The rottenness I’m talking about is the foul stench that emanates from a past-his-prime public relations disaster who seems to have eaten Tony Gwynn on his way to joining the Sugar Land Skeeters. That’s right, as if taking a page right out of Jose Canseco’s book of insanity, Mr. Clemens, the fallen idol of my youth, is now preparing to embarrass himself with what I can only assume is a Favrian attempt to prolong the inevitable Hall of Fame first ballot denial.
If Roger can get on a Big League roster, he’ll get another five years before being considered. And who knows, by then they might be banning people 50 games for NOT TAKING EFFING STEROIDS.
And happy Friday!
I could care less, Mike.
And that’s… sad. Sorta.
To be honest, I’m so over it — all of it… the steroids, the scandals, the lying, the cover-ups, the BALCOs, the blue sweaters. Yes, there comes a time when even extreme baseball purists like myself have no choice but to let…
Because baseball’s numbers will never be the same. Never. Long gone are the days when a digit might suggest greatness. The hallowed marks of achievement died sometime in the late 80s, when a clubhouse party at the Coliseum consisted of needles, juice and dudes gettin’ jacked. They killed it — they murdered the prestige. It’s all dead now. The numbers will never be as important as they were before PEDs, before Barry, before A-Rod.
I’ve finally come to terms with that.
And I’m also happy to say that the desacrilization of baseball’s numbers won’t kill the game.
I used to think it would.
And it won’t.
Which is exactly why baseball is the grandest game on the planet. It has withstood wars, betting scandals, collusion, labor disputes. Its integrity has been challenged. Its image has been smeared. On many occasions, it has even been left for dead.
But it always comes back to life. And it comes back to life bigger, better, stronger.
Hank Aaron. 755.
Roger Maris. 61.
Those are the ones we choose — collectively, as a people, as a community — those are the ones we’ll remember.
The other numbers? I couldn’t tell you how many homeruns Barry Bonds hit in his career. I couldn’t tell you because I don’t care. The public doesn’t care. We don’t care.
And that’s a beautiful sign that baseball has moved on, beyond the numbers; because, let’s face it: sometimes, you just have to move on.
In our case, we are all very lucky, because we get to move on together.
I’m right on that, Mike. Just don’t hate me ‘cuz of it.
***SEND US YOUR FILIBUSTERS****
Something on your mind? Want to see Jeff and Al sweat (separately, not together, eww)? Think you got a real stumper? Send us your Filibuster question(s) by commenting or emailing them to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
***Videos of Al in a speedo, dry humpin’ reporters at Hedonism II also welcome.
Jose Canseco turns 46 today. For a guy who juiced as much as he did and who is almost as famous for letting a pop-up bounce off of his head as he is for belting tape measure home runs, it’s kind of amazing to think he could make it to 50.
It would also be amazing if this dimwit makes it that far:
“Hey Jerry! Guess what? I totally shorted BP and I’m going to make a killing……..Of course I’m going to the Hamptons this weekend, well, as long as my herpes don’t flare up again…..”
No more Hamptons and so much for that nose job.
As if facing Team Japan in the World Baseball Classic’s upcoming semifinals isn’t enough pressure on the already limping USA squad, once the laundry list of abominable possibilities finally settles in, we US Americans could be in big trouble.
Nevermind the impeccable team consciousness so calculated and so perfected by Team Japan during international competition. Nevermind Team Japan’s quiet gamesmanship deftly defining and defending their world-class status. Nevermind Dice-K and Darvish. There is much more to fear… for example:
Rape! Dear readers, Ted Bundy, Mike Tyson, Kobe Bryant… these guys ain’t got nuthin’ on the Japanese. Don’t believe me? Know this: from December 1937 to February 1938, the Japanese raped an entire city! The then southern stronghold of China, Nanjing (aka Nanking), was completely decimated by the Japanese in a not-so-quiet storm of raging pillage quite akin to the stomping Chris Brown gave Rihanna not too long ago.
If that isn’t reason enough to fear the Japanese, how about this?
Not only do they combine situational hitting with speed, they are also known to make sure the opposite clubhouse spread is spiked with magic mushrooms, leaving the competition confused in a burst of beguiling blur.
Yet nothing should invoke more fear in the hearts of Americans than the Japanese group mind. To illustrate, here’s a clip of Team Japan’s batting practice:
They may not be a hit on Broadway (yet), but the Japanese sure do know how to rhythmically scare the bejesus out of any and all opponents willing to scrap.
US Americans, let us unite! Persevere! And conquer!
Don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.
P.S. Dear readers, if you haven’t already, make sure you purchase the Prince of New York Paul Lebowitz’s 2009 Baseball Guide. You can get it *here* and you should get it soon. It is your one-stop shop for all things 2009 MLB and it has magical powers (and by “magical powers” I mean “table of contents”). Believe me, this dude knows what he’s talking about. He’s the clean, charming, polite version of Jose Canseco.
