Baseball, Uncategorized

Free Agency

Thank you all for coming. Please take a seat, and out of common decency for not just myself, but the right-minded people of our society, silence your cell phones, unless the theme song from “Dallas” is your ringtone, then and only then is full volume not only acceptable, but encouraged.

Today I announce my intention to sign with a fictional baseball team.

The choice was made easier by the movie industry’s inability to produce a fictional baseball film within the last fifteen years that warranted more than a groan and cursing the eight bucks a month on Netflix.

I’d like to thank all the fictional characters and their organizations that made this decision a tough one. I’d especially like to thank the two teams that were second and third runner-ups respectively. I’m barely above the baseball hat shell game where I initially pick up one hat and attempt to put it on, only to discard it at the last possible minute and go with the actual choice, but I’m still above it.

So I’d like to thank Billy Heywood and the Minnesota Twins for all their efforts to land me, but I can’t play for a teenage manager. Who is supposed to bail us out if myself and some of the other relief pitchers (let’s just suspend belief for just a moment and pretend I am the most-courted lefty-one-out-guy in the history of Major League Baseball) want to unwind in a Texas Roadhouse (an actual one) and get into a skirmish with some of the locals. Who are we supposed to call to get us out of a jam, the manager? Who’s going to drive him down to the police station and bail us all out and talk to the arresting officers about Mercucio, the setup man, because we all know how he gets after a few belts of Shiner Bock? It certainly won’t be the manager who can’t even drive. If I’m a professional athlete it’s my right to develop multiple addictions and raise hell on every occasion that I deem reputable.  It’s his job to keep me alive. Plus, I wouldn’t even be able to borrow a pinch from him on occasion.

Also, the Twins of yore played in a dome. I’m most fetching with a slight tan. No way I give up half of my season indoors.

And I’d also like to thank Jimmy Dugan and the Rockford Peaches for the opportunity, but we just couldn’t come to terms on my role with the team. In the All-American League, I’m an ace, no doubt. He wanted me to come on as long relief. Now I have no problems playing against girls, especially ones from the 1940’s and potentially inflating my strikeout numbers, but a man has to have some pride and I will not pitch for the Peaches unless it’s as an ace. Good luck with Kit. Should have traded her when you had the chance. Plus they wanted me to room with Marla Hooch. I heard she likes to soak her feet in the sink for hours on end.

But, my grapes aren’t all sour. I decided to sign with the Cleveland Indians and play for Lou Brown. Brown doesn’t take crap from anyone. That’s the type of manager I want to play for. Granted the absence of Roger Dorn at the pitch meeting helped things, and Jake Taylor’s potential job switch to manager sweetened the deal, but my ardent devotion to my lord and savior Jesus Christ told me to sign there. Eddie Harris has been a spiritual adviser throughout my career and the opportunity to play in the town that Dolph Zigler made famous has only sweetened the deal and the pot, all in one fell swoop of sweetening.

Also, we have a real chance to win this thing as long as Vaughan can keep those black glasses of his focused on the target Taylor puts out there. I also heard that “Witness” billboard is still looking for a new resident.

Baseball, Job Application

The Big Unveil

When I set out to start a blog the intended goal was to have writing samples for the MLB Fan Cave, where Major League Baseball (in fact, I believe Jim Fregosi and Felipe Alou make all the decisions on this one) has three or four people work for the league during the season. It’s all the fun and ruckus you can fit into a studio.

Part of the submission process includes a video. So, here for you, is the video. Enjoy.


If Only to Tweet

When Woody Allen was honored with the Cecil B. DeMille lifetime achievement award, cyber kindling turned into a Twitter brushfire when Woody’s former partner Mia Farrow and his (maybe?) biological son Ronan chided the award’s recipient because of the Woodster’s, ahem, proclivity for fruit still on the vine.

The angry tweets are not unfamiliar to Twitter, but think of the damage that could have been done if baseball players from long ago and not so long ago could lament their frustrations, celebrate their victories and muse about life on the dangerous medium of social media. What follows are unearthed tweets that would have been sent had twitter existed in the time of these ballplayers.

Babe Ruth @Swatsultan

@redsox Cash considerations? U kidding? LMFAO #cursed #ilookgoodinstripes


Moises Alou @moisesalou

Game Seven! Keep your hands away from the field. #clown #hisfault

Sammy Sosa @beiosboldio

@moisesalou At least he keeps his hands out of the Wrigley troughs 🙂


Yogi Berra @notaverageberra

The nice thing about tomorrow is that it isn’t today, or better yet, the day before.

Whitey Ford @fordtough

@notaverageberra did you go out with @themick last nite? smh smh


Rickey Henderson @lovememe

@lovememe ur the greatest.

Rickey Henderson @lovememe

@lovememe no, no Rickey, ur the greatest.

