Thursday, August 31, 2006

Off day reading

When Ryan Freel's ancestors came from Ireland, they, like other immigrants with the dreams of better lives in America, had packed up the whole of their belongings in trunks and suitcases and boarded ships destined for a land where the streets were paved with gold. There wasn't much in these packages other than hope and dreams, but in America, you could find jobs, and no one ever went hungry. They had exotic trees in this America, trees with milk and honey and meat and money, all ready for anyone to pick and eat and enjoy.

Times were rough on the Emerald Isle, rough for everyone, (excluding, of course, the British, who had plenty of food and religion to go around.) L. Farnsworth O'Spunk, too, was down on his luck. The British had decided that they hated rainbows and had banned them, so leprechauns like Farnsworth could not find the way to their gold, driving them to poverty like the regular-sized Irish. Farnsworth, like so many of his fellow countrymen, grew weary of the pain in his barren belly, so he packed up everything he owned and set off for the United States of America.

When Farnsworth disembarked at Ellis Island, even his hopes and dreams could not compete with the massive Manhattan skyscrapers he saw across the water. Yes, he thought, this is Heaven, isn't it? A single tear came to his eye as he stared up at these edifices of steel and concrete, testament to the tenacity and perseverance of man. And the sky was so blue! In Ireland, even blue skies were peppered with a gray pestilence of clouds that constantly reminded him of his wretched situation there. The Romans had called the island "Hibernia," which meant "Land of Eternal Winter." Farnsworth had always thought that appropriate, for it spoke volumes about the oppresive gloom of Irish misery at that time.

America, however, did not turn out to be the Arcadia he had envisoned. Everywhere he went to get a job, he saw signs saying, "Irish Need Not Apply." He had no money and no place to stay, so he slept on park benches until cops would come and shoo him away, Irish cops who had already forgotten what it was like to be an American newbie, whose violent corruption disgusted him and sent him futher into despair.

After months of struggling to survive, Farnsworth had had enough. Stealing a bottle of whiskey from a pub in the East Village, he slowly made his way to the Brooklyn Bridge. As he sat on the edge of the bridge drowning his sorrows and staring at the river below him, he took one last look at the magnificent skyscrapers of Wall Street, cursed the soulless rich cogs who worked there, and took a deep breath.

Suddenly, he was approached by a young lad of about 14, an Irish boy with curly hair and a lust for life in his eye.

"Whatcha doin'?" he asked in all innocence.

"Killin' meself, lad. Leave me to it."

"Why would ya do that?"

"I've got me no reason to live."

"Well, what about your kids?"

"Kids? I don't have kids."

"Don't you want them? Someone to carry on your name?"

"What's the use? They'd just grow up in poverty."

"Nah, that's the great thing about America. You can always make the world better for your kid."

"Astute little bugger," Farnsworth said to himself. But maybe the kid is right? "How do you know so much, kid?"

"My dad told me so. When he came to America, he only had the clothes on his back. But he didn't give up, and now we have a nice little apartment all of our own and enough food for three square meals every day."

"What's your name, kid?"

"William Freel. Hey, if you want, you can stay in my room for awhile. My mom won't mind."

And with that, Farnsworth and William became best friends. They were each other's best man at their weddings, and they grew old together. They even died within days of each other.

Now, Farnsworth looks down at his family from Heaven with the widest of grins, for his great great great grandson, Farney, has achieved the ultimate American dream: He has become a big league baseball player. And the best part of it all? Farney gets to play along side William's great great great grandson, Ryan.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Snakes in the dugout (and my inbox)

The loathsome losing streak, the foul fall from baseball grace, and the wanton West Coast late nights have me down this evening. Listening to The Cure isn't helping, either. Well, heck, I admit it, I'm just flat out depressed. I sat down in my great grandfather's old rocking chair, laptop on my bed in front of my face, with the goal of writing a Mahfouzish baseball something in memory of Naguib Mahfouz, who passed away today, but my creative powers have been doused by kryptonite showers or something, and besides, I'm not sure how many have read the Arab World's most celebrated and brilliant writer. Somehow, I didn't think people would get Adam Dunn as a café waiter in a poor part of town like Over-the-Rhine listening to some warped religious sermon from say, Jerry Moron. Although I could see Moron as one of those snakehandler preachers. HA! The image of him twirling a rattlesnake through the air while singing "Praise Jesus!" in that drawl of his wakes me up a bit, and I am discovering something resembling a smile on my face where a frown had just been.

Alas, there will be no rattlesnakes in a café story, as my mood refuses to put me to the task. I had toyed with the notion of doing something else this evening, something - gasp! - non-baseball related, but it's been so long I can't remember what people do in real life, and besides, I want need to see a win. Je suis très fatiguée, though I retired a bit earlier than a lot of folks last night, and I might not make it past midnight. Still, I can't keep away, as my veins are crying out for their fix. Kids, Just Say No to drugs - addictions are pestilential (word of the day). We've had a bad (help me here - what's the term for bad drugs?), but we can, well, um, the West Coast could be our Waterloo. Aww, heck, I'm mixing metaphors all over the place tonight. Geez.

Ok, serious issue here. Have I offended anyone recently? I mean, is there someone out there who loves Jerry Moron or Rolls Roycemack Hands of McClayton so much that he/she has taken the liberty of sending me nasty email messages? Please stop. I like to think I am a nice person, and what I write is all in good fun, so I don't understand why such malice is being directed towards me. Maybe it's Royce himself using different aliases. Stop it, Royce! It's not funny! I'll stop mocking you when you start hitting! And no, one hit per week does not count as hitting!

That is all.

Panic! at the Ballpark

I'm so disgusted by Ryan "I'm on the Phillies payroll" McRanklin that I refuse to talk to him any more. Uh uh, no way, McRanklin is on my very black list, darker than night, darker than a black hole, darker than Darth Vader at night in a black hole. I will not say another word to him through my weeping computer screen. No "Come on, McRanklin!" No "Let's get a DP here!" No "Strike this guy out!" Though I don't think those words ever came from my mouth, anyway. Nothing but groans from these lips, I tell you.

I missed it, the McRanklin rank performance, that is. I missed it because after Rheal "I'm on the Phillies payroll, too" Cormier blew the lead, I was so disgusted I left the corner bar and went to bed when the game tripped into extra innnings. This morning, the feeling of disgust has not left me, so I've composed a little song to help me get through the day.

I write truths not parodies:

Oh, well imagine
As I'm pacing my room while I'm watching the game
And I can't help but to see
No, I can't help but to see a very bad inning

"What a beautiful inning
What a beautiful inning," says a Dodger to another
"And, yes, but what a shame
What a shame the poor pitcher really sux."

I chime in with a
"Haven't you pitchers ever heard of closing the goddamn door?"
No, it's much better to face the opposing team with a pitcher who can really pitch.
I chime in
"Haven't you pitchers ever heard of closing the goddamn door?"
No, it's much better to be in a pennant race with a pitcher who can...

Oh, well in fact
Well I'll look at it this way
I mean, technically, we're not in the lead
But we're still in the race
We're in two races.

But, well in fact
We won't be in it much longer
I mean, technically, it's a half game out
But with pitching like this
We won't need the champagne.

I chime in with a
"Haven't you pitchers ever heard of closing the goddamn door?"
No, it's much better to face the opposing team with a pitcher who can really pitch.
I chime in
"Haven't you pitchers ever heard of closing the goddamn door?"
No, it's much better to be in a pennant race with a pitcher who can get an out.

No apologies to Panic! at the Disco. I realized how stupid the lyrics are to I Write Sins Not Tragedies when I was writing this post. I like the staccato strings in that song, though, as I'm a sucker for strings in rock songs.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Elwood P. Dowd is a Nats fan?

...and he goes to a lot of Nats games, maybe as many as I do judging by how often I see him, which is not to say every time, but I don't go to every game, either. He wears one of those replica helmets, you know, the ones you get for winning the speed pitch at county fairs (yeah, I'm from Ohio.) His helmet is still an effulgent red like new, with a pristine curly W sharp as if it had never left the plastic bag (do not let children play with bag), and he carries around a beat up scorebook covered with pencil markings like gray thread holding the book together, holding his memory together, every minute detail, including the weather and the wind direction of every game he's attended. I know this because he told me and I saw it. He told and showed everyone on the train, including Harvey, who was sitting next to him, God, who was in the window, and the alien, who was floating near the ceiling.

At least, that's how he seemed to me. I've seen him several times on the train on the way to RFK since then, but that first time, I had pompously assumed he was just another crazy crackhead talking to the Great Wall Spirit, a staple of DC's concrete landscape. The guy did, after all, tell the air he had attended sixty games this season when the Nats had only played forty, so you can understand my initial judgment, right?

