August 31, 2007
On the other hand, Chamberlain’s demeanor suggested it was an accident -- he looked really confused and surprised and kind of awkward when he got tossed from the game, and in his interviews afterwards seemed genuinely worried that people would get the wrong idea. So, in sum: I have no idea what the hell happened there.
Either way, though, I can understand why the Sox were pissed, because even if it wasn't on purpose it was a bit too close for comfort. (I know, it wasn't that close, but if someone fired a 98 mph fastball eight inches or nine inches away from my head, I think it would feel pretty damn close to me).
Also, while I continue to be massively impressed by Chamberlain’s pitching, at least when he’s not trying to crush opponents’ skulls, I have to say I’m extremely disappointed in his choice of entrance music. “Indian Outlaw” by Tim McGraw? Seriously? Joba, you are way too cool for this nightmare of a song. Sample lyrics:
“All my friends call me Bear Claw
The village chieftain is my paw-paw
He gets his orders from my maw-maw
She makes him walk the line
You can find me in my wigwam
I'll be beatin' on my tom-tom
Pull out the pipe and smoke you some
Hey and pass it around
'Cause I'm an Indian outlaw
Half Cherokee and Choctaw
My baby she's a Chippewa
She's one of a kind
I ain't lookin' for trouble
We can ride my pony double
Make your little heart bubble
Lord, like a glass of wine...”
Cringe. And also: What?
For the love of god, somebody help this kid pick out a decent metal track.
UPDATE: great "Who, me?" photo of Chamberlain from the Daily News. You decide:
August 30, 2007
Having been rendered more or less speechless (which by the way is not easily managed, so congrats, Mets), I will only say, once again: at least it isn't boring.
If you're a Mets fan it may make you feel very slightly better to listen to this fan-written song about Endy Chavez, which is what the Mets were singing in the locker room the other day when he came off the DL. But only very slightly.
August 29, 2007
Between this and the game-tying dribbler that never rolled foul from Tuesday night, to say nothing of countless other incidents of terrible luck this series and the entire team's sudden inability to buy a run-scoring hit, it's beginning to look as if the Mets have done something to seriously piss off the baseball gods. Hopefully someone can find a white steer to burn as an offering of atonement before tomorrow's game. Or maybe they won't need much luck, because El Duque's starting... what I wouldn't give to see him toss an eephus to Pat Burrell.
Anyway, maybe it's an illusion, but it sure seems like all year the Mets have largely been good when the Yankees have been bad, and vice versa; I'm going to have to crunch the numbers at the end of the season. Regardless, last night the Yanks played a solid game behind Roger Clemens (with the notable and totally unsurprisingly exception of Kyle Farnsworth), and moved into a virtual tie with Seattle, who just got clobbered by the Angels. I listened to a bit of that game online today and kept forgetting that I was supposed to be rooting for LA, accidentally cheering for the Mariners instead... it's just horribly unnatural. Glad that's over.
And by the way, I can't tell you how thrilled I am that somebody recently found this blog by searching for "badass jesus blogspot." Fuckin' a.
After every single loss, Andy Pettitte blames himself entirely -- really excoriates himself, in fact, stopping just short of hitting his head repeatedly against the wall while muttering "stupid, stupid!" It's the Paul O'Neill school of self-motivation. Meanwhile, after every win he says two things: "the offense did a great job" and "Jorgie called a great game." Tonight he just kept repeating how glad he was the hitters could "pick him up" after he allowed a home run to Varitek that tied the score at three in the 7th, on his way to throwing 119 pitches. "I thought maybe I cost us the game," he said on the postgame show, immensely relieved, "... it just killed me to make that mistake." It's okay, Andy! Fans tend to love the relatively rare players who visibly care about winning much more than they themselves do, and very possibly more than is healthy. When O'Neill came up in a big spot you rooted for him to get a hit not so much so that the Yankees would win, but so that he wouldn't hate himself. On the Mets right now I think Pedro Martinez has that quality, and it'll be a boost for them to get that back, as well as his arm.
