Opening Day saw some pretty spectacular bullpen meltdowns. But what
does it say about the game that teams have become so reliant on the
bullpen that relievers can pretty much make or break a season? Have
pitchers gotten soft?
*Breaks window, jumps from the second story, runs down the street screaming even though forgot pants*
Believe me, Mr. Jake, I am really trying to tackle this one without any bias, without any memory of Opening Day in the ‘Lou, without a mammoth-sized chip on my shoulder. But let’s be honest: in baseball, there isn’t much worse than watching your team dominate throughout a game, only to blow it all in the 9th when the win is on the line.
My Redbirds managed to do that on Opening Day. The Brewers did too (all credit goes to John Axford). The Mets ran into it last night with Jail-Rod’s shenanigans (Also, his unfettered desire to fight people proves that pitchers — at least this one — have not gotten “soft”… unless the pitcher’s name is Kyle Farnsworth). Hell, ask the 2010 Baltimore Orioles… they know all about losing games late considering they blew more games last year than Lil Kim did Bad Boys in the 90s.
But what does it say about the game that teams have become so reliant on the bullpen that relievers can pretty much make or break a season? Gee, I’m not sure it’s really come to that. The ’08 Cardinals were pretty awful, as I remember the bullpen yacking up over 25 games late… but, after giving it the old eye test, I’m not sure it’s really fair to say that the state of Major League bullpens is any different than it has been in years past. You either have a good one, a mediocre one, or a bad one.
And even when you have a bad one, that doesn’t necessarily spell gloom and doom for one’s team. 2009 Brad Lidge comes to mind; my pedestrian and oft frightened colleague, Mr. Krause probably could’ve done a better job on the hill than Lidge that season, but the Phillies still managed to grind their way to the World Series.
Unfortunately, these days, the role of a “closer” and “set-up man” and “7th inning guy” has been magnified because of money. The more money involved, the more pressure. The more pressure, the fewer who can actually deal with it.
In fact, for my money, there’s only one closer who is reliable every single day and that man’s name is Mariano Rivera. I think the Yankees could realistically state that their season might rely on Mo’s cutters; but then again, their set-up man saved 40+ last year. And, oh yeah, their all-star lineup doesn’t hurt either.
But for the other 29 teams, yeah, it could be a problem. But when your team is in flux — featuring an unsigned future Hall of Famer, a sidelined perennial Cy Young contender, and an All-Star outfielder absent because of an appendectomy — then you got more problems than you can actually stomach right now. The bullpen is just one of many.
Don’t hate me. ‘Cuz I’m right.
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Jeff & Al
Guys, the season is starting in a few days and I still haven’t seen an
honest to god prediction out of you yet. What do you think? Is there
anyone who can keep the Yankees from repeating?
We haven’t made any predictions yet? Oh yeah, I guess predicting that the Detroit Tigers will suck this year isn’t really a prediction, it’s just a known fact. Considering that it is that time of year when everyone is making some sort of bold statement as to who is gonna win and who isn’t, I think you’re right, Lee. It is time for RSBS to jump into the prognostication pool (that sounds like something one would find in Vegas) and so we do as only we at RSBS (I, Jeff, not Al ‘cuz he’s a slacker) know how.
(subliminal messages start now)
Compared to its AL counterpart, this division isn’t quite the sexy beast it used to be. The team to beat is the Phillies; and while the Mets look to give a better effort than last year if healthy while the Braves and Marlins lurk behind with plenty of potential, I still don’t see how the Phillies can lose this division. Oh wait. Yes I can; his name is Brad Lidge.
Yet I think the Phils still win it. Ya can’t get much worse than Lidge was last year and they still won the league.
Come now, is there really any competition here? Yeah, sure the Brewers can bop with the best of them but have you seen their pitching staff? Exactly. The sCrUBS? Er…. no. The Astros? Stop playin’. The Pirates? The Pirates!?!? Ha! The only team in this division who might give the Cardinals a run is the Cincinnati Reds, and for that to happen Aroldis Chapman and Johnny Cueto have to both deliver the goods like seasoned professionals (they’re not) and Aaron Harang would have to keep his ERA under 10 (he won’t)… not to mention the fact that Dusty Baker would have to not destroy someone’s arm (he will).
