Monday, February 28, 2005
I'm on spring break (yes, Michigan gives us spring break in February, no, no one knows why this is). I'm bored and waiting for dinner and very deliberately not writing my philosophy paper (yes, I have work to do over spring break. I'm in the art school, concepts like 'time off' and 'restful vacations' aren't in the curriculum). So you know what that means-- time to make fun of the Red Sox roster photos! If you want to relive the original madness you might want to reread the first of these entries, which made fun of the Detroit Tigers roster photos.
I know. I know what this looks like. He wears his hat like this not as a C. C. Sabathia-style fashion statement, but because he's blind in one eye and it helps balance the light. I'll bet you feel bad for laughing at the photo now, don't you?
Unfortunately this features neither the cornrows nor the current plethora of golden curls. It's like the MLB photographers said 'Let's take everything interesting about Arroyo, and remove it, leaving his prominent ears and I'm-growing-this-to-look-older goatee in greater prominence.'
This isn't his stock mugshot, which I think is unfair, because he looks relatively normal here.
This was his old mugshot. Much better. Note how the photographers managed to make him look like a retarded child suffering from cholera. If only Walmart's portrait photographers were this good.
Blimey, get some color in that guy. He's so pale and washed-out and borderline-jaundiced here that it looks like his skin is actually wax.
It's everyone's favorite creepy chipmunk next door! "Give me the crabapples or I will molest your childrens."
Keith Foulke: made of rubber.
Yeeeeaarrrrggghhhh! *runs screaming from the room* Seriously. The eyebrows. The crazy stubble. The small, piercingly psychotic eyes. THE EYEBROWS. This man, clearly, eats babies. And I don't mean veal.
Look, we've got a middle school pitcher on the team! Aww, what a great kid. Maybe he can stop sucking and being an enormous waste of a contract this year! Wouldn't that be swell?
The eyes shadowed by the hat brim? Good job, MLB photographers. Seriously guys, way to go. Also, he has a creepily tiny mouth. This photo gets more disturbing the more you look at it. I need to move on to another photo.
Now that's what I'm talkin' about! A little square, and again the photographers appear to have placed his hat in the most awkward position possible, but Mr. Mantei is a welcome relief on the ol' optic nerves.
I'm not sure they actually told him they were taking his picture here.
Steely Gaze of DEATH. I hope he's healthy this year, it would be great to watch opposing batters quake in their cleats as he stares down at them with this expression.
I love how this photo simultaneously emphasizes the bags under Curt's eyes, and the fact that he's smirking. He's old and he's snarky, thanks for reminding us, MLB!
I have to admit, I just now opened the window with Timlin's photo in it, and I burst out laughing. Seriously. Out loud. I couldn't help it. I think he's biting his lower lip. I think this one is hilarious. Anyways, moving on.
Woah, Wake uses self-tanning lotion? Disturbing. I don't want my knuckleball pitcher looking like a streaky-skinned sorority girl.
Again, not his stock photo, but I didn't search for it because a) I'm too lazy to dig through the billion pages of random people named either David, or Wells, or both and b) I'd have to flip through a lot of shots of him in pinstripes, and after a while that stuff just makes me ill. This is pretty funny anyways, I guess. Full beard + bald head = fashion faux pas. And giggles for the rest of us.
I know that Mariano Rivera is and always shall be The Fruitbat, but Mirabelli here looks an awful lot like a frugivorous chiropteran. At least he doesn't have his godawful landing track goatee strip.
Yup, the MLB photographers clearly did their damnedest to ruin Jason Varitek. The big ears, the smirky yet still confused expression, the completely invisible jawline--good work, MLB. Good work.
Photo taken at 4:20. Also, possibly of a homeless man posing as Mark Bellhorn.
I'm afraid I've seen this picture so many times with the chicken bucket photoshopped over the hat that I can no longer see it any other way. In any event, the scrofulous beard and vaguely unfocused eyes aren't helping Kevin out here.
Just take a moment to gaze at this and enjoy it. The big blue eyes. The attractive goatee. The amazing facial bone structure. Really the only way this photo could be better would be if he was smiling, because Bill Mueller has an amazing fucking smile. As with Pudge, his inherent hotness overpowers the inherent ineptitude of the photographers.
Again, not the official mugshot. Whatever, too lazy to look for it. He looks like his head is retracting into his shoulders, turtle-style, but that's probably just the way he's sitting.
Aw, geez, do I even have to say anything? He looks like he should be plopping large globs of meat paste onto a tray in a high school cafeteria somewhere.
Poor Youks, he almost never photographs well. He either looks really pale or, as is clearly the case here, ridiculously ruddy. Plus the ears. Plus the fact that his nose is a couple shades deeper red than the rest of his face. Plus the small, somewhat close-set eyes. Oh, poor Youks.
They managed to catch him when his hair was at its most unruly and his beard at its most untrimmed. Plus, another smirker. Clearly these photographers are bitter that they're not getting to play baseball for a living, and hate all ball players with a bloody, photographic passion.
Adam's obviously in the midst of saying something here, and I imagine it's something like, "Wait up, Bellhorn, I'll take another hit with you in a sec, man."
A goatee that perfectly frames your already quite pronounced buttchin? What a marvelous idea, Trotter!
He looks a little crazed, but overall not a bad shot. He's got a nice smile. I think we can work with this one.
Manny is one of the most happy-go-lucky, fun-loving guys on the team. So how did his photo come out looking like something from a police lineup? Did they say, "OK Manny, now for this shot we want you to pretend that everything good in your life has been taken from you" or something?
And finally our lovable, huggable designated hitter.
Whom they managed to make look like some kind of chin-strap-sporting bullfrog. Alas.
I guess I probably should go at least take some notes for my paper. Ugh. And hey, if anyone's in the area later this week (hopefully Wednesday, but depending on the weather) and sees a crazy girl in a paint-spattered Red Sox hat and an enormous bright yellow winter coat rocketing around downtown Boston (gonna hit Fenway, back bay, Copley, Newbury St, North End, etc), it's me. I have a photography project to do. I'll be in a mad zone of digital photograph-taking. So yeah, be on the lookout for that sort of thing. Otherwise, you may very well end up in my homework.
edit: Finally got around to tossing up some Sox links I've been meaning to put over on the sidebar there *gestures vaguely to the left*. Added Hoos on First, a new addition to the female Red Sox bloggers family; The Professional, the Idiot, and the Tailback, yet another female Sox blogger, this one blogging from the hallowed halls of Harvard (whom, academics notwithstanding, Michigan would totally crush in a football game); Over the Monster, the SportsBlogs Red Sox site (see previous post); and Tao of Manny, which has possibly the calmest color scheme of any Red Sox blog I've ever seen. Good read, too.
Oh yeah, and I added Steve Brady to the regular Things Read by the Feline Anarchist section. Because it is, indeed, a thing read by the Resident Feline Anarchist.
Friday, February 25, 2005
You all thought you were safe. You thought I had forgotten about it. But it was not so. I was working on it, in secret (i.e. in between classes, classwork, and regular ol’ reactionary blogs). I was working on it, and working on it, and working on it, and the problem was that the more I worked on it, the more I realized there was that I absolutely bloody well had to include, and the damn thing kept getting longer and longer, and what was originally supposed to be one entry has now mushroomed into approximately 5 or 6.
So I kept writing it, and researching it, and not deciding where to break it up, until Rob called me out on the Tigers messageboard, of all godforsaken places, for not posting it when I had said many moons ago that I would do so in a timely fashion. The lesson here is twofold: don’t believe me when I try to set my own deadlines, and if you call me out some time when I’m completely not expecting it, result!
But! It is now time for the Return of the RantBlog! You can thank or blame Rob as you see fit.
RantBlog: Why do the Red Sox seem to have about 300 times more high and mid-quality blogs than any other major league team, and possibly any other sports team?
Installment the Second
If you recall (which you probably don’t, since it was about a billion eons ago), the
first Installment, if it can be said to have had any sort of theme at all, dealt with numbers, i.e. the ‘300 times more’ bit. After rereading it I’m not at all sure that I proved anything, unless it’s that you can rant pretty happily and not make any eventual point. What we can take away from Installment the First, I think, is that the Red Sox may or may not have the most blogs out there, but they are definitely in the top 5, for a number of reasons.
In this Installment we’re going to be dealing with stat blogs and blogging group affiliates. Subsequent Installments will deal with individual Red Sox blogs, individual blogs for everyone else, web design critique, humor blogs, and possibly female sportsbloggers, if I’m feeling particularly masochistic. That’s a rough rundown, I’m not entirely certain how I’m going to break it down yet, and the Third Installment might contain one or several of these, or something else entirely if I decide it needs (“needs”) to be written about.