A trio of high school kids sat behind me that first time when he began talking about the sixty games and the wind direction. The kids were having a good time mocking him, and caustic smiles abounded on that train, including my own. But then it just stopped being funny to me. See, the guy isn't a crackhead at all. After watching him in action on that 15 minute train ride, I learned the guy's a little mentally slow. And the guy is in love with baseball.

If I don't catch him on the train, I see him at the ballpark. Each time, the train ride is the same, those same rancorous smirks plastered upon the faces of game goers when he starts talking about his sixty games or his wind direction, always alone he is. Does he have no family? No friends? Why is he always alone?

If I had more tolerance, more patience, a nurse's heart, I'd take the guy out to a ballgame. Truth is, though, I don't - I admit that. We all have flaws, and the bleeding heart of which I have been accused just doesn't extend to personal interaction. So yes, Elwood P. Dowd is a Nats fan. Elwood P. Dowd is me, seeing six foot rabbits where a man should be.

Hey, Wayne!

And that's all I have to say about that.

Update: The more I look at this picture, the more I think I'm going to dump Ryan Zimmerman for Homer Bailey. To marry a Hall of Fame third baseman or Hall of Fame pitcher? Oh, what a dilemma...Although the photos of Bailey pitching make him look like he's having a seizure sometimes.

Monday, August 28, 2006

The Waiting

Oh, the West Coast evening games!
(Those ones that start too late.)
Dinners done, so's the sun,
But no, there's still the wait.

What's the lineup, you may ask,
It's still too soon to say.
The best bats? The worst rats?
It's always day-to-day.

I may fall asleep before
The first pitch's even thrown.
Better to than watch a loss,
Or emit another groan.

The word f-00_t-b-A-11 shall not be spoken on this blog until the Reds season is dead. I hope that is not until November.

Dear Jerry

Why does your team play so poorly on weekends? (51-38 on weekdays, 16-25 on Saturdays and Sundays.) Why do they play so sluggishly, like they could care less they are in a pennant race?

Well, evidence points to the bottle, Jerry. I mean, look! On the DL has Freel partying and speculation of a Red cheating. Rumors are rampant about the behavior of your players, like they think they're in a fraternity or something. Don't forget the time that Dunn hit the game winning grand slam and had to rush out of the ballpark with Griffey to get to a concert and backstage party at the Coliseum.

We all know Arroyo didn't want to pitch in the All-Star game because he was hungover. The guy has been awful the second half of the year. Could it be because he feels comfortable around his teammates now, and the reason he was lights out at the beginning of the season is because he didn't go out so much when he didn't know the other guys so well?

I'm not one of those people who cares about the personal lives of the players. What they do on their own time is their perogative. But when it starts affecting their performance on the field, it becomes a problem.

Do something, Jerry, control your players. You guys are in a pennant race. You should be doing everything you can to be better than your opponents, and that includes not being hungover and sluggish when coming to the ballpark. Put a curfew on the team. Have a bed check. Do whatever it takes, but these guys need to stop partying so much and start playing some ball. There are no off-days on the weekends, you have to play, and you can't afford to keep losing.

Hey, I like my beer as much as (or more than) the next girl, but I also am not part of a team on a quest for the Holy Grail. More winning means better and bigger parties, anyway, and they have the whole off season to act like fools.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Baseball Gravity

Sometimes I feel more like Icarus than Daedalus, especially on hot, shirt drenching August days when the clouds refuse to break even though their teasing presence cuts the light out of the sky. Everything seems to be going well, I'm escaping with my wax wings, but I get too greedy, I want too much, and then I feel like I'm tumbling into the sea.

Two Three losses in a row, coupled with two three Deadbirds wins, and it feels like the Reds are spiraling down with me, or perhaps I am spiraling down with them. The West Coast has more sun than most of the country over the course of the year, and it definitely affects the Reds every season, melts their wax a bit. Unequivocally, as Marty would say.

It feels like the Deadbirds, who seem to have natural wings and don't have to worry about the sun, have a huge advantage over us. With Albert "Pegasus" Pujols and Chris "Aello" Carpenter, they can fly to the West Coast, the East Coast, or Cornville and still be safe from the sun.

Of course, this is all overreaction, panic! at the ballpark, right? We still have a month left of the season, the Reds are streaky, and the Deadbirds aren't a good team, despite the individuals they have fluttering through the late summer sky. And baseballs are just balls of thread encased with a leather cover, right? So maybe we don't need wings at all, we can just follow that thread right out of the maze. Now, does anyone see any golden bridles laying around?

Sometimes I think it'd just be easier to be eaten by the Minotaur, like we have been for the past several years. Then we wouldn't have to fear the heartbreak that could result from a fatal fall.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Call the War Department - Another Battle's On!

Ok, so I'm a person who is not offended easily, but there is one insult that always gets under my skin - it's when someone who can't or refuses to understand another's opposing viewpoint calls that person stupid, or at least implies it. That is exactly what Bill "Who?" Peterson wrote in Cincinnati CityBeat. Thanks to JD who pointed the Reds blogosphere to this article, or maybe no thanks since it incited rage within me ;), I sent a little message to this Peterson character telling him what I thought about what he wrote, promising him to post it here as well, so here it is. Oh, and I also declared war on him, because I'm "juvenile."

The gist:
Many fans, it seems, can't tell Narron is doing a good job when he obviously is. Then again, a recent Harris poll showed that half of Americans still think Iraq held weapons of mass destruction in 2003, so we probably shouldn't be too surprised by what we hear in the street.

Dear Bill,

Wow. Really, wow. You manage to insult a large chunk of the diehard Reds fan base and tell everyone their opinions don't count in one article, in one sentence, really.
In the limited tongue of angry fans and juvenile bloggers, Narron is a "moron," Griffey is a has-been who should be dropped in the order and Adam Dunn, who never begs out of the lineup, plays 160 games and hits 40 homers every year, is "Donkey Man."
You've resorted to namecalling because you don't agree with opinions? Playing with the linguistic similarities between "Narron" and "Moron," while it may seem juvenile, is nowhere near a "limited tongue." It used to be that playing with language was what they called "intelligent," and I, for one, am insulted by your insinuation that bloggers are stupid. Yeah, I'm the one who coined the phrase, "Jerry Moron is a narron." I am a linguist by profession, and I could write you under the table. Limited tongue? You've just started a war, boy.

It's ridiculous to call someone stupid (or imply it) just because you don't agree with his/her opinion. So what if we're blowing off steam? Seems you can't keep your political animosity out of a sport that a lot of us use as a diversion, a way to get our minds off of the realities of what's going on around us, around the country, around the globe for three hours a day. And if you actually spoke with one of us "juvenile bloggers," you'd find that we are all well-versed in politics, in international affairs, in philosophy and literature and history and yes, war. We are all entitled to those three hours or so a day to cheer and hope and dream and to get some relief from the real world for a spell. And if it's frustrating, well, we aren't getting our escape, now, are we? So we twist words and names and concepts to take out our frustrations.

About the nicknames - most of the Reds have them. As far as your "donkey man" goes, you've shown your own "limited tongue." First of all, it's not "Donkey Man," it's "Donkey" or "Dunkey." Since donkeys are considered "work horses" for their strength and durability, we are playing on his name and his strength. Limited tongue? Sorry, that's creativity, and it's a compliment. I'm not sure how you could see it otherwise.

No one says Griffey is a has-been, though you can't have a .250 hitter (being generous) in the third spot of the order. He's killing us there. He should be dropped to fifth or sixth. No one blames that on Narron - it is Griffey refusing to acknowledge he is aging and can't do what he used to, and to be fair, I don't blame Griffey. It's human nature - time is a man's true enemy, and there is not one of us, rich or poor, athlete or clutz, prosecutor or defender, who doesn't suffer from this unwinable battle. And you know what? This battle with time, well, it's a reflection of why we love baseball, why Ruth and Matthewson and Williams and Cobb are immortalized, the reason why we hoard statistics in our brains, because they are measurements of something they did on Earth, why they still live in our hearts. (and I should have added, "an escape from the finality of death.)

Did you know that John Milton is often quoted when Eric Milton pitches on these blogs with "limited tongues?" Did you know that Sinclair Lewis, Shakespeare, Lewis Carroll, Walt Whitman, and Dante have been invoked on these "juvenile blogs?" Is this typical summer reading for those with "limited tongues?"

