If you called me an insane, obsessed, socially maladjusted freak in regards to my passion for the game of baseball, you would be absolutely correct. Try as I might to cover up the idiosyncratic ticks that put me at the top of the weird charts, there really is no denying my beyond reasonable quirkiness. In fact, baseball has long affected my dating life, my filial responsibilities, my job.
So you can imagine the worry and fear experienced by my dearest friends and loved ones when the MLB Network officially launched earlier this year. It has been alluded to that since the network aired, getting in contact with me has been harder than taking Sarah Palin seriously. This I cannot deny.
Besides getting the inside scoop on all things off-season baseball from the Hot Stove Show, shedding man-tears watching Mookie’s grounder trickle between Buckner’s legs and vehemently arguing/defending the selections of Prime 9, I have also been forced to evaluate the roots of my undying passion for our national pastime and why it means so much to me.
Which takes me back to the beginning…
Unlike many young boys, my father had very little to do with my interest in baseball. As great a man as he was (still is), he always had a calm reserve — an indifferent nature towards the game. Sure, he was a fan of sorts; but he wasn’t nuts about it in any way. His sister was. Yes, it’s all her fault. My dear Aunt Alice and her husband, Uncle Iggy, were absolutely wild about baseball and they molded me into a young, opinionated, domineering superfan at an early age.
Indeed, no two people had a greater effect on my psycho-following of the St. Louis Cardinals. They ate, slept and breathed Cardinals baseball (still do); their fiery enthusiasm infected me before I could even walk. Upon reflection, my earliest baseball memory is the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s front page color photo of bedlam at Busch after the 1982 World Series. Emulating Jack Clark’s short swing and despising Don Denkinger came soon after. With the help of my aunt and uncle, it wasn’t long before I was memorizing the starting lineup of the ’85 club and dreaming of being Ozzie Smith.
My father took a backseat to this unruly creation of a Redbird child. While supportive of my decision to “go crazy, folks, go crazy” while reenacting Ozzie’s fist pump around the bases, it was clear that Dad didn’t quite understand what all the fuss was about. Despite the quizzical looks he gave when I argued to stay home and watch the game rather than go to the video arcade, he accepted the fact that his son was some kind of weirdo.
As soon as I could operate the VCR, I was recording any and every baseball game on television. During the long the winter months I watched those games with the same intensity with which I watched them the first time. Then I’d watch them again. And again and again.
“Shh. It’s Tewksbury versus Sutcliffe, Dad. Pena’s gonna throw Walton out at second. Wait and see.”
“But you’ve seen this game already.”
“I haven’t seen all of it. There’s too much going on all at once. I’m watching just Pena this time. Just Pena. Watch.”
And he would… he would placate my desire… because he saw how important it was to me.
It was very important to me.
My parents were divorced. It got ugly at times. I lived with my dad, separated from my sister, who lived with my mom a hundred miles away. While my childhood spun around in chaotic circles of arguments, misunderstandings and fear, the melodic pace and harmonic rhythm of baseball calmed me like no drug ever could: the unique sound of Tom Brunansky’s bat, a whipping line-drive snagged by Pendleton at third, a Ken Daley strikeout. No matter what the final score, baseball, with its disregard for time and its indifferent ability to create heroes and villains and bystanders, became the one constant in my life.
It kept me sane.
So it was October, 1993, and I found myself in a certain state of panic. I was a selfish 14 year old boy who couldn’t imagine missing Game 6 of the ’93 Series and I wasn’t about to be quiet about it. In Tulsa, Oklahoma at the time to cheer on my dad (a marathon runner) in the 15k Tulsa Run, my complaining escalated — eventually becoming more annoying than persuading. The race was long over, but we were not anywhere near a television; the game had started and the anticipation was killing me.
“Dad, we have to go watch the game!” I whined.
“Okay, we will.”
“No, now! We’ve already missed the first inning!”
“We will. We’ll go in a little bit. It’s just the Blue Jays and Phillies anyway —
“Just the Blue Jays and — Dad, it’s important! We have to go!”
Several shrills of suffering and an hour or so later we were finally in the comforts of a relative’s home, watching the game.
