September 23, 2009

Baseball Player Name of the Week

In honor of the Yankees' recent hard-earned series win in Anaheim, I scoured the roster of the Angels' AAA team, the Salt Lake Bees, to bring you this week's Name:

Catcher Flint Wipke.

I know you'll all join me in my earnest hopes that this young man eventually makes it to the majors. On a side note, has there ever been a less appealing Minor League team name than the "Salt Lake Bees"? I mean, two things in this world that I really don't care for: dry laws and stinging insects.

Anyway, my Yanks-Angels recap is up at the Banter for those who are interested; I'm still working on a Mets post but it feels increasingly futile. What is there to say?

September 19, 2009

Tim McCarver's Baadasssss Song

Before I talk about the Mets, I could not let this pass without comment.

"Tim McCarver Sings Selections From The Great American Songbook."

I am physically overwhelmed by the sheer number of possible jokes here. But first of all, this reminds me of nothing so much as this:

Although to be fair it should be said that, while I do not particularly care for McCarver's announcing, it is WAY better than John Ashcroft's Attorney General-ing.

But that's not really the point, of course. Do you know how many great versions of "One for my Baby (And One More For The Road)" there have been? Frank Sinatra, Billie Holiday, Etta James, Sammy Davis Jr, Rosemary Clooney... I was hoping instead that McCarver would record some original songs, written just for him and tailored to his style. Here, inspired in large part by the McCarver archives of the dearly departed, are some suggestions for an alternate, more McCarver-esque tracklist:

1. That Goes Against Conventional Thinking
2. I Don't Want To (Throw A Lot Of Numbers At You)
3. There Used To Be A Shea Park
4. Gee David Eckstein, Ain't I Good To You?
5. A Mark Wohlberg Fastball
6. Clogging Up The Bases on a Saturday Night
7. Embrace Me, My Sweet Intangible You
8. I Don't Want No On-Base Percentage (If You Can't Run)

September 18, 2009

Ohhhh, Fight

In theory, I do not approve of multimillionaire professional adults punching and shoving each other over some macho bullshit.

However I have to admit that whenever it actually happens, I'm all "Ohhhh, fight!!!"

Actually I missed seeing Tuesday's Yankees-Jays brawl live because I was watching the Mets lose to the Braves, which was not so remarkable (thought I admit it took me quite a few minutes to place Mets starter Patrick Misch), but I was doing it at "Amazin' Tuesday" on the LES, which was a lot of fun.

The first thing I thought when I saw clips of the fight was, of course the first real Yankees brawl in years happens AFTER they finally got rid of Kyle Farnsworth. Because that is basically the only good reason to have Farnsworth on one's team, as has been repeatedly proven in independent studies.

Anyway, I had no idea Joe Girardi could move that fast - he got to the scene quicker than anyone else from either dugout. I guess nothing motivates a guy quite like seeing hundreds of millions of dollars (and thousands of pounds) worth of stars heading for a hostile dogpile. There was a whole lot of VORP shoving around in that mess.

I'm dwelling on a game from four days ago because (A) I cannot ever pass up the opportunity for a Kyle Farnsworth joke, and (B) tonight's game ended with a sin against nature in the form of a walk-off home run off of Mariano Rivera. I don't like to dwell on such games because, quite frankly, the universe already seems frightening, random, and meaningless enough as it is.

Next blog post: time to talk about the Mets. But god, where do I start?

September 09, 2009

Three Things About "Rookie of the Year"

So yesterday I caught the end of "Rookie of the Year" on TV, for the first time in a good 15 years. To refresh your memory, that's the one where a kid breaks his arm and it heals weird so he can suddenly throw 102 miles and hour, and the Cubs sign him, and he ends up playing in the Division Series against the Mets. (A rare baseball movie where the evil team is not the Yankees but still, please note, from New York).

I realized several things while watching this - well, the last 20 minutes or so, which is all I caught. The first was "holy shit, that's that kid from American Pie" - not Jason Biggs, one of the other ones, the guy who was dating Tara Reid. Never realized it at the time.

The second was "holy shit, at one time Gary Busey used to be considered a viable love interest."

Then the third thing. In the Big Game at the end of the movie, the kid, Henry, is pitching in the ninth with the Cubs up by a run (of course). And all of a sudden his arm stops working weirdly - he doesn't throw 102 anymore; just like that, he's back to normal 12-year-old-kid velocity. And it's not like he has an amazing curve or anything to fall back on. Once he realizes what's happened, he gets one out using the hidden ball trick; the second out by repeatedly calling the runner on first base a chicken and goading him into trying to steal and then basically tagging him out with a really weird variation on the hidden ball trick; and the third out by throwing a Folly Floater-type eephus pitch to the Mets' huge and ludicrously villainous slugger (who when he steps to the plate actually says, "Mwa ha ha ha ha!").

Of course I love the hidden ball trick, and you know I love the eephus. (I'm slightly less enthusiastic about a pitcher actually clucking and directing a chicken dance at a base runner... maybe not the classiest way to back into the World Series, plus I'm surprised the ump didn't warn him there). But this is where I thought: can you imagine the online fan reaction to the manager, Sal Martinella, during that ninth inning? Oh my god, TAKE HIM OUT OF THE GAME! The kid's got nothing! His velocity just dropped 30 miles an hour between pitches, you don't want to maybe get the trainer out there to take a look at him? Do the Cubs not have one single other pitcher left on the roster? Or even just a position player who pitched in college? Jesus. Sports radio talk show switchboards would melt under the weight of furious callers - the events of "Rookie of the Year" make Grady Little's choices in Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS look like Earl Weaver at his best. Even if they do go on to win the world series Martinella would probably lose his job and frankly, he would deserve to.

It's possible I may be slightly too old for this movie now.

September 08, 2009

Nobody Knows Anybody, Not That Well.

So, first, just to be veeeeery clear about this: I don't think Derek Jeter ever used steroids. No clue or circumstantial evidence or even the vaguest rumor has ever indicated otherwise. I think only Mariano Rivera would be a bigger surprise to me, if he turned up on that list.

That said, with everything baseball has been through this decade, wouldn't it probably be a good idea to stop writing articles like this one? Newsday's Wallace Matthews discusses Jeter's upcoming Yankee hits record, in a piece titled "Fair Ball: Just Clean Hits For Jeter":
...It also will serve to remind us how pathetic were the excuses of this era's steroids cheats and their many media apologists, to wit: "Everybody else was doing it, and I was just trying to keep up.''

Jeter's career exposes that for what it is: a lie, a lame excuse, a sign of weakness and absolute proof that all the talent in the world can't compensate for a lack of character.

Because (until proven otherwise), Derek Jeter, all 195 non-spectacular pounds of him, never needed that kind of help. ...

...You can call that moralizing if you like. I call it celebrating a man who did things the right way rather than excusing or, worse, glorifying boys who took the easy way out.

I don't know that I'd call it moralizing, but I would call it a bit of an assumption (as Matthews knows, of course, hence the "until proven otherwise" parenthetical). Again, I don't think Jeter took steroids - but until about seven months ago, sports sections were full of stories on how A-Rod was going to be the clean-living hero who breaks Barry Bonds' home run record. And yeah, it's DEREK JETER, so I'll cheerfully give him the benefit of the doubt, and when I watch him play steroids are the last thing on my mind. I'm not saying we should run around suspecting and accusing everyone who sets foot on a diamond. I'm just saying: you never really know until you know, you know?