Friday, October 31, 2008

The "Winter" Of Our Discontent

I was at Starbucks yesterday. No, not because I was hoping to catch a glimpse of Moose in action—sitting in a corner drinking a soy chai latte and writing poetry. And, no, not because that’s where I like to get my coffee. (If you will recall, I have an edge.) But I was at the airport, and options were limited. I was waiting for my order when I glimpsed an ad for some new hot chocolate blend that they have coming out. It read:

Made with a mélange of exceptional cocoas. It makes “fall” feel more like “autumn.”

As always, I know what you’re going to say. How does John McCain find the time to write ads for Starbucks when he’s campaigning for president? You’re also probably going to say that that’s the dumbest crap you ever read. Because it’s like saying, “Drink this smoothie. It has lots of fruit in it. And it makes summer feel like summer.”

But, actually, if you read between the lines, this ad is totally brilliant, hilarious, and teeming with irony.

First of all, the word mélange is French. (It happens to be among my favorite French words because it is the word that comes up on people’s cell phones when they try to text my name. How fun is that?) It’s a well-established fact (in my mind) that the use of any French word in casual conversation is always meant to be ironic. As is the saying of a French word that has been integrated into the English vernacular—like croissant—with a French accent. Unless you are like a Proust scholar or something. And, actually, now that I bring it up, it is also my belief that people who are Proust scholars have chosen that career path as a way of making a clever and deeply hysterical joke. They’re just way more committed to irony than the rest of us.

Then, of course, there are the unnecessary quotation marks—and there is no greater ironic device than an unnecessary quotation mark. For a long time, the fact that people used quotes in ways that didn’t make sense made me completely insane. A few years back, I had a bagel store near my apartment that was actually called “Everything on a Bagel”—in quotes. I found it maddening. What was their meaning? Were they trying to suggest that the phrase, “Everything on a bagel” was some kind of famous saying? By…Socrates? Nietzsche? Then, of course, there are also all those delis that advertise “Healthy” Deli, “Gourmet” Deli. For ages, I agonized over the seeming nonsensical nature of the usage of all those quotations.

Until one day it hit me. It’s ALL a joke. Those quotation marks are all just a really clever way of being sarcastic. Because how many of those delis ever really offered anything even remotely healthy or gourmet? And obviously there are things that don’t actually belong on bagels. Hummus goes on pitas. Salsa goes on chips. Nutella goes on a spoon. “Everything on a bagel.” Ha! HILARIOUS.

So what were the people at Starbucks REALLY trying to say? What they were really trying to say was, “Your decision to order hot chocolate is obviously going to hinge entirely on whether or not that was what you wanted coming to the counter. But isn’t it funny how some companies think that by employing the use of ridiculous poetic language and fancy foreign words they are actually going to be able to affect your decision or make you suddenly take interest in a drink that has been around since the dawn of time?”

SUCH a good one.

So, I wanted to pay tribute to the brilliance of this ad campaign by making my discussion of the end of the baseball season an hommage, if you will, to its creators.

As I’m sure you all know by now—and you certainly must because it’s such a “historic” event—the Phillies finally went and won themselves a championship. C’est magnifique!

Various news publications have cited the fact that there has been a certain symmetry to the victory. The Phillies last win was in ’80. This year is, of course, ’08. (The Times was “helpful” enough to point out for us that those two numbers are the inverse of one another.) Additionally, When the Phillies won their previous championship—their only other championship—they closed the game on a strike out by Tug McGraw, number 45. This time? Number 54, Brad Lidge, closed it out by striking out Eric Hinske on a slider. Weird. What a “crazy” set of coincidences.

All in all, despite an outstanding season and October up until now, the Devs failed to deliver much of a performance during this series against the Phils. They underwhelmed in every way imaginable, never following through whenever they began to spark what looked like even the slightest hint of a resurgence. In fact, one might even say they made the “Fall Classic” feel more like “spring training.”

In any event, winter is officially upon us. Baseball winter if not actual winter. And that means that all I have to look forward to in the coming months is spending Sundays with “Farve,” wondering how someone who bungles so many plays still manages to win games. It means I get to sit around and wait to see what overpriced, over-aged pitchers the Yankees are going pick up during the offseason. It means I get to hear more than I wanted to know about what Frost-Tip has to say about “Kabbalah.”

To be honest, I can’t say for sure how I’m going to make it through. But, every year, I find a way. This year, probably with the aid of the timely arrival of a new season of 30 Rock, a lot of self-reflection, and the new Starbucks mélange of cocoas. (Whatever. It sounded good.)

What can I say? The crowning of a new champion is just so bittersweet. It always manages to makes the “end of the baseball season” feel more like the “end of the baseball season.”

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Are You There, Baseball God? It's Me, Selig.

I have stated often and publicly that I don’t believe in baseball gods. That, furthermore, I have a hard time believing that Jesus or Ganesh or Yahweh or Buddha or whoever else care about whether or not any given batter gets a critical hit at a critical moment during a critical game. In fact, I actually kind of think it’s like a little insulting to Jesus and Ganesh and Yahweh and Buddha to suggest that they might. But on the off chance that I am wrong—that some kind of deity, baseball-specific or otherwise, is watching and controlling the factors that will determine the outcome of this World Series—that deity is apparently as bored as I am. How else do you explain the fact that, just when I was ready to write this off as the “Fall Classic” least worth watching since Anaheim played the Giants in 2002, the weather went and got all kinds of Biblical up in Citizens Bank Park on Monday?

Finally. A little excitement.

The storm prompted a suspension that began in the 6th inning of game Game 5 on Monday and that hasn’t ended yet. That will, in fact, go on until Thanksgiving if necessary, according to baseball commissioner Bud Selig.

That guy’s so drama.

Everyone knew in advance that, no matter what happened, the game was going to be played through to its completion. Well, everyone but Joe Buck, Tim McCarver and the viewing public—all five of us. So everyone that mattered knew. While a player or two for the Phils have rightfully grumbled about the fact that the game wasn’t called earlier—claiming that the Devs were only able to tie things up because the field conditions had so rapidly deteriorated—none among them seemed to be upset about the predetermined ruling to finish the game no matter what. I mean, seriously, if you’re going to win your first World Series in twenty-eight years, you’ve got to know that it’s embarrassing to do it with a rain-shortened outing. It’s sort of like being Justin Morneau and knowing that you only won the Home Run Derby because Josh Hamilton expended all his energy hitting five million home runs in the first round. And that no one wanted you to win anyway. Like that but twenty times lamer.

It’s fortunate for Selig that the Devs managed to tie it up when they did because it effectively took the choice about whether or not to resume play at a later date out of his hands. With the game tied in the 6th, it forced the suspension. True, if the Phils end up losing this Series on account of the decision not to call the game earlier, Selig probably won’t live long enough to lower his golf handicap this winter. True, also, that every journalist this side of the Mississippi has gone all Mike Lowell in a dark alley editorial-style on Selig as a result of his ineffectual decision-making skills. But it’s a small price to pay to avoid taking responsibility for changing a rule. So it worked out for the best. It’s also good that it panned out like this because if the Devs hadn’t gotten that run in the 6th, they were going to call this two-day suspension of play a “rain delay.”

Holy crap. That’s demented.

In any event, at long, long last, if and when this ballgame ever resumes, there’s a chance it’s going to be worth watching. The suspension probably favors the Devs, who will be able to avoid facing Hamels for the remainder of the game. And even before the weather went and got all squally on us, my friend, The Thunderphobe, made the prediction that B.J. Upton's slide just might just constitute the turning point in this series. The Thunderphobe is not only wise but often prescient, so I like to quote him when he offers these kinds of insights. If he ends up being right, you can say you read it on my blog, and I look good. If he’s wrong, I can just be like, “Whatever. Who’s the Thunderphobe?” It’s a win-win. (Oh, and for the record, in addition to being prescient and wise, The Thunderphobe is also afraid of thunder—thus, the name.)

