1) a set of laws or regulations
2) a set of ideas or rules about how to behave
Codes, unlike rules, are often unwritten and informal. No official book. No company manual. No government-like posters in the lunch room. They’re phantom collections of understandings between members of a group. For example, Chicago has a hot dog code that says you never, ever, never, never ever put ketchup on a hot dog; there’s no law preventing it, but if you’re from the Windy City you just wouldn’t ever do that. And if you did, you’d have to take the extra-large ration of doo doo — justifiable, by the way — that your friends would dish.
There are other kinds of codes, too. Like, say, a code of ethics. That’s the kinda thing Hillary Clinton wouldn’t recognize if it jumped up and took a bite out of her pantsuit-wearin’ donkey. Another would be a code of conduct. Donald Trump couldn’t identify that one if it was sittin’ on top of whatever it is that’s already sittin’ on top of his head. But that’s not what’s at issue here. In November, yes. What I’m talkin’ about now, though, is a code of honor. Semper Fidelis is the Marine Corp version. It means remaining faithful to the mission, to each other, to the Corps and to country, regardless of whatever kinda hell is happening all around them. Even the Mafia has a code. It’s called Omertà, and it means you never rat on your friends, you don’t cooperate with authorities, and you keep your nose outta the illegal actions of others. If you’re a wise guy, Omertà isn’t something you wanna treat with a casual attitude; like Alfonso Soriano used to have in the batter’s box. You could end up wearin’ cement shoes. If you’ve ever seen Prince Fielder run, you’d know that’s somethin’ you want to avoid.
Which brings me to the point; that unwritten code in baseball that says if one of your guys takes out one of our guys — whether it’s a hard slide into second base or some chin music that actually hits a high note — there’s gonna be some kinda retaliation. It’s part of the game — even the sissified, pink tutu-wearin’, give-a-warning-to-both-teams version Bud Selig turned it into. When I was a kid though, if you did a Chase Utley against the Cards, for example, you’d have to expect Bob Gibson to attempt a little brain surgery on you the next time you came to the plate. Not givin’ someone a tit when they’ve obviously tatted you is just plain cowardly, my friend. It’s baseball, not figure skating, and if you’re gonna put on the uni it’s your duty to stick up for each other. Period. Plus, it adds a dimension of Omertà to things, cuz you never know when, where or necessarily who is gonna pay the price. Bryce Harper thinks flippin’ bats and admiring your own work at the plate makes the game more interesting? That’s just ego in a very jackassian sorta way. Throwing a 97 mph heater at a guy’s numbers, on the other hand, tends to start a conversation — one that uses ALL the words in the english language, and that sometimes ends up in a spontaneous all-team dance on the infield grass. Now that’s interesting, pallie. You can keep your friggin’ bat flip.
You know what I like about rain delays? Pretty much everything. Of course I’m lookin’ at it from my own personal Joe Schlombowski perspective, which I freely admit is pretty friggin’ warped in a side-by-side comparison with just about anybody. The missus tells me I look at everything through Cubs-colored glasses. Guilty. I hesitate to point out, though, that I take my glasses off whenever she’s feelin’ frisky. I don’t really need to be wonderin’ what Joe Maddon would do in that situation, or who oughta be brought in for relief. Know what I’m sayin’?
Aaaaaaanyway … rain delays are my friend. Maybe not so much in April, cuz the green plastic can cause frostbite to at least one cheek, sometimes both of ’em. The ones in today’s game, though, were kinda like yellow flags at the Indy 500; I get a chance to make a pit stop, fuel up with a couple of loaded Chicago dogs and an Old Style, then head back out to my seat whenever I feel like it. Sometimes I like hangin’ in the concours for a while. Hey, Midwesterners are flat out the nicest people in the solar system, so you make a little small talk and, BANG … you gotta a new friend. Other times you GOTTA hang up there cuz the rain is biblical … like Noah’s ark is gonna be pulling up at Clark and Addison any minute. That’s what we had today. Loved it. Why? Cuz being at Wrigley is the most fun you can have with your cloths on, my friend. A rain delay is just baseball’s version of Viagra; it makes the game last longer, but you don’t have to seek medical attention if it’s longer than 4 hours.
Is the sky blue? Is the Pope Catholic? Does Howdy Doody have wooden balls? Yesterday against the Cards, the right arm of Jake Arrieta wasn’t quite as bazooka-like as it has been for the 22 starts that immediately preceded it, but it had enough boom shaka-laka to get the win; his 23rd in a row, tying the Major League record and sparking the stupid question, will Jake Arrieta ever lose again? Actually, there are no stupid questions, just stupid people asking questions … which makes it difficult to distinguish them from White Sox fans.
