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.
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.
Greetings and salutations from the glow of the cheap seats, fellow Cubs fanatics, where I still bask in the Cubbie blue afterglow of a World Series championship. It’s like sex … only it smells like leather, cheesy fries and beer. Actually, that would be sex for Cardinals fans. But I digress.
One might think winning the last game of the playoffs would take the edge off the Schlombowksi razor. And one would be correct. Right up until Rob Womanfred poked his head outta the backside of his jackass.
That’s right, sports fans. Manfred is back at it — attacking the perfection of baseball by tryin’ to institute pinheadian rule changes to “speed up the game.” Thankfully, just one of his brain farts snuck through this season, leaving Robby Boy foaming at the mouth in frustration with the MLBPA.
This new rule is a perfect illustration of just how friggin’ constipated Manfred’s whole speed-up-the-game movement is. According to ESPN’s Howard Bryant, Major League Baseball plans to use a dugout signal in place of issuing four balls for a intentional walk this season. If you look at the numbers you’ll see that eliminating the 60 seconds saved by not actually, physically throwin’ 4 balls is like takin’ a bucket of water outta Lake Michigan. If the average game is 3 hours long, that 60 seconds represents 1/2 of 1% of the time it takes to play it. Wow! Brilliant move, Baseball. I can only imagine how the Gross National Product is gonna soar with all that extra time that won’t be wastin’ on a ballgame. Friggin’ genius.
This whole thing reminds me a Star Trek episode, appropriately titled, “A Taste of Armageddon.” During this episode the crew of the Enterprise visits a planet whose people fight a computer-simulated war against a neighboring planet. Even though the war is just pretend, the citizens of each planet have to submit to real executions inside “disintegration booths” to meet the casualty counts of the simulated attacks.
Well, this walkin’ guys without walkin’ guys is the same kinda thing.
It’s complete donkey doo. It doesn’t speed the game up (as if that needed to be done anyway) in any noticeable way, and it robs fans of the chance … the possibility … the anticipation that some yay-hoo pitcher with the control of a young Randy Johnson tosses one of his pitches to the backstop. Pathetic.
If you really wanna improve the game of baseball, consider gettin’ Manfred together with one of those disintegration booth thingies.
Hey there, ice chips. How ’bout those friggin’ Cubs, huh?! I gotta tell ya, I luuuuuuvvvvv flyin’ the playoff W. I’d say it makes me feel like I’m on top of the world but that’s kinda stupid. I mean think about it. First — SPOILER ALERT — there’s no Santa Claus up there and second, it’s butt ass cold. It’d be a lot more accurate to say I’m feelin’ like I’m sittin’ on a clothing-optional beach in Bora Bora, the missus has exercised her option, and is feedin’ me pork sliders while I sip on a frosty Old Style. Yeah, that about captures it. Thank you for that, Cubbies.
Anyway, as the Central Division Champs are makin’ their way to the city of whackadoos for Game 3 against the Giants, I thought it might be a good time to reflect on the meaning of the oldest phrase in baseball: Keep your eye on the friggin’ ball.
Lemme start by sayin’ that anyone who pays attention to my microscopic corner of the Cubs universe knows that I live and die with them. If that’s you, 1) thank you for payin’ attention and 2) you know that my 55 seasons have seen a whole lot more dyin’ than livin’. That’s given me a certain … let’s say … perspective. I tend to call it like I see it, rather than wearin’ Cubbie blue shaded glasses. Sometimes the Schlombowski forecast is “cloudy with a chance of losing.” Hey, I don’t make the weather, pal, I just report it.
Don’t get me wrong. I not only think the Cubs are in the driver’s seat right now, I think the Giants have been stuffed into the trunk and are about to get dumped on the side of a dark, winding road out in the middle of the redwoods.
IF they keep their eye on the ball, that is.
And I don’t mean pickin’ up the rotation on Bumgarner’s cheese and watchin’ it all the way to the plate. What I mean is that bein’ up 2-0 to the Giants, even in a best-of-5 series, isn’t a Labron James better-get-the-hell-outta-my-way slam dunk, unless we do one thing: stay focused on the ball that matters — winnin’ the World Series. To me, that mean’s not actin’ like we just won the friggin’ lottery cuz the first two games went our way, or cuz our pitchers have turned into Babe Ruth, or cuz Wood just penned his name in the record books. The Cubs gotta go about their business like they’re mailmen or something. You know … that whole “neither rain, nor sleet, nor dark of night” thing. Only with us it’s “Neither Mad-Bum, nor Posey, nor wicked line drives off our pitchers will keep us from our appointed victory over the Halloween-colored San Francisco Giants.” Do I think that’s gonna happen? You bet your sweet ivy-covered ass I do. Do I think it’s gonna be easy? Read on, my friend:
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.
Yesterday, Padres GM A.J. Preller was suspended for 30 days by Major League Baseball for bein’ a total jack wagon. (Translation: an underhanded, diabolical, deceitful, double-dealin’, duplicitous, deceiving, cheatin’, lyin’, two-faced weasel.) Technically, it was for keepin’ 2 sets of medical records on his players to intentionally deceive trade partners. But ask any GM on the short end of a trade with Preller and he’ll tell ya the guy is a friggin’ jack wagon, dirt bag, phlegm wad, ass hat or some other term fit for someone tryin’ to slip ’em damaged goods.
