Do you believe in the A’s?
Do I believe in the A’s? Do I believe that a team called the A’s plays in Oakland, CA? Yes, I believe that. Do I believe that despite a limited budget and a small market, a team called the A’s not only contended in the early 2000’s but also outperformed most of the American League? Yes, I believe that, too. Do I believe that the 2012 Oakland Athletics, a team currently in 3rd place in its division behind a much improved Angels franchise and a Rangers club that when hitting on all cylinders can torch the rest of baseball, will make the playoffs? Unfortunately I’m going to have go another direction with that one, Rick.
No, in that case I don’t believe in the A’s.
Let’s look at the facts. The A’s pitching staff is 4th overall in ERA, 5th in WHIP and 5th in opponent batting average. Those are all pretty good. But, to win baseball games, you also have to score runs. On that side, the A’s are 28th in runs, 27th in on-base percentage and 25th in slugging. Pitching may win you championships but if you can’t back up that pitching, you’re never going to make it to the championship. Add in that half of the rest of the A’s schedule is made up of the Yankees, the Red Sox, the Angels, the Rangers and the Tigers, well, that doesn’t bode so well. Even the easier part of the schedule involves the Rays, the Orioles and the White Sox. About the only break the A’s get are series against the Mariners, Twins and Royals. That’s not exactly promising.
I like the A’s. I always have. One of the fondest memories of my childhood was seeing the Tony LaRussa managed A’s at Tiger stadium. But this team is light years away from being at the same level as the team that featured Rickey Henderson, Jose Canseco and Dennis Eckersley.
So, do I believe in the A’s? I guess on that one, you’d have to consider me an atheist. If they keep winning games, though, check back in and maybe I’ll have gone agnostic.
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There was a time when I thought I would become a painter. I had never painted anything. I was modestly talented at drawing with pencil and paper; but I went to a glitzy art show, which inspired me to buy a basic painting kit and suddenly I had delusions of grandeur.
Except for one little problem: I sucked at painting.
So I quit.
But sometimes, we can’t always quit the things we’re not good at. Carlos Lee is really good at hitting home runs. Playing defense? Not so much. But El Caballo plays for the Houston Astros, in the National League (I know, I know, hello sweet irony), so if he’s gonna hit bombs, he’s gonna have to fiddle around with a glove on his hand too.
For now anyway.
But that’s not all that Carlos is good at. Apparently he’s also quite good at sharing his name. In fact, he has two sons, Carlos and Karlos. He has a daughter named Karla. He also has a brother named… yep, you guessed it, Carlos.
Stick with what you know.
And don’t hate me. ‘Cuz I’m right.
“This is what happens when you leave home. You meet… people.”
Men, are you moody? Are you out of shape? Do your testicles feel weird? Of course they do. The Astros are leaving the National League and you miss them already.
Ladies, how are you doing? Are you okay? Is that new Lifestyles vibration machine doing enough to distract you from the tragedy of losing the Astros to the evils of the American League?
I understand. The Astros are packing their bags and their Shetland ponies are moving to the coast of west. From the National League to Africa to Turkey all the way to the American League. Don’t they know they’re moving from the farmhouse to the militia camp? They’re going on a pilgrimage, I guess. But, what I really want to know is…
Who’s gonna clean up all this crap when they leave?
This is a great chance for them to leave cornpone Texas all together and get a new start. Why stay in the Orange Juice Box, with that train and that moat? They might as well have a gator pit in left field complete with a Cloverfield monster. And what’s that weird uphill thing they got in centerfield? And what exactly are the Crawford Boxes? And those odd horsey fans who follow caballo Carlos Lee everywhere he goes… are the buzzy bees coming too? And who’s gonna take over the used book sale Drayton McLane held every year to raise money to bring back Roger Clemens?
Meanwhile, on a much sadder note, because of this whole league switch it looks like I’ll have to sell my timeshare in Houston. I’ll definitely miss the hot southern belles who I would lie to my friends about sleeping with when I was actually spending the weekend watching the Cubs.
