Besides Chinatown flea markets and the out-of-this-world chili at Ramova Grill, the best part about living on the Southside of Chicago is having the White Sox play in my own backyard.
Because as a Cardinals fan far removed from my old Busch Stadium stomping grounds, I know I can always find good, learned, baseball-lovin’ folk at New Comiskey (only newbies and yuppies call it The Cell — so I’m told).
And on Monday night, Southsiders came out to the park in droves. It was hot. It was humid. The rain was coming down hard. But Mark Buehrle was on the mound and it’s no secret that White Sox fans love them some Mark Buehrle. Over 36,000 people came out to see him duel the Royals’ Brian Bannister… yes, 36,000! On a Monday night. With an hour long rain delayed start. Against the Royals.
Now that, dear readers, is some serious dedication.
Perhaps the influx of fans was due to the high hopes of a pitcher’s duel.
Well, we didn’t get it.
‘Cuz when Yuniesky Betancourt goes yard, you know the pitching ain’t so great.
Indeed, it was a back and forth battle throughout, until the Sox broke it open in the 7th inning and appeared to have the game in hand.
But Scott Linebrink seemed focused on tempting the Royals’ scouts, who seem to go after the poorest of performers. Yes, Linebrink’s Kyle Farnsworth impression was brilliantly played by blowing a 3 run lead in the 8th on a Mike Jacobs rocket launch over the right field wall.
Fade to black?
Not so fast. Alex Rios walked to start the bottom of the 8th. Scott Podsednik continued his 2005 renaissance with a go-ahead run-scoring double… and then later Ozzie Guillen brought in the Fat Man to seal the deal.
Sure, it was a great game and all… but the whole time I couldn’t take my eyes off the guy sitting in front of me:
Don’t hate ’em ‘cuz they’re right.
Don’t believe me? Just ask Kevin Gregg.
Old defensive liability power hitters who strikeout 150+ times a year and can’t hang in the National League should retire.
And yes, perhaps players should go back to wool uniforms (‘cuz when you’re itchy, you play with an edge).
Verily! The Gospel according to Jeff hath been spoken.
With that, I virtually extend my hand through the interwebs and take that of my calloused and oft misguided colleague, Mr. Krause. Indeed, I accept his dubious (and ultimately self-deprecating) proposal knowing full well that victory is in my near future.
And, since we’ve opened up the Gospel, let it also be known that:
The closer is the most overrated role in baseball.
And Albert Pujols is the only man who could make me gay.
Wait, did I just say that?
Don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.
What would it take for you two to switch caps for a day? Would Allen
ever wear a Cards jersey? Would Jeffy ever not insult the Detroit
Tigers? Is it an impossibility?
Impossible is a big word. It’s like when people tell you to never say never. However, in this case, it’s pretty unlikely. See, the thing is that it’s not even so much about the Cards and Tigers’ rivalry because, let’s be honest, since they play in different leagues and have only met a few times in the Series, it’s hard to really call them rivals. It’s like Batman fighting Lex Luthor. Yeah, I can understand why they wouldn’t like each other but there’s just not that same enmity. Batman against the Joker? That feels right.
No, this isn’t about the rivalry between fans of two baseball teams, it’s a rivalry between two different ideologies. Jeff comes from the old school, where the pitcher hits (or doesn’t, as is usually the case) while I have fully embraced the balls out style of play in the American League. Does this mean that I don’t appreciate an old-fashioned pitcher’s duel or that Jeff doesn’t jump up and down when someone crushes the ball out of the park? No. But it does mean that when it comes right down to it, we have a fundamental disagreement about what is good for the game. Jeff would like to see all the players still wearing wool. Me, I’m a fan of synthetics that wick sweat away. Is one of us right and one of us wrong because of this?
But here’s a modest proposal for my friend. Next month the Tigers and Cardinals play an interleague series in St. Louis on the 16th, 17th and 18th of June. Despite the fact that I’m giving up homefield advantage, I’m willing to agree to the following bet.
Whoever’s team wins that series and thereby illustrates the dominance of their respective league gets to make the other person wear an article of the winning team’s paraphanelia for an entire weekday and then write a post about the experience, praising the winning team’s superior play and including photos from their day at the office. I have faith in my Tigers.
What do you say, Mr. Lung? You game?
Once again, Mr. Krause, you have managed to blasphemy the greatest game on earth, prove your idiocy with your prose and wholly embarrass me in public. It’s one thing to like one league over the other. But gay porn? Al, are you completely lost? Have they been waterboarding you down there? I’m concerned about your mental health.
Look, I know it’s not entirely your fault. It must’ve been hard growing up in a state where hockey is king, where the only car you are allowed to drive is a Ford and your greatest baseball icon was a gin shootin’, cleats-up-slidin’, wh0re mongering racist. I’m sure that all had an influence on your childhood and blinded you from seeing how baseball is supposed to be played. The pitcher is supposed to bat, Al. In fact, some pitchers are really good hitters. Have you ever heard of Rick Ankiel? Carlos Zambrano? Dontrelle Willis? How about Babe Ruth?
The American League’s adoption of the designated hitter is a classic case of how easily greed can destroy the purities in life. What was wrong with pitchers hitting? Nothing. Sure, the weakest hitting position overall is the pitcher’s spot — because they don’t hit every day. But that’s exactly what makes the NL so much more exciting, more pure, more of a thinking man’s game. You actually have to use strategy to accomplish your goal (*take note, Mr. President). As a man in such a high political position as yourself, Al, I thought you would’ve had the basic knowledge to discern that. In fact, the next time you hold a peace summit in some war-stricken African country, I’d like to see you replaced by a Designated Diplomat, someone who has a higher success average than you, because you don’t have the bells and whistles to make it theatric enough. Actually, I’d be amused (if only momentarily) to see you be a little more one dimensional.
