Of Joy and the Other


At the outset of these playoffs, I proposed that it should be a fine incident if the Chicago Cubs and the Cleveland Indians were to meet one another in the World Series.  This suggestion met with notes of disfavor in some of those to whom it was leveled, amidst complaints secondarily that it would be unexciting or have the appearance of a fix, and primarily as it would create as an inevitability that one franchise’s “curse” should end.  Yes, that is rather what I was getting at, I explained but moved none of the complainers.  As much as sports championships or their lack mean anything, this year’s contest puts a great deal before us.

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Road Gigs and Rivalries

darkrockAs the Divisions of Major League Baseball seem to have stabilized, we may make note of their similarity to the other item in the world that consists of five contentious parts: the popular rock-and-roll band.  Naturally, each team in the division must have its place in the band, the particular alignments to follow.  Variations will be noted parenthetically (for example, the AL West is actually a popular C&W band).


Unhygienic and rambunctious, his voracity is demonic and his mania legend; trusted only with the least of tasks and still given oversight; provides nothing in the planning stages as he cannot write, nor even read, music; awakens each morning amidst bottles, bodies, and unidentifiable effluent; burns the candle at both ends to cover for the fact that he is not very good at his job; despite his youth, he will be the first to grave, as his OD is universally regarded as an inevitability.

Drummers: Rays, Marlins, Indians, Brewers, Athletics

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Papi Trails

Where tradition might suggest one announce one’s retirement close upon the moment of retiring, of late a few figures of the sporting world have let such be known at the outset of their respective ultimate seasons, introducing a sort of lame duck year in which the man can do no wrong.

This most recent season of NBA basketball, now in its playoff portion, saw the Los Angeles Lakers openly punt on a whole year so as to give glowing sendoff to Kobe Bryant, who dutifully turned in the dreadful performance one could expect of one so past due, and who, even pushing issues of legality and morality aside (if you can do that), was still broadly recognize as a teammate of such a stripe as, in baseball terms, to make Jeff Kent look like Stan Musial.  And here were grown men turning misty-eyed recalling nights when Bryant’s Stalinesque mistrust brought his ball-hogging to previously unreached heights, such that his legacy will bring comparison to that of Jordan, who may have been an asshole, but at least he knew when to turn it off.

In baseball — in case you missed it — Derek Jeter retired, producing in his worst full season what was at least not the worst final season on record, and on every step being feted with obsequious ceremony of a style just slightly beyond what one would reserve for the messiah.  Such is the power of marketability.

Not every star receives the same treatment, and one wonders what the measure must be.  Will A-Rod look to the sunset soon?  How might a character of his coloration be garlanded or tomato-pelted by the public, and would he notice?  Doth Chiron himself lead the parade down the avenues of that realm of madness? Continue reading

Stealing First


How have I never seen this card before?

Heard during today’s Reds-Pirates game: “You can’t steal first.”  A few notes on this statement, for context:

– This statement was made by the Pirates’ broadcast team, in reference to Billy Hamilton’s slow start to the season.

– At the time the statement was made, Hamilton was on second, having doubled in his first at-bat of the day.

– The previous night, Hamilton had gone 3-for-4.

– Hamilton had repeatedly reached first base against the Pirates without stealing it, is what I’m saying, and perhaps their broadcast team should have refrained from commenting.

– On the following pitch, Hamilton stole third.

– Joey Votto then proceeded to strike out with a runner on third and only one out, demonstrating that he is not a run producer and lacks the will to win.

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Let’s Take ‘Em One Cliche at a Time (Part 3 and Final, You Guys)

Baseball cliches got you down?

Tired of the same ol’ same ol’?

Wanna get the banality monkey at least on your shoulder?

Well, you’ve come to right place. Good job! I gotta give credit to you guys.

What follows is a list of proposed replacements for the platitudes that have spread across players’ postgame interviews like wildfires full of hotcakes and black pot kettles that are extremely hot to the touch because of the hotcake wildfires burning the low-hanging fruit.

In any event, the proposed replacements are grouped in one category: the Player Division, reserved for those who play big league baseball and thus subscribe to Bromide Illustrated.

A word of caution: There are Matt Moore where these came from.

Player Division

– I’m just happy to be here, and I hope I can help the ballclub.

