Nothing says “It’s almost time for baseball” more than the Superbowl. On the one hand, the end of the NFL season means the next couple weeks are devoid of anything sportingly worthwhile. Basketball is fine but I don’t really care until the NCAA tournament rolls around. And hockey? Well, if the Red Wings are playing and there’s nothing else to do, maybe I’ll check it out. But the other side of this is knowing that in two short weeks (or maybe two long weeks) pitchers and catchers report.
So, what can we do to fill the time between now and then? How do we kill 14 days without losing it and accidentally killing something more? Here at RSBS, we’re compiling an ever-expanding list of things to do to pass the time until the baseball season finally begins.
Sight-Seeing Vacation in Detroit
What isn’t to love about the city that could have served as the backdrop for the movie “The Crow?” However, beyond seeing what is left of old Tiger Stadium and visiting Greektown, there are also new and exciting tourist destinations. For instance, the body frozen in ice. Or how about Ford field, site of 8 of the Lions’ 16 losses this past season? Hurry, though. It’s all going to thaw soon and then you’re in real trouble.
Finding the Most Famous Email Address in Washington
Apparently only a select few have access to the President via email. Where’s that transparency you told us about, Mr. President? If I can’t forward you emails from my Grandma about Barack Obama being a secret Muslim, then what…….oh, right. Yeah, I guess I wouldn’t want those emails either.
Helping Jeff Feel Sorry for Himself
Nevermind. It looks like he already has that one under control.
So, there you go. Already we have four ideas for you and there’s no telling how the list will grow. Happy Superbowl and just so you know, I will be cheering for Arizona. What can I say? When you’re a Lions fan, you just get used to cheering for the underdog.
Well, if you have been reading this blog for any length of time you know that I have a special place in my heart for the baseball-mad Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela and its idiosyncratic, coffee-swilling leader. It has been awhile since we last checked in but let me tell you, it never gets quiet down there.
For instance, just yesterday El Presidente had the national assembly allow a referendum that, if passed, would let him stand for unlimited terms as president. To put it in other terms, he’s basically a more rotund and more friendly with Iran version of Michael Bloomberg. But really, can you fault a guy for trying? Who knows how many terms FDR would have served if he wouldn’t have croaked in office.
There is also some other sad news out of Caracas. The Cleveland Indians’ Venezuelan scouting supervisor died in a car crash Sunday night while on his way to a baseball showcase. Now, I have no love for the Indians and I have to admit that my first thought upon reading this was that it was a great opportunity for the Tigers to make their move.
However, I’ve said it before and I truly believe that baseball is one area that the US has not exploited enough in its diplomatic efforts. Although not as popular as soccer, it is a uniquely American sport that has come to be enjoyed and even dominated by southern neighbors we haven’t always treated so well. Is there a better way to illustrate the American Dream in Latin America than by sending previously indigent kids out as ambassadors to show how they have succeeded in the United States?
So, even as the Bolivarian Revolution seeks to institutionalize itself and continues to demonize the US, it’s nice to know that guys like Henri Centeno are out there bringing the American Dream to life for a few kids and proving that maybe we aren’t so bad after all.
I have been accused by some people of writing too much about Venezuela on this blog. But it’s hard not to write about this wonderfully dysfunctional country when they just keep finding ways to amuse. Now, if Mr. McCain were our president I’m sure he would have already gone in and occupied the country since war is the first and only answer.
However, cooler minds had prevailed up until this point and we had managed to stay out of a p!ssing match with our South American wannabe nemesis.
In the same way I have tried to avoid conflict with my friend and co-blogger, Mr. Lung. I figured that by letting him say what he wanted and not responding, I could avoid the tension and childish escalations that now define the U.S.-Venezuela relationship. In both instances, those days are now behind us. From now on, I will call it exactly like I see it.
Mr. Lung, you are wrong about instant replay. Reviewing disputed home run calls makes the game more just. And the game stops for less time than a commercial break so where’s the continuity problem many opponents have decried? If there were umps down the baselines in the outfield like there are in the playoffs, then you might have an argument. But there aren’t so I’ll have to kindly ask you to go home. You have 72 hours to pack your bags and leave.
Now, I hope this doesn’t provoke some sort of diplomatic incident. I hope you don’t get sick on some sushi and throw up all over my shoes. And I hope you will still continue to sell me your otherwise unrefinable crude oil.
However, if I may be so bold, I would like to make one final effort and extend an olive branch to my once and future friend. And this symbol of peace comes, strangely enough, directly from President Chavez’s rambling diatribe dismissing the US ambassador this week. I think we can all agree on this one thing:
F—ing Yankees indeed.
