It’s nothing personal. Really. Halos fans are cool. And when I lived in SoCal, one of my favorite things to do was head on down to the Big A. But this has nothing to do with the Angels or their fans and everything to do with her.
I am over her. I am. We had our good times, and yeah, she broke my heart into a bazillion little pieces, but it’s over now. I’ve been over it.
For a while now.
It’s just that running into her during the playoffs — seeing how shiny and beautiful and happy she is with another man — well, just the idea of it happening like that so fast makes me want to puke. And while I’m sure there will be a time when seeing her prosper will not make me dizzy with envy, that time is not now.
But having immensely enjoyed the 30th Olympiad from London thus far, the truth is, I don’t miss it at all. In fact, if I want to watch the best baseball in the entire world, I just flip over to any of the 15 games being broadcast on my DirectTV Extra Innings package (do I get a credit for that plug?).
And really, that’s the only reason needed for not including baseball as an Olympic sport. Remember how excruciating it used to be watching Olympic basketball without the finest athletes in the world participating? And that’s in a sport lucky enough to have worldwide appeal. Sure, we US Americans love our baseball, but the truth is, outside of Japan and a few pockets of Canadian air, the rest of the world could care less.
In fact, unless you grow up around the game of baseball, it’s pretty darn impossible to learn the rules of the game. Believe me, during my four years in China, I tried like crazy to teach it to anyone who would listen. But after a few hours of mass confusion, people tended to pretend they had to be somewhere, anywhere, just to get away from the crazy white guy wielding a stick and three different leather gloves.
Honestly, a professional-less international baseball tournament would be a pretty boring affair. The World Baseball Classic already features the best of the best, and even that has proven to be an extremely hard sell.
What makes the Olympic games so appealing, to me, is that it really is a celebration of glory. The absolute greatest athletes in their respective sports, from LeBron James to Roger Federer, Mary Keitany to Usain Bolt and hundreds more in between, all come to the same place, and the world is watching.
Albert Pujols ain’t gonna show up. Neither is Derek Jeter nor any other Major League Baseballer. And even if they did, the world wouldn’t care.
IOC Chairman Jacque Rogge’s original statement to MLB columnist Mark Newman sums it up pretty well:
“To be on the Olympic program is an issue where you need universality as much as possible. You need to have a sport with a following, you need to have the best players and you need to be in strict compliance with WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency). And these are the qualifications that have to be met. When you have all that, you have to win hearts. You can win the mind, but you still must win hearts.”
Oh yeah, then there’s that whole juicing thing…
Hate me ‘cuz I’m cool with the Olympics as is, just don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.
Sports Illustrated‘s annual Fortune 50 list of the 50 highest-earning American athletes list is out and Major League Baseball is heavily represented. In fact, 36% of the athletes are baseballers — some better than others (looking at you, Barry Zito). And while I’m sad to see an star like Floyd Mayweather, Jr at the top, one who eschews real glory at the highest level for a comfortable place atop boxing mediocrity, I am glad that baseball players are makin’ that pay-puh. It makes me feel less suicidal when I pay $8 for a 16 oz beer.
Here’s a quick rundown of the highest paid American baseball players and their overall ranking among American athletes in parenthesis.
1. Alex Rodriguez (6)
Too bad for the Yankees A-Rod can’t be young and steroided like the good old days. His health is just going downhill from here.
2. Derek Jeter (9)
He can do no wrong. I would pay this man a bazillion dollars a year if I could. And since Albert left me, I have no problems admitting my 17-year Jeet man-crush.
3. Joe Mauer (12)
Really? 12th highest paid American athlete overall and third highest Major Leaguer? I would feel better about this if he could hit it over the Target Field fence once in a while.
4. Vernon Wells (17)
PSSSHH!!!! I just ruined my keyboard with a mouthful of coffee.
5. C.C. Sabathia (20)
Mo’ money, mo’ foooooooooooooooooood!
6. Mark Teixeira (21)
Nothing says $23 million a year like a YEEE-HAW JAW!
7. Prince Fielder (22)
I have a feeling if I make one more Prince Fielder fat joke then I’m going to be… eaten…
8. Adrian Gonzalez (25)
He may have lost his power stroke, but with $21 million a year I’m sure he’s strokin’ plenty of power.
