It’s hard to know where to begin in a year that saw both halves of RSBS turn 30. 30? I was supposed to be a multi-millionaire by now. What happened with that?
But that doesn’t mean it was all bad. Jeff came to visit me in DC and we wound up with high roller seats at a Nationals game. Or should I say Natinals? And I also made it to Chicago to film the immediately iconic video, “Crush,” with Jeff. By the time October rolled around and the Tigers came within a game of making the playoffs, it felt like a pretty full year.
As Dickens said, “It was the best of times, and it was the worst of times.” And it sure was. The blog, just like our personal lives, had its fair share of ups and downs. Being the guy that he is, Jeff especially liked to catch people when they were down and give ’em one more kick, just to help them stay down. Don’t believe me? Ask Milton Bradley, Brad Lidge or the entire Cubs organization.
However, this is the time of year when we spend some time celebrating the ups. And what better way to celebrate than by breaking down my favorite Jeffery Lung authored posts in list format?
2nd Honorable Mention:
Jeff loves the interwebs and this love led to many memorable moments brought to us by Google and Coco Crisp. But if there was one internet interlude that could be defined as the paragon, it had to have been when Jeff was blocked from Barry Zito’s Twitter account by…..Barry Zito!
Although Chicago has never lacked political corruption scandals, Rod Blagojevich may have set a new standard for brazenness. Or maybe you thought he did until this year’s team of All-Star corrupt politicos was unveiled. Sure, he’s brazen. But is he Marion Barry brazen?
2nd Runner Up:
Moving from All-Corrupt to All-Star, RSBS was lucky enough this year to have a presence at the All-Star Game played in St. Louis. Jeff may not have come through on his bet to get a date with Erin Andrews but he more than made up for it in pictures. Especially pictures of his porn-stache.
1st Runner Up:
Some people may question other people’s love of baseball. But after reading this entry, you’ll never question Jeff’s. Even if it does sometimes lead to weird quasi-international incidents, we now know that there’s one thing that can bring a boy and his father or Americans and Canadians together and his name is Joe Carter.
And the Winner is……:
Could it really have been anything else? The sheer audacity of suggesting that the messiah/prophet/best-selling author has it in for Chicago’s lovable losers re-cemented Jeff’s status as one of the pre-eminent Cubs haters in the country. And the fact that Jesus showed up for the shoot just proves the thesis.
So, that’s about it for another year here at RSBS. It’s cold now but pitchers and catchers will be reporting soon and we’ll be there to welcome them back.
On Friday I fulfilled a lifelong personal dream!
I got to meet Larry Walker!!!
Actually, that’s a lie. I didn’t meet Larry Walker; but I did meet a very nice Canadian couple wandering the streets of Chicago looking for restaurant suggestions. The man’s name was Larry. And since all Canadians look alike, I think we can assume there isn’t much difference between the two.
All fooling aside, let it be known that Canadians are awesome! Awesome as in “awe” inspiring. They’re so friendly. They have funny accents. And they speak French!
Larry and his wife were so excited to talk to a real life US American (me) that once they got to talkin’, they started revealing all sorts of dark Canadian secrets — information I certainly shouldn’t be privy to. Oh well. Part of being a US American is not shying away from free enterprise. I’m sure Larry and his wife will understand. So here’s what I learned:
There Are No Death Panels
“We do have to wait in line sometimes for our x-rays and such,” said Larry, “but they certainly don’t make us wait in line during life threatening circumstances. And if you’re well off like we are, you can go to your own doctor on your own time if you want. The Canadian system of health care is great.”
Terrance & Phillip Characterizations Are More Accurate Than One Would Think
“We eat a lot of the same things Americans eat,” said Larry’s wife, “but the lower temperatures seem to wreak havoc on our bowels. We try to avoid Mexican food all together.”
Not All Canadians Live In Igloos
“My brother still lives in one,” said Larry, “but he’s a moose hunter and moose hunters are… well, they’re just a bit off, eh?”
Canadians Think US Americans Are Silly
“George W. Bush? Really? You guys voted for him… twice!” said Larry’s wife. “That’s silly to us. And you’re always scared. Fearful. No one’s going to blow up the Sears Tower. Chicago isn’t important on the world map. That’s like saying they’ll blow up the Stade Olympique. Why would anyone do that? Yet so many of you Americans are convinced your local Wal-Mart is the next target. Haha.”
I asked them: “What do you think of when you hear the name Joe Carter?”
Larry and his wife looked at each other and said, in unison, “Touch ’em all, Joe!”
How can we not love Canadians? Seriously.
Hate me ‘cuz I get all international on you, just don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right: Canadians are people too.
Anything wrong with that? Not in my opinion. In a world full of greed, hate, debauchery and Cubs baseball, I find solace knowing that even the tireless spin-doctoring and smoke-screening of Rod Blagojevich eventually falls on the deaf ears of a nation distracted with the task of rebuilding itself.
