During the past week we watched the opening of two new multi-million
dollar stadiums in New York City and during this time MLB and the major
sports channels more or less ignored everything else going on around
the league. Was the opening of the new Yankee Stadium and Citi Field
really such important news or was Heath Bell accurate in saying that
ESPN and other providers are completely focused on a few teams to the
detriment of the rest of the league?
Pardon me for being a-holishly frank, dear readers, but I think it is pretty damn sad that it took Heath Bell (of all reinvented people) to bring the media’s obvious love affair with New York and Boston into the public domain. Nothing against, Heath, who has now become my own personal savior for his ESPN remarks, but we here at RSBS as well as myriad Joe Six-Packs in sports bars galore all across Anytowns, US America, have been harping on this oh-so-blatant injustice for years now.
Heath Bell said:
“I truly believe ESPN only cares about promoting the Red Sox and
Yankees and Mets – and nobody else. That’s why I like the MLB Network, because they promote everybody. I’m
really turned off by ESPN and ‘Baseball Tonight.’ When Jake Peavy threw
8 1/3 innings on Saturday, they showed one pitch in the third inning
and that was it. It’s all about the Red Sox, Yankees and Mets.”
True story, Heath. True story.
Just for the record, regarding the two new ballparks in New York (one of which cost $1.5 billion) let me just say that I don’t remember there being such a fuss over the new Busch Stadium or PNC Park or even Nationals Park for that matter.
Yet all week long I have been bombarded with information I could care less about:
- The first homerun in new Yankee Stadium.
- The first multi-RBI game at CITI Field.
- The first blab-hole jerkazoid kicked out of new Yankee Stadium for using foul language and fists to explain his innermost self-loathing while watching the Indians score 14 runs in one inning.
I don’t care.
And I ain’t alone.
The good news is, Heath Bell’s voice was heard and ESPN reacted quickly by having him on Baseball Tonight. Shortly after that, the once monopolizing baseball program introduced it’s 30 Team Ticker, which offers tidbits of information on all 30 teams at the bottom of the screen while the analysts blab on about how much they love the Red Sox, Yankees and Mets.
But just like the leaderless GOP of 2008 desperately trying to reinvent its image after devastating the public by dropping the ball in New Orleans and Iraq while allowing the economy to collapse over and over again… it was just too little, too late.
Folks, we have a choice. Join Al and I; heed Heath Bell’s call.
Switch to the MLB Network. Enjoy equal coverage. Play the RSBS Harold Reynolds drinking game.
Just don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.
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.
Here is but a sampling of the goings on around the league:
Alex Rodriguez Homers in Spring Training Opener
Immediately after he hit that bomb, all controversy of A-Rod’s MVP PED use and the subsequent tarnishing and questioning of his character disappeared like the hopes and dreams of Pirates fans. Well, maybe not, but one can fantasize, right?
Ryan Dempster Has Yet to Say Something Stupid
Last year during spring training, Dempster guaranteed Cub fans a World Series title. His foot-in-mouth silence at the start of this season practically guarantees another stellar regular season record, followed by a quick division series exit to the tune of 101 years. Which leads me to the fact that…
Cub Fans Still Hungover from 2008, 2007, 2003, etc.
A simple stroll through Wrigleyville these days will yield much more than the average Barleycorn date-rape and trust-fund-baby all-night-party — both of which have long been synonymous with the neighborhood. Nowadays you can still see the aftershocks of that disappointing NLDS performance against the Dodgers in the face of this guy and this guy and these guys.
Khalil Greene On Pace to Replace Ozzie Smith as Shortstop Icon
Don’t look now, but after one spring training game, off-season blockbuster acquisition Khalil Greene is on pace to hit .333 this year — which is way better than his .212 average of 2008! While John Mozeliak sits back and strokes his pompous ego, we Joe Six-Pack fans are left daydreaming of that fifth-place NL Central finish.
Yankees Lend a Helping Hand: Willing to Pay Off the Country’s $1.75 Trillion Deficit
Okay, this is a lie; but the Yankees unwillingness to cooperate just proves how anti-American the organization really is.
“But as long as the nation is obsessed with historic milestones, is no
one going to remark on what a great country it is where a mentally
retarded woman can become speaker of the house?”
Ann, sweetie-pie, remember: we had a mentally retarded man with a fancy-rich last name as president for 8 years. Let us have our speaker and please stop talking.