Regardless, it will be exciting to see how Manuel and Maddon manage a three and a half inning ballgame. If the Phils had been ahead going into the game, maybe they pitch a starter—bank on holding the Devs at bay and try to wrap it up at home. But with a tied game, they have to feel more of a need to keep some reserves in the tank. Anyway you slice it, it’s going to be fun to watch.

So, baseball gods, if you’re out there and you did this, thanks. Same goes for real God, if perchance it was you. Also, I have some other questions about like poverty and war and stuff like that. But mostly thanks.

Oh, and while we’re on the subject of things that have nothing to do with each other—like baseball and God—maybe this would be a good time to mention, apropos of nothing, that you suck Coco Crisp.

Still feels good.

Monday, October 27, 2008

The Phall Phorreal?

Well, there’s good news for the people in the Commissioner’s Office and bad news for the people in the people at the Commissioner’s Office. The good news is that, the way things are going, they may be able to avoid the unpleasant ordeal of sitting through another game at the Trop. The bad news is, less games, less revenue. Though, if it ends up being a short series, they can always take comfort in the fact that nobody’s watching anyway. And who could even begin to understand why? It’s the Devs and the Phils for Chrissakes. We got Hamels the Hammer on the mound tonight, Ryan Howard has finally remembered how to use his bat, and Chase Utley? Well, it doesn’t even matter what the hell he does cuz that guy is just adorable. And…

And I’m falling asleep as I write this post.

I guess there was what might you might call some dramamine last night. Some beef over a tag at third. The Devs got screwed. Maddon put the mad into Maddon. In the end, the margin of victorino was so great—10-2—that it was of little consequence. Just add it to the ever-increasing list of weird events and craptastic calls that have been hovering over this series since that non-balk call in Game 1. But strangely all of this excitement has done nothing to make the Fall Classic even remotely more interesting. In fact, I kind of feel like the word "classic" shouldn’t even be used when referring to this series. Let’s just call it the “Phall Phorreal?”

However, things did start to genuinely heat up a little bit last night when Maddon went and accused Blanton of keeping pine tar underneath the brim of his hat. According to, “He [Blanton] flashed an impressive slider with sharp movement, striking out both Evan Longoria and Carl Crawford on the pitch. The movement, combined with a visible discoloration on the top of the bill of Blanton's cap, gave the Rays reason to try to put two-and-two together.”

Gave the Rays reason to try to put two-and-two together?

First of all, what? Second of all, seriously,, just say the word, and I’ll send along my resume.

Blanton had this to say in his defense: "It's nothing. They rub the balls up with whatever they rub them up with, and you rub it up and get it on your hand. I'm constantly trying to get moisture, and just touch my hat. It's nothing sticky. Anybody can go touch it. It's basically just dirt from the ball that gets ... over time, over so many starts, I don't change my hat. It just gets rubbed on the hat."

OK. First of all, ew. Second of all, I get that when you’re being interviewed by the press—particularly when it’s about an accusation that you have been cheating—it’s stressful. Hard to think on your toes. But, as a rule, try to avoid all sentence structures involving the phrase “They rub the balls up with whatever they rub them up with.” I mean, seriously, Blanton. You want to talk about how you did or didn’t go all Kenny Rogers on a baseball and all you could think to say was: “They rub the balls up with whatever they rub them up with”? Nothing against, Blanton, but that guy’s got brains like tits.

Manuel jumped to Blanton’s defense saying, "But if you look at my hat, see right there, it's got the same kind of stuff he's talking about. That right there is the fact that I haven't changed hats all year."

First of all, ew. Dude. Superstition shmuperstition. That’s disgusting. Second of all, if you insist on not changing your hat all year, don’t go showing people your nasty head funk. They don’t want to see that.

Anyway, leaving aside all this “excitement” about who is rubbing their balls and where, the reality remains that Tampa Bay might be heading South for the winter on the soon side if they don’t pull it together. We all knew that the Phils were a more likely bet for this series. As I said the other day, it was pretty much just a matter of someone lighting a fire under the offense’s pujols. And it appears to have finally happened for them. Rollins and Howard have been the real offensive heroes in the last couple of games. In Game 4 alone Howard homered twice and drove in five runs and Rollins got three hits and scored three runs. Utley has also contributed to the hit parade with a couple of dingers, starting the whole thing off with a dinger during his first at-bat in the first inning of the first game of the Dance. Again, not that it matters. Cuz he’s just so darn adorable. Like David Wright. But playing for a city that less people care about. So he doesn’t get the deals with Vitamin Water.

Now, I won’t begrudge the Phils their impending win, despite the fact that I have been pulling for the Devs. The fact is that, at the moment, they’re really the team that’s earning it. And, yet, there remains a compelling reason to cheer for the Devs to overcome the odds and pull a come-from-behind victory out of their hats. It’s that I think I’ll shoot myself in the face if I have to read thirty different variations of the headline “Clock Strikes Midnight on the Rays” the morning after they have been defeated once and for all. And believe me; it’s gonna happen. That headline is like the denouement that sports columnists everywhere have been waiting for. It's like a sickness. They must know that it's the wrong thing to do, and, yet, they can't seem to help it.

However it pans out, let’s hope that, one way or another, this thing gets at least a little bit interesting. And that it lasts just a little bit longer. True, it’s boring and awful and doesn’t involve any team that I remotely care about. But it’s sort of like that bad relationship you stay in because you’d rather have a bad relationship than no relationship. All things being equal, I’d rather have this baseball than no baseball.

Beats spending the winter with Farvil.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

It Just Doesn't Matter

I received an ecard from my friend Chris a couple of days ago that read, “This is going to be one of the most exciting World Series ever until my bedtime in the seventh inning.”

That pretty much sums it up for me.

I had to deliberate a little about who I was going to back this year—for better or worse, I always have to give myself at least a fake rooting interest. It keeps me engaged. It was a tough call because, ultimately, I kept coming back to this nagging feeling. The feeling that, at the end of the day, it just doesn’t matter.

There are always compelling reasons to cheer for any team. In the case of the Devs, there’s obviously—forgive me; I’m going to say it again—that whole Cinderella thing. If they manage to win it, it will be the first time in the history of any professional sport that a team has gone from being last in their division to world champions in consecutive years. And, it’s true, it’s a heartwarming tale. But it becomes a little harder to compare the Devils to Cinderella when the villain in the story is a team that has a much longer and more pathetic history of loserness than they do. A team like the Phils.

But, still, there are other reasons to like the Devs. They have young, dynamic players. (And Cliff Floyd. How the hell did he worm his way onto that club?) They’re fun to watch. They work well as a team.

But, then, while Tampa Bay is a team that I would like to see succeed, their fan base, well, I’d be just as happy to see most of them packed up and shipped off to an island. And not like a really nice island as a reward for being awesome. The hair-dying, the mowhawks, the cowbells, the overly-loud Napoleonic need to assert their greatness, the bandwagon factor. Despite the amazing name, I would never wish a stadium like the Trop on any franchise. But if ever there was a fan base that kind of deserved it. I mean, seriously. Despite all the aforementioned obnoxious ways that this fan-i-ness is manifesting itself now, take a look at what the Trop looked like at a regular season game a couple years ago. It makes it hard to give that much of a crapelbon about whether those Devs fans get their happy ending.

