And so in this Podcast…
Jeff, Al & that rock-n-rollin-Cub-lovin’ sage Johanna Mahmud take on all things ‘Merica, including (but not limited to) Rinku and Dinesh, Carlos Zambrano, The Hills (seriously? that happened?), the All-Star Game, the Lou
Piniella Mailbag and much,
much more… all to make you laughy-laughy!
to the RSBS Podcast by clicking *HERE*
via iTunes by clicking *HERE*
thanks to Keith Carmack — our engineer, director, editor and
all-around sound guru. His Undercast
podcast is a must-listen (listen to it!). It’s available on iTunes and
is posted regularly at Undercard
Recorded Monday, July 5, 2010
The RSBS interns are off playing with their tax-payer purchased stocking stuffers (hookers presumably), the hot stove has cooled to a Holliday simmer (would ya just make up your friggin’ mind) and sleigh bells are ring-ring-jinglin’ like the fat pockets of China’s national treasury…
So, my uber-nefarious colleague Mr. Krause and I would like to wish you and your loved ones a very happy holiday — whatever that means to you.
To me, it means once again pondering that age old question: Is the universe expanding? Or contracting?
Okay, so that’s two questions.
In any case, it’s beer thirty… for at least 48 hours in a row, so Al and I are gonna carpe diem by taking a couple days off. Hopefully when we get back we’ll both have some great holiday stories to share that don’t involve waking up with no shoes under an overpass five miles off the Vegas strip with 35 cents in my pocket, a raging headache, blurred vision and a My Little Pony tattoo on my inner thigh.
Jeff & Allen
Baseball, Apple Pie & Lobster
While still behind the modern US American game in terms of global appeal, Japanese baseball does have a special place in the universe of our national pastime. Indeed it has evolved much beyond the infant and fundamentally challenged Chinese game and the linguistically worldly fella in me likes to think that even Japanese basebrawls tend to be a bit more aggressive than their Korean counterparts’ elusive yet intriguing pitcher’s mound chicken dance routine. Still, there is more to it than that.
During my first year in China, I had a Japanese roommate named Hayashi Nobuhide. Nobby — as we white devils called him because, well, it was easier to pronounce — was a rabid baseball fan. In fact, our friendship, which was predestined to be rocky due to 60 years of bad history, was solidified by our matched passion for the game.
Some of my fondest memories revolve around us getting up at 5am to watch the 1999 World Series during which he vehemently professed his equally tired hatred of the New York Yankees — for they were, to Nobby and his Japanese brethren, holistically representative of “all that’s bad with America” (his words, not mine, though most probably true, especially when considering the likes of Roger Clemens, Chuck Knoblauch and Tony Tarasco).
And that year, Nobby cheered on the Atlanta Braves just like any other rabid Japanese nationalist: while wearing a Seattle Mariners cap.
Ichiro! Ichiro! Ichiro!
“But what about Hideki Irabu?” I asked.
“**** that traitor! Go Ichiro!” he replied.
“But Ichiro’s not playing.”
“He should be! ICHIRO!!!”
To hear Nobby tell it, Ichiro Suzuki was more popular, more influential, more inspiring than Jesus Christ himself (not to mention having a better stylist). Everything about Ichiro, from his odd pregame warmups to his ritualized on-deck routine to his classic power pose at the plate was unequivocally all-things Japanese: systematic, graceful and proud.
Consider the fact that this undying allegiance came during the height of the steroid era, and I gotta admit, Nobby had a damn good point:
Sensationalized as the above may be, the truth remains: Ichiro is powerful.
And now, that power has multiplied. The Japanese gifts continue to grace diamonds all across US America. From Ichiro Suzuki to Takashi Saito to
Kaz Matsui Kosuke Fukudome Hiroki Kuroda, the game has plenty of room for Japanese imports.
If we’re lucky, maybe someday we can even borrow the Hiroshima Toyo mascot; ‘cuz nothin’ says powerhouse baseball like a wet, smelly Carp.
Don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.
