Hey there, sponge cakes. Welcome to Opening Day — not Opening Week, as baseball has taken to calling it. That’s gotta be a Manfredism. Speaking of which … Bob Nightengale reports that commissioner Rob Womanfred will be in attendance at the Cubs opener in St. Louis tonight. My question is: When does he adios the game? I figure it’ll be after the 7th, cuz that’s how long he thinks major league games oughta last.
I tend to pick on commissioners, and Manfred is no exception. But, hey, they bring it on themselves. Bud Selig, for example, decided to end the 2002 All Star game in a tie. It’s baseball. There are no ties. And that “World Series home field advantage to the league that wins the All Star game” rule was his, too. I’m tellin’ you … listening to baseball commissioner ideas is like walkin’ your dog — you gotta bring a plastic bag along to pick up all the turds. I’ll give this to Manfred: the guy flushed the ASG/World Series advantage brain fart. But that’s it on the plus side of the Manfred board. Everything else he wants to do — most of which revolves around makin’ games shorter — screws with the fundamentals of baseball.
Some people want shorter games. Yeah, I read about that all the time. But I ask: Who are these people? Are they millennial types raised on iPhones, video games, and blaring music so loud during any break in the action that it makes my toenails hurt? I think maybe so, cuz I don’t hear people my age complaining about watchin’ a game for 3 hours. (Except for Mr. “if it ain’t broke, fix it anyway” Womanfred.) I’d even be willin’ to bet that it was Robbie’s idea to broom the nudie pictures from the pages of Playboy — another institution that didn’t need to be “improved.” I’ll tell ya … if congress wants to investigate something that’s truly un-american … that would be it, my friend!
Point is, maybe it isn’t baseball that needs fixing. Instead, maybe it’s the binge-watching, instant-gratification, short-attention-span generation that can’t spend four seconds away from their social media feeds without breakin’ out in a sweat that needs fixing. Baseball has been around for like a million years, and other than stupidly not lettin’ black players in until Jackie Robinson, it’s pretty much been perfect. It doesn’t need the pathetic DH. It doesn’t need instant replay … especially when the umps still can’t get it right. (See today’s Yankees-Rays opener.) Baseball doesn’t need a fake intentional walk, or a protective bubble around middle infielders, or a special purpose rule puttin’ a guy on second in extra inning games. And it SURE as hell doesn’t need two innings clipped off the tail end. If anything in baseball needs to be clipped, it’s Rob Manfred’s self-important wings and Noah Syndergaard’s goldilocks. Other than that, unless you wanna make American League pitchers man up and take their swings, or turn that F-ing head-banging noise off between batters, or hire the displaced Playboy models as bat girls, we should just leave baseball the hell alone, pallie.
Hey there, turf toes. Do you like magic? I like magic. There’s somethin’ about Siegfried and Roy (before that tiger remembered he was a tiger) or Houdini or David Blaine that makes you say, “How in the friggin’ hell did he/she/they (don’t wanna offend anyone) do that?!”
Uhh … that makes Joey Chestnut a magician, too, by the way.
I know you know that magic also applies to baseball. And if for some you don’t, you musta never seen Ozzie Smith or Roberto Clemente or Brooks Robinson or Willie Mays pullin’ rabbits outta hats like they were Kreskin or somethin’. YouTube ’em. It’s like Harry Houdini and Misty Copeland got busy and had all boys. Those guys could do stuff with a glove that woulda turned Michael Jackson white, and routinely had you scratchin’ your noggin and wonderin’ how in the wide, wide world of sports could any mortal do such things.
The 2004 Red Sox were total magic. Comin’ from 0-3 in the ALCS to snatch victory from the jaws of the Yankees was a way better trick than, say, makin’ the Donald disappear … or turnin’ Hillary Clinton into a pidgeon.
I’d say Jackie Robinson crossin’ that stupid friggin’ line was magic, but I think it was way, way harder than makin’ someone disappear.
I think the fact that the rotund Bartolo Colon can play Major League Baseball is magic.
Most importantly, magic also refers to the number of games you got until you clinch a playoff spot. Yeah, I know you already know that, but I’m shootin’ for the lowest common denominator, here. I gotta account for guys who never heard of Clemente or Robinson — whipper snappers who think bat-flippin’ Bryce Harper is the big bang of the baseball universe. So, now that we’re down to the short and curlies of the regular season we’re startin’ to hear a lotta chatter about magic numbers. (By the way, as a life long Cubs fan, I can tell you with Einstein-like certainty that there’s nothin’ at allllll regular about this season, pallie.) Anyway, the whole subject of magic numbers, as it relates to the Cubs, is borderline euphoric. Why? Cuz most years you’d a needed friggin’ IBM Watson to figure the Cubs astronomical magic number. Not this year, spanky. In fact today’s digit is an 8; an ocho; the number of those things an octopus has; Yogi’s and Ripkin’s and Yastrzemski’s number. In a few hours I think it’s gonna be Mickey’s number, thanks to the Stros.
Anyway, 8 is enough. Seven is better. Zero is just around the corner, my friend, as will be the World Series championship … makin’ the luckiest number of all, 108.
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.
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.