And speaking of the Mets, if you think I was happy to have Endy Chavez back, his teammates actually burst into song. Unfortunately it didn't help at game time. Ryan Howard home runs are going to happen, but still, the Met bullpen is just hair-raising right now. But for some reason -- even after tonight -- I still have more confidence in Pedro Feliciano in a big spot than Aaron Heilman. Possibly it's because Heilman's entrance music this year has been "Don't Fear the Reaper"... and with all due respect to Blue Oyster Cult, as far as songs that will psych up a home crowd go, this is a huge step down from last year's "London Calling." It's like a vegan version of "Enter Sandman."
Then again, perhaps it's just because I haven't seen Feliciano give up a playoff series-losing home run to Yadier Molina. Anyway, it also seems clear now that if Willie Randolph really must use Guillermo Mota*, he should by no means press his luck by extending him for two innings. Question: do they test for steroids during the playoffs? Maybe they could slip him a little something just before the Division Series starts?
*Whose entrance music remains the heinous "I Like To Move It"
August 28, 2007
--Amazingly enough, people still haven't realized that everything you do online can be tracked and traced back to you. Look, if you work for ESPN or MLB and you start editing relevant Wikipedia pages, don't think people won't find out. "Sexual harassment charges? What sexual harassment charges?! Look, Wikipedia doesn't even mention them, clearly they must not exist!"
--Also, more on Antonio Alfonseca's fingers:
Alfonseca is adamant that the digits are more a sense of pride than a problem. It even cost him a chance to join the New York Yankees machine as a 16-year old. Upon meeting Alfonseca, Yankees scout Arturo Defreitas offered to have the extra finger removed by a doctor. Alfonseca's response: He ran away.
See, Mets fans ought to love this guy.
--Oh, and the Yankees are playing some team from Boston tonight...
It's not a fight for the Division anymore, but it's still do-or-die time for the Yanks... and I can't say I'm not looking forward to seeing Joba Chamberlain versus Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz. Yanks need to win tonight with Pettitte on the mound, since he's now their most reliable starter, juuust edging out Wang at the moment. And with Matsuzaka going for the Sox, it should be a good one -- anyone who pretends to have an imaginary pitch just to fuck with people's heads is my kind of pitcher. I'm only surprised El Duque never thought of this.
That was an extremely painful game to watch, on a human level more than a sports fan level. Mussina's struggled before, but not like this; he's been one of the best pitchers of his generation, and this might be the end, and he's not ready for it. The post-game interview was just heartbreaking. "I don’t even know how to describe it because I’ve never had to deal with it before," he said. Watching him on the mound was awkward, almost embarrassing, like we should turn off the TV and give him some privacy. Give Mussina credit for sticking around to talk to reporters -- I would have been out of there like a shot, I'd imagine -- but he looked, and sounded, shattered. No confidence; none of his trademark snarkiness, even. Can an athlete really lose it that fast? From Tyler Kepner's NY Times story:
“Right now, I let go of it and I don’t feel like anything good is going to happen,” Mussina said. “It’s tough to pitch that way. You can’t play the game that way to feel like you have no control over anything, and that’s how I feel right now..."...
...The Yankees owe Mussina more than $11 million for next season, but he seems to be nearing the end. It is a scary and sudden reality, and it has knocked him as low as he has ever been.
“It feels like I’m never going to pitch well enough to get to the sixth or seventh inning again,” Mussina said. “That’s just how it feels right now.”
I have to believe that given time to make adjustments, Mussina can be, if not good again, at least mediocre --I don't care how old he is, I refuse to believe he's a less viable pitcher than Sir Sidney Ponson -- but unfortunately, time to make adjustments is exactly what the Yankees don't have.
In less agonizing news...
--Meant to mention this earlier, but Scott Proctor pitched against the Mets on Friday night, and not very well -- walk, hit, hit, balk... "It's possible he may have been somewhat overused," said Gary Cohen gingerly. It is indeed. However, I see Proctor has wasted no time in taking advantage of the Dodgers' more relaxed grooming rules and is already sporting a big off-putting tuft of chin-beard. So at least he's got that going for him.
Makes you wonder, how many Yankees would grow awful facial hair if only they could? You know Brian Bruney is just yearning for a goatee.
Wait, THIS guy hit his wife? No way!
