April counts, yo! And here are some reasons why, after just one month into the season, I’m as jazzed as Mitt Romney during a temple garment clearance sale!
The Oriole Way
I am old enough to remember the Orioles being a staple of sound, fundamental baseball. And though those days seemed to disappear into Jeffrey Maier’s malicious mitt, it looks like they may be back! Let’s hope they are back to stay.
The AL Central
The Tigers are going to run away with the division you say? Not so fast. I know it’s only been one month, but the White Sox and Indians are right there with ’em, and unless the Tigers start putting a hurtin’ on the opposition instead of Jewish folks at a New York hotel, things could get interesting.
Love him or hate him, he makes things interesting. And oh how interesting things have been for the Boston Red Sox. I LOVE IT!!! The NBA may have all the drama, but when every day could be your last as a Red Sox, I start craving chicken, beer and video games.
The Pujols-less Cardinals
I’m not gonna bask in AP’s struggles, but I am gonna point out that the Cardinals have yet to lose a series (except that one against the Cubs where they were gifted a win by the umpiring crew). Onwards and upwards!
The AL West
Have you seen a Rangers game lately? I’ve been watching them almost every day! THAT’S how ya git’er done, folks. Meanwhile, the Halos are as nervous as Rick Santorum at a Santorum Party! As the Yankees and Red Sox learned before them, a bazillion dollars worth of free agent signings does NOT a champion make.
The Toronto Blue Jays
Not only do their uniforms look right again, but they’re also making the AL East insanely good! If only they could make Colby Rasmus less whiny.
The Youth Movement
I remember the excitement involved with Ken Griffey Jr. breaking into the league. Chipper Jones too. Now that Bryce Harper and Mike Trout have made their debuts, a similar buzz is in the baseball air. Throw in a slew of sophomores and third year players making headlines and baseball looks to be badass for a very long time.
The Year of the Pitcher enters its THIRD year and I couldn’t be more excited! As a self-confessed pitchers duel fiend, I live off serious heat, nasty breaking balls and backdoor sliders. We’ve already seen a perfect game and some no-hitter flirtations. But it’s the heroics of Joe Saunders, Kyle Lohse, Colby Lewis and the like that really get my gears greased.
And finally… the most titillating of them all so far…
ADAM. FREAKING. DUNN.
As a longtime resident of the south side of Chicago, the last thing I wanted to do was waste my summer days talking folks down off the ledge like I did last year. But since it appears Dunn sold his 2011 soul to Albert Pujols, I’m free to party my ass off at the fake B-Dubbs on 35th & Halsted. HOLLA!!! And buy me a drink!
Go ahead, hate me ‘cuz I’m easily titillated, just don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right!
We learned many things from Jim Joyce, Armando Galarraga and the infamous Imperfect Game of June 2, 2010. We learned that throwing beer bottles at the wall may cause significant DAMAGE (to the beer bottle, possibly the wall too). We learned that styling one’s facial hair after the Pringles man cannot disguise MISTAKES. And we also learned that the best way to avoid controversy, is to AVOID controversy.
So when Philip Humber threw that wild 3-2 breaking ball two feet off the plate on Saturday and Brendan Ryan checked his swing, I felt all of the fury, all of the tension, all of the RAGE from the Imperfect Game ALL over again. Except homeplate umpire Brian Runge called it a swing, AJ Pierzynski threw the ball to first and the celebration began.
OH BUT THE CONTROVERSY!!!
In my house, I had a hard time celebrating Humber’s gem because I was already seeing the asterisk-calling headlines, I could already hear Mariners fans (all three of them) flooding the sports talk shows with vitriol. And as Brendan Ryan argued with Runge about the call, I knew it was time for me to go outside to get some fresh air before my phone started to blow up with imperfect texts.
Except… none of the above actually happened. Brendan Ryan dropped the subject. He tipped his cap and moved on. The networks — as if taken over by an Orwellian machine of greater good (a fantasy in itself) — didn’t even show the replays of Ryan’s checked swing. The Wizard said “Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain” and I — WE ALL — gleefully obliged, even though it sorta felt dirty doing so.
We owe that guilt-stained dirty feeling to Brendan Ryan. In fact, whether it is a good thing or not, Philip Humber’s perfect game will live on unscathed by controversy because Brendan Ryan simply let it go. He shut his mouth. He went about his business. And now we are to forget.
For a guy who was labeled as “a distraction” and a “clubhouse cancer” during his St. Louis Cardinal tenure, it’s nice to see Brendan being recognized for something else. Admittedly, I never would have bet it’d be for saying… nothing.
Don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.
Move over, Keith, there’s a new number 17 in town and he’s got everyone going so LINsane that those all-night disco-caine parties from ’86 look like an afternoon tea. That’s right, folks. Just when you thought you might finally be over that Tim Tebow hangover, in walks the first EVER American born Chinese to play in the NBA. And boy can he play!
