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.
Only a few weeks remain before pitchers and catchers report to spring training, which means we’re that much closer to the 2012 baseball season beginning with the St. Louis Cardinals reigning as CHAMPIONS OF THE UNIVERSE!!!
Hot dog! What more could a Fredbird fanatic like myself ask for on his birthday?
How about a decent bullpen?
And there it is: a beautiful, beautiful bullpen! Fernando Salas, Lance Lynn, Scrabble. And Motte to close?!?! Wow!
I have to go back many years (at the height of Izzy-mania to be exact) to remember going into spring training sans a bullpen worry (or nightmare). Having a closer whose calling card is missing bats is just the exclamation point!!!
And now for something completely different:
And so in this Podcast brought to you by Lifestyles…
The RSBS crew celebrates its 30th episode by taking a stroll down podcast memory lane, remembering things that busted our (and hopefully your) guts. AIDS salad and Ron Santo’s memory get rehashed while new memories (like gay ponies v. horsicorns, an iguana named Dudley and how you can cure your foot problems) are created! Jump on board the RSBS crazy train! No stops til you question how you spend your free time!
Don’t forget to getcho Crown Royal and enjoy some happy time!
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Recorded Saturday, November 26, 2011
Holy crap. September 28, 2011. Has there ever been a better day of baseball?
South Bend, IN
One of the greatest aspects of our hallowed national pastime is that every day has the potential to bring greatness. You might see a no hitter. You might see a triple play. You might see four homeruns in one game by the same player.
In fact, just this season I witnessed Derek Jeter collect five hits in a game. TWICE. I saw Justin Upton hit a broken bat homerun. I saw Mariano Rivera become the undisputed king of the save.
I also saw back-t0-back bunt basehits to start off a game. I saw Shelley Duncan have the defensive game of his life by making three nearly identical amazing grabs in left to rob the Rangers. And I saw Adam Dunn get a base hit off a lefty.
Magic. Baseball has it. And some days it has it more than others.
I would put September 28, 2011 in that category for sure, because on that day FOUR games provided unparallelled magical endings, nearly simultaneously.
But I also can’t think of September 28th without thinking about 2007 Game 163 or the 2008 Game 163 or the 2009 Game 163!!! In fact, I still consider that 2009 Tigers v. Twins contest to be the most jaw-dropping game I have ever witnessed with my own two eyes. Clearly, when we reach the end of September and regular season games carry the weight of sending teams on to capture even more glory, the potential for being among the best is like a batting practice fastball.
Right down central.
In the end though, what qualifies as the “best day in baseball” is obviously relative. For me, I can’t seem to get past October 27, 2006.
Don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.
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Earlier this week, when asked about his role as set-up man to John Axford on a playoff-bound Brewers club, the manic and pock-marked hot head had this to say:
“There’s been plenty of save opportunities, and I’ve pitched once in the ninth inning and it wasn’t a save. I’m not happy. That’s the bottom line for me.”
Whaa whaa whaa. Cry me a river, you big, overpaid, underachieving man-baby.
You see, dear readers, K-Rod is what we nowadays call a “stat-whore” — an obvious “save” chaser, a child more concerned about his “legacy” than the overall well-being of his team. And apparently, winning means nothing to him. Being successful means nothing to him. If it did, he’d keep his mouth shut. Instead, he’s yapping about how rough he has it while presumably yearning for a return to that moribund, going-nowhere New York Mets club.
Are we, US Americans, responsible for this man-childish behavior? Probably. To be fair, we are the ones who tune in to train wrecks like The Jersey Shore. We are the ones who judge people based on appearances. We are the ones who look the other way while skinny little Brady Anderson racks up 50 bombs.
Will it ever end? Probably not. But being aware is being alive, which is good news for you and me.
And K-Rod? Well, he is just another one of the walking dead.
PS. Aside from being a big baby, K-Rod is also the poster child against extreme, high definition close-ups. I mean, seriously, there is no reason for a grown man to have that much acne. Unless…
For those of you dear readers just waiting (salivating in anticipation perhaps?) for me to go into a lengthy I-told-ya-so-hallelujah-victory diatribe complete with keg stands, half-naked women and lots of bad decisions over the Cardinals recent release of bullpen cancer Ryan Franklin, well, I hate to disappoint, but I ain’t gonna go there. I’m a human being first, Cardinals diehard second (albeit a very, very close second). For me to celebrate the absolute demise of a fellow human just wouldn’t be right. That’s only acceptable behavior when the human in question is an ex-Alaskan governor with scat for brains, traipsing around the country in a megabus flubbing the most basic facts of our country’s history.
No. I can’t go there.
Am I glad Ryan Franklin will no longer be allowed to yack up ballgames for my team when it counts the most? Absolutely. Am I smiling because a real fireballer has taken over the closer’s role in the ‘Lou? You betchya! Am I gonna point fingers and laugh and take pleasure in knowing Franklin doesn’t have a job?
I feel for the guy. I really do. But at the same time, baseball is a business and he was a faulty cog in the wheel of success. If I were to screw up my job as much as he did, I’d be in the unemployment line too. Luckily for Franklin, he ain’t hurtin’ for money. In fact, he could probably use the time off to clear his head, to think of other things besides baseball. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see him back in the Big Leagues in the near future.
In the meantime, the Cardinals are in the midst of a 4 game winning streak, so let’s focus on that. If we can double that to eight in a row, maybe I’ll bust out some of the busties y’all been waitin’ for.
Hate me all you want, just don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.
What’s more impressive? 3,000 hits or 600 saves?
Before really getting into it, I just want to make it perfectly clear. Either 3,000 hits or 600 saves merit you getting into the Hall of Fame. However, now that I’ve put that out there, let’s get into the comparison.
To get to 600 saves, you need to average 30 saves a year over the course of 20 years or 40 saves a year over 15 years. Either one of those numbers is pretty gaudy but that’s just the number of actual saves recorded over a 162 game season. There are also non-save opportunities for closers and the occasional blown save. There’s also that rare occasion when you come in to record a 4 or 5 out save. So let’s assume you’re playing about 24 weeks a season, this means that you’re making a minimum of 2 to 3 appearances a week and pitching an inning at a time. Those numbers add up, especially when you include all the warm ups and the up and down in the bullpen as you get ready to enter.
That being said, 3,000 hits over a 20-year career works out to 150 hits a year, almost a hit a game. The more likely scenario is a 15-year career and that means averaging 200 hits a year. But you’re not just getting at-bats, you’re also playing on a regular basis. Although hitting takes a toll on a player, a much greater physical price is exacted by the daily grind of playing a position.
This question takes on added significance this year with Jeter almost certain to pass the 3,000 hits plateau and the possibility that Rivera could make it to 600 saves. Both men are gifted athletes and both will most likely be first ballot hall of famers. So, which one is more impressive?
This question gets muddied a little with Jeter’s dip in production over the last season and a half but let’s face it. The guy has held down shortstop for the Yankees full-time since 1996. I’m not sure there’s a more stressful position in MLB. And while Rivera has also held a full-time position on the Yankees since 1997, there’s a reason that Jeter is the captain.
That’s the long non-answer. The short answer is that although comparing the two things is not all that different from comparing apples and oranges, at the end of the day you do have to make a decision between the two. I can’t tell you exactly why and I don’t necessarily have the stats to make an open-and-shut case but I happen to think that 3,000 career hits is pretty damn impressive. You can always find a closer. You rarely find a Jeter.
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