The age-old argument: Stats vs. NotStats
The true breaking point of most sports bloggers, this is. Are you a stathead, or are you a… um, whatever the word for the opposite of a stathead is? Does the word ‘saber’ mean something to you other than ‘sword’ or ‘-toothed tiger’? Would you be more likely to reference numbers or the aforementioned extinct felines in your blog? Believe it or not, this has become a topic that will bring people to blows, or as close to blows as you can get over the internet.
I fondly recall the electronic catfight between proponents of cold, hard numbers from The House that Dewey Built and proponents of warm, fuzzy words from Surviving Grady. It still brings a tear of joy to my rheumy eye. It was so majestic that it warranted a mention on the Soxaholix. You can see the entry that started it all, and the subsequent battle royale in the comments, right here, and the response from the Dewey crew over here. Ah yes. Those were the good old days*.
So, the matter is a bit of a contentious one. Unfortunately for us all, I cannot do it justice. You see, while a fan of the ol’ game, I am not well-versed in the numerical aspects of it. I know that a high ERA for a pitcher is bad (DLowe in the regular season) and a low ERA for a pitcher is good (Pedro in seasons past), and I’m relatively certain that ERA stands for Earned Run Average and OPS stands for On base Plus Slugging (thanks, Moneyball!), but I’m even shaky on that. You start throwing things like VORP or DIPS or bizarre decimals at me, and my brain just shuts down and starts gibbering helplessly, much like it did regularly back in freshman year when I inadvisedly took chemistry in the first semester.
But when someone says: “Who knows what scent, what sudden change in the wind, sent Jason Varitek after A-Rod, prompted the Red Sox catcher to put his big body between Rodriguez and Arroyo, his brown mask with "Tek" inscribed in the leather padding bobbing over his face as he drew A-Rod's attention like someone diverting an angry dog, and A-Rod took the bait.”… well, OK, see, I can sink my teeth into that.
I’m learning. I mean, I have a very general ability to understand some very simple stats, which is more than I could say a couple of years ago, but I couldn’t begin to crunch any numbers on my own (more exactly, I couldn’t begin to want to do something like that) and most of it all is still pretty inexplicable to me. I’ve always been much more about literature than mathematics, and I simply have no desire to learn that much in the realm of sabermetrics. It’s always been obvious to me that, when I finally gave in to the desperate pull of geography (Boston) and genetics (obsessive, rotisserie-league maverick brother and father, to say nothing of the extended family) and fell into the deep abyss that is baseball zealotry, it would be from the nonsabermetric point of view.
So there are plenty of sports blogs out there that make use of numbers to prove their points, but I wouldn’t be able to rightly say whether or not they’re any good. Whether or not I can say someone else’s writing is any good, based on the poor product I deposit onto the web from this small corner of the blogosphere is debatable, but we can say for sure that I can’t judge the numbers.
When Replacement Level Yankees uses a wonky-looking chart with bitty print to talk about something called ‘sims with ZiPS projections, I can’t even read it. When the Cub Reporter wants you to consider some closers, I go cross-eyed.
Really, Marinomics could be the best baseball blog on the entire internet and I wouldn’t have a bloody clue. “I started with an age^2 component in there, but I stopped and thought about what it means: because I'm using a change in OPS+ delta, I was implicitly assuming that the OPS+ versus age structure is actually a function of age^3 - which makes very little sense, since it would imply that after a certain old age (it turned out to be 41) players start getting better again! Using only a single age term gives a quadratic age structure versus the OPS+ level that most people are comfortable assuming.” Oh, um, yes, of course. Me draw animals all nice with pen, sometimes me drool on self when sleeping in lecture, wanna be friends?
I mean that nicely, though. The blog looks like it’s packed with information that’s not mere regurgitation, and it looks like it’s written (calculated?) by someone with a hefty load of gray matter in the ol’ cranial vault. But I just don’t know. It could be complete and utter bollocks and I’d be happily oblivious.
A recent article over at Cub Reporter on PECOTA projections managed to mobilize their extremely rabid commenting community (213 comments as of right now! 213! I didn’t even know that was possible!). If you want to see some mad crazy on-the-fly number tossing, check out those comments. There are also some fantastic tidbits as the nonsabers lash back in Chicagoan rage, leading to exchanges so magical that they make my heart swell with love for the world:
rt: what does pecota have to say about whether or not im going to beat off today?
cuz i am.
Your production will be down due to regression to the mean.
rt: i am so sick of these fucking pussies and their fucking bullshit.
'Moderate' Decline. ooh, moderate, way to go out on a limb homo-pants.
todd walker- 'not much of an athlete' thats cute, this sissy probably spent all night figuring out how many times frank thomas walks against left handed reliefpitchers picked in the first round out of highschool after averaging 8 or mor k's per 9inn against the league average of walks, but todd walker isnt much of an athlete
anyway, these guys are getting out of hand, someone should round these guys up, and rob neyer, and put em in camps. not death camps, but still pretty bad camps.
Domer:Thanks for the insight rt.
How do you really feel about the study of baseball?
I mean, really people, ‘but still pretty bad camps’? If that isn’t the best anti-saber argument you ever heard, get out of here, because you are lying.
So anyways, big ups to the stat-bloggers of the baseball blogosphere. Some of you, undoubtedly, are doing good work. But I’m afraid I can’t tell you if Red Sox statblogs are better or even more numerous than the statblogs of any other team fanbase, and it can’t and won’t be my place to comment on it. Erm. More than I just did.
I would like to just take a moment (or a couple of paragraphs) here to say that I take umbrage with the viewpoint that nonstat people are some sort of luddite, anti-science internet hicks. Just because someone does not approach the game from a mathematical point of view does not mean that their opinions are worthless, or that they are somehow less of a fan than a dedicated stathead, or that they hate Science. As anyone who has spent more than an hour with me can relate, I am all about the Science. It just happens to be biology and zoology, not chemistry or physics. There are people out there who honestly think that someone who goes to a game with a stat sheet as a little kid (as you know some of you did) will grow up to be a better fan than someone who goes to a game with a sketchbook as a little kid (PNC Park in Pittsburgh is great for the this, the skyline is amazing and makes for some cool sketches).
I know this isn’t an opinion shared by everyone who knows and enjoys statistics, but it would be silly to pretend that it doesn’t exist, just like it would be silly to pretend that there aren’t people out there who think all statheads are cold-hearted, steely-eyed, calculator-wielding geeks who have no love for the game itself. These are both dumb viewpoints and the people who subscribe to them need a good, healthy beating about the head with an oversized three-button mouse.
Anyways, on to things I actually can talk about, such as
Yes, insane as it may seem, there are ‘gangs’ out there in the sporting blog world, and while I’m usually a little wary of any such affiliates (what can I say, I’m a fan of the old-fashioned independents), some of them are pretty good.
The All-Baseball crew is usually a good bet for some nice writing, although they’re really more about consistent quality than mind-blowingly funny or engrossing posts. The Bronx Banter guy is eminently readable and seems to know his stuff, although when he says that anyone “could learn a thing or three from the way [Alex] Rodriguez handles himself as a New York star,” I just have to shake my head. That’s not a fault of his writing though, just a point on which we’re going to have to agree to disagree, as it were.
Cub Reporter is also good, and seems to have a rabid commenting community (we’re talking raccoons-foaming-at-the-mouth rabid), which would be about right—take a look back at the first installment to see how we determined, using the time-tested fields of ‘mathematics’ and ‘making things up’, that Chicago was the most fervent sports blogging city when it came to sheer numbers. The other team-centric bloggers on All-Baseball are Dodger Thoughts (great observations, keeps me interested even though, um, the Dodgers? They play baseball west of the Mississippi? Really?) and Baysball (Oakland A’s—ah yes, I knew there was at least one team out there I liked).
They used to have a Mariners correspondent, but he jumped ship for the primo Mariners blog on the web, USS Mariner (more on that later). There are other bloggers on the crew, but I tend to like the team-centric ones better—it’s easier for them to keep a focused blog and to insert the personal comments and small bits of humor that make a blog, well, readable. Well, of course you should be reading Will Caroll, and the transaction guy is relatively useful if you like to keep up on that sort of stuff and resent being forced to watch ESPN.
They’re all good, but if you ask me most of the well-known independent bloggers seem to have, for whatever reason, a slight edge in the level of writing and ability to hold the readers’ interest, although not necessarily in baseball insight or knowledge. I might just be reacting to the fact that they are all in a group, and are more an aggregate being than a bunch of individuals linking to each other. I’m not sure how to explain it any more clearly than that.
They seem to have made a particular effort to get good bloggers on their staff, a sort of ‘you must be one of the few and the proud to get in here’ attitude. This is reinforced by the fact that they only have a few teams covered—Chicago, New York, Oakland, LA, and formerly Seattle. Check back in the first Installment, and you see that Chicago, NY and Seattle are all in the top 5 sports blogging cities, while LA and Oakland (lumped in with the SanFran numbers) are in the top 3 overall blogging cities. So it makes sense that theses are the team represented by the All-Baseball gang.
