Things should be much, much clearer now.
Every year about this time a magical transformation takes place. Normally sane people go stark, raving mad as they cheer their favorites to the finish. The coolness in the air mirrors the coolness in neighbors’ stares as some new item of support gets unfurled in the yard. Promises get made only to be broken soon thereafter. And that’s just in the world of politics.
We are truly a blessed country because every fall we not only get the insanity of the baseball playoffs, we also get the truly mind-numbing inanity of the November elections. But this year is extra special because in addition to the antics of Democrats and Republicans, we also get the often unbelievable but usually entertaining shenanigans of the Tea Party.
Over here at RSBS we’ve made a tradition of putting together our annual playoff preview and this year is no exception. But each edition needs a theme and this year, in honor of our Teabagger friends, the theme just kind of put itself out there. Let’s get to it.
Like the NL, green tea has pomp, circumstance and history. The Chinese have been drinking the stuff since Europeans were letting blood to cure sickness and avoiding baths in the belief that water would kill you. Although it may have never gone away in the Asian world, the green stuff has experienced quite a renaissance in the West with the discovery of all it’s anti-oxidant properties. Likewise, with the NL finally in the driver’s seat after winning home field advantage at the All-Star game, you have to think they’re feeling a little renaissance of their own is due. But renaissance in what flavor?
Starting in the east (naturally, since we are talking about tea), we have the two-time defending league champion Phillies, the Japanese green tea of our preview. It’s classic, you know it and you know you’re probably going to see it again. Not only that, it just makes sense. Seriously, how would your bento box taste without the tea accompaniment? It belongs.
Meanwhile, the Lipton green tea of the NL, Atlanta’s own Braves, somehow found a way to get Bobby Cox back into the playoffs. Sure, it may not have been your first choice but it will get the job done. However, it’s also only going to get you so far. More on that later.
In the heartland, the Reds find representation in the classic Gunpowder variety of green tea. No one is quite sure how the tea got its name, maybe because it’s rolled into little pellets, maybe because it expands explosively when it hits the water. But there’s one big problem here. The way you know the quality is from the size of the balls. Smaller balls, better quality. Dusty Baker and his team aren’t exactly known for their small balls. Do you remember that brawl with the Cardinals? The Reds, their balls are a little too big.
Finally, out west we find the Giants, the Moroccan mint tea of the baseball world. It tastes good, there’s a lot to like but something’s a little off. Maybe it’s not strong enough, maybe there’s too much sugar but for whatever reason, it’s only good in small doses. That’s probably all right, though, since all we’re going to get from the Giants is a small dose when they exit during the first round.
Black tea found a home in the west but purists still sniff at its lack of tradition. Sure, it may have more caffeine, it may keep you going but where’s the ceremony? Now the fans of black tea will argue that theirs is still a noble tradition and despite their blends and flavors and addition of milk, the tea is still central. You’re not going to have any luck sliding that argument by the tea dogmatists, though.
Since black tea is a western thing, we’ll start out west with the preview as well. That means we dive straight into a steaming cup of Irish breakfast tea, also known as the Texas Rangers. Nolan Ryan owns the team and you don’t get much more Irish than that. However, in the land of black tea, the English reign supreme. Sorry, Nolan. It just wasn’t meant to be.
This leads us to Minnesota where the Twins find themselves represented by….wait a minute! That’s not tea. That’s herbal tea! C’mon guys. I can steep dirt in water and call it tea but everyone is going to know it’s just mud. Herbal tea is nice when you have a cold but it’s not “tea.” Hm, I guess that’s kind of fitting since the Twins are a “playoff team” but aren’t really a playoff team. Or at least won’t be for very long.
From here we find ourselves back east again with two very different teams. We start with the Rays, the Massala Chai of the baseball world. There are a lot of flavors going on there, it’s new, it’s hip. And it definitely works for awhile. The question is, when the chips are down and you have to pick just one, do you go for the spicy stuff or something proven?
And what could be more proven than the English breakfast tea that is the Yankees. Personally, I don’t like the stuff but a lot of people do. Not only that, it’s strong and it gets the job done. Sure, the tradition may not go as far back as the NL but when you can throw around names like Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig and Yogi Berra, you got something going on.
So what happens next? Well, it’s pretty simple. We line them up and see who lasts the longest. I apologize to everyone who lives west of the Mississippi but when I read the leaves, their fortunes don’t look good. Texas, Minnesota, San Fran and Cincy all go down in the first round leaving us an east coast finale in both leagues. I’m sure this doesn’t bother the broadcasters who will be reading tea leaves of their own and I’m sure they’ll be even more happy when the Yankees and the Phillies emerge to once again do battle in the World Series.