Right now, I have the Nats-Braves game on the television, the Cubs-Cards game on the computer screen, and the Phillies-Mets game on the radio (because the Reds game has not started.) Does this sound like the behavior of someone who doesn't know what she is talking about? I'm 29 in a major international city, and I've stayed home this Friday night so I could watch my Reds play baseball and hopefully take over first place. All of us "juvenile bloggers" love our Reds and know our baseball, so if we want to criticize a guy who controls our hopes and dreams, then we will. Baseball is a glorious game, a sensual game, full of sharp colors and smells and emotions like nostalgia for the innocence of childhood, full of visions of baseballs sailing into the night, the contrast of the little white ball against the vast black sky symbolic of human existence, of life, of everything good in the world, those brief moments when we can forget about the atrocities of humanity like WMDs. It's moments like these that keep us sane. If a bad decision, or many bad decisions, warps these sentiments, these escapes, then we are going to and have the right to react, even if it means manipulating someone's name to express our feelings.

You also say this:
But these decisions that seem so obvious to observers are less obvious to a manager who factors in volumes of information of which only he is aware.
Clue: you aren't aware of them, either, but you come across as if you are all knowing. Your opinion is just that - opinion. The fact that you've brought hostility into your column will bring hostility from others.

I've never heard of you, or at the very least, nothing has stood out about your columns that make you memorable, so I don't know how widely read your column is. I'm a huge Reds fan and read as much as I can about my team every day, so maybe that speaks to your readership. Do you think just because you get paid to write about sports that you are better than us "juvenile bloggers?" Newsflash: a lot of us are professional writers, or at the very least, writing is a heavy part of our professional capacity - we are just writing about more important things, like politics, economics, and war. Personally, I spend my days writing about economic institutional development in the Middle East North Africa region as a means towards democratic development and global stability. Did you know that strengthening the advocacy capacities of business associations in Iraq to give them a voice in economic policymaking could actually help prevent further conflict, because, you know, public participation in policymaking is a fundamental tenet of democracy (just like freedom of speech,) and when people aren't marginalized, they don't fight? You get paid to write about sports, quite trivial, and you criticize people for being clueless and imply bloggers can't point to Iraq on a map? Good writers do their research before making such blantantly ignorant statements. Don't be a narron.

Oh, and yes, this letter is going on the "juvenile blog" for all to see, and everywhere else I can put it, too.

"Sister Daedalus"

Dreams of October

I slept. I slept through four innings, slept because I was tired from anxiety and strange dreams and a stressful day at work, but mostly I slept because I didn't have the adrenaline to stay awake for a West Coast game after Milton's not-so-poetic performance in the first two innings. I had the laptop on the bed, though, game still playing, and I'm sure I was following it subconsciously, because I woke up when Ross was at the plate in the seventh, score tied, that magic feeling swirling in the air. You know the one - you can feel something is about to happen. Your heart quickens, quivers, blood races through your veins all tingly like you imagine fairy dust to feel. You recognize yourself holding your breath, or you start shaking your leg or fiddling with some object in your hands, or you are sitting at the edge of your seat, little baseballs fluttering in your stomach.

I flipped over, woke up completely, watched a tiny Ross on a tiny screen hit a monstrous home run to take the lead, to take a giant leap towards first place, towards October and baseballs sailing through the autumn skies, towards fans in red sweaters and sweatshirts and jackets hungry for something they've been denied for so long. I wondered, did the guy in charge of concessions at GABP make a mental note to order some hot chocolate for those pumpkin cool evenings?

I didn't sleep after that, watched the whole game and laid awake after it, with the words "first place" occassionally floating through my conscious mind. I took pleasure in thoughts of the Deadbirds floundering, flipping and flopping like fish on an infield. And you know? After laying there for probably another hour, drifting to dreams when the day had already spent two of its hours, I didn't suffer noctural stories about revolutionaries or wars or people chasing me. Instead, my unconscious imagination sat me down in a cafe, where I was talking baseball with a friend, raving about how the Reds were in first place, having won 5 of their last 6 games while their birdbrain foes have won only 2 of their last 6. And I woke up, groggy but happy, with first place as the first thought of the day, and I crawled out of bed instead of laying there an extra ten minutes, and I was the first one in the office instead of being late, and I checked the standings just to make sure it wasn't only a dream.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Can I get an amen?

I'm tired. With all of the bizarre dreams and restlessness I've experienced lately, I was going to go to bed early tonight. But then I turned on the Deadbirds-Mets game. And Dave "We gave away Sean for nothing" Williams was getting a standing O for pitching 6.1 innings of two run ball, and the Mets were leading the Deadbirds 5-2 in the seventh. And I thought, no, I can't miss the game when the Reds could jump into first place!

A pre-game prayer:

Oh Reds! It's in your hands, you know
Be number one, defeat a foe
The team to beat, yes you can be
To give us that golden trophy.

Oh yes! Morron's lineup is right,
We have the bats with all the might.
Tonight's pitcher - paradise found?
Will light shine when he takes the mound?

Home run! These things we want to see.
Come on, Adam, hit us three!
Avoiding sleep, I do for you


Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Baseball from Alien Eyes

Two or so weeks ago, a few days before a dear friend of mine returned home to Czech Republic after four years in the United States, we had a going away party for him in my office. Before I get to the baseball part of this story, I have to explain something, so please bear with me.

When I started working at my organization nearly three years ago, we had thirty people in our office. Aside from three executive managers, we had five senior program officers, a bunch of level one program officers, a very interesting receptionist (who is a story in herself), and junior staff, also known as assistants - among us were the Czech, an Uzbek, an Iraqi, a Morman, and a girl from Philly, along with myself.

We had a happy hour bunch, which included those mentioned above, plus two of the program officers - a Russian and a Tennessean - who attended our drunken lime-throwing buckets-of-Corona-drinking engagements. The happy hour crowd would also be a part of another kind of happy hour - the four o'clock Fridays in the conference room.

Yeah, back in the day when we had a smaller office, there would be an impromptu purchase of beers for consumption in the conference room. In attendence would usually be our Head of Finance, a bearded man who graduated from Kenyon College in Ohio in the seventies and is a huge baseball fan; our Asia Program Officer, who is not Asian but who is a huge baseball fan (Red Sox); our Eurasia Program Officer, who is a Canadian and very Scottish; the Russian, who is currently temporarily deported to Moscow due to our country's stupid immigration policies these days (and who's more American than I am, despite my birth certificate); the Iraqi, who now works for the War Department (who's also more American than I am); the Uzbek, who like me is desperately seeking a new job; the Tennessean, who went to work on a Senate campaign in TN last year; and sometimes our Executive Director, an admitted ex-hippy who would have gone to Woodstock had his friend's Volkswagon not broken down on the way there.

When I discovered these little gatherings, I thought I had found the perfect job. And I had, for the first year. Stories would be exchanged about various overseas encounters, and you could measure a good time when people started breaking out the various alcohols they had been given as gifts from business trips, some of them better than others. The night people broke into our office, they had quite a party.

Our organization began to grow. New people were hired to fill new positions, people who just didn't get the spirit of the conference room. There is one, a Uruguayan-German who grew up in Costa Rica, who has the spirit, but not too many others. The conference room gatherings stopped.

The Czech's going away party was a temporary departure from the lack, or maybe a return to old times. We gathered in the conference room to say goodbye, but the newbies in charge of getting the beer didn't get enough, so our Head of Finance guy, the Czech, the Russian, the Uruguayan-German, and a girl from Virginia (a new hire) who went to UD, as well as myself went to a bar. That's where the baseball debate began.

More than a month removed from the World Cup, the enthusiasm still flows from the hearts of those who grew up in more distant parts of the globe. Now, before I start sounding like I am against soccer, I should tell you I was a pretty decent goalkeeper back in the day. (In fact, last week I randomly came across a link to the Ohio High Schools Girls Soccer records and discovered I was number 2 in the state in all time saves for a goalkeeper, even though they spelled my name incorrectly. I gave up caring about that stuff lightyears ago, but it was pretty amusing to see.) I coached for five years after I graduated, including one year as junior varsity coach. So I know my stuff. But when someone who has grown up with football, who sees baseball through alien eyes, starts bashing my sport, well, debate!

Fortunately, our Head of Finance and the Virginian who went to UD were on my side. The three of us were sitting in a booth surrounding the Russian while the Czech and the Uruguayan-German watched in amusement. And the Russian said that horrid sentence, "Baseball is boring."

It's difficult to begin when you're trying to defend your game from those blasphemous words. We've all heard them spoken; we've all wanted to burn people at the stake for them. We know games can be boring. We play 162 games, not missing a single one of the hottest days of the year. We can see games where no one scores. We can see games where the other team scores 15 runs against us. We've all been bored during games, even the most diehard of us (and I think if we read or write blogs, we are considered diehards, right?) But baseball boring? Soccer (football) is not?