Good luck, Asteroids. Good night, my friends. It’s off to the west for thee…
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Can you believe we’re almost done with the 2011 season and I’ve hardly made any jokes about the Houston Astros? I know. I’m sorry, dear readers. I dropped the ball. Chalk it up as an E on your scorecard, boo like Mets fans and throw beer on me as I walk off the field.
It’s just… I have a real hard time picking on those who cannot defend themselves. But that doesn’t mean I don’t care about them. I do. Sorta. I mean, you think it’s easy for me to NOT make fun of the LOLstros?
IT’S EXTREMELY DIFFICULT!!!
But, to prove how much I care, I’ve prepared a small advisory to-do list of things that should get them on track so that I can once again slam their mere existence:
1. Bring Craig Biggio out of retirement
Most people wouldn’t recognize a single name in the LOLstros lineup. Also, 100 losses in a season isn’t just bad, it’s embarrassing. I gotta think that an old, wobbly Craig Biggio would at least will them under 100 losses. If nothing else, he could go to the dish and take an HBP to get on base, just like the old days.
2. Move to the American League
Oh yeah. Already happening.
3. Woo Nolan Ryan away from the Rangers
Have you seen what Ryan has done with the Rangers? And to think, the Rangers used to be the laughingstock of Texas baseball.
4. Draft this kid:
5. Officially change their name to the “LOLstros”
The space program is dead yo, and in the internet age, nothing is as catchy as a memey acronym that makes folks smile without even thinking about it.
See! You’re LOLing right now!
Don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.
The world moves faster now than it did just decade ago. In fact, while writing that last sentence, I lost two bets, texted a girl without using my fingers and imagined an elaborate Broadway staging of my favorite Bukowski quote.
So naturally, it would be easy to miss out on some important informational nuggets throughout the day. But do not fear. The RSBS interns have been hard at work to bring you these five things you NEED to know NOW:
1. Rick Perry Is Insane
You didn’t have to watch the *YAWN* GOP debate last night to know that. All you need to know is that he truly believes setting aside an entire day for his state leaders to focus on talking to their imaginary friend is an acceptable way of tackling Texas’ problems. Um… please, someone tell me that being “delusional” makes one unelectable in a general election???
2. MLB Playoff Changes Are a Comin’
If today was September 8, 2012, the Cardinals, Giants and Rays would all still be fighting like hobos for the last drop of playoff wine. Generally speaking, I don’t like change; but to be fair, this seems imminent and fitting. I give it my blessing. VOILA!
3. Mr. Krause’s Retort Is Weak
In his most recent attempt to derail my celebratory allegiance to Liberty, he wrote: “I don’t have time to go back and correct all of his logical and factual fallacies one by one,” which is Big Government Liberal speak for: “I don’t know how to slip that dude’s jab-jab-right hook-left cross combination so let me try and talk around it.” Just sayin’!
4. John Smoltz Is Awesome… At Everything
He was a bad@$$ mound maestro during his playing days. He also was/is one hell of a golfer — good enough to, at one point, even consider going pro. And after listening to him in the broadcast booth as the color commentator on an entire season’s worth of games, I gotta say: Smoltz is one hell of a broadcaster. With a Hall of Fame baseball acumen, superior poise and uncanny timing, he definitely warrants kicking Tim McCarver’s dusty rump aside.
5. The Astros Will Be Going to the American League
Don’t worry. No one will probably even notice.
Don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.
And so in this Podcast brought to you by Lifestyles…
After a rough night of Pirate inspired debauchery, Jeff and Johanna clear the cobwebs (and police reports) to make room for special guest, Paul Lebowitz. It doesn’t take long for them to get riled up as they touch on the evil FOX chimera Joe McCarver, Clint Hurdle’s Pirates, the White Sox’s diamond impotence and much, much more!
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Recorded Saturday, July 16, 2011
When an American League baseball team plays in a National League park, the pitcher bats. We don’t question this, even if we are die-hard fans of the designated hitter. It’s tradition and respect. Similarly, if I decide to head to Alabama or Arkansas, I know that I’m going to get weird looks if I ask for a soda or a pop. It’s perfectly appropriate and so much easier to just ask for a coke and then name my flavor.
So, the question is, if so much of American culture is based on reverence for tradition and institutions, why is there such an uproar over our ultimate representative respecting those same institutions in other countries?
