Continuing with the end-of-year holiday tradition here at RSBS, it’s time to separate myself from my imaginary girlfriend (NSFW) and ask the interns to lock my office door so I can get down to the meaty reflection of what was the RSBS year 2011. Additionally, I must begin the sad, fiery purge of Albert Pujols memorabilia. For those of you who went to public schools, you know that maintaining a fire within a small, confined room may cause ill-fated side effects, so before I start to look like Bert the chimney sweep, let me get to it…
First of all, no year would be a good year without you, the dear RSBS reader. THANK YOU, for your readership. THANK YOU for your emails, your tweets, your comments, Facebook shares and FingerTagging! And THANK YOU for continuing to make writing about the baseball-politico world a treat for us every single day.
Like my riveting and oft rousing colleague, Mr. Krause, I too have been very impressed with our special correspondents. For me, nothing says sweet Miggy-I-Love-You quite like Mark Piebenga’s His Game Is Like Waves. It presented Miguel Cabrera in a new light — that of teacher, and, considering how much Mark has taught me about what life should be about, I continue to find its lesson fitting (and helpful!).
And though I often refer to Mr. Johanna Mahmud as “the man who introduced me to the glories of the Deftones” and “the guy who schooled me on the NBA and proved why I should be madly in love with Derek Rose”, I still have room to refer to him as “the guy who writes Setting the Mahmud“! Dude puts the “tit” in titillating with every piece. The last article he wrote was inspiring, if only because he found a way to get a naked Yu Darvish, an ugly sweater wearing
Johnny Matt Damon and a crying Paula Deen all in one place; but, like Al, I have to admit that there’s real brilliance in his Theo-fied Arthurisms. Still, I’m a sucker for equating dead people to the performances of Adam Dunn and Miguel Tejada. Good work, good sir.
Meanwhile, no year-end applause would be complete without a nod to my longtime friend and confidant, Mr. Allen Krause. Known for his cynical twists on the political establishment and undying love of all things Detroit Tigers, it has been a pleasure to write on his wing. Sometimes he’s so “on” that he finds literary genius in imagery. Indeed, that endearing Krausian wit is often highlighted by rational thought. Sometimes it points out the un-fact-checked obvious, other times it gets serious, with a real call for responsibility. And, just in case you think Mr. Krause’s Libertarian-bashing makes him a soulless, automated Obamatron, this reflective piece will convince you otherwise.
But when it comes to knockin’ ’em outta the interwebs park, I have to kowtow to the RSBS Presents series. The brainchild of Mr. Krause, RSBS Presents has enlightened us on the finer points of fandom and how to stay classy while reminding us that, ultimately, positivity has upside during times of turmoil. But the best of them all was learning how to score a Republican. And here I thought it involved finding Jesus and quoting Alex P. Keaton.
Happy Christmas, Merry Hanukkah and long live King Kwanzaa!
There is a movement coming. Axel Foley is coming.
I’ve been trying to get over my most recent trampoline accident and my cat circus just went bankrupt… BUT!!! One of my favorite cites (DETROIT) is having a renaissance. I got Iraqi, German and Chicago in me, yes. But I’m thinking that maybe I watched Beverly Hills Cop too many times and listened to too much Motown, because I got definitely got some Detroit in me too. In fact, I feel the need to go undercover to find out what Detroit’s new secret is. Maybe in drag?!?!
If those Chrysler ads don’t pump you up then YOU HAVE NO SOUL. I want cars that talk back to you. DETROIT CAN GIVE YOU THAT! And I want a lot of things back in my life. I want sideburns back. I want Paul Reiser and Judge Reinhold back. And though I don’t smoke, I want people to bring smoking indoors back!!!
This song has nothing to do with Axel Foley, nor the Motor City, but something about it makes me feel like I’m in the mitten. (Or is Michigan a glove?) Anyway, it gets me pumped up for my second city so much that when I hear it I can’t help but take a swig of a cold Samuel Jackson before pouring a little out for Jack Kevorkian and Gilda Radner. (I was going to mention Barry Gordy here but I just googled him and he’s still alive!!!)
The freaks are coming out! Lions, Tigers, and Wolverines …oh my! This is the best gift life could ever give our fellow RSBS writer, Allen.
The Tigers!!! Verlander makes me woozy. Miguel Cabrera is the Natural. And bad@$$ Jim Leyland is The Marlboro Man! If Sam Elliott had turned down his role in The Big Lebowski, the Coen Brothers would have had ol man Leyland on the phone in a jiffy.
His Tigers can do it all. And if you want, they can also chain you to a wall in a sex dungeon and make you watch two octogenarians go at it with mayonnaise all over them. NOW THAT’S PROGRESS.
Michigan State basketball couldn’t save Michigan but Emmmminnneeemmmm, the Lions and Verlander will by golly.
