Sunday was my first opportunity to get to the ballpark in 2012, so I grabbed a friend, put on some summery clothes and headed to Sox Park for Jackie Robinson Day!
I’ve seen some great baseball on Jackie Robinson Days past, all of which were pitchers duels (my drug of choice), but with a Rick Porcello v. Chris Sale matchup looming, I wasn’t expecting much. The pair would end up surprising me, but that wasn’t all:
- This was the FIRST April baseball game in Chicago I have ever attended where a hat, gloves and scarf were not needed. No joke. I was in a t-shirt. Sweating at times.
- Miggy can play D. I hung two stars on my scorecard for him, including a barehanded grab-and-throw that nailed a speedy Alexei Ramirez at first.
- I understand the importance of Jackie Robinson Day and all, but is it necessary that EVERY player and EVERY coach wears the same number 42? It is a scorecard junkie’s worst nightmare! Every time I looked up I had no idea who was doing what.
- And those ugly throwback ’72 Sunday home game red-pinstriped White Sox unis didn’t last past the 70s for a reason. They are HIDEOUS. Throw them out! Along with Alex Rios!
- It was a day game. Sure it was a bit overcast, but there was sunlight. Plenty of it. But that didn’t stop the White Sox personnel from turning ALL the stadium lights on like it was a night game! There was WAAAAY too much light. WASTED light! I know ‘Merica is a nation of excess, but good grief.
- Despite the new uniform, Prince Fielder is still fat.
Hate me ‘cuz I take tedious notes, just don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right!
Is the hype to be believed? Could the Nationals actually contend this year?
Could they actually contend? Hmm… does watching a pitcher’s duel strike me with uncontainable bonerjamz? HELL to the YES, my friend! There are 159 games left in the season, and the Nats could win ’em all!
Or not. Still, this is not your embarrassing Expo leftover Natinal squad of old; rather, this is a team with bona fide pitching, timely bats and a revered sage at the helm! Do you think Davey Johnson thinks they can contend? I’d bet my 1986 eight-ball wrapper collection he does.
And why not? Without Howard and Utley for a good stretch, the Phillies find themselves offensively challenged. The Braves, still salty from their epic fail of 2011, certainly don’t have all the answers. I’m not convinced the Marlins are really any better than they were before they decided to blind us with ugly and the Mets are the Mets (though don’t sleep on them either, as a .500 season is not entirely out of the question).
The truth is, the NL East isn’t as predictable as it used to be. And the addition of another wild card team makes it possible to hope a little longer.
But the number one reason why the Natinals have a legitimate shot at competing for a playoff spot this year is… The ONE.
Okay, wrong ONE. But believe me, to Stephen Strasburg, there is no spoon. Also taking the red pill this year are Gio Gonzalez, Jordan Zimmermann, Edwin Jackson, Ross Detwiler and (presumably) John Lannan. That’s one helluva starting rotation+.
When Bryce Harper eventually finds his way into the rabbit hole, there will be even MORE reason to respect the potential of the Washington Nationals (not to mention a tomfoolery fodder spike for Deadspin).
Would I put big money on the Nats now? Maybe not. Would I put money on them to be a cellar dweller? Absolutely not. This team could find its identity and they could do it as soon as now. They could be the ’11 D’backs or the ’08 Rays.
Better yet, they could be the 2012 Nationals. (see what I did there?)
Hate me ‘cuz I love Stephen Strasburg as if he were one of my own, just don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.
Have a topic you want to see us Filibuster? Send us your Filibuster questions by emailing RSBSblog@gmail.com or by commenting below.
Simplistic campaigns to hunt down public enemies (like Kony 2012) are all the rage these days. When will you all be launching Selig 2012?
It is no secret that the authors of these pages hold no love for the staunch bureaucratic policies and seemingly never-ending reign of King Bud the Nosepicker. Indeed, we’ve ripped the man’s decisions in every which way and have even gone as far as to say that George W. Bush would make a perfect Commissioner in comparison (no joke here, we really do think Dubya would be perfect for the job). But to compare Bud Selig to the heartless, maniacal, baby-raping mass murderer Joseph Kony? Um… that’s a bit much.
But just a bit.
The good news is, people are getting educated on Kony’s crimes. And they’re doing something about it (unless *this* derails it). However, when it comes to the tyranny of King Bud, we already know about the bevy of shenanigans. There’s just nothing we can do about it.