--Finally, Jim Dolan has donated to the Hilary Clinton campaign. Okay, that's it, I've finally made up my mind: I'm going with Obama.
*I still can't believe people got so worked up over his pre-season comment that the Phillies were going to be "the team to beat." What's the guy supposed to say? "I look forward to another year of frustrating near-misses"?
August 27, 2007
Runner up Names of the Week: Kansas City minor leaguers Thad Markray (anybody named Thad gets automatic consideration) and Russ Haltiwanger.
August 26, 2007
Also, I have never seen a more accurate or concise observation about Bud Selig than the following from Wells:
“He worries about what people say about him and he Googles himself.“
You know he does.
You’ll recall that the Padres released Wells a couple weeks ago; tonight, pitching in his first game for the Dodgers, he looked surprisingly sharp. Obviously I was rooting for the Mets but I was happy to see Wells back in the saddle, too, and in my favorite moment of the game, he bunted for a hit. Fucking beautiful – well, not aesthetically, actually, but the idea of it. I’ve never seen David Wright look more surprised.
In other news, I can’t believe I’m about to say this, but credit where credit’s due: Joe Morgan said something interesting on ESPN tonight. He mentioned that John Maine’s high fastball seems to be actually more effective, and more explosive, than his low fastball – even though the general rule of thumb is that pitchers should keep the ball down, down, down and will get hit hard if they don’t (see: Igawa, Kei). I think Morgan’s right; when Maine’s in a groove, which he was for a few innings tonight, I often wonder how he does it with the ball so high in the zone, but I hadn't fully articulated that thought til Morgan mentioned it tonight. He just seems to have more movement up there for some reason. Good call, Joe.
Now, leaving this odd parallel universe in which Joe Morgan uses his remarkable Hall of Fame career to actually make interesting observations and educate his viewers, I have to point out that tonight Morgan also referred to Sandy Alomar Jr. as Roberto Alomar, Marlon Anderson as Marlon Byrd, Shea Hillenbrand as Shawn, and pointed out that the Braves need bullpen help but cannot pick up reliever Bob Wickman… since they just designated him for assignment. Ah yes, now we’re back in Kansas.
The Mets head to Philly now, and I thought this would be a really big series when I looked at the schedule at the beginning of the season, and even a few weeks ago... but it's not, really, since the Mets have already opened up a six game lead in the NL East. That's not huge, but as long as they take even one from the Phillies here, they’ll still be in pretty good shape. Taking the series from the Braves probably isn't necessary either... but man, it would really help their fans' mental health.
By the way, to clarify: in the last post, when I said the Yankees’ season was really really close to being over, what I meant was not that they don’t have a decent shot at the playoffs – three games back from the Wild Card in the loss column, they’re still very much in it - but that they have an extremely small margin of error right now. They’re only two or three losses combined with Mariners wins away from being, while not mathematically out of it, a real longshot. So if Mussina is really done – though I do think he’ll bounce back tomorrow, at least somewhat – and/or if Clemens and Hughes continue to be uneven… the point is, they're now one bad, unlucky week away from being essentially done, so everything needs to go right from here on out.
Well, either that, or the Mariners need to start sucking. But I've been waiting for that to happen since June...
August 25, 2007
New Era said it would increase its efforts to ensure it had a better working knowledge of gang symbols, names and locations.Yep: it's gonna be really interesting being a New Era intern this fall.
Second... I just finished watching the Yankees-Tigers game, which started at 11 PM and ended around 3:30 AM with a Carlos Guillen walk-off home run in the 11th inning. This puts the Yanks 6.5 games behind the Red Sox, who predictably destroyed the White Sox in a doubleheader -- and, more to the point, four games behind Seattle in the loss column for the Wild Card. This is their second heartbreaking extra-innings loss in the last week, both of them off of poor Sean Henn, who was teary after the Angels game and cannot be much happier tonight. And that was actually a pretty decent pitch he threw to Guillen, too, down and in, not that it matters much.
No, the Yankees' season is not over... but it is really, really close to being over.
August 24, 2007
On the plus side, at least I know what my dad's getting for Christmas this year.
