Friday, June 19, 2009

Dear Red Sox Management,

You got your gate in, you got your gate out, you got your fucking team a one-run loss in a barely-official game that would have been just as cheap a result if the Marlins had lost. You even managed to get Mike Lowell, one of the most work-a-day players on the ship, to bitch about this. I know you have stats people up there. What part of 100% chance of rain do you not understand?

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Dumbest Possible Purchases from the Rays Catalogue

(Part 2/5. Much as I'd love to write about how fucking awesome the Red Sox are performing, the 500th sell-out festivities and that moment of child-like joy between Jason Bay and Bobby Orr, and the delusion I'm getting that we're somehow going to be able to fleece a catcher off the Rangers for Brad Penny and a C-prospect, this catalogs are fucking hilarious.)

Look, just because everyone hates the Yankees doesn't make it a good idea for any and every American League team to claim them as a "rivalry." Unless this shirt is not a shirt at all, but rather a 70% lead garment/weapon you can use to beat the octogenarian New York transplants into silence, this is dumb.

("Beat New York." Like, Beat New Yorkers. Get it! Huh? Hey, where'd you go?)

Three interlocking Rays rings. Why three? Cheap engagement ring he promises he'll replace once he gets his next paycheck, marriage ring you accept reluctantly, failed reconciliation gift. Seriously, this ring is sadder than the Hal McCrae years.

Your infant is not a fan of the Rays. She is a fan of breast milk, being burped, and that squeaky funny voice Da-da does, and branding your kid a Rays fan is about as natural as branding it a Republican. And you need to do something about that organic scent coming from your organic fan, too. This is an indoor stadium.

Back side of the frame reads, "And born to move to Vegas/Portland/San Jose in 5 years!"

"Huh. You have a blown-up ticket on your wall."

"Yeah, man, isn't it fuckin' sweet?"

"Yeah. Yeah. To an August game between the Devil Rays and the Indians. Huh. Is this pop art or something?"

"No way, dude, it wasn't just any August game, man."

"Well, the Rays sucked then, so it couldn't have meant that much. Um...were you there? Did they lose by some amazing number of runs? Did you meet your ex-girlfriend on August 7, 1999?"

"Nah, dude, I met Shawnee in the Sonic parking lot after a Jackyl show."


"Wade fucking Boggs, man."


"He played for Tampa Bay?" (Beat.) "Do you have that fifty bucks you owe me?"

At last, the carrying ability of a plate, the spinning sensation of vertigo, and the jarring explosive sensation of having your head ripped apart, all at once! What a deal!

You know, just because you can create a hat almost uglier than the original Rainbow Warrior team lids doesn't mean you should. One nice element: the arrows, which direct you to exactly where on the forehead to punch the head that dares wear this.

Rejected front of hat design: "Tampa Bay Rays: 2nd Place in 2008!"

Rejected back of hat element, in red lettering: "Tampa Bay 1, Philadelphia 4"

Seriously, I'm not belittling the Rays' accomplishment in 2008--they were certainly a frightening, frightening team when they were pummeling the Red Sox for 2.5 out of the 3 middle games of the ALCS--but people who wear League Champions hats wear Wild Card Champions hat, as though there is a championship of 2nd.

The notable feature here, in case you didn't notice, is the Removablity of the logo panel. This way, when you come to your senses, or at least get on another bandwagon when your team misses the playoffs, you can remove the Rays logo, trash it along with the baby Rays crap your kid outgrew, sit your big ass back on your bare recliner, and get on with your life.

In a matter of speaking.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Dumbest Possible Purchases from the Yankees Catalogue

(This is part one of five of a planned American League East series. I'm all but certain this will be the funniest entry already, however.)

With the staying power of "God Bless America" at the Stadium, eight years after 9/11, isn't it simply implicit that if you love the Yankees, you love America, get a rash any time you accidentally drink foreign beer or foreign-owned American beer (fuck off, Budweiser!), waterboard Sully from Roxbury every chance you get, personally fought eight tours in Iraq, three in Iran on your own initiative, and cum a little bit in your pants every time you hear the comely screech of Kate Smith?

No, it's not implicit? Well, fucking buy this, then.

Diagonally? And you signed Bill Mueller and David Ortiz for nothing? Pretty sneaky, Theo!

"I know you woulda made the bigs if you didn't knock up Mom when you were playing with the Tantallon Traders in the East Central Saskatoon League, and I know you can't stand Billy Martin, so hey, happy Father's Day, Pa!"

"Now get loose in the bullpen. Wang's pitching, for Christ's sake."

Brah, if that hat actually looked that tattered when you bought it, and I know it did, I'm going to have to pull out my box cutter and show you what a truly tattered hat/head looks like.