There’s an anamoly here, though. Something missing that should, by force of numbers and logic, be present. The number 3 baseball blogging city, the number 6 overall blogging city. Yup. Boston.
I dunno, guys. Your guess is as good as mine.
The other big gang running around on the Ethernet waves is the Most Valuable Network crew. They cover every major league baseball team and some teams for other sports. As with the All-Baseball guys, some of them are pretty good, but I also can’t help but get the sense that something’s missing… some level of writing sophistication or unique humor that’s more likely to be found on an independent blog (on the other hand, since they’re all together in a group there seems to be a little more accountability, and no one is keen to be the lame-duck blog that updates with things like ‘OMG Sammy Sosa is teh suxx0rs! ha ha ha Orioles got pwned!’).
The fledgling Nationals blog, Oleanders and Morning Glories (is this a DC thing? Am I just being thick and not getting something obvious about this title?) is pretty good, despite the fact that it hasn’t had much, you know, actual baseball to write about. Unless you count the Expos, which, eh. Still, one of the writers, at least, (Allard) seems to have some skill behind him. It’ll be interesting to see how it progresses once the season starts and, presumably, the team gets some fans.
The Red Sox writer for MVN is the Fire Brand of the American League. I think he runs the MVN gang. Anyways, I was going to make a snide comment about his logo, but then I remembered that I was saving the webdesign stuff for another entry. Suffice it to say that the stuff on there is worthwhile information-wise (the recent entry on Bladergroen was particularly interesting to me, although I do want to sever the hands of whoever made that pathetically manipulated ‘Blade’ parody poster—oh my god people, is it so hard to smooth the edges? Is it?), but the writing itself seems kind of inconsistent. Some entries have me nodding in agreement and enjoyment, some of them have me wincing at awkwardly constructed sentences.
*scans own entry for awkwardly constructed sentences*
Uh, right then. Moving on.
Their Cubs writers, Behind the Ivy are pretty good and seem to have a sense of humor, which I assume you’d need as a Cubs fan. I’m disappointed by their Tigers writers, as they’re pretty cut-and-dry. The Reds blog is pretty good and actually quite well-written. He gets some snark in there, which gets bonus points from me.
Most of why I enjoy MVN is, again, due to the aggregate nature of it more than the individual blogs. Unlike All-Baseball, MVN covers every major league team (and then some, if you want to check out the few basketball or football sites), so if you have nice chunk of time you can cruise around what is essentially one site and get all the news and quite a few opinions. It’s a great concept and is eminently useful, but it’s nothing I go to when I want an injection of inspirationally excellent writing. Still, it’s run by a Sox fan, so at least we know their heart is in the right place.
One of the newest gangs on the block, one that I’m actually looking forward to seeing expand, is the SportsBlogs family. I first ran across them with Athletics Nation, then noticed that a Giants blog called McCovey Chronicles was using the same distinctive format, then stumbled across the Red Reporter when I was trying to trace those Korean baseball cartoons back to their origin (so far as I can tell, Red Reporter was the first one to link to them, and god knows how he found them).
Eventually a few other SportsBlogs sites popped up, and as of right now they’ve got Bleed Cubbie Blue, a Mariners site called Lookout Landing, DRays Bay, a minor league site by John Sickels, and a Red Sox site called Over the Monster. The Cubs site has links to two more, a Mets site called Amazin’ Avenue and a Padres site called Gaslamp Ball, but as of right now neither is active. Presumably they will be soon.
As I said, I’m looking forward to seeing how this gang grows. The ones in place right now, especially the ones that have been around the longest (AN, McCovey, and Red Reporter) are very good blogs—informative, interesting, well written. The format that they’re all using is weird, as commenters can post ‘diaries’ on the side, almost like they’re blogging along with the actual blogger. I haven’t done so yet, but it seems to be an idea with potential, and their readers seem to be taking advantage of it. I’m a little pissed off that you have to register to comment on the entries, or, at least, that you have to register separately for each site. If they’re all in the same group they ought to have something set up where you can register at one and comment under the same login at all the others.
Since this group is still growing, I’m not sure how many teams they’re ultimately going to cover—a select few a la All-Baseball, the whole league a la MVN, or something in between? The ones that are up so far are sites that I enjoy reading, and although the Red Sox one is pretty new I expect good things from him, as he used to be Red Sox Haven (that’s now being updated by someone else). Keep your eyes on these SportsBlogs things, people. They’re coming up in the world.
USS Mariner isn’t a group affiliate in the sense that the other three previous mentioned are, but it is a very largescale blog with 5 writers, some of whom used to have their own pretty darn successful individual blogs (and they all use their real names, so you know they’re hardcore). I’m just throwing them out there, because they’re not exactly an individual blog so I can’t really cover them in that section, and they’re someone you probably should be reading even if you’re not necessarily a Mariners fan. They really are the Mariners blog, they’re very widely read, and they’re almost a baseball blogging institution by this point.
Another one I’m throwing out there, despite the fact that it’s not really a group affiliate, is the Cubs Blog Army. These sites are not officially affiliated with one another. This is, rather, a portal for a large number of sites in the very large Cubs blogosphere. What a frikking good idea. Why can’t we have one of these for Red Sox Nation? Once again, I’m starting to think that the whole hypothesis of this RantBlog is going to be proved wrong—Chicago’s kicking our ass. We’ll see, though, there are still plenty of topics left to cover.
I think I’m going to end this here, mostly because my battery is about to die and there are no plugs anywhere in this bloody airport, but also because I don’t think any reasonably sane human being (look, I assume my readership is reasonably sane!) could read much more than this. Look for the third Installment whenever the hell I get time to finish it.
*If you want to call ‘a few weeks ago’ the good old days, anyhow.
Wednesday, February 23, 2005
Barry Bonds in 1994. Barry Bonds in 2004.
Ivan Rodriguez in 1994. Ivan Rodriguez in 2004.
I'm not a reporter. I'm not a big, fancy, credentialed blogger. I don't have access to the players, or a friend who works in the clubhouse, or a professor who has a trainer who knows a ballplayer. These are what I have access to.
Barry Bonds in 1994 looks markedly different from Barry Bonds in 2004. Pudge Rodriguez in 1994 does not look markedly different from Pudge Rodriguez in 2004.
I'm just, you know, sayin'. OK?
Oh, and Boston fans? Sorry there's been a dearth of Red Sox stuff around here lately, but what can I say?
A-Rod: I am teh bestest ballplayer evar! I work out sooo early and often, I make every1 else look like n00bs who just wanna lie in and play with their kiddies. Seriously, I am uber1337! Also, I am the sole reason the Yankees lost. Sorry guys!
Trot Nixon *throws down camo Red Sox hat challengingly*: You mockin' my parentin' skills, bitch? You wanna go?! You wanna go?!!
Curt Schilling: A-Rod, he's just, you know, said some things, done some things, I don't like what I've seen. Oh wait, you've got a camera? Would you like my opinion on several other matters as well? I'm not in a hurry.
David Wells *staggering about*: I ain' never liked it here, but I, I ashked 'em t'go back, an' they said, they said they wanted *hic* kidsh! Young'uns! An' then they, then, then they sign Mr. I-sho-thin, Mr. 'Splodey Bird Man Johnson, an' he'sh, he'sh old. Fuckin' Cash, noone *hic* liesh to tha Boomah! Imma gonna kick 'is ass thish *hic* year.
Matt Mantei *nervously*: Uh, A-Rod? I'm new here, man, I dunno. I just really hope I'm, you know, healthy this season, and
Curt Schilling *leaping in front of the camera*: Oh yes, and Randy and I, we have no issues between us. Got that down? It's very important.
Boston media: But, uh, Curt, we never asked about Randy, we were talking about your bullpen this year...
Curt Schilling; Oh, ha ha, I know, we're not as good friends as we used to be! But there is no bad blood whatsoever. Do you guys have that? I can repeat it again for the people in the back, if you want.
Dan Shaughnessy: OK, Curt always hated Randy, headline tomorrow! Thanks Curt!
Randy Johnson: Why, I never did a doggone thing to them! Gosh, I've no idea why those fine chaps would ever take a dislike to me! I mean it! I have no idea what a rivalry is, to be honest.
A-Rod: Hi, yes, still in the news! I'd totally hit that l4m3r again, it was so fuckin' cool, that move, I am teh karate mastur! Yeah, u, Brandon! I went karate on ur ass! PWNED!
Bronson Arroyo: It's Bronson, and I know you're just jealous of my hair, so don't even try it, Slappy McBluelips. *tosses flowing locks over shoulder*
Curt Schilling: Bush league! A-Rod is totally bush league! And I don't mean George Bush, because he's a good man! I mean crappy, cheater bush league! He'll never be half the man that Derek Jeter is!
