Just like the primaries and the general election, baseball also has its own storylines. There are the fairy tale Rays, the quietly impressive Angels, the never-say-die Brewers and those loveable losers themselves, the Cubs. However, sometimes these stories and those from the political arena bear an uncanny resemblance to each other.
If you’re wondering where I’m going with this, you don’t have to wait any longer. Here it is. The first, quadrennial RSBS Presidency Postseason!
We start with the new kids on the block. Both the GOP and the AL came into existence a while after their older siblings but they both became powerhouses rather quickly. Quite frankly, both the Republicans and the free-swinging American Leaguers have also been putting their older brethren to shame in recent years. The AL’s Ronald Reagan, the New York Yankees, can’t be with us this year but we still pay our respects to those who try to carry the pennant.
When it comes to this year’s participants, it only makes sense to start in Abraham Lincoln’s home state and look at the Chicago White Sox. Unfortunately, the White Stockings are sadly reminiscent of the prescient yet unappreciated Ron Paul. They fight and they fight, just to even get into the dance but even though they seem to have the right pieces, it just ain’t gonna’ happen. No one appreciates them but that’s how these brutal games work.
Mike Huckabee and the Tampa Bay
Devil Rays have to be two of the most compelling stories of the year. They’re fresh, they’re chock-full of talent, they lost a ton of weight and wrote a book about it. But even though they make a great run at it and continue to push despite knowing they’ve already lost, the fact of the matter is that they, well, lose. Put them down for the semis but that’s where the story ends.
On paper the Los Angeles Angels (of Anaheim) have to be the most impressive team, eerily evocative of their doppleganger, Mitt Romney. They have everything going for them from the best closer in baseball to really great hair. But looking good on paper doesn’t always translate to real world success. Early defeat dooms both and they’ll look back and wonder how it happened.
Which leaves us with the soon-to-be AL champion Boston Red Sox. A while ago, the Red Sox just couldn’t put it all together. There was Bill Buckner, the epic 2003 failure against the Yankees and a basic inability to get things done. Basically, they were circa 2000 John McCain. But similar to the phoenix that was the 2004 Red Sox, McCain has come soaring back in 2008. As soon as you count either one of them out you’re going to be in a whole world of hurt. And that’s why, just like McCain, the Red Sox will advance to the final.
The NL, like the Democrats, is an enigma. They seem to have the talent, the flair, the running game but they just can’t put all the pieces together. Yeah, there are flukes like the Marlins, the Cardinals and Jimmy Carter. And every once in a while a real dynasty (the old Cincinnatti Reds, Bill Clinton) comes along. But that’s about as rare as a lump of steak tartare. So, how do the perennial also-rans figure in this year?
Just like her team, the Chicago Cubs, Hillary Clinton appeared to have everything going for her. The large war-chest, the aura of inevitability. And just like Hillary, I expect the Cubs to make it to the semifinals. However, that’s where it ends for both of them. It’s a nice story but it just won’t cut it.
Meanwhile, the Milwaukee Brewers bear an uncanny resemblance to Mike Gravel. They don’t really seem to know what’s going on, no one is quite sure what they’re doing here and most everyone just wants them to leave. As they go quietly into the night, people will ask themselves if that really happened. Yeah, it did but don’t worry about it.
On the opposite end of America, from a cosmopolitan megalopolis where $400 haircuts are the norm, come the Los Angeles Dodgers, the soulmate of John Edwards. Yep, they may have come from humble roots but you’re not kidding anyone these days. The question is, will Alyssa Milano turn out to be the Dodgers’ Rielle Hunter? Either way, neither the Dodgers or Mr. Edwards are going to stick around long enough for us to find out.
And that brings us to the Philadelphia Phillies. Yep, that’s right. Long-suffering Philadelphia is our Barack Obama, a story that tells us that, yes, we can. Trust me, I didn’t see it coming anymore than you did but baseball, like politics, is a funny game. They both look kind of different (Obama, in fact, may have gotten his ears from the Phillie Phanatic) and neither one of them would be the obvious pick but somehow they both make it through and remain standing in the end.