Indians Fans and Cub Fans Breathe Collective Sigh of Relief
Joe Borowski, possibly the all-time scariest closer for all the wrong reasons, officially announced his retirement. There are parties in the street. Check ’em out.
Tigers Fans Better Off Watching Hockey
After my esteemed colleague and Tigers apologist Allen Krause wrote his annual lament on the sad state of his team, one clever commenter riffed:
“When the tigers crush your soul as they inevitably will, just remember to look on the brightside, we still have the Red Wings.”
Enough said. Thanks, D.K.
No One Cares About Blagojevich Anymore
Or Roland Burris… or Dick Durbin strong-arming Burris to get out of town… or the poor economy… or world hunger… or the climactic dictatorship of one Hugo Chavez… dude, who cares? There’s baseball to watch!
And at last…
The MLB Network Is Seriously Affecting My Loyalty to American Idol
I apologize to all my supporters, for it is true: in my living room, the MLB Network has temporarily taken the place of American Idol. Two weeks have gone by and I haven’t watched a single A.I. episode. I know, I know. This situation is difficult to accept for all. But believe me when I say it hurts me more than it hurts you. For some reason, Barry Larkin’s nonsensical ramblings and Al Leiter’s delusions of grandeur are just way more entertaining than Ryan Seacrest’s hair and Simon Cowell’s cliche Britishness.
Don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.
When Joe Torre, one of the untouchable paragons of class, is getting slammed for allegedly revealing all the Evil Empire‘s dirty secrets in a book that no one has had the chance to even read yet, I think it’s a pretty clear sign that we’ve run out of things to talk about this off-season. Manny being Manny being unsigned is now as interesting a story as Bea Arthur is sexy. The Varitek saga in Boston is teetering on the pathetic. And when the Rangers look to be the best bet for unreliable dark horse Ben Sheets, does anyone really care anymore?
How about a new MLB Network drinking game? It may not be that ramshackle of japery that we created back during the post-season/presidential debate, but it sure will sauce your inhibitions quicker than Rush Limbaugh will make you want to commit suicide.
It’s simple. Tune in to the Hot Stove Show and anytime Harold Reynolds leads the panel in a symphony of phrases uncomfortably coated by the word “guy”, take a drink. You’ll be hammered ten minutes in to the program.
Look, I have nothing personal against Harold Reynolds and his self-serving ramblings. He seems like a genuinely nice man and most of the time I actually get something out of his demonstrations on the diamond; but I sometimes feel dumb listening to his emphatic, annoyingly frequent use of the word “guy”. Let me paraphrase a sample, dear reader — a hypothetical spew based on several weeks of actually listening to the man:
A guy like Manny… Manny Ramirez is a guy who just doesn’t change a team, he changes a division. Guys see a guy like Manny in the clubhouse and then guys are suddenly seeing changes. He’s a guy who has the ability to go out there and be that guy that all the other guys are honing in on — a guy who can beat you every time he takes the field. And guys on the other side, guys on your side, those guys see that too. Makes them want to go out there and be more competitive guys, guys that get things done. You see guys change, not just guys on the team, but guys throughout the division.
I wish I were exaggerating.
H.R.’s inability to find a synonym for “guy” probably wouldn’t bother me so much if he didn’t subliminally infect the rest of the cast with his lecherous verbal disease. Broadcasting newbies Barry Larkin and Al Leiter have picked up on it, and the ensuing cacophony is near deafening.
But, I keep watching… ‘cuz I love the MLB Network. I can’t stop watching it. So I might have a problem.
As much as I love it, there is one block of MLB Network programing that baffles me like a Spaceman eephus pitch.
Whoever thought it would be a good idea to rerun old homerun derbies during a prime-time slot deserves to have John Kruk sit on his face during the two hours they’re being aired. The homerun derby? Really? I’m supposed to get excited about watching a bunch of superstars hit lollygaggin’ Jamie Moyer fastballs from two, three, four years ago while Chris Berman entertains himself ad nauseum with his cutesy cleverness? I didn’t care about the homerun derby the first time; why would I care now?
And even if you do enjoy the homerun derby (when it actually happens each July), do you really get excited about watching it again? Save Josh Hamilton’s gargantuan effort of 2008 — a contest which he ultimately lost — is there really anything titillating in any homerun derby that makes you say: “Yeah! Can’t wait to put aside two hours to watch that again!”
