Thursday, July 31, 2008

How Farnsworth Got His Worth Back

Like any self-respecting New Yorker, I don’t totally know how to operate a car. Sure, I can. Legally. But that doesn’t mean I can actually. They’re busy at the DMV. A lot of stuff falls through the cracks, and I am sure that a license or two gets awarded on occasion that has not been truly earned. All that being said, while I’ve had my license for a relatively short time given my age, I have managed to iron out at least a few of the kinks on the road. For the most part, I know what I’m doing well enough to get from point A to point B intact. There remains, however, one aspect of driving that still confounds me. (Well, one leaving aside the obvious, which is going in reverse—an insane thing to be expected to do in a motorized vehicle.) Lane changing. A part of me gets the need for multiple lanes on major thoroughfares to facilitate the movement of many cars going long distances. But another part of me wonders what kind of deranged lunatic set up a system whereby motorized death traps going sixty to eighty miles per hour would have to weave in and out of each other in order to travel efficiently or avoid accidentally getting off at the wrong exit on the freeway. (I hate exit only lanes. Since we got rid of Jeff Weaver, they are the new bane of my existence.)

I know that I am pretty much alone in this sentiment, but I actually believe that lane changing is something that is nearly impossible to do alone. Do fighter pilots both navigate and fly their planes? Uh, no. So how can I be expected to assess that it’s safe to maneuver my vehicle to the next lane over without hitting something without someone else there to give me the OK? Sure, there are the mirrors. But what about the blind spot? Sure, I can look over my shoulder, but it seems almost Evel Knievel crazy to me to take my eyes off of what’s going on in front of me so that I can see what’s going on behind me. Starting to get what I am saying? Two man job. And believe me, if anyone is riding in my passenger seat, they are required to pull their weight by becoming an active participant in the lane changing experience.

I have spent the past week out of the City and, therefore, in a car. I have been driving my parents’ car, which has enabled me not only to reacquaint myself with Billy Joel but also to discover the joy and wonder of driving with a GPS. (For the record, “Scenes From an Italian Restaurant” = best song ever. Other than “Kokomo” and “Low” by Flo Rida, obviously.) I’ve got news for you all. Not only does the GPS system make driving more convenient, but it happens to make driving not scary. For someone who lives in mortal fear of every lane change, the GPS(ours is called Brigitte – hard G) allows me the freedom to relax, comfortable in the knowledge that she’ll let me know if I need to change lanes—in advance, lots of times. There are those of you who complain that she warns you of the upcoming turn, perhaps, TOO many times. I, on the other hand, like that she’s so thorough, that she tells you early and keeps on telling you until she knows you’ve successfully executed the necessary turn. Having time to prepare for the lane change, knowing it can never take you by surprise, robs the lane change of its power. Brigitte has imbued me with a new confidence. She’s made me a better driver. And if I ever have a car of my own, I’m willing to pay any price to make sure she’s included in the package. Even if it means I won’t be trading in my Chevy for a Cadillac-ack-ack-ack-ack-ack. Brigitte is, without a doubt, worth every penny they charge for her.

While we’re assessing worth, I think it’s safe to say that the pitcher once dubbed Farnsworthless by one of the members of my Yankees crew is not so worthless anymore. In fact, he’s so the opposite that he managed the near impossible feat of landing us 14-time All-Star Pudge Rodriguez in a trade with Detroit—all by himself.

The last time I was in the Bronx, I saw someone wearing a shirt that said, “Anyone but Farnsworth.” It’s a shirt that pretty much sums up the feelings that most of us shared about Farnswoth during his first couple of seasons with us. You only really wanted to see him when you were down by so much that there was no conceivable way to win and, since you couldn’t forfeit, you figured you might as well tire him out rather than one of the real pitchers. What a difference a year makes. His ERA is down 3.65 from last year’s 4.80, and he has become a reliable go-to guy in the 8th. It’s hard to say to what we owe this improvement, but it is not impossible that Girardi, who used to play with Farnsworth, had something to do with it. Girardi promised us from the beginning that he knew how to get something out of Farnsworth, and that he did.

On the heels of the discovery that Jorge is going to need season-ending surgery on his throwing arm, there can be no doubt in anyone’s mind that Cash did us proud with this one. He not only found a way to fill the Posada void, but he did it with a 13-time Gold Glove winning, possible future Hall of Fame catcher, who—let’s face it—is adorable. And all we had to give them was the pitcher formerly known as Farnsworthless. Sounds like a pretty good swap to me.

Last year, Farnsworth sucked so much that people who were supposed to be cheering for him made t-shirts about it. This year, he’s actually been a critical part of our relief staff, giving us a much needed dependable setup man. The irony of it all is that it makes more sense to trade him now than it did then because we are actually able to get something decent out of the exchange. Call me sentimental, but I think there’s something a little sad about the reality that, right when a player like Farnsworth is performing at his best, it’s the optimal time to get rid of him.

I am one of the rare few Yankees fans you’ll talk to who always kind of liked Farnsworth. Despite the yelling, the punching, the sucking, I always felt somehow compelled to cheer for him. (Chalk it up to my bad boy complex. I’m also a pretty big fan of Milton Bradley’s, was always rooting for Strawberry and still have not gotten over the loss of Paul O’Neill, who’s not your typical baseball bad boy, but no one can deny that the man knew how to throw a tantrum.) I derived a certain amount of pleasure from the fact that Farnsworth was finally pulling it together, and so I can’t help but feel a little bad about the fate that he’s met as a result. No matter what you think about the guy, you’d have to be made of stone to not have felt the least bit stirred by his tearful response to the discovery of the trade. This is not to say we erred in our decision making because we might have hurt someone’s feelings. However, I do think it’s important to remember that, while we trade our players like commodities, there is a human element.