The obvious answer, though, is that, yes, Arrieta is gonna lose again. Oh … I suppose he could get run over by the team bus before his next start, in which case then, yeah, he’ll never lose again, but 1) I think he’d rather lose again and 2) winning streaks are overrated. The problem with streaks is that after a while they start to get inside your head; you begin thinkin’ about not losing — not breakin’ the streak — instead of focusing on winning. And there’s a difference, pal. The fact that that question was even asked is proof that there’s something to my theory. Of course, it was asked by a member of the media, and there’s really no way to gauge just how far down the moron scale those can be. If you wanna keep a winning streak in perpetual motion, you gotta ask different questions. Do you think Jake will throw another no-no this season? How many times will he strike out the side tonight? Which will be the bigger story in October, the Cubs winning the Series or Arrieta going undefeated? If your mind is in the right place, you’re a lot more likely to get what you want. (That’s what the missus tells me, but it’s difficult to square that during baseball season.)
Hey, if there’s anyone out there willing to drag the Cubs through the mud when they deserve it, it’s me, my friend. Sometimes, fingers need to be pointed (or in the case of the Mets, flipped) and, now and then the Cubs deserve to be on the receiving end. Why? Cuz In my mind, it serves no one’s purpose to “Hillary Clinton” things whenever the Cubs start conducting business on a private server. When they do that, I call ’em on it. But HOLY FRIGGIN’ CRAP! … What the hell is up with you guys wantin’ to string Tommy La Stella up by his Draymond Green target area?! Especially Jesse Rogers, who follows the Cubs for ESPN. I mean, it’s easy for us yay-hoos to mouth off from the cheap seats, but a pro callin’ a kid out cuz he fertilizes the infield grass a couple of times seems a bit harsh.
Maybe I’d feel different if we’d lost. Probably. I’m pretty good at blamin’ a loss on a guy’s brain fart. In fact every time I hear the name, Bartman, I still break into a sweat, and it’s a good 45 minutes until the facial tic goes away. So I get it. La Stella has had better days. But it’s not like anyone is whinin’ about our pen (which does finally have some bulls in it this year, but today, and a fair number of other days this season, they’ve looked more like veil calves). What about their roll in today’s near collapse? My point is, it’s a friggin’ team … and no single guy is gonna win or lose a game all on his own, although that’s what it looks like sometimes. It really doesn’t help La Stella to settle down when he gets skewered in the Twittersphere cuz of one bad day at 3rd.
Baseball, like every other sport on the planet, except bowling, pool, arm wrestling and darts, is a young man’s sport. I’d throw in competitive eating, too, but 1) I’m not sure it’s really a sport and 2) the older you are, the more practice you’ve had so, technically-speaking, you should have an advantage. Take me, for instance. I money-back guarantee you that I can eat any 20-year-old you want into a coma. And the only thing I have in common with an athlete (other than Bartolo Colon’s waist line) is ESPN — I watch it and they’re on it.
Seriously, most highlight reel stuff in baseball is done by guys under 30. Mike Trout, Bryce Harper, Giancarlo Stanton, Clayton Kershaw, Andrew McCutchen, Chris Sale, the Chicago Cubs … I could go on. It’s a ridiculous list of super-human mutants that do wicked good, mind-blowing things with bats and gloves and arms with monotonous regularity. (Uh, that means “all the time”, White Sox fans.) Yeah, sure, I know … baseball has guys as old as rocks, too. Sometimes you see ’em in the dugout. Guys like Koji Uehara, R.A. Dickey, David Ross, the aforementioned Bartolo Colon, and A-Rod. (Those last two are jaggoffs … but so far, Manfred, in his one man quest to remake baseball into shuffleboard with a clock, hasn’t instituted any mandatory retirement age for jaggoffs. Yet.) But most old baseball guys, that aren’t in the booth, are scouting or coaching or managing other guys; younger ones who don’t make grunting noises when they get out of a chair.
As far as the National Anthem snafu in San Diego goes, I’m thinkin’ everybody oughta step back for a moment, un-wad their panties, take a deep breath, count to 10 and get a friggin’ grip on reality before the entire sky (and the rainbow that’s in it) falls to pieces. Seems like one got away from them, rather than a decision on the part of the Padres organization to throw a little chin music at the Gay Men’s Chorus. I mean, seriously, is that something they’d do on purpose?