Yeah, those are little Yankee emblems in the pattern of the sash around your girlfriend's waist. And she knows you spent $75 bucks on the sash; you told her twice. She's still breaking up with you.

Sorry Yankees, the Mets already have dibs on the whole fake-Brooklyn-Dodgers thing. May we suggest another defunct team from the menu? Perhaps a side of Philadelphia Athletics?

The item is actually tasteful enough, and it's less than $20 to boot. Mainly, it's the sheer creepiness of this image that's disturbing me. They shouldn't have used the HH-1955 filter.

"And if you don't like the Yankees, kiss my Royal, Irish, unemployed, quickly expanding ass!!"

/belches, opens a second fifth of Vat 69, gives up entirely.

Meh. If I was a styling lady with a bikini body, I would have asked for this model:

I heard it comes with free hGh, too.

The Where's Waldo? of Yankee items. Flowers, patterns, flowers, patterns, and THERE it is! Yeah. Awesome. Why did I buy these?

For the family in the $5,000 seats with the toddler in the $125 Baby LeBrons, a $55 jacket that will last 9 months, so he's warm at the thrilling Yankee victory he won't remember, towards the start of a childhood he will later resent. Happy days.


1) Is this a dark or light crystal?
2) Can you talk with the crystal? Does a hologram shoot out of it? Will the crystal make me kill for it?
3) Does the crystal give me the ability to mesmerize any of Jeter's exes, that legion of 1,290 dissatisfied starlets? (And counting!)
3) When were MVP Crystals first given out to athletes who never won MVPs?
4) How much of the value of this collectible has it lost since I first started asking questions? Did it have any when we started?

Friday, June 12, 2009

Sigh, just 10 to go.

Talking baseball to my girlfriend because, well, someone had to hear out my excitement after the Red Sox completed another sweep with a stirring 4-3 counter-comeback, I explained the importance of the Red Sox winning their first eight against their most likely long-term competitor this year in the AL East like so:

More Likely Outcomes
Games Back
Red Sox win 3/8

Red Sox win 4/8

Red Sox win, gasp, 5 of 8

"And if they lost today, they'd be tied," she replied.

Exactly. So overhyped as the Red Sox/Yankees neverending series has been post-2003, dead even as they've been over those same years, this has been the one season where the Red Sox, thus far, have saved these rocky two and a half months--the awful start, the .500 May, the starters' initial reluctance to be good--by, you know, not losing to the Yankees. At all.

Two World Series removed from a lingering sense that all this team does must end in doom, that still seems pretty fucking weird. So does the feeling of disappointment that we can't play the Highlanders nee Baltimore Orioles I until August. The flipside being that I will be told "Take off that hat!" at a 3-6X rate walking around New York than during a standard successful Sox season. Sweet, sweet music.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

The Long and Grand List of Qualifying Major League Players With An Inferior VORP to David Ortiz

And the list reads....

No, that's it, really. Chris Young of the Arizona Diamondbacks, who was also supposed to be much better than this. And nothing more. The un-qualifying list reads just as badly. David Ortiz is truly the second worst everyday player in the majors on this, our Lord's second day of the third month of the Base Ball season. What, you don't believe me? Click the chart below:

If that awful image doesn't content you, look it up yourself. We aren't looking at Jeff Francour simply out of belief he can turn it around. We're looking at him because he's an upgrade over David Ortiz right now. Our team is 89.4 runs better than a team composed of nothing but AAAA guys, so yes, you could bump that up to 100.6 runs if you just replaced David Ortiz with...

Okay, technically, you'd lose half a run with undead Jason Giambi, but that heartbreak would be replaced with amusement. Call Beane, stat.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Rejected Lineups

Francona came up with a good lineup to bring the offense briefly back to life. Here are a few not that good ones.

The Get It Over With (aka, The Seppuku)

1. Ortiz DH
2. Green SS
3. Varitek C
4. Ellsbury CF
5. Drew RF (for lefty-lefty stacking)
6. Pedroia 2B
7. Youkilis 1B
8. Lowell 3B
9. Bay LF

The Keep it on the DL (Damaged Lineup)

1. Lugo 2B
2. Lowrie 3B
3. Baldelli CF
4. Carter 1B
5. Ortiz DH
6. Kotsay LF
7. Brown C
8. Van Every RF
9. Velazquez SS

The Tito Been Watching Too Many Baseball Movies

1. Hayes, Willie Mays CF
2. Bailey, Bartholmew "Bump" LF
3. Hobbs, Roy DH

4. Serrano, Pedro RF
5. Chambers, Emory "Champ" 3B
6. (Unknown Second Basemen Never Shown in Major Leagues I-III), 2B
7. Bud, Air 1B
8. Pearson, Bruce C
9, Eckstein, David SS (From The David Eckstein Story, a harrowing story of an untalented athlete whose ego, inflated by fans' love of his littleness and his whiteness, led to terrible drunken repercussions after the glory was gone. Coming in 2015. Screenwriter, J. Drimmer.)