George Steinbrenner: Back off, Curtsy boy. It's my job to nurture the brewing Jeter/A-Rod drama.
Derek Jeter: Woah dude, keep me outta this. I don't want no trouble.
Jorge Posada: No kiddin'. A-Rod? Who's A-Rod? I'm just glad that crazy-haired Dominican won't be calling me Dumbo anymore. Oh wait, we play the Mets, don't we? Shit.
New York fans: Gawd, look at them, they're acting like they haven't been there before. Totally classless. Ugh. We're going to have to put on our Dolce and Gabanna sunglasses, snatch up our Burberry scarves, and drink a labor-free latte to get the taste of those low-class buffoons out of our mouths.
Terry Francona: Uh, New York? I got news for you, we haven't been here before.
Johnny Damon: I'm here! What'd I miss? A-Rod wakes up early to go work out? Wait, people go to sleep before 6 am? You're kidding, right?
A-Rod: U all ain't got nuthin' on me! All this is just gonna make me wanna pwn ur asses worse this season! U're all just giving me motivation! YANKEES IN '05, RED SUX 4EVA!!!!11! Also, losing? All me! Totally! All my fault!
Kevin Brown: Hey, wait, I fucked our season up pretty badly too! You can't take all the credit!
Gary Sheffield: Don't forget my untimely comments and choking performance! Those can't be underrated!
David Wells: Ha ha, all your papersh are all about tha *hic* Boomah! It's New York thas got Boshton in itsh head, not *hic* Boshton that has, that has, has New York in itsh head! CLEMENT! Get me a *hic* fuckin' hooker.
Matt Clement *scrambling frantically*: Oh my gosh, right away, David! Sure thing! Please don't hurt me.
Kevin Millar: Cowboy up, dudes and dudettes! Da Millah is in da hizzouse! Are we ready for some par-tay-ing it up, Fort Myers stylez?!
Joe Torre: Thank god I don't have to deal with those kinds of deadbeats on the Yankees.
Jason Giambi: Reportin' for camp, sir! I brought the extra-large batting helmet so I can get going right away!
Uh. Yeah. And I won't be talking about Ring Gate either.
Monday, February 21, 2005
In the grand tradition of making sure everyone out there realizes this is not the place to go for intelligent, revolutionary sports blogging, I will today waste a post by subjecting you all to a small but informative rant on something that pisses me off to no end: people who misspell the names of players or coaches on the teams they root for.
I mean, OK, I can understand if you don't really know much about football and you write something about former Miami Dolphins coach Dave Wannstat. But if you're a Dolphins fan you had damn well better write it Wannstedt, and you had damn well better do it all of the time (with the obvious exceptions for typing mishaps that happen when you're blogging-- look kids, no editor!).
I will be the first to admit that I make spelling mistakes as often as the next blogger. But I do make a concerted effort to know how to spell the names of my own guys, up to and including writing Mientkiewicz over and over until I could do it with my eyes closed back when he was on the team, and since I am (nominally) a sports blogger, if I'm not too sure about a guy's name I look it up. I'm still not perfect, no one is (not even the writers employed by 'reputable' sports writing sources, i.e. ESPN). But what the fuck, I’m going to have a rant on these anyhow, because I see them all the bloody time and at this point they’re driving me right out of my gourd.
First, common misspellings of guys on my particular teams. The part of the name in all caps is the part I most often see butchered.
TEDY Bruschi. There is only one D. I can understand this if you’re not a Pats fan, sort of, but by god, if you’re a Pats fan and you’re consistently spelling his name with two Ds, what is wrong with you? I want to hurt you. A lot.
ROSEVELT Colvin. One O. One O. One O.
Bill BELICHICK. Not Belichik, not Belicheck, not Bellychick, unless you’re making some kind of twisted joke there. I’ve seen this poor guys name get absolutely mangled in blogs of, again, Patriots fans. If you idolize the guy you should know how to fucking spell his name correctly.
Steve MARIUCCI. God, if you don’t know how to spell it, just call him Mooch, OK?
DOMINIC RAIOLA. One C, no K. Only one M and N each. RAI, not Ray or Rae or just plain old Ra. What did this guy ever do to make you destroy his name so brutally?
STOCKAR McDougle. Surprise! It’s spelled with an A, you asshats.
Olindo MARE. I know it's pronounced Mar-ay, but it is not spelled that way. What do you people think this is, Hooked on Phonics?
Junior SEAU. Another one that I often see phonetically spelled. Under no circumstances is 'Sayow' appropriate here, or anywhere, really.
David WELLS. Yes, I’ve seen it spelled Welles, numerous times, by several different bloggers. His name is Wells, for cats’ sake! How is that hard? How is that hard?
Matt CLEMENT. There is no E on the end. Dear holy lord, there is no E on the end.
JOHNNY Damon. His name is not Jonathan, don’t try to spell it like it is.
Doug MIENTKIEWICZ. Ha ha, kidding, kidding. I know most of you don’t even try with him, and the plethora of nicknames make it kind of a moot point anyways.
Jason VARITEK. I can't believe I forgot this one, I see it all the time and it drives me batshit insane (thanks Commentor Cathryn for the heads up. I'll even forgive the fact that she uses livejournal). People. It is not spelled Veritek. Verily he is a good catcher, but verily his name is spelled with a frigging A. VARItek, like his manly charms are many and VARIED. So many bloggers screw this one up. Aaargh. I'm going to go break something.
UGUETH Urbina. I can probably just leave the misspellings to your imagination here, right? People seem to have trouble deciding what U goes where, and where they go in relation to the E, and if there's an E involved at all. Google, kids. It's your friend. Use it.
Dave DOMBROWSKI. I don’t even want to go into how many people leave out the W, or inexplicably decide it needs an E on the end.
Common misspellings of guys who are on baseball teams that I don't much care about, but am driven insane over when I see them anyways:
Paul DEPODESTA. De. Pod. Esta. Not DePodedesta or DePodesesta. Urgh.
Al LEITER. I before E except after C and in Al Leiter’s name, alright?
Bobby ABREU. Why do people put an X on the end? Do they subconsciously want to pluralize him? Maybe Phillies fans do. Is this intentional? Can I get a Phillies fan weighing in on this?
Mike PIAZZA. Not Mike Pizza, and there is no T in there, no matter how much you want there to be.
Brian SCHNEIDER. Suffering from the Al Leiter syndrome.
Albert PUJOLS. Oh wait, those were probably on purpose, weren’t they?
Andy PETTITTE. I’ve seen this one just massacred, and by people who seem to be real fans of the guy, up to and including giddy fangirls. It’s like Mississippi, OK? Two Ts, an I, two Ts. Get it right.
WILY Mo Pena. I’ve seen some people use his name like they think ‘Wily’ is some sort of comment on the craftiness of a guy named Mo Pena. Guess what, morons, it’s actually his name. And I’m relatively sure it’s pronounced Willie anyways.
Lou PINIELLA. There are two Is in this name, please include both and put them in their proper locations.
COCO CRISP. No particularly prevalent misspellings, I just wanted to throw that in there.
Bartolo COLON. I think a lot of people misspell this, adding an extra L most often, simply because they don’t want to believe that this is correct. Yes, his name actually is Colon. And as he’s now playing for the team with the goofiest name in major league baseball, you’ve got to feel sorry for the guy.
Mark GRUDZIELANEK. And you call yourself a baseball fan?
I’d get into more football misspellings, but there are so many that I’d probably lose my will to live a third of the way through. I kind of want to stab my own frontal lobe just thinking about it.
And because I feel like this post is a failure without some sort of photo involved, I will introduce you to one Franklyn German, the Fattest Tiger.
Photo via the Detroit News.
He's listed at 270, which makes him a good solid 22 lbs heavier than Boomer's listed weight. Admittedly, he's taller. But cripes, just look at the guy. It's like someone put a Tigers jersey on a barrel, glued some dummy limbs on it, and called it a relief pitcher. Maybe this is actually what's been happening the past couple of years? It would explain so much.
On that note, I'm going to eat lunch. Later, kids.
edit: Aw, bloody heck, go read what Beth wrote. I'm going to go sit in the corner and sniff some art markers, because it no longer matters how brain damaged I am or not-- nothing's gonna approach what this lady is writing. Seriously, I'm the person who likes to play with pens until the little marks on the paper make a picture. Go read the real writer. And if it doesn't flobble your mind, you haven't got a mind to flobble.
Saturday, February 19, 2005
I just wrote up a long, ranting post about all those people who say they used to like rooting for the Red Sox, underdogs extraordinaire, but now they see them as just another iteration of the Yankees, and they hate them. Those people get me up into my Extreme Anger Level, which is reserved for things like Steinbrenner ruining baseball, neo-Nazis, poachers, people who are vehemently anti-homosexuality, and the fact that the US pulled out of the Kyoto Treaty. We're talking serious, eye-bugging, speechless-with-rage levels of anger here. So it was a pretty nice rant.
