As we enter the beginning of the most exciting time of year (baseball playoffs and football season and an election, oh my!), I think it’s important that we keep in perspective that which brings us the most joy. Sure, hosting a Guinness keg party while dressed in my Yadier Molina jersey flanked by the Shannon twins is pretty much the happiest day of my life (that hasn’t happened yet but might), I still know that even if all that other stuff falls through, I will always have baseball.
And sometimes, within the game of baseball, we can find something much simpler that pushes the happy button. I know a lot of folks have been wrapped up in the admirable and impressive play of Mike Trout. People are just as infatuated with his grace and dominance as I
was am infatuated with Stephen Strasburg and all things Strasmas. It’s the little injections of youthful awesomesauce that often remind us why we love baseball so much. It is a kid’s game after all.
But sometimes waiting for the next big thing isn’t necessary. I have found that out this year by following Coco Crisp very closely. My history with Crisp has been one of hilarity, peppered with some dazzle. And while his offensive numbers may not hypnotize scouts, enough can never be said about how he plays the game.
He plays hard. He plays to win. He’s in on every pitch and he goes balls-to-the-wall. In fact, I have gotten to the point where I’m watching replays of his relay throws and conducting frame-by-frame analysis on his routes to fly balls.
If I could get to Oakland, I’d rather watch Crisp long-toss than Cesepedes take BP.
Okay, so maybe I’m lyin’ a little bit in that last sentence, but one thing is for certain: Coco Crisp’s defensive play is worth focusing on and if you focus long enough, you’re probably going to see something that puts a smile on your face. Maybe even an afro.
College football and the NFL have both come back with a vengeance but for MLB, there really aren’t any compelling races at this point. How can baseball compete?
WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU TALKIN’ ABOUT?
No compelling races? How can baseball compete?
Put down that tequilla shooter (slowly) and check the boxscores before you miss out!
Because the time is NOW for September baseball and there is PLENTY to be excited about. Right now the AL East is as tight a race as they come, and believe me: the Yankees and Red Sox both want to win that division as each would rather draw the weaker opponent in the ALDS. Meanwhile, the AL Central is anything but locked down. Sure it might not be neck and neck, but if the Tigers have taught us anything in the last few years, it’s that they definitely know how to blow a sure thing. And if you think the Rangers aren’t worried about the creeping Angels of Los Anaheim, ya might wanna put down the vodka too (keep the whisky, for now).
In the National League, sure the East, Central and Wild Card races seem to be locked down, but the NL West is still undecided. The Diamondbacks are coming on strong but if the Giants can just average one run a game, with THAT pitching staff, they have a pretty good shot.
Now don’t get me wrong, I love football just as much as any other
loud proud US American, but early season games being more important than the stretch baseball run? Not in my world. Not even close!
If you’re not feelin’ it, I gotta think that maybe it’s your fault. Sit down and watch one of these games that matters. Or, don’t. I mean, STRASMAS is comin’ this year, so you could watch that! Or check out a Bluejays game to watch the Joey Bats and Brett Lawrie Show! Or get your buddies together for an Orioles game and every time they make an error, miss the cut-off man or fail to advance a runner TAKE A DRINK! You’ll be so loaded by the third inning that your decision making skills will deteriorate to a level that will GUARANTEE a night of awesome once you hit the club.
Hate me ‘cuz I promote promiscuous behavior while championing the greatest game on earth, just don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.
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Stephen Strasburg is pitching again! He might even be back in the Majors by the end of the season! How excited are you for Stras-mas part 2?
Burr Oak, MI
Admittedly, there’s nothing quite like the joys of Stras-mas. Last year, his comeuppance was the stuff of dreams, turning an otherwise midseason blah-blah Pirates v. Nationals contest into one of the greatest games I’ve ever seen. In the Year of the Pitcher he became — after just one game — the Pitcher of the Year (in my book at least).
Stras-mas is special. Stras-mas is magical. Stras-mas is everything a baseball nerd like me dreams of.