My dad rested his tired legs and read the newspaper while I glued myself to the t.v. set, still jittery, shaken, upset from missing the first five innings of play. It was 5-1 Blue Jays and Dad uttered: “See, it’s gonna be a blowout anyway, Jeff.”
I grit my teeth.
And when the Phillies went on a tear in the seventh inning, scoring five runs to take a 6-5 lead, I looked back at him and said, “This is why you can never turn off a game, Dad. Anything is possible.”
Dad managed but a glance away from his paper.
The ninth inning rolled around. I shook with nerves at the suspenseful drama, mystique, myriad possibilities. Dad was unmoved. “Game’s over, Jeff. Mitch Williams is coming in.”
“You never know, Dad. You never know. You have to watch. Just watch.”
Williams walked Rickey Henderson.
“Just watch, Dad. Please.”
Fed up with my whining, he reluctantly put his paper down just in time to see Devon White fly out.
Paul Molitor singl
Joe Carter dug in.
I heard the rustling of Dad’s newspaper again, but before he could get into the reading position I shot him a glare so vicious, so maniacal, so threatening that he had no choice but to put it back down and focus on the game… just in time to see this:
Unaffiliated with the Blue Jays, unaffiliated with the Phillies, but fully affiliated with the wondrous game of baseball, I shot to my feet and screamed like a little girl. My whole being gushed with excitement, with incredulity, with a burning sensation never before felt as Carter jumped and ran the bases.
I looked at my dad, his jaw on the floor, eyes lit up like the Skydome fireworks.
“Did you see that, Dad!?! Did you see that!?!”
“I… I saw it. I don’t believe it but I… I saw it.”
“Don’t you see, Dad? Anything’s possible.”
“I guess you’re right. Anything is possible.”
If you can dream it, it can happen.
That’s the lesson baseball taught me, the lesson Joe Carter taught my dad, the lesson that comes from having a father who believes in you…
I love you, Dad. And don’t forget… you can’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right. You said it yourself on October 23, 1993.
Man, I gotta tell you. For as good as 2008 was at times, overall it was a brutal trip for those of us hailing from mitten shaped states. The Wolverines missed out on a bowl berth for the first time in 3 decades (that’s a score and a half for those keeping score at home), the Lions accomplished perfection as only Matt Millen could define it and the Tigers, after starting off the season as almost everyone’s pick to win the World Series, somehow found a way to not only lose continuously but also trade for Kyle Farnsworth. Seriously guys, Farnsworth?
But now is the time of year when we get a chance to refocus on the good things and be grateful for what we have. And honestly, we have a lot to be thankful for here at RSBS. First off, it’s great to be part of a community that appreciates baseball and politics the same way that Jeff and I do. And it’s also great to work on this project with one of my best friends who also happens to be a cunning linguist and master baseball intellect.
Granted, we don’t always agree and it’s sad that Jeff holds so much hope for the city of St. Louis (even if it doesn’t always seem that way) but, despite our differences (especially when it comes to Erin Andrews), I still have nothing but respect for Mr. Lung and his bitterness when it comes to the things bringing down our nation (mainly Sarah Palin and the Chicago Cubs, if his posts are any indication).
However, for the purposes of this end of the year reminiscing, th rules are that we are limited to choosing three of the other person’s posts that really do it for us (in that Sarah Palin firing an automatic weapon sort of way). So, without any further ado, here we go.
Yankees Broaden Scouting Map — December 14, 2008
Sometimes short entries can say it all and that’s definitely the case with this one. Nothing else distills the essence of RSBS like scouting the Iraqi shoe-thrower.
1st Runner Up:
(Don’t) Try This at Home — October 15, 2008
Since both baseball and politics often lead people to drink, it’s only fitting that a blog purporting to cover both subjects should provide a guide. In the pantheon of drinking games, this one ranks right up there.
Freakazoids and Oddities — December 5, 2008
I don’t know if Jeff just ran out of ideas and started looking at search results or what lead to this post but the fact that “Wemen hitting mens balls” is one of the most popular strings leading people to RSBS is certainly change we can believe in.
And finally, the Winner:
Time for a Major League Intervention — August 19, 2008
I still remember sitting down and reading this entry for the first time and thinking it was one of the most brilliant, insightful and intense pieces I had ever read. They can’t all be like this but I do think this piece is one of the main reasons why our readers keep coming back.