Cardinals. No question.
Hmm. This is an interesting division. My heart says San Fransisco but my heart also says I should be able to drink a fifth of scotch and still be able to dance the merengue with some amount of poise. In other words, my heart is a goddamn liar. There are too many question marks in the Dodgers young pitching staff that I can’t put my money on them. So I turn towards the Rockies — a team with balance, a team with Tulo, a team with purple pinstripes.
San Francisco joins as the Wild Card.
Yankees, Red Sox, Yankees, Red Sox… bla bla bla. Not this year, folks. Yankees, Rays, Yankees, Rays… and Brian Matusz. The Yankees are the best in baseball. Hard to argue against that. The 2010 Red Sox are not the Red Sox we’re used to seeing. They made a major mistake by not bringing back Jason Bay and they’re gonna suffer for it. The Rays… this is the year for them. It’s now or never. And just for fun, let it be known that Brian Matusz of the Baltimore Orioles is one hell of a pitching phenom and a reason to tune into their games every once in a while.
Yankees win without even trying.
Rays take the Wild Card.
With so much money going towards roster scrubs and the recently anointed singles-machine, Magglio Ordonez, the Tigers of 2010 will look more like the Tigers of 2003. Okay, maybe not that bad, but still, they ain’t goin’ anywhere. The Twins will be in the race, but I suspect they will be playing a lot of doubleheaders this year due to that new open air stadium; and their team is still built for turf. I don’t see them catching the White Sox, who in my opinion have the best starting five of any other team in the Majors. If Peavy stays healthy and Floyd and Danks kick it up a notch, I don’t see how they could be beat. Keep your eye on Gordon Beckham too. He’s gonna be a superstar.
Like its National League version, this division causes me fits. The Rangers are right on the cusp of doing something great; but then I look at their pitching staff and see a bunch of crooked numbers on the board against them. The A’s? Uh… no offense, but if you rely on Kurt Suzuki to produce all your offense, I cannot take you seriously. The Mariners look like they should be much improved; but I’m not drinking that kool-aid yet ‘cuz as of now, they haven’t done jack. And how can I possibly bet against a proven winner, a team that gets it done year after year after year?
The Angels win the West. Why? ‘Cuz they do everything right.
And they have a rally monkey.
Now when you put all these pretty teams together, choosing one over the other is no easy task. They’re all
yummy winners. They’re all well-proportioned hot. They’re all doable talented.
So what is one to do?
Personally, I like to fantasize about a world where they’re all in the same room, having fun and going at it with uncompromising competitive bite. But understanding how unrealistic that is, I guess I have no choice but to choose one.
And again, my lying, cheating, pipe-dreaming heart tells me that the Cardinals are better than the Yankees. Yet, I’m smart enough to know that saying as much is not only unrealistic, it’s just plain fantasy.
Still, one can dream, right?
Hate me ‘cuz I get ya all flustered, just don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.
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The interwebs are a buzz about RSBS‘ propensity for picking on what seems like only a select few players/teams, for striking at those more prone to ridicule, the bottom of the baseball barrel. We’re talking about the Kyle Farnsworths, Brad Lidges, Milton Bradleys. We’re talking about the Chicago Cubs, Pittsburgh Pirates, Kansas City Royals.
We’re talking about easy marks. All of them. They are weak, addled, flawed.
But let it be know that dear readers galore have spoken; and we at RSBS are not ones to disappoint. So here ya go, folks… a quick slanderous slaying of all 30 Major League Teams… in one minute or less (or more, depending on your reading level):
Hey, Yankees, is that Mo’nique or C.C. Sabathia?…
Boston Red Sox? More like Boston Sucks Cox!…
Dear Rays, I can’t wait until you disappoint all your new fans by letting Carl Crawford go…
Blue Jays, if you were gonna let an Italian destroy your franchise, why not give one of the Gottis a shot?…
I didn’t know the Oriole way included a sharp decline in season ticket sales…
Sorry, Twins, but you’ll never be as good as Kent Hrbek farting in George Brett’s face…
Hey Tigers, remember when people used to live in your city?…
Attending a White Sox game is a lot like attending a vocational school open house…
I think we can all agree that Charlie Sheen could make the 2010 Indians squad…
The Kansas City Royals… did I mention Kyle Farnsworth?…
Oh, sure, I love the California Los Angeles Angels of Los Aneheim California Angeles Los L.A….
