The Maker’s Mark and Blue Moon have been choppered in. The Ricobone’s with Spinach is on board. The liveblog… begins
2nd: Sox 1 Indians 1: While I was out discovering that my neighborhood liquor store had closed its doors, Shin-Soo Choo launched one in the first, but was answered immediately in the bottom frame by Jermaine Dye. Meanwhile up in Twinkieland, the Twins are again down against the Royals 4-2 and Joe Mauer just hit into his second double play in the bottom of the 9th courtesy of The Mexecutioner Joakim Soria….
UPDATE: Twins LOSE 4-2. Mexecution couldn’t happen to a nicer bunch of fellas. (Tied for) first place feels pretty good again.
UPDATE: (Top 4th) Choo has a great look on Javy, just sent one to the warning track in right but Dye pulled it in. K number five for Javy – buh-bye Jhonny Peralta – another 3-up-3-down inning for Mr. Relaxation.
UPDATE: (Bot 4th) …and Jhermaine’s got an equally good look on Zach Jhackson, threatening at the track. These two should get a room. Jackson’s (6.12 ERA) got good heat and the Sox haven’t seen him before. Just announced: Cliff Lee has been SCRATCHED for tomorrow’s start vs the Sox. Eric Wedge, the beer’s on me at the next Pere Ubu gig…Konerko just went to the track too. The forecast is for fireworks tonight.
UPDATE: (Top 5th) Garko singles up the middle…Dellucci walks, first BB for Vazquez…1 out…Javy goes 3-0 on Ben Francisco who rolls one past Juan “How Much For Parking?” Uribe – bases loaded, one out. Asdrubal Cabrera puts an inside fastball down the first base line for a bases-clearing double…Cle 4 Sox 1…but even worse, there’s activity in the bullpen. Where’s the bourbon? Jamey Carroll up…hey, a two-run double! Cle 6 Sox 1! Amid the boos, Ozzie found the bullpen, and I found the bourbon. Mmmm, bourbon. Javy out, Clayton Richard gives up another gapper …7-1 Indians…You know, the thing I admire the most about borbon is the vanilla notes in the flavor, it’s almost like having an ice-cream cone but you can’t feel your face…Garko forces Come Back Jhonny out at second and this 6R 6H 2B inning is now over. Face: can still kind of feel it.
UPDATE: (Bot 5th) AJ with a 1-out line drive single up the middle. So is this payback for the 2005 September where the Chisox almost choked their gi-normous division lead but took the last series to clinch against an almost identical Indians team? All I know for sure is this: you gotta let Ronald be Ronald. Clayton Richard: you got out of the inning. Don’t trip over Javy’s suitcase back there.
UPDATE: (Bot 6th) Brian Anderson walks…Dye srikes out looking. It is nothing short of astonishing that this tired bunch of millionaires can’t even manage to get eliminated tonight. Goddammit, lead, follow, or get me another Maker’s neat.
UPDATE: (Bot 7th) Solo bomb from Konerko. Cle 7 Sox 2. Remember that scene in The Bad Lieutennant where Harvey Ketel is watching the NLCS and Darryl Strawberry turns in one of his “patented moon shots”…to make it 11-2 Dodgers? Fists….in the air….
UPDATE: (Top 8th) Richard out, Lance Broadway in. Impromptu staging of “Cats” takes place in living room. Broadway gets into the mood by giving up a double to Garko, driving in Martinez. Cle 8 Sox 2. Actual cats not amused. Face: numb.
UPDATE: (Bot 8th) At some point during the Tony awards, RHP Brendan Donnelly took the bump…Juan Uribe reaches by beating a roller up the 1B line…Carbrera sends a wicked slice double down the RF foul line, Uribe on 3rd..Dewayne Wise up…Donnelly’s stuff is on the dead side..3-2…struck out looking. Dye sac flies to Choo in right, Uribe beats the throw for RBI #91 Cle 8 Sox 3…out goes Donnelly, in comes LHP Rafael Perez to face Jim Thome with Cabrera on third…2-2…fastball smacked to the left drives in Cabrera – Cle 8 Sox 4…Jensen Lewis in to face Konerko with one on…FIRST PITCH — POW 2 RUN SHOT TO RIGHT — PAULIE’S SECOND FOR THE NIGHT! Cle 8 Sox 6…replay looks like a changeup, drifed inside…Alexei singles on an E5 off of Carroll’s glove to bring the tying run to the plat…AJ up, 1-2 count…Ozzie yelling about Lewis balking, high fly to Sizemore in center…3 outs. Face: very numb, slightly moist.
