One and a half times. That is how many times I have been able to watch the Brandon McCarthy play where a darting Eric Aybar comebacker destroys the Oakland A’s pitcher’s skull. Holy mother of invisible friends, that hurts.
The first time I saw it my stomach dropped and I got real dizzy. When the replay was shown again — this time in slow-motion — I anticipated the skull crushing but still wasn’t able to get through it. I thought I was going to be sick.
I was sick the first time I saw Clint Malarchuk get his neck sliced by a Steve Tuttle’s skate back in Buffalo too. In fact, I remember asking my dad if it was even real, hoping that the spewing, rhythmical blood staining the ice might be some cute Hollywood trick designed to draw in more fans. Sadly, the situation was quite real.
As was Joe Theismann’s career ending leg snap, courtesy of Lawrence Taylor. Even Homer Simpson had a hard time stomaching that!
The truth is, as much as we enjoy our professional sports, they do carry with them an incalculable element of danger. Even with all that open space in Oakland, a ball can still easily find one’s head. It found Brandon McCarthy’s, and it will find someone else’s too someday. It’s all a part of the game.
Which reminds us that these people we watch and cheer and boo, they’re real people. They bleed too, just like us. And while they may have more zeroes in their bank accounts, they are putting themselves in danger for our enjoyment. I think it’s important to remember that.
A baseball, a skate, a weakside linebacker, they can all become deadly weapons, at any time.
Get well soon, Brandon. And here’s to hoping you get that threesome someday.
Andy Williams had it all wrong. I’m sorry, but I’ll take September’s non-stop MLB pennant chasing + NFL + Notre Dame losing to Michigan combination over cold and snow and fake Santas any day. In fact, since it’s an election year, we get even more drama to go with our Irish-trouncing, and if you wait until the end of this post, you’ll even see that the Republicans have JOKES!
But first thing’s first: TUNE IN TO BASEBALL. My lord, between the AL Central showdown, the A’s/Angels wild card battle and the AL East title three-way, I can’t imagine a more exciting scenario (except maybe a non-baseball related three-way, but that’s for a different blog). Consider the NL wild card race and the fact that one of the three AL East teams could also nab the last AL West wild card spot and now allow your mind to be blown (again, maybe better for another blog).
And I haven’t even mentioned the myriad story lines decorating the start to the NFL and college football seasons!
The fact is, for dudes like Mr. Krause and I, it really doesn’t get much better than this. Unless you want to throw in some flaccid punchline deliveries (ZING!)…
Hate me ‘cuz you can, just don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.
As we enter the beginning of the most exciting time of year (baseball playoffs and football season and an election, oh my!), I think it’s important that we keep in perspective that which brings us the most joy. Sure, hosting a Guinness keg party while dressed in my Yadier Molina jersey flanked by the Shannon twins is pretty much the happiest day of my life (that hasn’t happened yet but might), I still know that even if all that other stuff falls through, I will always have baseball.
And sometimes, within the game of baseball, we can find something much simpler that pushes the happy button. I know a lot of folks have been wrapped up in the admirable and impressive play of Mike Trout. People are just as infatuated with his grace and dominance as I
was am infatuated with Stephen Strasburg and all things Strasmas. It’s the little injections of youthful awesomesauce that often remind us why we love baseball so much. It is a kid’s game after all.
But sometimes waiting for the next big thing isn’t necessary. I have found that out this year by following Coco Crisp very closely. My history with Crisp has been one of hilarity, peppered with some dazzle. And while his offensive numbers may not hypnotize scouts, enough can never be said about how he plays the game.
He plays hard. He plays to win. He’s in on every pitch and he goes balls-to-the-wall. In fact, I have gotten to the point where I’m watching replays of his relay throws and conducting frame-by-frame analysis on his routes to fly balls.
If I could get to Oakland, I’d rather watch Crisp long-toss than Cesepedes take BP.
Okay, so maybe I’m lyin’ a little bit in that last sentence, but one thing is for certain: Coco Crisp’s defensive play is worth focusing on and if you focus long enough, you’re probably going to see something that puts a smile on your face. Maybe even an afro.
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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As we enter the second half the 2012 MLB season, I want to revisit, in my (correct) opinion, the most amazing play of the year thus far. It is a play that should be repeating on every sports highlight reel in existence, but one that, like most things do in Oakland, has evaporated into east bay obscurity.
Ladies and gentlemen, dear readers and Mom, I give you the ASTONISHING, the ASTOUNDING, the AMAZING Covelli Loyce “Coco” Crisp:
Hang a star on that one, baby, ‘cuz that ain’t somethin’ you see every day… or EVER!
So why no love from the worldwide leader in campy schtick? Why did MLB Network not make this THE top play of June? Do they have something against Coco? Something against Oakland?
I understand that this wasn’t a DeWayne Wise “The Catch” type of play — that there was little at stake in this otherwise tame regular season baseball game. But come on. Dude made a sliding catch, then, FROM HIS BUTT rocketed the ball to second to double-up Nelson Cruz, no slouch in his own right.
Maybe it’s just me. Maybe my love for Coco’s crazy is overriding my rationality, causing me to overvalue such Houdinian moves.
Or, maybe the rest of the world is WRONG.
Pretty sure it’s the latter.
Dr. James Andrews and his ground-breaking Tommy John surgical procedure has given many years of service back to Big Leaguers who may have otherwise been forced to retire. It has also provided many extra years of thrills for fans. Without the surgery, we don’t have Strasburg. We don’t have Adam Wainwright. We don’t have A LOT of big time stars.
But, not everyone recovers as planned.
Enter, Joey Devine.