But I'll post it another day, because screw all that stuff! Screw David Wells and Curt Schilling's tshirt and A-Rod. Screw hockey (U of M beat Notre Dame tonight, pro season might not be done, etc). Screw the glorious shining completion of my fibers final project. Screw the news about Pudge that I'll talk about when I'm goddamn good and ready to.
UGUETH URBINA'S MOTHER HAS BEEN RESCUED!!!
On this occasion, it is indeed appropriate to do the 'throwin' it up to the big man upstairs' gesture.
Not to be, you know, a 13 year old Livejournal fangirl about this, but OMG WHEEEEEEEE! YAYAYAY!!!!11!!
:D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D
Yay! Thank you Venezuelan police force for getting her out safely! Thank you Urbina family for holding firm and not giving in to the kidnappers' demands, which would have made future kidnappings more likely! Thank you Detroit Tigers for being so understanding throughout the entire ordeal! :D
The story is here, if you want, uh, the official word on it. Without the myriad of exclamation points and smiley faces, but you know what, screw you all, UGIE'S MOM IS SAFE, GLEE!!!!!
From the Motown Sports message board:
HankusPankus: Thank goodness. Best news I've heard in quite some time.
Motor City Sonics: This is the best news of the entire offseason. Magglio, Farnsworth and Percival don't even come close to this!
TOM84: channel 7 just showed UU's mom released !!!!! :)
CaliforniaDreaming: A real life victory outdoes any baseball victory any day!!! Yeah!!!
kpking3032: Great, great news, I hope UU takes on an advocacy role once this gets put in his rearview mirror because it's a horrific trend that keeps getting worse in South America
PantheraTigris: I'm seriously sitting at my computer, just grinning at the screen right now. This is GREAT. There is no emoticon sufficient for how happy this makes me.
Aw, seriously guys, I feel like throwing open the dorm window and just cackling like a loon.
*does the happy dance*
*does the happy dance some more*
*turns around and makes sure the shades are actually closed*
*resumes the happy dance*
So, angry rant some other time, discussion of the latest Pudge (meep, can we call him that now?) news some other time, I'm gonna turn the computer off now and go to bed HAPPY.
Thursday, February 17, 2005
Uh huh. It's that time of year. The time of year when thoughts all across the country (and around the globe) turn to greener, diamond-shaped pastures; when old friends of close scrutiny make sure no one's forgotten them over the winter; when close scrutiny makes itself some bemused new friends; when we start realizing we have to come to terms with fat men who wear tank tops and hats that say 'Whiteboy' on them; when hope that something like a change of location can result in a change in personality springs eternal; when Sportscenter starts to be interesting again; when pictures of everyone's favorite Captain in various states of dress (or relative undress) do the rounds of every single sportsblog on the web*.
Yes, with the tantalizing hint of light in the sky at 6:30 pm, and the tantalizing hint of warmth on the air**, with the reporting of pitchers and catchers to sunny spots all over the southern bit of the US, Spring Training '05 has begun.
There are just a couple of things you need to know this early in the season.
1. The Boston Red Sox are DEFENDING WORLD CHAMPIONS.
a) Curt Schilling will smack you down, even on the internet. Also, he doesn't like Jose Canseco's book, so don't bother getting it.
b) You don't want to mess with Wade Miller. He looks like he could kill, kill, KILL right on the spot. And this is him in a good mood.
c) To a team of dubious cranial/facial hair decisions and dubious fashion statements we can now add dubious body art. Some say worst tattoos ever, although personally I think that one that's been doing the internet rounds of the explicitly gay mermen is markedly worse.
d) Jay Payton: Officially cute.
e) Keith Foulke-ites: My internet friends are pioneers of Red Sox obsession. I am so proud of them. Screw the long ball, chicks dig the pin-point slow change-up.
edit: OK, too good to pass up, I was cruising SoSH, and John Henry popped up to say a few things. Guys, John Henry, owner of the Boston Red Sox, says 'LOL'. Life is awesome sometimes.
2. The Detroit Tigers are DEFENDING NOT THE WORST TEAM IN BASEBALL (thanks Arizona and Kansas City!).
a) Bobby Higginson is a creepy fucker. Exhibit the first. Exhibit the second. Yes, that second one is Higgy with a U of M co-ed. At a frat party. She might be younger than I am. Way to go, Higgs, you're the man.***
b) Troy Percival is so happy to be in Detroit that not only did he immediately cancel every other city on his offseason tour after visiting here, he turned up at spring training early, the first guy to show up, actually.
c) Ugueth Urbina, despite the number of bullpen arms picked up, is still on the team for now. The Dynamic Hugging Duo remains temporarily intact.
d) Carlos Pena: Officially cute.
e) All Star Game 2005, Superbowl 2006-- it's all happening here, bee-yotch. Natch, I'll be back in Boston for the summer by the time the All Star Game rolls around. My life is awesome like that.
In somewhat vaguely related news, today I found myself in Borders, digging around for another Neal Stephenson book to read (go read Zodiac, all of you. All of you). I found one, and was wending my way to the check-out counter, when a glint of shiny red type sitting on one of those 'New Paperback' tables caught my eye. It was only the one book. Clearly not a new release, just a book that someone misplaced and left lying there, waiting to snare an innocent like me.
"Pick me uupppppp. Buy meeeee."
"No. I don't want you. I don't need you. I have this huge book in my hand here. I'm in the middle of a lovely Charles Dickens novel right now. I have all the books I need."
"You know you want me. You've wanted to read me for ages now."
"Yes. No. Maybe. Doesn't matter. I don't even care, you're about the A's."
"Oh please, you've been a semi-fan of the A's even before you started this obsessive sports writing crap. You can't hide from me."
"No! *sob* It's true, god, they're American League, they compete against my boys and, against all reason, I kind of like them. I am so ashamed."
"You know you like Billy Beane. He's just like Theo Epstein. And he gave that great interview over at Athletics Nation. I know you were going nuts over that."
"Noooooooo not the Billy Beane/Theo Epstein card! I'll never cave! Never!"
"Oh, please, you were seriously considering buying Aces when it came out in softcover. At least you can make a case for reading me."
Kids, I picked the book up.
Then I saw another book, on a New Paperbacks table next to it. Also the only one of its kind there, obviously misplaced. Obviously someone wants me to just set fire to my bank account.
Game Time, by Roger Angell.
"You call yourself a baseball fan of a literary bent and you haven't read anything more than excerpts by me? God, Beth would be so ashamed."
I bought that one too.
Something like this happens every single time I go into Borders. I should just not be allowed within a 10-foot radius of that store for the rest of the semester. But since I have lecture in the Michigan Theater every Thursday (it's right across the street), the temptation to just go in for a quick look around is too, well, tempting. I am weak.
Oh, and if you're here from the Detroit Tiger Weblog, hi, welcome to the asylum. You won't find stuff here that you find on Billfer's site, by which I mean things like 'intelligent analysis' and 'interviews with ownership' and 'numbers'. I'm dead chuffed to be mentioned in the same breath (typed sentence) as Bat Girl, though. I feel it lends me a gauzy air of validity. I mean, guys, she writes in the third person. Clearly, a whole other level of writing entirely.
I close for the night with wishes of good health and speedy recovery for Tedy Bruschi, who was hospitalized earlier today with a mild stroke. God. Please be OK, Tedy, every single one of us is pulling for you.
Photo via Boston.com.
*Well, the Red Sox ones, anyways.
**Lies, it snowed like a bitch today. Thanks, Michigan.
***The guy in the background is some hockey player, but honestly, who cares? OK, it's Chris Chelios. There. No one cared.
Wednesday, February 16, 2005
Today I was rifling through my wallet looking for some dollar bills with which to purchase a luncheon sandwich. This is not so simple a task as you might expect, since I have a packrat mentality when it comes to small pieces of paper. I have little notebooks everywhere: at least three on my desk, one in the pocket of each coat I own, a couple in my backpack, one in my purse, etc. And I just tend to keep slips of paper of all descriptions.
So there's some cash in my wallet, sure, but there's also a handful of old movie tickets, receipts, at least 5 bookstore gift cards with less than $5 on them, business cards for people I should probably remember but don't, cryptic little lists that say things like 'mars black not ivory, raw umber not burnt,
cream naples yellow', an Unofficial Red Sox Nation Member Card that I made one day in a fit of boredom and Photoshopping*, and other such things.