If you think about it and understand both games, the two games are equal in "boringness." I am fascinated, even to the point of obsession, with the triangles of football. All I can see are the triangles on the field (the passing lanes made between three players.) I don't see the "boringness," unless the game consists of players bunching up and destroying the triangles. But really, what right does a football fan have to call any sport "boring"? The same level of strategy is involved. Yeah, football players run for 90 minutes - you can't have any Kruks playing striker, but could they hit a Billy Wagner fastball? Do they know that on a 1-2 count, throw a particular batter an outside breaking ball and he'll swing for a K? Do they understand why a lefty has to go against a lefty, why the runners go on a two out, 3-2 pitch, why the infield plays in when there are less than two outs and a runner on third?

Neither sport is better than the other in the sports sense. Now, in the poetic sense? That's a different story. I could write all day about lazy summer days eating hotdogs and drinking cold, pisswater beer, root, root, rooting for the home team, stepping on the squishy stuff at Riverfront, standing for two strikes with two outs, game tying home runs, fireworks, getting out of a jam, the beauty of an outfielder throwing out a runner at home, fist pumping from a caught stealing, shattered bats, double plays, symmetry, glory walls, closer falls, balls that sail into the night under the incandescent light, holding breath, hope, hope, hope. Sorry, football dudes, you don't have the same shots of heart attack inducing adrenaline after you've been sitting for two hours watching nothing happening. You don't have the anticipation, the rising sense that your team just may win, even if it's down by three in the eighth, even if they've only had two hits all night. You don't have "momentum" where you just feel like your team is going to end up with a victory. You don't have intangibles or stuff or makeup. You're kicking a ball around in triangles. Yeah, you could hold your breath underwater for an eternity longer than Kruk, but by god, you are no ballplayer.

The Russian and I, with everyone else pretty much looking on, had this argument. And what came out of it? My pity for him. Growing up with baseball is a gift, a blessing, and the poor aliens who don't understand it, or refuse to understand it, are missing out on something beautiful.

I took the Czech and the Uruguayan-German to a Nats game last year. We had fun. It was the Czech's first and probably only game he'll ever attend, but I think he understood that there is more to baseball than just swinging a bat. But can one who does not grow up with it ever truly understand the beauty of the game, the nostalgia for the innocence of childhood, of spending time with families, of wasting your life watching baseball and loving every second of it? I don't know. But god, the feelings one has when your team is in a playoff race, the hope you feel...isn't it worth every bit of it?

Yes, I think so.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006


I had a dream last night that I've been trying to post all day. (Blogger!) Anyway, the dream is worth mentioning because it starred Felipe Lopez, a guy I never really was attached to but who decided to visit the realm of my subconscience.

I was at an old farm house with a friend hiding from some bad guys on a hot August day, the kind of day only flies and grasshoppers like. There was lots of corn, rows upon rows of it on all four sides of the house, which had a narrow driveway going through more corn. It was still too green for the time of year, though I knew it was August because I kept saying, "August is only a summer month because of the temperature." I think I was referring to the shortened length of the days which seems to affect me so.

I often hide from the bad guys in my dreams. Sometimes the bad guys are old friends or acquaintances with whom I am no longer in contact. Most of the time they're just random people, though. Like Felipe Lopez.

Felipe was dressed like Che, beret and all. I guess I was the leader of some resistance group, though I was not dressed like Che. We were monitoring the movements of Lopez's group, who were doing maneuvers in the corn. They had surrounded the farmhouse, so there was no way out, but they had yet to discover we were in the farmhouse. Some of my group grew frightened, however, and started to defect to Chelipe's side. Finally, I decided to go with them, too, more out of boredom than anything else.

It gets weirder. So I find Felipe, whom I apparently knew quite well from the past, and I march straight up to him. And you know what he says? He says, "Oh, Cath, I am so disappointed to see you here. You know I always admired you for your principles, but now you've violated them by coming here."

I immediately realized my error and replied, "No, I'm just here to get my jeep back," and nodded to what was apparently my jeep that had been stolen by Felipe's men. It was a red jeep. He apologized and tossed me the keys and let me leave, saying, "I look forward to more clashes with you." He smiled and said, "Later."


(If I had Photoshop on this computer, I would make Chelipe.)

Update: Image of Chelipe courtesy of Devils Advocate. Thanks! (If only I could figure out how to make a copy of Photoshop from another computer. Anyone know? Ahh, the curse of copyrights...Stupid capitalists, says Chelipe.)


Monday, August 21, 2006

A very stunning game, indeed!

It all started with a ball hit to Rancid Berkman.

The sun was shining (in California), the sky was blue (in Hawaii), and the Reds were in a playoff race (in Cincinnati). Through seven innings, the crowd hadn't had much to cheer about. Sure, there were the dozen or so LOBs, some who were stranded on loaded bases, but not a one of them had decided to cross home plate. But then in the eighth, the young stud third baseman, who uses a Tomahawk missile for a bat, fired the ball out to right. Rancid, one of those beasts of the species Billera Hallis that prey on the Reds, looked as if once again he would feed on them with a diving catch. But no! The ball dribbled out of his claw, and EdE had gotten the party started. (Dunn's coming up, uh huh...)

A giant steamroller of a man, capable of rally killing with a single swing, stood at the plate looking all flashy with his Mercedes Benz of a bat. Everyone wanted the bomb, yet it was not in the best interest of the team, being down by three and all. He took two bases instead, leaving two on for the should-be-shortstop-playing-first-base, who promptly deposited the first pitch he saw into the leftfield seats. Game tied, just like that. You should never hang your sliders.

After King Phillips followed up with a single, what happened next was nothing short of the Apocalypse. Todd Hollandsworthless came in to pinch hit. Automatic out, right? Wrong! He, too, joined the hit parade, then Farney made the second out of the inning. Reds fans already had marked the 6-3 in their scorecards when Rolls Roycemack Hands of McClayton strode to the plate. But he grounded the ball a little too far to the 6's left, who managed to touch it only with a glove string, and King Phillips was able to score on the hit. (Don't worry - that galloping sound you hear is just the four horsemen.) Hollandsprovedworthless on the basepaths, getting caught in a rundown for the third out, but the Reds had gone from a three run deficit to a deafening thunder of a very happy crowd.

When it was all said and done, Reds fans were a little stunned. Were they really ahead? Had both Hollandsworthless and Rolls Roycemack Hands of McClayton gotten hits in the same inning? And who would Jerry McMorron throw out there for the ninth? Why, it would be Trash Heap! As the galloping drew closer, Trash Heap pitched a 1-2-3 ninth, even K'ing Rancid, and the save gave the Reds a 4-3 victory over the Asstros and a two game gap between themselves and the Deadbirds.

The moral of the story? Even a stopped clock is right twice a day. Rolls Roycemack Hands of McClayton got lucky, and the Reds win. But that's what baseball is all about, isn't it?

I got nothing today

I would do it, such is my passion, my love, my obsession with Reds baseball. Today is August 21. The Reds hold a playoff position. There is nothing short of Ken Rosenthal and the rest of the talking baseball heads (which are emptier than normal talking heads) that says the Reds can't take over the Cards for the coveted Division championship. Well, except for maybe Jerry Morron's idiocy.

What would I do, you may ask? I would move to Cincinnati, if I could find a job, just to watch the end of the season. If anyone reading this has a position open for a creative, problem solving grammar nazi, I would accept it. I'm so sick of my job and am in need of a change anyway.

My office is freezing. I take "warm breaks" like smokers take smoke breaks. Today I walked down to the end of the block just to warm up, but I felt it was a pointless jaunt so I bought a pack of mentos from the hot dog guy on the corner. Mixed fruit, not labeled for individual sale, every single one of them orange inside. What are the chances of that happening? I don't even like candy or food products with excessive amounts of sugar in them, but I needed an afternoon pick me up. Sucrose esters of fatty acids taste good every now and then. Manioc starch and Red 3, too. And boy, oh boy, that Arabic gum sure is gummy! Salam alaikum. I can feel my DNA mutating as I chew.

So I'm watching the Yankees beating the Red Sox right now, 1-0 in the 7th. Boston must be draped in gloom, looking like a funeral. What a nightmare of a series for Sox fans, with their team basically killing their playoff hopes and all.

Like I said, I got nothing today.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Tim McCarver actually said something that wasn't stupid

Stupid Yankees are killing the Red Sox for the third consecutive game. McCarver says they need to raise the mound back to what it used to be. I am in 100% agreement with this idea.

Pitching is soooooooo difficult to come by; offense is too dominant. They have all sorts of technology to make hitting better - it's pretty tough to make pitching any better when all you can do is throw a ball. It's time to raise the mound.

I heard a beautiful thing today, even though it was from the mouth of a Yankees fan. As I was walking in Adams Morgan to my favorite video store that isn't there any more, as I discovered, I heard a scream from a window. "Get out!" it shouted forcefully. I thought it was a domestic situation. Then I heard it again, this time with more excitement, more hope. "Get out! Get out! Get out! YEAH!!!" It was such sweet music.

I love this game.