“I first heard this on Bull Durham, and frankly, I think it still holds up: I really am happy to be here, because if I weren’t, I’d be working the midnight-to-8 a.m. shift at the FedEx warehouse and wearing one of those back braces that make me look like an 18th-century French courtesan in a lung-constricting bodice. Have you ever tried to extricate yourself from one of those things in the moments prior to making midmorning love to a pruny Parisian aristocrat whose breath smells of buttery croissants? Well, I haven’t either, but listen — I really don’t want to imagine said escapade while loading a truck with boxes full of vintage video games that some dude in Peoria bought from some dude in Kalamazoo. And yeah, I really do hope I can help the ballclub, mostly by playing so goddamn well that I never have to fill out a FedEx application, or, come to think of it, a UPS application. Look, if I’m going to wear a bodice, it’s going to be on my terms, not on those of a safety manager who maybe brings me flowers.”
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Let’s Take ‘Em One Cliche at a Time (Part 2)

Baseball cliches got you down?

Tired of the same ol’ same ol’?

Wanna get the banality monkey off your back?

Well, you’ve come to the right place. Good job! I have to take my hat off to you, for sure.

What follows is a list of proposed replacements for the platitudes that have spread across baseball like low-hanging fruit. Seriously. At the end of the day, you could sell them like plenty of fish in the sea where every dog has his day of calling the pot kettle black.

In any event, the proposed replacements are broken into two categories: the Erudite Division, reserved for people who wear cravats and subscribe to Punditry Illustrated; and the Colloquial Division, reserved for those who repair their engines in the yard, spit in heirloom spittoons and dream of sleeping at the Super 8 with Larry the Cable Guy’s wife.

A word of caution: This is like Kid Nichols in Candy Cummings’ store.

Erudite Division

– This game is a slugfest.

“Today’s contest, dare I say, is a veritable carnival of terrestrial gastropod molluscs!”

– We finally got the monkey off our back.

“From our collective posterior region have we at last removed the haplorhine primate!”

– Here’s the payoff pitch.

“Success and failure wait in abeyance, each its appointment contained in this offering.”

– He missed it by a hair.

“But for a follicle’s breadth he is now a conqueror, a hero, a star.”

– He’s pitching a gem.

“A lapidary is he, for precious mineral crystals are issuing from his hand!”

– That was a good piece of hitting.

“That segment of offensive performance did not come from consignment, I assure you.”

– Three up, three down.

“An ascendent trio, a descendant trio — and we are returned, as omega to its alpha.”

– That one’s going, going … gone!

“This particular ball is transitioning from a verb … yet a verb … to an adjective!”

– He can tie it up with one swing of the bat.

“In mathematics does the possibility rest — an even score is in wait of but one effort.”

– In any other ballpark, that’s a home run.

“Alas, were the park another among the world’s stadia, his effort would yield a tally.”

– The winning run is at the plate.

“Victory stands personified in the rectangular box, awaiting the chance to affirm itself.”

– Swing and a miss.

“Alas, futility must first anoint itself in effort before it crowns itself, with thorns, in failure.”
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Let’s Take ‘Em One Cliche at a Time (Part 1)

Baseball cliches got you down?

Tired of the same ol’ same ol’?

Wanna get the banality monkey off your back?

Well, you’ve come to the right place. Good job! You deserve a tip of the cap, for sure.

What follows is a list of proposed replacements for the platitudes that have spread across baseball like hotcakes. Seriously. At the end of the day, you could sell them like wildfire.

In any event, the proposed replacements are divided into two categories: the Erudite Division, reserved for people who wear monocles and subscribe to Highbrow Quarterly; and the Colloquial Division, reserved for those who park their trucks in the yard, shoot at deer-crossing signs and dream of dining at Golden Corral with Larry the Cable Guy.

A word of caution: These are just the tip of the Greenberg, Hank.

Erudite Division

– He’s really throwing some heat.

“His delivery makes manifest a scalar expressed in an energy unit; for example, a joule!”

– It’s a beautiful day for baseball.

“Diurnal splendor has made space, indeed, for a display of the American Pastime.”

– He’s capable of going the distance.

“Pheidippides, might I suggest, is this man’s most powerful and persuasive muse.”

– Baseball is played between the lines.

“Within the parameters of sport-specific geometry is this game duly endeavored.”

– They have to manufacture some runs.

“Irrespective of economic system, they must undertake the mass production of tallies!”

– He just needs to make contact here.

“Presently, a deformation of elastic solids is what is required of this man.”

– He’s getting shelled.

“Malacology is surely his pastime, for he is producing a collection of marine molluscs.”

– He chased a bad pitch.

“‘Tis tantamount, alas, to the time Fellini pursued a script about she-devils from Mars.”

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Wild Speculation: Donald Trump’s Baseball Cabinet

After my totally factual report about Donald Trump yesterday, alert reader Wildcard09 issued a meditation–nay, a provocation!–in our august comment section:

Thank you, Alert Reader Wildcard09.

Thank you, Alert Reader Wildcard09.

