Tagged: Kenny Williams

Hiney Bird Swap: A Tale of Two Teams & their Switcheroo

hawk harrelson.jpg“A hiney bird is a bird that flies in perfectly executed concentric
circles until eventually he flies up his own behind and disappears
forever.”

— Ken “Hawk” Harrelson

Prior to the 2009 season, one would not be in error by labeling me a bonafide St. Louis Cardinal Hiney Bird.  Having not really addressed our bullpen woes of 2008, I seriously didn’t think the Redbirds had a chance at achieving anything this season. 

Obviously, I was wrong.  And I’ve apologized for that.

I did, however, look forward to an exciting new edition of my neighborhood Chicago White Sox.  And, yes folks, it does happen (albeit rarely): I was wrong… again. 

Whoops!

But I have to go out on a limb and defend Kenny Williams from Chicago Tribune reporter Phil Rogers who blamed much of the White Sox’s 2009 downfall on the trades of Nick Swisher and Javier Vazquez.

To quote the Hawk: “That’s just B.S.! B.S.! That’s just B.S.!”

Nick Swisher’s 2008 stint with the Sox was abysmal at best.  He underachieved in every category except rambunctiousness per game.  He was a shackle on the Sox’s youth movement and rumor had it that he was more interested in picking up chicks in the Viagra Triangle than he was picking up runners in scoring position.

Javi Vazquez never looked comfortable in the Chi.  Sure he’d get ya lots of strikeouts, but he also gave up a bunch of runs; and with Gavin Floyd and John Danks on the horizon of being dominating starters, it made sense to move Javi (and his paycheck) to make more room. 

But sometimes things don’t always work out (see Sarah Palin’s “political” career).  The ’09 White Sox have wallowed in mediocrity while the Cardinals are set to win the NL Central Division crown.

You see, dear readers, baseball is so captivating, so riveting, so followable because there is no such thing as a sure thing.  So to all you Hiney Birds (me included) here’s a lesson from possibly the world’s worst broadcaster:

Don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.

Peace,

Jeff

When Did the White Sox Forget They’re from Chicago?

ozzie guillen zip it.jpg“I don’t know nothin’ about nothin’, and I can prove it.” 
— Ed “Butch” Panczko, ruthless Chicago gangster

It is the year 2009, dear readers, and I would think that by now, every single one of us has seen enough cop dramas on television to know that you never, ever, ever tell on yourself.  You just don’t do it.  Big Papi knows this.  So does Roger Clemens.  Why is it then that the Chicago White Sox — who reside not far from the famed warehouse district were body after lifeless body went to disappear forever — do not understand this golden rule of foul play? 

First we watched as Bobby Jenks told the whole world that he purposely threw at Ian Kinsler — which netted him a $750 fine and a watchful eye from MLB brass — and now we have Ozzie Guillen himself blabbing to anyone who will listen that he’s out to bean anyone whom he suspects of throwing at his guys.  What next?  Kenny Williams owns up to jaywalking?  Check.

Look, it’s one thing to protect your team and head-hunt in retaliation.  Hell, in this game, it’s expected!  But to openly admit that you are going to throw at people, to announce to everyone that you intend on hurting someone, to alert the league that you’re going to send a message… well, that is just plain irresponsible.  And dumb.

al capone.jpg“I have always been opposed to violence.  I want peace, and I will live and let live.”  — Al Capone

Yep.  Tell a story.  Do the opposite.  Leave ’em guessin’. 

That, my friends, is the Chicago way.

Even political nimrod figurehead Rod Blagojevich knows this.

And he’s a Cubs fan

What’s your excuse, White Sox?

Hate me ‘cuz I put it out there, just don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.

Peace,

Jeff

(*Ozzie Guillen’s grill image courtesy of Da Bronx Bombers)

A Break from All That “Inside Baseball Stuff”

Guess what.

I’m baaaack.

Indeed, after that long and winding baseball-politico season and the ominousness of losing every dime I’ve ever saved due to the current worldwide economic crisis, I deserved a damn vacation.

And vacation I did.

1108081731a_01.jpgI turned off the phone.  Eschewed the interweb.  Relaxed under the sun.  Got tan.  And I did it with family — Lung Family Reunion style. 

Which reminds me, don’t you just hate when you meet the perfect girl and you hit it off right away — so much so that you spend the entire day with her into the evening through the night and find out the next day that she’s your cousin? 