This is not to say that anyone could ever accuse Phils fans of being classier than the Tampanians. No, in fact, despite the fact that you have to travel some distance to get from Pennsylvania to Canada, Phils fans seem hell-bent on putting the hockey into baseball. Sure, at every ballpark, fans get drunk, things get loco, people get punched. In Philly, it just seems to happens more. A lot more. Not to mention the fact that Phils fans are notorious for cheering when a player for an opposing team gets injured on the field. That’s not just classless—though it’s definitely that—but it actually shows a profound disrespect for the game in which they are theoretically so invested.

That said, while you could never accuse the Phillies fans of being classy, you could also never accuse them of not caring. Of being fair-weather. Of not having suffered enough. They have been waiting for twenty-eight years to win another championship. The Devs haven’t even been existence half that long. If this is going to mean something to anyone, it’s going to be to the Phils fans. I mean, no offense, but even if you are one of the rare Devs fans who has actually cared about the team since it first got there, it hasn’t really been long enough to count. And, by the way, if you are a Devs fan, unless you’re a kid, or were one when the Devs came into existence, what’s wrong with you?

Leaving aside the question of the fans, the Phils raise in me some other doubts. One, there’s the fact that Jon Stewart wants them to lose. Presumably because he’s a diehard Mets fan. It’s true that I will likely never meet Jon Stewart and that it will probably never come up, but if it should, I would like to be able to say, “Yeah, I was totally hoping that the Phils would get the Brotherly Love kicked out of them in ’08 also. Want to go to karaoke?” There’s also the fact that Barry Zito picked the Phils to win, and, as a rule, I like to go in the opposite of direction of Zito when all matters concerning anything are concerned. Why? It’s personal. He owes me money.

But, finally—and I’m pretty sure most of you know what’s coming—I’m afraid I’m going to have to point out the rather large, green, overstuffed, demented-looking mascot in the living room. That’s right. The Phanatic. With a ph.

As in, phorreal?

Despite the fact that my distance friend and mentor (it’s like distance learning—you do it online without ever meeting) Tim McCarver dubbed the Phanatic baseball’s best mascot, I’m afraid we're going to have to agree to disagree on this one. Like we did that time he said, “Mt. Everest erupts again.” (I still assert that it never erupted a first time.)

There is, of course, the fact that the Phanatic breaks all the fundamental rules of mascotism, starting with the rule that dictates that there shouldn’t be mascots down to the one that mascots, though they shouldn’t exist, should at the very least be real animals and not amorphous green balls of creepiness. But let’s just pretend, for the sake of finding other reasons to criticize the Phanatic, that those rules don’t exist. (And also that it’s OK to spell Phanatic with a Ph.) There is also the fact that the Phanatic, much like many who comprise the fan base that he’s meant to galvanize, is a no-goodnick. He taunts the other team, gets into fisticuffs with Tommy Lasorda, and has been the target of more lawsuits than any other mascot in baseball—once for bear hugging a fan so hard that the guy sustained back injuries. Apparently that one cost the Phanatic a cool 2.5 million in the final assessment. I guess the old, “I’m a hugger, not a phighter" defense didn’t fly so well with the jury.

Not that Raymond of the Rays is much better. The only thing that really distinguishes him from the Phanatic is the fact that he’s blue. And doesn’t have a beef with Tommy Lasorda.

At the end of the day, it’s like I said, I don’t care that much. But if I had to pick, weighing in all these factors, I guess I go Devs. Because I like watching them play. I enjoy the unbridled enthusiasm they bring to the game. I love the Maddon. And there's just something about B.J. Upton. The Phils are probably the favorite if they can get that whole RISP thing working for them. They’ve certainly got the more solid pitching rotation. But in a short series--and especially in October--anything can happen. So until it’s all over, I guess I’ll be ringing that proverbial cowbell in my mind.

Until my bedtime in the seventh inning, anyway.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Don't Stop Believing

I’m sure you all know what’s coming. Chowda elimination after a nail-biter of an ALCS and an eighth inning where it almost looked like—maybe, just maybe— they might regain the lead. And, well, since they didn’t, I bet you probably think that I’m just here to say, “In your faces.”

But not so.

And not just because if I did say, “In your faces,” Chowdas fans would say, “Whatever. Your team didn’t even make it to the postseason.” To that I would simply respond, “This is sports, where logic does not dictate taunting. So in your faces.” But the reason I’m not here to say that is because I know how—what are the words I’m looking for?—oh, right, I know how bitter, and mad, and miserable most Chowda Heads must feel right about now.

No one could have expressed the stinging disappointment of this game 7 defeat quite as eloquently as utility infielder Alex Cora:

"Our goal the whole time was to win the World Series. It didn't' matter if we came back in Game 5 or whatever…Like I said, we're disappointed because our goal from the get-go was to win four games in the World Series. It didn't matter who it was against or whatever… Like always, you have a week or whatever and then you're going to look back and think about everything we accomplished."

Or whatever.

I’m not quite the wordsmith that Cora is (of course, he’s not quite the hitter I am), but he is essentially making the point that I was trying to make the other day. In the end, if you are a Chowda or a Chowda Head, the fact that there was almost a miraculous comeback is kind of neither here nor there. Because, well, almost making it to the World Series is kind of like being half-pregnant. Or, to put it in the immortal words of Ricky Bobby, when it comes to the LCS, if you’re not first, you’re last.

So, the point is that, while I’m psyched, I won’t rub it in because I get that this is hard for Chowda Heads. To have lost. In what ended up being such a close series. In a game that they really almost could have won. And to have watched all those Devils pile on top of each other after that last out in the ninth as they celebrated the fact that they were one step closer to the championship. That feels pretty crappy. So, I think it would be wrong for me to pour salt in the wound. I’m sensitive like that. What I will say to all you Chowda Heads out there is, “Don’t stop believing.” Because I know believing is, like, your big thing.

Of course, despite Boston’s crushing defeat, it was a bittersweet weekend for us Bomber fans. Sure, we can take comfort in the fact that the Chowdas are all golfing with the rest of us schmucks. But news from Nebraska cast a pall on what would otherwise have been a sense of unadulterated glee—Boy Wonder Joba Chamberlain went and got himself a DUI. Apparently, he wasn’t just drinking and driving. He was drinking while driving.

I mean, it’s been a tough October for all of us, buddy, but get it together.

I don’t know what it is, but something about Joba inspires people to want to get his back. In response to the news, even the cantankerous Hank Steinbrenner got all gushy about how you stand by your family in their time of need. And, apparently, Joba is a part of the Steinbrenner family. A dubious honor. There are those cynics who might say that this has a little something more to do with Joba’s numbers than the fact that the dude is just compulsively likable. If this had been, say, Ian Kennedy, Hankles would probably not have given him quite the same Prodigal Son forgiveness—family or not. Blood is thicker than mud, but not quite as thick as an 8.17 ERA.

But, you see, it’s not just Hank. It seems to be everyone. Even my cousin Ben, a tried and true Chowda Head, came to Joba’s defense when I mentioned the incident to him. “You don’t understand how it is in places like that, Melanie. Drinking and driving is obviously stupid, but when you’re in Nebraska? It really doesn’t matter because you’re literally the only one on the road.” He then went on to tell me that a friend of his had read a 300-page novel while driving the Texas panhandle with his car in cruise control. (For those of you who complain that you wish you could read more but just can’t find the time—no more excuses.) The point is that you know you have an uncannily lovable Yankee on your hands when even citizens of Red Sox Nation starts jumping to his defense.

