Hey there, sponge cakes. I got a question for ya: Is anyone over the age of six and a half, besides Lee Corso, a fan of team mascots?
Unless your team is the Penthouse Pets or the Playboy Bunnies, I can see payin’ as much as zero attention to a mascot when I’m at a ball game. Okay, maybe if they passed out sling shots to the first 10,000 fans and painted a target on the San Diego Chicken (last name omitted for obscenity reasons) I could get interested. But other than that … no. So why am I writin’ about ’em? Well, I just saw where Mr. Met has been relieved of his duties as one of the major annoyances in baseball for communicating in a non-verbal manner.
This makes absolutely no sense to me for the following reasons:
1. Mr. Met is a mascot. And like every other mascot that’s been farted outta someone’s brain, Mr. Met is supposed to be mute. How the hell else is he expected to communicate?!
2. I’m willin’ to bet the Mets don’t FedEx someone in from Walla Walla to wear that get-up. You gotta figure the guy is from New York — born and raised — and it’s a well-known fact that New Yorkers learn how to flip the bird before the ink is dry on their birth certificates. So … in the words of every New Yorker since Henry Hudson, “What the fuck did you expect?”
3. One thing is certain: Whoever Mr. Met is, he’s a total die-hard. Probably has a Daryl Strawberry tramp stamp. I mean who else is gonna dress up as a friggin’ baseball and march up and down the Citi Field steps for the duration of the swamp-like New York summer? Combine that kinda rabid fanaticism ($3 word bonus) with the fact that the Mets are playin’ about like the Cubs are playin’ (they positively, totally, completely suck*) and you’re gonna have some frustrations spill over in ways that aren’t always ready for prime time. It’s to be expected.
4. Mr. Met only has 4 fingers, not 5 like you and me. Actually it’s 3 fingers and a thumb. But I ask you: How do you give someone your middle finger if you don’t, technically, have a middle finger?
5. The guy flipped off a Mets fan, but if anyone deserves the bird, it’s Mets fans. I’m still so sore from what they did to us in the playoffs a couple years ago, the Schlombowski man cave turns into a veritable aviary whenever we play the Mets.
6. Two words: Milton Bradley. When the monopoly guy was playin’ for the Cubs, he musta given the Mr. Mets’ high sign to the faithful a dozen times. This is a guy in uniform, mind you, and he didn’t get booted. And keeeeeyyy-ryyyyyyssstt … if there was ever a guy even remotely associated with baseball that shoulda been pink-slipped, it was Bradley. And maybe Bud Selig. Rob Womanfred is a good candidate, too.
Some will make the argument that Mr. Met represents the ball club and, as such, flippin’ off the fans casts a shadow over the organization. To which I ask, how do you back that up when there’s been plenty of guys who smacked their wives around (Chuck Knoblauch, etc.,) or impregnated women in practically every major league city (Steve Garvey, etc.,) or were drug cheats (Barry Bonds, etc.,) — all much more damning offenses? How come nothin’ happened to those guys? Are we to believe the Mets organization is classier than say, the Dodgers? Debatable, I grant you, but probably not.
Personally, I’d like to see the rule-happy Rob Manfred finally institute something that actually IS in the best interest of baseball and give mascots the Shoeless Joe Jackson treatment.
*Full disclosure: The Mets suck (music to my ears) mostly because of some key injuries. The Cubs, on the other hand, appear to have forgotten how to play baseball. Or they think winning a single Series is good enough … WRONG! Or they’re more concerned with pickin’ out their costumes for the next theme’d road trip.
Refusing to be denied, I see where the Giants have come up with a trophy of their own as a substitute for the one the Cubs snatched outta their halloween-colored hands in the playoffs last year. It’s not somethin’ I’d wanna put in my trophy case … But who am I to judge?
There’s a major league amount of Freud in the form the trophy takes, though — a golden urinal. I mean, one of the biggest juicers of all time, Barry Bonds — former Giants outfielder and home run cheat — tested positive for 3 kinds of steroids … not to mention amphetamines, the Incredible Hulk and two rottweilers. That’s what I heard, anyway, and all of it was found in his urine.
