The Playoffs


· Joe Sez, Spring Training, The Playoffs ·

Was it just me, or did anyone else (besides Phillies and Rays fans) feel that even if you used the $27 million microscope at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory you wouldn’t have found one fly speck of drama in this year’s Series?

I kid you not, this was one anti-climactic Fall Classic, was it not? I mean, tip of the Joe Schlombowski lid to the Phils (though, personally, I thought Dick Cheney would appear in drag on Dancing with the Stars before Phily would win it all). And that Cole Hammels guy. He was Mr. Nastypants, I’ll give him that, pallie. But if a rain delay is the defining moment of a not-exactly-down-to-the-wire showdown, well, ’nuff said. Wake me when it’s over.

Which brings me to the point of this diatribe. What the hell do we do to get us through to mid-Feb when pitchers and catchers report to spring training?

Alright. I admit football will help. But as I’ve pointed out before, as fun as football can occasionally be, it is vastly inferior to the one, the only, the true America’s pastime — baseball. One need not look any further than ice fishing — the single most uneventful activity on the planet — to see my point. Ice fishing, in which a group of men sit around telling jokes, smelling each other’s farts, and risking 1) severe frostbite; 2) maiming oneself with a gas-powered ice auger; and 3) losing one or more fingers to an angry pike or walleye, was invented right smack in the middle of football season. It’s like somebody made a bet that since football is so damn boring (Army went a whole game this season without throwing a single pass), nobody could possibly come up with something even more boring. And since soccer already existed, voila, the guy lost the bet and ice fishing was born. (In fairness, ice fishing does have its moments. Like when there’s a warm spell and somebody’s Dodge Durango is converted into a U-boat.)

So Joe, you ask, what else can get me through to spring without me turning into a raving lunatic? Lord Stanley’s Cup? I think not. (Why they ever named a championship after a crotch protector is beyond me.) But here’s my answer, pal. I’ll give you two things, three if you’re a fly fisherman. If you fly fish, just keep tying flies until the icicles melt and you’re good. For the rest of you, here goes: 1) The SI Swimsuit Issue (whoever thought of this should get a MacArthur Genius Grant); and 2) a little game I call Names-In-A-Blender.

Here are the Official Joe Schlombowski Names-In-A-Blender rules: You take the name of anyone you love or despise, say Alfonso Soriano, and you combine his name with someone else you either love or despise. Say Scott Boras. You put those two together and you get ALFONSO SOR-ASS.

Here’s one you’ll like. You put Kerry Wood together with Alonzo Mourning and you get KERRY MOURNING-WOOD.

Staying with that theme for a minute, mix Chien-Ming Wang with Long John Silver and you get CHIEN-MING LONG WANG.

Put Derek Lee together with someone else who screwed the pooch in October and you get DEREK LEHMAN BROTHERS.

Felix Pie plus Mike Holtz of the Dodgers gives you FELIX PIE-HOLTZ.

And my personal favorite: Kosuke Fukudome with Alex Rodriguez gives you KOSUKE FUK-U-A-ROD.

Once you run out of Cubbies just keep going through all the other sports. Mix it up with the names of a week’s worth of Howard Stern guests, and throw in the NY Times Op-Ed columnists for good measure. If all else fails, go to the Yellow Pages.

With any luck, Names-In-A-Blender, a deck of cards, the Home Shopping Network and a couple dozen cases of Old Style should get you to at least Groundhog Day no problem.




· Joe Sez, News, The Playoffs · ,


Regarding Manny’s whereabouts next year, I quote … “I want to see who is the highest bidder,” Ramirez said after the Dodgers’ NLCS loss to the Philadephia Phillies. “Gas is up and so am I.”

What a friggin’ a-hole.

I grant you, he’s not alone. Everywhere you turn you got guys hitting a buck-75 going to arbitration cuz they think they’re lightin’ the world on fire. But, exxxxccuuuuuuuusse me! This guy was basically asked off the Red Sox by his teammates because he couldn’t be counted on. He made it crystal clear that he didn’t want to play for Boston anymore by dogging it, and pretty much treated Epstein, the owners, the rest of the team, and the fans the same way a baby treats a diaper. Well let me tell you Manny, you are not well-loved when your team dumps you but pays the remaining $7 million on your contract while you play for someone else. That pretty much says it all. In fact, it says you’re not just a garden variety a-hole, you’re a large, economy, only-available-at-Costco sized a-hole; with a capital ‘A’ and a ‘hole’ you could drive a cement truck through.

