But if there was, you could be damn sure that A.J. Pierzynski would lead the Major Leagues in all of three of them — every year, all the time.
Late in the White Sox game against the visiting Blue Jays Sunday, the score was tied with two men on base when a Jays batter hit a knuckling dribbler down the third base line. Everyone at Sox Park was thinking the same thing as A.J. while he all-out-hustled after the ball: Let it be foul.
Eventually, the ball found its way over the white lip, into the grass, foul ball. The crowd sighed in harmonious relief.
But instead of simply picking up the ball, Pierzynski, with his glove, slapped it violently towards the home dugout with the type of ferocity more often seen from 1980s era offensive tackles loaded up on juice. He let out a hellacious “ARRRGGGHHH!” then stared down the anxious baserunners with that A.J.’s-gonna-kill-you-in-your-sleep-and-eat-your-children-raw glare.
It was awesome.
Say what you will about A.J. Pierzynski, but with fierceness like that, the dude is an instant and absolute asset to his team. It’s only April and on every single play he’s grinding like it was Game Seven of the World Series — as if his life, his country, his freedom were on the line.
That’s someone I want on my team — if not for his competitiveness, then for his uncanny foray into the wild world of comedy:
Love him or hate him, A.J. is the Polish Prince of Pertinacity. You’d have to kill him to make him go away; and if you do kill him, you still better watch out because I bet zombie A.J. would be much scarier, much more lethal than alive-and-breathing A.J.
Don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.
“The men and women who serve in our battlefields may be Democrats and
Republicans and Independents, but they have fought together and bled
together and some died together under the same proud flag. They have
not served a Red America or a Blue America – they have served the
United States of America.“
— Barack Obama, August 28, 2008
We here at RSBS realize
that we have spent a great amount of time this season in what some
simple-minded individuals might consider exacerbating the divide
between hard working baseball-loving Americans. But let me just clear
the air and say that what they see as divisive, we see as unifying. We do what we have to because we can, we will and most of all: we care. When we see injustices, when we endure the pains of partisanship, hear the cries of the people, we have little choice but to report the truth and expound cautionary messages.
And sometimes we might just piss you off.
Well, not today, folks.
After last night’s call for unifying hope among color and party lines, I have nothing in my heart but love. Apparently, I wasn’t the only one:
as you already know: I’m no idiot. It is painfully clear that John
McCain’s “congratulations on a job well done, Senator” was as smarmy
and spurious as it was preplanned beyond anality. But I’m feeling
splendid today. I’m feeling patriotic. I’m feeling swept up in an
emotional wind of change. I’m ready to reach across the aisle and be
nice to someone for no other reason than to be nice to someone. And
just for today, I want to believe that McCain’s gesture was at least
rooted in good will.
So, here’s my crack at it:
Dear Cub Fans:
have a really great team this year. I’m not just saying that. You
do. Your team has the best record in baseball (at the time of this
publication) and they have what it takes to go a long way on both sides
of the field. The Cubs’ pitching is great. Cubs’ hitting is timely.
Your team has a wise and great leader in Lou. I know I give you a hard
time for the banality of your collective souls, for being obnoxious, for your whining and crying all the time; but hey, I just want to tell you job well done on supporting your team for actually playing well. That’s so good of you.
Dear McCain Campaign:
You did a really cool thing in choosing Sarah Palin as your Vice Presidential nominee.
Job well done. I’m not even going to mention that your whole campaign
platform against Senator Obama revolves around his alleged
‘inexperience’ in politics. And on that note, I won’t bring up the
fact that she has next to no high profile ‘experience’ in
leadership. And believe me, I’m not going to waste time calling this
move what it probably is: a meager attempt to shift focus from the
strong warning shot of change resonating throughout this great land.
Yes, Senator McCain. You really are a maverick. You are awesome.
Dear Yankees Fans:
your team isn’t so hot this year. So what. Jason Giambi’s fashion
statement is pretty cool. Sure, it will never match the infamy of Giambi-on-Juice, but hey, at least it reminds us of one of the greatest Yankees to ever wear the pinstripes, right? Okay, so the Giambi mustache won’t be a classic; but it will be remembered.
And in a season that has a million reasons why you’d want to forget it,
at least Giambi came through in the clutch by taking your mind off all
of your woes, if just for a day.