UPDATE: (Top 9th) Welcome to the mound Scott Linebrink, who looked very much like his old self in oe of the few bright spots against Minnesota..Asdrubal Cabrera singles a chest-high slider under Konerko’s glove…Sizemore singles up the middle nearly decapitating Linebrink…Carroll lays down a 5-4 sac bunt, followed by ihntentional whalk of Choo…bags juiced..for Jhonny Peralta…fhuck. Perlata line drives to left to score Cabrera…Cle 9 Chi 6...bases loaded, Matt Thornton in, line drive single scores Sizemore…Cle 10 Sox 6…I’m sure I’d feel much worse if I wasn’t so heavily sedated…Franklin Guttierez in for Delucci, what are you worried, Wedge?…anotehr line drive to right, drives in two. Cle 12 Sox 6.
“This has a chance to be the final soundtrack at Shea: jeers, curses and various expressions of anguish as Mets runners on third never score” scoffed the NY Post’s Joel Sherman after Friday’s dispiriting 6-1 loss to Florida. Some 14 hours later, the Schizo Mets remain alive for at least one more day after Johan Santana made Shea’s penultimate game one of the most memorable in franchise history. Pitching on three days rest after throwing 125 pitches against Chicago on Tuesday, Santana’s 3 hit shutout of the Marlins earlier today was the sort of heroic performance even the most delusional Mets fans wouldn’t have dared imagine. The talismanic Venezulean starter — who might cost Tim Lincecum and Brandon Webb a few first place Cy Young Votes — whiffed 10 and walked just 3 in an electrifying outing that will hopefully inspire some greater concentration on the part of Oliver Perez tomorrow afternoon. And at the risk of sounding terribly morbid, short of rendering Shea’s closing day meaningless, what could be more distasteful (or appropriate) than having the entire season riding on the back of the enigmatic Ollie?
As of this writing, Ted Lilly hasn’t allowed a baserunner in Milwaukee, with the Cubs leading the Brewers, 4-0 after 5 1/2. Supposedly, Carlos Zambrano will start for Chicago tomorrow, and keep in mind he’s got a hitless innings streak of his own happening at Miller Park.
There’s hardly been a shortage of fine performances at Gonerfest 5 thus far ; under normal hit-or-miss rock fest circumstances, the Sic Alps’ reverb-soaked set Thursday night would’ve been a gig-of-the-year contender (please, save the “you must not go out very often” chatter for someone else — I go out all the time, I just have much lower standards then you). But much like the fateful auditions for the voice of Poochy The Rockin’ Dog, the Sic Alps have been forced to relinquish the crown of The World’s Greatest Band (Of The Past 48 Hours) in favor of the London trio Black Time.
To paraphrase Giuseppe Franco, I don’t have anything to do with Black Time. I don’t know a thing about them. But I do know that unless or until the Scanlon/Hanley X 2/Burns/M.E.S lineup of the Fall reforms, I’m unlikely to see an English band (or perhaps a human band) so totally locked-in. I don’t know of many bands under the age of 100 that could’ve held their own alongside Chain Gang, the Panther Burns in their prime or the first couple of Flesh Eaters incarnations, but I’m not exaggerating when I claim Black Time are the perfect antidote to feed whichever of your friends complain about contemporary music sucking. I’ve got a couple of (borderline) pals like that, and if they don’t make it to Emo’s on Monday to see Black Time, the Cola Freaks and the No No No Hopes, at the very least, I’ll know who to delete from my social networking buddy list.
