When Dexter “Benedict Arnold” Fowler returned to Wrigley yesterday you’d have thought Halle Berry was walkin’ through the aisles naked handin’ out $100 bills. The place went full on Mt Vesuvius. It was almost as if he’d stepped onto the hallowed grounds of Wrigley Field and right then and there … on the spot … accessed the public address system to announce that he was activating some sorta double-secret Jared Kushner back-channel clause in his contract that returned him to the Cubs for the duration of the season.
Did he do that? No.
Still, the Cubs faithful made a spectacle outta Fowler’s return to Chicago — a guy who not only chose to leave a World Series Champion team, he defected to the baseball equivalent of ISIS. At least to the Cubs. If you’re a real Cubs fan — not the safe-spacing, snow flake, powder puff kind that marches to Katie Perry’s “just unite and love on each other” mantra — then you know that in spite of all the great crap Fowler did for us last year, he’s dead to us now. That’s why yesterday’s fan reaction boggles my Old Style altered mind.
When Anakin Skywalker became Darth Vader, did you see the Rebel Alliance embracing him when he came back to deal with that whole Dantooine thing? No, you did not. But yesterday, when the Cubs presented Fowler with his World Series ring, they did everything but have the Blue Angels buzz the friggin’ stadium. I grant you, he earned it. But if the ring exchange had been planned by me, 1) it woulda only happened if Theo had put a gun to my head or threatened to make me eat ketchup on my Chicago dogs and 2) I woulda placed his Series bling in plain sight somewhere in Garfield Park and invited Fowler to a game of Finders Keepers.
And the fans? They were just as goo-goo-eyed. They delivered an ovation for the ring thing, and then another one when Fowler goes yard in the first off Lackey. SERIOUSLY?! You’re gonna cheer a guy hittin’ a home run against us? And of all people a St Louis Cardinal?! In-friggin’-credible. That’s like throwing a parade for Osama Bin Laden or inviting Kim Jong-un over for Sunday Night Baseball. You never ever ever never EVER cheer for a Cardinal. Ever.
Now I know trades go both ways, and when we raided the Cards lineup before last season, I was plenty happy about that. Still not gonna throw any parties for St Louis … but a thank you note? That might have been appropriate. I can’ t imagine any die-hard Cardinals fans were firing up a Cuban or turning cartwheels, though. And I don’t blame ’em. Hating your arch rival is like jock itch, moronic questions from the media, and $14 Budweiser — it’s part of sports. The size of the rivalry should dictate the amount of prescribed venom. It goes something like this:
H = rc²
That’s the Joe Schlombowski theory of relativity, where hate (H) equals the rival (r) times the speed of light (c) squared. And lemme tell you, pallie, when you multiply St Louis by the speed of light squared, you get a number that’s light years away from givin’ Dexter Fowler a friggin’ ovation.
This whole thing raises a number of questions: What kind of a Cubs fan would cheer for a Cardinals player? Should they be summarily ejected? Should fans be required to submit to random “fan testing?” Should that test be multiple choice, essay or both? Should failures be reported to the proper authorities? Who are the proper authorities? If there are proper authorities, doesn’t that imply that there are improper authorities? If John Mellencamp were to fight these particular authorities, would they still win? What happened to John Mellencamp? Why did he drop the “Cougar” from his name? Is a cougar the same thing as a MILF? What does “summarily” mean? I’m definitely going to lose some sleep over this.
A few thousand Old Styles and about forty pounds ago, when I was a freshman, I dated this hot blooded Italian chicadoodle for a while. Her old man flew Corsairs with Pappy Boyington in the South Pacific. He was an Ace, too, whose face looked like somebody chiseled it outta granite … and none too carefully, either. He was about as broad as a house, spent some time coaching the US Boxing team, and had a temper that was perfectly suited for someone who’d been shot outta the sky a few times.
Thankfully, his offspring didn’t look anything like him, but hoooooo boy … she had every bit of his vein-poppin’ temper! I mean if Bashar al-Assad had just gotten the Marcellus Wallace “gimp” treatment from Zed — that kinda temper. BANG! KASHWACK! BAAAMMM! When doors started slammin’, you knew she was on the war path. In her case, though, it was more like the war interstate highway.
