For all of the sCrUBS fans chugging the Theo Epstein Kool-Aid, talking about how the “Cubs Culture” is “changing” and how “new leadership” is taking them in a “new, respectable direction”, just remember: Jeff Samardzija isn’t drinking it.
Hate me ‘cuz I hate the Cubs, just don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.
– – –
HOLLA BACK, Y’ALL!!!
It’s time for THE FILIBUSTER to settle back in the Sunday slot at RSBS! The Interns are excited. Mr. Krause is excited. And I AM EXCITED TOO! No matter what the query, send it to RSBSBlog@gmail.com and we’ll let you know what we think.
There is no Irish in baseball. Well, unless you include Jeff Samardzija, formerly of the Fightin’ Irish from Notre Dame. But today is a good day so I don’t want to talk about that. No, today is a day when we celebrate the completely fabricated story of St. Patrick ridding the Emerald Isle of snakes. However, apparently there are snakes aplenty within the comfy confines of the World Baseball Classic.
Much attention has been focused over the past few days on the Venezuelan fans booing of Magglio Ordonez. Now, when you seem to have become the lapdog of old friend of RSBS, Hugo Chavez and you are playing in front of a bunch of people who left Venezuela because of Hugo Chavez, well, it makes sense that something has to give. And so far that something has been any residual love for Maggs.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all about booing hated players. My brothers have made a sport of riling opposing outfielders from the cheap seats in left field and I’ve been known to throw a few choice words the way of batters during tight softball games. But the thing those people have in common is that they play for the opposing team. When you have become a pariah to even your own fans, it might be time to rethink your actions.
I’ll admit, I hated Maggs, too, but only when he was on the White Sox. Once he joined the Tigers and especially after that killer blast against the A’s that sent the Tigers to the 2006 World Series, he could do no wrong. But supporting the man who has managed to turn his capital city into the murder capital of the world? That might not have been the best choice.
Against Puerto Rico, some of the hatred seemed to subside and in a tight game, the Venezuelan fans were cheering every hit their team could muster. But pity the man if he pulls a Buckner or manages to strike out at an inopportune moment. Maggs, you’re on notice.
“huge gamble.” Of course, you could argue that an even bigger gamble
took place when Pete Rose threw down money on games or when Tim Donaghy
decided to just throw a few games in the NBA. What do you think is the
biggest gamble (legal or otherwise) that has taken place in baseball
recently and how does it compare to McCain’s?
Gambling, throwing all you’ve got behind one decision, taking a risk… these are paramount aspects of the game of baseball. Without them, the game would be boring. When players and managers break from the norm and go out on a limb, we get excited: distancing oneself from the same old thing causes excitement.
And there has been no shortage of temerity nor bold decision making in our most beloved game over the last several years. Of course, as a Monday morning quarterback, it’s easy to call these moves audacious, ill planned, unrefined after the fact. Sometimes, as in the case of the GOP’s pick of one Sarah Palin, the decision need not be analyzed over and over again to find sound reasoning: there just isn’t any.
Like Grady Little leaving Pedro Martinez in Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS after giving up three straight hits with only five outs to go and a three-run lead. That was dumb no matter how you look at it. And if it weren’t for 2004 and 2007, Sox fans would still be teeming with angst.
Like scores of players (McGwire, Bonds, Giambi, just to name a few) cheating their fans and cheating themselves by altering their physiology in order to make an extra multimillion or three, break records, tarnish the game. While I understand the desire to perform at the highest level possible, I tend to admire the natural approach over the Frankenstein method. With information regarding the rigorous side effects of performance enhancing drugs being as known as ABC’s — these guys took a big, dumb gamble and now — for the most part — we despise them for it.
But in my opinion, the biggest recent risk sure to backfire on the gambling party was the cave-in decision made by the Red Sox to ship Manny Ramirez out of Boston for Jason Bay. The baseball pundits have spoken, and I have to agree: Jason Bay — no matter how good he is — is no Manny Ramirez. The Red Sox may squeak into the playoff picture, but they are not near as good now as they were with Manny in the lineup and I expect they won’t make it too far without him. The whining and crying of Ramirez was nothing new to Boston’s brass and erasing him from the team not only left a hole in the four spot, it also diminished the impact of one David Ortiz.
And losing Ortiz at-bats to walks sure does make a difference in the wrong direction.
Of course, there are always those gambles that seem ludicrous yet turn out to be smart in the end as well.