No disrespect is intended towards those who prefer Newman’s portrayals of “Fast” Eddie Felson or Luke Jackson, but the late thespian will be best remembered at Chez CSTB for his nuanced performance as player/coach Reggie Dunlop in George Roy Hill’s “Slapshot” (1977).
A so-called “exclusive” report by WFTS- Ch. 28 that OF Rocco Baldelli has muscular dystrophy is “erroneous,” according to Dr. Allan Weiss, who has been treating Baldelli.
“The report is erroneous,” Weiss said in comments relayed through the team. “It is incorrect terminology. He has mitochondrial myopathy, not muscular dystrophy.”
Asked directly before Friday’s game if he had muscular dystrophy, Baldelli said, “No.” And of the report, he said, “That’s awful.”
Rays president Matt Silverman issued a statement calling the report “irresponsible” and requesting an apology to the Baldelli family: “The report issued by WFTS-TV Channel 28 is irresponsible and erroneous. We expect an immediate retraction and an apology to Rocco and his family.”
WFTS touted the story by Wendy Ryan on its website (abcactionnews.com) and in a press release with the headline: EXCLUSIVE: Rays Rocco Baldelli disgnosed with Muscular Dystrophy.”
John Danks (11-9) made it four innings with 7 hits and 5Ks but leading 4-3, gave up a two-run single to Shin-Soo Choo, prompting a haggard Ozzie to reach for what Joe Morgan this year dubbed “the best bullpen ever”. Unfortunately, Hang The DJ Carrasco’s immediate walk of Jhonny Peralta to load the bases loomed large over the facile Fox announcer’s June 29th estimation. At the time, the South Side appreciated Joe apparently forgetting he played on the ’75 Big Red Machine, but we couldn’t remain in denial forever. Or even for one more batter – Morgan’s superlative was sent over the wall forever along with a Ryan Garko grand slam of a 1-0 Carrasco doucheball. The Indians went up 9-4 and never looked back.
According to the handy-dandy AL Central Outcome Matrix, the Sox could drop both games this weekend and still not be out of it as long as the Twins follow suit, forcing a Monday makeup with Detroit and a possible one-game playoff with the Twins. My head hurts. It’s Zach Jackson vs Javy “Big Game” Vazquez tonight. Although it’s against the basic principles of animal husbandry, I will stand by this team in its grave misery and live blog my way to its denoument. MacBook Pro keyboards can handle tears and bourbon, right?
(above, Ichiro’s would be new-look, inspired by Derek Erdman’s “STRANGLED: Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders”)
I’ll spare you a proper introduction of myself with a simple statement: I quit smoking on Monday and am now on day five of The Patch. The process has been brutal, and I probably haven’t been the nicest guy over this past week. Numerous times I have caught myself snapping at co-workers, family and friends throughout, and while part of me feels kinda bad about my behavior, last night I received my punishment by having fallen asleep with The Patch on. During this turbulent sleep I was subject to the most unpleasant dreams, the most memorable of which involved a string of friends and acquaintances visiting my home in Silicon Valley, performing some kind of Trojan-horse home invasion, and submitting me to all kinds of humiliation and cruelty that I won’t detail here on my first posting on CSTB, but let me say that the premature aging, heart disease, cancer and yellow teeth which go along with smoking seemed appealing by comparison. …Anyway, that said, I was surprised to find my outlandish semi-conscious hallucinations to have a very similar storyline to an alleged situation taking place in my beloved Seattle Mariners’ clubhouse. Per Geoff Baker in Thursday’s Seattle Times:
“I just can’t believe the number of guys who really dislike him,” said one clubhouse insider. “It got to a point early on when I thought they were going to get together and go after him.” The coaching staff and then-manager John McLaren intervened when one player was overheard talking – in reference to Ichiro – about wanting to “knock him out.” A team meeting was called to clear the air. It was a repeat of May 2007, when Mike Hargrove was in charge and a team meeting had to be called during a series at Tampa Bay because of clubhouse bickering over Ichiro being a “selfish” player.
