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.
Every media outlet has been full of Olympic coverage for the past few months. We watched as French surrender-monkeys and dentally deficient Britons tried to tackle, steal or otherwise snuff the Olympic flame during its journey to the Bird’s Nest and then we saw the Chinese defy gravity to set the torch alight and begin the games.
Although the passing of the torch always seems to provoke strong emotions, these emotions tend to play out differently depending on the setting. When Jesse Owens overcame the Fuhrer’s supposedly invincible Aryan champions at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, he tried to defuse the situation by saying that Hitler had shown him respect. Michael Phelps managed to show a touch of class this year as he overcame Mark Spitz’s decades old record.
But sometimes the old guard is reluctant to let the torch out of their grasp. When the Yankees had the Red Sox in a 3-0 stranglehold during the 2004 ALCS, it seemed that the old guys had a little life left in them. But they should have realized that they had used up all the gas in the tank during the previous year’s ALCS. The Yankees may have won that 2003 series but in reality, Pedro Martinez body-slamming Don Zimmer was emblematic of the rivalry’s not too distant future. And in 2004 they proved it by fighting back to win the ALCS and then the World Series.
A similar fight broke out during the primary season as the junior senator from Illinois took on the Clinton juggernaut. And when the dust finally settled at the Democratic National Convention last night, it was obvious that the party the Clinton’s created was now firmly in the hands of Sen. Obama. Sure, there were a few last grasps for the torch (Hillary’s non-concession speech back in June for example) but the look on former President Clinton’s face during Sen. Clinton’s speech Wednesday night told the whole story.
So, how does one pass the torch gracefully and not get burned in the process? Well, you could take a lesson from Ted Kennedy (2008 Ted Kennedy, not 1980 Ted Kennedy)
Or you could look to Richard Nixon who so graciously handed off to Gerald Ford in 1974. However, I suggest avoiding the example of the 1997 and 2003 Florida Marlins. Or Jay Mariotti. Burning bridges and fire sales are tacky even in the best of times.