And so in this Podcast…
Jeff and his sCrUBS fan nemesis pal, Johanna Mahmud, get back in the studio and throw down on the art of being right! Among the titillating topics of discussion: mispronouncing dominance [Doc Halladay] and futility [John Grabow], Brandon Phillips’ wings, a wild war of words over Albert Pujols, the Lou Piniella Mailbag and much, much more.
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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. He always knows when the Hawks are (or aren’t) gonna get donged.
Recorded Monday, May 31, Memorial Day 2010
Is baseball becoming a small man’s game? Frank Thomas is retired,
Jermaine Dye can’t find a new home. Even Ryan Howard didn’t seem to be
quite the same dynamo last season as he was the year before. Joe
Mauer and Albert Pujols, while not necessarily small, definitely
aren’t monsters like McGwire and Bonds. And let’s not forget Dustin
Pedroia’s MVP win from a year ago. With all the focus on multi-tooled
players, is there still a place for a big man with a big stick?
Believe me, dear readers, when I put an entire year’s salary on the table and bet on the fact that from now until the end of time, in this grand game of ours there will always be a place for a big man with a big stick.
(That’s what she said.)
That and I will obviously continue to have the self-restraint of a 14 year old.
But that doesn’t matter.
Sure, the game changes. It morphs to suit the times, needs. In the nineteen-aughts the emphasis was on the fundamentals — moving the runner over, taking the ball the other way, sliding cleats up. The Ruthian era saw the longball gain importance. The 60s saw pitching dominate. The game of the 80s stressed the need for speed. The steroid era killed all of that, making it easy for old, overweight has-beens to resuscitate their careers while inflating the record books at the same time, thus exaggerating the homerun to cult status.
And now, after all of that, indeed we are seeing another theme take form and that theme is: athleticism. Five tooled players are the hottest commodity. Weight consciousness abounds. The current goal is to be well-rounded and excel at every part of the job. The more a player can do, the more valuable he becomes and we are experiencing a real shift in the athletic zeitgeist of Major League Baseball.
What a wonderful thing!
Instead of waiting for the juiced-up meat-head to play the 3-run homer waiting game, now we get to see hitters expand the strike zone and hit to all fields. The running game is in renaissance and we get to experience the art of the steal, which in my opinion, is one of the most beautiful facets of any baseball game. And now managers manage more: hit and runs, double steals, sacrifice bunts. They’re all results from this new found shift towards athleticism.
Baseball is rewarding itself with pure, stealth athletes.
Yet fear not, homer lovers, for the game will always need its big men. The premier archetype, George Herman Ruth, made baseball what it is today; and without that powerful mystique and consistent threat from the “slugger”, baseball would not remain as our US American pastime.
So while the bones of the league may shift more towards athleticism and overall skill, I assure you that there will always be room for Dave Kingman and Frank Thomas and Ryan Howard.
Like they say all over the internets, chicks certainly do dig the long ball.
And contrary to everything you know, chicks run the universe.
Don’t hate me. ‘Cuz I’m right.
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***Photo collages of Tiffani Amber Thiessen circa 1992-1996 also welcome.
This has been a week of upheaval in both the physical and existential sense of the word. We continue to be bombarded by images of Haiti and even today a new quake brought new fear. And in the US, both minor and major tremors shook us as McGwire admitted what we had always suspected and the Democrats lost what was supposed to be a sure thing.
In times of upheaval people search for solidity, for something they can cling to as their world is dashed to pieces. For Haitians this is an ongoing search as even their government and their public services have fallen apart. And for baseball fans, even though we knew what McGwire was up to, we go back to the basics and try to rediscover again why we love this game.
For the Democrats, they are in much the same spot as the Haitians. I remember standing on the lawn between the capitol and the Washington Monument a year ago as President Obama gave his historic inauguration speech. But a year later his star power has faded to the point that a virtual unknown was able to take the seat held by Ted Kennedy, the Liberal Lion, for nearly the past five decades.
The real question before all of us is what happens next? Is it possible for Haitians to go back to living a normal existence when even the ground betrays them? Can we trust any of our baseball heroes anymore or do we have to assume that they are all lying? And does the promise of a universal health care system fade away for another 20 years until we once again realize how broken and rigged the current system is?
Upheaval forces us to answer difficult questions. And whether major or minor, these answers take time. Me, I’m a realist and always have been. I expect people to take the easy route. In another two weeks, Haiti will disappear from the news and we won’t hear about it again until the next time a disaster strikes. Despite the nearly universally accepted realization that health care is broken, our leaders will shy away from making us taste the bitter medicine and unfortunate people (who, luckily for the politicians, don’t tend to vote) will continue to fall through the cracks. And Mark McGwire, a self-confessed liar and cheater, will continue to make an exorbitant salary as a hitting coach while Pete Rose is banned from baseball. That, my friends, is reality.
In important news that has come out this week not involving Mark McGwire (Really? Steroids? Huh, I never would have guessed), apparently Ryan Howard may be the most healthy player in baseball. Don’t believe me? Well, how about the BBC?
There’s only one major downside (as opposed to backside) to this. Now, instead of picturing this like the article asks you to do:
“I didn’t want to look like Arnold Schwarzenegger or Lou Ferrigno. I wanted to look like Arnold Schwarzenegger and Lou Ferrigno COMBINED! ON ‘ROIDS! ARRRRRGH!”
