people, hit them inadvertently (but savagely) on the inside of the back ankle, and, when there was no more room on the bases, served up arrow-straight 40-MPH horseshit that got jacked into the woods. Pitching is crazy hard and as much as one's heart goes out to any of these guys (and it does a little sometimes; let us not front, not here, not to each other) my heart goes out to dudes who just lose it out there and can never find it. It's sad to watch. 

So usually I would be gutted by that but who the hell cares really R. A. Dickey is gonna knuckleball people the fuck out in this the 2013 Toronto Blue Jays Championship Season! Everybody else in the A.L. East is totally dodgy! The Red Sox are such a shambles I heard they are lowering beer prices! There is no way the Orioles do anything at all like they managed last year! The Yankees are kind of shit now which means they will only win like 88 games instead of 90-something! The Rays are actually probably totally going to be good aren't they I just kind of remembered that now! And the A.L. West teams will have a crazy advantage for the wild card this year because they'll all be wailing on the Astros this year won't they! I am still excited though because Jose Bautista is going to hit like eighty home runs and also there are new guys! 

Yours in baseball and of course also feelings,

KS