I suppose “bombs” might be a slightly overly-dramatic description for Sale’s performance last night in his 3-1 loss to the Cubbies, but hey … one drama queen to another, right?
That’s the problem with drawin’ attention to yourself by bein’ a complete douche bag. Everyone is watching and waiting for you to screw up. Not that he actually screwed up, but anything short of perfection after his Little Lord Fontleroy bit the other day doesn’t cut it. And if anyone oughta know how to cut somethin’, it’s Chris Sale.
The real story was Mr Lackey, who was vintage last night, and a helluva lot more effective than Scissorhands. Yeah, I think the game probably qualified as a duel, but in the end it was the Lackmiester who filleted his 6′-10″ opponent into bite size chunks. Add to that the new Strop, Rondon, Chapman 3-headed bullpen monster and the Cubs (in the movie parlance thing) are startin’ to look a lot like Jason Bourne.
Chapman definitely changes the dynamic. First, havin’ him in the wings has gotta have some kinda super-power effect on starters. I mean if I know that all I gotta do is get through the 6th and the door is gettin’ slammed in the face of the (ANY TEAM NAME HERE) well then it gives me some extra confidence. That’s gotta make a dif. Second, if I’m Strop or Rondon, besides being ecstatic about makin’ stupid money for throwin’ a few pitches now and then, I still have the same basic job. It’s just that my shift got moved up an inning or two. Third, havin’ to face Strop and Rondon while also watchin’ Chapman warm up is a sure fire way to deflate any misguided hope the (ANY TEAM NAME HERE) might get back into a game in the late innings.
You could see that happen tonight. You could literally feel that the decision has been made — the Cubs are winnin’ the last game of the World Series this year and there’s nothin’ anybody, not King Kong, not James Bond, not Ironman and certainly not Sale Scissorhands is gonna be able to do about it.
Did you hear that, Cubs fans? That heavy metallic clunk was the last piece of the championship puzzle being lowered into position — the 99.999% pure steel arm of Aroldis Chapman. The first thing I did when I heard the news was call my mother. I wanted to find out how old I was the last time I wet my pants. Yeah … I’m jacked … sorta … and I think this is a kind of a good move. Why? Cuz it’s about FRIGGIN’ time that Binny’s Beverage Depot had an actual reason to be the official champagne supplier of the Chicago Cubs.
You gotta admit, the Cubs appear to be teeterin’ on the edge of a Championship. We’ve led or been tied for the best record in baseball the entire season. Even without Schwarber, and with various injuries plaguing a variety of players, not to mention our coin-toss bullpen, the Cubs are still wearin’ the yellow jersey as the race to the World Series is comin’ outta the back stretch. (How’s that for mixin’ metaphors?! That’s like a metaphor salad, my friend.) Adding Chapman and movin’ Rondon to a set-up position means that Theo is pretty serious about roastin’ some billy goat in October.
Naturally, there’s a Mount Everest sized pile of second guessing goin’ on — everything from Chapman’s domestic violence history to what the Cubbies gave up to get the Usane Bolt of pitchers.
That’s fair. I mean personally, I have zero tolerance for guys with OJ tendencies, so tradin’ for one who was suspended for that very thing, AND it involved a gun … well … that’s a pond I don’t wanna fish in, pallie. Full disclosure — I’m uncomfortable about it. My hope is that Ricketts made it crystal-friggin-clear that crap like that won’t be tolerated. Of course if it happens again it’s already too friggin’ late. There will forever be a link between the Cubs desire to win takin’ precedence over steerin’ clear of a guy who smacks women around. 108 years is a long drought, but is this a gamble you wanna take to put an end to it? Except for the bullpen, we’ve got all the signs of waltzin’ into the Series and maybe winnin’ the damn thing … without Chapman. Besides, the Cubs have never been a “win at all costs” kinda franchise. (No shit.) Does this move forever change their soul; makin’ it as evil and black as the Yankees’ is? Can’t say I like havin’ to even contemplate that. Justification comes in the form of Chapman’s clean record since being reinstated, and sits defiantly under the flag of second chances Ricketts has hoisted. I don’t think there’s any doubt that Chapman improves the pen, thus the team as a whole. But at what cost to their reputation?