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RSBS Podcast regular and Second City performer, Mark “Pie” Piebenga shares with us his thoughts:
“His game is like waves,” Miguel Cabrera said. “Right now, he’s worried because he’s not hitting too much, he’s not hitting for average. I said, ‘Don’t worry. It’s going to be your time. Get your timing, be ready. It’s a long season. We’re going to need you.’ And you see what happened today. He got a big home run for us today.”
This quote is, of course, apropos of Ryan Raburn. Of course why? Because he hit a grand slam off the White Sox Jake Peavy on Sunday who during the same inning worsened a “tweaked groin into a full strain.”
I do think there are some valuable moments in that quote. A lot is at work here. 1.) Cabrera’s hubris. 2.) profound truth for life, and for success in baseball. 3.) Cabrera looking out for a much less-well-paid teammate.
Vis-à-vis 1.) Cabrera cranked his second home run in 24 hours Sunday. Bringing his total up to that point to 13. Which is a lot.
Vis-à-vis 2.) Your own conclusions are most important here, but I’m quite taken with the part about “his game is like waves… get your timing. It’s a long season. We need you.” Isn’t that what we all want to hear as human beings? And isn’t it encouraging? To be needed due to your merit is to have significance. That is something we all want.
Vis-à-vis 3.) Cabrera is making $20 million this season to Raburn’s $1.3. Neither is hurting here, and it’s not like Raburn is a newborn rookie pulling down $425,000. Which is still quite a sum. Also, is it strange that I feel a little dirty clicking on the Tigers roster on ESPN.com knowing that I’ll find their wages on there? It seems like that should be listed in a separate place from their other personal information.
Finally, I would posit that the Grand Slam is the most artfully-named maneuver in all of sport. It describes its own magnitude with alacrity. It is lightly pompous, but so then is the feat, which lends credibility to the title. It is borrowed by professional tennis, the sincerest form of flattery. It is flip, apt, and proud.
In short, it’s a perfect moniker.
Baseball represents the best part of American immigration policy. Sure, most baseball players come over on non-immigrant visas but when they arrive, they become part of a team and those differences of nationality and ethnicity disappear in the fight for a playoff spot. Well, unless you happen to be a modern-day nativist like Gary Sheffield. In general, though, baseball is a powerful tool for US diplomacy and relations in our own hemisphere.
But while writing the filibuster the other day, I got to thinking about an often overlooked part of baseball diplomacy. Many of the players come from poor Caribbean or Latin American countries where people often have a hard time getting visas to come visit the US. If you’re a non superstar type of guy or even just a young guy with an opportunity to try out for a team, how do you convince a visa officer that you’re going to return to your country if things don’t pan out? Obviously this isn’t an issue for a Johan Santana or someone like that but most players are not Johan Santana.
The New York Times addressed this very issue recently but also brought up a point that hits home for any Tigers’ fan. Beyond simply making the team, what happens to players who have proven their worth and no longer have trouble getting a visa but then go out and commit some sort of crime? For instance, what happens to Miguel Cabrera after his recent DUI? Although this is Cabrera’s first DUI, it’s not his first brush with law as a result of drinking. These incidents definitely affect his eligibility and at the very least could hold up the process the next time he applies for a US visa.
No matter what happens to Cabrera, baseball consistently remains ahead of the curve in its anticipation of social change. In much the same way that Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in the 40’s, the flood of baseball migrants heralds an eventual shift in our thinking on immigration policy. Although Joe Autoworker from Detroit is sure that some immigrant took his job, he’s not interested in applying this same logic to Miguel Cabrera and his fellow Venezuelans playing for the Tigers. The problem is, Cabrera might have just taken care of that issue of his own accord.
Do you think Miguel Cabrera needs a handler for the season like Josh Hamilton does?
A handler? That’s an interesting question. After all, he is a Tiger and no one would think of letting a tiger just roam free. Except in India where tigers live. But that’s different. But seriously, after Hamilton’s experience falling back off the wagon, I think many teams realized that a contract and shame alone aren’t always enough to keep players in line.
For me, the question comes down to an economic consideration. The Tigers are already into Cabrera for quite a few million and if they want to get the full return on their investment, what do they need to do? When you pose the question this way, it seems like a no-brainer. Of course you get him a handler.
I guess for me this is a pretty simple answer. Alcoholism is a disease and sometimes despite the best intentions of those afflicted, they just don’t have enough to fight it off. The real question is, who pays?
Here, my feeling is that the the team and Cabrera should split the costs. The Tigers knew when they signed Cabrera that he had a history of problem drinking. Similarly, Cabrera knows that he needs to avoid the alcohol in order to perform at the expected level. If the Tigers want the full return on their investment and to avoid a repeat of Cabrera’s 2009 meltdown that cost the team a trip to the playoffs, they should pony up. If Cabrera wants to actually win a championship with the Tigers and avoid spending some serious time in prison as well as possibly getting himself deported, he needs to pony up.