Despite the surname, his career path has been anything but. After a promising 2008 season where he went 6-1 in 42 appearances with a STUNNING .59 ERA, dude got kissed by the angel of shoulder death and was forced to have the highly effective surgery. Unlike most people though, two years later, he still hadn’t recovered properly; and now, in 2012, it appears Mr. Devine has to have Tommy John surgery AGAIN.
If Devine ever makes it back to the Bigs, you bet I’m gonna stand and applaud his every appearance. For the fortitude it must take to stay focused, to battle back against such adversity, would surely require we all do so.
Unfortunately, the current situation doesn’t look good. So I’m gonna pour out some liquor for his career.
Hang in there, Joey Devine. If it makes you feel any better, I know a Cantonese stripper named Joy Yee Divine. So every time I hear your name I chuckle. To myself, of course.
Hate me ‘cuz I make it rain sometimes, just don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.
This Wednesday officially kicks off the 2012 MLB season and even though I’ll probably be fast asleep while it unfolds in the Far East, I’m sure the Japanese will be plenty excited about watching two awful teams compete against one another, especially since there’s at least one Suzuki per nine.
On this side of the pond, we have much, MUCH more to look forward to. In fact, I might need a good tazing before the Cardinals open up in Miami, just so I’m forced to sit down!
Here are some of the things that have me baseball-tweaking:
The GOOD Blue Jays Uniforms Are Back!
Still mesmerized by the awful logo redesign and poor color scheme that killed Joe Carter’s Blue Jays look in 2003, I can’t tell you how happy I am to see the old logo back. And royal blue! No gray! Alongside the Cardinals, Yankees, Dodgers and Red Sox, I gotta say the classic Jays uni is about as smart and sleek as baseball uniforms come.
Grant Balfour Finally Gets to Be a Closer!
The 34-year old Aussie has been quietly waiting in the wings of every team he’s been on and now, finally, the Oakland A’s are giving him a shot at the closer role. I still think closers are overrated, but I like to think that maybe, if Balfour performs well in his new role, he might finally get paid what he’s worth. His numbers are fantastic and most people don’t even know who he is. I’m afraid playing in Oakland won’t help his popularity, but maybe Billy Beane will throw him another peanut. (Also, if you’re wondering, yes, Balfour’s fastball does have an Australian accent.)
I love Bobby Valentine. For myriad reasons. He’s cocky. He’s loud. His feelings get hurt. He’s controversial. He pisses off players, coaches, umpires. And he’s a goddamn baseball genius. HOLLA!!!
Good grief. The dude is gonna be FIFTY this year. FIFTY YEARS OLD. And he’s still gettin’ guys out. I absolutely love that. I love him! How can you not?!?!
And finally… you probably knew this was coming but…
WE ARE CHAMPIONS OF THE WORLD.
Hate me ‘cuz I’m loud, just don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.
That’s why I’m super excited to hear the Cubs rumor-mill sound off on a possible Billy Beane signing as the next Northside GM. Like a sick unempathetic psychopath, I enjoy watching the Cubs die a long, painful death. So bring on the Beane!
The notion that Beane is this magical franchise-saving GM is nothing short of a mirage. If you pick through the mountains of excellent work at PoNY you will find plenty of detailed examples why. But for now, I will just focus on one: during his tenure in Oakland (1998 to present) he hasn’t won anything. And if you’ve paid attention to the Oakland A’s the last five years you’ve probably noticed that those teams have been ATROCIOUS.
Yes, going back some years the A’s captured the AL West Division title four times (2000, 2002, 2003, 2006). But since when does being the best out of four teams and nothing else get you all the accolades of a champion? The dude is a flop! His teams are flops! And his club has no fans! Wait til he has to deal with an angry mob of 40,000 Chicagoans in that dump of a stadium as it shakes back and forth, falling apart!
So, you know what to do, Ricketts… bring on the BEANE! We Cardinal fans are lickin’ our chops!
Don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.
Yeah. Hate me.
Just don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.
I could care less, Mike.
And that’s… sad. Sorta.
To be honest, I’m so over it — all of it… the steroids, the scandals, the lying, the cover-ups, the BALCOs, the blue sweaters. Yes, there comes a time when even extreme baseball purists like myself have no choice but to let…
Because baseball’s numbers will never be the same. Never. Long gone are the days when a digit might suggest greatness. The hallowed marks of achievement died sometime in the late 80s, when a clubhouse party at the Coliseum consisted of needles, juice and dudes gettin’ jacked. They killed it — they murdered the prestige. It’s all dead now. The numbers will never be as important as they were before PEDs, before Barry, before A-Rod.
I’ve finally come to terms with that.
And I’m also happy to say that the desacrilization of baseball’s numbers won’t kill the game.
I used to think it would.
And it won’t.
Which is exactly why baseball is the grandest game on the planet. It has withstood wars, betting scandals, collusion, labor disputes. Its integrity has been challenged. Its image has been smeared. On many occasions, it has even been left for dead.
But it always comes back to life. And it comes back to life bigger, better, stronger.
Hank Aaron. 755.
Roger Maris. 61.
Those are the ones we choose — collectively, as a people, as a community — those are the ones we’ll remember.
The other numbers? I couldn’t tell you how many homeruns Barry Bonds hit in his career. I couldn’t tell you because I don’t care. The public doesn’t care. We don’t care.
And that’s a beautiful sign that baseball has moved on, beyond the numbers; because, let’s face it: sometimes, you just have to move on.
In our case, we are all very lucky, because we get to move on together.
I’m right on that, Mike. Just don’t hate me ‘cuz of it.
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