MLB Productions has done a fine job of producing edgy, dramatic, quality programs that explore the deep history and colorful characters of the game. I haven’t been disappointed with one of their productions yet. So I am both baffled and bored by the network’s decision to rerun past derbies instead of wowing us with original content. Seems like they’re missing a big opportunity there.
The good news is: if I play the H.R. drinking game, I won’t be conscious enough to watch the derby reruns anyway.
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.
Apparently, it is.
My errant, crass, flagitious friend and colleague, Mr. Allen Krause, channeled his inner Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and once again said something he shouldn’t have by blaspheming the fairest of all sideline sports reporters in Erin Andrews. All of Ms. Andrews’ gangly gawkers (me included) are hereby pissed off. And we are tired of Allen’s unbending defiance towards she and all her… er… beauty.
It must stop.
For the same reason I can’t understand why Tyler Perry is allowed to make movies, I cannot even begin to understand how Mr. Krause is able to continually force his imprudent worldview upon the dear readers of RSBS. Sure, Erin Andrews’ sister, Kendra, is an attractive lady. But she ain’t no Erin:
And let’s not forget what really makes Erin tops among the Andrews sisters: she knows baseball. Not only does she know it, she reports it, and she looks smokin’ hot doing it. Any time a woman can distract my ogling eyes with a learned baseball vernacular which includes the tenets of situational hitting, bullpen side-sessions and last minute lineup changes, she automatically jumps to the top of any and all lists.
To stay on the subject of my myriad intangible crushes, I can’t help but wish there was some other connection between baseball and American Idol other than my inexplicable home-wrecking obsession with them both.
Say hello to Idol‘s newest doll-face, er… I mean, Idol‘s newest judge:
This might be a good time to push aside my man-crush for Albert Pujols and get on board the Kara DioGuardi train. You might know her for her hit songs sung by other women whom I am sickly attracted to like Carrie Underwood and Christina Aguilera as well as Mr. Krause’s cherished boy-toy hero: David Archuleta.
In any case, I’ll take a sleeper car.
And for fear that you may have missed it, folks, last night on MLB Network’s Hot Stove show, Victor Rojas and Harold Reynolds had a sit-down discussion with the great Rickey Henderson in which Rickey said: “…my mom is the reason I’m goin’ to Coopertown.”
I hope Rickey still has his legs ‘cuz it’s a long way from Tennessee to New York.
Don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.
I’ve had a really difficult time getting ahold of Mr. Lung recently. Part of it may be a result of his newfound happiness since he’s on top and I’m on the bottom, a portion of it might come from his inability to manipulate mechanical devices as a result of poor blood circulation from wearing dual pinky rings but I think most of it results from a nefarious new addition to his local cable programming.
Yes, Jeff has succumbed to that tempting, nubile succubus that is the MLB Network. Just so you know how bad it has become, here’s a recent phone conversation between the two of us.
Jeff: Why are you calling me?
Allen: Uh, because I wanted to wish you a happy new year and see if you were posting today.
J: Well, I’m busy right now.
A: Of course, Jeff. I just thought it would be nice to start off the new year by talking to my friend because I wanted to see how he spent his new year’s eve.
J: Wait, what time is it? What day is it? Where am I?
A: Are you all right? Should I call an ambulance or something?
J: Shut up you ignorant fool. And leave me alone. I’m watching the MLB Network.
A: But Jeff, it hasn’t even officially gone on the air yet. They’re still just showing pictures.
J: I said shut up! I hate you! You’re not my mother!
Needless to say, it hasn’t gotten any better since then. Apparently the Network does not exist to solve arguments, it’s there to start them. For intance, last night I was subjected to a lengthy discussion of the top nine homeruns in MLB history. When I mentioned that I was really just calling so I could get his address in order to send him a birthday present, he immediately started crying, screamed “You never understood me and you never will” and then abruptly hung up phone.
So, as we progress through this new year, I’m hopeful that the effects of this new drug will wear off. I mean, isn’t it bad enough that I’m on the bottom while Jeff has a “beautiful girlfriend”? Haven’t the gods laughed in my face enough with the football season I just had to sit through? Are the fates not satisfied now that the Steinbrenners have bought up a Kentucky Derby stable’s worth of talent? Come back, Mr. Lung! There’s life on this side of the screen, too.