There are of course certain players who don’t deserve to be thought of as human because they suck so much, and one of them is Manny. It’s usually pretty easy to tell who those guys are because they often have no-trade clauses in their contracts and could never be treated as a commodity without their consent anyway. Looks like Manny might be headed to Miami to be Manny there. Good for us. Sucks for the Mets. Just want to let you know, Manny, that wherever you may wander, I’m always going to think you’re an idiot.

The Angels got Teixeira. As though they weren’t already good enough. Four game series starting tonight. Let’s hope our boys are girding their loins.

Oh, and I think it should go without saying that Pudge doesn’t get to be chastised for his nickname because—I mean, really—who chooses that?

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Can't Find a Betemit

For reasons that are unclear, Yankees utility infielder Wilson Betemit uses Pearl Jam’s “Better Man” as his at-bat song. For those of you unfamiliar with the song, it’s about a woman who settles for a mediocre guy because she’s convinced it’s the best she can do. Not exactly the song to get you pumped up when walking from the on-deck circle to the plate. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that, of all the songs in existence, it’s quite possibly the worst one a batter could pick to get him in the groove. I mean, really. What was he thinking? The only thing I can assume is that Betemit went with it because, with Eddie Vedder’s whining inflections, the song’s hook, “can’t find a betta’ man” ends up sounding like “can’t find a Betemit.” Kind of.

When the Yanks were down 7-4 going into the 9th last night, I kept hope alive because, with the heart of our lineup coming to the plate, anything was possible. We managed to narrow the gap to two—one on and one out, and it looked like the game just might be winnable. That is until Cano struck out, and suddenly it was one on and two out and Wilson Betemit’s turn to bat. I assumed we'd go with a pinch hitter. We didn't. My first thought: “What the deal? Can’t find a betta’ man?”

I hate to say it because he seems so damn nice, but Betemit is the guy in his at-bat song. The one you settle for when you've got no other options. Richie Sexson may kind of suck, but didn’t we acquire him with the idea in mind that we could pull him off the bench to bat against a lefty when necessary because he doesn’t actually totally suck when he’s hitting a lefty? If so, then why didn’t we do that? Sexson’s no Jeter, but he might have been the betta’ man we needed. The one to get us a single to tie the game. Instead, we got the strike out I could have predicted and another addition to the old “L’ column.

Poor Lackey—two outs away from a no-hitter when stupid Pedroia had to go and ruin it. Poor schmuck didn’t even get the shutout because the last thing I am sure he could deal with after having all his hopes dashed was the sight of Youkilis and that facial hair. I ultimately blame Lackey’s failure to make it happen on the commentators, who insisted on saying “no-hitter” five thousand times during the span of their coverage. Dudes. Is nothing sacred? But my favorite part about the coverage was that, during the post-game, after rerunning the clip of Pedroia’s hit a million and one times, they cut to commercial and said, “More on Pedroia’s hit after this break.” I didn’t stay tuned because I had another, more important game to watch, but I can’t help but what wonder what they meant by “more.” Were they going to offer me a new perspective? A new understanding of what it means to get a hit? A better explanation of the ramifications for Lackey of that hit? I think we all pretty much got the point that it happened and, as a result, the no-hitter didn’t. I must, however, applaud Lackey for his sportsmanlike conduct. During the post-game interview, he claimed he was happy just to have gotten the “W.” He’s a better man than I. Or a better liar.

Fun fact for the day. Favorite punctuation mark: question mark. Least favorite: exclamation point. Why? Because! Who still sucks? You do, Coco Crisp!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

A Boy Named Goose

With everything that’s been going on lately—hamster birthdays, the Chowda Series, the discovery that I can, in fact, be buying my paintball supplies wholesale—I haven’t had a chance to acknowledge Goose Gossage and his induction into the Hall of Fame. Before I proceed, I just want to make sure that we’re all on the same page about something: Goose, unlike Coco, is not a dumb nickname. For starters, it’s not an unfortunate name he received as a child and didn’t have the good sense to shake when he made his way into adulthood. It’s a name that was given to him by his rookie year roommate, Tom Bradley, on account of his undeniable likeness to a goose. So he came by it honestly.

This is not to say that it is impossible for a player to ever wear a childhood nickname well. One of my readers pointed out to me, and rightly so, that Mookie Wilson had a semi-ridiculous nickname, and it totally worked. His, given to him by his grandma, was inspired by his inability to pronounce milk as a child. It’s cute, true. But more importantly, it's not a name that screams out, “I have no business being a professional athlete. Beat me up.” On the contrary, it actually sort of sounds like it could be an adjective describing someone big and tough. (But in a cute way.) It’s a name a player can carry off with class, and we all know that that’s exactly what Mookie did.

As for my reader who suggested that Joba’s name might possibly be considered as ridiculous as Coco’s, I am afraid we are going to have to agree to disagree on that one. Sure, it’s weird. But different is not inherently ridiculous. And Joba’s a goofy enough guy to warrant having a name that’s a little out there. Not to mention the fact that his nickname was bestowed upon him by his niece. You run the risk of being infantile by keeping your grandma’s nickname, but it’s just patently adorable to keep your niece’s. And I’m pretty sure we can all agree that Joba is patently adorable.