There was a time when LaTroy Hawkins acted as a personal savior of mine; because I knew the minute he came into a ballgame wearing that Cubs uniform, the chances of them losing took an astronomical leap. While those days may be over — and the nomination of the world’s worst reliever has shifted to the awkwardly clumsy Kyle Farnsworth — I am happy to report that LaTroy Hawkins has given me yet another reason to worship him.
During Monday night’s game against the Cubs — as an Astro — Hawkins verbally and physically questioned the merits of homeplate umpire Mike Everitt, which eventually got him tossed. Since then, Hawkins has suffered from a severe case of logorrhea and has had no problem jawing out at Everitt. Now, Major League Baseball is investigating the incident.
“I have my own opinion, and he had his opinion,” he [Hawkins] said. “He [Everitt] thought I was showing him up. I saw Alex Rodriguez do way worse when I was in the American League. He undressed the umpire. Whatever he said, it was in his face. It’s America.”
You’re damn right, LaTroy! It is America! It’s US America and I don’t care who you are — Alex Rodriguez or not — one should never be allowed to undress the umpire. Who does this Rodriguez fella think he is anyway? Some pretty boy poster child for Details magazine? What a pompous sicko!
We applaud you, LaTroy, for saying what we were all thinking and going after the bad guys behind the plate.
And in the future, LaTroy, instead of getting into a war of words — a war that is rarely won by a journeyman reliever — you may want to follow the stellar example set by Chinese professional athletes and just pulverize your enemy:
Don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.
Dear readers, let us all agree that the game is the game. It’s balls and strikes, it’s first to third, it’s infield shifts and 3-0 green lights. From Baltimore to Fresno to Okinawa to Calgary, baseball is a game. Or rather, baseball is the game.
Yet we follow it for the people.
Without the story lines, Kirk Gibson’s homerun is just another homerun, Derek Jeter’s dive into the third row is just a catch, Adam Wainwright’s curve to get Inge swinging is simply, just a curve. Stories make these plays so momentous, so glorious, so gut wrenching.
We wouldn’t have it any other way.
So you can imagine my excitement at getting to meet Tom Walsh from the Rocky Mountain Way, a fellow baseball blogger with a commitment to the game, to its people, while his journey brought him to Chicago last Monday evening.
I took him to Beiguo, a gem of a Chinese restaurant in my Bridgeport neighborhood where they know me as that “baseball guy”, deep in the heart of the Southside. Hearing Tom’s stories about the fascinating people he has met and the powerful stories they have shared during his cross-country trek following the game reminded me exactly why baseball is the greatest game on earth.
It brings us together.
With baseball as my loyal ally, fellowship with like-minded fans, familiar or strange, is never difficult. Whether you live in Taiwan or Tacoma, we, as baseball people can always share in the power, the memories, the communitas that is the game.
Sure, if you wear your Cubbie blue and I wear my Cardinal red there’s a chance we might argue a bit, disgrace both of our mothers and end up in the hospital, drunk, but in the end, you’ll shake my hand and I’ll shake yours. Because we’re baseball people. And baseball people are the best kind of people.
Full of cumin spiced lamb, Yangzhou fried rice and a keener sense of Todd Helton, I wished Tom well on his journey and as he drove off west I looked down and realized my fortune cookie was unopened. Quickly, I snapped it in two, grabbed the small strip of paper, held it to the light and read:
(Image courtesy of Tom Walsh)
That’s Casey McGehee on the left. Who’s that you ask? No clue. Never heard of him myself. Doesn’t matter. Let us instead focus on the Chinese character strategically tattooed on the anonymous forearm to the right.
For those dear readers who are unfamiliar with the Chinese language, that is the character for “child”. Pronounced zi, in certain contexts it could be understood as “son” or “seed” or for those extremely esoteric folks with a penchant for ancient Chinese time-keeping methods, it could also be interpreted as the first of the twelve earthly branches.
In other words, it’s not really something you get tattooed on your arm.
Yet trendy wannabe-hip US Americans continue to find Chinese characters in tattoo shops around the country, discovering them to be viable testaments to who they are, even if they have no idea what the hell they mean.
