One and a half times. That is how many times I have been able to watch the Brandon McCarthy play where a darting Eric Aybar comebacker destroys the Oakland A’s pitcher’s skull. Holy mother of invisible friends, that hurts.
The first time I saw it my stomach dropped and I got real dizzy. When the replay was shown again — this time in slow-motion — I anticipated the skull crushing but still wasn’t able to get through it. I thought I was going to be sick.
I was sick the first time I saw Clint Malarchuk get his neck sliced by a Steve Tuttle’s skate back in Buffalo too. In fact, I remember asking my dad if it was even real, hoping that the spewing, rhythmical blood staining the ice might be some cute Hollywood trick designed to draw in more fans. Sadly, the situation was quite real.
As was Joe Theismann’s career ending leg snap, courtesy of Lawrence Taylor. Even Homer Simpson had a hard time stomaching that!
The truth is, as much as we enjoy our professional sports, they do carry with them an incalculable element of danger. Even with all that open space in Oakland, a ball can still easily find one’s head. It found Brandon McCarthy’s, and it will find someone else’s too someday. It’s all a part of the game.
Which reminds us that these people we watch and cheer and boo, they’re real people. They bleed too, just like us. And while they may have more zeroes in their bank accounts, they are putting themselves in danger for our enjoyment. I think it’s important to remember that.
A baseball, a skate, a weakside linebacker, they can all become deadly weapons, at any time.
Get well soon, Brandon. And here’s to hoping you get that threesome someday.
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.
That guy in the pointy hat made another statement on gay marriage recently, saying it is “one of the most serious threats to the traditional family unit” and that it undermines “the very future of humanity.”
Hmm. I can think of a bazillion things that are a far greater danger to the very future of humanity, like, protecting monsters who rape children, making it illegal for someone to marry whom he/she loves, and not challenging a discourse that is solely based on bronze age delusions “encouraged” by an invisible sky daddy.
Two More Years of Bud Selig
Ugh. Really? If only MTV could rock the MLB owners’ vote. No more King Bud! Things have gotten better recently, yes, but there are at least three egregious errors committed during his reign that demand a new king: 1) Not addressing the PED issue until it was too late 2) the ongoing All-Star Game yields World Series home field advantage fiasco and 3) being the last of the big four to launch its own network (seriously, it’s sad when the NHL beats you, at anything).
Also, I can think of at least three perfect candidates for the commissioner’s job: Joe Torre, Bob Costas and ME!!!
Between Mitt, Santorum and a bevy of derailed crazy trains, I can only shake my head as I watch the Republican party fall deeper and deeper into delirium. If only our political leaders would take a page out of Aussie PM Bob Hawke’s book:
Now THAT, my friends, is a dear leader.
Since when have shutdowns become a good idea? The NHL nearly folded after its stoppage and has only begun to recover thanks to Crosby and Ovechkin. Unless Keanu Reeves leads the way, no one wants to see replacement players take the field again in place of the NFL stars. MLB relegated itself to a decade of irrelevance after their last strike. So why does the government think it will work for them?
I understand the difference here. Stoppages and lockouts due to strikes are different than shutdowns due to budget impasses. But they do share some important characteristics, one of the main ones being that its a really good way to piss people off.
To be fair, only one group of people has really clamored for the shutdown. Democrats and Republicans both know that cutting off your nose to spite your face will cost both sides in 2012. However, the Tea Partiers haven’t learned that lesson yet and appear more than happy to shut everything down. What happens then? Well, here’s a partial reckoning.
As I write this, it ain’t over yet. The Congress has until midnight to either pass the spending bill or try to ram through another continuing resolution. They better hope they do. Baseball learned the hard way that the best way to turn off an entire generation of fans was to shut down the game for the season. People already hate Congress. Do they really want to give us more reasons?
And so in this Podcast…
…the fullest, rawest, most awe inspiring podcast yet, RSBS convenes as Jeff, Allen, Johanna and special guest Mark Piebenga from Second City all come together for one rip-roarin’ time! Among the topics of conversation (sponsored by Lifestyles and encouraged by Miller Lite) are strains to one’s right glute, burning one’s hand on the hot stove, hiding one’s pain with the NBA… and much, much more!
All to make you smiley face!
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For more on Mark’s work on RSBS‘ Ninemen’s Morris series, check out this story then click on the Ninemen’s Morris tag at the bottom for more early 20th century hilarity!
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Subscribe to the RSBS Podcast by clicking *HERE*
Subscribe via iTunes by clicking *HERE*
*Special thanks to our PodMaster Keith Carmack. You can check out Keith’s wicked podcast and his subsequent film projects at Undercard Films. The dude has mad skillz, so you might wanna pay attention. Do it! Now!
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Recorded Wednesday, November 17, 2010
Look, don’t get me wrong, folks. As an adamant stickler for tradition and a lifelong, self-confessed purveyor of pomp, it is widely known that I don’t take to change too well, especially when it comes to my precious national pastime. Indeed, I take pride in knowing that the game I watch is the same game my dad watched, the same game his dad watched, and his dad before him.