If I may break from the usual ‘ol crotchety me for a moment, I would like to point out that, in my opinion, the overall state of our national pastime is as good now as it’s ever been. Seriously. If you turn your head from the silliness that is King Bud’s All-Star Game, and if make yourself forget about that whole Ryan Braun cheating thing, and pretend like the overall muscle bulge of the 90s and early aughts was caused by “supplements” that can easily be purchased at your local GNC, then you might conclude that, indeed, baseball’s vibe is very good right now.
The networks are fighting to get in on the expanded playoffs. Parity is slowly squeezing its way into all divisions. And the Pirates still suck!
More than that, people are still paying money to watch Adam Dunn play. Erin Andrews is still showing up in dugouts. And Tampa Bay seems to be in the playoff picture every year now, despite the fact that no one in Tampa Bay seems to care.
But most importantly of all, the St. Louis Cardinals are World Champs!
So for now, I can take a couple more years of bassackwards politickin’ from the usurping Milwaukee millionaire.
But I swear, Brad, if he reigns for more than two more years, you, me, Mr. Krause and the entire baseball universe are taking to the streets with Louisville Sluggers and Molotov cocktails (not to be confused with pet names for Kevin Millar).
Hate me. I don’t care. Just don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.
_ _ _
What’s the best way for me to indulge my twin passions of drinking and anything baseball related before the season starts?
Thank you for putting the ball on the tee, Shaun!
Indeed, drinking and baseball go together like politicians and gibberish, and we here at RSBS are no exception. In fact, if it weren’t for this liberating combination of US American pastimes, there would be no Bleacher Bums, no Pirates fans (how could they survive?), no Miguel Cabrera.
So that is why we are proud to team up with Guinness, one of our favorite beers (Mr. Krause and I co-hosted a Guinness keg party in college, no joke) to set a record for the biggest St. Patrick’s Day party EVER!
The big day is getting closer and closer and we want YOU to be a part of it. Unlike an evening with Mr. Krause, the process is simple and non-invasive. All you have to do is follow THIS LINK, verify you’re 21 years of age or older, then click to “join the party”.
MOST IMPORTANTLY, in the “optional code” box, make sure to enter code “REDS“. For each participant using that code, the good folks at Guinness are going to donate $1 to our charity of choice, the Baseball Tomorrow Fund and its Chicago chapter. That’s right. Your commitment to having a good (and responsible) time translates to more balls, bats, gloves and other baseball equipment for Chicago’s youth.
Now ain’t that a good thang!?!?
So if you haven’t done it yet, go do it! Then sit back, crack open a tall can of Guinness and smile knowing you did something good.
_ _ _
RSBS Special Correspondent and Wikipiebenga Creator, Mark “Pie” Piebenga reports:
As soon as Victor Martinez went down, I thought, “well, season’s over.”  But then the Tigers won the Fielder sweepstakes (at a cost that boggles the mind: apparently Little Caesar’s is a pretty lucrative organization. Everybody reading this please buy a five dollar Hot N Ready so they can pay the Prince. And here is my obligatory admission that the back end of that contract is going to be a total nightmare). A season that looked suddenly suspect just as suddenly became the most exciting spring I can remember.
If they can keep healthy, and get production anywhere close to last year from Delmon Young, Alex Avila, and Brennan Boesch’s first half, and get consistent quality from Messrs. Verlander, Fister, Scherzer, and Porcello (not to mention the newly Dotel-ified bullpen), it augers Another Very Interesting Year To Be A Tigers Fan.
There are still some big question marks. It’s looking like a platoon of Ryan Raburn and Ramon Santiago at second, which doesn’t do us a ton of favors at the plate. With the diminished defensive range and crInge worthy batting of the once-exceptional Brandon Inge, the Miguel Cabrera return-to-third experiment will be interesting and hopefully not embarrassing. Danny Worth and Don Kelly will probably spot start there as well. Finally, can Austin Jackson achieve leadoff effectiveness even approaching two years ago?
For the last seven years or so I’ve approached the start of the season with same kind of a nervous ambivalence. The most positive outlook I’ve had could be described as ‘cautious optimism,’ which I feel now. It’s a very strange feeling to see the Tigers as the projected favorite to win the A.L. Central (hell, until last year, we hadn’t done it since 1987. Didn’t even do it in ’84.) The Tigers have been good lately, but as a typically suspicious and superstitious fan, I’m always nervous. In ’06 they got in the playoffs as a wildcard. When they forced the 163rd game with the Twinkies in ’09, I never had the feeling that we were a legit contending team. Last year they didn’t really seem to have any implicit dominance until rifling off that twelve game winning streak in September. (My father and I credit ourselves for that, having seen live their last loss before the streak started at a blinding hot day game Sept 1st, when the Royals came to Detroit.)
