When Joe Torre, one of the untouchable paragons of class, is getting slammed for allegedly revealing all the Evil Empire‘s dirty secrets in a book that no one has had the chance to even read yet, I think it’s a pretty clear sign that we’ve run out of things to talk about this off-season. Manny being Manny being unsigned is now as interesting a story as Bea Arthur is sexy. The Varitek saga in Boston is teetering on the pathetic. And when the Rangers look to be the best bet for unreliable dark horse Ben Sheets, does anyone really care anymore?
How about a new MLB Network drinking game? It may not be that ramshackle of japery that we created back during the post-season/presidential debate, but it sure will sauce your inhibitions quicker than Rush Limbaugh will make you want to commit suicide.
It’s simple. Tune in to the Hot Stove Show and anytime Harold Reynolds leads the panel in a symphony of phrases uncomfortably coated by the word “guy”, take a drink. You’ll be hammered ten minutes in to the program.
Look, I have nothing personal against Harold Reynolds and his self-serving ramblings. He seems like a genuinely nice man and most of the time I actually get something out of his demonstrations on the diamond; but I sometimes feel dumb listening to his emphatic, annoyingly frequent use of the word “guy”. Let me paraphrase a sample, dear reader — a hypothetical spew based on several weeks of actually listening to the man:
A guy like Manny… Manny Ramirez is a guy who just doesn’t change a team, he changes a division. Guys see a guy like Manny in the clubhouse and then guys are suddenly seeing changes. He’s a guy who has the ability to go out there and be that guy that all the other guys are honing in on — a guy who can beat you every time he takes the field. And guys on the other side, guys on your side, those guys see that too. Makes them want to go out there and be more competitive guys, guys that get things done. You see guys change, not just guys on the team, but guys throughout the division.
I wish I were exaggerating.
H.R.’s inability to find a synonym for “guy” probably wouldn’t bother me so much if he didn’t subliminally infect the rest of the cast with his lecherous verbal disease. Broadcasting newbies Barry Larkin and Al Leiter have picked up on it, and the ensuing cacophony is near deafening.
But, I keep watching… ‘cuz I love the MLB Network. I can’t stop watching it. So I might have a problem.
As much as I love it, there is one block of MLB Network programing that baffles me like a Spaceman eephus pitch.
Whoever thought it would be a good idea to rerun old homerun derbies during a prime-time slot deserves to have John Kruk sit on his face during the two hours they’re being aired. The homerun derby? Really? I’m supposed to get excited about watching a bunch of superstars hit lollygaggin’ Jamie Moyer fastballs from two, three, four years ago while Chris Berman entertains himself ad nauseum with his cutesy cleverness? I didn’t care about the homerun derby the first time; why would I care now?
And even if you do enjoy the homerun derby (when it actually happens each July), do you really get excited about watching it again? Save Josh Hamilton’s gargantuan effort of 2008 — a contest which he ultimately lost — is there really anything titillating in any homerun derby that makes you say: “Yeah! Can’t wait to put aside two hours to watch that again!”
MLB Productions has done a fine job of producing edgy, dramatic, quality programs that explore the deep history and colorful characters of the game. I haven’t been disappointed with one of their productions yet. So I am both baffled and bored by the network’s decision to rerun past derbies instead of wowing us with original content. Seems like they’re missing a big opportunity there.
The good news is: if I play the H.R. drinking game, I won’t be conscious enough to watch the derby reruns anyway.
Don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.
So, Manny is a Dodger? The entire world was sure he was heading
south but now he has joined an already cramped outfield in L.A. And, as if that wasn’t enough, he has joined Joe Torre and Nomar out there! The
question is, will Manny being Manny fly in Tinseltown and can you think of
any other stranger storylines in the last few years?
Ah, yes, the infamous Manny-being-Manny question. Will it fly? Will he be accepted by his new manager and teammates? To find out, I shook my Magic 8 Ball and it replied: “All signs point to yes”.
But I already knew that to be the answer.
Admittedly, Manny Ramirez looks quite odd in Dodger blue; but I have to remind myself, Manny Ramirez looks odd in any uniform. He is an absolute nutcase reminiscent of one Space Man Bill Lee — an individual who goes out of his way to be quirky, weird, individualistic. I think Manny is inherently incapable of being anything other than an escalating characterization of himself.
And the fans love it — always have. That is why, as the years go by, his antics become more and more documented, loved, embraced. This is the man who forgot to cash a million dollar check that the Indians wrote him for his services because he didn’t have time to go to the bank. This is the man who lolly-gags in left field and is revered for it. This is the man who David Ortiz labeled as: “One crazy mother-(bleep)”.
Will it be weird seeing him next to Joe Torre and Nomar Garciaparra in the dugout? Sure. Will it be weird seeing Manny sitting next to anyone in the dugout? Absolutely. The man is a magnet for oddity — from high-fiving fans while making a play to writing signs expressing his desire to move to Green Bay, anything Manny does is just plain weird. Because of this, I think he is a perfect fit for the Dodgers and their organization.
Having lived in L.A. for a stretch, I can vouch for the oddity of their fans. Infamously, Dodger fans show up to the game late and leave early. In their defense, yes, traffic is rough in L.A., but it wouldn’t take much to plan for such inconveniences so one could show up by first pitch. And it’s sad to watch the mass exodus of fans heading for the freeway during the 7th inning stretch. Such collective disregard comes off as arrogant — a stigma I feel covers all L.A. sports teams. Like going to a Lakers game, it’s a place to be seen.