In any event, Joba may be looking at a longer off-season than the rest of us. Even if he gets off easy—with probation—he is facing at least two months without a license. In Nebraska, having no license is like the ultimate in not-coolness. And just when he got all cool by getting famous and everything. Let’s just hope moms is game to drive him to the bowling alley on Friday nights for the rest of the winter.

But we weren’t talking about Joba. We were talking about the Chowdas. And how we won’t try to make them feel bad even though we’re happy that we aren’t going to have to look at any of their ugly mugs for the rest of the year. (Will Kevin Youkilis do us all a service by shaving off at least SOME of that facial hair? It’s just like too much facial hair.) And how even someone like Crisp deserves his due right about now. He had a hell of a postseason. Well, guess what, Coco Crisp? I know you’re feeling pretty fragile at the moment. So just to show how thoughtful I can be, for today, I’m going to refrain from telling you that you suck Coco Crisp.

(Even though you suck Coco Crisp.)

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Everything Is Nothing If You've Got No One

So, it’s come to this. Tied series. Game seven. At the Trop.

The question is: How?

Game five, the deal seemed just about sealed for the Chowdas going into the bottom of the seventh. And then? Well, it all happened so fast. Pedroia with an RBI. Papi with a three-run dinger. Then, in the eighth, there is the two-run shot by D.L. Drew. And, of course, the Sultan of Suck has a mind-blowing at-bat before eventually driving Kotsay home from second with a single into right—tying the game. Then, well. We all know how that story ends. Walk-off single for a “historical” comeback. (I put historical in quotes because I think that the amount of attention that this game receives from history will have a little something to do with whether or not the Chowdas are able to actually take the series.) From there, of course, they managed to grind out a sixth game win against Shields in Tampa. Varitek Shmaritek, blah, blah, blah.

And here we are.

Since 2004, there has undoubtedly been a paradigm shift. The Chowdas are no longer the team that you can count on to lie down and die the way that for years, and years, and years, and years—well, I’m not going to write it out eighty-six times—you were able to. They’re grittier, less pathetic, a team that’s capable of a miraculous comeback. They’re officially not losers anymore.

Unfortunately, as I have suggested on my blog, this hasn’t done much to imbue them with a winner’s psychology. They’re like the consummate losers who, now, finally on a winning streak, feel the need to overcompensate with obnoxious, relentless pomposity. As my friend Chris so astutely observed, “It would be like if Charlie Brown finally won something--and then you found out he was actually an asshole.”

And, yet, while I loathe the Chowdas, disdain their fan base, and think Crisp the very definition of suckiness—whether or not he’s hitting game-tying RBI’s—I don’t wish them out of existence. In a sense, I need them.

I was listening to “Islands in the Stream” last night. (Don’t judge. I don’t care who you are; Dolly’s better than you.) When she came to the line “Everything is nothing if you’ve got no one,” it got me thinking about New York’s relationship with Boston. How critical we are to each other’s narrative arcs.

If, somehow, this rivalry had never come to exist, it would obviously still be pretty awesome to win world championships—six for the Chowdas, and—what is it?—oh, yeah, twenty-six for the Bombers. But having a villain to complement your hero—someone’s face to rub it in—just makes it more rewarding. For example, imagine if the story of David and Goliath was just about David fighting some random kid from school. Not that David was actually in school as far as I am aware. But, anyway,if he was, it’s a decidedly less compelling story, right?

Ideally, a rivalry can make the game more fun, it makes us more invested, encourages us to do better. I mean, would I have enjoyed game 7 of the ALCS in 2003 if the Chowdas had been the Mariners? Sure. Obviously. Would I still—four years later—feel a rush of warmth whenever I think about that 11th inning Aaron Boone walk-off home run had we been playing Seattle? Probably not. Just as I probably wouldn’t still feel nauseated whenever I replay the tape of the seventh game of the ALCS in 2004 if we’d been playing that game against Seattle.

So, while I know it’s not quite what Dolly was driving at, in a way, all those Yankee championships wouldn’t have meant so much were it not for the fact that we knew that Chowdas and Chowda Heads alike were suffering somewhere as a result. Just as I’m sure that those six times that Boston managed to win, they were psyched because people like me were sad and nauseated. You see, it’s not just about winning. It’s about sharing the experience with someone. Even if that someone is the enemy who you are trying to obliterate. That’s part of what makes it fun.

Of course, having been eliminated, the only thing left to do at this point is live out this dynamic vicariously through whatever team the Chowdas happen to be playing. The enemy of my enemy is my friend. It would be nice to see the Devils make it to the big dance, but if they continue to crumble, I’m just as happy to see it go down in the World Series. Get their hopes up. Then crush them like a bug.

But all this being said, make no mistake; when I tell Coco he sucks, which I will do until the end of time, I do it with the sincerest appreciation for the fact that—in a way—he completes me. I mean, I wouldn’t have a blog without him. So, seriously, Coco Crisp; thank you. And also, as ever, you suck Coco Crisp.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Principle Number Four

Yes, it’s that time again. Time for me to share with you another of my principles—the list is virtually unending. For those of you who follow my blog at all or have any common sense, this one oughta be a no-brainer. It’s principle number four: Never Take Advice From Fav-ruh. I mean, it’s like taking advice from Eric Cartman.

But clearly, Tony Romo neither follows my blog nor has common sense.

The latest, in case you weren’t aware, is that Romo got a broken pinkie. Fav-ruh, being the good Samaritan/busybody that he is, decided to give Romo a call and offer him some unsolicited advice. His counsel? Play through the pain. Whatever he said must have struck a chord because Romo took the field at practice today to test the waters and now claims to want to play on Sunday, despite initial reports that he would be out for four weeks.

I’m no, uh, hand doctor, but isn’t the pinkie finger kind of critically important to quarterbacking? And, furthermore, if you break a bone, isn’t the best way to exacerbate the break by further impact to the site of the break by a flying object—an object like, say, a football?

Maybe I’m wrong, though. Like I said, I’m no hand doctor.

Leaving all this aside, however, the fact that Farvil encouraged Romo to play should be reason enough for him to sit. Brett Fav-ruh calls me with advice, I’m thinking that it’s like a George Costanza thing where you just do the opposite. Farvie says jump, you say, “Meh, I’d rather take an escalator up.”

But apparently Romo doesn’t have the dignity not to follow the cool kid, stupid though he may be. So, what gives Romo? I mean, I get that Fav-ruh played through the pain of a fracture once so as not to break a consecutive game streak, but everyone with your team is telling you that the pinkie is different. Why not listen to their collective wisdom? To the wisdom of people whose names sound like they’re spelled? I mean, if Brett Fav-ruh jumped off the Brooklyn Bridge, would you?

Anyway, I’d watch your back Marion Barber—or your locker. Given the spell Farvil seems to have cast on Romo, I wouldn’t be surprised if he started leaving turkey guts in people's lockers in the not-so-distant future. Or making important decisions and then changing his mind about them a couple of months later and throwing everyone’s life into a state of disarray.

As for the baseball, what can I say? Dodgers fans are going to be feeling more than just Dodger blue this week. My sincerest sympathies. I guess for now, all that remains is to hope for Chowda humiliation. Why, some of you ask, root against the Chowdas and not the Devils? Because they’re Boston, and that’s what I do. They’re the Vader to my Skywalker, the Tom to my Jerry, the Pinkberry to my Tasti D-Lite.

Oh, right, and because you suck Coco Crisp.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Once Upon A Time...

Three down, one to go.

That’s right. The Devils—the Tampa Bay only-been-in-existence-since-1998-and-have-the-second-smallest-payroll-in-baseball Devils—are only one win away from knocking the Chowdas into oblivion. (The Marlins, incidentally, are the team with the smallest payroll—by a lot. Who knew Floridians were so frugal?)

