America has become an unequal place. Yes, there’s the enforced salary cap equality of sports like football that has led to a more competitive game. But in general, the haves and the have-nots of baseball more accurately reflect what’s really happening in our society. Sure, money doesn’t always ensure that you’ll win it all but there’s a reason why the New York Yankees are the winningest team in MLB history while teams like Pittsburgh, Green Bay, Oakland and Denver have flourished in the NFL.
Inequality in sports is bad enough but the inequality between people matters even more. What does it say about a country when a Congressional committee hearing on contraception has exactly zero female invitees? I think it’s safe to say that even Kenny Powers respects women more than Darrell Issa.
Inequality also appears to be rearing its ugly head among the Republican presidential contenders, although at least one of them doesn’t necessarily see that as a bad thing. If I didn’t know any better, I’d say that Santorum was trying to throw the race by saying the most patently offensive things possible. And yet, he’s not only still in the running, he’s also somehow leading Mitt Romney in polling for upcoming important contests. This continued surge of Santorum (…ahem) seems to prove not only that a portion of the country supports his worldview, it also shows us that quite a few Americans really are batshit insane.
Inequality tends to right itself eventually. The conspicuous consumption of the 1920’s and the ensuing Depression led to a recalibration in the 30’s and 40’s. Today, a similar series of events has left a recession that seems to tenaciously hold back growth outside of a fraction of the population, while a small-scale revolt against income equality has risen up in areas of the country. Are we seeing another recalibration? Me, I’d say there’s hope because there’s one place where we are all still equal.
Considering it’s the off-season, there’s sure a lot going on. Ok, maybe not so much in the world of baseball where the AL’s Prince Fielder hangover is finally starting to wear off, but everywhere else, it’s pandemonium.
Of course there was the Superbowl, which, once again, was a phenomenal game. If you’re not American, there’s a good chance you’re following either the African Cup of Nations soccer tournament or tuning in for the ongoing rivalry between Real Madrid and Barcelona. And somehow people care about basketball again. But, that’s just sports.
In the non-athletic domains, the action is even more intense. Syria is descending into civil war and threatens to take the rest of the Middle East with it. Mitt and Newt, both of whom should be excluded from presidential consideration based solely on their first names, continue to slug it out in the race to the Republican nomination. If that’s not enough for you, we also have Iran’s war-mongering which seems to consist mainly of vaguely Monty Python-esque threats.
There’s another Iran note that truly caught my attention, though. It seems that they’re hedging their bets on the whole nuclear program by creating an unconventional back-up plan:[youtube http://youtu.be/MJjpFYVvwBo]
I’ll tell you what, you can laugh off Iran saying they’re going to close the Straits of Hormuz. But ninjas? No one laughs at ninjas. Except maybe Chuck Norris.
To say I have resentments over Major League Baseball’s long-standing tradition of being completely out of touch with its fans is like saying I’m not worried about the future of the Republican party: IT’S EXTREMELY UNDERSTATED!!!
After all, we the FANS are what make professional baseball work. WE are the ones who pay $30 for a nosebleed, who dish out $8.50 for a crappy beer. WE are the ones who have to see therapists when our favorite superstars go wherever the money takes them and WE are the ones who, despite what happens in the offseason, can’t wait to get back to the ballpark and throw our hard earned money around. So when we get dissed by the governing hands of the sport we love so much, IT HURTS.
The NBA set up its own network in 1999. The NFL perfected the craft in 2003. And the NHL (yes, that’s the one where they play hockey) started its own network in 2007.
It wasn’t until 2009 — a good TEN YEARS after the NBA set the precedent — that MLB finally gave the fans the opportunity to experience baseballgasms 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. I can hardly remember life before MLBN, and I don’t want to.
But there has been something missing in its programming. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE the lineup of shows they’ve been rolling out. Brian Kenny’s new Clubhouse Confidential is fantastic. Prime 9 is a classic. And nothing beats MLB Tonight. Yet the very nature of baseball fandom — getting lost in the numbers playground and tooling around for hours — seems to open itself up to a… TRIVIA SHOW!
Enter Matt Vasgersian and Baseball IQ, which premiered on the Network last night. Vasgersian’s cool. Baseball trivia is cool. How can this possibly not be a kick @$$ show?
Quite easily actually. Rather than having real fans as contestants — y’know, the type of Joe Plumber uberdork (me?) who will argue and bet stats in a bar ’til the beast looks beautiful — they instead use MLB employees:
“It will be a 32-person bracket with one participant representing MLB.com, each of the 30 clubs and the National Baseball Hall of Fame — featuring everyone from front-office personnel to equipment managers to scoreboard operators and museum curators.”
Um… (channel Eddie Murphy Delirious voice) dat’s not iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiit.
MLB employees?!?!?!? Would you watch Jeopardy if the contestants were limited to the authors of the Encyclopedia Britannica?!?!?!
Okay, so the “prize” money is donated to charity. Whoop-dee-doo. If I wanted to watch a charity event I’d go to a golf course. Or a walk-a-thon.
The MLB Network had a great opportunity to connect with its fans — the very people who keep the Network going — by allowing everyday folks who live/eat/breathe baseball but don’t get paid for it to shine.
Instead, they produced the equivalent of an Alfonso Soriano swing at a ball in the dirt, low and away.
Don’t hate me. ‘Cuz you know I’m right.
January is a difficult month for me. Gone are the holidays that distracted me from my baseball-less existence. The cold and dark days serve only as a reminder that the 162 game grind is still far away. And key free agents still don’t have a home!
I enjoy football. I really do. Nothing gets me through the winter quite like watching grown men beat the hell out of each other over an oblong pigskin. But three of the four playoff games this past weekend were over before the fourth quarter even started!