9. Justin Verlander (28)
A man’s man, I would prefer to see Verlander at the very top of this list, or at the very least, have the opportunity to rifle a fastball at Mayweather’s head.
10. Cliff Lee (29)
Way to go, Phillies. You’re making Clifton Phifer look bad.
11. Ryan Howard (32)
While many of my Cardinal fan brethren choose to hate on Albert, I prefer to hate on Howard, the man who made signing Albert impossible.
12. Roy Halladay (35)
Way to go, Phillies. You bring in the best pitcher in baseball to get you over the hump then s*** the bed three years in a row.
13, 14, 15. Barry Zito, Carl Crawford, Albert Pujols (Tied for 36 overall)
One of these things is not like the other…
16. Josh Beckett (44)
Is it me or has he gained like 40 pounds since he was traded to the Red Sox?
17. Jake Peavy (45)
Up until this year, I thought dude was done. Yes, the crow I’ve been eating tastes bad.
18. A.J. Burnett (49)
Huh? How did A.J. get on this list? I’d like to know the same. He should’ve signed two contracts, one for each of his personalities. At least he’s been living up to it ever since his worst day ever.
Hate me ‘cuz I didn’t make the list, just don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right!
Here’s an idea that will never become reality, but just for fun, let’s think about it.
Albert Pujols, while somewhat showing glimpses of his old self, is on pace to hit 15 homers and drive in 70-some RBIs — a whole lot less than the Halos thought they’d get from a a man making $24 million a year… FOR THE NEXT TEN YEARS.
And how about the $20 million a year the Red Sox are paying Carl Crawford… FOR THE NEXT SIX YEARS. Good thing Theo got out of town!
Of course, Theo already knows, you don’t have to go outside of Chicago to find a big, fat pile of head-scratching contracts. Alfonso Soriano and Carlos Zambrano (yep, sCrUBBIES are still payin’ the bulk of that awful) are the most high profile, but until this year, the Dunn, Peavy and Rios contracts made Kenny Williams one of the south side’s most hated.
If only front offices could act like the rest of the planet when it comes to doling out large sums on a contract basis, perhaps they could save themselves years of embarrassment and avoid the ear-piercing “we’re in rebuilding mode” verbiage.
The truth is, when money is on the line, pro athletes perform better. Consider the beyond stellar starts of Andre Ethier, Josh Hamilton, Mike Napoli, Kyle Lohse, Jake Peavy, Zack Greinke and many, many more. The one thing these fellas all have in common is… THEY’RE IN CONTRACT YEARS!
If your paycheck is on the line, you try harder. This is FACT. But if you have the means to fall back on (Albert, Carl, et al.) and you have no pressure to git ‘er done ‘cuz you already got BAZILLIONS in the bank, what incentive is their to be the superstar you’ve always been? I don’t care how bad@ss you are, the trend in performance speaks loudly: once a player reaches his monetary apex, he regresses.
There’s nothing wrong with paying a dude $25 million a year if he puts up $25 million a year numbers. So why not reward those who do and save money (and face) by doing it on a year-to-year basis?
In the real world, if you underperform, you’re gone. Period.
In the baseball world, the $100 million contract rarely works for both sides, yet teams keep handing them out; and then they wonder why there is backlash from the fans, media and baseball-politico bloggers who think very highly of themselves.
Don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.
Over the years, I have fawned over several accounts in order to make SUPER-HAPPY-FUN TIME. Coco Crisp’s was golden. Barry Zito’s was embarrassing (before he blocked me from talking to him). And I’ve probably cried more laughing at the hilarity of Fake Ned Yost than I have all the times I’ve watched Braveheart combined (stop judging me).
But these days there’s a new mang in town (somewhere along I-5 between Los Anaheim and Orange Angeles County).
BEHOLD: ANAHEIM ALBERT!
He waxes on performance:
Hey Angel fangs, I have a friend who mightwant to know how to cork a bat. Is for a friend. You guys dont know him. Let me know…Is not me
— A. Pujols (@AnaheimAlbert) May 1, 2012
Dee dee call last night ang said AJ beng going round school telling kids that his dad is Matt Carpenter. Who the hell is Matt Carpenter?