So, it comes down to this. Japanese green tea vs. English breakfast tea. The fact of the matter is, anyplace else in the world the green tea wins hands down. But this is America and the Anglo-Saxons decided to let all their chips ride on black a couple hundred years ago. Good thing they did because the Yankees win again.
And so in this Podcast…
It’s our monumental TENTH EPISODE, y’all! Party is the name of the game as Jeff, Allen and Johanna dive into an exciting playoff tempered show including three hallowed memories, two Morgans (Nyjer and the Captain) and one inception… not to mention a whole lot of confusion over a $500 pair of speedos with Albert Pujols’ face on it. Plus much more, including the Lou Piniella mailbag! All to make you laughy-time!
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thanks to Keith Carmack — our engineer, director, editor and
all-around sound guru. Check out
his Undercast podcast and visit his movie-making website Undercard Films if you don’t want him to kick your bum. Did I mention he is an MMA fighter? It’s true. How else do you think Johanna’s face got so disfigured?!? Lookout!
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Recorded Saturday, September 11, 2010
Just stop it.
You are embarrassing me. You are embarrassing my family. You are embarrassing yourselves.
My sister was at your game in Houston on Monday night. Ya know, the one against the LOLstros. The first one where you didn’t score any runs. And despite your recent slide against terrible, terrible teams, she still went to the park all decked out in Cardinals gear.
She could’ve used a security detail trying to get out of there.
That’s what it has finally come down to in 2010.
What is more frustrating than anything else isn’t the losing. Look, I know. Baseball teams lose. Even the best teams lose four out of ten. That’s the game. That’s baseball.
But when you lose you look like you don’t care… like it doesn’t bother you… like it’s just another day.
WELL IT’S NOT JUST ANOTHER FRIGGIN’ DAY!
The wheels are coming off and we’re not gonna shut up about it until you start looking like you give a damn. I guarantee you the folks in Cincinnati do. Yes. Finally, they have something to care about; and here we are, a confused, spiraling, spoiled Cardinals nation who thought we could just mail it in until the playoffs…
Well, that ain’t gonna cut it.
I hate to sound over dramatic, but the time has come for some over dramatic butt-kickin’ ‘cuz there ain’t much time left!
So go out there and remember that we’ll always love you, as long as you give your best, tireless efforts.
…and a bazillion other serious Cardinals fans.
What are your thoughts on Chris Carpenter? Do you take it all as “intensely passionate” or just a good ol’ jerk?
Underneath the Halo
I don’t care much for St. Louis. You could put me pretty firmly in the Brandon Phillips camp on this one and my feelings toward the Cardinals’ organization. I didn’t like Tony LaRussa when he managed the A’s and I don’t like him now. I could care less about Albert Pujols and Alfred Molina. I mean Bengie Molina. Damn. Yadier. I don’t like the Cardinals.
But I do enjoy seeing guys get fired up and making themselves heard. I grew up watching Bob Probert enforce for the Red Wings (I’m guessing he’s also not a big fan of St. Louis based on his interactions with Tie Domi) and the day that Bill Laimbeer and his elbows gave way to Michael and the beautiful game was a sad day for all Michiganders.
So I respect Carpenter going into the fracas and deciding to own it. Sure, he may have been overshadowed by Cueto’s karate kicks and the managers’ ejections. But only one man truly owned this rumble and that man is Chris Carpenter. Without him, it’s just a bunch of guys jawing at each other. He took it to that next level, the level where bad blood becomes real blood and a true rivalry comes into existence.
And, quite honestly, baseball is better for it. Rivalries create storylines and storylines sell tickets. Add a little fisticuffs into the mix and you’ve got magic.
Let’s not get too excited here, though. My respect for Carpenter is finite and in no way extends to the rest of his team. After all, like Phillips already pointed out, they are “little b!tches, all of ’em.”
Photo courtesy of Yahoo!Sports
Outside of baseball, there’s really only one man worth wearing the crown of my man-crushdom. Whether its his svelte good looks, his vocal charm, or his ability to cheat on multiple baby’s mamas and still be adored by all… this man is someone I’d like to be, if only for a day.
That man’s name is…
So imagine the pure shock, the horror, the Crying Game-esque gut twisting reaction I had when I was informed that Usher was responsible for the comeuppance, development and overnight success of the height-challenged lesbian look-alike from Canada, Justin Bieber.
If it’s pop-culture-to-baseball analogies you’re lookin’ for, look no more, dear readers. For Usher is the St. Louis Cardinals. He’s tops among R&B artists. He’s consistently good. He’s been around the winner’s circle. He belongs among the best.
Justin Bieber? He’s the Cincinnati Reds. A mere fart in the grand world of entertainment, he too will eventually dissipate back into nothingdom, where he belongs.