There’s also that whole “we kept him from goin’ to a team we might have to face in the playoffs” distorted mindset. That’s pretty Hillary Clintonesque logic. Doin’ somethin’ you don’t believe in, cuz if you don’t somebody else will, is the worst kinda political acrobatics there is. The last thing I want is for the Cubs to turn into the New England friggin’ Patriots.
The other thing that’s gettin’ batted around — and not in a nice way — is that we gave up Adam Warren, minor league outfielders Billy McKinney and Rashad Crawford, and the jewel of the bunch, minor league shortstop Gleyber Torres (the top prospect in the Cubs organization) in exchange for a 2 month rent-a-closer. A lotta experts out there are treatin’ that like the Jim Fregosi for Nolan Ryan deal. Now that was a bad trade, pallie. But talent-wise, the Cubs are like Pacific Ocean deep across the board, so givin’ up prospects — even one with Torres’s potential — doesn’t leave me scratchin’ my head. Or anywhere else for that matter. It woulda been different had we made the deal with someone in our division, but we didn’t.
The main argument against this move (besides Chapman’s violent pinheadedness) is over aggregate value. A conservative estimate for a talent like Torres is that he’s worth 15 or 20 WAR in his first 6 seasons in the Show, while Chapman may be worth just 1 through the rest of this season. Before you even get to Warren, McKinney and Crawford, that makes this deal look pretty bad for the Cubs. But that’s a pretty stupid debate: 1) Torres is 19 and ain’t even in the big leagues yet, 2) WAR is a stupid way to measure closers, and 3) If Chapman can do his 105 mile and hour blind-the-hitters thing, and we win the Series partly because of it, who gives a flying Wallenda if we traded away the farm? The Chicago Cubs will have achieved the be-all end-all of baseball existence for the first time in 108 years!
So … was this a good trade? Was it money and players and conscience well spent? After last night’s bullpen-induced loss against the White Sox, I’m leanin’ in the “yes” direction.
You know what Chris Sale needs? A good long trip to the woodshed. Unless you’ve been in a coma the past few days, you already know that Sale was suspended for cuttin’ up his team’s navy-collared 1976 throw-back uniforms cuz he didn’t like ’em, and then got into some sorta shoutin’ match with someone from Chicago’s front office. Nice, Chris. Real mature. Oh … and with a ginormous helping of sarcasism, I’d like to say “nice job” to the parents of this major league bratski. Anybody who behaves like a 20 year old John McEnroe impersonating Carlos Zambrano doesn’t deserve to wear a Major League uniform, regardless of what era it comes from.
Temper tantrums from athletes are not new. I already mentioned Zambrano and McEnroe, but that’s just the tip of the ice berg, pal. How ’bout Billy Martin, Jonathan Papelbon, Serena Williams, Ron Artest, Latrell Sprewell, Pacman Jones? Oh yeah, and there’s the ever-lovin’ crown prince of pissed off, OJ Simpson. It’s a deep pool of boiling vitriol that meanders through all sports. But no matter which offending athlete or whatever sport they participate in, the professional equivalent of throwin’ yourself on the floor, screamin’ and kickin’ can likely be traced to a really stellar job of parenting.
It’s not like this was the first time Sale flew off the friggin’ handle in a fully armed F-22. I guarantee you it’s been happenin’ his whole life, without consequence. Spare the rod, spoil the child that grows up to be a Major League asshole pitcher.