-The Mets' trade for Luis Castillo, quintessential overachieving-Twins-infielder, is looking better and better. He's a smart hitter (though I wish he'd bunt less often, especially since he's hitting in front of Wright and Beltran), and he and Reyes are turning into a great double play combo, complete with ridiculously enthused high fives afterwards. If you hooked those two up to a generator you could power half of Queens.
-Meanwhile, across town (or, technically, in Detroit), every time Joe Torre sneezes now he moves up a spot on some decades-old all-time managerial stat list. Seems like he's hugging Jeter, Posada and Rivera, recieving a game ball, tearing up, and talking about how special milestone X is roughly every other Wednesday. This is generally a warning sign that a long and storied career is drawing to a close, a la Bernie Williams last year.
-Trevor Hoffman, Mariano Rivera, and Billy Wagner have all faltered repeatedly over the last week or two... late August is not a good time for relievers.
-The Psycho Fan has a great note from the Angels' broadcast a few days ago. Apparently announcer Steve Physioc observed that Jeter is the best defensive shortstop in Yankees history -- manifestly untrue; he's certainly their best-ever offensive shortstop, but fielding-wise, I'm not sure if he's even in the top 10 -- including Phil Rizzuto. As evidence he offered the fact that Jeter is the only Yankee shortstop ever to win a Gold Glove. Now, this would not be a convincing argument even if Gold Gloves had been given out before 1957... which, as The Psycho Fan points out, they were not. Brilliant.
August 21, 2007
Anyway, Rizzuto's voice can be heard on this semi-famous YouTube clip of Steve Hamilton tossing his "folly floater" eephus pitch to the Indians' Tony Horton circa 1970. Beautiful; I don't think El Duque's ever gotten his that slow. Nice play by Thurman Munson, too, and priceless reaction from both dugouts, the crowd, and Horton himself... with, of course, a great call from Scooter.
[Update: Turns out Horton's professional career had a sad and early end. Too bad; I like his sense of humor.]
More later today on the local nines. That was quite a series the Mets and Padres just played... And that's quite a slider Joba Chamberlain's got. I could happily watch him just pitch to Vlad Guerrero for nine innings.
Pitcher Josh Wahpepah.
(photo from Brewerfan.net)
By the way, the Manatees are currently being terrorized by a "Pie Assassin" ("Millions live in fear!"):
God I love minor league baseball.
Bystanders recoiled in fear that maybe it was a pie-terrorist attack. A threatening note found this morning stated that a new victim will be selected every home game for the remainder of the season, unless the alligator that slipped into the stadium this past week and led away in handcuffs is granted an unconditional pardon by the governor and given two seats for the playoff games...
..."It's just sick that you can't sit and watch a baseball game in peace without worrying about some crack-pot taking out his pie-ro-manical tendencies on us common folks," stated Manatees GM Buck Rogers. "We must catch this nut-job before he strikes again!" The voice of the Manatees, Kirk Aigus, was heard muttering on the air, "Oh, the Hugh Manatee!"
August 20, 2007
Over in MetsWorld... not all of Omar Minaya's moves have worked out, but I think it's safe to say the good has outweighed the bad by a solid margin. So I'm generally willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. But Jeff Conine? What, did they feel the team's median age was getting too low with the departure of Julio Franco?
To be fair, I guess they needed a right-handed bat and had limited options; add Damion Easley's ankle to the list of gruesome baseball injuries of recent years. I really, really didn't need to see that in Hi-Def.
In better news: Endy Chavez is coming! Hide your women and children!
Also: Johan Santana, in case you were wondering, is still mind-bogglingly awesome. Mets, Yankees, I don't care, I just want him in New York so I can see him pitch every fifth day. Whatever it takes -- trade Phil Hughes, or Phil Humber, or a kidney, or Derek Jeter's firstborn. Anything. Worth it.
Finally: it's a good thing the Yanks have some good young pitchers coming up, because according to Buster Olney the best free agent pitchers this offseason will be: Livan Hernandez, Jeff Weaver, and Curt Schilling. Um. The Mets need to cross their fingers that Pedro comes back healthy and Mike Pelfrey figures things out, or Humber advances fast; I can handle Livan Hernandez, but I have already seen too much of Schilling and Weaver for one lifetime.