Like Cardinals manager Tony LaRussa batting the pitcher in the eight hole to create more opportunities for Albert Pujols. Though seemingly odd because it was such a staunch break from the norm, essentially what TLR has done is make sure AP gets up in the first inning, then contributes as a clean-up hitter for the remainder of the game. It’s hard to argue against that logic and I’m surprised more managers haven’t followed suit.
TLR isn’t the only NL Central manager who has gained notoriety for his arduous risk-taking skills. “Sweet” Lou Piniella, when faced with an ailing Kerry Wood, had nothing but faith in a young rookie call-up from Notre Dame. He threw Jeff Samardzija in the limelight and hasn’t looked back since. With Samardzija pitching as well as he has in recent months, the Cubs bullpen, for the first time that I can ever remember, has suddenly become an asset rather than a liability.
But no gamble in recent memory has turned out as splendidly as that taken by White Sox GM Kenny Williams in trading Chris Carter to the Diamondbacks for Carlos Quentin. Sure, one could argue that giving up a relatively unknown minor league first baseman for the once considered underachieving Quentin was hardly a risk. But put in perspective: trading Garland for Cabrera and Linebrink, cutting Podsenik, resigning Uribe, demoting Josh Fields, putting faith back in Joe Crede while giving a young Alexei Ramirez a shot at second base… Kenny Williams has been a very busy man and the moves he’s made — while controversial — have all turned out for the better. The White Sox have rediscovered their grinder swagger and as I predicted at the beginning of the season, have made a case for winning the AL Central and beyond.
I don’t know what political affiliations Kenny Williams has, if any, but I do know that the GOP’s decision making skills pale in comparrison to the Sox GM. The invasion of Iraq, the atrociously late and unorganized response to Hurricane Katrina victims, the gross misspending of our inflated tax dollars… and now putting Palin — a woman so unqualified to lead a nation that I can’t help but tell myself this is all just a big joke (punchline to come?) — in line for the highest office in the land; all I can say is:
That was dumb.
And let me tell ya, you can go on and hate me for my wordy rhetoric, my inspiring the people, my loose analysis of managerial decisions, but you shouldn’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.
Doggie guru Cesar Millan has taught me many a valuable life lesson. The first — and most important — is that I am the pack leader. In order to maintain pack leader status, I must emit a calm yet dominant energy. A brief scan of recent RSBS posts would be more than enough to convince every living being of my fulfillment of this necessary role. Second: happiness comes from excercise, discipline, then affection, in that order and in that order only. Food is optional. Just ask the Olsen twins. They seem to be doing fine. But sometimes, dear readers, these are not enough. Fear is an untouchable giant among short people and fear can cause myriad setbacks to one’s personal success, satisfaction, serenity.
For this reason, I have decided not to argue with Mr. Krause on his most recent ramblings regarding MLB playoff restructuring. Despite his fixation on how greedy and seedy MLB front offices tend to be and besides his disconnect with the purism-is-passion campaign I so wholeheartedly support, he does make a few good points. In short, nothing is going to change right now, so I might as well get used to it and hope for the best.
Just for today, I’m content with that.
Fear, which has long been an issue my Tiger-lovin’ friend has struggled with, must be addressed. If I were to walk away without confronting his deepest, underlying and now-in-the-open anxieties, I would be a poor voice for US Americans. In his last post, he let it be known that:
“…a specter came back to haunt me today…”
That specter’s name is Jeff Samardzija — Notre Dame superstar and latest edition to the Chicago Cubs pitching staff. Admittedly, I share no love for the man just as I share no love for Notre Dame nor the Cubs; however, to me, he is a man. Unfortunately for Mr. Krause, Samardzija has taken on an entirely phantasmal nature capable of penetrating and destroying his entire being.
And Samardzija is not the only one…
Dear readers, this must stop. It must stop today. And as Cesar has so rightfully taught us, it will stop by confronting, defeating and slaying. Attention all specters inhabiting Allen Krause’s mind: Be Gone!
Regis Philbin, Be Gone!
Famed Notre Dame alumnus known for entertaining housewives for over two decades now, this specter haunted Allen by asking “Who wants to be a millionaire?” to which Allen responded, “Who wants my foot in his ^ss?”
The Combination of Brad Lidge and Roger Clemens, Be Gone!
Lidge went to Notre Dame and became a fire-balling closer infamous for losing his mind under pressure. Clemens wore a Notre Dame jersey for a publicity stunt and pressured his body by juicing it until he lost his mind.
Hannah Storm, Be Gone!
This Notre Dame graduate (are you seeing a pattern develop?) became a female sports broadcasting star with NBC — the ultimate purveyor of all-things Fighting Irish. In specter form, she subliminally caused Allen’s abhorrent distaste for white women.