Rickey Henderson @lovememe

@lovememe how many times I got to tell u, ur the best?!?!?!?!?!?!?


Roger Maris @Rogercrush

Me & @bobcerv need someone to drop off penicillin & bring breakfast. #toomuch

Mickey Mantle @themick

@themick hey, @Rogercrush & @bobcerv, u guyys stel out???


Billy Martin @billyball

Feels great to be back in NY with the #yankees

George Steinbrenner @kinggeorge

@kinggeorge @billyball I told you not to leak any information to anyone.

Billy Martin @billyball

@billyball @kinggeorge Who are you? Ive been here long before you were. I was born a #nyyankee, you just bought the team. #spoiled

George Steinbrenner @kinggeorge

@kinggeorge I guess it’s time to cancel the press conference for @billyball #whostheboss #imtheboss

Billy Martin @billyball

You can’t quit me @kinggeorge.


Pedro Martinez @pedrostrikes

@pedrostrikes my arm feels tired, don’t think I ever threw something so big!!! #yankees #redsox #alcs #2003

Don Zimmer @dugoutzimm

@dugoutzimm hey, @pedrostrikes I played in the 50’s & right now @peeweereese could still kick your boney a** #whereurrings #yankeeswin


Nolan Ryan @ryanexpress

@ryanexpress nothing like punching around a little @rockinrobin to get the nite started! #texasforever #gunshow

Robin Ventura @rockinrobin

@rockinrobin I’m really sorry @ryanexpress. I had no idea how much old man strength you had.


Ted Williams @teddyballgame

@teddyballgame Manager wanted me to sit to keep .400 a chance. I said NO WAY!!! Who does he think I am @yankeeclipper?

Joe DiMaggio @yankeeclipper

Yo, @teddyballgame you couldn’t tie your shoes right 56-games in a row. #flythis


Curt Schilling @thebigschill

@thebigschill @yawkeycleaners, u guys able to get all that out of my sock? #warrior #redsox #believe04


Johnny Bench @jbench

@catchfisk hey, wave this way (points towards midsection) #75champs #bigredmachine


Cal Ripken @ironcal

Oh no, the sniffles, sore throat, think I may come down with something one day from today… Not!!!! j/k j/k lolz!!! #sorrylou


Welcome Back

Winter Break officially ended this morning. Get ready for new content starting tomorrow. As you spend the morning reacquainting your limbs with full movement, just remember pitchers and catchers report in a little over a month. 

What to ReadAnd that’s the Cubs

What to Watch: Good news, he dunks. 

What to Listen to: Not work appropriate. 


Their Old Familiar Ways

I miss George Steinbrenner. Miss his bluster and arrogance, all hidden under his impersonation as commander-in-owner. He played Patton in pinstripes whose seriousness begat so much unintentional humor. Most of all, I appreciated Steinbrenner for the acts of skullduggery he attempted to perpetrate. Dave Winfield and Howie Spira, the courtship and subsequent accumulated dismissals of Billy Martin, and the (unproven) belief I have that he mandated Don Zimmer to wear a neck brace and leave Fenway Park on a stretcher after Pedro Martinez discarded Popeye like an empty tin. The whole run of nonsense was cheap and the sign of an anxious man. It also proved entertaining. The petulant owner will not in any way, shape or form get embarrassed by someone else. He is more than capable of embarrassing himself, thank you very much. He would have been the first to embellish his own capabilities of such a skill.

When Steinbrenner died in 2010, part of the Yankee underhandedness went with him. His son Hank decided to enter the fray and bicker with the Red Sox and small market teams, but the comments lacked the genuine venom spewed by George. He had an inherent dislike for all things non-Yankees and did little to hide his displeasure. Hank entered ownership with a similar loud-mouthed approach, but he’s cooled in recent years, yelling for the sake of yelling not because (as was often the case with George) his warped baseball sensibility and uneven pursuit of justice stoked his competitiveness, but because it seemed the Yankee thing to do.

With Hank’s retreat into the shadows, the Yankees fit the status quo of sport teams not owned by Jerry Jones: they were defined by their players, not their owner. The change of pace was nice, but too tame. Polite, but too banal. The Yankees became just another organization with over 25 World Series Championships. They even trimmed payroll, almost retooled their organization in attempts recapture the glory of over ten years ago.

Were the Yankees on track to become just another organization?

The unease, the boredom, the media irrelevancy. Let that play out in Cleveland.

Fear not. The baseball nightmare ( opposed to a real life nightmare which involves Robin Williams and Jim Belushi each with a microphone and a state-of-the-art sound system) appears to be over. The Yankees are back to acting like their old selves.

