Monday, July 20, 2009

An ode to sports radio

Oh no! The sky is falling! The Red Sox can't win! The Yankees can't lose! The Not-Devil Rays just swept the powerhouse Royals! Quick, Theo, make some moves! Before the world ends and we're stuck rooting for whichever team emerges from the NL Central!


Anyway, as we were saying, just because this Red Sox team is on track to win something like 99 games* doesn't mean they're not obviously horrible, flawed, and in need of a massive overhaul. We're here to provide some helpful tips for the front office. That is, if they're brave enough to take it.First of all, while watching the ESPN game tonight, we noticed that the Mets' starting pitcher just went down with a Doug Mirabelli baserunning injury. And they're still starting Alex Cora at shortstop. So, we thought, why not offer them something in a "Brad Penny plus Julio Lugo" package? The Mets don't have much in their farm system--Omar Minaya** said something about a flood. Or was that a drought? Oh, wait, it's a slavish adherence to Bud Selig's inane slotting system!--but, seriously, we don't expect much in exchange for those two. Send us a lower level prospect for Penny, and we'll send Lugo's full salary with him. Sure, it'll mean giving up on our dream of pretending Julio Lugo never actually existed, but we're willing to make that sacrifice.

Of course, that's not nearly enough. That's just housekeeping.

Next up, Theo needs to give the Blue Jays a call and offer the entire farm system for Roy Halladay. Clay Buchholz, Michael Bowden, Dan Bard, Lars Anderson, and Casey Kelly not enough? Offer up Yamaico Navarro and Josh Reddick! Throw in Anthony Rizzo! Sure, the system's going to be pretty barren at the end of the day, but we'll have Roy Halladay. He'll pitch complete games every other day, saving both the bullpen and the rest of the starting rotation. Which'll be helpful because the step three involves calling the Indians to offer up Jon Lester, Justin Masterson, Manny Delcarmen, and the rest of the farm system (crazy Star Wars uniforms and all) for Victor Martinez.

Oh, and get Hanley Ramirez back. Sure, it'll involve trading the rest of the team--minus our shiny new pitcher and C/DH/1B, of course-- with a pile of gold bars big enough to pay Jonathan Papelbon as much crazy money as his little heart desires, but it'll be worth it. Just picture it: a team entirely made up of Roy Halladay, Victor Martinez, and Hanley Ramirez.**** Unbeatable!

Of course, trading the future away for today doesn't work if our division rivals continue to do nothing but win, so Theo's going to have to invest in a bit of sabotage as well. Send someone into New Yankee to set up a giant fan that'll blow in from the infamous right field porch; hell, use Javier Lopez to do it. He can even wear that old gorilla suit Theo's got lying around in his closet as a disguise, and it'll be a way for him to earn his salary for the year. Javy should then fly south to disable all the cowbells in the Tampa Bay area; while he's there, he can also switch out Joe Maddon's glasses for ones with the wrong prescription. He'll spend all his time dealing with headaches and blurred vision instead of being the genius manager everyone tells us he is.

Luckily, the Red Sox don't have to travel to the west coast for the rest of the season, so we don't have to make up those subliminal messages for the team in attempt to convince them that they're on the east coast when they're really not. We're still working on the tapes that'll convince them that they're on natural grass under a beautiful summer sky when they're actually in domes, though.

*Yes, we are too lazy to look up the actual number. But, suffice it to say, it's high 90s. Trust us.

**Look, we know this is a Red Sox blog, but we feel compelled to point out that we could do a better job GMing the Mets than Minaya, armed only with a fondness for catchers and a beat up copy of Moneyball. This is perhaps a sign that Omar Minaya is very bad at his job.

**** And some guys from the Newark Bears. Apparently it's against the rules to field a team of only three players.

Friday, July 10, 2009

We've seen the lights go out on Broadway.