Friday, August 18, 2006

And that's all I have to say about that

The smell of leather is such sweet sorrow

I don’t remember my first glove. I remember my first tryout, though. I remember being put at second base and missing a popup with the glove I can’t remember. Even as an eight year old kid I was pretty astute, and when one of the coaches, Mike Brown was his name, moved me to the outfield soon after that popup, I asked him, “Are you moving me because I missed that ball?” He said no.

Turns out, he was telling the truth. He picked me for his team, and I never played outfield again, at least not more than an inning or two. That first glove that I can’t remember caught a lot of popups in the five years it was on my hand. I may not remember what it looked like, but I certainly remember what happened to it. One night, when my innocent 12 year old mind was dreaming, some bastard broke into our Ford Aerostar where my precious was sleeping peacefully with its brothers who belonged to my two sisters and my mother. They were gone forever.

I remember the second glove quite well. My mother took us to a sporting goods store to replace our losses, where I fell in love with a beautiful specimen of a Louisville Slugger model when it was still on the rack. I convinced my mom to pay an exorbitant amount for the treasure since I was playing for the junior high team. The smell of the glove oil still haunts me, Louisville Slugger oil placed lovingly on the fresh leather of my precious. My Uncle Matt helped me break it in before the season started with several games of catch, though I think we played with a baseball rather than a girly softball.

I played mostly third base in the five years since I had started playing, but when I reached eighth grade, our team had a crisis – no one would play catcher. You can guess what happened next.

I was a catcher for the rest of my playing days, but during that first year, tragedy struck. It was nearly time for practice one day when I returned to my locker between the last classes. My heart stopped. There, where my locker door should have been, stood a gaping hole, books and papers strewn about like a tornado existing just for me had struck. Desperation overwhelmed me when I reached the mess, for I knew. My precious was gone.

I’ve never truly recovered. My replacement glove, also a Louisville Slugger, never made my heart flutter. In high school I used softball catcher’s mitts because the pitchers I caught threw so hard they wore them out. Somehow I’ve accumulated about five or six gloves, though I don’t know how. I do know, however, that none of them will ever live up to my precious.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

O Edwin! My Edwin!

O Edwin! my Edwin! our second game is done;
The team has weather'd every rack, the game we fought is won;
October's near, the cheers I hear, the people all exulting,
With Dunner's bomb and Griffey's blast, the standings we go vaulting.
But O heart! heart! heart!
Leave out not Richie's day,
His ball, too, sailed o'er the fence,
He should always play.

O Edwin! my Edwin! tomorrow is the last;
Rise up-for you the pennant's flung-for you the bugle blasts;
For you bouquets and ribbon'd wreaths-for you the stands a-crowding;
For you they call, the swaying mass, their happy faces turning;
O Edwin! dear slugger!
This bat I push beneath you;
It is some dream that on the field,
You're standing with a trophy.

Of course, again, apologies, this time to Walt Whitman and dear old Abe Lincoln. (and yes, that's a Tomahawk in his hands.)

Jeter's immortal drama of a journey through Heck

A crime has been committed today. Ground has been broken for the new Yankee's stadium. Steinbrenner should be drawn and quartered for such heinous treachery.

No matter how much you hate the Yankees, you can't deny the magic that swirls around Yankee Stadium, that temple that Ruth built, that museum of memories, of records and October and those glorious pinstripes, a constant in an ever-changing world. Yankee Stadium is the Mecca of Baseball, a holy shrine to our game's immortals. To rip it down reeks of greed, profits, commercialism, and everything negative you can associate with the game. The new stadium will thus be labeled as Baseball Heck, just because it will be constructed with the tools of Evil...

This is the story of Derek Jeter, whose erroneous ways must be set right before he can take his place in Baseball Heaven. He has, after all, worn the pinstripes of evil for his entire career.

As Jeter hangs up his spikes, he walks toward the glowing baseball in the sky. Just as he is about to enjoy paradise, he is blocked by the Three Beasts of Baseballness: the Tiger of Malice and Fraud, the Oriole of Violence and Ambition, and the Green Monster of Incontinence. These beasts drive him back despairingly into the darkness.

Oh, well, you know the rest. Jeter goes down in Yankee immorality, even after having to play in Baseball Heck for the remainder of his career, and of course he gets to Baseball Heaven. Duh. Everyone knows that.

Oh, and they make a new circle of Hell for Georgie Boy, where he spends eternity having to watch the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

The Walrus and the Carpenter

This game recap was inspired by Red Menace.

The groundskeeper was on the field,
Sticking in a base.
He did his very best to make
The infield a smooth place.
And this was odd, because it was
The middle of the race.

A Cards fan pouted sulkily,
Because she thought the chump
Should give advantage to the Cards
With some really well-placed bumps--
"It's traitorous of him," she said,
"To get rid of all the lumps!"

The field was as green could be,
The stands were full of red.
You could not see Richie because
Roycemack was there instead:
No best lineup was on the card--
The manager's stupid.

The Walrus and the Carpenter
Were pitching in the game;
They thought the same thought when they pitched
As they took their aim:
"If this team would only go away,"
They said, "it would be grand!"

"If we could win against this team
Sweep them for three games here."
"But we can't hit," the Walrus said,
"The sixth is getting near."
"A damn hit," said the Carpenter,
Who shed a bitter tear.

"O Cardinals, come score on us!"
The Walrus did beseech.
"Another hit, another run,
I'll give up lots of each.
I cannot do with more than five,
This game'll be out of reach."

The eldest Cardinal looked at him,
But then became dizzy.
The eldest Cardinal blinked his eye,
And really couldn't see--
Meaning to say he did not choose
To stay in centerfield.

But other Cardinals hurried up,
All eager for the fight:
Their minds focused, their faces stern,
Swinging with all their might.
And this was odd, because, you know,
Their winning has been light.

Out by out the batters went,
And yet another three;
The Reds offense did not exist.
(And "more, more, more" tortured me.
Those commercials came too quick--
Square burgers aren't healthy.)

The Walrus and the Carpenter
Met just for five or so,
And then the Walrus rested on a bench
His Ernie not so low.
And all the runs the Cardinals scored
Dwarfed the Reds zero.

"The time may come," the Walrus said,
"To pack up all my things
For if I pitch like this again,
We won't get any rings.
We have two chances after this
To clip the Deadbirds' wings."

"But wait a bit," the Redlegs cried,
"We still have some at bats;
For some of us are good at these
Late inning run comebacks."
"No hurry!" said the Carpenter
Who shut them down at that.

"A manager," the Walrus said,
"Is what we chiefly need;
The best lineup on the field
Is very good indeed,
But the one we have, Redlegs fans,
Logic he does not heed."

"But we have won!" the Reds fans cried,
Turning a little blue.
"After such winning, a new man's
A dismal thing to do!"
"Three games above," the Walrus said,
"Five hundred is not good.

It was so kind of you to watch!
And you've made us very rich!"
The Carpenter said nothing but
Just threw another pitch.
Without the best names on the card
The outing was a cinch!

"It seems a shame," the Walrus said,
"To play a trick on them,
After we've brought them out so far,
And have them cheering again!"
The Carpenter said nothing but
Maintained his pitching gem.

"I'm sorry y'all," the Walrus said.
"I deeply apologize.
I let you down again this time
I sucked I do surmise,"
Holding his pocket-handkerchief
Before his streaming eyes.

"O Redlegs," said the Carpenter,
"You've had a pleasant run!
Shall we be trotting home again?"
But answer came there none--
And this was scarcely odd, because
He'd beaten every one.

With apologies, of course, to Lewis Carroll.

R-E-S-P-E-C-T, that's what national media coverage means to me

Is Fox Sports writing off the Deadbirds with this article today? Not a chance. Although seeing a suggestion that the Reds could make it all the way is wonderful, this is Rosenthal's employer, and he still keeps blabbering about every team but the Reds, especially the Asstros. As it is, if you look at this screenshot, you see beneath it an article on the Asstros, like they are still in the race. (Ok, so it's actually about Rancid Berkman moving up the power rankings, but they could have picked anyone else on that list to feature, like Pujols, for example.)

Without Griffey on the team, the itsy, bitsy, teeny, weeny, tiny, minute amount of respect the Reds get would dwindle to nothing, zero, zilch, nada, nil. I mean, Fox actually does an article on the Reds being in contention, and it's all about Griffey, who's been mired in what is probably the longest, lengthiest, expanded, extended, prolonged, sustained slump of his career. I'd look it up, but I don't really care about obscure, irrelevant, frivolous, immaterial, inconsequential, trifling stats like that, and I'd rather waste time rambling about how the Reds get no respect.