Seems silly to me. I have tattoos. You know, you can’t just scrub ’em off. I put a lot of thought into them before I went off and had my skin permanently inked.
And I like to think that other people have the common sense to do a little research before putting a foreign language on their body for eternity. But what do I know? I ain’t no professional baseball player; I’m just a lowly Fulbright Scholar.
Don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.
(Image courtesy of the Associated Press)
As if facing Team Japan in the World Baseball Classic’s upcoming semifinals isn’t enough pressure on the already limping USA squad, once the laundry list of abominable possibilities finally settles in, we US Americans could be in big trouble.
Nevermind the impeccable team consciousness so calculated and so perfected by Team Japan during international competition. Nevermind Team Japan’s quiet gamesmanship deftly defining and defending their world-class status. Nevermind Dice-K and Darvish. There is much more to fear… for example:
Rape! Dear readers, Ted Bundy, Mike Tyson, Kobe Bryant… these guys ain’t got nuthin’ on the Japanese. Don’t believe me? Know this: from December 1937 to February 1938, the Japanese raped an entire city! The then southern stronghold of China, Nanjing (aka Nanking), was completely decimated by the Japanese in a not-so-quiet storm of raging pillage quite akin to the stomping Chris Brown gave Rihanna not too long ago.
If that isn’t reason enough to fear the Japanese, how about this?
Not only do they combine situational hitting with speed, they are also known to make sure the opposite clubhouse spread is spiked with magic mushrooms, leaving the competition confused in a burst of beguiling blur.
Yet nothing should invoke more fear in the hearts of Americans than the Japanese group mind. To illustrate, here’s a clip of Team Japan’s batting practice:
They may not be a hit on Broadway (yet), but the Japanese sure do know how to rhythmically scare the bejesus out of any and all opponents willing to scrap.
US Americans, let us unite! Persevere! And conquer!
Don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.
P.S. Dear readers, if you haven’t already, make sure you purchase the Prince of New York Paul Lebowitz’s 2009 Baseball Guide. You can get it *here* and you should get it soon. It is your one-stop shop for all things 2009 MLB and it has magical powers (and by “magical powers” I mean “table of contents”). Believe me, this dude knows what he’s talking about. He’s the clean, charming, polite version of Jose Canseco.
On the real.
(Ichiro blur photo courtesy of Donald Miralle/Getty Images)
How very un-American our mothers are!
Indeed, freedom of speech — speaking one’s mind — venereal verbosity — is just but one of the many great attributes of being an US American. Believe me, after living in China for four years, it is both comforting and refreshing to know that I can publicly endorse the extreme social and mental benefits of playing the Harold Reynolds drinking game on a semi-regular basis. (*In China, drinking games are not allowed unless they are a) a way to dupe silly Americans into sending jobs overseas b) a way to dupe silly Americans into eating Fido and liking it or c) a means to getting drunk.)
Yet sometimes, our mothers seem to actually know what they are talking about. And such advice would really come in handy if your name was Alex Rodriguez or Ann Coulter or any one of these individuals:
He says publicly that he would like to make a comeback and play for either the Chicago Cubs or the Tampa Bay Rays. Okay. Fair enough, Curt. You are a gamer. You probably still have it in you to pitch at the Major League level. Yet, considering your less-than-admirable reputation among others in the league, would it not be more beneficial to just go about your business and get in the game rather than release a statement of who you would like to pitch for? And why the ultimatum for those two teams? Could you not pitch for the Pirates just as easily as you could the Cubs? This ploy is eerily similar to me drunk texting women from my past at three in the morning when I would be much better off going to bed or more successful by getting in a cab and just showing up at someone’s doorstep.
As an US American, it is one thing to say “I hope my party [the Republican Party] gains momentum and succeeds in the next presidential race.” I do not think anyone would have a problem with that. The problem is, the GOP’s own Jabba the Hutt did not say that. He said: “I hope he [President Obama] fails.”
Go eat yourself to death, Rush.