However, all of this only brings us to the final act. And this one is a doozy. The heir apparent to the fortunes of the AL East against a former also-ran from the NL East. Like McCain and Obama, both teams have the pedigree to be crowned the champions but it is a contest and, like the Higlander, there can be only one.
So, how does it end, you’re probably asking? Well, although I don’t expect either McCain or the Red Sox to lose their heads (HA HA HA), this is the year of the “How’d they get there?” scrappers. That’s right. Get excited Philadelphia! C’mon and say it with me now: Yes, We Can!
Did I forget to say “Happy Autumn” last week? If I did, I truly apologize. I guess I figured that most RSBS readers had already figured out the change of season. It’s usually pretty evident from the bite in the air, the start of the football season and the Mets’ annual late-season choke.
And it’s even better this year with the Yankees relegated to the sidelines. In fact, except for some minor concerns (the credit crisis and imminent depression, Michigan’s loss to Notre Dame), things couldn’t be much better right now.
But I can’t just leave it at that. That’s not how I roll. No, just like my buddy John McCain, I need to make a “dramatic and devastating” statement.
And here it is: I will not write any more mean things about either the Republican Presidential nominee or the Republican Vice Presidential nominee. Like my mother always told me, if you can’t say anything nice, just don’t say anything at all.
Instead, it’s only going to be important, sports-based commentary as we shift our focus towards the ongoing playoff races. For instance, have you been watching those Mets, Phillies and Brewers as they battle for the NL wild card? Or how about the dogfight between the White Sox and Twins in the AL Central? And what about that USC-Oregon State shocker Thursday night? And…uh, well, and…
….I’m sorry. I just can’t do it. I mean, have you seen this:
This is Bill Buckner-esque. I have very low expectations when it comes to our elected officials but at this point I think I’d rather have Harry Caray as VP. I’d rather have Joe Buck. Hell, I’d rather have Erin Andrews and you all know my views on her.
You know what’s beautiful, though? Even though we have no control over the playoff races and what happens to our teams, we do have a say in who gets elected in November. And that’s why I want to take this opportunity to urge any RSBS readers out there who aren’t already registered to make sure they do it soon. If you aren’t or you just aren’t sure, here’s a great site that will help you either figure out where you are registered or take you through the process for the first time. It doesn’t matter if you “Rock the vote” or “Vote or die.” What matters is that you vote.
Well, it seems that Republican presidential nominee and good friend of RSBS John McCain has finally settled on a strategy in this year’s campaign: Total disengagement. That’s right. No access, no answers and now, no debates. Obviously something must be worrying the McCain campaign. Perhaps it’s that sinking feeling they’re getting from the polls. Maybe it’s the gorge rising in the voters’ throats as they find out the truth about his second in command. But perhaps it’s something a little more simple. Maybe he realizes he made a terrible mistake when he asked for advice from this man:
No matter the reason, you might think that this level of incompetence is completely unprecedented. Well, it’s not. For instance, Isiah Thomas and his impressive dismantlement of both the CBA and the Knicks made this type of woeful incompetence seem ordinary. And don’t even get me started on former (Thank you, Jeebus!) Detroit Lions President and GM Matt Millen. However, skills like these are not just the domain of sports involving big leathery balls (politics included). No, it’s quite present in America’s favorite pastime, too.
If you follow RSBS, you know that Jeff has made several mentions of the current Cardinals management and their inept handling of contracts this year. One could argue that Tiger’s GM Dave Dombrowski’s signing of Dontrelle Willis and Kyle Farnsworth also ensconces him firmly in that camp. And Bud Selig’s handling of the steroid problem definitely won’t win him the Jack Welch Award for Excellence in Management. But when it comes to managerial ineptitude, there is only one man in baseball, past or present, who can lay claim to the title of “Least Competent.” Unfortunately, he’s also the one holding the keys to the car.
Hey Jeffy, if we just find ourselves a Reno Sweeney, we could totally do a cut down production of Anything Goes! Why anyone would want to watch it is beyond me but it’s a thought. To be honest, though, I’d rather watch that than John McCain’s stewardship of the economy if he becomes president.