The Texas Rangers: Where born again drug addicts find Jesus while not making it to the playoffs…AGAIN…
Wow, Mariners, your most famous player outside of Griffey and Ichiro is… Harold Reynolds? Seriously? Ouch…
A’s… it stands for “moneyball doesn’t work so it’s best we go back to employing known juicers”…
Dear Phillies, if the Phanatic isn’t a phag, I don’t know what mascot is…
Sorry, Marlins… if you’re not cocaine or the Dolphins, Miami doesn’t even know you’re there…
Atlanta Braves…14 straight playoff appearances and how many World Series titles?…
Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Met will now be played by a corpse…
Hey, Nationals, two words for ya: Dunn’s ^ss!…
The Cardinals? The Cardinals!?! You’re… you’re… aweso– you’re… (Sorry, I can’t do it; I tried)…
For insults directed towards the Cubs, please see the 2+ years of RSBS archives
Hey, Brewers, is that Mo’nique or Prince Fielder?…
Just wait, Reds fans, two more years of Dusty Baker, and you won’t even have a pitching staff!…
Houston, we have a problem… and it’s called the Astros…
Yeah, picking on the Pirates is a lot like picking on the quadriplegic fat blind kid whose parents got divorced and forgot they even had a kid…
The Dodgers‘ m.o. is: show up late, leave early, hope no one notices the messy divorce…
Ok, Rockies, Dante Bichette called, he wants his inflated numbers back…
Hey, Giants, is that Mo’nique or — nope, that’s Pablo Sandoval. He’s just fat…
Padres? Friars? Perhaps Molested Altar Boys would be more suiting, considering the amount of back-bending abuse they’ve taken from Sandy Alderson…
The Arizona Diamondbacks? More like the Arizona Diamondhacks!
My vitriolic verbal leg sweeping knows no limit.
So don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.
P.S. The Cardinals? Fine. If I must. Here. Have fun with *THIS*.
*also thank you, Matt
That’s because, as I write this, Major League pitchers and catchers are reporting to their respective training camps; and after a long, cold, hard winter of Brad Lidge, Milton Bradley and Kyle Farnsworth bashing, we can all finally relax knowing our hallowed game is springing back to life.
A year ago this week, my cynical and oft busy-body colleague Mr. Allen Krause, and I took to the streets of Chicago to proclaim our undying crush on the game of baseball. Luckily for you there was a film crew following us, not to mention an ebullient David Archuleta, who lent us his tunes, to make a point.
And as we hope will be a long and prosperous tradition of ringing in the new baseball season, we (re)present to you the definitive RSBS tradition:
Hell yes, we love our baseball and no, we aren’t afraid to show it.
Now, aren’t ya glad I didn’t write that Evan Bayh piece I was workin’ on?
Nah. You can’t hate me today. ‘Cuz you know I’m right.
In the pantheon of sporting goats, none has a more hallowed place than the guy who brings the season to an end. Sometimes it’s a team effort (the 2009 Detroit Tigers along with the 2007 and 2008 Mets come to mind) but sometimes a single man takes that entire burden onto his shoulders and says, “Yes, I can and will end this season for myself, my teammates and the fans.” Brett Favre is just such a man.
Being a fan of a team in the NFC North, Favre has been a thorn in my side for years now. I was more than happy to see him leave the Packers and I wished him nothing but ill when he made his return to the barren wasteland of the North. However, it warmed my soul to see him end this season the same way he ended the last couple: throwing an interception. He is the career leader after all. It’s only fitting.
I guess the only important question left now is not will he come back….again, but rather, would you call him the Bill Buckner or the Brad Lidge of NFL football? Me, I’m going with Lidge.
It’s hard to know where to begin in a year that saw both halves of RSBS turn 30. 30? I was supposed to be a multi-millionaire by now. What happened with that?