The fact is that Coco Crisp is possibly the worst idea for a name ever. Coco is a perfume, it’s my late grandmother’s toy poodle, it’s an abomination. Throw in the last name and what you’ve got is a disaster of catastrophic proportions. I don’t know. Maybe C squared’s great grandmother shared the same child rearing philosophy as the father of the guy from Johnny Cash’s “A Boy Named Sue” and figured that, if she gave him the most humiliating name ever, it would give him some character. Either that or she might have been really old and out of it, as great grandmothers often are, and could only communicate through the use of free association. She heard “Crisp,” she said, “Coco.” Leaving all this aside, one obvious point remains, which is that Goose just categorically isn’t a dumb or embarrassing name as evidenced by the fact that it was the nickname for one of the fighter pilots in Top Gun. I might be wrong, but I’m pretty sure that the air force doesn’t go handing out names that can’t be taken seriously.

But back to what I was originally saying, which is that Gossage is officially a member of the Hall now. In addition to having the best moustache ever (yes, unlike Youkilis or Giambi, I believe Goose has facial hair that actually works), Gossage is best known for having pioneered the closing role. And like our good friend Mo, he was known for having the uncanny ability to slay a batter, despite the fact that he essentially had just one pitch. And also like Mo, that pitch was a fastball so powerful that, even though you knew it was coming, you were hard pressed to hit it. Gossage was an outspoken, rough-around-the-edges, competitive son of a bitch. He pitched twenty-two seasons, made nine different All-Star appearances and earned 310 saves. Though we all like to think of him as a Yank, he played for a whopping total of nine teams during the span of his career. It took him a few years to get there, but I’d say Goose has definitely earned his plaque. There’s simply no denying that he was a hell of a ballplayer.

But that’s not the only reason we love him. We also love him because, when asked about Crapelbon’s classless display of classlessness at the All-Star Game—claiming himself better suited to close than Mo before demonstrating to the press that, while his command of the English language may be questionable, he is familiar with all of its expletives—Gossage responded simply, “He’s out of his mind.” That he is, Goose. That he is.

As a side note, Gossage displaced another great pitcher, Sparky Lyle, from the Yankees bullpen only a year after he had earned the Cy Young Award. I want to take a second to talk about Lyle because I learned something that I found very interesting about him while I was watching his Yankeeorgaphy. When asked what it was that made Sparky so special, former teammates responded simply that the guy just loved to sit in birthday cake. No, you read that right. LOVED to sit in birthday cake. I don’t really know what the psychology is behind someone who LOVES to sit in birthday cake, but I’m pretty sure it’s the same as the psychology that prompts someone to put up a sign indicating that his store is open when it’s actually closed. It’s the psychology of a comedic genius. All I want to know is where was Sparky Lyle yesterday when I was actually celebrating my birthday? And, before you even go there, true, the name Sparky is a little borderline, but we just established that the man liked sitting in birthday cake. Not to mention the fact that it was the seventies, and those were different times. There was a Catfish and a Gator, and no one laughed at either of them.

I’m sure it will not surprise anyone to know that Brett Farv (I’m just going to start spelling it that way because someone has to stop the madness) is still busy being an idiot and that we still don’t care.

Speaking of Johnny Cash, did I mention the fact that, if I ever have a son…I think I’m going to name him Bill or George anything but Coco Crisp. (I still hate that name.)

Monday, July 28, 2008

Happy Birthday to (Vida) Blue

First things first, in response to one of the comments, I just want to state for the record that when I criticized Hansen for hitting A-Rod, what I was criticizing was his lack of originality. Nothing more. To be clear, generally speaking, if you’re going to bean a Yankee, make it A-Rod. Definitely. 100%. No contest. I don’t know if I’m being explicit enough, but in case I’m not, it’s important to me that I make it clear before we proceed: I don’t like A-Rod. I know it may be controversial and that he is one of the greatest players of all time and that I’m supposed to be so thrilled to have him on my team. But I’m just not. Leaving aside the fact that he afflicts me with his poor aesthetic and personal choices in the manner of a Red Sock—from the frosted tips to his latest infatuation with Kabbalah—he’s just not my kind of player. Sure, he posts great numbers. And if I need someone to get me one run in an inconsequential game when the Yanks are already leading by ten, I’ll go with A-Rod. For sure. That’s when he’s awesome. But in the postseason or when it’s tight or it matters even vaguely, I’ll go with, um, whoever we have available that day that isn't him.

A-Rod came to the Yanks because he wanted to play for a championship team, but the reason that hasn’t happened is that he isn’t a championship player. He is a terminal big fish in a little pond and I think he can only reach his greatest potential in an environment where it just doesn’t matter. And in the Bronx, let’s face it, it always matters. Not that you’d know based on his attitude. From day one, when he made the move from short to third, A-Rod tried to make us believe that he was a team player. But in my humble opinion, everything he does that can be considered an effort to do anything worthwhile reeks of insincerity. I can’t tell you you suck, A-Rod, because you’re a Yankee, so I feel obliged to want you to succeed. But you don’t not suck. And I still miss Soriano. That guy had heart.

Well, it’s my birthday. For another few minutes, anyway. And I say that not because I care all that much but because it’s a good way to test to see who is actually reading this thing. As a rule, I believe that if you are not actually with someone on the day of your birthday, you are officially self-obsessed if you expect that person to remember that your birthday is happening unless multiple reminders or marriage are involved. Birthdays are fine, and I am always glad to celebrate the existence of those I love, but I think we can all agree that the potential for narcissism can be great. Not like wedding day great. But it’s there.