Anyways, I was in a pretty good mood, because I had on my paint-smeared Sox hat, and I had just read the '2004 World Series Champions' text at the top of the aforementioned card again, and I had been wearing my Superbowl XXXIX Champions Patriots tshirt the day before, had just walked past the art student from Somerville who is a huge Pats fan and always high-fives me whenever we see each other. And then I pulled something out of my wallet. It wasn't shaped like a gift card, it wasn't money, it wasn't the size of the note paper I use. I didn't look at it right away, because I finally found some actual, you know, dollars, and I paid for lunch.
Then I looked at what I had pulled out. It was a ticket. Section 124, row 35, seat 17. Blue burning down to black for a background, with a single silver helmet held aloft by an anonymous gloved hand as the graphic. Game 7. Thursday, November 25, 2004. 12:30 pm.
Detroit Lions vs. Indianapolis Colts.
Yeah. That game.
Thanks, wallet. Way to knock me down a peg.
Anyways. Quick Pro Bowl thoughts, and then baseball.
So, was anyone surprised that the AFC beat the NFC? Seriously, the NFC had been getting its collective ass handed to it every Sunday during the season, why would the Pro Bowl have been any different? It's just not fair, really. Let's see, for your starting wide receivers you could have, um, Marvin Harrison and Chad Johnson or, um, Muhsin Muhammed and Joe Horn. Do you even need to contemplate that matchup? No, you do not.
Both the Superbowl QBs looked just exhausted. The announcers all harped on how tired Brady was, how exhausted he'd been all week, and although they didn't come out and say it, the implication when he threw that interception was that, hey, the guy just won the Superbowl, he's zonked. I don't recall hearing much about how tired McNabb must have been too, even though during the game it was pretty obvious that he was running on the distant molecular memory of fumes. Hmm. Guess that's the advantage you get when you're the winner.
My AFC player of the game? Ugh. It pains me to say this, but Hines Ward. The guy was good, what can you do. NFC player of the game? Michael Vick. Every time I hear about this guy I start to think he's overrated, the media is playing him up, and every single time I actually see him in a game I am reconvinced that he is exactly as advertised. Dude was fast, strong, accurate. Just watching him throw is exciting, since he does it so different from Tom Brady (stationary in the pocket) or even Donovan McNabb (a scrambler, but still throws with his feet planted). When Vick throws he's always on the move, half the time he's got one leg high up in the air as he releases the ball, he absolutely zips the pigskin (at one point he threw one to Torry Holt that was so fast that Holt could only turn his head and watch it go by his hands), and of course there's that rare left arm.
Of course Vick was going to do pretty well, it was his coach on the sideline, but still.
Moments of the game?
Jason Mraz singing the national anthem. This is only awesome if you are a Lions fan (which everyone in the room was), because if you are you immediately know that Jason Mraz is one of Joey Harrington's favorite musicians, and indeed Joey once appeared in concert with him and some guy from Blues Traveler. There was not a single guy I was watching this game with who did not know this fact. We are so sad.
At one point Jason Taylor and Tedy Bruschi collaborated to tackle a guy. I was floored with disbelief. How was it possible that the field did not spontaenously combust from the combined hotness? By the pure and simple laws of physics, this should have happened.
Every shot of Tiki and Ronde Barber, getting to play on the same team for once.
One of the announcers calling Chad Johnson 'Charles Johnson' three times in a row, shortly followed by the same announcer calling Marvin Harrison 'Rodney Harrison'. This prompted one of the guys I was watching the game with to throw his hands up into the air and scream, "I CAST THEE OUT, FOUL SHADE OF TIM MCCARVER! HIE THEE HENCE! GET THEE GONE! BEFOUL OUR TELEVISED SPORTING EVENTS NO MORE!" I am never watching football with an english major again.
Michael Vick's touchdown, which ended with him going down and Ed Reed nearly taking his head off, sending his helmet flying. When he returned to the sideline, Jim Mora pulled him over to some other players and used him as an example of bad helmet protocol.
All these guys sitting in my room fighting over who was manlier and how many of them it would take to make one Shaun Rogers. That's normal. The great bit was that, for part of this, I was talking to my mom on AIM, leading to conversations like this (screennames changed, you know the drill):
mymom (9:12:25 PM): Why does everyone at the grammys look old and used?
thefelineanarchist (9:12:34 PM): *snort*
thefelineanarchist (9:12:38 PM): bad makeup weather, maybe?
mymom (9:13:17 PM): sex, drugs and rock and roll. Too much of the second I think
thefelineanarchist (9:13:33 PM): yeah, them and jason giambi
mymom (9:13:51 PM): did you see Canseco on 60 Minutes?
thefelineanarchist (9:14:11 PM): no!
thefelineanarchist (9:14:14 PM): how was it?
mymom (9:15:07 PM): Very emphatically defending his allegations. Apparently he was up close and personal with eveyone else's butts (injecting right and left)
thefelineanarchist (9:15:33 PM): yeah, i've read that
thefelineanarchist (9:16:00 PM): all 'i was crammed in a bathroom stall, injecting steroids into mark mcgwire's butt', bloggers everywhere going 'thanks, too much info'
mymom (9:19:04 PM): I thought that too. How much butt wagging was going on anyways? Canseco still promotes steroid and growth hormone use. Thinks it's a good idea.
thefelineanarchist (9:33:43 PM): wow, alan rossum
mymom (9:33:51 PM): Now that's just retarded football.
thefelineanarchist (9:33:53 PM): hey, most of that was sideways, but it was pretty cool
mymom (9:34:42 PM): Oh no one was really trying. Face it!!
thefelineanarchist (9:47:38 PM): ok that was unfortunate [Tom Brady had just been intercepted]
thefelineanarchist (9:48:01 PM): ha ha, yeah, it was an eagle
mymom (9:48:05 PM): The beauty of the Pro Bowl. Things happen that do not happen in the real football world.
thefelineanarchist (9:48:05 PM): one game too late indeed
My mom is awesome.
Tom Brady, near the end of the game, standing next to Champ Bailey, chatting. At the same time, they both realized the camera was on them, and smiled. Brady pointed to Bailey and started shouting the word, "Champ! Champ!" while Bailey stood there looking moderately embarassed. Cue joy.
And thus ends the 2004/2005 football season.
The helmets that Wolverine catchers wear are possibly the best baseball helmets in the history of ever. Ever.
I'm actually going to try to get down to at least one Michigan baseball game this summer. It's kind of difficult, because they don't start playing home games until late March, and I'm out of here in late April, but we shall see. It would be fantastic if this could happen. Also, one of our outfielders is a Red Sox fan. He's in the Red Sox Nation group on the facebook and everything.
It's possible that I just sunk to a new low there, but we'll ignore it and move on.
So I guess it's spring, because the Yankees have started spring training, and the New York Post is publishing torrid little missives about them again.
"Captain Derek, back at shortstop, and dear old Tino, a familiar link to a dynastic past, stayed to field grounders." OK, first of all, I will call number 33 Captain, I will call him Varitek, and Jason, and 'Tek, and O Captain My Captain, and The Best Thighs in Baseball, but I am laying down the law right here, right now: I will never call him 'Captain Jason'. Captain Varitek, maybe. I draw the line. Also, dear old Tino, a familiar link to a dynastic past? You know that thing that happens when you throw up a little in your mouth**? Yeah.
"Look at the teams that have won," Jeter said. "They say, (Joe) Girardi was a leader, (Paul) O'Neill was a leader, Tino was a leader, Jorge's a leader, Bernie's a leader, and we won. You want more leaders. Leadership is just going out there and playing the game the right way, playing hard, take into consideration the team before you think about yourself, and you just go out there and do it. You don't have to speak about it. We want 25 leaders." That'll work out real well for you, Jetes, 25 leaders. Best case scenario there is 25 guys all leading towards the same place but refusing to defer to each other at any point because, hey, each and every one is a leader unto himself. That's not good group dynamics, kiddo, surely you've been around long enough to know this.
I do like the last sentence, though.
"Behind him, Derek Jeter was running windsprint after windsprint, chasing the Red Sox."
Hey, thanks to Bronx Banter for the link! Oh, the irony.
Now, you want to read something really delightful, check out Trot Nixon's sound-off on A-Rod. Thanks for that link go out to Kristen (via email).
"But when people ask me about the Yankees, I tell them about (Derek) Jeter and Bernie Williams and (Jorge) Posada. I don't tell them about Rodriguez. ... He can't stand up to Jeter in my book or Bernie Williams or Posada." Dude, that's what I said in the comments section of the last entry, like, mere hours ago. I have had variations on that conversation at least 10 times since the ALCS. Trot Nixon, finger on the pulse of Red Sox Nation. As ever.
"Nixon also criticized Rodriguez for slapping the ball away from Red Sox pitcher Bronson Arroyo along the first-base line during Game 6 of the AL championship series and then complaining when he was called out. 'You're the one that swung the bat and hit that little nubber down there,' he said of Rodriguez." I don't even need to add anything to that, do I?