But that doesn’t mean it was all bad. Jeff came to visit me in DC and we wound up with high roller seats at a Nationals game. Or should I say Natinals? And I also made it to Chicago to film the immediately iconic video, “Crush,” with Jeff. By the time October rolled around and the Tigers came within a game of making the playoffs, it felt like a pretty full year.
As Dickens said, “It was the best of times, and it was the worst of times.” And it sure was. The blog, just like our personal lives, had its fair share of ups and downs. Being the guy that he is, Jeff especially liked to catch people when they were down and give ’em one more kick, just to help them stay down. Don’t believe me? Ask Milton Bradley, Brad Lidge or the entire Cubs organization.
However, this is the time of year when we spend some time celebrating the ups. And what better way to celebrate than by breaking down my favorite Jeffery Lung authored posts in list format?
2nd Honorable Mention:
Jeff loves the interwebs and this love led to many memorable moments brought to us by Google and Coco Crisp. But if there was one internet interlude that could be defined as the paragon, it had to have been when Jeff was blocked from Barry Zito’s Twitter account by…..Barry Zito!
Although Chicago has never lacked political corruption scandals, Rod Blagojevich may have set a new standard for brazenness. Or maybe you thought he did until this year’s team of All-Star corrupt politicos was unveiled. Sure, he’s brazen. But is he Marion Barry brazen?
2nd Runner Up:
Moving from All-Corrupt to All-Star, RSBS was lucky enough this year to have a presence at the All-Star Game played in St. Louis. Jeff may not have come through on his bet to get a date with Erin Andrews but he more than made up for it in pictures. Especially pictures of his porn-stache.
1st Runner Up:
Some people may question other people’s love of baseball. But after reading this entry, you’ll never question Jeff’s. Even if it does sometimes lead to weird quasi-international incidents, we now know that there’s one thing that can bring a boy and his father or Americans and Canadians together and his name is Joe Carter.
And the Winner is……:
Could it really have been anything else? The sheer audacity of suggesting that the messiah/prophet/best-selling author has it in for Chicago’s lovable losers re-cemented Jeff’s status as one of the pre-eminent Cubs haters in the country. And the fact that Jesus showed up for the shoot just proves the thesis.
So, that’s about it for another year here at RSBS. It’s cold now but pitchers and catchers will be reporting soon and we’ll be there to welcome them back.
With Major League Baseball and various publications handing out their end of the season awards, RSBS has decided to follow suit. Sure, our prizes may not come with any financial reward and they may not trigger any clauses in the affected players’ contracts. But, it is our civic duty. So, without further ado, we present Part I of our two part Postseason Awards Show. Allen, take it away.
Most Thunderdome worthy:
Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui
Both Damon and Matsui have been integral parts in the Yankees’ dynamo but with age and injuries taking a toll, one of them will most likely have to go. Obviously, the only fair way to settle the question is to have them fight it out in the Thunderdome. Granted, the one who dies will have a seriously decreased trade value but fair is fair.
Most Valuable Player for the Minnesota Twins:
Yeah, you thought it was Joe Mauer but with the Tigers holding a tenuous lead in the AL Central at the end of the season, Miguel Cabrera and his wife, Rosangel, made the alcohol-lubricated sparks fly at home. The aftermath saw Cabrera flop against the White Sox and the Twins pull even before winning the Central.
Jeff’s MDP (Most Dreamy Player):
I think we’ve already covered this one. I just hope this comes true for you one day, buddy. You and AP would make an adorable couple and I’d be honored to stand with you at the ceremony.
Most Transformative Player:
Transformations work in both directions and after going from Mitch Williams to Mariano Rivera to Eric Gagne in the space of three seasons, you have to wonder what Lidge will become next. If he ends up on the Tigers, I’ll say Trevor Hoffman. But my head says it’s the Canadian-American League.
Most Amazing RSBS Writer/Person:
Jeff Lung and Allen Krause (in a surprising tie)
We decided to leave this award to our respective mothers to decide. And neither one of them could be swayed to the other side. However, I can’t tell you which one they each voted for so we’ll just leave that to your imagination.
Tune in tomorrow as Jeff brings us Part II of the show. Rumor has it that several Cubs players may have been nominated. Stop by and see if they finally manage to win something.