As a avid and loyal fan of the Mariners, I can confirm with certainty that there 20 or 21 Mariner players who should be knocked out, and none of them are Ichiro. The lack of quote attribution forces me to speculatively associate said quote with simpering Mariner tough-guy mediocrites Jerrod Washburn and/or Willie “Ballgame” Bloomquist, but for fuck’s sake, put a tent on this circus.
Mariner Manager Jim Riggleman displays an uncanny clarity in an ESPN and Seattle Times follow up as follows:
“We’ve lost so many games, so these types of things surface,” Riggleman said. “When the ship is sinking, the rats are the first ones off. They’re the ones scavenging everything on the ship when it’s going good, but when it’s sinking they’re the first ones off.”
On the bright side in Mariner-land, the M’s have a magic number of 2 in the Strasberg sweepstakes, aka the #1 pick, with the hard-charging Nationals trailing the Phillies 7-1 in the 2nd inning.
White Sox, you blew a five-run lead to get swept and lose first place. This time the guilty parties were not named Dotel, Wasserman, Richard, MacDougal or Logan. Orlando Cabrera, you talked a lot of shit. And you weren’t wrong. You’re an asshole, but you weren’t wrong. Confidential to Bobby Jenks and AJ: in the future, you might want to look into the possibilities of the 1-2 curve ball. Alexei, Dye, Thome, Konerko? Yeah, the season continues in September.
Oh, and speaking of Todd Jones: Carlos Gomez? You may well be the next Rickey Henderson, but that sniffing, nuzzling, batters-box intimacy with your equipment is completely unnecessary in this post-Stonewall era. You’re just not shocking anybody.
So what happens when you’re a baseball team that never gets what you deserve — and you deserve second place?
The possible AL Central outcomes for the Chisox are bewildering, although none includes Juan Uribe picking up his boat. The following helpful table is provided to guide the faithful through the matrix.
Courtesy of the Chicago Tribune:
If Twins win…
If White Sox win…
Sox play Detroit on Monday
Twins win Central
Twins win Central
Twins win Central
Sox play Detroit on Monday
Sox play Detroit on Monday
Twins win Central
Twins win Central
Sox win Central
Sox play Detroit on Monday
Sox play Detroit on Monday
Twins win Central
Sox win Central
Sox win Central
Sox play Detroit on Monday
Sox play Detroit on Monday
If it turns out that the Sox must play Detroit on Monday in Chicago, there are four possible outcomes:
¢ If Sox go in 1/2 game ahead and win, Sox win Central.
¢ If Sox go in 1/2 game ahead and lose, Sox play Minnesota on Tuesday.
¢ If Sox go in 1/2 game behind and win, Sox play Minnesota on Tuesday.
¢ If Sox go in 1/2 game behind and lose, Twins win Central.
Being shunned at Shea Stadium all week takes a lot of time out of one’s blogging schedule, which is why CSTB’s SMD (Special Mascot Division) is a little late to the party on the top news stories of the week.
Firstly, FIFA is pleased to announce a glam-leopard of some variety as the 2010 World Cup Mascot. His or her name Zakumi, which in assorted African languages means “ten pizzas”. In loving gestures towards the sport, Zakumi has a sort of pentagonal-shaped eczema on his or her forehead, and his or her mane appears to be styled by cleats.
Secondly, those (perhaps the Mets’ relief pitchers) looking for a fallback career in the current economic downturn may wish to consider a move to scenic Oakland, California: auditions are now open for Stomper. Admittedly an elephant isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when one tries to envision the living, polyurethane, clowning equivalent of “Athletic”, but it’s at least as good a leap of marketing logic as the five anthropomorphic penises the Pennsylvania Lottery picked to represent its new Quinto lottery game. Thank you to the Keystone State for reawakening a horror not thought upon since the Ziploc Finger Man campaign of the early ’90s.
Contemplating what might be the final game played at Shea Stadium this Sunday, Mets Blog’s Matthew Cerrone writes, “if Mike Piazza, Robin Ventura and Edgardo Alfonzo all roll up at the same time, i may react like they™re The Beatles.” With that in mind, I would respectfully ask the parole board to reconsider Mark David Chapman’s request to obtain Timo Perez’s autograph. Hey, if you think that’s tasteless, where’s the booing for Newsday’s Jim Baumbach? He’s proposed that Tom Glavine throw out Sunday’s ceremonial 80 mph “fastball” right down Broadway first pitch.