This, though. This is my favorite. Remember how A-Rod was crowing about how hardcore his offseason workout was like a month ago?
"He didn't say that A-Rod had criticized his workout regimen. But Nixon but did say that Rodriguez boasted about his own regimen. 'Like Rodriguez says,' Nixon said, 'his running stairs at 6 in the morning while I'm sleeping and taking my kids to school. I'm like, well I'm not a deadbeat dad, Alex.' On Nov. 18, Rodriguez's wife gave birth to a daughter. 'He's got a kid now, too, so I guess he'll have his limo driver take her to school,' Nixon said."
Oh Trotter. May you never get too religious to grant us such choice tidbits of commentary. Maybe it's like with Curt, though. The whole 'I am a wicked big Christian athlete, but this does not translate into being charitable to those more downtrodden than me, i.e. losers and Chokers' thing. God bless 'em.
Earlier today Terry Francona was during a phone interview with WEEI while driving around in Florida, which, OK, Tito, get off the phone when you're driving, OK? Especially in Florida, where half the drivers are too old to be competent, half are drug dealers ready to shoot you if you cut them off, and a third half are probably not even licensed. Hey, art student, me no do math good, OK? Anyways, he got rear-ended during the interview. He's perfectly OK, so it was funny for two reasons.
One, the car that rear-ended him apparently had a Yankees decal on it, which Terry said over the phone right before hanging up, "Guys, I gotta go, I just got rear-ended. You're not gonna believe this, but he's got a Yankees decal on his car." Two, right when he got hit, you could hear a thump over the phone and Terry says, no kidding, "Oh jeez!" Seriously. Oh jeez. Either Tito's got an amazing presence of mind and knew better than to swear on live radio, or he honestly is that adorkable***.
Aaaawwww Peter Gammons just said that Derek Lowe showed up to the Red Sox spring training facility and was practicing, until the Sox told him he had to go to wherever the Dodgers were supposed to be. Oh DLowe! *wipes a tear of selective memory and nostalgia from eye*
Hey, the Nationals reported to camp, for the first time as, well, the Nationals. Now, I have a friend at school in Montreal, and she seems to enjoy it, but these guys looked pretty damn happy to find themselves out of there. Take it how you will. For whatever it's worth, the unexpectedly and somewhat shockingly good Nationals blog agrees with me, and I assume he'd know more about it than I would.
Well, crud, I need to wake up in a timely fashion tomorrow morning. We're gonna end with, first, the latest Dugout thing, about Farnsworth coming to the Tigers. I chuckled heartily, I did.
And I'll close with this quote from Scott Van Pelt, a Sportscenter announcer who rose about 500 points in my estimation earlier tonight when he introduced a segment with the following:
"I'll say this slowly, so those who have waited 86 years can soak it in: The World Champion Red Sox report to spring training."
I don't know about you kids, but I think I can go to bed relatively happy.
*Feel free to print out and use for yourself. I printed it on photopaper, trimmed the corners to round them like on a credit card, and stuck a few layers of clear packing tape over it to stiffen it. Actually looks pretty professional and hey, it's better than the official one because a) it's free, b) it has pictures of players on it and c) it says 'member' instead of 'citizen', so you avoid all those uncomfortable Brave New World/communist mental associations.
**AKA 'The McNabb'.
***Word originally used to describe Tom Brady saying things like 'Gee!'. Stolen from someone, probably either one of the other three football chicks. Or possibly Amy.
Monday, February 14, 2005
Nineteen summers. A couple of late summers, one bright October. Nineteen seasons with the same letter on a hat, the same name on the front of a jersey. The same fans cheering for the same guy at the same position on the same field for nineteen seasons of major league baseball.
Nineteen seasons, and Barry Larkin, at the age of 40, after having been selected to his 12th All-Star team last year and with many believing there's still some pop left in his bat, team captain since 1997, will retire a member of the Cincinnati Reds. Which is probably as it should be.
Larkin was born in Cincinnati and spent his entire major league career there. He was the National League's MVP in 1995 and was a dominant shortstop throughout the '90s, leading his team to a World Series sweep in 1990 and the NLCS in 1995. He became the first shortstop ever to hit 30 homeruns and steal 30 bases in one season in 1996.
Although leg injuries this past season limited his once-formidable baserunning skills and had taken a toll on his defense, Larkin still had a respectable bat and several teams showed interest in him early in the offseason, probably assuming that he would be a quality veteran to serve as a stabilizing influence on a team. Larkin, however, did not think this was a tenable option, and didn't string anyone along. He simply could not imagine himself playing anywhere but the Great American Ballpark: "I had some opportunities with other teams to play, but I didn't feel that I could make the commitment as a player with another team...I thought eventually I'd be able to say, yeah, I can do this. But I'm big on loyalty. I couldn't come to grips with making a 100-percent commitment (to another team)."
Larkin will be leaving on a slightly off-key note. He had clashed with the Reds front office several times in the past couple of seasons, and spent this last one mostly benched, initially due to an oblique injury. The fans in Cincy will remember him for the better memories he made with the team, though-- the five straight seasons hitting .300 or over starting in 1989, the three Gold Gloves ('94, '95, '96), those 12 All-Star games, the MVP in '95, the historic '96, the ring he picked up in 1990, the fact that he is the only shortstop in Major League history to have over 2,200 hits, 190 home runs, and 370 steals (thanks for the info, official Cincy Reds coverage).
Now, I personally couldn't give a flying tree frog about the Cincinnati Reds. They're National League, which is something that I am almost entirely unaware of for most of the season, with the exception of the Cubs (our comrades in misery for so long, now left to stew in the pot alone with their city-mates over at US Cellular) and the Mets (the enemy of my enemy is my friend, you know how it is). I can look at their roster and go, "Who? Who? Who? Oh yeah, Ken Griffey Jr, didn't he used to be a big deal? Who? Who?" They're based in Ohio, of all god-forsaken places, and we all know how I feel about that cabbage-scented, buckeye-harboring state. I have no emotional attachment to the Reds or to anyone who plays for them.
Nineteen seasons. On one team. That's an era, that is. How long was Pedro with us? DLowe? Nomah? A pretty damn long time by the standards of baseball today. Jason Varitek, at the end of his contract, will have been with the Red Sox for 12 seasons, and I doubt that, as a catcher, he'll be able to stay on any longer. Derek Jeter is entering his 11th season with the New York Yankees. Will he be around for 19? Possibly, but maybe not. Nineteen is a long, long time. And to have an opportunity to keep playing, to know that you probably still had a couple of good seasons left in you, to know that there were other teams ready and willing to give you a starting job... to turn all that down, because you made your career in one place and couldn't imagine taking your game elsewhere.
Well. That's something. Don't we kind of wish Emmitt Smith had retired in 2002? Wouldn't it have been better to see him retire a Cowboy to the end (regardless of how you feel about the Cowboys, *cough*Mer*cough*), not a throwaway Cardinal for a couple of seasons? We know Jerry Rice still has some gas in his tank, but mightn't it have been better to see him hang up a final jersey of red and gold?
So there's something to be said for Barry Larkin choosing to go out as he is, born in Cincy, playing in Cincy, ending in Cincy. Sort of. It's not like he's dropping out of baseball, he's going to be a part of the Washington Nationals front office now, but since that front office is currently being run by a former Reds GM and with two other former Reds currently acting as special assistants it's still kind of like Larkin is going home.
Ah, see, I say all that crap, and we all know the real reason I care about Barry Larkin retiring is that he played for the good ol' Michigan Wolverines back in the '80s. In 1985, the year I began the more-or-less regular journey that would ultimately lead to the land of Maize and Blue, Larkin was chosen as the American Baseball Coaches Association's player of the year, a Baseball America All-American, and a Sporting News All-American. The Wolverines won the Big 10 Championship when he was with the team in 1984.
Nineteen seasons with the Cincinnati Reds? Whatever, man, the guy was great for the U of M. Now that is something to be proud of.
morning edit: Ha ha, note to self, do not write that late at night when you are that tired, it makes you wax lyrical in a hysterically bad way. Oh man. Anyways, Pro Bowl rundown probably tomorrow, because god forbid I should leave this thing alone for more than a couple days at a time.
Sunday, February 13, 2005
If I could remember where I got this photo, I would tell you.
Today (yesterday, you know) was the Pro Bowl Skills Challenge, which I watched solely because Adam Vinatieri (Patriots) was in the kicking competition and Shaun Rogers (Lions) was in the strongest player competition. The strongest player competition just involved seeing how often the guys could lift a certain amount of weight-- it was very straightfoward and tidy. Big Baby tied for second with 31 reps, so eh.