Ever since the accident (see comments), I’ve been having difficulty focusing my thoughts; but don’t worry. I will still find a way to express them in a brilliant, informative manner as is always expected here at RSBS. I am many things, but a quitter without an opinion I am not.
Picture it: October 2008. The first round of the MLB playoffs are in full stride and not a Red Sox or Yankee is anywhere to be found. Yes. It could happen, folks. For the first time in recent memory, both the Yankees and the Red Sox may find themselves sitting out during the important games. The Rays and Angels look to be locks and it seems that the Twins and White Sox are in a tussle for the other two spots in the AL. I don’t want to get ahead of myself, but it’s hard to dismiss the possibility. Think of the chaos, the madness, the tantrums that would follow. At least emergency rooms in the northeast would be more quiet than usual.
Imagine my horror. Finally over the disappointment of not being able to see Allison Stokke vault her majesty in the Olympic games, I found myself settling on Swedish hurdler Susanna Kallur to satisfy my propensity for body-gazing during female competitions. Yes. My mind was made up. She was going to be the one. And then she knocked down the very first hurdle, fell to the ground and didn’t finish the race, further proving my theory that the combination of beauty and athletic prowess is more rare than me having somewhere to go on a Saturday night.
Envision the face of Barack Obama’s Vice President. Is it male? Female? White? Black? (doubt it) Latino? (double-doubt it) In any case, we should know soon and I have a feeling it will be someone whom we never even thought of. (No, silly, it won’t be me. I’m too busy blogging and raising cain, but thanks for the thought).
Think about it. Wouldn’t that USA/China baseball spat have been more exciting and more newsworthy if some real punches had been thrown? Look, I get it. The Olympics is all about class and sportsmanship but this isn’t the floor exercise we’re talking about here: this is baseball. Our sport. Our way. And we fight. Robin Ventura, Nolan Ryan, Michael Barrett, A.J. Pierzynski… those guys would have tore heads off — they would’ve brought bloody pride to the Red, White and Blue. A knockdown at home plate, some bean balls here and there… jeesh. I was really disappointed.
See the world the way my colleague Allen Krause sees it and see a world that revolves around the wonders and blunders of one irksome Venezuela. Yes, dear readers, I ask the same question you do: What the hell is up with all of these Venezuela posts? This one and this one and this one… I understand that Venezuela is quickly rising the ranks to be the proverbial pebble in US America’s shoe, but come on… Mr. Krause is talking about the degrees of handsomeness between Miguel Cabrera, Magglio Ordonez and Ozzie Guillen. That’s crazy. That’s just plain crazy.
And you know it’s crazy. You know you’ve had enough. And you know there’s no reason to hate me ‘cuz I’m right.
Regular readers of RSBS know that I have a special place in my heart for Venezuela. And really, why not? It’s a fascinating place and lends itself to all sorts of interesting discussion. They have a wealth of oil, a wealth of baseball talent, a wealth of beauty and wealth of crazy. And since Jeff and I both share an affinity for two out of those four things it’s only fitting that RSBS take up the debate.
My partner here at RSBS pointed out in a comment on a recent post:
“The Venezuela team (including Maggs, Santana, Cabrera etc) is threatening to not compete in the WBC sighting (sic) poor per diems and lack of organization as reasons not to play.”
Now, why would elite baseball players making millions of dollars per year threaten to pull out of the World Baseball Classic over some measly travel and lodging expenses? Personally, I think it has something to do with a much deeper rooted problem endemic to Venezuela.
Yes, in a land with so much wealth the unfortunate fact is that this wealth has been unequally distributed. And I’m not talking about the oil money which has accrued in the hands of well connected elites. No, I’m talking about the fact that while Venezuelan women are beautiful and have won more beauty championships than the women from any other country, the Venezuelan men seem to have lost out in the looks department. So of course they act out via other avenues.
Luckily for them, the Venezuelan men men are eerily good baseball players. Rumor has it that El Presidente himself actually joined the military in order to make his way to Caracas and play baseball. Apparently he got a little sidetracked on the way but others among his compadres have made their way into the Major Leagues where they have had major impacts. From Carlos and Ozzie Guillen to Asdrubal and Miguel Cabrera, Venezuelan baseball players are integral to the success of many MLB teams. But they just aren’t very good looking.
So, when you’ve got talent but you look like a toad, what’s a guy to do? Well, either you move to the US and become a highly-paid baseball superstar. Or, you throw a coup, invite the whole country and hope the oil party keeps raging. Go-go-go Hugo.