And how about the reaction by Buster Olney, demanding that MLB “investigate what happened with the National Anthem in SD and, if necessary, come down with full weight of discipline.” Geeze … how ’bout calling out the National Guard, Buster? Maybe a Senate hearing is in order. Perhaps a couple of years in Gitmo for the Padres’ front office. Nobody was kidnapped, held at gunpoint, or had their head chopped off. A little perspective would be nice.
Seein’ as how this happened at a ballgame, I personally think it shoulda been handled the way all bad calls are handled in baseball; The head Chorus guy shoulda got in the face of whoever was runnin’ the show on the field and given him his best Earl Weaver imitation. I mean right in his face — screamin’ and kicking dirt, and yelling at the top of his lungs (which gotta be like Lou Piniella lungs cuz the guy’s in a chorus, after all) and spittin’ on the guy until he got tossed. Woulda made for a much better show, and I’m pretty sure everybody that has anything to do with baseball would be on the side of the Chorus … but in a realistic way, instead of acting like Donald friggin’ Trump.
So I’m watching Jake spellbind the Giros last night, wondering if he was facing a real Major League team or the consolation bracket in Williamsport, when, during a commercial break, I flip channels long enough to hear two jock-sniffing windbags calling a meaningless game in Boston or New York or You-Take-Your-Pick mention that the Commish is now considering — get this — a proposal from the owners’ competition committee that will do away with the intentional base-on-balls as soon as next year. No, hey, if you’re rubbing the eye boogers from your peepers right now wondering if you just read that right, believe me, I get it. I nose-farted Old Style all over the barcalounger! Oh, and that’s not all, sports fans. They also want to raise the strike zone to the top of the knee, probably because there ain’t a warm body on the planet that can hit Jake this year. Since Alex Cartright spit out is last chew, the only problem with the strike zone is that the boys in blue can’t seem to read it any better than a book of French poetry. Leave it alone, I say.
Let me ask you this, cheese doodles: is there a novocaine drip that leads directly to Robbie Womanfred’s ball bag? He’s pissed cuz the game is taking seven minutes longer this year. Seven minutes? Um, what’s the problem? The fans in Atlanta may not want to endure the pain any longer than they did last year, but at Wrigley we’re real fans who say, the longer the better. Hell, I can savor two more Old Styles and another Smokie in seven minutes! Let’s face it, hammer heads: either you’re a baseball fan, or you’re not. Don’t like being at the yard? Don’t friggin’ go! Besides, it’s not the stuff on the field that chaps my ass. It’s all the commercials and promotions and electronics and other “fan experience” crap required by the average Dodgers fan that brings the game to a screeching halt and sends me into sensory overload. Not to mention instant replay, which I hate as much as Steve Bartman must.
The Cubs are in San Francisco for the start of a 3 game series with the halloweenies. Given that english is now a second language in California, this probably won’t be necessary, but I’d like to point out right now that Arrieta is Spanish for “no hitter.”
San Francisco’s AT&T ball park — home of the Giants — is where Mr Arrieta will be notching his 8th win tonight. I hate to admit this, but I have a soft spot for the Orange and Black. It’s cuz they so dutifully rolled over for our broom last August, almost single-handedly ensuring the Cubs’ spot in the playoffs. Mind you, this soft spot is very tiny … and it’s not located in my heart, like most soft spots. It can be found on the caboose of my digestive tract, my friend, which always makes me think about Barry Bonds, and is why I’ll never forget who’s soft spot it is.
Excuse me while I meander back over to my original subject — AT&T ball park. I’ve been there a dozen times or so over the years. Meh. You’ll hear people from the Bay Area talkin’ about it like it’s a friggin’ holy shrine to baseball, cuz it supposedly has characteristics of the pre-Astrodome era. Personally, I’d say that if Wrigley is the Friendly Confines, then AT&T is the Hair Salon. It’s all a little to polished and schmick — not that it doesn’t get properly trashed during a game — but it’s missing whatever it is that Wrigley and Fenway have that make you feel like you’ve gone back far enough in time that baseball is still a game. Before free agency. Before ball girls and designated hitters. Before $14 beers, and idiotic mascots, and obnoxious music blarin’ so loud it almost breaks my ear drums. And certainly before Rob Womanfred’s nad-clipping 2nd base slide rule. AT&T sits squarely in the middle of “right now.” It’s a ball park. Nothin’ more, nothin’ less. Where it’s got it over Wrigley, though — and you have no idea how nasty these words taste in my mouth — is the 3 World Series Championships that have been hosted there. Credit where credit is due, pal. Still, the steroid inflated cheat, Barry Bonds played there, which in my mind sorta cancels that out.