Happens to me every year.

But that’s not what I want to focus on today.  No.  You see, dear readers, while on my vacation, I missed out on some very important happenings: like Gov. Sarah Palin‘s adamant cry to NBC’s Matt Lauer that during the campaign she never got involved with that “inside baseball stuff” that supposedly divided her camp from Sen. McCain’s. 

Look, I don’t even pretend to know what she meant by calling it “inside baseball stuff” seeing how it had absolutely nothing to do with baseball; however, I can appreciate her obviously sentimental regard for greatest game on earth and implying that indeed, it’s complicated.

Because it is. 

The coast is clear now, but how is it that the Cardinals were even considering a trade for Matt Holliday?  A trade that would send away at least two (maybe more) of our most talented youngsters and leave us with a one-year rental of a player represented by Scott Boras?  Has John Mozeliak officially lost his friggin’ mind? 

The answer to that question is yes and I’m quite sure we St. Louis fans haven’t even seen the beginning of it.  Stock up on the painkillers, folks; 2009 could be a long one.

And how is it that Lou Piniella received the Manager of the Year Award?  Don’t get me wrong:  I have nothing but respect for Sweet Lou and I admire his guile, but this year he did what he was supposed to do (sorta) which was manage an extremely talented, high-priced ball-club to a winning season.  That’s like me getting rewarded for drinking beer and watching football on Sundays.  That’s what I do, people!

The Cubs were on cruise control all season until October and Lou didn’t have to work nearly as hard as the likes of Tony LaRussa or Joe Torre to get the job done with less talent. 

The one thing Lou was supposed to do this year (win playoff games) never happened.  I see that as one thing and one thing only: failure.  F-A-I-L-U-R-E.

On the other side of the Second City (my side), complications arise with Jermaine Dye and his future in a White Sox uniform.  Rumor is: Kenny Williams wants to get some fresh legs in exchange for the veteran outfielder who had a resurgent season in 2008.  I understand Williams’ point of view, but I’m pretty sure there will be rioting in the streets if Dye is traded away.  Even more rioting if Big Fat Bobby Jenks is dealt (which is also floating around the rumormill).

Just let me know if and when that’s going to happen, Kenny, because I’ll make sure to be back in South Padre until the Southside firebombing lets up.

I suppose Gov. Palin was right.  This “inside baseball stuff” is complicated.  And I gotta hand it to the Republicans.  They ran a good laughable race.  And the tides seem to be turning for the GOP: Mark Foley, while still making excuses for his pedophilia, is at least speaking to the media again; Alaska has more problems than just Palinmania; and Norm Coleman has a 209 vote lead (as I write this).

Like my boy Tupac used to always say: “Ya gotta keep ya head up.”

Don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.

Peace,

Jeffy

The Filibuster

Everyone is calling McCain’s choice of Sarah Palin as his VP a
“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?
 
— Allen

                                                                                    

mccain palin.jpgGambling, 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.

manny ramirez dodgers.jpgBut 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. 

kenny williams.jpgBut 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:

Wow.

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.

Peace,

Jeffy

The Crying Game

Dear readers, I may not be a religious man (unless you call screaming “goddamn it!” at the television every time Tony LaRussa goes to the bullpen being religious); but I do believe that the world has a certain order to it — a general plan of well-being that should never be tampered with or questioned.  I may not like it, but in the grand scheme of things, there’s a reason why the Redbirds didn’t make any moves at the trade deadline.  There’s a reason why Kenny Williams kept Juan Uribe on the Southside.  There’s a reason why my counterpart, Allen Krause, is a bit delusional in his posts. 

Knowing this, I know I shall not dare test the waters of fate.

howard.wolfson.jpgSo that is why I’d like to offer Hillary Clinton Campaign Communications Director Howard Wolfson a great big RSBS “EAT IT! for his crybaby rumblings of heretical hindsight and coulda-shoulda-woulda politics. 