By the way, how’d you like to have the job of playin’ Sherlock Holmes with people’s wiz? In fact, who does want that job? Maybe it’s some kinda fetish thing — like wearin’ women’s underwear. (Calm down, Cardinals fans. I know you get all steamy when someone mentions that.)
Anyway, havin’ a urinal as the Giants’ trophy is priceless. And as I’m sure every Dodgers fan that ever sucked in a lung full of that brown crap Los Angeles calls “air” would agree, it’s perfect for the Giants.
There were 2,430 games played this season, and it took the very last one for the Giants to manufacture a chance at the Post Season. How you interpret that can either give you hives or a grin the size of Prince Fielder’s butt.
It’s hard to figure a team like San Francisco. They’ve got a good staff, a line up of veterans, a damn good manager in Bruce Bochy, and a ton of experience with the post season in the last decade. A little too much. Like there should be a special episode of Hoarders about the Giants. And yet they still sucked like Linda Lovelace with a Dyson since the All Star break.
This is also an even year, which holds sway over the superstitious. Not that Cubs fans are immune to that condition. Two words: Billy Goat. Me, personally? I never, ever change my underwear in the middle of a winning streak. Needless to say, I got a little crispy now and then this season. Totally worth it, though. Anyway, Giants fans believe that even numbered years belong to their team — that they own ’em. And I gotta tell you … it would give me a world of satisfaction for the Cubs to prove what a Mount Everest-sized pile of crap that is.
The fact that the Giants made it to the Wild Card game at all, in spite of playin’ the second half of the season like the fog had rolled all the way into their clubhouse, says a whole lot about them, none of which I like very much. But I think an even numbered year has about as much to do with the Giants makin’ the playoffs as the color red does.
And that’s the thing. If they didn’t get in because of some voodoo, witchcraft, hocus pocus BS, then what’s the reason? As much as the legacy of Barry Bonds still sandpapers my backside, I gotta hand it to the Giants; they’re a grizzled lineup that plays team ball, doesn’t give up, and somehow finds a way to survive when they’re nose-to-nose with the grim reaper. Those are admirable qualities in a ball club, no question, and even though the words are gonna taste like the south end of a sick rhino, I gotta say that the Giants are probably for real and, unlike the geeked-out, cucumber mist bottled water-drinkin’ fans they got, they’re probably not big believers in the make-me-laugh, even-numbered-year thing.
Full disclosure: I was pullin’ for the Mets last night. And I gotta tell ya, after what happened last year, that felt a whole lot like havin’ a heart transplant without anesthesia. I just figured the Cubs would have an easier time with them than San Francisco, and that they’d do the same thing that the Giants did — chip away at the Mets’ pen.
Of course if Mad-Bum and his band of Halloween-colored honyocks think it’s gonna be more of the same against the Cubs, they’re sorely mistaken. No way Chicago is first pitch flailing at anything in the northern hemisphere like New York. LlNot a chance. Just 21 pitches got Bumgarner through the first 3 frames. That was epically-stupid on the part of the Mets, who wasted a brilliant outing by Thor and now will be swingin’ golf clubs this weekend instead of bats. And by the way, I don’t take Syndergaard out. He’d given up a grand total of 1 hit and had somethin’ like 10 K’s over 6 innings. Yeah, yeah … Granderson saved his narrow hiney on that deep drive to center, but that had more to do with where he was positioned than Thor runnin’ outta gas. It was a long out, nothin’ more. Look, all I’m sayin’ is if my horse has won the first two legs of the Triple Crown … do I replace the jockey at Belmont? No. I do not. What idiots.
It’s that kinda moronic hitting and coaching that played right into the Giants’ hands, and was a big factor in last night’s outcome.
And what about Yoenis Cespedes? He looked like a friggin’ crayon with that hair. I’m sorry, but if you’re doin’ that sorta crap as you head into the playoffs, you’re not focused. You’re tempting the gods to make an example of you. And did they ever? He went 0-4 with 2 strike outs, and got nothin’ on the ball when he did make contact. But, hey … LOVE your hair, Yoenis.