Point taken: during a play-off race and post-season planning, burning out one of your aces’ arms on 110 pitches for a possible no-hitter is a topic for discussion. Steve Stone, who burned out his own arm for a single season of glory in 1980, should know. Stoney’s heart is apparently still on the North Side as there doesn’t seem to be much going on in the South Side Hosiery Dept, so he found time to declare Lou Piniella a weak manager and Carlos Zambrano a “monster.” It’s completely blown out the real issue facing Chicago baseball fans this week: is 77-year-old Ernie Banks too old to adopt a kid? This Sun-Times “exclusive” from Roman Modrowski (I guess the Trib doesn’t have wi-fi yet) captures every manager’s best friend in prime Stoneyland:
Looks like ESPN analyst and former Mets GM Steve Phillips wasn’t the only one who didn’t think Lou Piniella should have let Carlos Zambrano finish that no-hitter on Sept. 14.
As Elliott Harris pointed out in today’s Quick Hits, Sox analyst Steve Stone was on Mike North’s Web show and echoed Phillips’ sentiments.They weren’t the only ones who thought that because Zambrano was coming off a missed start due to rotator cuff tendinitis, Piniella should have limited his pitch count. Zambrano threw 110 pitches in the no-hitter.”I don’t agree with allowing Zambrano to throw 110 pitches,” Stone said Tuesday on ”The Mike North Webio Show” on wildfirerestaurant.com. ”I don’t care if it’s a no-hitter. The only job that Lou Piniella has to do, and still has to do, is make sure his pitchers are ready.”I would have pulled him in the sixth. A manager is paid for some very tough decisions and no-hitters are delightful. You can always say you have a no-hitter.
”He is becoming Sammy [Sosa] Jr. They are creating another monster on the North Side.”This is a really talented guy, but so was Sosa.
But the point is, if you remain completely complicit, in guys you know in taking more and more, eventually the tail cannot wag the dog.”
Congratulations, Austin Police Deparment! Not only are you doing an awesome job thoroughly ignoring 8th thru 11th Streets just west of Red River most nights of the week (next to live music, independent car parking trolls are the Capitol’s fastest growing industry) but you successfully provided a pretext to which Bears GM Jerry Angelo could part ways with underachieving former Longhorn RB Cedric Benson. In addition to being cleared of all charges by a Travis County Grand Jury yesterday, the Stateman’s Suzanne Halliburton reports our Cedric will once again be cruising the Warehouse District.
Cedric Benson™s car no longer has an ignition lock breath alcohol tester on his steering wheel.
Sam Bassett, Benson™s lawyer, said Judge Elisabeth Earle signed the order Friday to remove the device. Earle had ordered the device to be added to Benson™s car back in June as a condition of his bail on three alcohol-related charges.
Aside from my wondering when Kirk Bohls might offer Benson an apology, might there be anyone in the Rams front office with the presence of mind to send Marc Bulger on an all-expenses-paid sojurn to Austin’s 6th Street cavalcade of douchebag emporiums entertainment establishments? As Benson’s case illustrates, there’s all sorts of ways of managing the salary cap.
(Heilman, earlier in 2008 before Joe Strummer’s estate requested that “London Calling” be replaced on the Shea tannoy with “Straight To Hell”)
Though there was no shortage of blame to go around following the Mets’ 9-6, 10 inning home loss to the Cubs Wednesday night (neither Oliver Perez nor Luis Ayala can be held responsible for squandering a Danny Murphy 9th inning lead off triple), it’s beyond obvious the extent to which the Mets have been victimized by baseball’s worst bullpen. “That the Mets remain in the hunt for a postseason berth despite Billy Wagner’s injury is something short of a miracle” writes Sports Illustrated‘s Jay Jaffe, his hopeful tone tempered by the reminder, “they have lost 28 games in which they were either ahead or tied after six innings, the most in the majors.”