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

It's all in the...

Red Sox, last 5 games: 2-3.
Blue Jays, last 5 games: 0-5.
Yankees, last 5 games: 2-3.
Red Sox's position: 1st place, by 1 game.

Struggling is swell when everyone else is. (Unless you like actually opening up your lead, that is.) Another Lester start ruined by one bad inning, another Lester loss. Good timing to suck, guys. Now, can we stop?

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Knuckle Up.

Don't even stop to contemplate where the Red Sox would be without Tim Wakefield. (Okay, fine, here's my thought: 3rd place, but only because I think Clay Buchholz is actually ready.) Just be thankfully he's still around, and when he's been good, has been amazing. As Prospectus points out, this team is freakishly overperforming against its rotation. Three key reasons: generally excellent offense, best bullpen in the majors, and on those days no one is hitting, Tim Wakefield.

Sadly, all the headlines on the Worldwide Leader in Entertainment and sometimes Sports, and various other sites, were about that much younger man looking much older, Zombie David Ortiz. Swinging at bad junk in the dirt, missing Zombie B.J. Ryan's 86 mph fastball, mauling and decapitating Kevin Millar (then discovering to his disappointment no grey matter there, just some kind of Frito dip), the signs of decay and undeadness have not faded. Does Dave Magadan still work for the Red Sox? Are we really going to have to bullshit with Washington as they ask for Buchholz in exchange for Nick Johnson? Is Chuck LaMar the new shadow GM of the Nationals? Self-esteem or not, doesn't keeping Papi in the 3 slot put pressure on him he isn't exactly up for right now?

Sigh. Even after a nice win, I got me some questions. Youk's back, anyway. Keep him away from Ortiz during his feeding hours.

(Thanks to LOLJocks for the Ortiz as Fred Sanford pic.)

Monday, May 18, 2009

the west coast is not our best coast.

The Mariners have won 3 of their last 13 games. 2 against the Red Sox.

The Red Sox had the bases loaded and scored no runs.

They had the third out of the ninth in their (Nick Green's) glove, and threw it 15 feet too high.

They went 2-4 on their (blessedly final) West Coast trip.

Their supposed offensive leader was given the series

As YFSF pointed out, they're 17-16 against teams that don't rhyme with New Pork Thank Ye's.

Without that 12-game winning streak? Forget it.

This team is not intact, its offense is not its actual offense, and this is not our beautiful three-game deficit with just an +18 run differential, but it's a suck spiral all the same.

Daddy gotta win. (Again.)

Thursday, May 14, 2009

(In the time it took me to write this title, Daniel Bard struck you out on three pitches.)

I'd say it's not supposed to be this easy, Daniel, but I know it hasn't been easy. 2007 alone is the sort of season some top prospects never come out of, but you have, and goddamn if you haven't come out better for it.

Papelbon's fastball has that peculiar arm action and wiggle; yours is pure explosion, and the secondary stuff last night wasn't looking bad either.

One day, maybe not that far away, when you're pitching in the 8th, with Ramirez in the 7th, Okajima/Delcarmen in the 6th, and Masterson ready to do whatever, we will have a team that can handle a shutout yet shaky five innings from a Matsuzaka, or, yes, a Clay Bucholz. One strikeout in two innings, one walk, one hit, and a lot of really bewildered looking swings: chops, pops, and just one inherited runner scored.

Taking a 4-0 lead and losing 8-4 couldn't normally be considered a good night. But it clearly wasn't the Red Sox's night. It was yours. And we want more.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Mid-May Review.

Is it too early in the season to contemplate where the major leagues stand? Well, there are two answers to that, and neither is true.

a) Fuck no! It's mid-May, and the Nationals and Orioles (alas, mid-Atlantic), and the Padres and Pirates (in spite of early hot starts; this is why we daren't review in April) all look pretty dead. Oakland seems it was a paper tiger, insomuch as, you know, paper tigers don't have claws, or blood running through their veins.

b) Fuck yes! Especially since the MLB schedule-makers were smoking more salvia than usual this year. (Eastern examples: Toronto will have played every other American League team by the time they finally play the Red Sox [and haven't played the Rays yet, and are just playing the Yankees for the first time now], while Boston is finishing up their West Coast travel...right now.) You can't solidly judge a baseball team when it has yet to run through its own division, let alone the league.