In baseball, there is no cavernous divide between generations. No peach baskets. No leather helmets. No prerequisites of toothlessness. No. Not in baseball. The baseball game of the early 20th century is the baseball game of the early 21st century. And that, dear readers, is a beautiful thing.
But what isn’t beautiful is always being late to the party. The NFL, the NBA, heck, the NHL… all three leagues had their very own networks before MLB finally made the move for its own. David Stern has taken the NBA all over the world with wild success — and the NFL has somehow convinced us all that from Week 10 to Week 17, we just GOTTA have a game on Thursday night!
One could even say that baseball’s public eye mediocrity is perhaps rooted in its stuckupedness — a trait that I am guilty of championing.
Alas! A chance for redemption!
Did you know there’s a friggin’ Lingerie Football League!?!?
I just found out about it. But I’m a fan. Big time.
And since (as far as I can tell) it appears the NFL has nothing to do with the league, I see an opportunity for Major League Baseball to finally make its mark as a trailblazer in the alternative sports industry. Ah, yes… I can see it now… during the cold, wintry months… 9 beautiful women versus 9 beautiful women… positioning fields in comfortable, indoor stadiums… whilst in… their underwear (if you could see me you’d see me smiling right now).
Damn it, SELIG! Are you listening?!?! I’m trying to sell you a goldmine here! And have you seen the price of gold lately?
Hate me ‘cuz I’m addicted to the female form, just don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.
Wow. Baseball is really over. I’m feeling a little lost here. Should I
turn to football, alcohol or the annual Victoria’s Secret holiday
special for comfort?
For serious though, anyone who knows me knows to be very, very cautious this time of year… for the sudden drop of the best baseball teams on the planet playing for a title to absolutely no baseball games at all can be beyond devastating.
I ain’t gonna tell on myself, but if you refer to the sheer number of world catastrophes that have taken place during the month of November over the last several years, you’ll understand exactly what I’m trying to say.
So. How do we cope?
Football helps. But not if you’re a Bears fan. So, yeah. I’m screwed there.
Hockey helps. No. That’s a lie. Hockey doesn’t help. At all.
My pal Johanna (from the RSBS podcasts) is trying to get me into the NBA… he’s been quizzing me on my basketball knowledge. My only problem is that the last time I paid any attention to the NBA, Charles Barkley and Shaquille O’Neal were in their primes (and half their current sizes!) so I’ve got a lot to catch up on. Apparently Dwight Howard and Juwan Howard are not the same person.
And beer. Yes. Beer will help. A lot. Especially if you mix beer and vodka and gin with Johnnie Walker… and a few bottles of Ambien. After that cocktail you won’t even remember to watch the Victoria Secret Holiday Special, let alone care about it.
And if everything goes according to the above plan, you can eliminate most of the doldrums tha traditionally take place between Thanksgiving and President’s Day. By then, Cliff Lee will be in pinstripes, Jayson Werth will be in pinstripes, and Carl Crawford will be in pinstripes!!!
So join me, Ben… join me, dear readers galore… and let us ride off into that fabled sunset known as off-season delirium. It won’t hurt. I promise.
Don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.
As is tradition here at RSBS, The Filibuster will now go on hiatus until pitchers and catchers report in the spring, leaving more room for the avant-garde ridiculousness you’ve come to expect from us over the years. Of course, come February we’ll announce its return; in the meantime, we would like to heartily thank all the strangers, friends, relatives, morons, geniuses and fellow bloggers who have sent in Filibuster questions during the 2010 season. Without y’all, it’d just be Al and I talkin’ to ourselves (BORING!)… so thank you, thank you, THANK YOU!!!
When the NHL switched it’s All-Star game format in the late 90’s from the typical conference vs. conference match-up to a North America vs. The World battle royale, it seemed to herald the dawn of a new, global style of sport. Of course there are the Olympics and the World Cup but if sports like hockey were going to take on an internationalist bent, it was only a matter of time before the whole world came on-board.
Five years later the game reverted back to it’s traditional format and globalism had lost a bit of its luster but the overall move towards a more universal sporting life continued to pick up steam.
Just take a look around the major American sports. The NBA is still dominated by Americans but Europeans, South Americans and even the Chinese have become stars in their own right. The NFL is probably the only league that can still claim to be nearly 100% American but that probably owes much to the fact that the rest of the world is more than happy with their own version of football.
Even the most traditionally American of sports has taken on a greater international context in the past decade with the creation of the World Baseball Classic. And MLB has no plans to stop there. Just this past week it was reported that Bud Selig has been in discussions with his Japanese counterpart for a match-up between the two countries’ respective champions. Maybe it’s only two countries at this point but there’s no doubt that baseball will follow soccer’s lead and institutes some sort of World Club Championships pitting the best club teams from around the world against each other.
It makes sense. There seems to be no end to what consumers are willing to suck up and with all the money to be made from the merchandising, not to mention the actual playing of these games, the different national leagues would be foolish not to join in. Bud Selig will do anything at this point to have his legacy be something other than the steroid era and this would definitely be one way to do that.
Lost in all this is the fact that despite its near collapse a few seasons ago, the NHL may have had it right after all. You can fight globalization and maybe you’ll win some battles. But the war has already been won and it’s here to stay. Baseball appears ready to embrace that.