And yes, Derek Rose and the Chicago Bulls certainly know how to take me HIGH-UH; but on Saturday night — when I really needed them to get me through the weekend — the game was over before the second half.
THERE IS NO CLOCK IN BASEBALL.
And where there is no clock, there is only the potential for glory. In baseball, there is no garbage time.
Hate me. Fine. Just don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.
Team sports pride themselves on their uniformity. It’s how you tell one team from the other and it allows the players to bond within a certain sameness. Which, when you think about it, isn’t so different from what the Soviets attempted to do. Treat everyone the same, make them wear the same clothes and assume that this will create a sense of community out of thin air. How’d that work out?
Is it any surprise, then, that those who play organized team sports back here in the US chafe against these strictures? We grow up hearing about how unique we are and how we can do anything. Then we go out to play a game and we’re put in matching uniforms and tied into a system.
The worst offender by far is NFL football. Just try wearing an unauthorized pair of shoes or the wrong color socks and see what happens. It doesn’t matter for the superstars because their wallets can absorb it but imagine being one of these guys making the league minimum yet wanting to show his individuality. That’s going to cost you.
I guess that’s another reason why I like baseball. Sure, you still have to wear a uniform and you still have to play by the rules but there’s some leeway. You can wear stirrups or the long baseball pants. You can wear a different colored shoe. You can cover your batting helmet in pine tar to the point that the team logo is barely discernible.
It’s one more reason why baseball is America’s pastime and why it’s stuck around through three different centuries. It evolves and it allows the players to show their individuality within the confines of the game in a way that no other sport can. MLB is Kennedy to the NFL’s Kruschev. We all know who came out on top in that one. Well, except that whole assassination thing.
I blame The Wire. After blowing through all five seasons in just a few short weeks a couple years ago, everything else just seemed like Jersey Shore: a bunch of self-obsessed lame-ohs screaming and yelling while adding nothing positive to the universe.
And then there was this…
Hate me ‘cuz I helped put some nasty images in your head, just don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.
I’ve never understood the religious conservatives’ fascination with what goes on in the bedroom. It took until 2003 for the Supreme Court to strike down a Texas law prohibiting sodomy and even today, despite the overturning of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and multiple polls showing that a majority of Americans now support a homosexual couples’ right to marry, these same religious conservatives continue to use people’s private lives as a wedge to drive us apart.
So, what’s truly going on here? Do they really feel so strongly about what goes where behind closed doors or is there something more to it?
Sadly, it seems to be the latter even though it has also become cliche. Take the story of Roberto Arango, for instance. The nadir of this sordid tale isn’t so much the part where the guy who opposes gay adoption rights posts naked pictures of himself spreading his cheeks on the internet. No, it’s the excuse that follows: “You know I’ve been losing weight. As I shed that weight, I’ve been taking pictures.”
But there’s always an excuse, isn’t there? There’s an excuse for how the gay porn shot ended up on a site called Grindr just like there’s an excuse for why people’s private lives should be legislated. If you left it up to people like Rick Santorum and Tim Tebow, everyone would wait until they were married to have sex (heterosexual, of course) and even then, it would only be missionary and with the lights off. Yes, this is the same Tim Tebow who kissed a guy full on the lips after the biggest (and only) victory of his NFL career.
It’s the height of hypocrisy because the same guys who tell you what you can and can’t do in the privacy of your bedroom will get full up in your face if you question why they feel the need to flaunt their faith in front of everyone on the field and millions of TV viewers. They call it their “testimony” but I call it hypocrisy and it’s that hypocrisy that makes the “Tebowing” phenomenon so hilarious. It’s what makes me laugh whenever I see a replay of Stephen Tulloch sacking Tebow then dropping to a knee to “Tebow” right next to him. It’s also what makes me crazy when people start going off on Tulloch and calling him “un-Christian” because of the move. Get out of our bedrooms and get off of Tulloch’s case.
Ultimately, the Republicans and especially the religious zealots of the party would be better served if they took a moment and listened to Clint Eastwood. When asked about gay marriage by GQ, he responded, “We’re making a big deal out of things we shouldn’t be making a deal out of.”
Now that, my friends, is a true patriot. Too bad no one actually listens to him. Not like they do Tebow, at least. On the bright side, though, if Tebow continues to play the way he did against the Lions, the only testimony he’ll provide is how quickly a QB can get bounced out of the NFL.
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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The decision is yours.
So who are your big winners and losers at the trade deadline?
Oak Lawn, IL
Well, as a Tigers’ fan I have to start there. And I think the Tigers made the right moves. They solidified their pitching without giving away the farm and managed to hold on to the top prospects in their system. That sounds pretty good to me.
At the same time, the team chasing us made probably the blockbuster deal of the day by picking up Ubaldo Jimenez. That has to resonate in Detroit as well.
Over in the NL, the Phillies managed to get even better with the addition of Hunter Pence and I’m pretty much all for just letting them play the Giants for the pennant right now.
But the biggest winner? Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots. Come on, sure, the baseball trades were big but the Patriots just picked up Chad Ochocinco and Albert Haynesworth. That means a game changer on either side of the ball. You have to figure that the Patriots look set to roll over the AFC this season.
I’m not going to say that both players will have the same kind of initial season as the Randy Moss trade delivered but Belichick seems to have a knack for turning problem players into essential cogs of the Patriot machine. And guys like Ochocinco and Haynesworth, who have shown that they can dominate when provided the right incentive, totally fit that system.
So, yeah, there were some big trades before the MLB deadline. It’s kind of hard to compare them with Belichick’s continued dominance of his peers, though.
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