Personally, I like Steve Phillips and the general manager perspective he brings to ESPN’s broadcasts. In general, I find Phillips to be a decent guy who always calculates what he is going to say before he says it. But to publicly lambast Lou Piniella on his handling of Japanese imports (Kosuke Fukudome) is something even I find astonishing. He said:
“My view is Lou doesn’t have a great deal of patience of assimilation
into culture, assimilation in the team. He is just not the most patient
guy around and he tends to verbalize his frustrations in an angry way.
I think that may have affected Fukudome a little bit.”
Hmm. Well, Steve-O, I think you may have ticked Lou off just a tiny bit with that one. Ordinarily, I would attempt to defend you in some way, but then I saw how crazy you really are when you said: Dontrelle Willis will be the comeback player of the year in 2009.
Yes, the democrat who just won’t go away is still… around… and this time he is writing a book! Don’t feel bad, folks; I didn’t think he could read either, but apparently he can (or someone can for him) and when it is all said and done there will be a big, fat, juicy tell-all telling all about… er… eh… what we already know. Blago’s foray into Jose Canseco-ism may be a success only if he can convince anyone to care about what he has to say. From my vantage point, that ain’t happening. We are talking about corrupt politicians here, not homerun happy ‘roiders. Big difference.
I know, I know. Dempster has not said anything extraordinarily stupid… yet. But he will. That is what he does.
Don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.
**In lieu of THIS BREAKING NEWS, we at RSBS would like to congratulate Manny Ramirez and Scott Boras on successfully hijacking the Dodgers for the entire off-season. That is classy. No, that is Roberto Alomar I’ll-spit-AIDS-in-your-eye kind of classy. Believe that.
“In olden days a glimpse of stocking was looked on as something shocking but now, God knows, anything goes.”
— Cole Porter (1891 – 1964)
Indeed, anything goes, including the meteoric rise of two previously unknown baseball nerds from Anytown, USA. Yes, dear readers. Who would’ve ever thought that a white guy who speaks Chinese Cardinal fan from the Southside of Chicago and an equally white guy who speaks French Tiger fan from the politicking capital of the world (D.C.) would ever be at the top of… well, anything?
Neither did we.
But now we know. It’s official. You, dear readers, have put RSBS on the MLB map, making us the number ONE fan blog in a community of myriad deservees; now, like my childhood hero, I too can proudly wear the number one on my back.
Of course, the good work has only just begun and now is no time to quit.
Sure, the Cardinals can’t win under pressure this year. But you know what? I love them anyway.
Sure, Palinmania has temporarily replaced Obamamania. But you know what? The Truth will soon rear it’s ugly head.
Sure, our leaders are borrowing money from China to build a self-serving infrastructure in a little-known least understood country named Georgia when that money could probably be better spent developing universal health care plans and/or educational benefits right here in good old US America. But you know what? I have a choice this November and my voice will be heard.
So, too, will yours, dear readers. With the recent success of RSBS, you have already proved that much.
And now is not the time to stop the good fight. Mr. Krause and I would like to sincerely thank you for your loyalty, your kind words, your hateful words, your love and your passion for the greatest game on earth.
That passion, that fire, that spirit is what keeps our hopes alive…
So keep the comments coming, the arguments burning, the fandom sizzling… and as always, don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.
After scoring a devastating own goal during the 1994 World Cup, Andrés Escobar returned home and found out the hard way that leaving drug lords on the wrong side of a huge gambling debt does not help your own life expectancy. As if to add insult to injury, the killer supposedly yelled “Goooooooooooooooooooool” after each one of the twelve shots. Of course, this is right around the corner from where a disputed soccer match led to an all-out war so I guess we shouldn’t be too surprised.
The Chinese Olympic Baseball Team
No team likes to be showed up on its own turf and it didn’t help when the US team used a couple hard-nosed plays to take it to the Chinese team. However, even though throwing high and tight is a time-honored part of the game, beaning someone is not something you usually expect to see in the Olympics. Thanks China. It’s not like you already won more gold medals than us anyway, Sheesh.
Hm, maybe the prize should actually go to Castro and his clan for their ability to blame the yanquis for every Cuban misstep since 1959. Now, if it were the Yankees he blamed instead, I could get behind that.