(If you don’t know who Jeremy Lin is by now, then it’s time to OPEN YOUR EYES)
Don’t worry, I’m not gonna go into some long philosophical diatribe on how Lin’s soft swishing three serves as the perfect metaphor for a hard-working, faith-based US American populous because, as you might already know, THAT’S CRAZY TALK.
What I am going to do is urge you to jump on board the LINvincible Train so you’re not all alone out there on Planet Boring. Besides overusing the same lame LIN puns, the LINvincible Train also features dramatic spin-moves and celebrity bandwagoneers… like the Colorado Rockies’ Jeremy Guthrie!
It’s amazing what getting out of Baltimore can do for a pitcher’s offseason creativity.
G’head, Jeremy! Yer doin’ it right!
Hate me ‘cuz you can, just don’t hate me ‘cuz 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.
As one who is acutely aware of the aggravating effects of speaking in unchecked and unvetted absolutes, I must choose my words wisely, especially after witnessing baseball miracle after miracle after miracle. But, judging from the number of cardiac arrests I had in the comforts of my own home last evening, I can honestly say — WITH COMPLETE AND UNSHAKEABLE FAITH — that September 28, 2011 will go down as the greatest single day of regular season baseball games I have ever watched.
Words… ah, these words… not even they can do my feelings justice:
Baseball. It just doesn’t get any better than baseball, my friends.
Don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.
College football and the NFL have both come back with a vengeance but for MLB, there really aren’t any compelling races at this point. How can baseball compete?
WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU TALKIN’ ABOUT?
No compelling races? How can baseball compete?
Put down that tequilla shooter (slowly) and check the boxscores before you miss out!
Because the time is NOW for September baseball and there is PLENTY to be excited about. Right now the AL East is as tight a race as they come, and believe me: the Yankees and Red Sox both want to win that division as each would rather draw the weaker opponent in the ALDS. Meanwhile, the AL Central is anything but locked down. Sure it might not be neck and neck, but if the Tigers have taught us anything in the last few years, it’s that they definitely know how to blow a sure thing. And if you think the Rangers aren’t worried about the creeping Angels of Los Anaheim, ya might wanna put down the vodka too (keep the whisky, for now).
In the National League, sure the East, Central and Wild Card races seem to be locked down, but the NL West is still undecided. The Diamondbacks are coming on strong but if the Giants can just average one run a game, with THAT pitching staff, they have a pretty good shot.
Now don’t get me wrong, I love football just as much as any other
loud proud US American, but early season games being more important than the stretch baseball run? Not in my world. Not even close!
If you’re not feelin’ it, I gotta think that maybe it’s your fault. Sit down and watch one of these games that matters. Or, don’t. I mean, STRASMAS is comin’ this year, so you could watch that! Or check out a Bluejays game to watch the Joey Bats and Brett Lawrie Show! Or get your buddies together for an Orioles game and every time they make an error, miss the cut-off man or fail to advance a runner TAKE A DRINK! You’ll be so loaded by the third inning that your decision making skills will deteriorate to a level that will GUARANTEE a night of awesome once you hit the club.
Hate me ‘cuz I promote promiscuous behavior while championing the greatest game on earth, just don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.
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A bunch of teams are clustered right around .500 and above and no division is even close to being set at this point. Does this mean baseball is starting to reach parity?
IT’S A TRAP!
It’s not real.
The truth is, the same old teams are still atop the same old divisions. The Yankees. The Red Sox. The Phillies. Okay, so the Mets and Dodgers may be out, but it’s not their faults! They can blame poor ownership and mishandled funds!!!
I know that a quick glance at the standings may confuse the casual onlooker, that one could be easily misguided by the way the teams stack up. But let’s face it: the NL and AL Centrals have been crapshoots for a decade, the NL West has been a contest in mediocrity for a long time. The Angels’ dominance of the AL West was only usurped last year and in 2011 they have put themselves back in contention.
This is not parity. This is, like our US American social ladder, a classic case of 99% of the wealth being in the hands of 1% of the population and everyone else is left to fend for himself. The effect resembles something like parity. But it ain’t.
I really believe that the Mitchell Report and its subsequent juicy fallout has forced teams to go back to what always works: good pitching. With good pitching, you might have a decent shot at accumulating wins. The Giants are a perfect example of a team that gets by on minimal offense and middle-of-the-pack payroll. It’s not the stuff of dynasties… but when it works, it works, and that’s what teams are doing.
The Pirates are winning because of pitching (they can’t hit). The Braves are winning because of pitching (they have a hard time scoring too). The Diamondbacks could always hit, but this year they have… PITCHING.
Great pitching is the best defense against great hitting. I didn’t write that. Baseball wrote that.
When the Orioles and Blue Jays can compete in their own division… when the Nationals have a shot at the big boys in the NL East… that’s when I’ll consider parity’s existence.
But right now that seems like something that could only be found in a galaxy far, far away.
Hate me. Fine. Just don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.
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