On the real.
(Ichiro blur photo courtesy of Donald Miralle/Getty Images)
How very un-American our mothers are!
Indeed, freedom of speech — speaking one’s mind — venereal verbosity — is just but one of the many great attributes of being an US American. Believe me, after living in China for four years, it is both comforting and refreshing to know that I can publicly endorse the extreme social and mental benefits of playing the Harold Reynolds drinking game on a semi-regular basis. (*In China, drinking games are not allowed unless they are a) a way to dupe silly Americans into sending jobs overseas b) a way to dupe silly Americans into eating Fido and liking it or c) a means to getting drunk.)
Yet sometimes, our mothers seem to actually know what they are talking about. And such advice would really come in handy if your name was Alex Rodriguez or Ann Coulter or any one of these individuals:
He says publicly that he would like to make a comeback and play for either the Chicago Cubs or the Tampa Bay Rays. Okay. Fair enough, Curt. You are a gamer. You probably still have it in you to pitch at the Major League level. Yet, considering your less-than-admirable reputation among others in the league, would it not be more beneficial to just go about your business and get in the game rather than release a statement of who you would like to pitch for? And why the ultimatum for those two teams? Could you not pitch for the Pirates just as easily as you could the Cubs? This ploy is eerily similar to me drunk texting women from my past at three in the morning when I would be much better off going to bed or more successful by getting in a cab and just showing up at someone’s doorstep.
As an US American, it is one thing to say “I hope my party [the Republican Party] gains momentum and succeeds in the next presidential race.” I do not think anyone would have a problem with that. The problem is, the GOP’s own Jabba the Hutt did not say that. He said: “I hope he [President Obama] fails.”
Go eat yourself to death, Rush.
Personally, I like Steve Phillips and the general manager perspective he brings to ESPN’s broadcasts. In general, I find Phillips to be a decent guy who always calculates what he is going to say before he says it. But to publicly lambast Lou Piniella on his handling of Japanese imports (Kosuke Fukudome) is something even I find astonishing. He said:
“My view is Lou doesn’t have a great deal of patience of assimilation
into culture, assimilation in the team. He is just not the most patient
guy around and he tends to verbalize his frustrations in an angry way.
I think that may have affected Fukudome a little bit.”
Hmm. Well, Steve-O, I think you may have ticked Lou off just a tiny bit with that one. Ordinarily, I would attempt to defend you in some way, but then I saw how crazy you really are when you said: Dontrelle Willis will be the comeback player of the year in 2009.
Yes, the democrat who just won’t go away is still… around… and this time he is writing a book! Don’t feel bad, folks; I didn’t think he could read either, but apparently he can (or someone can for him) and when it is all said and done there will be a big, fat, juicy tell-all telling all about… er… eh… what we already know. Blago’s foray into Jose Canseco-ism may be a success only if he can convince anyone to care about what he has to say. From my vantage point, that ain’t happening. We are talking about corrupt politicians here, not homerun happy ‘roiders. Big difference.
I know, I know. Dempster has not said anything extraordinarily stupid… yet. But he will. That is what he does.
Don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.
**In lieu of THIS BREAKING NEWS, we at RSBS would like to congratulate Manny Ramirez and Scott Boras on successfully hijacking the Dodgers for the entire off-season. That is classy. No, that is Roberto Alomar I’ll-spit-AIDS-in-your-eye kind of classy. Believe that.
What could possibly be funnier than a holocaust-denying bishop exchanging blows with an Argentinian reporter?
I can think of many things.
But in the end, what is making my side split today is the announcement that Condoleezza Rice (what’s the second “z” for anyway?) has signed a book deal with Crown Publishers to write three — count ’em three — books detailing her tenure in the White House as well as delving into her oh-so-saucy personal life.
Crown issued this statement:
“Rice will combine candid narrative and acute analysis to tell the story
of her time in the White House and as America’s top diplomat, and her
role in protecting American security and shaping foreign policy during
the extraordinary period from 2001-2009.”
Extraordinary? You betchya! That was an extraordinary, poorly structured sentence!
When Crown Publishers says “candid”, what they really mean is “bullhickey” and when Crown Publishers says “acute analysis” what they really mean is “a cute anal cyst”.
I am going on record with that.
Ah yes, the moment we have all been waiting for, my friends: the inevitable onslaught of uninteresting, embellished memoirs (see James Frey) from Bush administration cadres who would be much better off hiding under that blanket of destitution they collectively weaved over those eight long years.
Dick Cheney’s memoir: I Screwed Over My Own Country and Got Away with It
Donald Rumsfeld’s memoir: Blowing Up People Is Fun
Dubya’s memoir: I Am Smarter than a Fifth Grader Because I Am Way More Educationified
I suspect these tell-alls will not tell all and that they will all be as candid and truthful as an Alex Rodriguez/Katie Couric interview.