So, that’s it for me and that’s it for 2008. Pitchers and catchers report in just a little while and you can be sure that we’re still going to be here doing what we do.
Sixteen-year-old Eri Yoshida, a knuckleball throwin’ femme phenom, recently became the first woman ever drafted in the Japanese Professional Baseball League — which would most probably make her the first professional female baseball player in an all-male league (I think; our staff is working on this one).
Eri, a studious highschooler with a keen eye for Red Sox geriatric Tim Wakefield and his trademark knuckleballing mechanics, has proven herself quite the asset amongst her male counterparts and thus looks forward to breaking in as a rookie with the Kobe 9 Cruise this spring.
In lieu of these developments, we at RSBS (namely Me) would like to take a moment to congratulate Eri Yoshida on her groundbreaking achievement by memorializing the trailblazing feats of women sports icons both past and present because… well, because we can and we should.
And we will.
Helene Robison Britton
Inheriting the St. Louis Cardinals from her uncle, Stanley Robison, in 1911, Ms. Britton broke ground as the first woman in the history of the world to own a Major League Baseball club. During her six year reign at the top of the Cardinals organization, the team managed an average winning percentage of .441, a number which — in a round about world — popped up again in 2008 as the batting average for hitters facing the Cardinals bullpen.
Okay, so she’s not much of an athlete, but she sure knows how to piss a lot of people off with her baseball-related antics. Sen. Clinton’s meandering baseball allegiances have long been the seed of the People’s frustration. America may not see in just black and white anymore, but we die-hard baseball fans tend to be staunch conservatives when it comes to flagrantly waving about one’s fan preference. Don’t get me wrong: I sincerely respect Senator Clinton. She had a great run and she would’ve gotten my vote if the desire for change in Washington wasn’t burning so strong in my heart. I voted for that change. And how am I (and all US Americans) being rewarded? By seeing the same old Washington insiders posted in the highest offices under the President.
Excuse me while I go stab myself.
Super hot woman who knows more about sports than I do? Not much else to say.
Now that the dust has somewhat settled, let me commend Gov. Palin on being the laughingstock of modern politics. Not quite the Dan Quayle Potato-Head, still, she provided plenty a laugh throughout the campaign. She’s worthy of commendation because she stuck it out and never got too rattled (unless you count that Katie Couric interview, SNL, et al). As an avid hunter, basketball player and all around “hot mamma”, I bet she’d be a pretty sturdy fireballer on the mound late in a game. The Cardinals need some bullpen help. I’m just sayin’…
*Drool… drool… drool…
What? She didn’t make the Olympics? She doesn’t play baseball? Do I even care?
Just don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.
Indeed, after that long and winding baseball-politico season and the ominousness of losing every dime I’ve ever saved due to the current worldwide economic crisis, I deserved a damn vacation.
And vacation I did.
Which reminds me, don’t you just hate when you meet the perfect girl and you hit it off right away — so much so that you spend the entire day with her into the evening through the night and find out the next day that she’s your cousin?
Happens to me every year.
But that’s not what I want to focus on today. No. You see, dear readers, while on my vacation, I missed out on some very important happenings: like Gov. Sarah Palin‘s adamant cry to NBC’s Matt Lauer that during the campaign she never got involved with that “inside baseball stuff” that supposedly divided her camp from Sen. McCain’s.
Look, I don’t even pretend to know what she meant by calling it “inside baseball stuff” seeing how it had absolutely nothing to do with baseball; however, I can appreciate her obviously sentimental regard for greatest game on earth and implying that indeed, it’s complicated.
Because it is.
The coast is clear now, but how is it that the Cardinals were even considering a trade for Matt Holliday? A trade that would send away at least two (maybe more) of our most talented youngsters and leave us with a one-year rental of a player represented by Scott Boras? Has John Mozeliak officially lost his friggin’ mind?
The answer to that question is yes and I’m quite sure we St. Louis fans haven’t even seen the beginning of it. Stock up on the painkillers, folks; 2009 could be a long one.
And how is it that Lou Piniella received the Manager of the Year Award? Don’t get me wrong: I have nothing but respect for Sweet Lou and I admire his guile, but this year he did what he was supposed to do (sorta) which was manage an extremely talented, high-priced ball-club to a winning season. That’s like me getting rewarded for drinking beer and watching football on Sundays. That’s what I do, people!