— A. Pujols (@AnaheimAlbert) May 4, 2012
Dee Dee says the Sang Luis Dick’s Sports selling my Cards shirts for $1.99She thinks they making fun of my batting average.199? I wish!
— A. Pujols (@AnaheimAlbert) May 9, 2012
Compares himself to others:
You stupid Cards fangs cant compare me ang Carlos Beltran.He gets to bat right handed ANG left handed.
— A. Pujols (@AnaheimAlbert) May 9, 2012
Today, God was like “Hey Albert, Ing ready for you to hit a home rung…but first, I want you to look stupid striking out”. And so it was.
— A. Pujols (@AnaheimAlbert) May 7, 2012
Just heard about Josh Hamilton….Someonge should tell him dat nobody likes a show off.
— A. Pujols (@AnaheimAlbert) May 9, 2012
And provides sultry details to his odd albeit professional relationship with his agent Dan Lozano:
Back at Dan Lozano’s house. Blood, trash, Broken bottles. Dan sleeping. Two girls passed out ong couch. Starting to think Dan skipped church
— A. Pujols (@AnaheimAlbert) April 30, 2012
Lozano was sleeping on da driveway wheng I left da house today.
— A. Pujols (@AnaheimAlbert) May 6, 2012
Dan Lozano ang the house keeper throwing a Cinco party today. Donkeys, chickens, gunshots. Take me back to the Scott Spezio days. Crazy shit
— A. Pujols (@AnaheimAlbert) May 6, 2012
Extra mad points for that Scott Spiezio reference. He’s another man whose heroics are shared by both Halos fans and Redbird Nation.
Speaking of Spiezio, where’s my scotch… and the strippers??? ALBERT!!!!
Hate me ‘cuz I made you L-O-L, just don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.
I had a dream. In this dream, I negotiated a contract where I would be paid beyond my useful years for doing absolutely nothing at all. Once any talent I had was completely gone, instead of living off my pension or social security, I would get paid a ridiculously large sum of money for my “personal services,” but only if I chose to accept it. I mean, you never know. It’s possible I wouldn’t want a million dollars a year and would say “no,” right?
But it was only a dream because MLB has set the precedent and there will be no more of the clauses that made Ryan Zimmerman and Albert Pujols very happy men. No bathing in champagne for me. No private islands in the Caribbean bought with my personal services clause.
No, I’ll have to chase my dreams elsewhere. Here, for instance.
April counts, yo! And here are some reasons why, after just one month into the season, I’m as jazzed as Mitt Romney during a temple garment clearance sale!
The Oriole Way
I am old enough to remember the Orioles being a staple of sound, fundamental baseball. And though those days seemed to disappear into Jeffrey Maier’s malicious mitt, it looks like they may be back! Let’s hope they are back to stay.
The AL Central
The Tigers are going to run away with the division you say? Not so fast. I know it’s only been one month, but the White Sox and Indians are right there with ’em, and unless the Tigers start putting a hurtin’ on the opposition instead of Jewish folks at a New York hotel, things could get interesting.
Love him or hate him, he makes things interesting. And oh how interesting things have been for the Boston Red Sox. I LOVE IT!!! The NBA may have all the drama, but when every day could be your last as a Red Sox, I start craving chicken, beer and video games.
The Pujols-less Cardinals
I’m not gonna bask in AP’s struggles, but I am gonna point out that the Cardinals have yet to lose a series (except that one against the Cubs where they were gifted a win by the umpiring crew). Onwards and upwards!
The AL West
Have you seen a Rangers game lately? I’ve been watching them almost every day! THAT’S how ya git’er done, folks. Meanwhile, the Halos are as nervous as Rick Santorum at a Santorum Party! As the Yankees and Red Sox learned before them, a bazillion dollars worth of free agent signings does NOT a champion make.
The Toronto Blue Jays
Not only do their uniforms look right again, but they’re also making the AL East insanely good! If only they could make Colby Rasmus less whiny.
The Youth Movement
I remember the excitement involved with Ken Griffey Jr. breaking into the league. Chipper Jones too. Now that Bryce Harper and Mike Trout have made their debuts, a similar buzz is in the baseball air. Throw in a slew of sophomores and third year players making headlines and baseball looks to be badass for a very long time.