Fast forward to opening night. Just when it looked like the Cubbies were about to pull a little of that World Series magic outta their seat cushions … KAPOOWWW! The Cards handed us a foundation-rattling helping of the angry girlfriend treatment in the form of Randal Grichuk. That shard of light peeping through the door to victory got vaporized by Grichuk’s bat.
Can’t say I liked that.
Not to worry, though. We’re just toying with ’em. Think about it, pallie. After putting 17-1/2 games between us and the Cards last season and winnin’ the last game of the playoffs in THEE best World Series ever, Theo does the equivalent of spotting your kid sister 19 points in a game of 21 by letting the devil incarnate — the Cards — make off with Fowler. (Fowler is dead to me, by the way.) Then, just to make things interesting, our lineup decides to close one eye at the plate Sunday night, Lester is about as sharp as a bag full of overcooked pasta, and Strop … well … Strop was Strop; the human question mark. And still — still — we come within a Grichuk of winning anyway.
Let’s just say I’m not worried.
Why? Cuz last night we gave the angry girlfriend treatment right back to St. Louis, turning Matheny’s review of the last play of the game into a broken hinge in the House of Cards. Some killer base running early and an amazing grab in left by Almora didn’t hurt either.
I’m thinkin’ about 111 or 112 wins this season. Optimistic? I know, I know. Who am I and what did I do with the real Joe Schlombowski, right? Hey! Sue me for riding the wave, pal. I’ll get off when I’m damn well ready … or when the Cubs turn back into the Cubs. Whichever comes first.
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, pocket squares. Have you seen the “what not to wear” fashion fart from joesportsfan.com? Once again, Cardinals fans are livin’ up to my expectations. In true, sniveling, diaper-wearin’, I-didn’t-get-what-I-want-so-I’m-gonna-protest political fashion, good ol’ Joe is sellin’ a t-shirt with a Cubs-like logo and “Not my World Series champions” on it.
“Not my World Series champions?”
Is there another World Series somewhere with another champion? Last time I checked, the Fall Classic was it, my friend. Maybe there’s one on another planet or somethin’. Like the planet Uranus … where Cards fans rule, cuz it was named after ’em.
How many fans gathered to commemorate the last Cards championship? I have no friggin’ clue, but I can tell you it wasn’t five million, my friend. I am, however, willing to concede that whatever the headcount it was surely the largest gathering of pinheads in the history of the world. Congratulations. Have a lollipop.
Anyway, go to Joe Sports Fan and take a look at that friggin’ shirt! Any self-respecting Cards fan would rather take a nap with a scorned Lorena Bobbitt and a four-foot machete than strut around with a bastardized Cubs logo on his chest. I mean, the Cubs-Cards thing is baseball’s version of the Hatfields and McCoys, right? They hate us; we hate them. So wearin’ your arch enemy’s colors is a weird way of showin’ whose side your on.
You’ll never ever ever never see a Cubs fan wearin’ a Cards logo, I guarantee you. Not and live to tell about it. Quite the opposite, my friend. For example: You know those urinal cookie thingies? Well, down at the plant we got a bunch made with Cards logos on ’em. THAT’S what Cubs fans do with Cards logos. Great for target practice.
I’d also like to point out the copy that Joe Sports Fan writes about the shirt. It reads, “We are strong. We are united. We are clothed in a delicious blend of cotton and polyester sure to make friends jealous on Opening Day as the 11-time World Champion St. Louis Cardinals take the field against a team that hasn’t won one in over a century. Sad!” Since the Cubs are currently sittin’ on the trophy, I’d say if anything is “sad” it’s that Joe Sports Fan can’t count to 1. Typical.
So … while St Louis fans are busy protesting one of the greatest sports stories in a hundred years, the Cubs are quietly goin’ about the business of repeatin’ as Series champs, just like they did in 1907 and ’08 — something the Cards have never done.
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.