The gods weren’t done by any stretch, either. Enter Conor Gillaspie. Seriously? Conor … Gillaspie? A Conor Gillaspie could be a bank manager. A Conor Gillaspie might sir on the Supreme Court. But steppin’ into size 16 hero shoes in a win-or-go-home game? No. That’s the gods at work, my friend. Plain and simple.
If you look at the last week of the season, and last night’s game on top of that, you might conclude that the Giants have reacquired their mojo, and will now be an even-numbered foregone conclusion to be reckoned with. And that’s fine. The Force has a powerful effect on the weak mind.
But as the Wizard so emphatically put it to Dorothy, “Not so fast. NOT so fast!”
Anyone — and I’m mostly talkin’ to you Giants fans, now — anyone thinkin’ the Cubs are gonna pull a Golden State Warriors against the G-men oughta get a CAT scan right now. The best record in baseball means nothin’ to a team that hasn’t won a ring since William Howard Taft was diddlin’ interns in the Oval Office. There’s a whole lot more they’re playin’ for. On the very tip-top of that list would be writin’ the biggest sports story on the planet in the last 7 decades. The entire city of Chicago and, hell, half the country wants to see the Cubs doin’ the champagne boogie. I’ll bet the Giants won’t even be all that broken hearted when Rob Manfred is handin’ the hardware to Ricketts. Point is, the Cubs have a distinct purpose, and it’s one helluva lot bigger than just winnin’ the Series. It’s about healing. It’s about burying the damn curse. It’s about givin’ something to back to Cubs fans for 108 of stickin’ with a team that coulda been mistaken for a possum. And I believe the Giants are about to find out just how important that is to Chicago.
Thus, in spite of San Francisco’s do or die last night, and their willing themselves past LA to even get that far, there happens to be another possible scenario besides them findin’ their mojo. In fact, there may be no mo jo in their mojo. That is possible, my friend. What they’ve had to do just to get there may be all they could muster.
Whether they’re runnin’ on fumes or emotionally topped off with full-octane Willy Mays karma, I don’t think it’s gonna matter one iota. (What the hell is an iota, anyway?) I think the Cubs are bound and determined to finish what they started in April, and unless they come down with a team-wide case of the Black Plague, nobody — not Mad-Bum, not Posey, and certainly not Conor Gillaspie — is gonna be able to do a damn thing about it.
This Friday, Alex Rodriguez will play his last game as a Yankee, and finally — mercifully — A-Rod’s charmed but sordid, impressive yet disgraced chapter in the encyclopedic Book of Yankee will come to an end. At least as a player. His departure from baseball is a good thing. One less cheat; a malignancy that not even the Yankees — for decades, baseball’s answer to the soap opera — could contain. And that’s sayin’ somethin’.
When the announcement was made, I’m sure the guys at the New York Post scattered like cockroaches to their various watering holes, seeking to drown their anguish over the loss of one of the most prolific sources of tabloid dirt in the history of the five boroughs. The good news for Yankees fans — and the Post, for that matter — is that you can take A-Rod outta New York, but you can’t take New York out of it’s penchant for signin’ the most ginormously colossal ego blimps to ever don a mitt. If outsized, overpriced, self-destructive ballplayers were moths, Steinbrenner’s funny farm would be a billion dollar light bulb. It’s only a matter of time before B-Rod or C-Rod slips on the stripes and starts swinin’ his dick around 5th Avenue.
I imagine it’s pretty much always been that way in the Bronx. It’s just that in my day — before Facebook, before YouTube, before Instagram and texting and tweeting, before megapixels and high-def and Pokemon Goin’ like an idiot all over everywhere — you didn’t read about who Billy Martin clocked after last night’s game. And there was no way of knowing which players were treatin’ their wives like Nerf balls, or which material girl they were shackin’ up with. Why? Cuz without that 3 x 5 inch incrimination device in everyone’s pocket like we got today, ballplayers could do just about anything they wanted, to whomever they wanted, whenever they wanted, and no one was the wiser. Hey, I’m not makin’ excuses for A-Rod, mind you — to me he’s just Barry Bonds in a New York state of mind. But they both woulda come out a little less shit-stained if they’d played in the 60s.