Which is why it would be a SHAME and a TRAVESTY if the Nationals bring him back to pitch this season.
DON’T DO IT, RIZZO! DON’T DO IT OR I’LL GUT YOU LIKE A FISH.
A bit harsh? Yes. I admit. But remember, this kid is the future of a bruised and battered franchise. And selling a few more tickets at the end of a going-nowhere season just to make a quick buck is not worth throwing away the future, throwing away Stras-mas. Possibly forever.
Let the dude rehab, but don’t put him in any game action. I know 11 months is the typical timeframe in which getting back to facing Big League hitters is deemed acceptable for those who’ve had the Tommy John surgery. But this isn’t a typical situation. This is Jesus with a 37 on his back.
Please, I implore the Washington Nationals front office: WAKE UP and STOP BEING STUPID. You have a goldmine for YEARS in that newly improved Strasburgian right elbow. He threw 96 mph from the slide step before, he may throw 101 underhanded now.
Do the right thing. Make 2012 the Year of the Neverending Stras-mas.
Hate me. I don’t care. Just don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.
If you could spend the day with any non-Cardinal baseball player
currently playing in the majors, who would it be and what would you do?
Is it just me or am I constantly being set up by my friends and dear readers to expound on my favorite baseballers in a way that encourages embracing a certain, subtly disclosed homoerotic undertone?
Or, maybe I’m just reading too much into it.
Okay, Melissa, so you take away my number one and two options by canceling out the Cards; but let me assure you, the number three spot is also a no-brainer. For me, anyway. Of course, you may be shocked to hear it but for this hypothetical man-crush date (is it a man-crush date or did I make that part up too?) I’m going with the one, the only:
Stephen James Strasburg.
Here’s how our
date day will go…
9 a.m. Workout
I pick Stephen up and we head to the Nats’ training facility. I am Stephen’s shadow. I do very little talking and a whole lot of observing. I don’t wanna make this strange for the 22 year old phenom, so I just go with the flow. I know Stephen is out for the season, recovering from Tommy John surgery, but a man’s still gotta stay in shape and I wanna know how he does it. (Also, when no one is looking, I coat Nyjer Morgan’s supportive equipment with government grade Tiger Balm.)
12 p.m. Lunch
We eat a healthy, protein-packed lunch that will fire our fast twitch muscle fibers so we recover faster, to become stronger. I now start asking questions, overly aware of how annoying I can be when given free reign to discuss all-things baseball. Eventually, these questions lead to hitter preparation science, so off we go to…
2 p.m. Video Room
I want to get inside the head of Stephen Strasburg. So I present to him a reel of the Major League’s best hitters: Albert Pujols, Adrian Gonzalez, Joey Votto. I want to know how he is going to approach them. I want to see him point out their holes. Stephen, of course, is as calculated as he is modest, and he ain’t givin’ up too many secrets.
3 p.m. Practice Field [For this part, let us forget that Stephen can’t pitch right now, shall we?]
Luckily, I brought along my catcher’s equipment from high school (it all still fits!), including my over sized mitt. I take my place behind the plate and ask Stephen to go easy on me. In high school I think the fastest fastball I ever caught was in the 70 mph range. After three Strasburg change-ups, I lose all feeling in my catching hand. But this is Stephen Friggin’ Strasburg, so I man up, take the pain and ask for more. Watching his yacker yack and his fastball bite, wow… just, wow.
5 p.m. My Crib
All my best friends (Mr. Krause, Johanna Mahmud, Yadier Molina) come over to my place. We got beer. We got wings. We got pizza. We also got a big screen HD TV showing the very first Strasmas ever: June 8, 2010 — the greatest single regular season game that didn’t mean anything, ever played, in the history of my universe. Ever. We watch in amazement as Stephen talks us through each at-bat, each pitch, each hair raising moment.
After three plus hours of pizza, wings, beer and Strasmas in my very own living room, I am finally able to sit back on my couch, relax, and wait to die.
It’s been a splendid day.
Life is good.
Don’t hate me.
‘Cuz I’m right.
– – –
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