Now, I’ll be the first to admit that it wasn’t the most graceful bow ever. But, by the same token, have you ever watched an American League pitcher try to hit? Yeah, for a highly trained and highly paid athlete it sure isn’t pretty. But it’s part of the respect that one league pays the other in baseball.
Listen conspiracy mongers, here’s how it breaks down. There’s nothing
wrong with being respectful of other countries and cultures. In fact,
if the people planning the invasion of Iraq would have known the first
thing about the culture and people in that country, we wouldn’t be
dealing with nearly 4,300 American lives lost and over 30,000 wounded.
Those who like to chatter in the blogosphere will continue to make a big deal of this incident and the right-wing pundits are enjoying every second of it. But if we took enough time to think about and respect the traditions of other countries as much as we respect who bats ninth in a National League ballpark, maybe this wouldn’t be what the world thinks all Americans are like:
–Photo from http://www.newser.com
It’s that time of year again. October, when football has started, hockey is probably being played somewhere in Canada and the WNBA season is over. Assuming there’s still a WNBA. Anyway, all that aside, October is also notable for being the only month when it is worth visiting the state of Michigan and for the glorious event known as the MLB playoffs. And in honor of those playoffs, even though I’m a day late, it’s time to dust off another time honored tradition and bring you my second annual Post-Partisan Playoff Preview: TV pundit edition.
After starting with the American League last year, I felt it only fair to begin with the National League this time around. That’s right, the National League, the right-leaning denizens of Major League baseball. Their’s is a more conservative style of play, well suited to the talking heads who avail themselves on Fox News at any and all hours of the day. Designated hitter? No, thank you. We like having an automatic out every 9 batters. Home runs? Nah, we prefer letting our guys linger on base. Government intervention? Only when it helps out our stock portfolios.
And in this fray, we begin with the defending champion Philadelphia Phillies, our Rush Limbaugh. Still the undisputed champion, just like Rush, the Phillies have been showing the cracks that come with age and being at the top for so long. The Oxycontin that is Brad Lidge could spell the end for the Phils when it comes to close games but there’s no doubt that they’ll move on from the first round.
And the main reason they’ll move on is because they’re face to face with the Glenn Beck of the NL playoffs, the Colorado Rockies. No one is denying that they’ve got star quality but both Glenn and the Rockies are missing something. For Glenn, maybe it’s those tears or the fact that he can’t spell. For the Rockies, maybe it’s that they never seem to be able to play well until it’s almost too late. But either way, they’ll both continue playing second fiddle to the guys above them.
Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Dodgers are almost as slick as their preview stand-in, Bill O’Reilly. Show him the facts and he’ll show you something completely unrelated. Everything is tangential in “The No-Spin Zone” and tangential is a great way to describe how the Dodgers play. 15 game lead? Hm, maybe we can get one of our guys suspended for 50 games and play like we’re all on Ambien to tighten this thing up. But at the end of the day, they get the job done. And whether you like it or not, there’s too much talent there to be ignored.
And that’s why we bid adieu in the first round to our Sean Hannity, the St. Louis Cardinals. Things are pretty easy when you’re beating up on a guy like Alan Colmes, you know, kind of like playing in the NL Central this year. But when the chips are down, good luck against real competition.
On the other side, the American League, things sort out a little bit more easily. There are those who belong and those who just make you sit up and go “hm?” The National League has definitely been ascendant the last few years, winning 2 out of the last 3 World Series but the American League has a stranglehold on the All-Star Game. Whatever that’s worth.
On this side, we start at the bottom, with the Alan Colmes of the the American League, the AL Central champion Minnesota Twins! Really, you’re not excited either? Yeah, it’s pretty hard to get excited about someone who snivels in the corner while getting the snot beat out of them. No one likes a bully but no one really likes the guy who’s bleeding all over after getting beat up by the bully either. Ladies and gentlemen, your 2009 Minnesota Twins!
Out west we check in with the Los Angeles Angels (of Anaheim) as they do their best Rachel Maddow impression. It’s not that anyone dislikes the Angels (or Maddow) or that they wish them ill. It’s just more that they don’t matter. Kind of like the AL West and MSNBC.