So the Devils need one win, and they have three games in which to get it. Oh, and, by the way, two of those games are going to be played at home—at the Trop. For the record, if you’re going to sell the naming rights to your ballpark, sell it to a company with a name like Tropicana. The Trop? It just sounds cool. (Citizens Bank Park—not cool.)

In any event, given the way things have been going for the Rays, chances are that—to borrow a phrase from the Cubbies—it’s gonna happen.

We keep hearing a lot about the whole Cinderella aspect of this story. And, boy, isn’t an allusion to Cinderella an original way to make reference to the underdog. Not that I don’t love the thought of Cliff Floyd and Evan Longoria turning into field mice at the strike of midnight as B.J. goes scurrying off the field in a state of panic, losing the glass cleat that will eventually be returned to him by Joe Maddon who turns out to be his soul mate. Unless, of course, Maddon is the fairy godmother in this scenario. I don’t know. I haven’t quite worked it out yet. All I know is that if this is, indeed, the Cinderella story that everyone keeps shoving down our throats, then that casting director in the sky couldn’t have picked a better team to play the role of the evil stepsisters than the Chowdas.

It’s a well-established fact (in my mind) that the Chowdas are the most deplorable team in baseball. For those of you who are dubious, who suspect that my disdain for the Sox is merely the result of my allegiance to the Bombers, let’s review the roster:

Dustin Pedroia, who basically went and told Japan to shut up on his team’s recent visit. He is also famously rude when people ask for his autograph. Even when those people happen to be small children. Or puppies. Mike Lowell of beat people up in dark alleys fame. (This is merely conjecture, but my gut rarely leads me astray.) And, no, Lowell may not be on the field in body, but he’s there in spirit. Crapelbon, who doesn’t know how to shut his big old Yapelbon. D.L., I mean, J.D. Drew. Youkilis of the unfortunate facial hair. Papi, who refers to himself as Papi. Third person? Embarrassing. Third person nickname? Abomination. Then, of course, the Lord of the Suck—Covelli. Yes, you still suck Coco Crisp. For the same reasons as always.

So, with the Devs poised to take the series, I hope you all bear in mind that the truly compelling aspect of this story isn’t the success of our heroes; it is the demise of our villains. If I cared more about the former, I might want to see this all play out at the Trop. Because that’s what makes sense when your narrative is centered around the protagonists. However, since it’s all about Chowda humiliation for me, I say do it Fenway. Fill up that stadium with Chowda-loving Chowda heads, and then make them cry. In their house. Like the old-timey days when that kind of stuff happened all the time.

Incidentally, while we’re on the subject of the Chowda collapse and our good friend Coco, I hate to be the one to point out the elephant in the room, but it was Covelli who hit into an inning-ending double play last night. Two on, one out. Now why would you want to go and do something like that during one of the most important games of the postseason? Oh, right, because you suck Coco Crisp.

Monday, October 13, 2008

We Don't Want To Hurt Nobody


The postseason is getting a little bit fun. After two days of being used and abused in Citizens Bank Park, the Dodgers came home last night and decided to bring the beef. And, no, I’m not talking about Dodger dogs. I’m talking about a good old-fashioned benches-clearing brawl. But, just to be clear, it was not their intention to “hurt nobody.” At least not according to Manny Ramirez.

So what happened?

Basically, the Dodgers spent the first two games of the series being brushed back by Phillies pitchers. Myers threw behind Ramirez in the second inning of game two, and catcher Russell Martin got beaned a couple of times as well. But when Martin was knocked down in the second inning of the Dodgers first game in their own stadium by a Condrey pitch, Hiroki Kuroda decided he was mad as hell and wasn’t going to take it anymore. He hurled one over the head of Shane Victorino.

Victorino’s response? He shouted at Kuroda while pointing at his head, to indicate that the kisser was where he drew the line. He was quoted after the game as saying, “Someone was bound to get hit. The situation called for it. Just don't throw at my head.” In other words, the kneecaps? Fine. Just don’t mess with the punim. I think Victorino needs to allow himself permission to be a little less measured and understanding. I mean, dude. Even if the situation dictates that the pitcher can and should be throwing at you, it doesn’t mean you have to say that. Just say, “Don’t throw at me. Ever.”

After grounding out to first, Victorino exchanged words with Kuroda, which prompted both benches and bullpens to empty. Manny being, well, Manny, he was obviously more worked up about the situation than anyone else on the field and had to be physically restrained by Torre, teammates, and an umpire, lest he belt someone and get himself ejected. Interestingly, Larry Bowa was also among the more heated of the arguers on the field, yelling angrily at Phillies first base coach Davey Lopes before the fight was broken up. I guess this just shows that you can take the boys out of the East Coast, but you can’t take the East Coast out of the boys.

In the end, both teams were given a warning, which the ever-diplomatic Torre reasoned was fair enough. The Dodgers went on to win the game in a 7-2 decision thanks to both an outstanding five-hit outing by Koruda and a five-run first inning, including a bases-loaded triple by rookie Blake DeWitt.

Interestingly, in the eleven regular season games in which they have played each other this year, the Dodgers and Phillies have both been the winners in all of their home games. Thus far, this has remained consistent throughout the series, but it’s a cycle the Dodgers will have to break if they want to make it to the big dance. And I sure hope they do. Because I can’t imagine anything more boring than a Phils-whoever World Series.

As for the ALCS, the Devils and the Chowdas had an exciting eleven-inning outing on Saturday. Leaving aside my disdain for the Chowdas, I have to admit that I can’t help but be a little swept up by the youthful exuberance of the Devils. Longoria, Upton, Pena. They’re just so, well, young and exuberant. And I don’t know if it’s all an act, but I love that whole, “Oh, really? It’s the postseason and we’re playing against the reigning world champions?” attitude. It’s so delightfully cocky. Maybe I wouldn’t think so if the reigning word champions weren’t the Chowdas. But they are.

By the way, speaking of cocky, isn’t is slightly outrageous that we refer to the winner of the World Series as the world champions? I mean, it’s not actually the world. It’s the U.S. And the Jays.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

It's All Farv And Games Until...

I have been known, on occasion, to give Fav-ruh something of a hard time. Because, well, he sucks. But, perhaps, I am being unfair. I am so narrowly focused on all that is sucky about Farv (just for a refresher: the spelling/pronunciation of his name, the crying, the unretiring, the destruction of my allegiance to the Jets) that I sometimes fail to see the good in him. For example, I was scouring for an interesting story, and nothing really grabbed my attention. There was no baseball yesterday. Nor is there any today. Last weekend’s football games are already old news. I suppose I could talk about how McCarver dissed Manny in a recent interview. But whose side to take? Both of them are just so damn winsome. So I did what I often do when I’m at a loss. I googled Farvil to see what he was up to. As usual, it’s something awesome. Truth be told, he really never let’s me down.

So, on behalf of all (one) of us at "You Suck Coco Crisp," my apologies to Fav-ruh for failing to acknowledge the fact that you are truly the gift that keeps on giving.

The latest is that Fav-ruh is still chipping away at the hearts and minds of his fellow Jets. How? With a little bit of good old-fashioned Southern charm. At least I think that’s what you would call it. I don’t totally understand Southerners, but I figure that maybe, in the South, it’s charming for a football player to leave a dead animal inside a fellow teammate’s locker. I mean, I know they’re into killing things down there.

And, yes, that’s exactly what happened. A player for the Jets, universally presumed to be Brett Fav-ruh—America’s un-favorite unretired quarterback—bagged what appeared to be a dead wild turkey, which he is believed to have killed himself, and stuck it inside the locker of teammate Eric Barton.