The Cubs were on cruise control all season until October and Lou didn’t have to work nearly as hard as the likes of Tony LaRussa or Joe Torre to get the job done with less talent.
The one thing Lou was supposed to do this year (win playoff games) never happened. I see that as one thing and one thing only: failure. F-A-I-L-U-R-E.
On the other side of the Second City (my side), complications arise with Jermaine Dye and his future in a White Sox uniform. Rumor is: Kenny Williams wants to get some fresh legs in exchange for the veteran outfielder who had a resurgent season in 2008. I understand Williams’ point of view, but I’m pretty sure there will be rioting in the streets if Dye is traded away. Even more rioting if Big Fat Bobby Jenks is dealt (which is also floating around the rumormill).
Just let me know if and when that’s going to happen, Kenny, because I’ll make sure to be back in South Padre until the Southside firebombing lets up.
I suppose Gov. Palin was right. This “inside baseball stuff” is complicated. And I gotta hand it to the Republicans. They ran a
good laughable race. And the tides seem to be turning for the GOP: Mark Foley, while still making excuses for his pedophilia, is at least speaking to the media again; Alaska has more problems than just Palinmania; and Norm Coleman has a 209 vote lead (as I write this).
Like my boy Tupac used to always say: “Ya gotta keep ya head up.”
Don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.
RSBS is taking a well deserved couple days of rest following the events of October and November. However, we will back this coming week with all the cynicism and irony that you have come to expect from us. We haven’t forgotten you, though, and we leave you with this.
Last night, as Philly fans celebrated like Sarah Palin look-alikes, I settled back in my easy chair and fervently prayed that I had not just used up all my prediction mojo. See, back when this thing started I picked the Phillies to win the Series, comparing them to a certain junior senator from Illinois. And several weeks later, here we are. The Phillies dominated the Rays in just about every category, much like Obama has been doing to John McCain. But, I think it’s safe to say that no Philadelphia fan felt safe until after the ump called strike three on Eric Hinske last night.
Obama fans should feel the same way. Andrew Sullivan posted this the other day and it pretty much sums up the way things stand right now:
But despite all the concerns, I’m going to go ahead and say it. Obama is the new Brad Lidge and he’s going to close this thing down.
Now, I’d like to take the high road and leave things where they are but I can’t help but gloat a little bit in realizing that I’ve gotten the last word on my good friend, Mr. Lung. See, he doubted my pick from the beginning and even picked the Rays last week while extolling the virtues of his new man-crush. But, the Phillies came through which doesn’t mean much since I am now zero dollars richer as a result.
To be honest, this victory feels a little empty. It’s not that I have anything against the Phillies or regret their win. But, after the money the Tigers spent in the offseason, I was ready to see my team holding up their trophy while Justin Verlander carried off his first World Series MVP Award. It all looked so good in my mind.
I guess that in the end the only option I have is to borrow a refrain heard most often coming from Cubs fans. Next year is our year! Man, I can’t believe I just compared myself to a Cubs fan. Time to go take a shower and wash off the filfth.
Bud Selig. One of the worst baseball commissioners or the worst? Discuss amongst yourselves. Only a man who has the hubris to continue in his position after the steroid scandal could possibly have given us Monday night’s bizarre reading of the rules. Hey, here’s an idea for you. If the weather is so crappy it’s going to be hard to get the game in and there’s a possibility of a suspension or a shortened game, DON’T PLAY THE F&%$ING GAME! Wait a day. What else is going on in the baseball world that makes it absolutely necessary to play the game that night? And if you have enough authority to circumvent the rules, why not go whole hog and unilaterally postpone the game?
This is the difference between George W. Bush and Bud Selig. They both think they’re “The Decider” but only one of them has the will to actually go through with it. People may not agree with W and his decisions but at least he made them while they still counted. Selig is a poor man’s W, a John McCain, if you will:
And that’s where we stand, dear readers. The World Series and this baseball season could be over this evening. And the election could be over by this time next week (barring any Florida or Ohio based shenanigans). But unlike Bud Selig, we can make a decision and that’s why we’ll still be here for you tomorrow, next week and for as long as it takes.