And the reason they don’t matter is because they’re going to get beat by our Wolf Blitzer, the Boston Red Sox (of Boston). Although maybe not a pundit in the traditional sense, Wolf does manage to insert his personal views into the conversation. And he sure does espouse a righteous anger when explaining how CNN is the only network you can trust. But it’s just a lot of noise from someone who used to matter and really doesn’t so much anymore. Yep, kind of like the Boston Red Sox.
Which only leaves us with the flatulent faded glory of our Larry King doppleganger, the New York Yankees. You know what, we’ve won 26 championships so what do you know? Hey, I’ve been on TV since it was invented so what do you know? They both have an excuse but something smells a little funky. Which isn’t to say that they can’t get nasty from time to time. Best to give them a wide berth.
And this brings us to the answers you have all been seeking. I’d love to see Hannity and Colmes reunited in the World Series but since they both go down in the first round, that’s going to be kind of hard. Instead, Bill O’Reilly finally claims the coveted conservative mantle from Rush as the Dodgers avenge last year’s loss and knock off the Phillies in the League Championship Series. Meanwhile, Wolf and Larry make it an all CNN final in the American League as the Yankees square off against the Red Sox. And, true to form, the Yankees
win the pennant.
But, the way things stand in the world today, even with a Democrat in the White House and a Democratic majority in both houses of Congress, the left leaning punditocracy just can’t hang in there against the overpowering noise of the right wingers. And as left coast meets right in a broadcast and advertising orgasm, the old Yankee manager knocks off the new one. Just make sure you don’t miss the inevitable sucker punch because when the pundit-o-sphere is involved, you can be sure it’s coming.
Besides Chinatown flea markets and the out-of-this-world chili at Ramova Grill, the best part about living on the Southside of Chicago is having the White Sox play in my own backyard.
Because as a Cardinals fan far removed from my old Busch Stadium stomping grounds, I know I can always find good, learned, baseball-lovin’ folk at New Comiskey (only newbies and yuppies call it The Cell — so I’m told).
And on Monday night, Southsiders came out to the park in droves. It was hot. It was humid. The rain was coming down hard. But Mark Buehrle was on the mound and it’s no secret that White Sox fans love them some Mark Buehrle. Over 36,000 people came out to see him duel the Royals’ Brian Bannister… yes, 36,000! On a Monday night. With an hour long rain delayed start. Against the Royals.
Now that, dear readers, is some serious dedication.
Perhaps the influx of fans was due to the high hopes of a pitcher’s duel.
Well, we didn’t get it.
‘Cuz when Yuniesky Betancourt goes yard, you know the pitching ain’t so great.
Indeed, it was a back and forth battle throughout, until the Sox broke it open in the 7th inning and appeared to have the game in hand.
But Scott Linebrink seemed focused on tempting the Royals’ scouts, who seem to go after the poorest of performers. Yes, Linebrink’s Kyle Farnsworth impression was brilliantly played by blowing a 3 run lead in the 8th on a Mike Jacobs rocket launch over the right field wall.
Fade to black?
Not so fast. Alex Rios walked to start the bottom of the 8th. Scott Podsednik continued his 2005 renaissance with a go-ahead run-scoring double… and then later Ozzie Guillen brought in the Fat Man to seal the deal.
Sure, it was a great game and all… but the whole time I couldn’t take my eyes off the guy sitting in front of me:
Don’t hate ’em ‘cuz they’re right.
Don’t believe me? Just ask Kevin Gregg.
Old defensive liability power hitters who strikeout 150+ times a year and can’t hang in the National League should retire.
And yes, perhaps players should go back to wool uniforms (‘cuz when you’re itchy, you play with an edge).
Verily! The Gospel according to Jeff hath been spoken.
With that, I virtually extend my hand through the interwebs and take that of my calloused and oft misguided colleague, Mr. Krause. Indeed, I accept his dubious (and ultimately self-deprecating) proposal knowing full well that victory is in my near future.
And, since we’ve opened up the Gospel, let it also be known that:
The closer is the most overrated role in baseball.
And Albert Pujols is the only man who could make me gay.
Wait, did I just say that?
Don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.