We were going to call Joe Posnanski out for lying to us about his Kansas City Royals and their ability to score runs, but, in all honesty, we're a little scared of him. Dude's bigger than us, tougher than us, meaner than us: he's the Big Red Machine* to our 1962 Mets. So even though he told us this is a team that struggles to score runs--patently a lie, based on our highly scientific one-game study, and possibly intended to lure us into a false sense of security--we are willing to accept that maybe, just maybe, he merely failed to recognize the awesome power of Ryan Freel and leave it at that. Because Joe Posnanski? So much better than us.** He's written a book! He's written more than one book! We've written a blog, and a half-assed one at that! So, no, we will not be calling Joe Posnanski out tonight.

Instead, we're going to call out Dude In The Pedroia T-Shirt With The Schilling Jersey Over It Sitting Two Rows In Front Of Us In Infield Grandstand Section 16, Who Came to Fenway Already Completely Drunk Out Of His Mind And Proceeded To Try To Get Everyone To Do The Wave In The Third Inning (And Was Completely Annoying And Loud In Other Ways, Too). Dude--can we call you Dude, for short?--even your buddy was trying to get you to chill out a little. Look, we appreciate your enthusiasm. After the Red Sox coughed up the lead, you were one of the people leading the "Let's Go Red Sox" and "Let's Go Kotsay" chants in our section. However, screaming "I'm leading this!" at other fans when they tried to start new chants was not cool. Not to mention the fact that you shouted every. single. thing. you. said. and there was a kid a few seats over from us who probably didn' t need to hear all of that.

We're also going to call out the fellow behind us who took the initiative, after just about every pitch of every at-bat, to announce the on-field situation to everyone in the greater Back Bay area. "Oh, man, it's THREE AND TWO!" Buddy, baseball is not a play, and you are not the narrator. And if it was a play, Red Sox baseball would not need you--it would need, instead, a show-stopping musical number with a full ensemble cast.



Oh, fine. It goes something like this:

Tek: One play more,
Another ball, another baserunner,
This never-ending road to October.
If A-Rod fouls off this pitch,
I'm gonna have to choke a bitch--
One play more!

Tito: The bullpen barely got through eight,
How will they pitch with bases loaded?

Tek: One play more!

Tito: The winning run is at the plate,
Someone check if my head's exploded.

Tek: One play more!

Pap: One more strike I got to throw,
[Fenway Faithful: Will he ever throw a fastball?]
Pap: Then I get to do my fistpumps!
[Fenway Faithful: His last slider didn't slide!]
Pap: Can't believe he called that low!
[Fenway Faithful: How the hell was that outside?]
Pap: I am gonna plonk the ump!

Infielders: One more play to win the game,
Drive the enemy from Fenway
Or else hide our heads in shame
Is it ball four or strike three?
[Fenway Faithful: The count is full! The end is near!]

Tek: One play more!

A-Rod: One more pitch to end the ballgame,
I will hit it with my bat,
It will land out in the bleachers--
Do these pants make me look fat?

Tek: One play more!

Orsillo: Bottom of the ninth, Fenway going mad,
Isn't this a good time for an Aflac ad?
Eckersley: That was easy cheese, that was lousy luck
If I was that pitcher, I'd be yelling--[BLEEP.]

Fielders: One more run means extra innings!
[Fenway Faithful: Live to fight another day]
Fielders: We have got to beat this team!
[Fenway Faithful: Did we mention, Jeter's gay?]
Fielders: There's the AL East for winning!
[Fenway Faithful: Do we curse or do we pray?]
Fielders: Do you hear the people scream?

Pap: I got my sign--here comes the ball!

Tek: One play more!

Tito: The bullpen barely got through eight--
Pap: One more strike I got to throw!
Orsillo: Bottom of the ninth, right here this is it--
Eckersley: If I was that pitcher, I'd be shouting--[BLEEP!]

Tek: This game has got to end someday, tomorrow we're at Tampa Bay--

All: This pitch is going to tell us who the playoff berth is for--
One more pitch,
One more play,
One play more!