In a way, this debate is actually a good sign. Baseball was more than happy to let players do whatever they wanted up until a few years ago. You weren’t supposed to cheat but pretty much everything else was fair game. But imagine if a program like this had been put in place 25 years ago and covered things like problem gambling. Maybe then we wouldn’t have this inane controversy about whether or not Pete Rose should be in the Hall of Fame. If putting a handler on Cabrera keeps him from experiencing a similar fate, I’m all for it. I’ll even do my part by ponying up and buying the leash.
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Desperate times call for desperate measures. When you’re the long-serving president of a country and your re-election chances aren’t looking so good, you just pass a couple laws, tweak the electoral system slightly and then sit back and watch as the votes start rolling in. Except for when they don’t, like what happened this past weekend in Venezuela.
Now, we love our Venezuelans over here at RSBS, especially when they come in the form of Ozzie Guillen or Miguel Cabrera. And we really love the neverending stream of inspiration Senor Chavez sends our way. But Chavez had better put his game face on or the Bolivarian revolution might go the way of Bolivar himself (He’s dead, in case you were wondering).
But this sense of desperation hasn’t limited itself to just Venezuela. A similar aura of dread has definitely enveloped the Mets’ locker room and front office. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if we just popped on the ol’ television here for a second and found out something new:
Well, I guess that about says it all. And if any of our loyal readers need help polishing up their resumes before making a run at a position with the Mets….or the presidency of Venezuela…..feel free to send them our way and we’ll take a look. It’s what we do.
But aren’t we going to miss D-train? Haha.
I think every Tigers’ fan was stoked when Dontrelle and Cabrera came over. Sure, we were giving up a potential phenomenon in Maybin but Miggy? The guy just hits. And even though Dontrelle had some issues, he was young enough that it made sense to think he could rediscover his form and again be a dominating pitcher.
A couple years later it hasn’t turned out to be the steal it seemed at the time but, despite wasting all that money on the D-Train, the fact of the matter is that we still have Cabrera and he’s on pace for an MVP season. Look further south and you’ll also notice that Maybin has been a huge bust so far.
Hope springs eternal when you’re a fan and when you look at who Willis’ replacement is, you can’t help but think that maybe we’ll be all right. Sure, Galarraga hasn’t been dominating in every start and has even been roughed up at times. But a guy who has the stuff to throw a perfect game also has the stuff to be a solid addition to the rotation.
Honestly, I’m a little sad to see Willis go. He didn’t pitch great for the Tigers but I always wanted to see the guy do well. Maybe it was his goofy windup or maybe it was his promise as a pitcher but I couldn’t help but like the guy.
So, yes. The D-Train has left D-Town. And even though I won’t miss his abundance of walks and botched starts, I am going to miss the guy himself.
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A friend of mine came into town from Venezuela a week ago and she came bearing gifts. The first thing she handed me was a thoughtful yet dangerous history of the American cocktail. So many recipes, so little time. Next up was what is surprisingly my first Scrabble set.
But the final item, although the smallest, was really what got me excited. It’s a calendar handed out by the US embassy in Caracas where each month features a different Venezuelan major leaguer. Of course there was the requisite Johan Santana and K-Rod but when I reached November and Miguel Cabrera swinging a bat, that was when I realized just how great of a gift it was.
I didn’t realize how amazing it was, though, until I turned the final page to an unknown pitcher for the Tigers. Well, unknown at the time. In the last couple days I think the entire country, even someone who has never watched a baseball game in their life, now knows who Armando Galarraga is.
And with all the events of the last couple days, I got to thinking. Despite MLB’s reliance on Venezuelan superstar players, relations
between the two countries are not exactly warm. Was it possible that Joyce’s blown call at first base was actually a conspiracy? Was this a subtle thumbing of the nose toward the often belligerent president of Venezuela? And if so, why, two days later, has Mr. Chavez still not weighed in on the subject?
We don’t have answers to these questions but with the weekend approaching and another edition of El Presidente’s weekly diatribe, “Alo Presidente”, set to hit the airwaves, you can be sure he’ll have something to say. And as always, we here at RSBS will make sure to keep you updated on all the events. Well, unless we get sucked into that first gift. Who knew you could do so much with whiskey, sugar and a lemon?
Special thanks to L for the calendar and all the other gifts. Be safe down there.
The incidental aspects move around several minor leaguers and role-players but the entirely unexpected part includes the swapping of the two teams’ first basemen: Albert Pujols and Miguel Cabrera. Obviously we will have much more to say about this but you can get a general idea of our initial sentiments here.
Jeff & Al
As though any further proof was needed that we live in a crazy, mixed-up world, I submit the following:
Miguel Cabrera has an alcohol problem but says he feels like a new man after a stint in rehab.
Kyle Farnsworth has somehow avoided resorting to alcoholism and even has a legitimate shot at becoming a starting pitcher.
I don’t mean to sound the alarm too early but if these two events taken together aren’t a sign of the apocalypse, I’m not sure what is. Baseball: Drama as compelling off the field as on.