I know all you Dodgers fans could give a crap cuz you wouldn’t have made the playoffs without him, and he was a big part of why you kicked our asses for sure. But I’m sorry, someone who doesn’t care about anything except money is either my first wife, my first wife’s brother, or a self-centered, selfish S.O.B. of gargantuan proportions. Like I said … Manny.

Oh, I might mention that none of those three can play left field worth a damn, either.

So while your average fan — the guy driving a cab to pay the rent, or selling insurance for 20 years, or doing whatever to scrape together the money to send the kids to college — is cutting back with the way the economy is and all, we got Manny being Satan, making it harder for Joe Fan to afford the occasional game with the kids. Nice. Thanks a lot, ‘Gas is up and so am I.’

But there is a bright spot in all of this; and that’s the recent rumblings of Hank Steinbrenner on the subject of acquiring Mr. I-play-hard-if-I-feel-like-it. Which is to say he’s definitely interested in Manny. So you gotta figure the guy’s gonna end up on a team like the Yankees — if not the actual Yankees — where money grows on trees. Which means that you Yankees fans might have to decide, do I wanna make the mortgage payment this month or go see a couple ball games? Especially in that new ballpark. I mean the potential acquisitions of Ramirez and Sabathia (who they’ll also try to nab) in combination with the price of the new House That Ruth Didn’t Build is gonna be like the financial version of the perfect storm. And right on the heels of all this other crap that Wall Street and all those fine, upstanding, never-knew-a-thing-about-it shysters in Washington just laid on us. Anyway, if there are any fans (besides White Sox fans) I’d like to see pay a higher price for their allegiance to their team, it’s New York’s. No question.

So I hope Manny gets everything he wants from whoever thinks that gas is worth $25 million a gallon. But whoever that is had better hope that he uses all 4 gears, instead of just first and second like he did in Boston last year.



· Joe Sez, The Playoffs · ,

Here’s reason number 2,727,891 why I hate the Mets:

I’m sitting here watching the Sox and Rays in the 4th, when the plate umpire has to punch out because of an injury. So now we got a delay in the game until the crew chief figures out what to do. But it’s not like the guy was carried off on a stretcher. He just strolls over to the Rays’ dugout on his own power. So … Just give another ump the gear and let’s go already! Nope. Gotta call the blue off the field, like the safety of the free world hangs in the balance.

Anyway, while all this is going on, we’re treated to the analysis of the TBS announcers, including former Met, Ron Darling. (Nice last name, pal.) Well, you know where the conversation goes, right? How it’s gonna be really difficult for the pitchers to sit there for an extra 5 minutes while the umpires are grabbing a sandwich or two in the clubhouse, deciding who’s gonna call the rest of the game. Of course the resident expert, Darling, chimes in, explaining what a hardship it is for a pitcher in this situation — like the unbearable 5 minutes he’s having to endure is gonna totally unravel his mojo.

So Love Muffin (I like that better than ‘Darling’) tells about how when he was playing, he was scheduled to pitch one day but it got postponed for one reason or another. But you know, he had to say goodbye to the family and … arrrrgggghhhh … go allllll the way to the ballpark … uuuuggghhhhh … make arrangements for comp tickets and … get this … since he pitched the next day, he had to go through all that TWICE!

Oh my God.

Good thing you could pitch, Darling, cuz if you’d had a real job you wouldn’t have lasted 15 minutes. Just the kind of guy you want in a fox hole with you.

When I hear crap like that (in addition to wishing I was within choking distance) I figure it’s a window into the world of the person who said it. Like the fact that he didn’t get to ‘play’ when he was expecting to defines adversity for the guy. What happens when he gets a hang nail … 911 and an ambulance to the ER?!

Remember Lou Gehrig, the “luckiest man on the face of the earth” while staring death straight in the eye? (I grant you, he was a Yankee not a Met. But to me, all ballplayers from New York are the same. Which, by the way, explains a lot about the Giants and the Dodgers.) So like I was sayin’, New York ballplayers went from playing-everyday-while-dying-of-cancer tough, to Mr. get-me-a-tissue-the-sky-is-falling candy ass. If that doesn’t summarize why the Mets suck, I don’t know what does.