Blago’s days as governor are as numbered as Joe Morgan is annoying; and soon, he will just be another political coelacanth — a footnote in the oppression and wasted tax-dollars of a people.
In my fervent bidding adieu, I refuse to let Blago’s self-indulgent, gloomy demise get me down. The older I get, the more I realize how little my brain can actually remember if not trained otherwise; thus, I find it best to replace negativity with post-partisan positivity. So it is, on this four degree Sunday afternoon, with a broken heart and three cups of coffee too many, that I find grace in the baseball-politico memories dearest to me.
Of course, there are always the Joe Carters, the Kirk Gibsons, the Ozzie Smiths… the inauguration of a new hope for my country… those are all givens. Today I focus on the obscure, the seemingly minute, the more poignant personal moments that help me to forget about what an awful place this earth can be sometimes. And so I begin…
Ozzie Guillen Goes to Bobby Jenks
A move he’s made several times, but never as interesting as it was during the 2005 post-season when Ozzie motioned for Jenks by extending his arms out sideways as if to say: “Bring in the fat fella.”
Talking to Carlos Lee Outside Wrigley Field
Having gone hitless against Ted Lilly that night, I was stunned to see a smiling Carlos Lee on the corner of Sheffield and Addison waiting to get on the Astros player’s bus. I approached him — all gargantuan 230 plus pounds of him — and flippantly asked: “Caballo, what happened?”
“Ball move too much, man.”
I’m still laughing at that one.
“Yes We Can” Viral Video
Sure, I admit I’m a sucker for inspirational acts of creativity… this one still gets me.
Brian Anderson’s Catch
Picture it, October 1, 2008… a one game playoff between the White Sox and Twins to crown the AL Central winner, and a Jim Thome homerun is all that separates the two when we reach the top of the ninth and two outs. A sharp flare streamlines to right center field, in comes Brian Anderson… instant party on the Southside.
Bill Clinton on Carroll Quigley, DNC 1992
As a young, impressionable, questioning 12 year-old, this quote pushed me in to politics… to stay.
Adam Wainwright’s Curveball
Whether it was striking out Carlos Beltran looking or Brandon Inge swinging, I’ve never seen a more devastating hook — ever.
Barack Obama’s 2004 DNC Keynote Address
I thought a change was a comin’… didn’t know it was going to take so long, but it got me revved up nonetheless.
Yadier Molina Hitting .304 in 2008
After the rocket homerun he hit off Aaron Heilman to beat the Mets in the 2006 NLCS, Molina became my indisputable hero. To see him blossom into a true hitter in conjunction with his unrivaled defensive skills just makes me want to hug the guy any chance I get. Yadi, you out there, pal? Let’s hook that up.
Grandma Lois Talking Baseball
May she rest in peace, my beloved grandmother was talking Cardinals baseball like no other 84 year-old I knew. Before the 2004 season, she told me: “It’d be nice to see Edmonds and Rolen have really good years.” She died on April 20, 2004; Jimmy and Scott both put up career numbers and vied for the MVP. I know she’s still smiling about that one.
Post 9/11 Baseball in New York
I’d be hard pressed to find a more inspiring, more electric, more communal surge of patriotic energy and overall bipartisan goodwill towards all through the greatest game on earth than what took place in New York City that fall.
I still get goosebumps just thinking of it.
Don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.
If you called me an insane, obsessed, socially maladjusted freak in regards to my passion for the game of baseball, you would be absolutely correct. Try as I might to cover up the idiosyncratic ticks that put me at the top of the weird charts, there really is no denying my beyond reasonable quirkiness. In fact, baseball has long affected my dating life, my filial responsibilities, my job.
So you can imagine the worry and fear experienced by my dearest friends and loved ones when the MLB Network officially launched earlier this year. It has been alluded to that since the network aired, getting in contact with me has been harder than taking Sarah Palin seriously. This I cannot deny.
Besides getting the inside scoop on all things off-season baseball from the Hot Stove Show, shedding man-tears watching Mookie’s grounder trickle between Buckner’s legs and vehemently arguing/defending the selections of Prime 9, I have also been forced to evaluate the roots of my undying passion for our national pastime and why it means so much to me.
Which takes me back to the beginning…
Unlike many young boys, my father had very little to do with my interest in baseball. As great a man as he was (still is), he always had a calm reserve — an indifferent nature towards the game. Sure, he was a fan of sorts; but he wasn’t nuts about it in any way. His sister was. Yes, it’s all her fault. My dear Aunt Alice and her husband, Uncle Iggy, were absolutely wild about baseball and they molded me into a young, opinionated, domineering superfan at an early age.