Why do I say this? Well, because just yesterday he said he’d fire the SEC chairman if he could. I’m not saying this is a bad idea or a good idea but the fact that Mr. “I know nothing about the economy” uses a random firing as his response to our ongoing fiscal crisis is beyond insane. It’s like Charlie Weis telling us that he got his knee blown out because of an incompetent podiatrist. No Charlie, your knee ligaments no longer exist because you’re a fat, out of shape man who got hit by a couple hundred pounds of solid muscle moving at high speed.
And likewise for you, Mr. McCain. The economy isn’t in the crapper because of a Bush crony in a plum position (although it probably didn’t help much). It’s because senators like you have been forcing deregulation through the Congress for years in order to help your fat-cat friends make more money at the expense of share-holders.
In the end, this is nothing more than a diversionary tactic. Think of it like the 1st and 3rd shortstop cover where the catcher throws down to the shortstop with runners on the corners in hopes of catching the guy at third breaking for home. Maybe this worked in Little League but it’s pretty rare that you’d even take a shot at it in the Majors.
However, that doesn’t keep people from trying this and other tactics. For instance, just a few days ago the Brewers fired their manager, Ned Yost, in hopes that this would magically halt their annual slide. Now, I love me some Dale Sveum and only wish that he still sported the mustache but the fact of the matter is that this changes nothing. When the heart of your lineup isn’t hitting and even CC can’t stop the hurting, things aren’t going well. You just have to face the fact that you’re the Brewers and this is what you do.
Sadly, diversion and denial seem to be the words of the day in both politics and baseball. For Commissioner Bud Selig steroids sure were bad but wasn’t it great to see all those home runs? In our presidents mind there may have been no WMDs in Iraq but isn’t it great that the Iraqis now have a democracy?*
*note: democracy is much nicer when you aren’t getting killed by your next-door neighbor or blown up by your co-confessionalist.
Perhaps Mr. Porter had our politicians and baseball owners in mind all those years ago when closing out the lyrics to Anything Goes:
The world has gone mad today
And good’s bad today
And black’s white today
And day’s night today
And most guys today that women prize today
Are just silly gigolos
Sounds about right to me.
I have been accused by some people of writing too much about Venezuela on this blog. But it’s hard not to write about this wonderfully dysfunctional country when they just keep finding ways to amuse. Now, if Mr. McCain were our president I’m sure he would have already gone in and occupied the country since war is the first and only answer.
However, cooler minds had prevailed up until this point and we had managed to stay out of a p!ssing match with our South American wannabe nemesis.
In the same way I have tried to avoid conflict with my friend and co-blogger, Mr. Lung. I figured that by letting him say what he wanted and not responding, I could avoid the tension and childish escalations that now define the U.S.-Venezuela relationship. In both instances, those days are now behind us. From now on, I will call it exactly like I see it.
Mr. Lung, you are wrong about instant replay. Reviewing disputed home run calls makes the game more just. And the game stops for less time than a commercial break so where’s the continuity problem many opponents have decried? If there were umps down the baselines in the outfield like there are in the playoffs, then you might have an argument. But there aren’t so I’ll have to kindly ask you to go home. You have 72 hours to pack your bags and leave.
Now, I hope this doesn’t provoke some sort of diplomatic incident. I hope you don’t get sick on some sushi and throw up all over my shoes. And I hope you will still continue to sell me your otherwise unrefinable crude oil.
However, if I may be so bold, I would like to make one final effort and extend an olive branch to my once and future friend. And this symbol of peace comes, strangely enough, directly from President Chavez’s rambling diatribe dismissing the US ambassador this week. I think we can all agree on this one thing:
F—ing Yankees indeed.
Nothing says autumn like a good old heated political firestorm coupled with a stretch battle for a final spot in the MLB playoffs. Right now, it’s all gettin’ really good. So, dear readers, let us not forget to let it all sink in (the arguments, the media gaffes, the low blows) and really enjoy what we have going on here.
And more importantly, let us not forget to honor our heroes.
When I think of John McCain, the first thing that comes to mind is: HERO. You can’t be a prisoner-of-war survivor and not be a hero. Having spent the first 18 years of my life in a sequestered Illinois river-town also known as the armpit of the mighty Mississippi, I like to think that I understand what it means to be imprisoned by the enemy without any of the amenities I have come to enjoy in my adulthood. Because of that, my hat will always go off to Senator McCain… for his loyalty, his passion and his love of country.