Not to be left outta the race for the Pants On Fire award, the Padres brass, consisting of Ron Fowler, Peter Seidler and Mike Dee said in a joint statement. “To be clear, we believe that there was no intent on the part of A.J. Preller or other members of our baseball operations staff to mislead other clubs.” Yeah, right. Dry that one out and you can fertilize both the infield AND the outfield grass at Petco. Twice. If there wasn’t any intent to deceive, why the two sets of medical records? Riddle me that, Batman. As ESPN’s Buster Olney noted in his piece yesterday, Padres athletic trainers were supposedly instructed to maintain two separate medical files on their players: one for the Padres and another for “industry consumption.” I have a little trouble gettin’ my head around baseball as an industry instead of a game, but either way, somethin’ stinks at Petco Park, and it ain’t cuz it’s the 7th inning on free chili dog night.
Am I surprised? Not in the slightest. Baseball, for whatever reason, can’t seem to get past its desire to cheat. Not everybody, obviously, but there’s always a few Barry Bonds types lurking in the shadows. What’s unusual in this instance is that Preller doesn’t wear a uniform … which makes him more like Marge Schott than A-Rod in the “gettin’ suspended for bein’ a D-bag” department. This ain’t the first time Preller’s conniving ass has been hauled into the commissioner’s wood shed, either. He’d barely set foot in San Diego in 2014 when the team was reprimanded cuz he broke baseball’s rules governing workouts. And before that, when he was still with the Rangers, he chalked up his first suspension for violatin’ international signing rules.
Hey there, lawn darts, this is the venerable Joseph T. Schlombowski, comin’ at ya from the cheap seats. [Sidebar: I don’t know what “venerable” means, but it sounds good whenever I hear it comin’ outta some big shot ESPN mouth piece.] The Reds are comin’ to town and you know what that means — time to break out the foam middle fingers, pal.
Yeah, my normally militant persona is ratcheted up a couple a hundred notches, but when you’re in the Schlombowski zone, does it really matter? That’s like addin’ a couple of extra buckets of water to the Pacific. Know what I’m sayin’?
Annnnnywaaaaay … it doesn’t take much for me to get up for a series against the Reds. Why? Cuz of the pin-headed Marty Brennaman — the uncontrolled fog horn of the Cincinnati Reds. I’ll get back to his mouth in a moment. First, though, I gotta hand it to the guy: In spite of the burr he has permanently wedged between by ass cheeks, Brennaman is definitely on the right side of Rob Womanfred’s new slide rule. Which is to say his brain waves are hittin’ the same beach as mine for a change. In fact in April, Brennaman said he thought the Commish was legislating baseball “into a game of sissies.“ Totally. Almost sent him a thank you note for that one, but then I remembered why I’d rather eat off the floor of a gas station bathroom than hear his name mentioned again.
Which brings me back to Brennaman’s pie hole, and gettin’ up for the Reds.
For those of you who don’t remember: During a game between Cinci and the Cubs in 2008, Adam Dunn plunked one out onto Sheffield. Now you’d expect that one to come flyin’ back over the bleachers somewhere in the vicinity of then right fielder Sammy Sosa (former Cubs superstar turned roided up DB). Instead, Dunn’s blast initiated a symphony of baseballs — not just the one — being tossed back onto the field. Friggin’ laughed my ass off! (Not enough of it according to the missus, though.) But Mr Brennaman and his steel reinforced sphincter reacted to it differently.
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.
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.
Hey there, moon pies, Joe Schlombowski here. Let me just say that I’m not a huge basketball fan. Yeah, I watch it enough to know Steph Curry is silk in a Dubs uni, and LeBron James is the 6′-6″ basketball version of John McEnroe, but that’s pretty much where it ends. I’m not big on Timex sports — sports with clocks. Of course that means I’m tryin’ my best to ignore what that brain fart, Rob Womanfred, is doin’ to baseball along those lines.
Anyway, I’m not here to pinch a loaf on Womanfred (although that would give me a world of satisfaction). I just think that Stephen Curry, and probably the rest of the NBA, could use a lesson or two from baseball on how to misbehave when it’s called for.
Last night, Curry and the Warriors we’re gettin’ rear-ended by the stripes in a really obnoxious manner, so when 30 fouled out, it was his moral obligation to let loose with a really stupid, childish and inflammatory gesture. Instead we got the Clark Kent temper tantrum, which was about as interesting as a butter dish. Was he pissed? Sure. You could even tell. But that rant which lasted … what? … an entire 5 seconds and including throwin’ his saliva-coated mouth guard, wouldn’t have even registered on the Tommy Lasorda Scale — which is just like the Richter Scale, only instead of earthquakes it measures the magnitude of baseball meltdowns. Lou Piniella? He was at least a 9.5. Billy Martin? A solid 10.8. Earl Weaver? Weaver broke the friggin’ scale. I’m just sayin’, if you’re gonna get thrown out, you might as well make sure they hear every word you have to say, including the ones that Tommy Lasorda was so fond of.