If you want the truth, read the battery of explicit facts spewed by one Jose Canseco. He seems to be the one with all the info and up to this point, he has been the most accurate when disclosing the inner workings of a poorly policed administration.
Speaking of good stuff, I am and always have been a reader (how else do you think I became so intelligent?) and though I enjoy some good fiction every now and then, my true passion is reading about real life. These days I can be found reading Jane Heller’s Confessions of a She-Fan. My busy schedule of Cub fan hounding and John Mozeliak thrashing has allowed me to only read a little bit each day, but I can honestly say that I am thoroughly enjoying it.
And since we are all about telling the truth here at RSBS, I am not going to withhold the fact that while reading Jane’s book during my commutes on the Chicago Transit Authority, I do my absolute best to hide the chick-lit-esque cover boasting a female fan donning a Yankee cap, looking up at an invisible monster whom I can only assume is Theo Epstein. The cover lady’s eyes are dreamy. She’s definitely into me. But I still force myself to cover it up. I live in Chicago after all. Like the rest of the blue collar cities, we hate ‘dem Yankees… don’t get me wrong, the book is great and all…
Just remember: I have an image to uphold.
Luckily, my stealth allows me to take in Confessions and really enjoy it. And while I may not have the desire to date a Yankee, as author Jane Heller once did, I sure would not mind dating some of the Yankees’ leftovers.
Believe me, that would be way more interesting than any Condoleezza Rice book.
So go ahead. Throw the book at me; just don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.
I remember listening to NPR while driving to work one spring morning and hearing a wonderful rendition of the famous poem, Casey at the Bat. It was read by James Earl Jones and the recitation was accompanied by some orchestra. Sure enough, it was Opening Day and it felt like the perfect way to start the baseball season.
But that was a different time. That was spring of 2002 when maybe we weren’t quite as naive as we had been but we were far enough removed from the strike and still unaware of the steroid scandal. I’m afraid that if I were to tune in my radio on Opening Day this year, the poem would be quite a bit shorter and might go something like this:
The outlook wasn’t brilliant for most baseball fans that day;
Canseco had become a sage with allegations of tainted play,
And when McGwire admitted using, and knowing Bonds had done the same,
A pall-like silence fell upon the patrons of the game.
A straggling few got up to go in deep despair. The rest
Clung to that hope which springs eternal in the human breast;
They thought with optimism that was waning as of late,
“The game might still have purity now, with A-Rod at the plate.”
But, the sneer has fled from A-Rod’s lip, the eyes are filled with tears;
He sports a shirt and sweater as his soul to us he bares.
And now Gammons forms the question, and now he lets it go,
And now the air is shattered by the force of A-Rod’s blow.
Oh, somewhere in this favored land the sun is shining bright,
The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light,
And somewhere men are laughing, and little children shout;
But there is no joy in baseball — mighty A-Rod has struck out.
Only this time it’s not just the Mudville nine that lose. It’s all of us.
If you are one to eschew the daily fear mongering and perpetual bad news infecting our world today, then I highly recommend you avoid reading the Chicago Tribune first thing in the morning. Unfortunately, for me, the Tribune has become that thing I love to hate. My self-inflicted aggravation is just one of the many results.
But today, I came across a titillating article by Stacy St. Clair which boasted and celebrated the harmony, the togetherness, the complete reciprocal adoration between Barack and Michelle Obama — our nation’s first couple. Reading it made me feel good.
As the day went on, news broke of Alex Rodriguez — our collective fallen hero — and his stunning confession of guilt regarding his usage of banned performance enhancing drugs in 2003. The image of Rodriguez discussing the issue with Peter Gammons flickered on my computer screen. I was overwhelmed with sadness.
My thoughts immediately went back to the Obama article and I couldn’t help but ask myself: Is anything what it seems anymore?
Alex Rodriguez put on a great front. Despite Jose Canseco’s self-righteous smear campaign and associated agenda, I never once questioned Rodriguez’s proclaimed innocence. At no time did I suspect Rodriguez to be tainted in even the slightest of ways, for A-Rod was our hero. He was the one targeted with pulling us out of the steroid era forever. He was the one endowed with replacing Bonds as the all-time homerun king. He was the one who seemed like the most talented, most gifted, most touted ballplayer I have ever witnessed play the game.
What you see is not always what you get.
John Edwards seemed like a family man.
Pete Rose seemed like the consummate all-American baseballer.
Eliot Spitzer seemed like a hard-nosed crime-stopper.
The Wizard of Oz seemed like an all-powerful wizard.
And it turns out they were all just… like… us:
Don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.