A quick peek at the individual numbers informs us that it’s not hard to recognize a systemic combination of overuse and ineffectiveness. Of the six relievers whom Jerry Manuel has called upon most frequently, five have second-half ERAs above 4.90: Ayala (5.54, including his Washington stint), Pedro Feliciano (6.38), Aaron Heilman (6.75), Duaner Sanchez (6.00), and Joe Smith (4.91); Scott Schoeneweis (4.50) is the exception. Excluding the late-arriving Ayala, that bunch has combined for 152 appearances in 63 games since the break, a breakneck 78-game pace for each over the course of a season. Feliciano (83 games), Ayala (80) and Smith (79) represent three of the six major league pitchers stretched to that exhausting plateau over the full season, with Heilman (77) not far behind. Overall the Mets rank second in the league since the break with 227 relief appearances, an average of 3.6 per game.
Driving such a frenetic pace is a massive platoon split that has Jerry Manuel chasing the “right” matchups, following a single-minded La Russa-style tactical orthodoxy at the expense of more important strategic imperatives such as conserving bullpen arms over the course of the long season. When they have the platoon advantage (righty on righty or lefty on lefty), Mets relievers have limited hitters to just .225/.299/.325; ranked by OPS, that’s an impressive fourth in the majors. However, when they don’t have the platoon advantage, they’ve been tagged at a .294/.375/.479 clip, worst in the majors. The 227-point OPS difference between situations is the highest by a wide margin; second-highest are the Brewers at 188 points, and they just whacked a manager over his platoon-related shenanigans and bullpen mismanagement. The take-home message is yet another reminder that chasing matchups can easily backfire on a skipper, either by exposing lefty specialists such as Schoeneweis (.333/.421/.509 versus righties) or Feliciano (.357/.453/.561) to the point where they face more righties than lefties, or by shunting a heavier workload to the second- or third-tier pitchers in a bullpen.
“I’m glad that a guy who went to Yavapai Community College (who the hell knows if he even graduated from that fine institution) has enough time on his hands now that his arm has fallen off to school us on this whole financial mess…specifically about how it is all the fault of the party that hasn’t been in control of anything since before Jacoby Ellsbury was in Junior High School.” So declares Rog after reading Curt Schilling’s latest essay on the U.S.’s pending financial collapse. “Many of the senators who protected Fannie and Freddie, including Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and Christopher Dodd, have received mind-boggling levels of financial support from them over the years,” stressed Schilling. After one 38 Pitches commentator reminded the Red Sox lefty that John McCain’s own campaign manager, Rick Davis, received more than $30,000 a month for five years as president of an advocacy group assembled by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to defend them against regulation (“If slinging B.S. burns calories, you™re going to make weight easy, Curt”), the hurler-turned-blogger questioned the source.
HAHA! That™s your point of reference? The NYT! Seriously? A paper run by people and writers who have made it clear that Governor Palin is the Anti-Christ and a group that couldn™t dislike Senator McCain more than they do??? That™s hilarious. I say that because both sides seem to be doing much of the same, but come on, you could shoot for another source that isn™t so blatantly biased and full of crap. Should be called the œNew York Enquirer
He’s got a point, and I would agree the New York Times is hardly infallible. For instance, they’re partial owners of a baseball team in New England that paid a guaranteed $8 million this season to a guy who hasn’t thrown a single pitch in anger.
(a local security expert describes “the biggest hot dog I ever ate”)
You’ve probably heard about this one already, but just in case you didn’t, thanks to Eric for passing the link along. And if Mr. Met would like to be similarly careless this weekend, thus avoiding the humiliation of letting the Brewers off the hook, maybe that’s worth considering. If John McCain can duck a challenge this week, why not the Mets? From NJ.com’s Frank Della Femina :
Hours before the Phillies-Atlanta Braves’ game on Wednesday night, a film crew shot a commercial of the Phillie Phanatic shooting hot dogs heavily wrapped in white packaging and duct tape outside the ballpark’s first-base gate.