So, given the mediocre-to-lukewarm state of Dodger fandom, will Manny being Manny fly in Tinseltown? I don’t see why not. They love Jeff Kent and he’s a complete ^sshole. But to make sure, I decided to check in with the ultimate Dodger fan, the barometer for all things Dodger blue, the lovely, expressive, illuminating Alyssa Milano. On her MLBlog, she wrote a nice piece on Manny, which clearly shows that they (Dodger fans) will accept whatever strange occurrences may come with his acquisition. I only hope that there are plenty to speak of by the end of the year, because I don’t think Manny will be in Hollywood after the end of the season; the evil plottings of Scott Boras will see to that.
Strange a story as this is, is it really that strange when it’s all said and done? No. Not really. Manny has been crying this same game for years; it was only a matter of time before it happened. There have been stranger storylines this year:
I Used to Smoke Crack but Now I Smoke Fastballs: The Josh Hamilton Story
I Could’ve Tagged Two Guys Out at the Plate on the Same Play but Dropped the Ball: The Ramon Castro Story
I Threw Five Wild Pitches in a Playoff Game and Now I’m a Rock-Star Centerfielder: The Rick Ankiel Story
But no story has been stranger than this made-for-TV minor league drama in which an unsuspecting, cute ballgirl makes the play of a lifetime, giving the likes of Spider Man and Endy Chavez a run for their money:
Take it or leave it folks, just don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.
Let me try to understand this hifalutin statement:
“When it comes down to it, sports exist to entertain the masses and it
is the masses that decide what they want. This leads to inevitable
conflict between the strict constructionists (people like you) and the reformers (people who wear pink hats).”
–Allen Krause, The Filibuster, May 4, 2008
When Allen says, “people like you”, he’s referring to people like me — smart, charming, extremely good-looking, etc. Apparently, I must remind everyone that I am the brains of Red State Blue State, strict constructionist or not, and this statement is just the sort of blatant, pretentious animosity that gets slung around Washington in order to hide an individual’s own errant shortcomings.
Allen’s mishaps, misspeaks and misappropriations are far too many to document here; I will save you from another verbal sparring match and just inform you that, in his last post, he both favored and opposed the DH rule, thus proving his inability to lead and his tendency to flip-flop. It’s not the first time this has happened. Click here to see when he became a Nats fan and click here to read my story of how he was once a Cubs fan.
And while these bouncy sentiments are disturbing, nothing is more disturbing than Mr. Krause’s hinting that a game requiring more thinking skills and more management fineness (ie NL style baseball) would be less entertaining than the alternative: a slimy attempt to make more money (ie AL style baseball). In defending his argument, Allen used the analogy of basketball by contemplating how boring it would be if it hadn’t changed from Dr. Naismith’s original rules (which did not include a shot-clock, three pointers, etc.).
Well, Al, I don’t know. Are you belittling the intelligence of the masses by saying we can’t appreciate a thinking man’s sport? That we have to see non-stop scoring throughout to be entertained, to be drawn in, to be a fan?
Let’s analyze this from the point of view of the world’s most popular sport: soccer (football for you non-US Americans). Do you think soccer has suffered much from being a low scoring, highly intellectualized sport of refined athletic ability? Though I can’t call myself a huge soccer fan, I can attest to being extremely entertained and very involved even during nil-nil matches. And the masses seem to be liking it just fine the way it is. In fact, the masses would sooner beat you to do death than allow you to instigate a Designated Striker rule: every time the regular striker crosses midfield, the well-rested Designated Striker sprints in and attacks without abandon, thus creating a better chance to score. Yeah, I’d like to see you try it.
And don’t forget, the masses had nothing to do with implementing the DH rule in the first place. No, it was a decision made by 8 crusty, old rich men (spearheaded by Charlie O. Finley) who wanted to put more money in their pockets. Well, they did, and in the process they also took away a fundamental right of all baseball players — the right to hit. If you ever want to know how devastating that decision was on American League pitchers, read Spaceman Bill Lee’s book. It forced him to do drugs and get traded to Montreal, which was so bad that he had to do more drugs until he just settled for barnstorming the globe… and doing drugs.
Is the American League more entertaining than the National League? Calculating for my natural bias, the answer is still no. It’s not. It’s a different game and I don’t like it as much as I do the alternative, purer form.
But what do I know? According to you, Al, I’m just a “strict constructionist”, which would either make me a supreme court justice or just a simple legal philosopher. I’m not quite sure which of those career paths suits me best, but I know one thing for sure: you shouldn’t be a spelling teacher:
“If you aren’t convinced, maybe you should take a look at what Scalia,
Cheney and their merry band of strict constructionists have done to the
Consitution.” [my emphasis]
–Allen Krause, The Filibuster, May 4, 2008
As a liberal, free-thinking man with myriad bounties, it’s hard for me to swallow you comparing me to the Milo Minderbinder of our time, Dick Cheney, but it’s even harder for me to accept that you don’t know how to spell “constitution”.
Don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.
PS, Don’t hate me cuz I was right in my Cardinals/Cubs prediction either. Better get used to it.