Unfortunately, the AL didn’t end the DH experiment after its 1973 induction and now we never will. Since it has translated into a major career-extender and equated bigger paychecks for aging vets who wouldn’t make a squad otherwise, the DH is now like that drunk uncle who is a complete mess at family functions. We all do our very best to ignore him and not let him ruin the party because we know there will be less harm done to the group as a whole if we just let him destroy himself.
So eat a big fat one on that one, Al.
Oh, and I want to thank you for making my job easier today. Your Filibuster is full of big, dark, gaping holes of contradiction. I believe I said a long time ago that the AL Central would indeed be interesting due to the Indians and White Sox. In all honesty, I said the Tigers would miss the postseason completely. As a matter of fact, a recent comment on your last post from mobaseball reiterates this bold (and most probably true) prediction:
“First of all, you do know that no team has ever lost 4 straight and
made the playoffs right? And the Tigers have now lost 6 straight.”
Actually, Al, looking back on your past heresies, you made myriad bogus claims on February 21, 2008:
“The Royals will be their same old selves…”
“I can understand why you have playoff envy since the Cardinals will be
lucky to finish the season 5 games under .500 with their offseason
“moves” and a much tougher NL Central. But don’t be a hater. The
Tigers, along with the Red Sox and the Tribe, are clearly the class of
“The proud state of Missouri will host not just one but two teams who
not only set new records for divisional futility but who also manage to
lead their leagues in losses. That’s right, the Cardinals and Royals
will end the season with identical losing records and in a tie for last
place in baseball. You heard it here first.”
Like I have had to say before, Wrong, Wrong, and WRONG. Going into this evening, the Cardinals team ERA was second in MLB at 1.83 while the Royals’ were fourth overall at 2.67. Do you know what Jason Grilli’s ERA is, Mr. Krause? I’ll tell ya: 20.25! Get this guy in the game, Jimmy! My lord, hitters have to take washrags with them to the plate to clean up all the drool. Oh, and did you see that game last night where the Sox destroyed Verlander and scored 13 runs? I guess pointing out that the Kitty-Cats haven’t won a game yet this season (even the Giants have won a game!) would be pouring salt in your wounds. Look, I know it’s early, and on paper they should be awesome, but right now, they’re awful. And it can be quite challenging to crawl out from a ditch as big as the Tigers have dug. I’m just sayin’…
As to what division is the strongest, most competitive, must-watch division… I meant it as a trick question. I know you so well that I knew you would respond with some dumb denunciation of all things NOT the AL Central. Come on, Al. Do you honestly believe what you said? The Padres/Dodgers/Dbacks/Rockies aren’t interesting to you? The Mets/Braves/Phillies aren’t dramatic enough for you? The Cards/Cubs/Brewers/Reds/Astros aren’t competitive enough for you? Sure sounds a lot better than gay porn to me. What about the M’s/Angels/A’s race? Quintessential Yankees/Red Sox? Get a grip, pal! Look at all these great divisions! I can’t find even one that won’t be interesting… and if your unabashed abhorrence for the AL East is so strong that it prevents you from recognizing the inherent drama, tension, beauty of this glorious game, then you are too far gone to be saved — even by me.
You might as well be a Cub fan.
And though I know this is going to be very difficult for you, please don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.
The buzz during opening week revolved around the Tigers’ abysmal start, the Royals’ surprising young talent, the late inning heroics of the Nationals and Pirates and Dodgers, clutch pitching performances in St. Louis and Cincinnati, key injuries in the NL East and business as usual in the AL East. With these early season surprises and subsequent hype, which MLB division is the strongest, most competitive, must-watch division overall this year?
Well, since I’ve been so busy watching American Idol and trying to save the world, I haven’t had much of a chance to follow all these story lines. And honestly, who cares about the National League? Small ball and pitchers who bat? Sounds like gay porn to me. So, I guess I’ll talk about the only thing I might know something about. No, not US foreign policy since the time of Jefferson. The AL Central.
I will say it now and I will continue to say it all year long. The AL Central is the division to watch this season. The Tigers, once they figure out how to win a game, are going to be unstoppable. The Tribe is ready to go once again. The White Sox are a much improved team since last year. The Twins always find a way to keep themselves in the race. And even KC is looking like they might have a better run in the spoiler role. So, once you take a look around the MLB universe and realize how many bad teams there are in the other divisions, you have to be excited about the AL Central. There isn’t a true dud in the bunch and this thing could be a legitimate 4 team race right down to the wire.
I should put in a plug here for my dislike of the AL East and my hope that all of its teams fall off the face of the earth. Well, Toronto can stick around because I’d hate to disparage our Canadian friends. And I’d like to catch a game at Camden this season so I guess the O’s are safe, too. However, the Rays, Red Stockings and Evil Empire can all just disappear and the world would be a better place. This is a division so narcissistic that a news frenzy has emerged from the hawk attack on Alexa Rodriguez at Fenway this past week. Really? The enmity between these two teams is so great that even the animal kingdom has picked sides? Perhaps this also explains why a ray attacked and killed Steve Irwin last year. It was just pissed because it thought he was a Yankees fan. Seriously, y’all need to get over yourselves. Real baseball happens in the fly-over states and that’s where my attention will be all season long. When I’m not out saving the world, of course.