Earlier this week, Jamaican Usain Bolt proved to the sporting world that indeed speed sells. With MLB’s recent crackdown on PEDs subsequently limiting the homerun game, is it possible that baseball will start to see an increase of importance on the running game or have we already seen the last of players like Rickey Henderson, Vince Coleman and Lou Brock?
Running is a much more complicated process than it was when we played tag in kindergarten. As our good friend Sen. Obama has shown us time and again, it is not without its pitfalls. And as Chinese hurdler, Liu Xiang, showed us, it is not without its pain.
But there are some people who just make it look easy. Michael Johnson, Carl Lewis, Usain Bolt. All of them make sprinting look as simple as hitting a home run looks for Manny Ramirez. Maybe they’re genetic freaks (or just straight up freaks as in the case of Manny), but there’s no denying they have a talent that 99.9% of the world just doesn’t have. It’s not so much what they do or how they do it but the fact that they can go out and replicate the feat on a consistent basis that sets them apart.
However, running does play an important role in the great American pastime. As much as I hate to have to think about it, much less mention it, one of the reasons that Cardinals beat the Tigers in the 2006 World Series was because the Cardinals had a running game that always put them in a position to score while the Tigers relied on brute strength that seemed to escape them when they needed it most. So, in that respect, I would argue that the question is moot in and of itself.
The running game has always been important for clubs that can’t afford to go out and buy sluggers. Now, the question is if the decrease in power will start to affect the Yankees, Tigers and Red Sox of the world. Again, I’d have to say that successful teams have usually found a way to combine the two elements.
Look at the Oakland A’s of late 80’s. Although they had the two most prolific juicers outside of Sammy Sosa on one team, they also had Rickey Henderson, Mr. “Rickey’s the Best” himself. And Canseco, although he could pound the ball, also did quite well for himself on the basepaths.
However, thoughts of Mr. Canseco and his ill-begotten physique bring me to another important point. Speed and doping aren’t always mutually exclusive. In fact, sometimes they’re regular kissing cousins as the the pride of Canada, Ben Johnson, can attest to. The crackdown on PEDs in MLB might lead to a general and overall slowing down of the game from the way it is played today. Remember, it wasn’t just the the Barry Bonds of the world who were looking for that little extra. It was also the Roger Clemens. And who knows how that might have also played into the speed game.
So, I think the answer to your question is that we have not seen the end of an era and that players who have great legs and a great jump will continue to be sought after. The thing that you have to take into account, though, is that you can’t steal a base or try for the hit-and-run unless you have someone on base in the first place. That was Rickey’s true talent, his ability to get himself in scoring position. And if you want to take it full-circle, it’s also the talent Mr. Obama has shown to this point in getting himself nominated. However, now we have to wait and see if he can find a way to bring it home just like Mr. Bolt.
With the imminent advent of a new football season, it’s time for RSBS to explore areas where a brown, oblong ball and a small, white ball overlap. The basics are pretty clear in that they both include a ball and two opposing teams but beyond that, there really isn’t that much they have in common. Maybe the silly tight pants? However, there is one area where they bear a striking resemblance.
Baseball today subscribes to the adage that you can’t win without a dominant closer. He can be a finesse guy, he can be an overpowering guy but he has to be able to shut down the other team for somewhere between 1 or more innings at the end of a game. This ranks them right up there in the same category as field goal kickers.
Now, before you start complaining, I fully recognize that both field goal kickers and closers are gifted with incredible physical talents. There’s no way I could kick a 50 yard field goal. In fact, there’s no way I could kick a 15 yard field goal. Similarly, I probably can’t throw a baseball more than 60 miles an hour, much less hit that tiny little strikezone.
But that doesn’t change the fact that both kickers and closers are specialty guys who come in for very specific tasks that have evolved with their respective games. And the rewards for these thankless jobs are relatively miniscule. Except on rare occasions, their best hope is just to remain invisible while attempting to succeed. Because when they fail, you can be sure their picture will be splashed across the front of the sports section (or the front page of various blogs).
Closers come from different backgrounds, sometimes converted starters who just can’t handle the innings anymore or guys with funky deliveries who can’t last outside of 25 pitches. And kickers tend to be guys who got kicked off the soccer team in high school or who were just too small to play any other position. Seriously, can you imagine Martin Grammatica playing wide receiver? He’d die, simple as that.
I suppose everything in life these days is heading towards more specialization and it’s rare that you find a renaissance man who can perform more than one task (unlike the ubermensch pictured here). But it’s kind of a shame that guys like Carlos Zambrano and Micah Owings are more the exception than the rule.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m no purist and I have no desire for things to go back to the days of Babe Ruth or Bronko Nagurski. If you think players get injured a lot now, just imagine if they had to do double duty. But, I think we can shed a single tear for the end of an era before we except our new, super-specialized overlords.