Like I said, Southern charm.

Farvie is known for loving a practical joke. The idea is that it pulls the team together. Call me crazy, but I don’t know if I would feel particularly endeared to one of my teammates if he had left that bag of blood and guts in my locker. I think I might feel a little bit more like I should sleep with one eye open. I mean, hasn’t Fav-ruh ever heard of the old whipped cream in the underwear locker room gag? Or a whoopee cushion? The real shame is that Barton’s birthday was on the 29th of September. Oh, but that Farv had just sat in Barton’s cake ala Sparky Lyle. I guess only few prank players are so truly gifted.

Of course, as an animal lover, vegetarian, and general believer that it is wrong to be wasteful, I can’t help but take offense at the nature of this prank. I don’t think hunting is all that cute, but at the very least most people who indulge in the “sport”—as they insist on calling it—actually eat what they kill. Rather than using it as part of a tasteless locker room joke and eventually throwing it away. If you believe in eating meat, that’s fine. I don’t. But I also subscribe to the philosophy that one should live and let live, so I won’t sweat you about it. However, I do believe unequivocally that it is wrong to kill a living thing for absolutely no reason. (Oh, I’m sorry. Not no reason. To build team camaraderie.) I think it’s something that you only do if you have no soul and are a sociopath.

Not that any of this should come as a surprise. As already established on this site, Fav-ruh meets the text book definition of a sociopath.

Barton, who claims to have been amused by the prank, responded by saying, “I hope that the animal rights activists find out about it, whoever did it, that cruel person.” Barton may have been joking, but I would be surprised if the animal activists didn’t find out about it. The people at PETA, at least, have it in for Fav-ruh, who they seem to find about as amusing as a pig roast.

You see, it seems I was not the only one who was irked when, a few months ago, Fav-ruh so courageously decided to come out of retirement. Apparently, people from PETA staged a protest at Lambeau field. According to a PETA spokesperson, "Mr. Favre’s continued retiring and un-retiring is an affront to the rights of animals all across the world.” He went on to say, “We also have evidence that the depression caused by constant Favre coverage has resulted in American’s eating much, much more… almost all of it in meat products. We have to stop this – if not for the protection of animals, then for the protection of our sanity.” Hmm…Now, I love PETA probably more than the next person, but, seriously, what in the crapelbon is this guy talking about?

He did say one thing in his argument, however, that made sense: “In addition to that, it’s really fucking annoying. I’d love to go through a week without hearing about that guy.”

Ah, there it is.

This seems to gets at the heart of the real reason for the perturbation of the good people at PETA. And, Lord knows that if anyone can relate, it’s me. That said, it sort of seems like a waste of PETA resources to be protesting the guy for the non-harmful-to-animals things he does, annoying though they may be, when there are so many other legitimate reasons for which to go after him—reasons that fit into the PETA mission statement. Go after him for killing a turkey as part of a practical joke. Go after him for hunting deer for sport. Because if you’re PETA, that’s what makes sense.

Now, PETA, I get that you’re agitated about the other stuff. But leave the criticism of the misspelling of the name and the unretiring to me. I assure you; I’m on it. In the mean time, can we get some kind of adorable picture of Alicia Silverstone posing with wild turkeys that we can start e-mailing around our offices under the headline: “Brett Fav-ruh is a heartless murderer?” Stat.

In other animal-related news, two of our hamster friends have passed away this week. Hamsters that did not reside with me, but were near and dear to my heart, nonetheless. Felix and Jolene, both born July 28, 2006. They are survived by brother Fitzy; nephews Cyrus and Auggie; nieces Mackenzie and Rose of Sharon; great nephews, Cristobal, Alonzo, and Max; great niece, Su Lin; and guardians Christina and Jane. Felix, who was an escape artist extraordinaire, will be remembered for his gentle spirit and large head. Jolene, who spent the latter part of her life with the use of only three legs, will be remembered for her strength of spirit and will to fight. They will be missed.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

But, Seriously; You Suck, Michael Kay

As recently established on this site, there are lots of reasons to tell someone he sucks. Sometimes, you say it because you mean it. But there are also times when you say it ironically. Or for fun. So, just to avoid confusion, I wanted to state for the record that, when I tell Michael Kay he sucks, I am in earnest. 100%.

There are a number of way in which Michael Kay embodies the essence of suckiness. He asks asinine questions. He is pompous and self-obsessed. He cheers for the other team too much. But, at the moment, none of these are the reasons why I feel compelled to tell him he sucks. This time it’s because he had to go and open up that big, fat yap of his. About Torre. Again.

What he’s saying isn’t new. That Torre just happens to stumble into postseasons—thirteen in a row, for a refresher. Apparently, he did it twelve times on the steam of a great team that Buck Showalter put together, once on the steam of a former Chowda power hitter. Some guys have all the luck.

As I said, this isn’t the first time that Kay has had something less than glowing to say about Torre—St. Joe, as he likes to call him. (Though, he swears that’s not meant to be cutting or condescending.) Just a few months ago, Kay took issue with the fact that Torre had called Jorge Posada to inquire about his injury. According to Kay, as the manager of the Dodgers, it was inappropriate for Torre to check on the health of a player for the Yankees, even if that player happened to be a guy he had managed for twelve years. Apparently, a manager is only supposed to take a fake interest in his players and only for the duration of time for which he is under contractual obligation to do so.

It’s sort of funny that, of all things Kay should take issue with, it would be Torre’s loyalty to former players. That actually sort of contradicts some of the other things about Torre that Kay has taken issue with. For example, Kay once said, “There are things about Joe Torre, if I wanted to come out and say, would show how cold and calculated he really is… Joe Torre is for Joe Torre. … The graveyard of Yankees coaches is loaded with bones of coaches Joe Torre did nothing about.”

OK. Let’s leave aside the weird dead body imagery for a second and consider the rationale behind this assertion. If Torre’s so self-interested, why is he calling former players to inquire about their health? For some secret, selfish reason that I just can’t wrap my brain around because I’m a baseball outsider? And if Torre has such a bad rapport with his coaches, why would he have brought Mattingly and Bowa along to L.A. with him? Better yet, why would they have agreed to go? Is it just me, or is Kay’s logic a little unsound?

Lord knows it wouldn’t be the first time.

As some of you may remember, a couple of years ago, Kay became completely unhinged over complaints that he had interfered with a Chien-Ming Wang no-hitter by announcing it as it was happening. It is, of course, an old baseball superstition that you should never, ever mention a no-hitter in progress, lest you jinx the pitcher.

Now, do I believe that someone can affect the outcome of a game by what he or she says? Well, no. Obviously. But I also can’t affect the outcome of the game because I did or did not wear my hat to the stadium, nor can Jason Giambi by growing or shaving a mustache. Or wearing a gold thong. And, yet, we do these things because silly superstitions have always been a part of the age old tradition of baseball.

But Kay doesn’t buy it.

When a fan called into his show to complain, claiming that Kay had breached what was universally considered to be “baseball etiquette,” Kay went all kinds of Mike Lowell in a dark alley on him. He told the caller he was “infantile,” “asinine,” and “cretinous,” yelling “That was a stupid, stupid thing to say.” Apparently, though, Kay was worried that he wasn’t being explicit enough. He decided to analogize. He went on a tirade about how lots of things used to be considered “etiquette” that are no longer tolerable. Things like slavery and “putting people in ovens” in Nazi Germany.

No, you read that right. He said, “putting people in ovens.”