Well, cheese doodles, tonight was either a bona fide come-from-behind, never-say-die, skin-of-the-teeth victory, or a brutally honest look at our bull pen. Depends on how you wanna look at it, but since I have an almost mythical knack for finding the cloud wherever there’s a silver lining, I feel the need to point out the obvious flaw in what seems like a World Series team; our bull pen. Watchin’ them tonight was like eyeballin’ a petri dish coated with some disgusting stuff you can’t pronounce swarming around in random ways you can’t predict. And whatever that stuff is, you don’t want to touch it, and you sure as hell don’t want it wearin’ a Cubs uniform.
All I can say is thank you, God, for Joe Maddon. This was like some sort of baseball experiment tonight, where the Cubs were in a Phase II trial to figure just how comatose they could be and still win. Maddon, though, was the mad scientist, mixing things up in crazy ways, and putting parts where they don’t belong until he effectively willed a win out of what appeared to be a collection of inanimate objects. Seriously … how can the Cubs make like friggin’ Ironman for the first 5+ weeks of the season and then turn into Boy George against one of the worst teams in the league? Boggles the mind.
As good as we’ve been (and we’ve been damn good) and as masterful as Dr Maddon is (like a Casey Stengel version of Einstein … or vice versa) tonight’s showing against the Brewers illustrated with the clarity of a Miller High Life bottle that our bull pen is definitely the weak link in the Cubbies chain reaction. They walked 6 guys. SIX! I thought bull pen guys were supposed to throw strikes. That’s why they get brought in in the first place … cuz the previous guy couldn’t throw strikes. I mean if we wanted to keep walkin’ guys we’d just leave the first guy in, who was doin’ a fine job with that already, Right? Even Wood, who got the win by gettin’ out of a spectacular hole he dug for us, and gettin’ walked himself with the bags loaded, probably woulda had a different outcome if it hadn’t been for some of Maddon’s chess moves.
On the other hand, the Cubbies did come away with a win tonight, even if the bull pen was channeling Mitch Williams most of the time. Question is, what kinda pen do they wanna be? The kind that’s directly responsible for an increase in Chicagoland cardiac deaths, or the kind that inspires the sale of (name of Cubs reliever here) jerseys? We’re gonna find out. No question about that.
If you wanna go by what the New York Post says — and in this instance, why the hell not? — it’s time we got to the bottom (literally) of Bartolo Colon, so we can find out what else the guy might be hiding (besides another woman and a couple of kids). Who knows? Maybe Jimmy Hoffa is in there?
Colon is slated to be on the hill tonight against the Nats. But seein’ as how his two-timing backside was hauled into court Monday by Alexandra Santos, who claims the $7 million-sausage-in-a-uniform is a deadbeat dad, who friggin’ knows? I mean if it were me, there’s no way I could concentrate, but then I have a conscience — something that would keep me outta this kinda pickle in the first place. Colon, on the other hand, plays for the Mets. That and the fact that he’s been HIDING the pickle with someone other than Mrs Colon — and he’s able to sleep at night anyway — mean that a conscience doesn’t come standard on the Bartolo model. (Although 3 or 4 spare tires do.)
Can’t say I’m surprised. He’s a Met (whatever the hell that is) and as a result obviously can’t be trusted. If the Post’s article is true … well … Bartolo’s got some splainin’ to do. Although, I’m not sure Rosanna, his better half — or in Bartolo’s case probably just 15% — really gives a crap. She said she knew all about his other kids. Which means she knows about Ms Santos, too. Not sure why all that’s ok with her, but I’d guess it has something to do with the bank account Big Sexy keeps fully stocked. They sound like they’re made for each other.
Pretty sad for those kids if Colon is actually their father but he’s not willing to step up and support ’em. But hey, like I said, he’s a Met. Not that this isn’t a serious deal, but the funny side of all this is that the child-support case in question is listed on official papers as “Anonymous v. Anonymous.” Because of that, the only reason you, me and the Post found out that Bartolo wasn’t so anonymous after all, was because he’d represented himself in the custody dispute, thus his name was listed as an attorney. Which means Bartolo is not only an alleged dirt bag, he also has a fool for a client.