**That being said, we did not steal the asterisk thing from him. We were into asterisks when they were still underground.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Baby, you're a big star now

So, this All-Star roster, it's amazingly inoffensive, right? Sure, there are a couple eyebrow-raising omissions, as always. Either the fans or Joe Maddon should damn well have made sure Ian Kinsler made the AL squad, and hey, even Charlie Manuel more or less admitted that Ryan Howard is there because he's popular, not because he's more worthy than a certain Kung Fu Panda out West.* But, by and large, it seems like the right people are going to be there in all the right places, with the double-play combination of Jeter and Pedroia once again freaking out a large chunk of the Eastern Seaboard.

The lack of ballot controversy leaves us free to focus all our energy on sighing happily in Tim Wakefield's direction. We have a documented fondness for the knuckleball and its practitioners, and for Wake** in particular, and we were horribly worried at Fenway on Friday night that a Fan Who Shall Remain Nameless had snatched Wake's All-Star chances right out of Youk's glove. We're so thrilled for the man. He's earned his spot--we've seen him start in person a few times this season, and for the vast majority of those innings, he was dealing--and it's also something he clearly values. Honestly, how can anyone sound so humble and endearing while basically saying, "I damn well deserve this recognition"? Wake should bottle that stuff, and send a six-pack to City Hall.

Our favorite part of this, the feel-good sports movie of the summer, is that Terry Francona attempted to psych Wake out by calling him into the office just as the team's other five all-stars (and we congratulate them, too, obviously) left with their packages. First of all, we imagine the look on both their faces was completely adorable. Secondly--

Hang on, packages? Brown paper packages, tied up with strings? Just what gifts does Bud Selig bestow on good little boys who make it to the Midsummer Sorta Kinda Classic? Here are our totally intrepid guesses:

  1. Free samples of the most commonly-advertised products on baseball telecasts. Guys who've been making All Stars for years must simply be swimming in Coors Light and smoothies from Sonic. And we don't even want to think about the Viagra stockpiles.
  2. A clue--one per player--to some sort of epic, Da Vinci Code-style scavenger hunt. Will the players be able to work together and find the hidden shards of Abner Doubleday's magical baseball bat? I guess we'll know if any albino monks show up. Or Tom Hanks.
  3. A flying bird hat. Hey, it's at the Cards' park, so it kind of fits. We just hope the All-Stars are careful about wearing these--they might get hunted by an overexcited Jonathan Papelbon.

Now that we've solved the mystery of the Suspicious Packages, we're settling in to watch the Return Of Nomahhh. We can't understand why there's any debate about how to react to his presence--if you're not applauding the guy for what he did here, you're doing it wrong.

Also, a word of advice that never gets old***: "Don't look directly at him! He's got a HEAHHHT MUHMUHHH!"

*And isn't Kung Fu Panda the best baseball nickname to come along in a long time? It's especially great when you forget about the movie, as history surely will, and just imagine it engraved on a plaque--or, more likely, popping up in searches in a few decades.

**Speaking of nicknames, we're not sure whether or not to be ashamed of this, but we occasionally think of him as "Eggs'n'Bakey."

***And that's the only time we'll ever say that about anything involving Jimmy Fallon.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Easy as one-two-three, as simple as do-re-mi.*

We didn't plan to blog today. Up 10-1 in the 7th last night, we figured, "eh, this one's such a laugher, there won't be anything to say." Sure, we could write something about the time Jonathan Papelbon took it upon himself to teach his teammates to count to three,** going all Count from Sesame Street on their asses, but that one's definitely funnier when we do the voices. It doesn't quite translate to the written word. Up 10-5, we thought, "hmm, well at least it's--wait, fuck, another run! Okay, this isn't funny anymore."

A game as horrifically, transcendentally, amazingly, trainwreckingly bad as last night's game deserves--nay, demands--a detailed response from the blogosphere.*** As representatives of said imaginary land, that means us. We think.