The kicking competition, however, was awesome. It was just Vinatieri and David Akers of the Eagles, and they were essentially trying to one-up each other with insane kicks. They did crazy lengths, crazy angles, crazy kicking styles (blindfolded, holding the ball like a punter, etc). The whole while they were bantering back and forth like they were the best of friends. Oh, and they wore each others' jerseys, which prompted Akers at one point to say, "Hey, even if I lose, it's Akers winning, so it's a win-win for me."
More quotes from the kicking competition:
Akers, after gazing admiringly for a moment at Vinatieri: "Man you look good in that jersey."
Akers, after making a long punt: "Now that was like 54, 55 yards..."
Vinatieri, talking over him, to the announcer: "That was all of 60. Don't let him tell you less, that was all of 60."
Vinatieri after Akers had attempted to kick the ball blindfolded: "See, I might have an advantage here, because David usually looks where he's kicking. Half the time, I've got my eyes closed anyways." [Vinatieri missed this kick worse than Akers did]
Akers: "Could I have one of your rings?"
Adam Vinatieri and David Akers, I love you guys. Oh, Adam won, by the by, but the best part was just watching them kick and chatter, the end result didn't matter a whit.
Anyways, last night Heather and I went to the gallery opening on North Campus, because GSI Zach was DVJing. It was crazy. DVJing takes more equipment than anything I've ever seen, but the end result was admittedly very cool. I did end up liking the music mixes better than the video mixes, but maybe I'm just afraid of The Future of DJing. There was actually a pretty good crowd, and for once we weren't the only undergrads there, although we were a decided minority. I saw my fibers professor (waved to her across one of the galleries), my old drawing professor (with whom I chatted for a bit), the Dean (studiously avoided eye contact), my current art lecture professor (went so far as to slink around corners to remain out of his line of sight-- ever since the Great Philosophical/Biological Debate of Discussion Group I've found it prudent to avoid him), and a whole slew of GSIs.
Best pieces? Ben Van Dyke's Addiction/Utopia/Uforia thing. Wicked cool. He does this stuff with paper cut up obsessively small and skinny little letters you can barely see. Zach's piece in the Robbins gallery upstairs, the name of which I forget. He had 'defaced' a whole series of those cards they give us telling us about the upcoming guest artist lecturers, and they were utterly hilarious. I wish I could just reprint them here, because seriously, this was funny stuff. Someone I didn't know who had cut up old postcards and lined them up to make massive collages... i.e. she cut up a bunch of postcards with pictures of bridges on them and made one giant bridge, a bunch of mountains to make one giant mountain peak, etc. It was much cooler than it sounds here, honest. And there was some comic book art, again by someone I don't know, Jennifer Zee I think. The main characters were drawn as anthropomorphized ants, all Art Spieglman-style. Awesomeity.
Pro Bowl tomorrow, along with massive work to finish my CFC project (modular units of design! don't ask). And I should probably work on revamping my website, because apparently we're suppposed to do that for our sophomore reviews (which I may or may not actually be having this year). See, kids, I have wicked exciting weekends. Honest.
Friday, February 11, 2005
It's a bit late, and I'm exhausted from 12 DELIGHTFUL HOURS OF CLASSES AND TRANSIT TO AND FROM CLASSES TODAY, yes, thank you art school for providing me with this restful schedule. But I'm that kind of tired that leaves you with eyes wide open, scratchy and twitching slightly, wholly unable to just close and be done with it. Ugh.
I also apparently got first degree frostbite earlier walking back from the Powercenter bus stop to my dorm in the middle of the night without gloves on (thank you nursing student hallmate for the diagnosis, or, more accurately, the accidental glimpse of my hands which lead to an unseemly shriek of 'Oh my god WHAT DID YOU DO I THINK YOU HAVE FROSTBITE BATHROOM RIGHT NOW WE NEED TO GET YOUR HANDS BACK UP TO TEMPERATURE'). They're fine now, just a little stiff and sore in the ol' jointed bits, but all the unnatural colors have gone away so I should be fine by tomorrow.
Since I am awake but unable to sleep, conscious but unable to write anything worthwhile, I'm just going to go through the Tigers roster and make fun of their official MLB headshots. These things are like license photos, nearly everyone looks simply awful in them even if they look fine in real life. They get used on the team websites for the rosters, on the MLB site and for Gameday internet gamecasts, etc. Mocking them heartily is jolly good times for all.
Let us begin with pitching.
OK, who stole his jawline? Because his head appears to melt perfectly into his neck, while the last time I saw him pitch I was reasonably certain he had some form of articulation there. Mayhap I was mistaken?
We just picked him up. I'm assuming it wasn't for his hair.
Everyone's favorite diabetic pitcher. Is it just me, or does this not look like him at all? I'm convinced this is actually a photo of someone else, not JJ at all. Anyways, dear Jason, please get your ERA below 5 this year. Thanks.
My, what a smug fellow. In a good way, though. This is actually a good picture and I applaud Gary Knotts for looking so hot in these usually photogenic-appearance-killing things. Although he also needs to get his ERA under 5.
Oh Wilfredo. That wispy moustache cannot distract from your butterfly-wing ears. I am sorry.
Could be worse, especially considering the wacky faces he makes when throwing the ball. Other than the requisite color washout from the lighting, this isn't a bad shot. He actually started to not suck at the end of last year, so we'll see.
Nate, you are a baseball player, not a football player. So why do you have the football neck?
Gotta love a guy whose initials are UUU (Ugueth Urtain Urbina). Looks like a punk here, but at least he doesn't appear to be hideously deformed. Good luck with your mom, dude.
No that's not all of them. Tough kittens. On to the catchers.
Aaaaaaarrrrrrggggghhhhh! *deep breath* Aaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrggggghhhhhh!! OK. OK. It's not nice to act frightened of the mentally challenged. The disabled are people too, not monsters. Important lessons for us all.
I do love me some Pudge. Not a bad shot, although he's got a toothier smile than this sometimes. Clearly his inherent hotness is so extreme that it can even nullify the MLB headshot grossification factor.
First off, why are we carrying three catchers on our roster? (OK, I know Inge will play elsewhere, but still) And Shelton? Um. With his lobster-red skin here and his extremely widely-set eyes he looks kind of like a red tree frog, or perhaps a newly-born and confused baby bird.
Now for some infielders.
Wow, Guillen, way to look exactly like you've just been hit in the face by a frying pan, all 'SPANG!!' style. Seriously. I love you, dude, but you can almost see the impact area in this photo.
There are worse MLB headshots out there, although he does rather look like if you put him in a sweatshirt and one of those black-on-black Tigers hats with the straight brim and dumped him in a department store he would be one of those people the salespeople follow around worriedly, watching them touch everything to make sure nothing gets stolen.
Aaaawww, dontcha just want to HUG HIM FOREVER? Or is it just me? Carlos Pena, I will hug you forever. Also, he went to Northeastern, which is located in downtown Boston and has part of its campus right near MassArt, so just think, Corey, if you had been there a few years earlier you could have been best friends with him.
"September call-up startled to find himself in the sunlight and no longer ensconced in the basement of his frat house." That could be an MLB headline running with this photo, although MLB would never use the word 'ensconced' in a headline.
I think that facial... construction was drawn on with a Sharpie. There is no way that is actual grown hair. Maybe it was added in Photoshop or something. I mean, hell, it's the same exact color as his hat. That can't be natural.
Bobby, wherefore art thy lips? Ever since I saw the photos of him at the U of M frat party looking ancient and creepy and hanging onto extremely young-looking co-eds I have decided that he was done. Bobby, you are a major league baseball player, you do not need to go to seedy college frat parties to drink bad beer out of plastic cups and attempt to chat up inebriated sorority girls who are young enough to be your daughter maybe.
OK, first off, his nickname is 'Nook', which is pretty awesome by itself, but his real name is 'Exavier Prente Logan', which raises him into the Pantheon of Awesome Athlete Names. Kind of goofily endearing in this shot, which is like a quantum leap of photographic success for MLB.
The funny thing is, he doesn't look half this old in most photos or on TV. Another one where I'm nearly certain this is actually a photo of some random guy the MLB people are trying to pass off as Craig Monroe. You can't fool me, Major League Baseball. I am on to you.
We just picked him up, and I have only this to say: Maggs, your round and shiny face will not help you if you somehow injure yourself in a way not covered by the out-clause. Because then there will be much Woe.
I'm not going to say that he looks stoned in this photo, but I will say that it looks like he's been spending plenty of time eating party-size bags of chips and contemplating the night skies with unusual intensity in this photo. I'll leave that up to your interpretation.
And finally, your DHs.
Why, why why why would they dip Rondell in cooking oil before the photoshoot? Do I even want to know the answer to this?
Goatee locked, loaded, and primed for world domination. Or at least total lower jaw domination.
Ladies and gents, your 2005 Detroit Tigers. I am hopefully now tired enough to actually, you know, sleep. Sorry to subject you to my madness, but I amuse me. Deal with it.