The issue of whether or not it’s appropriate for a broadcaster to mention a no-hitter in progress is debatable. On the one hand, there’s Michael Kay’s argument—the one he managed to spit out in the midst of his on-air meltdown. What he said was that it wasn’t his job to aid Wang in his attempt at a no-hitter; it was his job to report that it was happening. On the other hand, tradition is tradition. And you would think that, if anyone was going to understand a long-standing baseball tradition, it would be, well, a baseball broadcaster. It is ultimately up to Kay to decide if he wants to adhere to the unwritten no-talking during a no-no rule. But it hardly seemed necessary to make his caller out to be the Second Coming of Hermann Goring just because he happened to have strong feelings on the subject.

But I am not trying to convince you that Kay is off his rocker just because I want you to ignore what he has to say about Torre. There is another reason to do that. You shouldn’t listen to what Kay has to say about Torre because Torre once embarrassed Kay inside the Yankees’ clubhouse, and Kay has had it in for him ever since.

It was way back in 1996, Joe’s first year with the Bombers. Kay questioned Torre about a managerial decision, and Torre got upset with him for making inquiries that could be damaging to the clubhouse atmosphere. Some say that Kay felt Torre had humiliated him in order to rally his team together and that Kay has never gotten over the resentment. To add insult to injury, Torre dubbed Michael Kay the Rona Barrett of the clubhouse. Rona Barrett is an old-timey gossip columnist. To call Kay Rona Barrett was basically tantamount to calling him a nosey Nellie. Presumably, Kay didn’t love that too much. After all, he does sort of pride himself on, well, himself. All this was only compounded by the fact that Torre, who never appeared on Kay’s radio show, was a frequent guest on Mike and the Mad Dog—Kay’s major competition.

So, nothing against Michael Kay, but his beef with Torre sort of appears to be more of a case of sour grapes than anything else.

I mean, maybe I’m wrong. Maybe Torre is a sham who lucked into twelve Yankees postseasons. Maybe it’s a coincidence that the first year that the Yanks have failed to make it to October just happens to be the first year that Torre is no longer managing. Maybe Manny did singlehandedly lead the Dodgers to the DS. And to a sweep of the Cubs—the universally acknowledged favorite for that series. Maybe all this is true. Or, maybe, it’s like Chris said, and Joe just got a little hand from a farm animal and some indie kid. Whatever the case, as far as the Cubs are concerned, all that I can say is, sorry guys, but for this year, it’s not gonna happen.

It doesn’t really matter how Joe got there because, at this point, he remains my only rooting interest in what is panning out to be a really stupid postseason. Friggin’ ChiSox. And, man. What are the odds that the only game that the Angels would have taken against the Red Sox would have been the game that Beckett was pitching? Oh, well. I truly don’t care when or how the Chowdas get eliminated. If it happens early, it’s more humiliating. If it happens later, Chowdas Heads suffer more of a crushing defeat. Either way, I’m happy. Either way, Boston sucks.

And, either way, you suck Coco Crisp.

I will never be silenced on the subject.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Sorry, Dodgers Fans; It Was Only In Your Dreams

There's been a lot of discussion lately about whether or not I suck. I figured that, while that one was still left unresolved, I would give you a break from me and share with you the thoughts of someone who DEFINITELY doesn't suck. Chris Yamaoka. Enjoy his musings. I know I do:

I woke up smiling on Sunday. The night before, I'd watched my beloved Dodgers storm past the NL-best Chicago Cubs to secure an improbable berth in the NLCS. It was great. They'd played wonderfully. Our starters went deep; our bullpen was solid; our hitting was timely and consistent. And great memories, too, already: James Loney silencing the Wrigley crowd with a 5th inning grand slam, Larry Bowa leaping into the air as Manny Ramirez slid home to score from first, Big Jon Broxton pumping his fist after striking out Alfonso Soriano to end Game 3. What a series!

What a dream, it turns out. I was disappointed to learn, after watching Sportscenter and scouring the internet for some post-series coverage, that the Cubs had been defeated -- not by the Dodgers -- but by some 100 year-old Curse. I was heartbroken. I really couldn't believe it, so I looked into it some more. This Curse, it appears, involves a black cat, an indie-looking kid in headphones, and a farm animal of some sort. I know, it sounds weird, like J.K. Rowling is ghostwriting the postseason now. I didn't believe it at first either, but it's true. I mean, it must be, or else someone would have written something about the Dodgers, right?

To be honest with you, this whole thing has me a little worried. I'm actually thinking about scheduling a doctor's appointment. This isn't the first time this has happened to me. Last week I also hallucinated an entire vice presidential debate. I imagined the whole thing, and even conjured up a name for one of the participants: "Joe Biden." Ridiculous, I know, and I'm almost embarrassed to admit it. This guy's answers were thoughtful and substantive, so I should've known something was up. The next day, of course, I learned that there is no such person as "Joe Biden," and in fact Republican nominee Sarah Palin had defeated Expectations, in a stunning upset. Despite being heavily favored, Expectations were no match for Governor Palin's winking, smiling, and overall mavericky maverickness.

Hopefully, I'll be able to find a cure for what ails me. In the meantime, I should probably stop trusting my eyes so much. Clearly, I've been misperceiving reality lately. I'm just thankful I have the media to set me straight, otherwise I'd just go on thinking these foolish thoughts.

It's nice to dream, though.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Melanie You Suck

Bear with me. I am about to try to apply logic to nonsense. But it's what I do best.

I am going to share with you a few comments that recently turned up on my site. This first one's by an anonymous poster:

"Sounds like someone is just jealous cause you could probably never pull off a name like coco. why don't you focus more on how he plays baseball, he's an awesome defensive player and his batting average just keeps getting better I'd choose the name coco over something stupid and unoriginal as Melanie."

The first sentence of this comment is fundamentally flawed. The implication is that Coco actually is pulling off the name Coco. He is not. That's not to say that I think I could. But it isn't a particularly hard pill for me to swallow. I mean, nothing against Coco Crisp, but, as already established a million times on this site, that name sucks.

Now, it is possible that my name is stupider and less unoriginal than I had ever realized. I am willing to own that. (Though, actually, I'm just saying that, but I am disinclined to believe it. I have a great name.) However, despite the possibility that my name may be stupid and unoriginal, the assertion that you would rather be named Coco than Melanie? Unless you are a toy poodle, Ice T.'s wife, starting a perfume line, or an exotic dancer, that is actually the incorrect answer. Thanks for playing.

This next one is by someone named Amber:

"I read that, but just because of his name you feel that he sucks? that's stupid, why don't you judge players on their ability not there name, if you want me to actually believe he really sucks then you'd better give me a reason other than because it's fun to say he sucks."

Amber, you seem to be laboring under a misapprehension with this one -- that I care whether or not you believe anything I say. I assure you, I don't.

However, it is not for you to tell me the criteria that I should or should not be using to determine suckiness. I actually think it's pretty limited and narrow-minded that your sole conception of sucking is based on a player's stats. That may be, perhaps, how one can determine whether or not a player sucks at baseball. But I look at every aspect of the player when assessing suckiness. And there are lots of ways to suck that are unrelated to a player's ability. For example, you apparently think I suck, and I don't even play baseball.

If you want to decide who does and doesn't suck on the basis of statistics, feel free. But don't box me into your prison. And, by the way, not to pick apart your reading comprehension skills, but I am pretty sure that I made a point of saying that Coco is not actually, by any definition of sucky, the suckiest Red Sock. It's like you said, I just happen to enjoy yelling, "You Suck Coco Crisp."

This brings us to our next quote, also by Amber.

"Personally i think it's a lot more fun to yell Melanie YOU SUCK! How's that?"