But I can’t help but think about how he came to be a POW in the first place: while flying his plane over Hanoi he was shot down by the Viet Cong. In other words, he failed his mission. Now, I’m not trying to belittle his accomplishments in uniform — not at all — but what I am trying to say is that this hero persona that the GOP is clinging to with all their might is really exposing the fact that Senator McCain has already proven his ability to ‘fail’.
It’s sort of like me saying: “Well, sir, at least I didn’t get your daughter pregnant.” And he replies: “That’s because you’ve been doing it in the ^ss.”
Okay, well, maybe it’s not quite like that but I think you understand my point.
So today I’d like us to shift focus from one hero — the one who’s heroics have been thoroughly documented and vetted and celebrated and characterized and relied upon and written about — to one who very few people recognize at all: Yadier Molina.
Quite possibly the most talented of all the Molina brother catchers, young St. Louis Cardinal Yadier gets very little credit for his mounting heroics. My man-crush for Yadi began the very first time I saw him rifle a ball to second base. Blessed with a pure cannon of an arm, I soon learned that potential base-stealers would be smart to shorten their leadoffs from first as well; because no one guns ’em out at first better, with more accuracy or more surprise than good ‘ol Number 4.
As a matter of principle, I tend not to purchase MLB jerseys with a player’s name and number on the back for fear that his tenure may not outlast the jersey’s wearability; but when Yadi singlehandedly sent the Cardinals to the World Series in 2006 by jacking that 9th inning homer off Aaron Heilman, I couldn’t help myself. I went out and bought his jersey the next day.
Yadier became my hero.
He still is. Not only has Molina’s defense gotten consistently better and devastatingly fearsome over his four and a half years in the big leagues, but he has suddenly found a live offensive stroke to go along with it. He hits for average and almost never strikes out, making him one tough total package on both sides of the field.
And that toughness has never been more apparent than it was last night when Molina was absolutely railroaded, steamrolled and body slammed by Cubs pitcher Ted Lilly in a collision at the plate. Molina is a catcher. Getting clocked is a part of his job. But I’m pretty sure most of us average joes would’ve had a hard time getting up from that, or take getting plowed by a pitcher with such grace, let alone continue the game, taking at-bats, calling pitches. I was amazed he made it through four innings.
I’d probably still be lying on the ground right now if that were me.
Which is reason enough to prove that I, dear readers, am not a hero. Sung or unsung, left or right, red or blue, I’m just that guy you love to hate…
…because you’re always allowed to hate me; but you can’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.
Now that Gov. Palin has thrown her hat in the ring, the entire political calculus has changed. For instance, time honored aphorisms like “Lipstick on a pig” are no longer valid because apparently Ms. Palin reclaimed the word “lipstick” for woman governors everywhere with her speech last week. So, in honor of Ms. Palin’s inanity, I want to propose a few more phrases that should be reclaimed.
First off, I don’t think that ESPN sportscasters should be allowed to say “RBIs” as word (i.e. ribbies) anymore. Frankly, I find it offensive to the wonderful American fast food chain, Arby’s. They have been fighting a losing battle for years now and it’s time we stand up for them. C’mon. This is America and in my America, we cheer for the underdog.
In a similar vein, “change” has now ceased to mean anything at all. (Brief aside: the fact that the same word can be used in two completely different ways has been put to good use in some more intellectual circles. I love homophones.) When the status quo becomes “change,” the word has obviously been redefined in some way. It’s like saying the 2000 Yankees represented a change from the 1998 and 1999 Yankees. Maybe a few of the faces were different but it was the same old Evil Empire.
Here’s the thing, though. If you’re going to ding Sen. Obama on the lipstick comment, shouldn’t you really be getting him for the stinky fish analogy that followed? I mean, that one is really offensive, right? Or maybe it’s just a bunch of pundits and politicians using a situation to their advantage as they are wont to do. Luckily, I’m sure we never have to worry about Sen. McCain or Gov. Palin doing something like that. Right?
Oh. Right. Nevermind.
You know what I wouldn’t mind seeing, though? Lipstick on Jason Giambi. That would go great with the mustache.