Let us now all join together in one great orgy of Wild Speculation! Which baseball figures shall assume which roles in Donald Trump’s presidency?

Secretary of Defense: Joe West. I have no objection to this.
Secretary of Homeland Security: A.J. Pierzyski
Secretary of the Treasury: Jose Canseco. Dude seems thoughtful enough, and has a clear understanding of the value of money.
Attorney General and Solicitor General: Cole Hamels and Brian McCann. It’s about time our government focused on enforcing the unwritten rules.
Secretary of Housing and Urban Development: Daniel Norris. Now, everybody lives in a van down by the river!
Director, Office of Management and Budget: Fred Wilpon
Trade Representative: A.J. Preller
Vice President: The potentially headless ghost of George Steinbrenner. Oops, spoiler?

Commenters, please join me in Wild Speculation!

Rich Man, PoMan: The Thrilling Matchups!

A Portmanteau

And lastly in our examination of the Pastime’s possible portmanteaus – or as we now know them, PoMans – we arrive at the matchups we really want to see. You can call it whatever you want – it’s a free country, with a coupon – but I call the category:

PoMan Matchups We Really Want To See

Jake Odorizzi vs. Rougned Odor

JaOdor v. RoOdor

Marvel … as baseball’s smelliest players meet in a stinker-take-all showdown!

Felix Hernandez vs. Michael Brantley

FelHer v. MiBra

Witness … a cross-dresser named FelHer – get it? fellow, feller, FelHer? – enter a feverish argument with his long-suffering wife regarding ownership of a 34c brassiere!

R.A. Dickey vs. Brock Holt

R.A.Dick v. BroHo

Behold … the contentious interactions of a dick-ish resident assistant and a promiscuous frat boy!

Brett Anderson vs. Yovani Gallardo

BreAn v. YoGa

Watch … as BreAn Stevens, a middle-aged housewife from Queens and a slightly overweight newcomer to Hatha yoga, takes on the downward-facing dog!

Carlos Martinez vs. Neil Walker

CarMart v. NeiWalk

Stand in awe … as the persuasive owner of CarMart attempts to sell a gently pre-owned Camry to a man who disavowed automobiles by becoming a “conscientious pedestrian” and who profoundly misspelled his own personal slogan, “Nay, I’ll walk”!

Rich Man, PoMan: A Useful Examination of the Pastime’s Possible Portmanteaus (NL)

A Portmanteau

The portmanteau – wait, that’s still too long; let’s continue to call it the PoMan, shall we? – has become a familiar if unfortunate part of the baseball vernacular. From AGon to ARod and from CarGo to JamShi – hey, give it time – these jammed-together names have made traditional PoMans such as glitterati, Jazzercise and mockumentary, not to mention nontraditional PoMans such as cronut, Bootylicious and manscaping, seem positively elegant in comparison, much like metrosexual imagineering vis-à-vis kidult jeggings.

As a useful and no doubt entertaining thought experiment, let’s have some experimental thoughts. First, let’s consider some PoMans that are just plain terrible. I call the category:

PoMans That Are Just Plain Terrible

Dan Haren: DaHa

Nolan Arenado: NoAr

Martin Prado: MarPra

Christian Yelich: ChristYel

James Shields: JamShi

Yangervis Solarte: YaSo

Juan Lagares: JuLag

Ben Revere: BeRe

David Peralta: DaPe

Jeremy Hellickson: JeHell

Daniel Murphy: DaMu

Jake Arrieta: JaAr

Lance Lynn: LaLy

Francisco Liriano: FraLir

Rubby De La Rosa: RuDeLaR

Brandon Crawford: BraCra

Freddy Galvis: FreGa

Max Scherzer: MaSche

Shelby Miller: SheMil 

Todd Frazier: ToFra

Next, let’s consider some PoMans that might have alternate meanings. You can call it whatever you want – it’s a free country, unless you’re still in Canada – but I call the category:

PoMans That Might Also Have Alternate Meanings

Zack Greinke: ZaGre. Refers to any exterminator, typically Croatian, whose specialty is the removal of stinging insects and whose business slogan is “Notice there’s no ‘bee’ in Zagreb; let’s keep it that way!”

Johnny Cueto: JoCue. Points to anyone who manufactures pool cues that recite Henny Youngman one-liners, or who runs an even less profitable enterprise that markets barbecued effigies of Jo from The Facts of Life

Michael Wacha: MiWac. Identifies someone who goes clinically insane after failing to entice a large paying audience to his masturbation sessions and, later, his own ultimately aborted Mafia-style execution. 

Julio Teheran: JuTe. Identifies anyone who, after fronting a popular roots rock band called JuTe and the Blowfish, makes a bold move to the Latin country-western genre.
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