So aside from the teams that are as fucked as the '88 Orioles, and no team is that fucked, there's still time for change. All the same, the Sox are 20% through the 2009 campaign, so the land is starting to get...laid?

By division, along with the chances my predictions will be the least bit right, here are your major leagues.

NL East

Predicted winner: Mets
Current leader: Mets

Thoughts: Something about this Mets team seems real fucking shaky already, but it isn't Johan Santana. The Phillies can't keep up their 8-10 home record. The Marlins will hover around .500. I can't understand the Braves, but no one can misunderstand the Nationals. If Boras keeps Stephen Strasburg from D.C., you can just move the team to Portland now.

NL Central

Predicted winner: Cubs
Current leader: Cards

Four teams either lead or are within 1.5 games of the lead, including the somewhat surprising St. Louisians and the all-pitch, not-much-hit (???) Red Stockings. And Milton Bradley is injured. Which is not surprising. Stay tuned.

NL West

Predicted winner: Diamondbacks
Current leader: Dodgers

Thoughts: Boy, I fucked this one up; some promising young teams come to fruition, others become too overvalued to trade away, and between the Diamondbacks and the Rockies, this division is full of promising 2007 teams in for long 2009 seasons, and a stumbling path downward from there. Only the Manny motherfuck can make this division interesting. Look out for the Giants.

AL West

Predicted winner: Angels
Current leader: Rangers

This. Division. Sucks.

AL Central

Predicted winner: Indians
Current leader: Royals?

Thoughts: And I thought I was being audacious to pick the Royals to finish not-last. Greinke (and to a lesser extent, Meche) could carry this team to the playoffs in a division where no one is bad, but no one is that good. (Note: author still believes the Indians aren't that bad for some reason, although Fausto Carmona's looking like a one-year wonder with a one pitch people have finally learned not to swing at.) When Coco Crisp is happy, I'm happy. (And when Coco Crisp is traded for a reliever with a sub-1 ERA, I'm even happier.)

AL East

Predicted winner: Boston
Current leader: Toronto

Bet you thought this was where I was going to call Toronto a mirage, right? Well, maybe: I don't believe Overbay is going to continue a career year, that Millar is going to keep seeing inside fastballs, that Marco Scutaro is at all capable of doing what he's doing, or that a team with Doc Halladay and four guys that weren't supposed to start this year (including a replacement FOR a replacement) can keep it up.

But you know what? The mirage scheduling goes both ways. They've beaten the schedule they've received thus far: now they have to face real teams. I'm intrigued to see what happens.

I don't get the Rays, but I'm still scared of them.

I don't get how Johnny Damon has become a half-Japanese Brady Anderson, but he seems to be all the Yankees have right now. Even if everything else--Sabathia, Texiera, even Wang--settles itself, they've still got to use their bullpen sometimes, and that bullpen, including Mariano Rivera, sucks. (Right now.)

The Orioles aren't very good, but they aren't good for the right reasons.

The Sox started horribly, tore through everyone for two weeks, and has been pretty good since, and unlike the Jays, they've been doing it in spite of freakishly bad performances, rather than on the weight of good ones. Beckett and Lester will settle themselves, and Matsuzaka will probably be his brilliant and infuritating self soon. Wakefield won't have to carry the weight by then. Ortiz might not have to carry the weight no matter what.

This team is second best in the real major league, and not everything is going right. That's actually a very, very good sign.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

(Another empty speculation on the Manny Ramirez news.)

What we know:

--Xavier Paul is a-coming to the majors. Get excited, L.A.!
--Manny claims this was a personal thing.
--It wasn't a steroid.
--He tested positive for it in Spring Training...and kept using it?
--It was something a Miami doctor gave Manny.
--The NL West sucks. The Diamondbacks I picked to make the World Series haven't shown up this year. This makes the division interesting, but it doesn't make it of any real interest to outsiders.
--Frank McCourt is considering using the $8 million he just got back to buy Oil Can Boyd, Rich Garces, and any other former Red Sox he hasn't signed yet. He ain't happy about it, though.