Speaking of which, I am very nervous about the Kansas City Royals. They were rated the 11th best team in the league in the ESPN prospects power rankings (I don’t know if this is a remotely useful metric, but Buster Olney seems like a smart guy). At the game with my dad September First we were sitting along the third base line, and during a lull in the game Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas was shooting the bull with the umpire and throwing the ball around. He was basically standing in the coache’s box, well behind third and in foul territory, and dude scooped up lazy grounder that came his way. Barely breaking eye-contact with the ump, he made a throw off his back foot that looked casual as hell, but judging by the angry snap of the leather Eric Hosmer’s glove at first, it could’ve been shot from a rifle. The lineup is getting spooky over there.
It’s foolish to make predictions about what’s going to happen, and we’re still forty four days till opening. Naturally when things don’t go your way for a couple of decades, you begin to doubt that anything good is going to happen. But the Tigs lately have provided all one can demand of any team, and that’s meaningful baseball in August and September. It will be really interesting to see what this team does in the face of injuries, statistical regression, and the rigors of the season.
 I can be a little dramatic.
 Verlander’s remarkable season was well documented. While he was hardly under the radar, I think a brief digression on Alex Avila is in order here. He had a .389 OBP (10th highest in baseball), an .895 OPS (8th in the AL), and hit .295. All while catching 133 games, and ranking top five among AL catchers in most defensive categories (e.g., tied for 1st with 40 runners caught stealing). And one of my least/most favorite things was the sheer number of times he got hit by deflections. I know catchers get hit all the time, but honestly I can’t remember seeing anything like his 2011 season behind the plate. (for example, check out sparks flying off his mask, and him getting hit in the neck.)
I’ve lost my…
Rooster Cogburn, my John Mclane, my Jules Winnfield.
I lost Whitney this year AND my all-time favorite Cub, Aramis Ramirez. Armariezz. THAT’S WHAT I CALLED HIM. Didn’t call him A-RAM OR ARAMIS. I always called him Armariezz. THAT WAS HIS NAME. I wish Whitney and Aramis had things to sing together to the Brew Crew but she’s got better things to do now than hang out in MlilaAAAAuwaaakayyy…
Since I can’t hang with Armariezz anymore then I wanna hang with Adrien Brody, Andre 3 Million and Gael García Bernal from that Gillette commercial. That’s a bad@$$ club!
So much hipper than when they had Federer, Henri and Tiger. Can’t believe it happened.
Follow Johanna on Twitter!
A few years ago I wrote a cautionary piece foretelling the eventual departure of one Yadier Molina — SUPREME JEFFY MANCRUSH — if the Cardinals somehow didn’t resign Albert Pujols to a long, career stabilizing contract. I wrote it flippantly, thinking this will never happen in real life.
And then real life hit.
Albert Pujols is gone and Yadi doesn’t seem to be as in love with the Cardinals as the Cardinals faithful are in love with him:
“I love the city. I love the fans, I love the park. But it’s out of my hands. Whatever they like to do is how it is … They let Albert [Pujols] go. It’s business for the team, too. It’s out of my hands.” (source)
Um… wrong. One, dearest Yadier, it most certainly IS in your hands. And two, the Cardinals DID NOT “let Albert go.” They made him a very good offer, one that would most likely highjack the team for the latter half of this decade, one that would have made Albert a very, very, VERY rich man.
And he declined.
For more money.
I don’t have a problem with millionaire ballplayers chasing the money — but I do have a problem with framing the situation in a salacious manner. To say the Cardinals did not put any effort in retaining Mr. Pujols’ services is as reckless as it is inaccurate.
Here at RSBS, it is no secret that Yadier is my most beloved Cardinal. The St. Louis brass would be wise to pay the man whatever he wants, and I would applaud their efforts to do so.
But if I’ve learned anything about professional sports the last few months it’s that I’ve been clinging to the delusion that athletes give a f*** about the “home team”, about creating a “legacy”, about “loyalty”.
It’s about money and it will always be about money. I’m okay with that now.
If the Cardinals do the right thing and throw bank at Molina to keep him, then I’ll be ecstatic. But I also live in reality these days, so I’m fully prepared to see him in a Halos jersey in 2013.
Hate me. Just don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.