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.
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.
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.
Hey there, weed eaters. I got a question for ya: What the hell is it with the Robin Leach plans for Wrigley Field? Excuse me all to friggin’ hell for just bein’ a baseball fan instead of a Rolls Royce drivin’, C-suite fancy pants with $1000 bills hangin’ outta my pockets, but I guess that just ain’t good enough for Tom Ricketts anymore.
Hey, I’m grateful as hell that Tom-Tom wrestled the Cubs away from the pinheads at the Trib, and has turned the club into something that has less than zero resemblance to the National League door mat it used to be. Major kudos for that, Mr Ricketts. The Schlombowski’s thank you. But plans are in the works to turn parts of Wrigley into some sorta private yacht club for the single malt sippin’ rich and famous, and they’re wedged into my craw like a friggin’ 2 x 4. That whole way of thinkin’ is a slippery slope, my friend. It gives me an Old Style headache — one that can only be relieved by blowin’ the foam off my medicine.
I suppose I should be happy that Wrigley hasn’t gone the way of the wrecking ball. If it had, not only would the best ball park in the galaxy be just a memory, but we’d now have a “kinda” ball park as it’s replacement. “Kinda” ball parks are places like AT&T, or PNC, that kinda seem like an old baseball park, and kinda have some of the idiosyncrasies ($10 word bonus for Joe) of an Ebbets or Crosley or Comsky or Fenway, but they’re just Kingdome’s in disguise. No one is happier than me that we’ve still got Wrigley in it’s almost original form. And some of the changes over the years have been good. As hard as it was to take at the time, I know we had to do the lights. It was a must. And the clubhouse? Sheesh. You can’t treat million dollar ball players like circus animals, especially now since they don’t play like ’em anymore. But not every change is for the better, pal.
Hey there, pot stickers, Joe “Untouchable” Schlombowski, here. So I was readin’ in the Trib that Chris Correa, the Cards’ former scouting director, was just sentenced to a skosh under 4 years in the slammer for spyin’ on the Stros. This story is so whacked that I’m havin’ trouble knowin’ where to even start. But, hey, I’ll give it a shot.
First, Chris Correa isn’t exactly on par with the Pink Panther when it comes to bein’ a criminal mastermind. I mean if you rob a bank, and you’re wiley enough to get away with it, you end up with a ton of cash. BOOM! Instant payoff. Rocket scientist Correa, on the other hand, hacked into the Stros’ database in order to get his beady little eyes on their draft list, notes on trade discussions, player evaluations and a 2014 team draft board. What the hell is the payoff with that kinda move? Sure, over time, the Cards maybe, possibly, eventually might, sorta, kinda be able to make some minor gains at the expense of Houston, but we’re talkin’ about stuff that typically takes years to develop. And Houston isn’t even in the same league, let alone the same division as the Cards, which if they were it would have the greatest possibility of makin’ a difference. And what does Correra get outta any of it anyway? Maybe a raise if and when enough of it pays off, but … wow … is that a roundabout way of gettin’ ahead.
Second, if you are gonna do your own little Richard Nixon reenactment, why the hell would you target baseball? Now, I could be wrong but it seems like whatever Apple Computer is plannin’ for the new, new thing might … just might … be a little more valuable than the OPS of some 16 year old phenom from Barahona. Yeah, I get it … Correa was in baseball so he was workin’ the turf he knows. But the risk/reward trade off is just too thin. It’s Twiggy on a liquid diet. It’s friggin’ anorexic.
Third, and no offense to the Stros — well, the usual amount, but no more than that — if you’re just bound and determined to partake in corporate baseball espionage, is hackin’ into the Astro’s database where you wanna start? That woulda been like Nixon’s guys breakin’ into the Bethesda Motel 6. If I’m Correa — and thank God I’m not cuz I’d have the IQ of driftwood — I’m hackin’ the Cubs. Why? Look at ’em. Look at the club, the depth, the talent, the farm system. If you get away with it — and I gotta assume that was part of Correa’s plan — why wouldn’t you go after the information that can make the biggest difference for you, both in terms of it face value, and the fact that you’d be takin’ it from your arch-friggin-rival? Nope. Correa goes for the Stros in what can best be described as a pinheadian move of gargantuan proportions.
But then, what would you expect from a Cardinals guy?
When I got up yesterday, I had a little extra spring in the Schlombowki waddle. It was National Hot Dog Day. As usual, I saluted and checked my condiments. No … the ones in the pantry.