Despite baseball and basketball being sports born in the good old USA, both national teams have lost touch with winning gold at the Olympic games. Why do people care so much more about the basketball team losing top standing than the baseball team?
Quick, name the top three players in baseball. If you did this honestly, you probably came up with A-Rod, Pujols, Miguel Cabrera and so on and so forth. Now, do the same thing for basketball. What’s the difference? When you name the basketball players they all have last names like Bryant, Garnett, Anthony and James. Good ol’ Anglo-Saxon names that sound about as American as apple pie.
Americans like their heroes to have names that sound like their own. There’s a reason you see Senator Obama slipping in the polls and it isn’t because John McCain has a better energy plan. When it comes right down to it, Americans, despite being only a couple generations removed from immigrant status themselves, don’t trust immigrants. When a current nominee for the presidency has to deny ties to Islamist terrorists in the same way that Kennedy had to deny that he would take orders from the pope 50 years ago, it’s not hard to see that we haven’t come all that far.
Beyond all that, timing is an integral part of who can actually
represent our country. The baseball season is in full swing and there’s
no way that all those athletes are going to sacrifice their big
salaries or that the teams are going to sacrifice the playoffs for a
couple of weeks of nationalistic fervor. I’m sure that basketball GMs
dread having their best players out there risking injury but at least
the Olympic competition is over before players even need to report for
However, in the Olympics, it also comes down to something much more simple. Basketball has been around in the Olympics for decades and became a sporting symbol for the Cold War conflict between the US and the USSR. When the Soviets beat the Americans in 1988, it stunned the US sporting psyche in the same way that Sputnik called our national pride into question at the end of the 50’s.
Baseball just doesn’t play the same role. It’s only been an Olympic sport for the past 12 years and the US hasn’t even qualified every time. And beyond that, who plays the role of the villian? What reason do we have to win? Real baseball plays out between May and October in a bunch of stadiums scattered across North America.
So, maybe if Cuba ever becomes a legitimate threat or Venezuela is able to back up the big game they talk with some international clout, then baseball will come to play a similar role to that of basketball. But until then, the Dream Team will be Kobe and company and the Olympic baseball team will be a bunch of college schlubs trying their hardest to make their country proud.
Since I never seem to find myself in a place that my hometown (from across the state) Tigers like to visit, I’m usually limited to one or two live games in a year. This year, I only had one chance and that day was last Saturday as Detroit visited Baltimore for what promised to be an easy four-game series. Well, let’s just say that neither the game nor the series went the way they were supposed to go. The Tigers hammered Daniel Cabrera in the first inning but then managed to not only let the Orioles back into the game but even found a way to lose it. And they dropped 2 of the four games. So, I’m not writing about the game or the series. I’m writing about what I saw at the game instead.
First off, If you’ve never been to Camden Yards, go. The tickets are cheap, the views are great and chances are that if you came to watch another team play the Orioles, you’re going to go home happy. However, I have a bone to pick with the management. Why can’t I buy a beer in a souvenir cup? I don’t want a Pepsi. I don’t want a Diet Pepsi. I want a beer and I want it in a plastic cup that has the Oriole’s season schedule and whatever happens to be the catch-phrase of the year on it. I do this everywhere I go and up til now it hasn’t been a problem. Personally, I’m a huge fan of the cup I got from Yankee Stadium because I can spit sunflower seed husks into it and it feels like I’m somehow spitting on the Yankees. That’s a good feeling. But how can I spit on the Orioles if they won’t give me a cup? Yes, I finally broke down and bought a lemonade because it was really freakin’ hot but a part of me is still outraged. It’s un-American.
And speaking of un-American, the Orioles tossed out a special welcome to the Venezuelan Embassy, employees of which happened to be in attendance at Saturday’s game. I suppose this shouldn’t have come as a surprise since half the players on the field had some sort of Venezuelan connection and we were only an hour’s drive from Washington D.C. And it was nice to see some of the Venezuelan players come through during the game; for instance, Miguel Cabrera hit a three-run shot in the first inning. But there’s just something a little strange about a group of people enjoying the classic American pastime while their president says things like: “I hereby accuse the North American empire of being the biggest menace to our planet.” I’m just saying…
But, despite the unfortunate ending to the game, the crowd’s even more unfortunate adoration of “the wave” and the disproportionately large and drunk meat-head a few rows in front of me, it was good to see my team play. It gives you a similar kind of feeling to the one you get when you find out that the blog you (kind of) help write has now moved up from fifth to fourth place in the standings. At this rate, we might even make the playoffs! There are playoffs, right?