August 18, 2007
So, I'm back -- still a little fuzzy from jetlag, because that is seriously one hell of a plane ride, but back. Taipei's a really interesting place... and also: typhoons!
The two questions I was asked most often in Taiwan, neither of which I could satisfactorily answer:
- Why did America re-elect George Bush?
- Why is Kyle Farnsworth still on the Yankees?
Anyway, I'm now off to upstate NY for a day to retrieve my dog, but three quick notes to get my feet wet again:
-Random line from the Mets broadcast last night which I found inexplicably funny: "You can be patient with Chico." Anyway, nice bounce-back win for the Mets, after one of the most excruciating losses of the season Thursday night. Sweet defense, too, especially from Reyes and Castillo.
-It's Angels-vs.-Red Sox time again.
August 05, 2007
Well, it's been a crazy month, and it's about to get even crazier, as I'm about to leave for the airport and the quick little 36-hour jaunt over to Taiwan. I'll be there for a week. But I couldn't go without first sharing the Miller Park Sausage Race love. The game I saw went 13 innings and, to the crowd's unfettered joy, included a second race after the 12th.
There is much to be said in praise of Brewers fans, but this in particular impressed me: at almost every sporting event I've been to in the last few years, fans react with more passion, cheering and general enthusiasm to the free t-shirts shot into the crowd than they do to almost anything that happens during the actual game. It was true at Madison Square Garden, it was true at Shea, and I don't kid myself that it wouldn't also be the case at Yankee Stadium, if they started the tradition. It was not true, however, at Miller Park: there, the crowd engaged more fully with the racing sausages -- hot dog, bratwurst, Polish sausage, chorizo, and Italian sausage -- than with anything else. Which is, I feel, exactly how it should be.
I should point out that these things, according to Wikipedia, have names, though they quite wisely don't advertise these at the ballpark: Frankie Furter, Brett Wurst, Stosh (I have a friend named Stosh and now will always associate him with a man in a large plush sausage outfit wearing sunglasses... I have mixed feelings about that), Cinqo, and... wait for it... Guido. Yes, they did.
Much has been happening:
-Alex Rodriguez nailed his much-anticipated 500th home run. Nice moment, though really, if he doesn't get to at least 600 it'll have to be because he lost a limb. However, I do find it slightly disturbing that he and Barry Bonds have such a supportive friendship. First they schmooze it up at the All-Star Game, now both of them go out of their way to praise the other in their post-milestone pressers today... I could have sworn I heard ominous strings in the background. I mean, I'm just not well-equipped to handle a world in which Jose Conseco is not full of shit.
-The Kansas City Royals continue to suck. Chien-Ming Wang continues to be awesome. Phil Hughes should be too, shortly, but wasn't quite today.
-The Pittsburgh Pirates are still run by a madman. As Jayson Stark writes,
For the next two hours, after people around baseball learned of this deal, they couldn't stop calling, e-mailing and texting reactions that could probably be summed up with three succinct words: WHAT THE BX!GRZFDQ!!!!!-The Yankees are just 2 games out of the Wild Card lead.
-The Mets seem to have stabilized, and they'll try to take 2 of 3 from the Cubs today; over/under on the number of times the ESPN cameras cut to Lou Piniella looking grumpy after a cubs pitcher allows a hit or a walk: 23. Also, good luck to Tom Glavine as he goes for #300 a second time -- he got robbed by the bullpen in Milwaukee. One can only hope that Frankie Furter's 12th inning triumph was some consolation to him.
-Barry Bonds finally hit another home run tonight to blah blah blah. Does anybody still care? I took this photo just outside Miller Park:
Will there ever be a Barry Bonds statue in San Fran? It's hard to imagine, isn't it? For one thing, it would be an engineering challenge to get the head large enough, yet still keep the thing structurally sound... lawsuit just waiting to happen.
Okay, off to Taiwan. I believe I'll have internet access, in which case I'll be sure to post -- though I can't be sure, as all I really know about my hotel is that, per its official web page, it boasts "luxuriously decorated corridor poles." What more could anybody ask?
In any case: any Taiwanese fans reading this, who have any tips, advice, or the desire to watch a Yankees game this coming week in Taipei, please do drop me an email -- ekspan @ gmail.com.