Nothin’ … and I mean NOTHIN’ is better than a hot dog. Except 3 or 4 of ’em. A few dozen more if you’re Joey Chestnut. Anyway, National Hot Dog Day pays tribute to that, honoring the highly under-appreciated and unassuming hot dog as the quintessential American food. It’s waaaaaay more American than apple pie, by the way. When the hell was the last time you saw someone chowin’ down a pie at a ball game? Never, that’s when. Look, when American’s do American stuff, like picnics or a 4th of July BBQ or takin’ in a ball game, hot dogs are on the menu, pal. Period. And if they’re not — if you’re doin’ any of those things without havin’ dogs or brats or polish or whatever kinda encased meat products (the 3 most beautiful words in the English language) that turns your crank, you’re just plain un-american. You could be KGB with an attitude like that. Boris Badenov. Putin.
Hot dogs are actually the perfect representation of America, in a small, 3 or4 bite-sized epicurean way. Think about it — America is made up of all kinds of people (and St Louis fans) from all over the world. Melting pot? Pffft. To me, that’s a hot dog, baby! If you ever saw how they make ’em, you’d know exactly what I’m sayin’. Why? Cuz dogs are made outta all the left over stuff once the fancy cuts have been carved up. So, just like your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free are the ingredients in American soup … your fatty bits, small trimmings and pig lips yearning to be delectable are mushed all together in their own perfect union — the delicious all-American hot dog.
Anyway, I was really lookin’ forward to Chicago doggin’ all day; breakfast, lunch, dinner, bedtime snack … the works. It’s a Schlombowski tradition. And, as it turns out, a nutrition tradition. Yeah, seriously. I’m pretty sure hot dogs are a super food. I don’t really know what that means, but they’re food and they taste super, so I’m goin’ with super food. It’s a good thing, like kale … only I’ll eat it.
If you read between the lines of this piece by ESPN’s Jayson Stark, you might get the impression that havin’ a lot of star power is all that matters in baseball. Funny … All these years I thought it was winnin’ the World Series.
Personally — and I fully admit I’m old school … in fact, I’m more like prehistoric school — I couldn’t give a rat’s hiny if people are buyin’ Bryant’s or Trout’s or Big Papi’s jersey, or if kids are sculpting their heads like a Bryce Harper doll (other than the fact than they look like morons). I’d rather have a team of no-names with Darth Vader’s charisma, but who play the game with a purpose defined by winning, instead of how many Muscle Milk commercials they’re in.
As luck or karma or divine intervention or Theo Epstein’s nuclear-powered brain would have it, the Cubs have both this year — stars and studs. Maybe that’s divine intervention after all. I think Mr Stark is right, the National League, at this point in time, has more Hollywood than the American League.
To which I say, “So the hell what?”
That has about as much to do with goin’ home with the hardware as the color of your tooth brush. And I don’t care who you are … you could be Buster Posey or Robinson Cano or Jesus H. Christ (I think he’s from the Dominican) … winnin’ the Series is the be-all end-all of human existence for ballplayers.
Let’s start off by goin’ back to the 70s, when Mr Stark points out that the stars burned brightest in the National League. Despite that assertion, the American League took the Series 6 times in that decade. Is that a landslide? No. But it’s an indication that buyin’ a guy’s jersey doesn’t necessarily affect the outcome in October.
When it comes to All-Star Games, Major League Baseball kicks football’s, basketball’s and hockey’s asses. No question.
And football? Pffft. The Pro Bowl ain’t even played until the season’s over; we’ve slept through a playoff system that includes, like, every stinkin’ team in the league; and nasty Miss Jackson’s boobs have already exploded from her Super Bowl outfit. I mean, after that, who the hell gives a crap about football?
That said, MLB’s All-Star Game ain’t exactly a chew-on-your-fingernails, glued-to-the-chair, don’t-miss-a-pitch event. It’s a vehicle for sellin’ beer and cars and Viagra (Oh … and just for the record, there have been 6 phone calls from the Schlombowski household seeking immediate medical attention, but each has been 100% attributed to the God-given charms of Mrs Schlombowski.) to the average couch potato like me, sittin’ at home takin’ in the spectacle or pageantry or whatever the hell Joe Buck will undoubtedly call it. Point is, the All-Star Game may not be as riveting as the missus, but I haven’t missed one since I was old enough to pee. I have no idea why … I mean, why give a crapola about one game that doesn’t really count and is wedged into the middle of 162 that do?
So let’s put things on the Schlombowski Scale and see where the pros and cons net out.