Carl Yastrzemski, Be Gone!
With that name, it’s hard to believe he went to Notre Dame but it’s true. He did. And his nickname was “Yaz”, which spelled backwards is “Zay”, like the language spoken in Ethiopia. And you know what you can find in Ethiopia? Missionaries. Catholic missionaries. Catholic missionaries who have ties to Notre Dame. Yeah, Yaz’s specter is one that runs circles around Mr. Krause’s mind.
Antonin Scalia, Be Gone!
Not a Notre Dame grad, but he might as well be. A highly conservative supreme court justice who just happens to be Catholic (not a bad thing in my book — the Catholic part), Allen saw him wearing blue and gold once and jumped to conclusions… Scalia’s been fear-mongering ever since.
Aaron Heilman, Be Gone!
You guessed it. A Notre Damer. Also pitches in New York, for the Mets. Famous for giving up the 9th inning dinger to Yadier Molina that put the Cardinals in the 2006 World Series against the Tigers (whom they eventually destroyed), Allen still holds a grudge against this specter. Also interesting is the fact that Heilman sounds a lot like Heisman, which is a prestigious college football award bestowed upon Tim Brown — also from Notre Dame — in 1987, which is a year that the Cardinals went to the World Series and the Tigers did not (though they were close).
…and finally, the biggest, most bothersome, most destructive specter of them all:
And I ain’t goin’ anywhere, Al, so you just better get used to it.
I know it’s tough, but don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.
As of this morning, the NL Central had three teams ten games
over 500 while the NL West leader is barely at .500!
If the playoffs started right now, one superior team would be completely
left out while one mediocre team would get to compete for the World
Series title. Should Major League
Baseball reexamine the playoff structure so that it actually sends the 4 best
teams from each league to the playoffs?
If so, how would you propose this be done?
Ever since 1969, when MLB first started using a playoff system to determine who would play for the World Series, purists have decried the vulgarization of the sport. And when the playoff system was expanded even further in 1994 so more teams could be involved, the old-timers cried themselves to sleep, I’m sure. However, as anyone who follows this blog is aware, I am not one to yearn for the good ol’ days. Baseball is entertainment and as such, it exists to make money. More teams in the playoffs means more money for the sport which means better facilities and the ongoing vitality of the game. But, there are downsides.
And the system could stand some revamping. As you point out, if the playoffs started today, a mediocre team would be in while an excellent team would be watching from home. On top of that, when you realize that due to the arbitrary makeup of the leagues a good team in a bad division has a much better chance at making the playoffs than an excellent team in a very competitive division, well, you can see how this creates a recipe for disaster. But the situation is not unprecedented.
Each year the BCS picks the two best teams in the nation to go at it in the National Championship game but every year controversy surrounds the pick. A two-loss LSU team gets in over a undefeated Hawaii squad? Yeah, LSU is better but they lost a couple games. And how are they better than a 2-loss Georgia team that went out and destroyed that undefeated Hawaii team?
NCAA football at least has a system that tries to take everything into account when deciding who will play in the championship. MLB randomly assigned teams to leagues and divisions and then wonders why people complain when a sub-par Cubs squad makes it in while a decent Padres team sits back in San Diego wondering how it all went wrong.
Suggestions exist for how the situation could be improved and it’s no surprise that Billy Beane would be putting it out there (scroll down to the very last item in the article). I don’t agree with both of his points because I don’t necessarily think the Division series’ need to be expanded but a new seeding format couldn’t hurt.
However, the likelihood of things changing soon is pretty small. If anything, maybe they’ll try to do like the NFL and expand the playoffs a little but it sure won’t be in a way that makes sense. What matters to the owners is that MLB continues to make money and teams like Boston, the Yankees and the Cubs that maximize MLB’s return on their investment continue to make it in. That’s just how it is.
Now, on a side note, a specter came back to haunt me today that now firmly roots me in the anti Cubs camp. As I was watching the scroll at the bottom of the screen on ESPN, a familiar name popped out at me. The man who got the save for Chicago today? Samardzija. Now, that’s not a name you see every day and the only other time I’ve ever heard it was was in reference to a receiver for the University of Notre Dame. And it’s the same guy. I’m sorry but I just can’t stand by as the Irish invade everything. Fighting Irish, that is. It’s bad enough that I have to accept them in the NFL but now they’re showing up in MLB as well? No, that’s just too far. And so to the Cubs and GM Jim Hendry I say, “Get thee behind me, Satan.” Just had to get that out there. I feel much better now.