When I was a kid, and then later, in my 30s and 40s when George “Fort Knox” Steinbrenner financed the purchase of a fair number of championships, the Yanks stood apart from the rest of baseball. No franchise was more storied or proud or feared than the Bronx Bombers, flashin’ their friggin’ pinstripes like Wall Street bankers, and playin’ in the house that Ruth built among the swirling memories of Gehrig, Mantle, Berra and Ford. They were movie stars that could hit.
A-Rod is a modern day version of one of those guys — someone who commanded an x-rated pay check … just to swat a friggin’ baseball around the yard. Hey, if someone wanted to pay me like that, would I complain? HELL no. I’d take every penny of it.
But I wouldn’t cheat.
And this, my gummy-chewin’ friends, is where me and a buttload of baseball writers, players, coaches, announcers, front office guys — and especially fans — part company on the question of whether A-Rod is a jaggoff or not. Yes, is the correct answer. He is.
Jesus, Mary and Joseph Maddon! How in the friggin’ hell can anyone defend a guy who cheats at baseball? That’s like makin’ sixth grade excuses when your best friend gets caught tryin’ to peek up Sister O’Shaughnessy’s habit. Shameful, pal. Shameful. Almost as much as the act itself. Why? Cuz unlike any other sport, Baseball is a game that’s built on its numbers. If you don’t respect ’em, the whole 150 year tower of baseball history could come crashing down on itself — sort of a baseball 9/11, carried out by a bunch of radical baseballic juicers like Bonds, Sosa, Canseco and McGwire. And, of course, A-Rod. The numbers matter, pallie. They should matter to you, too. They are the measuring stick that transcends baseball’s decades, binding era to era, and standing player against player in a way that, over time, defines greatness or reveals mediocrity.
Or in this case, a cheat.
Look, when a guy in his mid-30s is smackin’ more yard shots than he did 10 years earlier — and I’m talkin’ big numbers here — you don’t have to be Charlie Friggin Chan to know what’s goin’ on. It ain’t happening on a level playing field, my friend, I can tell you that. Of course, if some needle-nosed accountant gets caught cookin’ the books for a NASDAQ tech company … BOOM … the guy is decked out in orange coveralls. Not in baseball. A-Rod and his ilk have been barbecuing baseball’s record books for years, and I don’t see any of ’em gettin’ the Shoeless Joe treatment, let alone havin’ to worry about pickin’ up the soap in the Big House. Why is that? Why are baseball writers willing to look the other way? Why are teammates of these hosers apologizin’ for ’em? Why are there so many so-called baseball fans willing to Perry Mason for A-Rod and the other butt-stickers who’ve needled up? I gotta assume it’s cuz most of the guys who set the REAL records aren’t around any more. And those that are were long outta the game by the time the “I just wanna see home runs, and I don’t care how they’re manufactured” crowd was even born.
SIDEBAR: These fans are the same ones that gotta have music blarin’, or human hot dog races around the base paths, or t-shirt cannons blastin’ at the ballpark whenever theres a break in the action. If that’s you, you’re not a real baseball fan. You’re not even a reasonable facsimile, cuz you’d rather be entertained by stupid crap that has nothin’ to do with the game than absorb the million subtle things that make one up. Stay home, spice rack.
Personally — in case you haven’t been payin’ attention — I have as many as zero ounces of tolerance for A-Rod’s cheatin’ heart. Not just because of the deed itself, but because he friggin’ Hillary Clinton’d the crap out of it. There aren’t a lot of liars in baseball. Historically. But, again, that’s because of the numbers. Which is why they’re so friggin’ important … sacred … holy, even. Numbers don’t lie — at least until the asterisk era they didn’t. I mean, you can’t exactly make up stuff on your baseball resumé and fool anybody: “Uh, yeah … name’s Mario Mendoza. That’s with a Z. I’ve hit above .350 all but by rookie year. Just .337 that season. Musta had a touch of the PTSD or somethin’ from my off-seasons in Afghanistan.” See what I mean? Until baseball players started shootin’, drinkin’, chewin’, rubbin’ or otherwise enhancin’ their performance with secret sauce, the numbers laid bare their relative skills compared to everyone else in the game. Roids turned guys like A-Rod into better players than they really were. And one of the major side effects for most, including Rodriguez, was the development of a forked tongue. Not an endearing human quality (although I can see how Madonna mighta liked it).