Don’t worry; I’m not going to get all dramatic and whiny about how I’m so old and my life is over because I'm thirty. However, there is an unfortunate and undeniable reality at play, which is that the world officially expects something of me now. The problem is that, regrettably, I have nothing more to offer the world today than I did yesterday. It seems unreasonable that anyone would think I should. So you know what? I’d rather not focus too much attention on the fact that this is the day that I begin to fail to meet the world’s excessive expectations. Or at the very least, I’d rather not do it in the typical way, which involves a lot of self-pity and boring information about what isn’t working out in my life. Instead, I’d like to do it by paying a birthday tribute to someone who actually had accomplished something by the age of thirty. And that someone is Vida Blue, pitching phenom for the A’s, Giants and Royals.

If the world puts sometimes unreasonable demands on people, no one could ever argue that Vida wasn't up for the challenge. Want to know what he had done by the time he was my age? The short answer to that question is that he had made it to the All-Star team four times, won the AL MVP, won the Cy Young, been a World Series champ three times and pitched a no-hitter. Want to know how many drugs he was on when he did all this? Lots. Want to know what he probably could have done by the time he was my age were it not for all those drugs? Double that plus, oh, I don’t know—build a rocket to go to the moon.

Vida struggled with drug and alcohol abuse for the whole of his career and adult life. I am not sure of his current status, though I know that he has made several attempts to get sober. Josh Hamilton recently gave us all a glimpse of the power of drugs to destroy the careers of professional athletes and the potential for recovery to transform those same athletes. The home run derby could not have, well, driven the point home any more clearly if someone had scripted it for an after school special. No, not true. I guess that in the after school special Hamilton would have actually won the thing. But the point is that after all we’ve been through with guys like Strawberry and Howe, we’ve seen the way drugs can ruin even the most promising of careers. And while I have very little sympathy for the idiots pumping themselves full of HGH in order to get ahead, I put this in a different category. So I think we have to applaud Vida for what he managed, despite his struggles, and all by the time he was my age. As someone who is my age and has accomplished nothing, I will be the first to acknowledge how hard it can be to accomplish things. And that's without a cocaine habit to inhibit me. So let’s send those birthday wishes in Vida’s direction. I’d say he’s done more to earn them.

Speaking of no-hitters and amazing accomplishments while under the influence, if you didn’t already know, let me be the first to tell you about Dock Ellis and the no-hitter he pitched tripping his face off on LSD in 1970. He apparently was not aware that he was pitching until his girlfriend read it in the paper, by which point he had already done the deed. Ellis was supposedly so out of it that he had the catcher, Jerry May, tape reflective orange tape to his glove so he could see it, and yet his teammates claimed not to have known that anything unusual was going on. It’s kind of hard to imagine an explanation for that one that makes sense OTHER than, "I’m tripping on acid and I can’t see what the hell is going on," but I guess May was not a particularly inquisitive guy. Despite the no-hitter, Ellis hit several batters and walked eight. Now I know the Pirates were doing their best to avoid talking to Ellis so as not to mess with his groove, but between the tape, the lack of control, the presumably enlarged pupils and behavior that I would have to assume was at least the slightest bit odd, did NOBODY notice that something was fishy? Or were ALL the Pirates tripping acid that day?

We don’t need to talk about last night’s game. We wanted the sweep, but we also knew Sidney Ponson was pitching, so I am assuming that I wasn’t the only one who wasn’t counting on it. Moose tanked tonight—and I mean tanked—but the Sox lost to the Angels, so we’re holding steady at minus two. I can live with that. By the way, we owe tonight’s Red Sox humiliation (it wasn’t that humiliating, but I like to call it that whenever they lose) to Jered Weaver. I used to like to refer to his brother Jeff as the bane of my existence. Remember when he pitched for the Yanks and tried to ruin all our lives and then suddenly went to the Dodgers and decided to be good? Well, I guess he ended up sucking after all in the final assessment. At least his brother is less useless than he is, though both his hair and facial hair are equally as dumb. How good is LAnaheim, though? Is the rest of the AL as scared as I am?

Keeping my eye on that big Dodgers-Giants “rivalry.” I think it’s cute when teams that aren’t that good have rivalries. Though, this year, LA may be a force to be reckoned with. (In the NL West, which is obviously different from being a force to be reckoned with in general.) I sincerely hope so. After the hell he’s endured at the hands of the Steinbrenners, no one deserves a break more than Torre.

Let me conclude by saying that I share my birthday, not only with Vida Blue, but also with my hamsters Sadie and Fitze, who are two today. That’s like a hundred in hamster years, so give them your respect. Today is also my three year anniversary with my dog Yogi. Given all this, you’ll forgive me for posting so late. As you can see, it’s been a big day for me.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Manny is Manny but Who is Uncle Guido?