Dear A.J. Pierzynski Haters:
really admire your persistence and passion for hating one baseball
player so much that you would comment on this blog by using the phrase “AJ P is a piece of crap” (see comments, fourth one from the bottom). That is classy. That is brilliant. And it stands out as a truly mesmerizing use of the English language. Job well done, A.J. haters.
Dear Detroit Tigers:
You guys are doing an awesome job of acting like you still care about
the remainder of the 2008 season. I know that your thoughts are really
on what type of yacht you’ll be purchasing for that winter cruise
around the Venezuelan coast, what with all that money you raked in this season without having to… well, you know, win
games. Believe me, I think I know how hard it is to feign interest in
something that I’d rather not be doing just so I could collect some
dough, so I commend you all for your standout steadfastness in pretend attentiveness. That’s what I call a job well done!
Don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.
White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski will probably never come close to winning an MVP award during his career. His name will never be muttered in the same breath as hall of fame catchers Bench, Berra and Campanella. And due to his fiery — and sometimes ‘dirty’ — style of play, A.J. might never be accepted and/or respected by anyone other than his teammates (if he even gets that much).
But one thing will always be true: A.J. Pierzynski makes things happen.
A.J. is the guy you hate to play against because you never know what type of shenanigans he’s going to pull at any given time; he’s the guy you want on your team, whether you like him or not, and he proved why, yet again, in yesterday’s game against the Tampa Bay Rays.
Having made a bone-headed base-running play, A.J. cleared his mistake by mustering up another Academy Award winning performance when he purposely threw an elbow to Rays third baseman Willy Aybar, creating the illusion that Aybar had somehow obstructed him on the base path. The ump took the bait, called A.J. safe and awarded him third base, which would ultimately lead to the Sox winning the game.
If your eyes work, you’ll clearly see that the ‘obstruction’ in question was a complete fantasy — entirely created by A.J. and A.J. alone in what has now become just another Pierzynski moment that translated into a win. And while seeing the replay does make me feel a little uncomfortable (because it was ‘cheating’ after all) I cannot deny that a win is still a win no mater how it happens. Tongue in cheek, I can’t help but be glad that A.J. is on the Southside.
But if he isn’t on your team; you probably hate him.
And I can see why: He’s a chatter box. He gets under your skin. He throws temper tantrums. He uses the Jedi Mind Trick on susceptible umpiring crews (see 2005 ALCS) and gets away with it. He creates plays out of nothing — and in doing so — is personally responsible for at least two to three fabricated wins every season. When it comes down to a heated battle for a playoff spot, those two to three wins could be the deciding factor in whether you’re playing baseball or golf in October.
Don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.
Ever since the accident (see comments), I’ve been having difficulty focusing my thoughts; but don’t worry. I will still find a way to express them in a brilliant, informative manner as is always expected here at RSBS. I am many things, but a quitter without an opinion I am not.
Picture it: October 2008. The first round of the MLB playoffs are in full stride and not a Red Sox or Yankee is anywhere to be found. Yes. It could happen, folks. For the first time in recent memory, both the Yankees and the Red Sox may find themselves sitting out during the important games. The Rays and Angels look to be locks and it seems that the Twins and White Sox are in a tussle for the other two spots in the AL. I don’t want to get ahead of myself, but it’s hard to dismiss the possibility. Think of the chaos, the madness, the tantrums that would follow. At least emergency rooms in the northeast would be more quiet than usual.
Imagine my horror. Finally over the disappointment of not being able to see Allison Stokke vault her majesty in the Olympic games, I found myself settling on Swedish hurdler Susanna Kallur to satisfy my propensity for body-gazing during female competitions. Yes. My mind was made up. She was going to be the one. And then she knocked down the very first hurdle, fell to the ground and didn’t finish the race, further proving my theory that the combination of beauty and athletic prowess is more rare than me having somewhere to go on a Saturday night.
Envision the face of Barack Obama’s Vice President. Is it male? Female? White? Black? (doubt it) Latino? (double-doubt it) In any case, we should know soon and I have a feeling it will be someone whom we never even thought of. (No, silly, it won’t be me. I’m too busy blogging and raising cain, but thanks for the thought).
Think about it. Wouldn’t that USA/China baseball spat have been more exciting and more newsworthy if some real punches had been thrown? Look, I get it. The Olympics is all about class and sportsmanship but this isn’t the floor exercise we’re talking about here: this is baseball. Our sport. Our way. And we fight. Robin Ventura, Nolan Ryan, Michael Barrett, A.J. Pierzynski… those guys would have tore heads off — they would’ve brought bloody pride to the Red, White and Blue. A knockdown at home plate, some bean balls here and there… jeesh. I was really disappointed.