B.B. Abbott, Sale’s agent said, “The only thing that matters to Chris Sale is winning. If he perceives that something is distracting from that or being prioritized over that, he is going to have a problem with it.” Uh-huh. Dry that one out and you can fertilize the infield at The Cell. Sale supposedly accused management of puttin’ PR ahead of winning. In this case, PR was being defined as having to wear a throw-back uni. Yeah … boy … that’s a total friggin’ hardship. I’d like Sale to work a couple of overtime shifts in a coal mine to find out the true meaning of dealing with adversity. Better yet, how ’bout a tour with the 2nd Platoon, Charlie Company in Fallujah? Good F-ing Lord, I’m sick and FRIGGIN’ tired of guys like Sale melting down over nothin’, and then havin’ a pooper-scooper like Abbott try and twist what happened into somethin’ rational.
By the way, if Abbott was right, and Sale really has a problem with stuff gettin’ in the way of winning, perhaps he oughta raise a little hell with his team’s general performance — a waaaaay bigger road block than a “fashion don’t.” I’m just sayin’. And if we were to suspend reality for a moment, and say that the ballistic missle, Sale, did activate his launch codes over a uniform gettin’ in the way of winning … I think the Sox are gonna have to start playin’ naked, cuz it doesn’t seem to matter which one they’re wearin’, W’s seem pretty tough to come by.
Anyway, from the cheap seats it looks as though Mr Sale thinks his crap doesn’t stink. Well, I got news for Chris. His particular post-dump scent could knock a buzzard off a shit wagon. He’s not better than the rest of his team. He doesn’t wanna win any more than the rest of ’em do. And wearin’ throw-back uni’s now and then is part of the friggin’ game. Everybody does it, yet he’s the only one who feels the need to melt down like a runway model cuz he’s unhappy with his outfit.
You know, my Dad used to say, “You can tell the size of a man by the size of the thing that makes him mad.” That means Chris Sale is about knee high to a fruit fly. Friggin’ prima donna cry baby.
Of course, I could be wrong. But I’m not.
There is no joy in Mudville. At least on Tommy Lasorda’s street. Of course I’m just spit-ballin’ on that, but I gotta imagine Mike Piazza goin’ into the Hall as a Met instead of a Dodger musta been more than enough to orbit LA’s most famous Italian sausage. They probably heard it all the way in Vero Beach, cuz I’ll tell you … anybody who’s ever heard Tommy when he’s upset knows what his favorite words are, and that he wields ’em like Luke Skywalker with a lightsaber. Even Andrew Dice Clay probably covers his ears.
I think Piazza is still sore at the Dodgers for not givin’ into his contract demands back in the day. Let me just say right here that makin’ eight or 12 or 26 million dollars a year to play a game is not only stupid money, it’s just plain stupid. Nobody should get paid like that unless you’re curin’ cancer or somethin’. Anyway, instead of payin’ him, they traded the guy to the Marlins who immediately sent him to New York. The back story on all of that is pretty interesting. In the end, Piazza was the best position player the Mets ever had, was a GREAT hitter and had his best years in Queens. In addition to that, goin’ into the Hall of Fame ranks a little higher than gettin’ the prize outta your Cracker Jacks box, so you should pretty much be able to decide which one of the teams you played for gets the honor.
Still, if it weren’t for Lasorda, Piazza may never have stepped foot on a professional diamond — not even in A ball. Nobody wanted to give Mike a look. So Lasorda — a long time friend of Piazza’s dad and Godfather to Mike’s brother — talked the Dodgers into takin’ Piazza in the 62nd round of the June 1988 draft. That’s what you call a throw-away pick, my friend. They sent him to Salem, Oregon. If LA is the brightest spot in the Dodgers universe, Salem is a little asteroid that’s furthest from it. I don’t think they has much hope for Piazza. But he was like family. If Tommy hadn’t insisted on makin’ that pick … who knows? Maybe Piazza is sellin’ insurance.
Anyway, if I’m Lasorda, and I’m a big believer in family and loyalty and I bleed Dodger blue, I’ve got smoke curling outta my ears when I hear Piazza’s “Mets” decision, and I’m marchin’ through my house lettin’ loose with an extra large serving of the Dave Kingman and Kurt Bevacqua word salad.