After Senator John Edwards’ extramarital affair became public late last week, Wolfson offered this statement:

“I believe we would have won Iowa, and Clinton today would therefore have been the nominee [had Edwards’ affair been public at the time]…Our voters and Edwards’ voters were the same people… They were older, pro-union. Not all, but maybe two-thirds of them would have been for us and we would have barely beaten Obama.”

crybaby.jpgSure, Wolfie.  Sounds good.  Easy to say now even if it is just loosely based speculation.  Did you speak with all of the Iowa voters who cast ballots for Edwards?  Did all of those Edwards supporters contact you personally to tell you they voted for him but would’ve voted for Hillary if they knew Johnny was out fumbling with a lady who wasn’t his wife?  Really?  Is that how you got all of this inside information?  And what if you did win Iowa?  Obviously, that means you would’ve swept every other primary too, right?  No competition at all because winning Iowa makes you a lock to win the nomination?  Uh, excuse me… were you even watching the primary?  Uh… did you see how friggin’ close it was all the way to Puerto Rico? 

Mr. Wolfson, I’m afraid such staunch statements do absolutely no good for a Democratic party that already risks the perils of division simply because your people won’t get on the winning team in the fight to make a difference in November.  Referencing what could have happened if what happened didn’t happen doesn’t do a whole lot in the way of progression.  It just makes you look like a whiny sore losing crybaby who won’t be satisfied until he gets what he wants; but, as you, I and the rest of US America clearly see: that just ain’t gonna happen.

This puling rant reminds me of a certain Northside faction who — to this day — continue to put all the blame on a fan for their 2003 NLCS shortcomings rather than simply admitting to being outplayed by a superior team.

This divisive tirade reminds me of a certain blogger (RSBS‘ very own Mr. Allen Krause) who — to this day — continues to put all the blame on the shoddy defense of the Tigers’ pitching staff for their 2006 World Series fall rather than simply admitting to being outplayed by a superior team.

obama_whitesox.jpgThe ’03 Marlins, the ’06 Cardinals, the ’08 Obamasox…

Give credit where credit is due, people… and quit your whining.

Don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.

Peace,

Jeffy

Skeletal Heroics

alexei_ramirez.profile.jpgThere’s a buzz down here on the Southside of Chicago and it’s about a man by the name of Ramirezzzzzzzz.  No, not that Ramirez (we civilized US Americans don’t support inhumane c0ckfight wranglers), I’m talking about Alexei Ramirez — the most influential skeleton playing second base in the Majors right now.

I think it’s safe to say that Kenny Williams — genius as he is — had no idea that things would quite work out this way.  He re-signed Juan Uribe, then traded for Orlando Cabrera and moved Uribe to second base to make room.  Uribe went down with an injury and Ramirez (aka The Living, Eating, Breathing, Hitting Skeleton) took over. 

Uribe’s healthy now — healthy on the bench.  And as long as Alexei keeps on doin’ what he’s doin’, that’s exactly where Uribe (aka Fat ^ss) will stay. 

It’s true.  Ramirez has lifted not only the spirits of Southsiders the world over, he’s lifted the team and lifted the W’s.  With his game-tying homerun on Tuesday night, he proved that his previous five dingers weren’t all just flukes; he proved that a skin-and-bones scrapster from the slums of Cuba could actually swing for the fences and he did it in dramatic style

But to look at the guy it’s hard not to ask yourself, “Really?”

He makes David Eckstein look like Barry Bonds.

Not since Manute Bol has a human skeleton demanded so much attention within professional sports.  See if you can see the similarities:

alexei_ramirez.jpgmanute_bol_mugsy_bogues.jpg

My biggest fear isn’t that Ramirez will suddenly lose his flare for the dramatic or his step on a two-hopper or his penchant for a good eye.  No.  My biggest fear is that Juan Uribe will eat him.

Rumor is Uribe has been put on the Prince Fielder diet so as not to devour his teammates.   I just hope it works. 

Don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.

Peace,

Jeffy

**ON A SIDE NOTE… Please visit the Prince of New York and sound off on why his latest experience with The Man is downright unjust.  There are very few blogs that I read every single day of the week.  His is one of those few.  The guy knows what he’s talking about and he provides the information, research, numbers to back it up.  His book is well-written, insightful and pertinent (also a great big help to fantasynerds like myself).  Deleting comments on blogs is a crime.  Unless a comment is so blatantly racist/vulgar that it can’t be left up for reasons that are otherwise outlined by the FCC, a real blogger who cares about what he/she does would not delete a comment.   Neyer and DePodesta have proven that they’re not men enough to stand up to the fires that they helped start.  So Allen and I would like to give them a great big RSBS “EAT IT!” for their idiocy, self-centeredness and blatant disregard for freedom of speech.  Rock on, Prince, rock on.