Everything went as planned … until someone inadvertently left three of the packaged hot dogs outside the ballpark.
Yes, the mysterious packages were hot dogs. According to the Philadelphia Phillies web site, the bomb squad handled it accordingly:
The Philadelphia Police’s bomb squad detonated the packages and sounded an “all clear” for fans to return to the park, Stiles said.
The Mets won a coin flip earlier today to determine who’d have home field advantage in the event of a one game playoff against Houston to determine the NL Wild Card. There’s no truth to the rumor Drayton McLane called “heads you win, tails I lose”.
The 3-4-5 of the Sox order has gone 3 for 22 in these games. It took two double plays to get out of the second inning. Buehrle and Cabrera picked off Gomez at second, but didn’t get the call and Gomez came around for the winning run. Buehrle (L 14-12, 8H 3R 4BB 3K) went a good eight, settling down after a bad pair of innings, but allowed runners to screw up his look to the plate. Meanwhile, a familiar nickel-and-dime Twins contact affair of flares, bloops, broken-bat chip shots and frictionless moon bounces buried the Sox under the green concrete. For their part, the deadliest bats in the AL failed to capitalize on Blackburn (5IP, 8H 2R 2BB 2K) or get to the pen, who gave up one hit and one walk combined.
It’s a testament to baseball, that most generous and redemptive of games, that a squad this distracted could turn in a performance like this and still somehow be on top in the division. Nonetheless, it’s clear this wasn’t the right year to figure out how to beat Oakland.
Tonight, with everything on the line (everything, that is, that hasn’t been raked already into the dealer’s chip rack) the matchup is Gavin Floyd (16-8, 3.84) vs Kevin Slowey (12-11, 3.85). Get to Slowey, win the game. If Nick Swisher gets out that blow-up doll again, let me reccomend a bicycle pump this time. It’s hard enough to breathe in that bubble.
Florida reliever Todd Jones has long been CSTB’s journalistic hero. His old as-told-to columns for The Sporting News showed yours truly that if a big, burly dude like Todd wasn’t ashamed of flaunting his learning disabilities and backwards sexual politics in public, I’d have to get a lot bigger and burlier if I wanted to manage the same thing.
Tonight while on a fact finding mission at Chicago’s Wrigley Field, I had the opportunity to observe Jones up close and personal. While sitting alongside the Marlins bullpen, I spied Todd bringing autographed baseballs to a couple of heavily made up / perfumed individuals sitting a few seats to my right. I’ve long heard that signing autographs during the game was forbidden (or so Red Sox backup catcher Bob Montgomery claimed many years ago), and as much as I’d like to credit Todd for being a nice guy, I hate to break it to him that both of these girls had penises. What’s more, since we’re in Illinois, I’m pretty sure they weren’t married to each other.
“I am not nostalgic for the days when football was not a family game, characterised memorably by Billy Connolly, 30 years ago, as a time ‘when they are shitting in our shoes and we are pissing in their Bovril’” recalls the Guardian’s Rob Bagchi. “The fear of getting your head kicked in was rife. But I cannot stand the noise pollution now provided by clubs who think you can be dragooned into behaving in a particular way.”
They must have a pretty dim view of us if they think we don’t know how to celebrate a goal without some sort of cue. I first noticed this phenomenon in America, at NBA games, when the Wurlitzer was switched into hunting-horn mode and a reveille was used to prompt the crowd to chant “Charge!” when the home team had the ball or “Defence!” when an opposition attack was mounted. Nothing could be left to chance – an atmosphere had to be manufactured to suit the spectacle.
When the Premier League was launched in 1992, Sky tried to import such American razzmatazz. Their notorious half-time show for Monday night games featured the Sky Strikers dancing troupe and there was a post-match firework display, too. Widespread ridicule from people who had, on sufferance, tolerated the Dagenham Girl Pipers for decades prompted Sky to accept that the sight of cheerleaders belting out Toni Basil’s Mickey and hectoring fans to join in on a November evening at Boundary Park was incongruous at best. The experiment in supporter manipulation was stopped after only one season.