The Reds boast a team of Cardinal has-beens: Scott Rolen, Jim Edmonds, Russ Springer… hell, even Walt Jocketty. During the course of a 162 game season, even has-beens find time to shine.
But like Justin Bieber and his awkwardly prolonged fifteen minutes of fame, eventually the Reds will burn out…
…the Cards will be on top…
…and Usher will be asking:
Hate me ‘cuz I wanna eradicate Bieber Fever, just don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.
(Special thanks to C for the vomit-inducing photo)
Growing up a kid in America is synonymous with being a dreamer. We’re taught that anything is possible if we’re dedicated, if we work hard. And we often model ourselves after those we look up to, our heroes.
I always had two: my dad, whom I got to see everyday, and St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Fame shortstop, Ozzie Smith. Many a summer afternoon was spent in the backyard… swinging like Ozzie, diving like Ozzie, smiling like Ozzie.
“I want to be Ozzie Smith,” family members recall me saying, “I want to be Number One.”
So what does one say when he finally gets to have a conversation with his boyhood hero?
“My grandpa had Musial. My dad had Gibson and Brock. I had you, Ozzie.”
And Ozzie’s response?
Of course, I expected nothing but the coolest things from the man who gave us reason to Go crazy, folks, go crazy! Heck, it’s been nearly 25 years since that homerun prompted Jack Buck to give us his iconic call, but I promise you this: to a Cardinals fan, it never gets old.
“It never went away,” chuckled a candid Ozzie Smith, “and as a matter of fact, it’s still reverberating today. I have little kids coming up to me, reciting that. So yeah, it’s pretty cool.”
Indeed it is pretty cool and so is Ozzie Smith, the man: 15 time All-Star, 13 time Gold Glove Award Winner, Hall of Famer and all around good guy.
The seriousness of prostate cancer cannot be overstated. In fact, 1 out of every 6 men will experience the disease, as it is the second-leading cause of male cancer-related deaths in the United States.
“I’m just here to encourage all men 50 or older (40 or older for African-American men and those with a family history of the disease) to get involved, talking with their doctors about prostate health. Because with early detection, prostate cancer isn’t only treatable, it’s beatable.”
As was Ozzie’s signature game plan on the field, the best way to beat this disease is with strong defense. And if anyone knows anything about defense, one need look no further than The Wizard.
After a decade plus of abnormal offensive numbers in baseball, Ozzie sees the current renaissance of pitching and defense themed ball-clubs as a natural, cyclical part of the game.
“It’s the way the game is supposed to be played. You can get a lot more out of playing the game the proper way than just building your team from an offensive standpoint.”
If you’re looking for an example of such managerial strategy, Ozzie suggests we look at those teams at the top.
“The Atlanta Braves in the East, I think they’re one of those teams. Not a whole lot of power, but they certainly do the little things that it takes to win. The Cardinals have always been one of those teams that have done that and I think it’s part of what’s allowed the Cincinnati Reds to lead their division this year.”
Such game theory often begins with the manager and Ozzie Smith was lucky enough to serve under one of the best, one of this summer’s Hall of Fame inductees: Whitey Herzog.
“As a manager, the goal is always to make players better than they are. Whitey was certainly one of those people. The relationship we had was of admiration and respect. A good manager, like Whitey, only has two rules: be on time and give a hundred percent. As a professional athlete, that’s all you can ask, to be given the opportunity to do what it is you do. If you can’t abide by those rules, then you shouldn’t be playing.”
And as we gear up for the 2010 All-Star Game in Anaheim, it’s a pretty safe bet that the players involved abide by those rules. One cannot be the best without giving his best. As a 15 time All-Star himself, Ozzie was quite comfortable being at the top of his game. When asked to describe his fondest All-Star memories, he was quick to answer.
“The first one I had a chance to go to in 1981 and then my final one in 1996, those two really stand out. The first one simply because of the excitement of going to your first All-Star Game and the festivities, the lockering, visiting with guys you admired from afar and played against, having a chance to play with them was very special. Then the reception I received in Philadelphia for my final one was very, very special.”
Yep. It sure was. In fact, I fondly remember… crying. I was 17 years old, my hero was retiring and I was morbidly afraid of baseball without Ozzie.
But I quickly learned: no one can take away memories, no one can take away dreams. The game continued on and Ozzie never really went away. The moments he created are remembered today. His work ethic is passed down. His desire to help those in need, to educate, to make life better wherever possible through public service, as he’s doing with the Depend Campaign, all these things make him forever an All-Star.
Forever a hero.
Forever a reason to go crazy, folks.
Written by Jeffery Lung
Special thanks to
Kristin Adams of Taylor PR for arranging the interview.
Click *HERE* to read Jeff’s interview with Dave Winfield.
to read Jeff’s interview with Ken Griffey, Sr.