I’m in a small town called Guilford in Northern Connecticut at the moment, and I thought I was appreciating my time here exclusively for reasons not worth mentioning on the blog because they weren’t entertaining enough—the scenery, the slow pace, the people who are so friendly that you suspect that they are trying to get you to let your guard down so they can rob you until you realize that they’re just that friendly. The usual stuff. That is until I realized that the town I’m in has a store called Uncle Guido’s Fireworks. I was driving when I saw the sign, and I obviously knew right away that I had to know more about it. I pulled into the lot only to discover that the store was closed, though the sign indicated that it was open. An accident, you say? Please. Don’t be naive. It’s a fireworks and novelty store. They’re obviously trying to be hilarious. Trying and succeeding. More than the name, the ironic use of the “Open” sign, the fact that it’s a fireworks store, I think the thing I love most about Uncle Guido’s Fireworks is that, in addition to selling fireworks, they sell paintball supplies. Wholesale and retail. Is anyone else pissed that they’ve been buying paintball supplies in bulk at retail prices all this time? Anyway, I did a little bit of research (and by a little bit I mean a quick google search that yielded one article), and my research revealed no information about anyone named Guido affiliated with the store. There is, however, a guy named Dan Spillane, and a firework ban in the state of Connecticut, which raises a lot of questions for me. But fear not. Spillane’s goods may not be legal, but it doesn’t mean they’re not safe and high quality, which we know because he goes to China personally to hand select them. Uh, what? Am I the only one starting to suspect that they’re selling something at Uncle Guido’s that isn’t listed in the catalogue? Well, whatever. I assume that the offer to sell me paintball supplies wholesale still stands whether or not Guido’s on the level, so what do I care? And I still have to commend them for their name, which is the best business name I have encountered to date with the word “uncle” in it. The worst one, for the record, is “Uncle Tom’s Barbecue” in Miami. I wish I was making that up, but I’m not. I am guessing that the goal was to be literary rather than offensive. It’s just a shame the people who named it never bothered to read the book.

Speaking of all that is not literary, I was listening to Mike and the Mad Dog a couple of months back. It was at the time when there was all that controversy over whether or not it was appropriate for Joba to be so expressive on the mound. (It amazes me the way some people out there can hone in on the most seemingly inconsequential aspects of the game and dissect them in a manner suggesting that they have WAY too much time on their hands. That was a joke.) Some guy called onto the show to put in his two cents on the subject. He defended Joba’s right to be who he was saying, “It’s like the famous saying: Manny is Manny. You know? Joba is Joba.” My initial reaction was, of course, to laugh at what appeared on the surface to be the mind numbing stupidity of the caller. One would think that anyone who is familiar enough with Manny’s now infamous speech to be calling Mike and the Mad Dog and quoting it would not have been so out-to-lunch as to have forgotten the real punch line, which is: “Manny BEING Manny.” In considering the unbearable lightness of Manny Being Manny, however, I have come to conclude that our caller, while forgetful, might be more clever than we initially realized.

In delivering his oration, Manny used the present progressive. This implies a state of being—I guess we’ll call it Manny-ness—that isn’t necessarily permanent. He was, in the moment, being Manny. His use of the present progressive suggested the possibility that there was someone else that he might eventually become. Maybe, someday, Manny would stop being Manny and be a player who wasn’t completely self-obsessed and seemed actually grateful rather than put upon to be making millions of dollars a year to play a game that he supposedly loves. In other words, it offered hope. The present simple, on the other hand, is a closed door. If Manny simply IS Manny, then it’s a wrap. What you see is what you get. And, sure, you get a .312 batter in your cleanup spot behind David Ortiz. But you also get someone who fakes knee injuries during critical games against your biggest rival and who clearly is not a team player. And the fact of the matter is that any active player’s batting average is always in the present progressive. Manny IS Manny, and his attitude is not likely to change any time soon, but his batting average probably wont stay .312 forever. Apparently, the front office at the Red Sox is starting to register this.

When I first heard Manny deliver his mind bogglingly idiotic and indecipherable rant, I had a hard time making out what he was saying. He commented, at one point, “This is the place for me. I’m just happy to be here.” I mistook it for, “This is the place to be. I just happen to be here.” Like the guy who called into Mike and the Mad Dog, I think I said what Manny had to say better than Manny knew how to himself. If Boston was truly the place to be the past few years (a point to which I will never concede—rings or not), then Manny just happens to be there. It’s written all over everything he does that he just happens to be there. And maybe, soon enough, he’ll just happen to be at Citizens Bank Park. (Well done, Phillies—worst name for a ball park ever. Strike that. I forgot about U.S. Cellular Field.) While it’s something I can’t imagine being proud of, Manny is the quintessence of Red Sox chowda headery. He epitomizes everything despicable about his era with the Red Sox. If the Red Sox are the bizarre-o Yankees, I’d liken Manny to bizarre-o Jeter. Given that it’s the team to which he owes his now legendary status, I would think that he WOULD be happy to be there—that he’d fight to stay.

Ultimately, Manny off the Sox works for me. If Manny IS a .312 hitter for the next couple seasons or even the remainder of the year, then let him be a blight on the ERA’s of the pitchers in the National League. I say good riddance. And while I used to think that the whiny Sox fan routine was the ultimate in annoying chowda-ness, it turned out to be even more obnoxious to listen to them gloat about having finally won a ring for the first time in eighty-six years. So it’ll be nice to hear the pitiful whimpers of disappointed Bostonians once again. I haven’t heard it since the Super Bowl, and the fact is I miss it. It’s a sound that indicates to me that all is right with the world

Speaking of idiotic Red Sox, I wanted to give Hansen points for originality for hitting A-Rod to retaliate for Joba accidentally almost beaning Youkilis in the facial hair. No one saw that one coming. Maybe, next time, less with the creative genius and more with the not allowing runs. What? Are your hands made of tits or something? But I like that you’re trying.