See the world the way my colleague Allen Krause sees it and see a world that revolves around the wonders and blunders of one irksome Venezuela. Yes, dear readers, I ask the same question you do: What the hell is up with all of these Venezuela posts? This one and this one and this one… I understand that Venezuela is quickly rising the ranks to be the proverbial pebble in US America’s shoe, but come on… Mr. Krause is talking about the degrees of handsomeness between Miguel Cabrera, Magglio Ordonez and Ozzie Guillen. That’s crazy. That’s just plain crazy.
And you know it’s crazy. You know you’ve had enough. And you know there’s no reason to hate me ‘cuz I’m right.
Let’s get something straight, folks. Despite the stigmatic undertones preached by the Dear Abbys of the world, it is perfectly acceptable to attend social events by one’s self. While I wouldn’t recommend showing up alone to your own wedding, taking in a baseball game by yourself is absolutely respectable — cool even. It shows confidence and a maverick persona.
And when Ken Griffey, Jr. — one of the greatest to ever play the game — arrives in your city to play for a team you support and respect (against the dreaded Tigers no less), you show up, with or without company.
I find that going to games by myself allows me to focus more on the game. I don’t have to chitchat, don’t have to get up and get food or beer for anyone; I can simply watch the game. Wholeheartedly.
Doing so causes one to become inexplicably introspective… to be alone with his/her thoughts… to flounder in the ethos that is the grandest game on earth.
And this is what I learned:
Will-Call Kiosks Should Be Open to Those Who Bought WILL-CALL Tickets:
The supposed perk of buying your tickets ahead time is that you don’t have to stand in line with thousands of sweaty, unprepared, drunk Tiger fans. I get to the game early so I can take in the sights, smells, women… to mentally prepare for the magic — not to stand in line for 45 minutes. So, White Sox Ticket Sales Operations Manager: please turn the Ticketmaster kiosks back on.
Everybody Still Hates Magglio Ordonez:
The greatest player who never was while wearing a White Sox jersey, Maggs definitely brings out the boo-birds like no one else. Oh-ee-oh… Maaaaaa-gli-o! Oh-ee-oh… Hope he has security at his hotel (if you want to know what hotel he’s staying in, email me 😉
If You Show Up to a Sox Game in 2008 Wearing an Albert Belle, Ray Durham or Sammy Sosa Jersey, You Are NOT Cool:
Seriously, folks. Let’s be real. And no, a Scott Podsednik jersey is not acceptable either. You want a sure thing? Go for a Hall of Famer or a retired jersey. Baines, Fisk, Minoso, Aparicio. Heck, go for Dye or Jenks right now (in 2008), but buyer beware…
Ken Griffey, Jr. Looks Great in Black Pinstripes:
This photo isn’t the best — that’s what you get for sitting in the upper deck — but trust me. The man looked dapper as dapper could be in his new duds. And the crowd welcomed him with an unconditional electric love. It was something I’ll always remember. It was truly a special moment.
“U.S. Cellular: Believe in something better”
Yeah, I do. It’s called Verizon.
Just Because I Go to the Game by Myself Doesn’t Mean I Want to Listen to the D-Bag Behind Me Lie to His Girlfriend All Night Long:
“Yeah, so I know Minnie Minoso. He’s a good friend of my dad’s. Yeah. We go way back. You heard of Frank Thomas? Yeah, I have his personal cell phone number. Yeah, but it’s in my other phone so yeah… and well, I mean, I know Pudge but he doesn’t like to be bothered so I try not to call him unless it’s important…”
Yeah, sure. You know Minoso, Thomas and Carlton “Pudge” Fisk and yet you’re sitting behind me in the 528 section? Yeah, sure, that’ll get you laid.
Yes, the T-Shirt-Throwing Promotion Girl Looks Hot on the Outside, but Inside She’s the Devil:
That Kyle Farnsworth trade has turned out to be beneficial for every team in the Major Leagues except the Tigers. Grrrr.
Good Things Do Come to Those Who Wait:
After 13 innings, a hoarse voice and cottonmouth, I decided to leave. Of course, in the 14th, Swish won it with a walk-off homer and now I hate myself.
But hey, at least I learned something.
Don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.