The reason this sandpapers my ass, almost as much as the cheating itself, is that lying about it insults my intelligence, which may not be in Stephen Hawking’s zip code, but it ain’t in Donald Trump’s, either. I didn’t really need Scott Pelley to 60 Minute the subject in order to know that A-Rod was a doper. It was as plain as Dolly Parton’s gazongas. The Yankees 3rd baseman sent more things into a geosynchronous orbit around Earth than NASA, and did it at a time when his skills would have long since diminished due to age. He was doping, alright, and anyone with an IQ higher than a White Sox fan would have known it. The fact that he lied about it was chicken shit at best. You did it. You got caught. Man up, puss cake. Nope. Instead, he lawyered up. Just like Jimmy Hoffa. And he comes clean ONLY when he’s granted immunity from prosecution. And why the hell they did that, you, me and the dugout wall will never know. His alleged crimes include bribery, tampering with witnesses and obstruction of justice — all stuff he did to keep the original cheating from creepin’ out from under the rug. Model citizen.
It’s not like A-Rod was the first cheatin’ jaggoff in baseball, but his insistence on lying and throwin’ his weight around the courtroom while indefensibly trampling on all the guys who played the game clean (no, that’s not you, Barry) is the height of assholiness. You combine that with his off-field shenanegans and you got yourself a model for the official bronze statue in the lobby of the National Enquirer.
I say so-friggin-long, A-Rod. Don’t let the clubhouse door hit you in your frequently-needled ass on the way out.
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.
In the 80s, it was an even split; 5 for the AL, 5 for the Senior Circuit. In the 90s, though, there musta been some kinda eclipse on the Star Effect thing, cuz despite the red carpeted American League, the NL claimed 6 titles. Coulda been worse, too, cuz there was no Series in ’94. Hard to say, on account of the players and owners were too busy crappin’ on each other to do their jobs. (Yeah, my ass is still a little chapped over that one.) Anyway, 6 outta 9 went the other way. From 2000-2009, though, it’s 6 for the Junior Circuit — a bit better than half, so I’ll concede that one. I sorta, kinda, reluctantly also gotta give in on this current decade we’re in, since the National League has taken 4 outta 6, so far, and it’s during that time that Stark says the star quotient has shifted from the Junior to the Senior Circuit. However, I hasten to point out that the 2012 Giants nearly escaped death twice in the playoffs, so I don’t think it was their Hollywood status that got ’em to the Series, let alone helped ’em win. They were like friggin’ White Walkers — nothin’ coulda put them down that year.
Now lemme say right here, that we still got 4 more championships to decide in this decade, and it wouldn’t make me the slightest bit itchy if the Cubs won all of ’em. In which case, I think my argument starts to fall apart a bit. Fine. Bring it on. I’d sooooo rather have the Cubbies sittin’ on top of the baseball world, that have my theory validated.
Hey, and those of you who are sayin’ I don’t understand the game, are full of pine tar. I get that it’s about the money, pallie. That’s been the holy grail since George Steinbrenner bought the Yanks. It’s also why the Friendly Confines aren’t so friendly when it comes to actually goin’ to a ball game. You practically gotta mortgage the brown stone these days. So, yeah, I get the friggin’ money part … and I understand that more money means bein’ able to sign and pay the guys you draft. But seriously, if spendin’ money on star players had anything to do with winnin’ the Series, the Yankees and the Dodgers would have won every one of ’em since 1999. And I think we know how that’s gone.
That’s about all I gotta say, except for these two words: Barry Bonds. Buildin’ a franchise around a star, or stars, because they’re also popular for some reason is about as effective as usin’ Windex to cure cancer. The Giants went that route, and it wasn’t until (speakin’ of cancer) that malingnancy was removed from the clubhouse that they went from bein’ the Giants to the World Champion San Francisco Giants. Three friggin’ times, too, in this decade. They filled their roster with guys you never heard of … until you did. And you did cuz they won. And won again, which had nothin’ to do with how many times they were on Colbert.