At first, we were willing to write it off. Bad games happen, even to good teams. There are no extra points for style: the fact that we lost this one the way we did doesn't mean it counts for than your average 1-0 or 2-1 loss. But then we realized the truth. The truth is that there is obviously some sort of grand conspiracy going on here. Maybe there's a grassy knoll, maybe there's a Broadway musical; we're not 100% sure on all of the details, but we've definitely got some ideas.

1. It's the return of the Curse of the Bambino! No, really, hear us out: the Babe was born in Baltimore, right? And this game happened where? That's right! Baltimore! At Camden Yards, even, which is allegedly located at the exact same spot he was born lo those many years ago. Ergo, the Curse is back. Sorry, guys, this means Orioles fans are going to be chanting "11-10" at us for years to come.

2. The entire bullpen hates John Smoltz. Now, they'll try to deny it--"He's a surefire Hall of Famer," Masty'll say; "Who doesn't love Smotlz?" Okaji will ask (okay, he'd ask in Japanese, but we're the kind of stereotypical Americans who get by with some English, a couple of catchphrases in Spanish and French, and charm)--but the facts can't be denied. Smoltz pitched well yesterday, but the bullpen was in full-on sabotage mode. Never mind that Smoltz wasn't in line for the win anyway; little details like "facts" and "logic" merely get in the way of a brilliant conspiracy theory. Actually, that isn't even the biggest flaw in this theory, anyway. The biggest problem is the fact that Jonathan Papelbon would have to be in on the plan, and we all know he's got the memory of a non-memory-having thing. Like a goldfish. Or a cactus. A scene, if you'll indulge us:

PAP: He's always going on about his friend, Tiger Woods. 'My friend Tiger woods did this, my friend Tiger Woods did that.' You don't see me always bragging on 'my friend Eli Manning,' do you?
TEK: No, but that'd be dumb.
PAP: Ex--heeey, wait a--
TEK: Eli. I was insulting Eli.
PAP: Okay then. Wait, what were we talking about again?

...and end scene.

3. Picture it: Baltimore, 2009. A solitary figure stands atop a lonely light tower, peering into a long-range telescope. Every so often, he flickers a flashlight. Or one of those red laser pointer things. Back on the field, the Orioles batter reads the sign being transitted from on high and swings. He does not miss.

4. It was the power of The Wieters. He is Baseball Jesus, after all.

5. Perhaps you noticed, as we did, that when play resumed after the rain delay, Tek was no longer wearing the tall socks. It was jarring. It was strange. It was wrong. Of course, Tito pulled him not long after we made that observation, and it quickly slipped our minds. How could we overlook such an important wardrobe issue? Could Tek without tall socks be the hosiery version of Failhat? Let's hope this hypothesis is never again tested!

Luckily, it looks like the intrepid crew we call the Red Sox recognized all of the above signs and portents and took appropriate action late last night. A phone call was placed to one Kevin Millar, and he talked his former teammates and his ex-Marlin friends (and even Julio Lugo) through the appropriate curse-breaking rituals. Sure, Beckett's pitching was possibly affected by the copious amounts of Jack Daniels he was forced to drink--against his will, we're sure--to complete the ritual, but luckily the curse lifted just as the ninth inning rolled around.

So, yes, yesterday hurt. There's no sugarcoating it. But, hey, if the Red Sox win in extra innings and no one's there to see it because we're all stuck in our stupid offices cursing the IT gods in vain, it still kicks ass. And that's a fact.

*We've filled our obligatory Michael Jackson reference quota, so the world blog police can't come after us.

**PAP: All's I know is, you never see me doin' my fist-pumps before the third strike. That's three. Count 'em. Uno, dos, tres, quatorze.

***What a horrible word. We vote that we rename it "Goretopia," for the founder, inventer, and colonial conquerer of these here interwebs.