There are a lot of things at U.S. Cellular Field (aka The Joan) that have the potential to creep me out: that feeling of loss I get after spending fifty bucks on seven Miller Lites and never catching a buzz; that strange foot tapping from the stall next to me in the men’s room; that chili-cheese nacho induced sleep-stopping jolt of fear at four in the morning. Yeah. Sure. There is no doubt that these situations can freak me out a little bit, but when it comes right down to it, they could just as easily happen in any ballpark in Anywhere, USA.
However, to my knowledge, the good folks at The Joan really do know how to go above and beyond in the ‘creepy’ department. They have proven that they can not only freak out children, but adults as well and force all those in attendance to shake off the willies every time a White Sox batter comes to the plate.
The stands have eyes.
On the lip of the grandstands that wrap around from the left field foul pole, behind home plate, and back out to right, is a thin video board that most parks use for advertising or god forbid: scores, balls and strikes, pitch counts, radar gun, etc. In fact, when the visiting team is hitting, they tend to throw some of those arbitrary numbers up there. But when the Sox are hitting? No way. Why is that?
The stands have eyes.
And it’s not just a photograph of the players’ eyes. No. It’s an approximately sixty second looping video complete with blinks, scowls, crud, tears, whatever. If you want to see the batter’s cheesy press photo, his stats, interesting notes about his childhood, check the center field scoreboard. If you want to get that creepy, icky, dirty feeling of being watched and in the process get distracted from what’s actually happening on the field so that when Thome hits a racing foul ball right towards you (‘cuz he wouldn’t hit one fair) you’re not paying attention, consequently get hit in the orbital socket, bleed out, make a scene and die… then keep looking at those damn eyes.
And just because you’re dead is not an excuse to hate me ‘cuz I’m right…
The friggin’ stands have eyes! Look!
Does Ozzie Guillen get a little nutso sometimes and say things he probably shouldn’t?
Does Ozzie Guillen need to be quarantined from the press after a tough loss (or three)?
But let me tell ya, folks, a world without Ozzie Guillen is just unfathomable. For Southsiders like myself, a Guillen quote is as close a reminder of home as Connie’s Pizza or Ramova’s Grill or a drive-by shooting. And believe me, as much as I am oft to disagree with the psychology of Ozzie’s wild rants, I must admit to finding them oddly soothing and curiously pleasant.
There is definitely something to be said for being in the spotlight and not giving two s**ts what anyone else says or thinks about you, what you say and the way you go about your job. I admire that.
And I’d be a liar if I didn’t admit that Ozzie’s tirades didn’t make me laugh. I only wish my boss was as understanding as Kenny Williams (click *here* for Tribune article). Imagine if I came in to work tomorrow and said: “What? Our summer catalogue isn’t finished yet? Susie Q didn’t set the templates? What? She used that friggin’ Trajan font again for the Chinese neolithic pottery section!?! What do you mean John Doe didn’t translate the bronze inscriptions from running script to seal script!?! I expect the boss-man to do [bleep] something Tuesday, and if we don’t do [bleep] anything Tuesday, there are going to be a lot of [bleep]
changes in this Asian art gallery! The book gallery too! [Bleep] [Bleep] [Bleep] heads will roll!”
On Chicago Cub Rich Hill:
“Who is Hill? That piece of [bleep] who pitched? Michael [Barrett]
realized he was wrong [in punching Pierzynski]. Michael realized he
“But that little [bleep] Hill, he should be in Triple-A. He is going to
make Dusty Baker get fired. Shut up, you just got here in the big
leagues. When you make a comment like that, it was a cheap shot. You
don’t know the game.”
On Jay Mariotti:
“He’s a garbage.He’s always been a garbage.And he will die a garbage.”
On whether his children were involved in the Cubs/Sox brawl in May 2006:
“If my kids were on the field, [they were] going to get [their rear
end] kicked. What’s Ozzie [Jr.] going to do? Eat
somebody. My other one is 20 pounds and the other one is only 14.
“One is a baby, one is too little, another one, the only thing he can do is eat somebody or drink somebody.”
And if that isn’t enough folks, check out this Youtube post featuring a love-filled conversation between AM 670 The Score’s Mike North and Ozzie himself last year. While you listen/watch, realize that sure, Ozzie can be awful but he could always be worse. I mean, he could be Bill O’Reilly or god forbid Howard Dean. In any case, when reviewing this material, you can hate me, you can hate Ozzie, but don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right: the world needs Ozzie Guillen and his lunacy.