If that were true, I would say knock yourself out. Far be it for me to deprive you of one of life's greatest joys. And I am secure enough in the knowledge that I don't suck to handle it. Problem is I think that Amber's a dirty liar. (I am giving her the benefit of the doubt because, if she is not lying, she is just too dumb to know what's fun and what isn't.) The problem with my name is that, while it may be stupid and unoriginal, it isn't funny. I mean, Melanie? It just isn't. And by the way, Amber, no matter what you yell, it's funnier if you put the name on the end. So, I suggest that if you are going to try it, say, "You suck, Melanie."

Meh. Still not that funny.

Just to review, while I may occasionally include statistics in my postings, this site is not about statistical analysis. I never claimed it was. It's a forum for me to discuss what interests and amuses me in the world of sports. It's a place for me to tell Coco Crisp that he sucks. Just because I want to. What's great about the internet is that you don't have to like me or agree with me. You can find another site. Or start your own site about how you don't like me or agree with me. Or, if you prefer, stick around and tell me you don't like or agree with me. That's fine, too. Bring your friends. I like being insulted. Partly because I'm a masochist, and partly because I don't value what you say and think it's funny. However, don't expect a posting dedicated to your ranting every time. Once was fun, but it is the postseason.

Speaking of which, so far, other than the Dodgers-Cubs series, nothing has panned out quite how I had wanted. I am especially disappointed about the ChiSox, but I am keeping hope alive. Boston, of course, won the first game, but because this is my site, I am still allowed to say they suck if I want. So consider it said. As for Coco Crisp, he didn't take part in last night's win against the Angels. Wonder why? Could it be because -- this one's for you, Amber -- You Suck Coco Crisp.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

The Baddest Part of Town

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. It doesn’t matter how you play the game; it’s whether you win or lose.

In the case of the ChiSox, what that means is that it’s not important that they barely squeezed into the postseason with a narrow 1-0 victory over the Twins on a solo home run during a playoff game for their division. What’s important is that they made it. Because once you’re in there, no one cares how you got there. Your team has just as good of a shot as anyone else’s. Except maybe the Angels. Their team definitely has a better chance than yours. I don’t care who you are; they’re better than you.

As I stated a couple of months back, I have a soft spot in my heart for the ChiSox. Maybe it’s that Guillen is so compellingly crazy. Maybe it’s that I have an undying affection for Nick Swisher. Maybe it’s that I’d like for Griffey Jr. to finally get his ring. Maybe it’s just that they have a powerhouse lineup, and, boy, are they ever fun to watch? In any case, it seems to me that there are plenty of reasons why a person might love the southies. And, yet, it’s the losers up north that everyone seems so hell-bent on loving. Yeah, you know who I’m talking about. Bigger than a breadbox, smaller than a sow—the Cubbies.

This brings us to the real issue.

For the first time in over a century, both the Southies and the Northies are playing in the postseason. Which means what? Well, war. Obviously. The rivalry in Chicago is no joke. Especially when compared with the rivalry that exists between, say, the Mets and the Yankees. Let’s face it. Yankees fans are more fixated on hating the Red Sox than any other team. And, sure, when we’re playing in the Subway Series, we care a little more than usual. But, ultimately, we just aren’t that invested in hating the Mets. Some people, like me, will even go so far as to actually cheer for them when they’re playing anyone but the Yankees. I think that, at the end of the day, you really only have enough room in your heart to hate one team as much as we hate Boston.

Now, I know that, generally speaking, Mets fans tend to feel more rage towards the Bombers than we feel towards them. And I get it. They’re upset because they’re always in our shadow. We win more often. We don’t have an embarrassing mascot. We aren’t in Flushing. All that stuff. But both sides need to be fully on board for a cutthroat rivalry to exist. A rivalry such as the one between the Yanks and Chowdas. A rivalry such as the one in Chicago.

Unlike the feud between the Yanks and the Sox—the battle between a superior city and one that shouldn’t exist—the Cubs-Sox rivalry constitutes a division within the city of Chicago itself. Historically, a division that has been drawn along racial and socioeconomic lines. The stereotype is that Cubs fans are rich and white. And, it’s true that if you take a stroll around Wrigleyville—yes, Wrigley Field gets its own Ville—yuppies and frat boys abound. U.S. Cellular Field, on the other hand, is located in the somewhat less illustrious South Side of Chicago. The White Sox do not have their own Ville, and the stereotype is that the White Sox are the working man’s team. Blue collar. True grit.

There is no denying that Chicago lauds its Cubbies while it ignores its…wait, there’s another baseball team in Chicago besides the Cubs? It’s true. Just looks around. Everywhere you turn, there is someone lettin’ you know that it’s gonna happen. The bumper stickers, the flags, the t-shirts, the buttons, the hats, the posters, the themed bars the restaurants. I mean, they have a Ville for crying out loud. But ask any White Sox fan, and they’ll tell you that it’s all style, no substance. Look beyond the Ville, the slogans, the bumper stickers, and what you will see is a fan base more invested in getting drunk and having fun than in the fundamentals of baseball. That if you want people who care, who know the sport and are there to watch it, take a visit to the Cell.

To this, Cubs fans respond, “White Sox fans are trashy.” Good comeback.

In addition to their other grievances, White Sox fans complain that they don’t get the same amount of press coverage as the Cubs. That, in fact, Chicago’s biggest newspaper, The Trib, is biased against the Sox. That would be correct. The Trib, of course, owns the Cubs so it is in their best interest to promote them. To focus on their lovability rather than their loser-ness. And the good people at the Trib do little to veil the inequity in their reporting. In 2005, the Trib ran 2,047 articles in which they mentioned the Sox—that was the year they won the championship. In how many articles do you think the Cubs were given a mention? 2,824. What about 2006, when the Sox were reigning champs and postseason contenders until the last week of the season? 1,975. The last place Cubs? 2,556. All of this is documented on a website called along with countless other specific examples of blatant Tribune Cubophilia.

“But what does it all mean Basil?” you will ask. Good question. For those of us not actually involved in the rivalry—those of us on “Main Street,” if you will—does any of this even matter? If so, how much? The answers to those questions are, yes and a little. Like I said, we all only have room enough in our hearts to truly despise one team. Chances are, if you’re not from Chicago, it will not be the ChiSox or the Cubbies. And, frankly, even though I favor the White Sox, I can’t ignore the reality of my affection for Soriano and Piniella.

So, this is how I’m going to break it down.

The ChiSox are the only team left in the AL race that I could give a crapelbon about. Yeah, I guess that whole Tampa Bay Cinderella story is nice and all. But I can’t ignore the fact that the Devil Rays went and changed their name to the Rays. Truly idiotic. Not to mention the fact that, ultimately, I watch them and find myself thinking, “Meh. Who cares?” As for the rest? I am obviously hoping for a swift, humiliating Bosox elimination. And, since they’re starting against the Angels, I’m apt to get my wish.

As far as the NL is concerned, I have to give my love to the Dodgers. Mostly because of Torre. If the Cubs should eliminate them in the first round, and it’s likely, I’ll back the LL’s through the LCS and dream about the possibility of a Windy City Showdown. It’s a long shot, of course. If the ChiSox get past the Devils, it will likely mean that they will see the Angels in the LCS. And this season they would be more appropriately dubbed the Angels of death.

But anything’s possible in a short series. And, while I’m not saying it’s gonna happen, it definitely could. So, if by some miracle both Chi-town teams battle their way to the big dance, you better believe that I’ll be rooting for the boys down south. Hoping they send the Northies a crushing blow by putting the loser back into lovable loser.