“My talent comes from the ‘man upstairs’ and lemme tell ya, the ‘man upstairs’ is F***ING JUICED! ARRRRRGH!“
“Yeah, I take Viagra, but just to stay healthy. It doesn’t help me bang hot chicks for hours and hours and hours at a time! ARRRRRGH!”
My duplicitous and oft abrasive colleague, Mr. Allen Krause, has been busy conjuring up all sorts of facetious baseball scenarios, one of which embraces the Selig-spawned, Selig-spun “world” World Series, proposing to pit the Major League Baseball champion against the… the… Japanese baseball… league champion? What?
First of all, this is a Bud Selig ploy — a major league trick to make you think he’s actually working towards the betterment of the game. Preposterous! The World Series is called the friggin’ World Series because it boasts the two best baseball teams in the WORLD. No Japanese champion can hang with the MLB champion. If they could, then all those Japanese players would already be playing in the MAJOR LEAGUES!
Ah, such treachery. It saddens me to see Mr. Krause, someone so smart and so spry, take such a gigantic dip into the crazy-pool. But wait. Yes… it gets worse…
Some More Crap:
…Because somehow Mr. Krause got it in his head that once Albert Pujols’ contract is up with the Cardinals in 2011, that the perennial MVP candidate will be out to find a new, more financially sexy organization to call his home. Mr. Krause even mentioned the possibility of seeing A.P. wearing an old English “D” across his chest!!!
Total f***ing horse****.
Sorry. Had to go there. Ahem…
Like the Tigers always have Ty Cobb, so too will the Cardinals always have Albert Pujols.
Don’t worry, Al… at least you will always have the image of Alan Trammell in a Tigers uni, forever.
(McGwire image courtesy of Coffee with Adam)
Is it good or bad at this point to be a citizen of or coming from a “country of interest?” If you look at the upside, you get to enjoy the feeling that comes with the friskiness of a full body pat-down. On the downside, well, you get the feeling that comes with the friskiness of a full body pat-down.
If you tend to think that this smacks of profiling, congratulations, you are now able to recognize the obvious! Of course this is profiling. There’s a reason why fourteen countries are on the list and there’s a reason why it’s a specific 14 countries. It’s the same reason why any PED testing scheme should focus on people who suddenly change shape (I’m looking at you, Giambi), people who are performing at very high levels after sickness or late in their career (this means you, Armstrong and Clemens) or people who’s production suddenly and inexplicably increases (yeah, Sosa, you’re on the hook for this one). If you’re looking for fire, it’s not a bad idea to try checking out the smoke.
Now, I’m not saying that I agree with the idea of profiling. Basing any kind of scrutiny or regime on just someone’s ethnicity or some other factor is not going to stop anything in the long-run. Timothy McVeigh wouldn’t have been caught by this nor would the Unabomber. There’s no real substitute for random testing, good intelligence and rigorous processes. Short-term, though? Something has to be done.
The real issue is that when problems are identified, whether it be security lapses or inadequacies in testing, knee-jerk responses tend to be the flavor of the day. The reality is that we need to find the balance between being authoritarian and being lackadaisical. Would a pat down have necessarily stopped the alleged Northwest flight bomber? Who knows but I’m guessing probably not. Would a fully implemented randomized testing program have kept Barry Bonds from the home run record? It’s hard to say. But it’s a place to start.
By now everyone knows that the Office of the Commissioner of Major League Baseball will get a fresh face in 2012 (conveniently, that is the year we’re all gonna die anyway). But just in case those thousand year old destruction theories are not accurate, let us start to think about who might be able to save baseball from another passive, tyrannical reign after King Bud Selig has gone fishing. Because as my oft cantankerous colleague, Mr. Krause, points out, King Bud dropped the ball.
To me, there are only three viable candidates. They are presented here (above right). In bronze. I think.
Two of them are dead and one of them is forever young (albeit in 2-D).
Verily, they would all be adequate replacements at the top of the grandest game on earth.
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Vladimir Ilyich Lenin
Bolshevik Leader, Marxist, Revolutionary, Head of State
What’s wrong, Matt Holliday? Five years guaranteed at $16 million ain’t enough? Fine then. Mr. Holliday, you’ll be making the same salary as Wilson Betemit… if Wilson even has a job. Luxury tax? There ain’t no luxury tax. Proposed salary cap? Yeah, propose this: everybody makes the same amount of money. No matter what. You don’t like it? Then die. Die. Just die!
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Talking Rodent, Steamboat Captain, World Icon, Clubhouse Leader
Woo-hoo! Baseball! Woo-hoo! Baseball! Woo-hoo! Pine tar!
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What shall it profit a man if he gains the homerun record but loses his soul to ‘roids? For everyone who refrains from untucking his shirt after winning a game (talkin’ to you, Brewers) himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted. I say, I’ve fed his sheep. Now I’ll tend to them, … tend to my sheep.
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Tend… these… sheep. Somebody. King Bud didn’t do a great job at tending his sheep. Somebody. Somebody just tend these goddamn sheep!
And while you’re at it, don’t hate me.
‘Cuz I’m right.
(Top image courtesy of Transgressor)