Cano, don’t you know? Who thought of that dumb cheer anyway? If I was making up the cheers, it would be, “To Cano him is to love him.” So much better, right? Want to know what would be better than that? If someone tricked him into thinking every month was July. But it could be worse. He could be Coco Crisp, in which case I would have to tell him that he sucks.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Youk Can Lead a Horse to Water

So I was forced to miss the first half of the Yankees-Red Sox Game yesterday because I was busy watching Sam Shepard’s new play “Kicking a Dead Horse,” which might have been more appropriately titled, “Ninety minutes of My Life I’ll Never Get Back,” “I wonder if I can Check the Score For the Game on my Blackberry Without Anybody Noticing” or “End. Please. Just End.” In the spirit of full disclosure, before I proceed with my review, I feel it’s only fair that I tell you that I was sleeping for a good chunk of the performance. I would gladly have slept for more but for the fact that my slumber was continuously interrupted at random intervals by the sound of the play’s disgruntled protagonist kicking the horse to which the title refers. I don’t know what it sounds like to kick a horse because it somehow just never felt right to try, but I suspect that real horses—alive or dead—do not produce the annoying, disruptive-to-sleep, clanging, metallic sound that this fake one did when kicked repeatedly and for no reason by the play’s main character—it’s only character.

I was awake for enough of the play to have gathered that the hero had set out on what was supposed to be a life-altering journey until his plans were thwarted early on by the unexpected death of his horse. Having dug a hole in which to bury the horse, he spent the duration of the play trying unsuccessfully to get the horse into the hole, kicking the poor thing out of frustration and talking endlessly about boring stuff like his new cowboy hat and what a good person he was and the need for “authenticity.” Shepard, to his credit, must have realized at a certain point how dull his play had become and decided that, in order to make it more interesting, he would engage his character in a dialogue with an alter ego of sorts. Unfortunately, just because you have a guy onstage talking to himself in two slightly different voices, one voice being kind of annoying and one being really annoying, it doesn’t mean that you can trick the audience into thinking that something is actually happening. If you wanted to have people onstage talking to each other, Sam, you should have written a play with more people in it. True, it would have to have been a different play entirely, but maybe that play would have actually been a good play.

If you’re reading this and thinking that the reason I didn’t like the play was because I didn’t get it, don’t underestimate me. I enjoy existentialism as much as the next person. (In my vision, the next person is a fan of existentialism.) I just happen to be able to discern between the clever and the pretentious. I won’t be tricked into feeling dumb because someone told me that this play was supposed to remind me of Beckett. The reason I like Beckett is because he delivers his points through the use of witty banter and repartee rather than instilling in the audience the sense of interminable hopelessness to which his plays allude. Call me crazy, but my feeling is that just because a play is about the sometimes futile nature of existence doesn’t mean that one should experience a sense of futility while watching it.

Speaking of plays about guys throwing temper tantrums, is it just me or did Mike Lowell go a little crazy guy trying unsuccessfully to bury his horse on Marty Foster when he called that third strike in the ninth last night? That Mike Lowell. He sure has a lot of heart, doesn’t he? My feeling about Lowell has always been that, while he’s not my least favorite of the Sox, he’s the one I would least like to run into in a dark alley. Or a light alley. Or anyplace without lots and lots of witnesses.

I kind of feel it unnecessary to say that Joba Chamberlain is a genius and a gift from someone up there in baseball heaven who loves the Yankees very, very much, but I will. For anyone who had their doubts, I think it’s safe to declare that Joba is officially a starter. And by the way, let me take a moment to address all you chowda heads who can’t stop slinging accusations in Joba’s direction for coming too close to Youkilis and his stupid head with the ball, claiming that he has too much control for it to possibly be considered an accident. Now, I get that this has happened more than once, and I’m not going to say that it’s a coincidence. But just because it’s a coincidence doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s not an accident. I think we have to consider the very strong possibility that, despite the fact that Joba is a master at precision positioning, Youk’s disgusting facial hair may well be getting in the way of Joba’s ability to focus. I know that if I had to throw the ball in his direction, one look at that disastrous situation on his chin, and I would be distracted beyond all measure.

Now, Red Sox are famous for having bad facial hair. They are famous for being dirty and gross in general. It’s part of the screening process or something. But I have to say that Youk’s facial hair reflects such unfortunate decision making skills that it will almost certainly go down in the annals of history as the worst facial hair to have ever inflicted itself upon the sport. Not since the days of Bronson Arroyo’s braids have I seen hair of any kind that was so mismanaged. Joba Chamberlain is a sweet kid with Midwestern values. Ask any of his hundreds of friends and family members who have been paraded onto YES Network for an interview in the past few months. (It seems to be the YES Network go-to when they have a blank space in the schedule. That or, of course, an interview with Yogi.) All of them, from the mother, to the prom date, to the Indian Chief from his local reservation, will tell you the same thing. Joba’s a NICE GUY. A little overzealous at times, and a heck of a kidder, but not one to go for the jugular unless accidentally blinded by the horror of some truly alarming facial hair. So, sorry, Youkilis, but that's what you get. The bottom line is that that facial hair was never going to go unpunished by the universe. It sucks. And so do you.

While I’m normally not a fan of mortgaging the farm, I feel good about our trades. Nady? Marte? How can I complain? We need a left arm and Nady’s bat couldn’t hurt us either. Slightly bummed about Tabata and Ohlendorf. But not like traded Soriano for A-rod bummed.