Like I said, it’s Piazza choice. Of course it’s just another reason (number 870) to hate the Mets, and I just don’t think Lasorda would be all that giddy about it.
Yesterday, ESPN’s Buster Olney wrote a piece about the nine ideas that would improve baseball — not a “fix”, but things that would help the game in one form or another. Personally, I don’t see what’s wrong with baseball, outside of we don’t have cheerleaders. You hear that Manfred?! We want cheerleaders! The game is nearly flawless (unless we’re talkin’ about Starlin Castro’s glove). Time has confirmed the perfection of its geometry. It ebbs and flows like a lazy summer stream, but it’s also punctuated by the violence of the bat, the improvisation and acrobatic of great defenders, and the drama of a single pitch upon which the outcome might rest. There’s no clock savin’ anyone’s ass. Yeah, there’s a clock — one of Manfred’s brain farts intended to speed up the game. Idiotic. But there’s no game clock. As Yogi said, “It ain’t over ’til it’s over,” which can only be associated with the purest forms of sport. There’s no timer that can be manipulated — completely independent of athletic skill — to one’s advantage.
This is where I got an issue with the list in Buster’s piece. At lease item #1. I’m not finger pointing, since the list was generated with help from the Mike & Mike audience. At least it sounds like that’s the case. But that number 1 item on the list reads as follows:
Reduce the games to seven innings. A longtime executive mentioned this idea to me a couple of years ago, a dramatic change that would accelerate the adrenaline of the game and greatly reduce the time of game, something MLB has aimed for in recent seasons. You can shave the commercial time between innings or ask batters to stay in the box, but those are minor adjustments that make a small difference. This change would get the time of game closer to between two and 2 1/2 hours.
No question: Shavin’ commercial time, keepin’ batters in the box, limiting the time for mound visits … None of that makes much of a difference. BUT REDUCING GAMES TO SEVEN INNINGS?!!! Give me a friggin’ Kit Kat break. Is the goal to turn Major League ball games into Little League games? That idea reaches a point on the stupidity peak that’s never been conquered before. Congrats to whoever came up with that, and the “long time executive” Buster refers to. You guys all get the pointy hat prize.
First, is it life’s goal to make everything as frantic and abbreviated as possible? Cuz if it is, maybe we should put some kinda clock on nookie time, too. Do you get what I’m sayin’? Not everything should be measured by the same instant gratification, sound-bitten, 4-second-page-load limited brain chemistry the Internet has brought us. There are some activities in life that should be allowed to unfold instead of being ripped open and tossed aside so you can get on to hyperventilatin’ about the next item on your to-do list.
A seven inning baseball game isn’t going to “accelerate the adrenaline of the game.” Not one friggin’ iota. (Whatever an “iota” is.) The game is gonna be played at the same pace in the exact same way as it is now. Shovin’ the bottom of the 9th drama to the bottom of the 7th just shifts it ahead. It’s not gonna fundamentally change squat. It ain’t gonna make things more exciting, or add more tension, or dial up the excitement. In fact, I would argue that it does the exact opposite. If you’ve got a shorter game, you’re also gonna have fewer home runs, fewer great plays, fewer dramatic moments of every kind that people say they like. Even the pin-heads who go to games cuz they wanna see Bryce Harper flippin’ his bat, and other stupid crap like that, are gonna see 22% less of it.
Baseball isn’t a Las Vegas show girl act. It’s not somethin’ you snort. It’s not a friggin’ Taylor Swift concert. So why do we need to measure how much fun it is by tryin’ to bend it in ways that make it more like whatever else floats your boat? If you can’t sit through 9 innings, leave. Go watch your local high school. Or just go do somethin’ else entirely. But stop whining about a sport that’s been proven over 150 years to be damn near perfect just the way it is.
Of course, I could be wrong. But I’m not.
PS. And if you actually do decide to look into “helping” the game — not that it needs it — don’t forget about that cheerleader thing, Rob.