So I have a Curveball Beer in my Reds jersey coolie, have changed into my shorts with baseballs all over them, have seen that both McClayton AND LaWhiff are in the lineup (at least Bank of America Presents National League Player of the Week© EdE's playing), and am impatiently awaiting the start of the biggest series of the year. And maybe the collective metaphysical presence of Reds fans will rob St. Louis of its homefield advantage. Come on, use that other 90% of your brain to push the Reds to victory!

Monday, August 14, 2006

Royal Caribbean Presents Off Days©

I'm starting to understand why Protor and Gamble Presents Major League Baseball Players©, not just Bank of America Presents the National League Player of the Week© like EdE, but all Protor and Gamble Presents Major League Baseball Players© love Royal Caribbean Presents Off Days© so much. I mean, you actually get to live Prudential Insurance Company of America Presents Life© on those days, do stuff like GAP Presents Laundry© and Outback Steakhouse Presents Cook Dinner© and all of that stuff you never do on Milton Bradley Presents Game Days©. You also get to think of things other than Rawlings Presents Baseball©, although when you wake up in the Folgers Presents Morning©, you're kind of like, "oh my Pat Robertson Presents God©, what do I do, there's no Hasboro Presents Game© today!" Then you kind of Ron Jon Presents Surf© the AOL Presents Internets© for a Rolex Presents Minute© in a desperate attempt to find something to replace the NASA Presents Space© where Rawlings Presents Baseball© is supposed to be in your Ritalin Presents Brain©, and so you BIC Presents Write© craziness in the Red Reporter Presents Comments© and read the New York Times Presents News© and then you actually do Microsoft Presents Work©. But in the Sam Adams Presents Evening©, when you don't have to do Microsoft Presents Work© anymore, you Lysol Presents Clean© and stuff because what are you supposed to do? You've been watching Rawlings Presents Baseball© for Rolex Presents Four and a Half Months©, nearly Rolex Presents Every Day©, and your Dallas Cowboys Present There's No TO in Team© is in the All American Flag Presents Pennant© CBS Presents Amazing Race©, and you're cancelling all sorts of social De Beers Presents Engagements© or watching whole Hasboro Presents Games© at Microsoft Presents Work© without Medicare Presents Caring© who comes in, or you're Microsoft Presents Working© Rolex Presents Late© and you stay even Rolex Presents Later© than necessary to Beltone Presents Hear© the rest of the Hasboro Presents Game©.

(How do you even type these things © without just copying them © from somewhere © else?)

Phrolicking in Philly

Back phrom Philly, though I didn't think I would ever get back thanks to the idiots who think switching back and phorth between lanes in crowded traphic is going to get them to their destinations phaster. Here's a clue: when you don't stay in your lane, you are actually SLOWING DOWN traphic, making it WORSE. And GET OPH YOUR PHONE!

Anyway, I am back phrom a wonderphul game, iph you can phorget about Guardado's second blown save in three days. (And that should be a cause phor concern, right?) Those back to back to back homers really took the air out oph the stadium phor awhile, and man, were each oph them monster shots, bullets that reached the stands phaster than a phat philly guy can eat a cheesesteak.

The best part about the game wasn't those homers, however. It was the phact that phor the phirst time since at least the Trade, Jerry Moron put his best team on the phield. When I heard "playing shortstop, Rich Aurilia," I screamed as iph I had won the lottery or something, and the whole section turned around to glare. Moron later had Rolls Roycemack Hands of McClayton pinch hit, and guess what? He grounded out.

I enjoy my annual trip to see the Reds play at Citizen's Bank Park (and doesn't that sound like a bank in the Soviet Union?) It's a great place to celebrate baseball, even though wearing the opposing team's colors can incite less than phriendly comments, and the hotdogs taste like salt mines. They are by phar the worst hotdogs oph the 12 parks I've had the good phortune oph eating hotdogs in, which is strange, because Philly is known phor its tasty, heart attack inducing junk phood.

I've always liked the Phillies as one oph those teams I can root phor when my team is out oph contention, like in 1993. There was something about that team, about chewphace Dykstra, chunky Kruk, skinny Morandini, and crazy Daulton that I loved. The Reds were 72-89 that year, and once again I had been phorced to adopt a surrogate team to root phor in the playophs. The Phillies were a team that wasn't supposed to win, a team kind oph like the 1990 Reds, scrappy, a bunch oph mediocre players, a team without a superstar. That's exactly why I loved them.

My grandphather bought me a Phillies cap, a phitted one, just like I liked them. He just brought it home out oph the blue and gave it to me, a cap that sits with my collection in a dust-prooph container. I was glad they changed them back to old school, back to Richie Ashburn days, back to shiny red and that classy P, no longer one oph the many victims oph 70s and 80s baseball "phashion" that plagues the phront oph photos and baseball cards phrom those eras.

Curt Schilling was 16-7 that year. Tommy Greene was 16-4 with a 3.42 ERA. Schilling may be in the Hall at the end oph his career; Greene - who is he? Danny Jackson was 12-11. Terry Muholland, who played on more teams than Rolls Roycemack Hands of McClayton, was 12-9 that year. Ben "Who?" Rivera was 13-9. Mitch "Wild Thing" Williams was the closer that year, earning 43 saves. Good pitching got that team their NL pennant. Poor Phillies phans haven't had much to cheer about since then. I was certainly glad to not give them the opportunity to cheer yesterday.

1.5 games out oph phirst place with three games against the Deadbirds coming up. Sweet.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Cheesesteak (with Cardinals for Bun)

I think summer vacations as a kid were a curse. I mean, now, at this time of year, I find myself filled with a sense of dread, kind of like the Sunday Dread when you can already feel the grogginess of waking up on Monday at 5pm on a Sunday evening, only the August Dread is much stronger. I always liked school as a kid, and summers often seemed too long, but when school was about to start, there was a part of me that remembered how long the academic year was, how dreary the Midwestern winter skies were, and how many months I would have to go without baseball.

Today is a beautiful day, cool not like August, but I feel like we're so close to the Monday of winter. I have to look at the trees in all their verdant fullness to believe summer is still raging in the Northern Hemisphere. The colors are very much alive around me, my skin still bronze like a person with Irish/English/German ancestry should never get, but I have the sensation that summer, that cookouts and shorts and warmth and light into the evenings and baseball are about to end.

Happy Birthday to my sister, Sandy, who is 27 today. She's in Indianapolis and is as big of a Reds fan as my whole family.

With those thoughts, I am off to Philly to see the still-contending Reds take on the challenging Phillies, a series that is no less important than those games against the Deadbirds we just played or those that we will play immediately after. I'm bringing a bag full of offense in case the Reds forget theirs or their luggage is lost in the chaos of color-coded paranoia. I sure hope what I bring is the right size, though. Adam Dunn is a big man.

Oh, one more thing. I'm starting a Google bomb. Leatherpants vampire. I encourage other bloggers to join in the fun. (He doesn't have an online bio, only a short wiki entry and a bunch of articles on his bloodlust.)

Thursday, August 10, 2006

The Pennant Ballet

The should-be shortstop strode to the plate while hope swirled through a screaming stadium, the home team down by a run in one of the most important games of the year. It was a perfect August Wednesday evening, cool enough to be pleasant, warm enough to know it was still summer, even if the baseball on the field felt like October. Forty-one thousand people rose to their feet, their screams echoing off the river into the night sky. A ball. A strike. A ball, a ball, a ball. Richie was on base.

The game was supposed to have been a pitchers' duel with two of the top pitchers in the league starting the game, but things were ugly from the very beginning. The man whom the manager refused to bench was playing short, and his errant throw on the very first play of the game permitted the Pest to reach first. It was ruled an infield hit, but a better shortstop, which includes nearly every shortstop in the Majors and many in the Minors, too, would have thrown the Pest out. One on.

The second batter singled, and the enemy had two runners on with no one out as the future greatest-hitter-who-ever-played came up to the plate. The powerful pitcher, though, had no fear, and he induced a weak groundball out of this prince of hitting. Alas, the slippery-handed shortstop booted the ball, and the bases were loaded for a fading slugger who was struggling to come to terms with the end of his career. When he swung the bat on a pitch that was up, he seemed to regain the talent of his youth, and the ball found its way to the outfield seats for a grand slam. Home team down 4-0.

Fast forward to the ninth inning. The mighty catcher, who had only recently in his career become mighty, found himself in a position to be a hero. The stadium shook with the energy of an earthquake as the once fearsome closer stared down at the signs and threw. The catcher fouled off the first pitch as the radio announcer mentioned the last time he hit a home run. And then, the impossible happened. The once fearsome closer released the ball. A bat began its motion, a graceful arc cutting through the night, and the lumber and the leather danced together in the pennant ballet. The bat bowed out and let the leather sphere perform its solo, a majestic dance through the stars under the incandescent glow of the stadium lights. When the dance was over, the crowd erupted into ecstatic applause, for they had just witnessed one of the most dazzling dramatic performances of their lives. Fireworks exploded in celebration as the mighty catcher rounded the bases, throwing up his helmet in victory as he met the cast of characters before the curtains closed.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Hey, Royce McNarron!

