Although the Japanese no longer provide the same nightmare fodder that they did in the early 90’s, the Chinese have more than made up for the loss. Sure, most of the population still lives in abject poverty but the country’s economic might is ever increasing. More than that, with 1.2 billion people, how do we know they aren’t creating an army of Yao Ming-like super soldiers?
If you think I’m just fear-mongering, think again. The Chinese have developed a missile that can hit a moving aircraft carrier. And who has the aircraft carriers? Yeah, that’ll keep you up at night. Did I mention that there are 1.2 billion of them? Oh. Right. Sorry.
We should probably keep in mind that the Chinese aren’t the only Asian nation with a billion plus people at their disposal. And beyond taking over call centers and consulting companies, India has made a strong move into our national pastime with their exportation of Rinku and Dinesh as well. Ok, strong might be a bit of an overstatement since these guys haven’t even made it through the Pirates’ farm system. But you see my point.
However, if there’s one area where we should truly fear the Indians, it’s marriage. Not understanding the concept? I think this will make it very clear:
Repeat after me: I will not run away on my Indian girlfriend, I will not run away on my Indian girlfriend, I will not run away on my…..
And so in this Podcast…
Jeff, Al & that rock-n-rollin-Cub-lovin’ sage Johanna Mahmud take on all things ‘Merica, including (but not limited to) Rinku and Dinesh, Carlos Zambrano, The Hills (seriously? that happened?), the All-Star Game, the Lou
Piniella Mailbag and much,
much more… all to make you laughy-laughy!
to the RSBS Podcast by clicking *HERE*
via iTunes by clicking *HERE*
thanks to Keith Carmack — our engineer, director, editor and
all-around sound guru. His Undercast
podcast is a must-listen (listen to it!). It’s available on iTunes and
is posted regularly at Undercard
Recorded Monday, July 5, 2010
We at RSBS often lament the chronic disgrace that the Pittsburgh Pirates organization has become. The home of players like Roberto Clemente not only continues to lose at an unfathomable rate, they also show no signs of turning it around anytime in the near future. Throw in the fact that they have basically resorted to reality TV contests to drum up interest and you almost feel embarrassed for them, mainly because they obviously don’t have the good sense to feel embarrassed for themselves.
What the Pirates need is a mentor, someone who can show them how to get back to their swashbuckling ways. Pirates used to strike fear in the hearts of sailors and the National League. That can happen again.
If I can be so bold as to make a suggestion: the Pirates need lessons from real pirates. And I’m not talking the Johnny Depp, cavorting around in makeup kind of buccaneer. I’m talking the armed to the teeth while hijacking a supertanker kind of pirate.
As luck would have it, The Atlantic recently provided a blueprint for what has made the Somali pirates successful and there are definitely some lessons the NL Pirates can take to heart. For instance, how about this truth-berry? “You don’t want your pirates running off with the loot! Be sure to
incentivize your workforce and set compensation levels fairly.” If history is any guide (Jason Bay, Nate McLouth, Aramis Ramirez), this might be a good place to start.
Or how about this? “Each pirate should bring his own firearm in exchange for a class A share
of the profits.” More firearms means more firepower. Which also means that bringing guys like Rinku and Dinesh on board probably isn’t going to cut it.
If all else fails the Pirates possess one final option, an option that frankly I’m a little surprised they haven’t already exercised. Why not do like their namesakes and just hijack the Yankees or Phillies, then hold them for ransom? “Sure, we’ll let you go. As soon as you give us Cliff Lee.” It’s something to think about and certainly couldn’t do them any worse than what they’ve done to themselves the past 17 years.
No offense, Buccos, but Akinori Iwamura (as decent a middle infielder as he is) isn’t quite the fella you build a franchise around. Octavio Dotel? Please. And while the Yankees and Red Sox use their loud coin purses to court free agent princes yearning for a shot at a crown, the lowly Pirates do… well, they do nothing.
Chris Bootcheck, Vinnie Chulk, Tyler Yates…
So, I know it’s early and all, but if I were self-loathing enough to be a Pirates fan, I’d at least want to know that there will be something interesting to see at the ballpark in 2010 — an aged veteran past his prime… a blockbuster trade for a superstar player… those two Indian dudes named Rinku and Dinesh.
Yes, I think I’d take the two Indian dudes.
Because if Indian culture can do half as much for the Pittsburgh Pirates as it did for Jingle Bells, then the Steelers and Penguins better move on over, ‘cuz Title Town just became Pittsburghgoa.
Hate me ‘cuz you got that song stuck in your head now, just don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.