· Joe Sez, News, The Playoffs · , , ,

Hey there, ballot box. So, last night, after the Phillies finished wiping their feet on the Dodgers, I flipped the channel to one of those talking head news things. Well hoo-boy! They’ve all got their panties in a wad, screaming and cuttin’ each other off while reviewing the instant replay of the game I shoulda watched; Obama vs. McCain.

So here’s my take.

Obama? He’s your Mark Mulder type — smooooooth delivery; deceptive. Plus he’s a lawyer (like Scott Boras). I trust him about like Billy Martin trusted Steinbrenner. Then you got McCain. He’s like Joe Torre — been around a while; nice guy; spent time in a prison camp which, by all accounts, was almost as bad as working for the aforementioned Yankees owner. I think he’s here for the old-timers game, but that’s almost over. Anyway, it doesn’t really matter what happens, or whether you like one of these guys and hate the other one — or vice versa — you will be disappointed in the end, I guarantee. In 4 years we’re all gonna be shakin’ our heads wondering what the hell happened. Again. High hopes followed by disappointment: one helluva lot like being a Cubs fan, my friend. Plus, I don’t see either one of them getting serious about legislation that would outlaw the designated hitter, which is what America really needs.

Me? I’m gonna cast a write-in vote for Billy Beane, or Theo Epstein, or that toddler running the Rays. Hey, no matter what the situation or how much money they have to spend, they win. I mean comparatively speaking, all those A-holes sitting in Washington couldn’t build a 3rd place Little League team. And they’re spending trillions! You give Epstein a fraction of that bank roll and he’d have Ted Williams and Babe Ruth in the lineup again. I’m not kidding.

Anyway, I’m just sayin’ that picking Obama or McCain isn’t gonna make any difference. It’s all empty promises, french fry; a lot of I’m gonna do this and he’s gonna do that. A pissing match of global economic proportions, and none of it is gonna be good for Joe the voter. Hell, he didn’t even get mentioned. They talked about Joe six-pack and Joe the Plumber, but not Joe the voter. Personally, I’d like it a whole lot better if these two guys were a little more concerned with Joe the Schlombowski. How about freezing ticket prices at Wrigley … or making Wrigleyville a tax-free zone … or 50% rebate checks for Cubs fans? You know, something tangible. Plus there’s that totally inequitable situation with football having cheerleaders while baseball just has prehistoric ballplayers on the sidelines. That, my town-hall-meeting friend, is what you call discrimination. Has either one of those bozos brought that up? HELL no.

But more important than all that stuff is what happens tonight between the Rays and Red Sox. I say that because a Series between Tampa Bay and Philadelphia is a tragedy of catastrophic proportions. It’ll make the credit crisis seem like you didn’t get the prize out of your cereal box in the morning. I mean, the Rays and the Phils?! Who gives a crap?

Go Red Sox.



· 2008 Cubs, Joe Sez, News, The Playoffs · , ,


Alright. So you know how when your team wins the Series (I actually have no first-hand knowledge of this but I’ve seen it on ESPN) it’s expected that the city throws a big party, right? And you gotta have a parade down the biggest street with bands and confetti, and a buncha people screaming like Jesus himself is in the lead car and has just agreed to a 10 year contract for a dollar a year. So I wanna know … where’s the other side of that coin, my friend?

Leading off, Alphonso Soriano:

I am — and anyone within a few blocks of my house will confirm this — pretty miffed about what I’ve been hearing out of a few of the Cubs who allegedly ‘played’ in the NLDS. Leading off, for example, we have the always eloquent Alfonso Soriano. The other day he says, “We’re a good team for [162] games, but we don’t do nothing after that. That’s the difference. We’re not put together for [a short series].”

First off, Mr. 1-for-14, Mr. I-got-one-less-hit-than-I-got-in-last-year’s-sweep, Mr. I-make-Mendoza-look-like-Babe-friggin-Ruth, (Sorry, I just gotta say it straight to him) it sounds like you weren’t paying much attention in English class with that quote. About as much as you did in Gettin’ On Base class. Second, if you think we’re not built for a short series, how the hell do you think we’re gonna get past the first round of the playoffs, let alone win the big one?! You think Bud’s just gonna give us a free pass? “Yeah, uh, Jim? Selig, here. You can call me Mr. Commissioner. I have it on good authority that you guys are not a short series team. That, and Soriano couldn’t hit water if he fell out of a boat. So I’m waving the NLDS and, uh, you know … just take the rest of the week off.”