The Year of the Pitcher enters its THIRD year and I couldn’t be more excited! As a self-confessed pitchers duel fiend, I live off serious heat, nasty breaking balls and backdoor sliders. We’ve already seen a perfect game and some no-hitter flirtations. But it’s the heroics of Joe Saunders, Kyle Lohse, Colby Lewis and the like that really get my gears greased.
And finally… the most titillating of them all so far…
ADAM. FREAKING. DUNN.
As a longtime resident of the south side of Chicago, the last thing I wanted to do was waste my summer days talking folks down off the ledge like I did last year. But since it appears Dunn sold his 2011 soul to Albert Pujols, I’m free to party my ass off at the fake B-Dubbs on 35th & Halsted. HOLLA!!! And buy me a drink!
Go ahead, hate me ‘cuz I’m easily titillated, just don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right!
It looks like Albert is off to a rough start in LA. Have you caught yourself checking in on him yet?
If you were in the A’s bleacher section, and you could only choose one, would it be bacon or beer?
New Albany, IN
Jeff continuously tells me how engaging the NBA has become. According to him, it’s not just the quality of the professional game, it’s also the personalities and all the drama surrounding them. To use a direct quote, “It’s a goddamn soap opera.”
Baseball, on the other hand, is rather tame. Sure, there are historic villains like Ty Cobb and uplifting stories like Jackie Robinson and Josh Hamilton. But it’s all kind of “Touched by an Angel” while the NBA is more “The Wire.”
The perfect example of this is Jeff Francoeur and his love affair with the Oakland fans. Sure, it’s great that Francoeur has made a personal connection with the fans of another team. But is that really good for baseball? Wouldn’t it be better if Francoeur had left Oakland after coming up with the team and was greeted by a beer shower while trotting along the warning track?
That kind of rancor just doesn’t exist in baseball today. Albert Pujols left behind a city that adored him and although St. Louis fans are heart-broken, most of them still respect Albert and remember him fondly. Johnny Damon not only left the Red Sox, he went to play for their arch-enemy and shaved his beard. Boston fans were upset but they didn’t hate him with the cold intense hatred that Cleveland has for LeBron James.
Maybe it’s because baseball is played in summer and draws families out to watch games together. Maybe it’s the stir-craziness of winter and the 60 minute intensity of a basketball game that creates an aura around the game as a whole. Or maybe baseball just doesn’t have the same type of personalities you find in basketball. Let’s be honest, how often do you hear about a baseball player choking his coach or punching out a fan?
I don’t see that changing. Sure, I’d love to say that if I was one of those fans in Oakland, I’d keep the money and throw the baseball back. The fact is, though, I’d be thrilled to death. And that’s not just because being an A’s fan is even worse than being a Royals fan.
Somebody needs to spice things up a bit, give people a reason to hate. And no, I’m not talking about Milton Bradley, preschool-esque drama. I’m talking pure, LeBron James type anger. I think Francoeur has a golden opportunity to start it off, too, by taking that relationship he has built with the Oakland fans and totally misusing it. In fact, I even have the perfect recipe:
I bet no one would choose a caramel onion.
Have a topic you want to see us Filibuster? Send us your Filibuster questions by emailing RSBSblog@gmail.com or by commenting below.
This has been a traumatic offseason for my good friend Mr. Lung. Not only did Tony LaRussa follow his World Series victory with the news that he was retiring from the team, this same TLR has now shown up in the Detroit Tigers’ camp to assist during spring training. But of course that all pales in comparison to Pujols’ treason. Not to mix too many metaphors but Pujols’ betrayal for the proverbial 30 pieces of silver has left Jeff muttering “Et tu, Albert?”
But there’s good news! It turns out that scientists may soon be able to help Jeff erase those memories (It’s a long article but worth reading) and return to the halcyon days of his 2011 post-Series ecstasy. If that doesn’t work, we can always hope that maybe Albert pulled a Fausto Carmona and won’t be able to perform in an Angels’ jersey. I mean, it could be worse. He could have gone to the Cubs, right? I don’t know if there’s any pill that could have helped with that.