(Vid link from BuzzFeed)
As we look over the baseball season and all the stories that emerged, we also start putting the pieces together, trying to see what parts of the story are most important. This process often leads to discussions of who deserves which award and even when it’s a clear-cut race, that doesn’t mean that people won’t still yell long and hard about who they think should win.
So let me jump into the fray early on and start campaigning for a couple of my choices.
Let’s start with the American League where the manager of the year is obviously Jimmy
Leyland. Despite the whole “losing the division his team led for five
months on the last day of the regular season” thing, you have to admit
that it’s pretty impressive that he was even able to remain standing
for 162 games. Seriously, his lungs are like little tar flavored
prunes. If he’s an organ donor, the only person who could use his lungs
is a researcher at the Kingsford charcoal company trying to figure out
how to pack even more carbon into every little bricquet.
And on the NL side there are many people who think that Albert Pujols should win the MVP award. And despite his team’s ignominious crash out of the first round of the playoffs, the argument is a strong one. However, let me suggest another possibility. Rinku Singh. Ok, so he technically isn’t really eligible since he didn’t even play in the majors this season. But, think of this. In a nation of nearly 1.2 billion people, he is the first one of them to win a professional baseball game. That’s one small step for a man but one giant leap for, uh, India, I guess. And as if that wasn’t enough, he’s also the only reason that most Americans even realize the Pirates still play baseball. Those are pretty strong credentials, my friends.
So as you start debating the relative merits of the possible winners of this years’ awards, take a second and consider the RSBS inspired ticket of Leyland and Singh. They may not be winners in baseball but they sure are winners in life.
So far the 2009 World Baseball Classic has provided plenty of
nail-biting drama, including upsets by the Netherlands, Italy and
Australia, proving the magnitude of baseball’s global potential. In
recent years the NBA has had success in sending the message of its game
worldwide and to some degree, so has the NFL. Realistically speaking,
does baseball have a shot at becoming a truly universal sport and is it
premature to think that little kids in London might some day replace
the soccer ball with a baseball?
In many ways the WBC is like any other tournament. You get your share of upsets and surprises and there’s always some sort of Cinderella story. But, at the end of the day, the teams that are supposed to win usually do. Look at the run the Americans made in this year’s Classic, edging out Canada with some late inning heroics and treating Venezuela like Hugo Chavez treats the rule of law. But, when it came down to it. They faltered against Venezuela the second time around and then embarrassed themselves against Puerto Rico. The same thing is going to happen to the Netherlands and other pretenders.
Here’s the thing, though. Calling this exhibition the World Baseball Classic is a misnomer at best and an outright lie at worst. Team Italy? A bunch of American baseball players who happen to have Italian last names. Same thing with with the Dutch. Actual baseball does not exist on the European continent nor does it have any role in the sporting lives of millions of Africans and billions of Indians (with the exception of Rinku and Dinesh). Even in the Americas, baseball is far from being the most popular sport and pales in significance to soccer. In its own birthplace, the USA, baseball comes in third behind the NBA and the NFL in terms of popularity.
So, what are its chances of becoming a truly worldwide phenomenon? Somewhere between slim and none and slim is on his way out of the building. There are really two issues here and they happen to be two sides of the same coin.
Number one is the worldwide popularity of soccer and the ease of entry into playing the game. Stuff a sock with some rags and you’ve got yourself a makeshift soccer ball. Offsides can be a somewhat difficult concept at first but the rules are relatively straightforward. If you can get the ball into the goal, you score. It’s that easy. And you can play on a dirt field, the middle of the street or even indoors. Realistically, it’s hard to say that more than half the world’s population can be wrong.
By contrast, baseball is a prohibitively expensive sport, especially when you’re living on less than 2 dollars a day like a majority of the world. At the least, you need a glove, a bat and a ball but none of these are easy to come by. You need a space that’s big enough in which to play and you need enough people to field a couple teams. Once you add in the intricacies of the rulebook and the relative slowness in the speed of play, well, I think it’s safe to say that baseball’s spread has been contained.
Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to see the popularity of baseball expand. I think it’s a wonderful way for the US to conduct soft diplomacy. And I think it’s one of the few areas in which we’ve had constructive interaction with Latin America. But, I don’t think it’s very realistic to think it will happen. The competition is too stiff and the barriers to entry are too high.
This isn’t to say that the WBC has no place and that we should give up. It’s great that every few years different countries get a chance to show their skills and it’s particularly fun to see the Cubans emerge from their isolation. But a tri-yearly celebration of international baseball is not going to overcome the incredible headstart that soccer holds, nor is it going to make it possible for a poor kid in Port-au-Prince to get a glove and go play catch with his friends. Unfortunately, that is where the warm fuzzies of the WBC run smack into the cold, hard truths of real life.