I have made apologies for Brad Lidge in the past. This is not to say that I am an apologist but rather that I thought the guy deserved a little respect after what he did last year. And maybe he still does. But after blowing his 11th save of the season last night, he no longer gets that free pass from me.
Here’s the problem. Last year, as we all know, he was a perfect 100% in save opportunities. This year, he’s a little south of 75%. Now, .750 would be a great batting average and it wouldn’t even be a terrible completion percentage for a quarterback. But, at this point in the season, the Brad Lidge experiment (which is a great name for a band, by the way) is a miserable failure and the Phillies had better figure out what they’re doing before Lidge blows it for them in the playoffs.
However, I think I can demonstrate this much more convincingly by comparing it to other famous choices and showing what might have happened if they had followed the current Lidge tinged route.
When it turns out that Chamberlain is just a little bit off on the whole Hitler as a threat thing despite seizing Poland and annexing the Sudeten-land, the British decide to give him one more chance. As rockets rain down on London, he bravely stands up and proclaims once more, “C’mon guys, Hitler isn’t really trying to invade Britain. He just has to make a good show of it.” On the bright side, Oktoberfest in London becomes a world-renowned tradition.
Jimmy Carter’s Historic Second Term:
Although the rescue of the hostages in Iran doesn’t quite go as planned and despite the oil crisis, America just can’t enough of the Georgia peanut farmer and they send would-be president, Ronald Reagan, back to California to star in a sequel to Bedtime for Bonzo. Carter repays their faith with his famous speech in West Berlin where he kindly asks the Russians to “Please stop being so mean and if it wouldn’t be too much trouble, how about we slowly dismantle this wall.” He then returns home, considers invading Grenada but instead decides to kill them with kindness, sending thousands of jars of Georgia’s finest peanut butter.
George W. Bush’s Re-Election in 2004:
Despite using the pretense of a just war to entangle the US in a war of choice in Iraq and blowing the possibility of paying down the debt with the newly balanced budget handed him by former President Clinton and instead cutting taxes on the wealthy, Americans go to the polls in November of 2004 and send Mr. Bush back to the White House. He returns the favor by further relaxing regulations and sending Americans to the poorhouse in record numbers during the greatest economic downturn since the Great Depression.
Wait a minute, what? That really happened? I was sure it was just a bad dream. Hm, guess that means that whoever faces Philly in the first round has hope after all.
“Yeah, maybe he [Brad Lidge] is not having a stellar season but after what he did last year, the guy deserves a little bit of a break… He’s not really any sort of appropriate object for scorn.”
— Allen Krause
Uh oh. Dear readers, there he goes again.
Indeed, with the above statement, my always venomous and sometimes sneaky colleague across the aisle, Mr. Allen Krause, not only managed to embarrass himself with more tired slandering, but he also succeeded in alienating his entire base: people who love the game of baseball.
Believe me, those people in Philadelphia ain’t too happy about the lackluster performances of one Brad Lidge.
And with a Major League leading 8 blown saves this season, who would be?
Lidge should not be an object for scorn, Mr. Krause? Let me tell you something. Your recent absence from my watchful eye and the overall sanctity of RSBS‘ loyal readers has caused you to forget the most important fact of them all: this is US America!!!
And US America is not some sicko socialist regime where everyone can expect to be treated equally regardless of class. This is not some soft ego-massaging utopia where the Kevin Greggs and Brad Lidges of the world are as praiseworthy as the Mariano Riveras and Joe Nathans. No, this is not some machinated system of social stability, Mr. Krause. This is not some communal crackpot of communist theory. This is not some lewd egalitarian fantasyland where everyone should expect to be taken care of if they get sick and need health care… don’t you know how hard it is for doctors to live their lives with just one Bentley in the garage rather than three!?!
If you can’t succeed on your own, you deserve to be punished!
Whether we’re talking about Brad Lidge or Kevin Gregg or Jesus himself… it doesn’t matter: if you suck, prepare for your roast.
‘Cuz that’s just how life is when you’re free.
Hate me ‘cuz I’m fluent in sarcasm and smarmy as hell, just don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.