If only some clubs had been as wise. Instead, those who struggle to fill their grounds – in some instances because, ironically, their fans don’t want a sanitised and orchestrated experience – persist in the belief that you can fill an atmospheric void with muzak, giant foam hands, comedy hats and the infernal clack-clack of those damned rubber clappers. The self-proclaimed “best league in the world”, which prides itself on the authenticity of its unique matchday “event”, is prepared to cheat, to give the level of crowd participation a helping hand if it does not come up to scratch.
“Gary Unmarried” is a throwback to a time when laugh tracks were provided by evidently demented studio audiences; when one-liners were stoked with double entendres about sexual functions; when sitcoms had a beat, pace and predictability so primitive that they engaged only the reptilian part of our brains. To some viewers, this may be comfort food. To others: Hell. I suspect the latter will outnumber the former. What’s wrong here? What isn’t? Says Tom to Dad, “I can’t invite a girl over here [because] what if she expects me, to – you know – tap it?” Roar from studio audience. Mock horror from Dad. The reptile in our brain sniggers. – Verne Gay, Newsday, 9/24/08
Say what you’d like about the Ford Motor Company: that they’re the worst-run big corporation in the world; that they’ve squandered the goodwill of American auto-buyers and abdicated commanding heights in the market by producing crappy cars, resisting innovation at every turn and depending on government subsidy; that they never should’ve stopped producing the Festiva. I just said all those things, for instance, and believe them.
But whatever else one says about the Fords, it’s clear that they’re loyal. Not to their workers or those who buy their cars: no, they’re loyal to intensely incompetent executives, both on the automotive and football sides of their business. It’s why both are doing so well, I think. I’d love to read the fact that the Lions have finally relieved Matt Millen (above, right) of his team president duties as evidence of a great leap forward for the Fords. Until the company drops their idiotic insistence on producing cars that run entirely on ethanol, instead of plug-in hybrids (or really meaningful hybrids of any kind), though, it’s safe to assume that the Fords will remain something of an embarrassment.
But, to reiterate, they’re slightly less embarrassing for finally having ditched Millen. That it took seven seasons…well, see above for the car that runs on corn. The Fords, at this point, are kind of like the end-stage Spanish branch of the Hapsburg family. After generations of hot Hapsburg-on-Hapsburg action, the family’s rule over Spain came to an end when the mentally retarded King Charles II just kind of gave Spain to France’s Louis XIV. I mention this for no other reason than to note that I think even Charles II would’ve probably fired Millen in like 2004.
But all this Hapsburg-baiting and ethanol bashing is distracting us from what’s really important, here: the question of what’s next for Matt Millen. He may go back to broadcasting, where his dependably stern wrongheadedness has been much missed. He may somehow find himself promoted to Vice President of GM. For the time being, though, I hope Millen throws himself into this new radio project he’s working on.
This may be news to those of you without satellite radio, but Matt Millen and Isiah Thomas have been hosting an advice show — “Zeke and Matt’s Sound Decision-Making” — on Sirius for the last month or so, and it is really, really impressive. Here’s a partial transcript from yesterday’s show:
MM: “…So, yeah, that’s why I think it’s always a bad idea to wear a condom.”
IT: “Couldn’t agree more, Matt. To change gears for a minute, so to speak,” — and here there’s a card of screeching tire wheels — “I’d like to talk about another thing I feel like every listener should try, which is drunk driving.”
MM: “Oh, now you’re talking.”
IT: “So you’re with me on this one?”
MM: “Oh, absolutely, Zeke, I have. Done it often, and it is fun. An adventure. Although to be honest, I don’t always remember just how fun it was the next day.
IT and MM (in unison): “So you have to do it again!” (Audible high five)
MM: “Oh, that’s good. Okay, when we come back: home finance. We’ll have our panel of experts…”
IT: “…by which he means us, our producer, Jerome James, and board op, Charles Rogers…”
MM: “…discussing which teaser-rate mortgage is right for you.”
Stay with radio, Matt. In seven years, you can probably put the whole medium out of business. (Thanks to Brendan Flynn for helping unearth that transcript)