I wanted to wait to make sure it was real before I said anything because (no offense) but I didn’t think it would last. However, it’s official now: the Mets are back on top. Hats off to our boys in Flushing. Reyes still doesn’t suck. And neither does Pelfrey. If I were to say that Coco Crisp does would that just be kicking a dead horse?

Friday, July 25, 2008

Oh, What a Tangled Web We Favre

I think that despite our differences, all of us—even the chowda head, Crisp loving, puppy haters—can agree that these are troubled times. The market’s down, the global temperature’s up. It’s a lot. It gets you thinking. What’s really important? What should we be focusing our energy on? When you boil life down to its essence, what really and truly matters? I don’t know much about life’s mysteries, but I’ll tell you this, I can say with pretty much total confidence that Brett Favre is not involved in the answer to any of these questions.

It’s true, Brett Favre, and I’m sorry to have to be the one to say it, but nothing you do matters.

I’m starting to get the fact that you’re kind of an idiot and that it’s something you probably can’t help. I also get that it’s not your fault that the press is obsessed with every idiotic thing you do and is apparently not interested in whether or not I want to hear about it. But seriously, Brett Favre, it’s tiresome and annoying. So just stop. Obviously you accidentally signed up to get the same PR rep as Celine Dion and that person made you believe that we care. But—and I don’t know what I have to say to convince you—I, for one, really don’t.

It would be one thing if it was just the unretiring. True, unretiring from professional sports is inherently dumb unless you are Rocky, some other fake person in a movie, or you wait a long time and have a comeback that no one thought was possible so that it seems sort of like a movie. But maybe, just maybe, Brett Favre, I would have been willing to let the unretiring slide with an eye roll had it not been for that big dramatic speech you gave in March when you cried actual tears about how upset you were about the fact that you were RETIRING. Even if we decide to say that unretiring is allowed, I’m pretty sure it’s not anymore once you’ve cried actual tears about it at a press conference. And as if that isn’t enough, you have the nerve to be upset and confused because after retiring, crying about it, and letting people organize a ceremony to retire your jersey, the Packers aren’t planning your comeback tour in Vegas now that you’ve changed your mind? Sorry, Brett Favre, but you’re NOT Celine Dion. People have moved on with their lives. Did you think that they were just going to retire your team from the NFL along with you? Did you not understand what retirement was and how it worked?

OK, Brett Favre. I get it. You’ve been a professional athlete so long that you've forgotten how reality functions. I'm going to give you a refresher. Let’s pretend for a second that this was real life and not professional sports. If you had retired, your coworkers would have bought you a cake, sung “For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow,” and then the very next day someone else would have come and taken your job. If a few months later you realized you blew it and wanted your job back, there would have been shame, groveling and ultimately rejection on the grounds that the position had been filled. That, Brett Favre, is retirement. Despite the enormous gap between how things function in real life and how they function in pro sports, retiring is pretty much the same in both places. No one asked you to do it. We just believed you when you did.

And truth be told, I know that, unlike our good friend Covelli, you bear no responsibility for this, but your last name is annoying. It’s not pronounced the way it’s spelled, which is dumb and confusing and something I was maybe willing to overlook when you were likable. However, now that that you have disrupted my life with your idiocy, I kind of feel like I am within my rights to be angry with you about it. And you know what? I’m willing to go out on a limb here and say that your last name IS partly your responsibility. Sure, when you were young and they told you how to pronounce it, you didn’t think anything of it because you didn’t know how to read yet. But I’m pretty sure that if I had been in your shoes, I would have eventually noticed the enormous elephant in the room that was the disparity between the spelling and pronunciation of my name and addressed the issue with my family. Didn’t it ever seem wrong and embarrassing to you that, instead, you willfully implicated an entire nation in your stupidity by making us call you Brett Farv?

So you know what, Brett Favre? Retire, don’t retire, go to Disneyland, play for the Vikings, pronounce your name the wrong way. I don’t care. Truly. But can you maybe go to Camp David to have some kind of emergency summit about it with someone who isn’t an idiot, figure it out, and until then, STOP TALKING ABOUT IT?

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot

You heard it hear first (unless, of course, you didn’t): Estelle (Sophia Petrillo) Getty has pictured Sicily for the last time. If you were anything like me, you had an elderly babysitter named Shirley who fed you fish sticks and got you hooked at a young age on America’s favorite show about retirees in Miami, the genius of which you would never fully understand until later in life. Even if you weren’t, I’m guessing you have watched at least enough of “The Golden Girls” to know that Estelle Getty leaves behind a legacy of comedic brilliance that is nothing short of epic. I will not comment on the details of her life because I don’t know them, and I’m lazy. I will, however, say that her work on the “The Golden Girls” was and continues to be some of the finest damn comedic acting you'll ever see. Not to mention the fact that her feature film Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot, costarring Sly Stallone, has one of my favorite movie titles of all time. Never saw it, and I hear it didn’t do so well at the box office, but I always loved the title. So, Estelle, pussycat, I just wanted to pay you the tribute you deserve. Since I can’t actually do that, I’m just going to say on behalf of all of my readers, anyone who can play alongside the likes of legend Bea Arthur and hold her own has earned his stripes in my book. We salute you.