Hang on a second. There’s more. Mr. April also said, “I think we had too much time to relax [after clinching the division with 8 games left], and we got a little surprised at how the Dodgers played.” ………. KEEE-riste.

So riddle me this, batless man, how come it is, then, that the ’55 Brooklyn Dodgers clinched the National League pennant earlier than any team in the history of the sport, and then beat the Yanks in the Series? Are you friggin’ kidding me with this ‘too relaxed’ thing?! I can’t think of anyone with a REAL job who gets worse at it after they’ve had some time off. It wasn’t really time off anyway, but the way you’re talkin’ about it leads me to believe that it’s ok with you to coast. You know when a good time to coast is? AFTER YOU WIN THE WORLD SERIES, pallie. Before that it’s just being lazy. And I don’t wanna hear anything about an emotional let down either. Thanks to guys like you hittin’ .071 in the playoffs, it’s us fans that oughta be bringing that up.

Oh yeah, and let’s be surprised at how the Dodgers played. Cuz they ended the season like a Saturn V rocket-equipped freight train. Yeah, I totally get it. Shocker. With Torre at the helm? Manny? Ethier? You oughta be surprised at how you played, my pinhead friend. Disappointed, even. Embarrassed. Sick to your stomach. Awash in self-loathing. Maybe standing on Chicago street corners apologizing to everybody (at least those who don’t take a swing at you) until it’s time to report to Mesa. Oh, and for those that do take a shot, go ahead and swing back. You’ll probably miss.

Finally, in the spirit of ‘anything you say can and will be used against you’, I quote Alfonso once more: “2008 is over. 2009 is coming.” Well, Mr. who-gives-a-crap, it ain’t over for the fans. We gotta listen to our buddies around the country dish it to us for the next 6 months. And I’m pretty sure if I try whistling that Alibi Ike tune of yours, I’d be kicked out of my fantasy league. So, alright, 2008 is over and 2009 is coming. But unless you can motivate yourself to play more than 162 games, I hope 2009 is coming with a new left fielder.

Up next, Bob Howry:

I’ll make this one quick. The other day Howry says, “It’s all who plays good at the right time.” No caca. You think he figured that one out all by himself, or did he have to look in the back of the book? If the playoffs aren’t the right time, pal, when is the right time? You know one of the things that gets under my Cubbie blue skin is that a guy with that kind of electrical activity between the ears is makin’ four and a half million bucks.

Then there’s Dempster:

When asked if he’d like to return next year for a 6th season, he said, “I love the city. I love playing here. Hopefully, everything works out. For right now, I’m worried about making a tee-off time somewhere.” Well that’s nice. Now this is gonna sound cruel, and I have loved Ryan all season long. I mean he was tough. We could count on him. But in the playoffs (when great teams distinguish themselves) he’s looking for the strike zone with a white cane. I think if he worried as much about getting the ball over the plate in Game 1 as he does about a friggin’ tee-time, we might possibly still be in this thing. Then again, maybe not, right Alfonso?

I could go on, but I think my medication is finally kicking in. In time. the obvious frustration will pass. Maybe. Someday. I’m really not sure. And, the truth is that some of our guys looked pretty darn good. And some sounded contrite almost, and personally sad that they let us down. Which brings me back to the beginning of this whole long-winded thing, where I’m wondering why is a city expected to treat these guys like war heros when they win the Series, if they can’t be stand up guys when they F-up? Personally, I’d like to see something other than a bead to the links.

A personalized, written apology would be nice.

Like that’s gonna happen. But wouldn’t it be great — even just good manners — if they at least acted like there’s a difference between a good performance and the one they gave against the Dodgers, which totally and completely and entirely sucked. The first two games, anyway. Wouldn’t it be nice if it even sounded like the fans mattered? I’m telling you, I get another ‘whatever’ attitude from these guys and I could become a Sox fan.

Did I just say that?