Indeed, no two people had a greater effect on my psycho-following of the St. Louis Cardinals. They ate, slept and breathed Cardinals baseball (still do); their fiery enthusiasm infected me before I could even walk. Upon reflection, my earliest baseball memory is the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s front page color photo of bedlam at Busch after the 1982 World Series. Emulating Jack Clark’s short swing and despising Don Denkinger came soon after. With the help of my aunt and uncle, it wasn’t long before I was memorizing the starting lineup of the ’85 club and dreaming of being Ozzie Smith.
My father took a backseat to this unruly creation of a Redbird child. While supportive of my decision to “go crazy, folks, go crazy” while reenacting Ozzie’s fist pump around the bases, it was clear that Dad didn’t quite understand what all the fuss was about. Despite the quizzical looks he gave when I argued to stay home and watch the game rather than go to the video arcade, he accepted the fact that his son was some kind of weirdo.
As soon as I could operate the VCR, I was recording any and every baseball game on television. During the long the winter months I watched those games with the same intensity with which I watched them the first time. Then I’d watch them again. And again and again.
“Shh. It’s Tewksbury versus Sutcliffe, Dad. Pena’s gonna throw Walton out at second. Wait and see.”
“But you’ve seen this game already.”
“I haven’t seen all of it. There’s too much going on all at once. I’m watching just Pena this time. Just Pena. Watch.”
And he would… he would placate my desire… because he saw how important it was to me.
It was very important to me.
My parents were divorced. It got ugly at times. I lived with my dad, separated from my sister, who lived with my mom a hundred miles away. While my childhood spun around in chaotic circles of arguments, misunderstandings and fear, the melodic pace and harmonic rhythm of baseball calmed me like no drug ever could: the unique sound of Tom Brunansky’s bat, a whipping line-drive snagged by Pendleton at third, a Ken Daley strikeout. No matter what the final score, baseball, with its disregard for time and its indifferent ability to create heroes and villains and bystanders, became the one constant in my life.
It kept me sane.
So it was October, 1993, and I found myself in a certain state of panic. I was a selfish 14 year old boy who couldn’t imagine missing Game 6 of the ’93 Series and I wasn’t about to be quiet about it. In Tulsa, Oklahoma at the time to cheer on my dad (a marathon runner) in the 15k Tulsa Run, my complaining escalated — eventually becoming more annoying than persuading. The race was long over, but we were not anywhere near a television; the game had started and the anticipation was killing me.
“Dad, we have to go watch the game!” I whined.
“Okay, we will.”
“No, now! We’ve already missed the first inning!”
“We will. We’ll go in a little bit. It’s just the Blue Jays and Phillies anyway —
“Just the Blue Jays and — Dad, it’s important! We have to go!”
Several shrills of suffering and an hour or so later we were finally in the comforts of a relative’s home, watching the game.
My dad rested his tired legs and read the newspaper while I glued myself to the t.v. set, still jittery, shaken, upset from missing the first five innings of play. It was 5-1 Blue Jays and Dad uttered: “See, it’s gonna be a blowout anyway, Jeff.”
I grit my teeth.
And when the Phillies went on a tear in the seventh inning, scoring five runs to take a 6-5 lead, I looked back at him and said, “This is why you can never turn off a game, Dad. Anything is possible.”
Dad managed but a glance away from his paper.
The ninth inning rolled around. I shook with nerves at the suspenseful drama, mystique, myriad possibilities. Dad was unmoved. “Game’s over, Jeff. Mitch Williams is coming in.”
“You never know, Dad. You never know. You have to watch. Just watch.”
Williams walked Rickey Henderson.
“Just watch, Dad. Please.”
Fed up with my whining, he reluctantly put his paper down just in time to see Devon White fly out.
Paul Molitor singl
Joe Carter dug in.
I heard the rustling of Dad’s newspaper again, but before he could get into the reading position I shot him a glare so vicious, so maniacal, so threatening that he had no choice but to put it back down and focus on the game… just in time to see this:
Unaffiliated with the Blue Jays, unaffiliated with the Phillies, but fully affiliated with the wondrous game of baseball, I shot to my feet and screamed like a little girl. My whole being gushed with excitement, with incredulity, with a burning sensation never before felt as Carter jumped and ran the bases.
I looked at my dad, his jaw on the floor, eyes lit up like the Skydome fireworks.
“Did you see that, Dad!?! Did you see that!?!”
“I… I saw it. I don’t believe it but I… I saw it.”
“Don’t you see, Dad? Anything’s possible.”
“I guess you’re right. Anything is possible.”
If you can dream it, it can happen.
That’s the lesson baseball taught me, the lesson Joe Carter taught my dad, the lesson that comes from having a father who believes in you…
I love you, Dad. And don’t forget… you can’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right. You said it yourself on October 23, 1993.