On a different note, I read the comments under my first posting, and Jane’s reminded me of something that I previously failed to mention. When you feel like yelling and it just doesn’t make sense to say, “You suck Coco Crisp,” another favorite go-to of mine is, “That guy’s got hands like tits.” As if the evening of game 7 of the ALCS in 2003 didn’t provide me with enough joy to last a lifetime, I actually got to hear someone say that. And mean it. There was a foul ball, a botched catch, and a guy nearby who could think of no better way to sum up the events that had just transpired than to scream out, “Hey, that guy’s got hands like tits!” Best simile ever. Honestly, I don’t really know what it means, but I’m pretty sure it’s amazing. Seriously. Stop for a second and imagine what that would look like. Let’s take it a step further and picture a whole team of such players and what kind of impact that would have on the sport. Would the Gold Glove Award be dubbed the Gold Tit Award? I think we kind of have to love the guy who not only had the creativity to come up with the comparison that would allow us these kinds of daydreams but also the lack of self-awareness to stop himself before sharing it with the group. So if you want to holler, and “You suck Coco Crisp” just doesn’t fit the bill, try that one on for size.

I am sure that there are probably a few of you who are under the incorrect assumption that it will actually end up being appropriate less often to say that someone has “hands like tits” than it will be to tell Coco Crisp that he sucks. Well, you’re all wrong, and I’m going to tell you why. First of all, anyone, anywhere can have hands like tits. It’s a comment with universal appeal. There’s only one Coco Crisp and a finite number of Red Sox fans. (Small miracles.) It’s inherently limiting, and I already stole the name for the blog. Second, it basically never makes sense to say someone has hands like tits. Therefore, you should say it often and indiscriminately because you’ll never have to worry about whether or not you are saying it in the right context. Every context is equally wrong, thereby making every context equally right. I’m no mathematician, but that sounds just about dead on to me. If you disagree with my logic, I will say what I’ve said before and will probably say again, read another blog.

Mike Mussina sure was bringing sexy back yesterday. Eight scoreless innings against the Twins. He’s now 13-6 with the Yanks 3.5 out of first. Is there a chowda head amongst my readers who cares to comment? I think it’s pretty safe to say that since the All-Star break, the Bombers don’t suck. With a three-run homer in the sixth to secure the Mets a victory against the Phils, neither does Jose Reyes. Wanna know who still does?

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Coco Crisp: Why He Sucks and Why It Ultimately Doesn't Matter

The name of this site bears little relation to what happens on this site. (Not that there won't be baseball-related discussions or even a fair amount of Red Sox bashing.) But I am not a strong believer in the need for that kind of continuity. Ultimately, however, if there’s a principle I want to be reminded of on a daily basis, it is the principle of “You Suck Coco Crisp.” Do other Red Sox suck more than Coco Crisp? I mean, obviously. (See Manny and Crapelbon.) Is it as fun to say, “You suck Manny Ramirez” as it is to say “You suck Coco Crisp”? If the answer to that question is unclear to you, I recommend that you find another blog. Life’s short.

For the record, it’s fun to yell “You suck Coco Crisp.” Admittedly, it doesn’t make sense in that many contexts. But you should try it the next time you are at a Red Sox game or watching one on TV or being taunted by some idiot chowda head in a shirt that says, “Believe” in stupid Red Sox lettering or even just when you’re talking to someone from Boston, who will likely be an idiot chowda head by virtue of birth. (No offense.)

While I would like to take credit for having come up with such a therapeutic means of catharsis, alas, I cannot. I owe the discovery of how fun it can be to insult someone with a funny name to someone who knows better than anyone just how fun that can be—a thirteen-year-old boy. It was 2004, and we were playing the Indians, back when Crisp was still one of them. It was raining and, despite my Yankees poncho, I was drenched and ever so slightly miserable. That’s when that adolescent boy coined the phrase that would lift my spirits and change my life forever. I wish I could find him and thank him, though it is fairly likely that he doesn't even remember. That’s probably only one of the many unbelievably brilliant and insulting things he said that day without even thinking about it or its greater impact.

There are those of you who will argue that it’s not that nice to pick on someone who doesn’t suck that much just because he has a dumb name. To you I reply simply, “Don’t have that name.” Yeah, yeah, I know. He couldn’t help it. His great grandmother called him that and then when he got to the minors he was victimized by those mean people who put it on the scoreboard against his will and he was SO embarrassed. Only those mean people never would have known that that’s what his grandmother had called him were it not for the fact that he was like, “Well, my name’s Covelli, but I have this really humiliating nickname.”

My dad called me Mellie Mouse when I was five. Want to know the last time anyone called me that in a professional or even personal capacity since I have become a grown-up? Never. Want to know why? Because until I started writing this blog that I am assuming nobody will ready anyway, no one was made aware of that nickname. And let me assure you that if I was in a profession that involved a scoreboard, I would be taking greater pains to keep it under wraps. So you know what? That’s on you, Covelli. You do kind of suck.

All that being said, I return to my original point which is that the name of this site bears little relation to this site. I will not be bombarding you with new and compelling reasons why I believe Coco Crisp to suck. If everything I’ve already told you combined with the fact of his Red Sox-ness is not evidence enough, there is probably little I can say to convince you. I basically just wanted to have a reason to type “You Suck Coco Crisp” everyday from now until the end of eternity. My opportunities to scream it are far too infrequent.

What you will find on this site are my musings on whatever I happen to find of interest at any given moment as well as my insight into what's going on in the Bronx. While this may sound boring and banal, I will be making every effort to exclude anything that people are not apt to find entertaining or thought provoking. (I would count more on entertaining than thought provoking. We’re not shooting for the moon over here.) If you find yourself bored despite my efforts, then all I can say is that we likely have nothing in common and that you should probably be off somewhere reading something else, cheering for the Red Sox, and naming yourself after a cereal.