You know the story. It feels normal, feels right. The Yankees spend reckless (in years and salary towards Jacoby Ellsbury, Brian McCann, Carlos Beltran and Hiroki Kuroda.) The past years of thrifty purchases and bargain-hunting free agents appear to be over. The Yankees are thankfully back to treating their problems in the manner of an NBA star stopping a paternity suit: throw enough money at anything and expect the problem to go away.

No more waiting for prospects. Spend, spend, spend. Win the off-season. To hell with the regular season.

In the midst of their spree, the Yankees and Robinson Cano could not come to terms on a deal. The free agent second baseman signed with the Mariners and then the Ghost of George reappeared in front of everyone, using team president Randy Levine as his muse. Levine said he felt bad for Cano because he (Levine) believes Cano is disappointed he’s not a Yankee. Instead he has to toil in obscurity in the Pacific Northwest where the most excitement he’ll have is catching a giant fish like Sean Kemp did at the beginning of “NBA Inside Stuff” and scour the city for the “Fraiser” Virtual Reality Tour. Okay, so I made up the last two sentences of the quote.

George would be so proud. The touches of the passive aggressive patronization of a former player would warm his heart. George thought nothing was better, bigger, and more relevant than the New York Yankees. No one left the organization on good terms unless they retired a Yankee. He ran his organization with that mindset and picked battles with anyone who got in his way. Even though he may not be around, the spirit of him lives through the careless spending and anxiousness of the organization. And of course through the sympathy Levine conveyed towards Cano. It’s nice to have that mindset back, even if it sets the organization back for a number of years.


Prior Concerns

Mark Prior retired earlier in the week. Among his career accomplishments, he finished third in the 2003 National League Cy Young Award voting and pitched the Cubs to within six outs of the World Series in the same year.

Unfortunately, 2003 became an aberration in Prior’s career. Freak injuries and shoulder ailments detoured and derailed something promising, but the one unquestionable year of his dominance clouded my judgment, granted me delusions of baseball grandeur. He violated me in a (don’t worry there’s no “SVU” tale of horror here) way athletes violated fans for untold years: Mark Prior made me nonsensically optimistic about his career.

Right, that mindset is problematic of most Cubs fans. Hope for the best, bring your bugle and smile to the ballpark, unwrap a few Hebrew Nationals, pop some Old Styles. Who cares if the home team’s bullpen goes caput and the leaded-footed third baseman runs the team out of an inning? Chin up. The crowd needs you to sing in the bottom of the seventh. Yell “woo” to the homeless man with nice teeth who attempts to amp-up the crowd. Instruct the ushers to watch their step as they move from row to row. Traverse the landmines of piss in the restrooms. Llet’s play two. We’re here to have fun and if we grab a win along the way, that’s pure gravy.

2003 ruined such contented ignorance for a large number of fans (read: me). Success seemed fun. Sustained success seemed like more fun. And with the possibility to win the World Series? Well sign me up. Man, those Yankees, Cardinals, and Braves fans sure seemed to enjoy baseball in the fall. Maybe the Cubs could give it a try, seize an opportunity.

Prior became the face of such an opportunity. Don’t let the fingers-to-lips lips-to-chest divas or “K” signs around Wrigley Field of Wrigleyville fool you, Prior was the ace, the stopper, and the future of the organization. Wood might have been a mascot, Sosa a clown, Prior was legitimate. Things seemed…promising with him.

The future met unforeseen circumstances, notably Marcus Giles’ botched Doomsday Device on Prior and the line-drive he took off his pitching elbow. The former occurred in 2003, the latter in 2005. Both were bad-luck occurrences, only to serve as potholes in comparison to the sink hole that was his shoulder problems.

Through it all I maintained a happy ignorance. Prior could overcome them all. Never mind the inordinate pitch counts he compiled in 2003 and the extended work he did in the post-season. Did you see how he struck out the side and stressed his pitch count to only eleven in the inning? He was in total control on the mound. No wild streak that came to exemplify Wood. No padded-room actions of Zambrano.

A return to form always seemed possible for Prior. Was it his dominance in 2003? Could it have been his mechanics that were often called flawless, or the pony kegs impersonating calves that gave his pitches such velocity and movement? No way could either of those two components lead to his injury. He arrived as ready-made. Those saps in Minnesota couldn’t afford Prior. They had to settle for some catcher in their backyard. The financial resources of the Cubs had to be rewarded. He was a finished product! He could overcome anything! He had a rocket for an arm! Sorry, Frank Costanza somehow found his way into this piece.

Or so I thought. I treated him with the optimism of the Royko quote where Cubs fans are branded with the logic of, “Of course, if Dawson gets hot, and Sutcliffe comes through, and…Pa see what you did to me?” Such logic awarded Cubs fans 42 wins in five seasons.

Prior became the boiler plate for Cubs hypotheticals, and to a lesser extent, Major League Baseball hypotheticals. He never returned to dominance, taking all of my delusions with it.