Sorry, no Photoshop on this computer. MS Paint sux as bad as Rolls Roycemack Hands of McClayton®.

Auuuustin, I am your faaather...

Just to add to the discussion about the Majewski injury, I thought I'd provide an illustration of the battle at hand.

Those who may think I have it reversed didn't spend ten years rooting for a team GM'd by the dark one, watching him operate as a man with no conscience, no soul. The guy screws people left and right. Federal Baseball has more on the issue.

The phone call - someone is lying about the phone call! Did Krivsky call like he said he did, or did Bowden lie when he said he didn't call? Ten years of lies, deception, and being an all-around jackass earns Krivsky the benefit of the doubt.

Dear George Grande

UPDATE 8/10/2013: Dear George, all this was about was the frustration with the Reds always being mediocre or sometimes even awful. We wanted you to stop being so positive all the time. There were years when there was nothing positive about the team. It was never meant to be an attack on your character. Everyone says you are one of the nicest guys, and I believe it. I do enjoy your periodic broadcasts. We have a lot more to be positive about these days. While I'm not sorry I wrote this piece, I am sorry that it seems to be mean-spirited. It's not. It was for a cheap laugh at a frustrating time.
You are the television announcer for the Cincinnati Reds, the most storied team in baseball. Us fans have to put up with you and have had to do so for years now. Sometimes, you say some pretty dumb things, so dumb that we can hear Chris Welsh's eyes rolling through our television screens.

Now, being the announcer for a team with such a rich baseball tradition requires a certain standard of quality that some of us fans find lacking in your broadcasts, so I'd like to give you some advice before someone jumps through their television screen and strangles you.

1. Don't call Albert Pujols "Prince Albert." Have Chris explain what it means to you.

2. Don't say that popups are "well hit." They aren't.

3. The show is called "Best Damn Sports Show Period." God will not strike you down for saying damn. The damn show has the damn word "damn" in it, so please call the damn show by its damn name, goddamnit.

4. Don't scream with excitement "that's gonna be fair!" when the opposing team hits the ball. Let me remind you, you are the REDS announcer. Don't get excited when the opposing team does ANYTHING good.

5. Take a lesson from Marty - when a player sucks roycelly, like Majewski, Clayton, or whoever is Krivsky's picked-off-the-trash-pile player of the week, don't spend ten years talking about how good his stuff is, how much of a leader he is, or what a great career he's had. A rose is a rose is a rose, even when it's dead and rotting.

6. If you think a ball is going to go out of the park, let Chris call it. I'm tired of you acting like popups are going over the fence.

7. Mario, as in Reds great Soto, rhymes with R.E.O., not mare-e-o like a female horse.

8. Royce Clayton sux. No amount of praise about his years with every team in MLB will change the fact that he oozes McSuckiness.

9. Don't say "what a night for..." when a player gets his second hit in the third inning. There are still six innings after that, and he could end up losing the game for the team later on.

10. Speaking of third innings, don't say a pitcher is throwing a no-hitter if he hasn't given up a hit through three innings. The third inning is not even "don't jinx it" territory.

11. Bloop (tr.v.) - To hit (a ball) into the air just beyond the infield. A flyball is not a bloop. A popup is not a bloop. A line drive is not a bloop. You can't bloop a ball over the fence. You can't bloop a ball foul. You can't bloop a ball over an outfielder's head. A bloop is hit softly with just enough height to get over the heads of the infielders.

12. Speaking of height, the word is height, not heighth. I doubt you've been reading Milton, which is about the only place you may still find the word with an H attached at the end, although even he might be too late in the development of the English langauage. Oh, and by Milton, I mean John, not Eric. Somehow I don't think Eric sits around writing verse. His pitching isn't very poetic either, though if he doesn't pitch well in these next two months, the Reds may just experience paradise lost. (Badabing, thank you, thank you very much.)

13. When Chris makes fun of you on the air, don't keep talking about whatever made Chris make fun of you in the first place.

14. GET UPSET! When a pitcher gives up 5 runs in the first inning in the most important game of the year, there is NOTHING good about that, no at least..., no despite a good..., and no the Cardinals do some damage. It's not some damage, it's winning the game in the first inning.

15. Speaking of damage, if the Reds are down by five runs and they get a run in an inning, please do not say "the Reds do some damage" like they've just won the game. It's a barely noticeable scratch in the paint job, not a massive dent.

16. "That'!" is the worst homerun catchphrase in all of baseball. On every planet in the universe.

17. Please stop telling us wrong information, like three runs score when only two are in, or there are two outs when there is only one, or Aurilia is starting at second when he's at third, or the Reds bullpen is good.

18. When a player is past his prime, stop talking about him like he's still in his prime. When a player never had a prime, like Rolls Royce Hands of McClayton, don't talk about him like he's Ozzie in the eighties.

19. Stop talking. Seriously, just stop. We can see what's happening on television.

20. There's an old saying in Cincinnati - I know it's in Texas, probably in Cincinnati - that says, fool me once, shame on - shame on you. Fool me - you can't get fooled again. Oh, wait, that's a different George.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

You know?

"and where the offense is, let the great axe fall." ~ Hamlet Prince of Denmark (King at IV, v)

Oh, thank you Lord, for I will never feel the need for a heroin addiction. I have Reds baseball to give me my highs and lows. And thine prophet Ryan Freel deserves to take a place beside Your son's throne, for he is the savior of baseball games and possibly seasons. There have been few plays in the history of this beautiful game that have been such miracles that have defied the laws of physics, the kind of play where you watch over and over and over and over and over and still don't understand how the catch was made. The only explanation is that Edmonds' karma finally caught up with the Cardinals.

"Which, if not victory, is yet revenge." John Milton, Paradise Lost

Caleb proves that Reds fans are highly educated bums who can inject Milton (John), Updike, and god knows who else into a comment thread.

The post I had drafted about Grandeisms has been put on hold for now. Winning against the Deadbirds, defeating them mightily after such a handily defeat, is revenge so sweet. Series tied, here we go.

p.s. I love this game.

On Frustration

The green on the trees is still full like summer, but the light of the evening sky tells us that something has changed, the season's transition is in full force, even with the heat and the green. Normally at this time of year, we're going about our business, watching an occasional baseball game even though our small market teams are out of contention once again. The obnoxious hum of the locusts sends short pangs of nostalgia through our veins; another summer's end is approaching. There are still fifty some games, yes, but two-thirds of another glorious season has passed into the annuls of history. Autumn's whisper speaks to us through every breeze, every time a leaf rattles, every time we look out the window on an evening and see there isn't as much light as there was yesterday.

In August, we try to cram everything we didn't get to do during the summer into one busy month. We take vacations that are more stressful than relaxing, we cram family gatherings into a day's picnic, we even stain our decks or paint our houses or mend fences if we have those things to do. We jump in pools and lakes and oceans trying to savor every bit of another summer that we can, because we know, even if we don't contemplate it, even if it is stuck somewhere in the throes of our subconscious thoughts, that we are all getting older, that another summer is gone forever and has become a mere photo taken by that faulty camera in our minds. The end of summer tells us that; autumn's nostalgia visits us even as we try to ignore it.

It is exciting if our team is still in the pennant race. We have been irrationally frustrated at times. We blame everyone we can, whether the blame is warranted or not. (Narron's is warranted!) We want to make it, we use all of our passion, all of our trivial hope in root, root, rooting for our team, even if our team is no longer the home team. We have heated arguments about who should have pinch hit, who should have come out of the bullpen. Some of us are right, some of us are wrong, some of us just argue for argument's sake.

Is there any real glory in winning a game for your team when soldiers and civilians of all ethnicities and nationalities are slaughtered on a battlefield on a daily basis? Is this even a question we should ever ask ourselves? We all know that baseball is a diversion, an escape from the horrors and problems of daily life. We all relish those three or so hours when we can root for our mighty sluggers, pretend they are heroes in life, go back to the days of our childhood, our innocence, summer vacation, lazy days when we could build tree houses or ride bicycles into the nine o'clock daylight, play endless games of catch with anyone who had a glove.

It's August, the last month of the summer in another year gone by faster than we could keep up. This autumn, we'll have something to root for the first time in a long six years, but the closer it gets to the time of excitement, the time when balls sailing through the autumn night under the incandescent glow of the stadium lights, when every pitch counts, the closer we are to the end of another season, another year in our brief lives. It means nothing, yet it means everything, because in the end, all we have are memories of the thrill of a Junior Griffey homer, the adrelaline of a win against St. Louis, a Harang strikeout, or a Phillips grab that violates all the laws of physics.