What don't know, but might be so:

--Some left fielder's doctor is about to be slapped with a lawsuit.
--Manny just being randy and dumb? Possible.
--Manny being masky? Also possible. Them Game of Shadows boys say so, anyway.
--Both possible? Well, it isn't easy to bone when your body ain't making testosterone. And estrogen isn't exactly a mass-marketed alternative to Viagra.
--A lot of shrill, stupid conversations will go on. Red Sox will make universal defensive statements, especially David Ortiz. Colin Cowherd will continue his descent into rings of hell they're actually still building. The Post will come up with a headline that is funny at first, and then progressively less so at each succeeding view. There will be talk, talk, talk.
--If this unwinds in a certain direction, you get the whole package, including a sketchily-written book next spring training. (Unless Jeff Perlman writes it, in which case I'm buying it.)
--And if it goes that way, the whole of Manny's Red Sox years will be tarnished with a thick, gray-green patina of doubt.
--But we don't know where this is going. Which is why I'd rather not be yet another windbag until I have a little more dust to blow around.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

The Orioles are "Hummingbird."

Rays= Paper.

Returning AL Champions, supposed to be good for years to come, not terribly good thus far. Loses to Scissors, and most other teams, but in spite of being but a paper tiger, covers Rock. (And by covering it, defeats it? I've never understood this element of the game. You can still throw a rock through the fucking paper.) 42% of victories versus Boston.

Yankees= Scissors.

Some sharp edges acquired by free agency, mostly dull thus far. Even a rusty pair of scissors can cut through paper. (Yankees took 2 of 3 from Tampa, in Tampa.)

Red Sox= Rock.

Well-rounded team, potentially, from lineup to rotation to bullpen. Turns to Kryptonite around Tampa (losing 5 out of 7 so far...yeah, that's half of their losses), turns Scissors into shards of metal (winning 5 of 5 against New York, including two very similar games Monday and Tuesday night). Vulnerable, but still the best throw.

Oh, and the importance these teams have to each other's record thus far? Proof that we don't know shit until our team goes around the league, and further reason I hate the unbalanced schedule, because we won't be around the league until late July. The thrill of 18 games a year against all rivals is gone. Stop the madness.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Diversions: Little Philipino, Big Fists.

A poor stretch including three of four against the Boston nine's Kryptonite (10 losses so far this season, 6 to Tampa Bay...enough said) seems like a good excuse to not discuss baseball at all.

It'd be a little untruthful to, anyway; the Internet isn't yet setup in the new residence (a move which is the reason why I've been a bit itinerant here; forgiveness, please) so I didn't get to watch any of this weekend's brutality. Which is okay. I preferred the brutality I did see, and it didn't take three hours to finish.

It took 5 minutes, and 59 seconds, plus an unprecedented three national anthems, an awful undercard that I mostly missed (too distracted by the crowd at the other big TV cheering loudly every time the Bulls took an open shot, whether they missed it or not; most of these Polo-shirted punks were also rooting for Hatton, so the Celtics' win would only be the beginning of their shitty evening), and the standard amount of hoopla rendered all the more ridiculous by...well, what briefly followed.

The essence of Punch-Out! and the confounding of many a great pitcher, is telegraphing. If Bald Bull charges, hit him in the gut on the third step and he'll fall. Punch King Hippo in the gut when he reveals his belly band-aid. Pray to Allah you can catch the slight flickers and blinks Mike Tyson gives off. That's how you beat video boxing. Know when the curve is coming, it's not quite the knee-buckler it is in a fastball count.

But outside of the WVBA, telegraphing isn't supposed to be a big boxing matter. Speed, power and skill is, which is why smart money kept floating to Manny Pacquiao, and a 2-1 favorite turned 3-1 favorite. Natural size is, which is why Ricky Hatton, top of the junior welterweight ranks for nearly four years, never beaten at 140 pounds, was given a real shot of taking out a former 106-pounder by some. Both could brawl, so a knockout was expected.

Expected, yes. By this guy, yes. In this round, hell no. But apparently telegraphing can matter in boxing. Watch it again and you'll wonder why tenative ol' Money Mayweather or anyone else never figured out how easy it is; watch it a third time and you'll realize the timing, the openings, aren't quite as broad as you might think. Hatton didn't blink three times, or turn red, or have the jewel on the top of his head wink anyway. But he does cock his fists. He goes back before he goes forward. And as in the first knockdown, when you know the slower fighter is about to throw, and you are fast and powerful and a bad motherfucker, you can actually

1) See the punch coming.
2) Throw a right hook through the hole where his hands would be, obliterating his jaw.
3) Dodge the punch he started to throw before you were even thinking of connecting. And, oh yeah, that punch is being thrown while he falls on his royal English arse.

Ricky Hatton was always a limited fighter, but Pacquiao's accomplishment Saturday night should not be diminished. Paraphrase White Men Can't Jump, it's hard work making a man look so bad. It's harder work dominating any rank. It's ridiculous to dominate four (lineal championships) or six (divisions in which Pac has held belts), even in an era of excessive divisions. All hail the king, and crown his ass, no matter what it weighs in at next time.

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