Keep some perspective. After last night's game, it's tough; I'm struggling to do it. I feel depressed, like we have lost the World Series or something. It's just one game, though, and we're still in it. So we just have to get back up again, get down to the ballpark if we can, get in front of our television or computer screens if we can't, and regenerate the excitement that was ripped from us last night. Three games left of the series, we still have two of our best pitchers to come.

Go Reds!

Monday, August 07, 2006

Post-game thoughts

There's not enough beer in the world for games like these.

Raining on Pujols' Parade

I'm pumped for this series against the Deadbirds. I've already told my friends, well those who are left after putting up with my addiction all summer, that I will not be engaging in any social events for the next three evenings. No, I will be at home, hoping that the mighty lizard can keep Weaver on his DFA pace, that Eric "Longball" Milton can keep Pujols in the park, that Harangutan can outduel Chris "I should have been a" Carpenter, and that our savior can finally reach unlucky number 10.

About the picture, don't ask. I don't know.

Add another team into the Wild Card fray???!?

The Nationals? The Washington Nationals? When I saw this article by Bill Ladson, I thought he had finally lost it completely. But then I saw the number 7. Seven games back of the Wild Card?

Granted, there are ten teams in front of them, some of which have been playing quite well of late, and others, like the Cincinnati Majewskies, have not been performing like playoff caliber teams. But considering this team, the Nats that is, was one of the first to be considered "out of it," it's something of an accomplishment to suddenly look at the numbers and find a seven where a twenty should be. Overlooking the fact that the whole NL stinks, of course.

But really, to think that this team has any chance in a hot place to leap over the ten teams in front of them is like looking at a glass that is 2/3 empty and calling it half full. I wonder what is in that glass, because Ladson has been sipping something other than water in writing this article.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Jerry Moron is a Narron

It was a nice day in Southwest Ohio, sun shining, John Smoltz pitching, game on national television, but ominous clouds of doom hung over Reds Kingdom as if a plague were about to ravage the land. It had been speculated by some that His Excellency Wayne Krivsky was possessed by demons on account of the rather poor Trade he had bestowed upon the subjects of the Kingdom. The pitcher on the mound, considered by many to be plucked from the garbage heap by His Excellency, had been expected to give a Maysesque performance, and all but 29,000 of the subjects decided to do other things than go to the ballpark.

The spirit of Joe Mays was conspicuously absent during the first six innings, however, a pleasant surprise to all involved in the Kingdom's affairs. Then, like the sudden onslaught of a tsunami after an oceanic earthquake, disaster struck. A certain ugly Texassan with a Polish name took control of the mound and the outcome of the game. Like a locust coming from the skies to punish the sinners of the world, he strutted into the seventh inning spouting minor league stuff and major league pain. Hits, walks, and runs rained down on the Kingdom. When the storm was over, the Reds had lost, and the surprising start by he who had been deemed Lohser before he had thrown a pitch in the royal red garb had gone to waste.

Jerry Moron, the royal wizard, must be dabbling in black magic, for why else would a disaster such as the Duke of Suck be allowed to pitch when the Reds have a two-run lead?

Friday, August 04, 2006

What could be

It's the middle of September, and the Reds have played for a whole month like they did during that fateful series in Cincinnati when they were swept by the Los Angeles Dodgers of Los Angeles. Bronson Arroyo sits in the airport awaiting the team trip to Chicago to take on the equally as woeful Cubs, whom they will play seven of their final fifteen games. His eyes are misty as he thinks about what might have been, and the rockstar pitcher does what rockstars do when they get emotional - he pulls out his guitar and begins to sing.

I'm sitting in the aerostation,
Got a ticket for my destination.
On a tour of three game stands
My suitcase and guitar in hand,
And ev'ry stop is neatly planned
For a pitcher and a one-man band.

Playoff bound,
I wish I was,
Playoff bound,
October - not with our reshaping,
October - where I should be playing,
October - where a trophy's waiting
But it's not for me.

Ev'ry day's an endless stream
Of zeroes where our runs should be.
And each town looks the same to me,
The Dodgers and team Barry
And ev'ry batter's face I see
Reminds me that I long to be,

Playoff bound,
I wish I was,
Playoff bound,
October - not with our reshaping,
October - where I should be playing,
October - where a trophy's waiting
But it's not for me.

Tonight I'll pitch my balls again,
I'll play the game and pretend.
But losses come back to me
In shades of mediocrity
Like emptiness in harmony
I need someone to comfort me.

Playoff bound,
I wish I was,
Playoff bound,
October - not with our reshaping,
October - where I should be playing,
October - where a trophy's waiting
But it's not for me.
But it's not for me.

With apologies to Paul Simon.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Another rain delay?

How many is this on the season? Here goes the Banana Phone - I can feel myself getting dumber before I've even heard the first call.

When I was in sixth grade, I was on the safety patrol for my school. Back then, kids were allowed to be responsible for such things, as it was pre-helicopter parent time when kids were allowed to be kids without fear that they might get a scratch on their precious little skins. Anyway, the Reds had AAA (the car service company, not the place where Joe Mays is) Safety Patrol Day, when kids across Ohio were given tickets to a game in April. After weeks of anticipation, the time finally came to hop on the big yellow school bus, and I was more excited than, well, I was on the annual Eve of Christmas.

I always liked the drive down I-75 from the Englewood/Dayton/Sidney area, because I knew at the end of the road was a wide river with a big stadium next to it. I usually made the trip with my face planted against the window, taking note of each and every personal landmark that put me closer to my exalted destination - the Dayton Art Institute, UD Arena, West Carrollton football stadium, Trader's World, Butler County water tower, Burbanks, the concrete walls on both sides of the interstate, Procter and Gamble, Union Station, and then, the beautiful thing appears before me! During the yellow bus trip, I took note of the dark gray clouds that growled at me from the ominous sky. I knew what those clouds could mean, but I had my hope tied around my crossed fingers.

Hope was not enough. The heavens opened and cancelled our game before it ever started, and we trekked back to the bus, defeated and disappointed. I came back with a mini-Reds bat I bought with my "souvenir money," and the only other consolation was the fact that I knew I would get a raincheck and see another game that summer.

It's thundering here in DC, too, I guess in solidarity with Cincinnati. I hate rain delays, and there have been too many this year.

Stupid global warming.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Save him, please!

Yesterday, I woke from a sleep tortured by bad dreams with a violent headache, the kind that affects your every movement, your vision, your ability to see the world in anything but a negative light. Yes, I was what they call “grouchy” on account of the throbbing and the lack of a decent fifth starter I had hoped to see by this morning.

It had to be the oppressive heat that started it, a heat so fierce that even an occasional breeze burned your skin. Or maybe the heat was a mask for what really troubled my soul. The thought, as frightening as a confrontation with a Randy Johnson fastball, crept into my head around midday and did not cease to plague my brain. Then, during the woeful performance last night by the calfpen, I knew for certain that my fears were justified. Yes, folks, I am now convinced that Wayne Krivsky is possessed by demons!

You could tell something was amiss when, without warning, Estaban Yan and Joe “Definition of suckiness” Mays were picked up. At first, I thought Krivsky had caught Bowdenitis, that wretched disease that inflates the ego to the size of Texass after a few lucky trades. But the symptoms just weren’t there. There were no dilated pupils resulting from ever present flashbulbs before the eyes. Nor did his lips twitch as countless microphones were placed before them. Missing, too, were the stupid quotes from a jumbled, swollen head that is characteristic of this awful disease. No, it had to be something else.

I knew it was bad when the Trade happened. Something was horribly wrong with this man, but I just couldn’t pinpoint the problem. It wasn’t until last night when I witnessed what could only be the devil’s work that I knew what was wrong.

Oh, humble followers of the blessed baseball religion, we must pray for this poor man’s soul! We must ask the gods of baseball to overpower what has been spewed from the bowels of the Earth, the stomping grounds of Selig, Fehr, and Steinbrenner! Pray, dear worshippers, to save this man from the path traveled by the likes of JimBo, Allard Baird, and Jim Hendry! Pray, pray before it is too late!

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

As if we needed another reason to hate Roy O

The poor baby's feelings were hurt when his name was mentioned in trade rumors yesterday. Awww.
...hearing his name in trade talks involving the Orioles, among other teams, didn't help. Oswalt is upset that he was mentioned in a potential package, along with Adam Everett and perhaps Morgan Ensberg, for superstar shortstop Miguel Tejada. He feels the Astros have not been honest with him regarding their desire to keep him as an Astro, and in that respect, he'll have no qualms about testing the free-agent market next year...

"They say I'm a franchise player, just like Lance [Berkman]. If I'm just like Lance, treat me like Lance."