Friday, October 22, 2010

Playoff Paradox

The San Francisco Giants, straight from breaking my heart and beating the Padres on the final day of the season to win the NL West, have gone on a bit of a roll. They beat the Braves in 4 in the NLDS, and currently hold a 3-2 lead on the two-time NL champ Phillies in the NLCS.

All is great in the Bay Area. To wit: a story in yesterday, per Ann Killion, called "San Francisco is falling in love all over again with the Giants" (emphasis mine):

Or maybe, dude, they have other things to do instead focus on total downers. It may be that lack of obsession and self-flagellation that makes outsiders think Giants fans aren't rabid or savvy. One of the talking points of this postseason has been, "Hey, Giants fans are really into this baseball thing," as though it's somehow surprising. The Braves -- who often don't sell out postseason games -- noticed. The Phillies -- who think they have superior fans -- have noticed. The Giants fans are loud. Unlike their counterparts in Los Angeles, or the fans at the new Yankee Stadium, they stay until the end of games.

Well, sure. Sounds lovely! Giants fans rule! They- erp, what?

From the AP's game story - also found on, natch - of Game 5 of the NLCS:

Werth's solo homer in the ninth quieted the raucous sellout crowd of 43,713, and many fans began making for the exits even before the final out.

So, which is it? Are Giants fans the bestest baseball rooters on the planet, or are they so pessimistic about their team scoring two runs off probably the sketchiest closer left in the postseason that they hightail it out of a potential pennant-clinching game?

I'm so confused.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Same Old (Looney) Tunes

Last Thursday, did the unthinkable: they placed the anonymous and forgotten Padres atop their power rankings, lording over the dueling AL East behemoths and, obviously, the rest of baseball.

The venerated site did this, apparently, because for the previous two and a half weeks the Friars had beaten up on 2010 lowlifes Arizona, Chicago and Pittsburgh (with a few Ws over the Giants and Brewers thrown in for good measure). Either way, at one point San Diego had won 10 of 11 and seemed like an unstoppable machine.


Not content to merely let their cover jinx extend to the power rankings on their website, the blurb within the power rankings alludes to the Padres' 96.7% chance to make the playoffs; according to Baseball Prospectus, best in baseball at that time. These two factors put the Padres in rarefied air - nothing but air, unfortunately.

Know how in the old Looney Tunes cartoons, a character - usually Wile E. Coyote - can run off of a cliff and continue running on air, but only until somebody - usually the Road Runner - points out the situation? Of course you do. That's where the character, succumbing to physics and a huge "Look Down!" sign, plummets comically to a dusty and deserving death. (Ok, not "death" per se, but you get my drift.)

Monday, August 16, 2010

A Play, in One Act

The setting: an upscale house in Kohler, Wisconsin. A little boy named Dusty enters and encounters his mom, Pag (it's an Irish name). She is unhappy.

Pag: Dusty, where have you been?

Dusty: I've been playing with some friends. It was really fun! In fact, I just came in here to get a drink, then I'm going back out to play with them again!

He moves toward the refrigerator, opens it, and gets a Gatorade. As he heads for the door, Pag stops him.

Pag: You're not going anywhere. You're grounded.

Dusty: Grounded? For what? For how long?

Pag: For two weeks. And you should know why I'm grounding you.

Dusty [lip quivering]: I ... I don't ...

Pag: Before you went out to play a few days ago, I posted a note on the garage stating where you couldn't go with your friends. One of them was a hazardous place, the dirt hills behind the bowling alley. That's where you went, and that's why you're in trouble.

Dusty: But ... but ... I didn't see any note. You didn't tell me about it. And it's not hazardous! It's just dirt! And if it's so hazardous, how come dozens of kids were playing there? And why did the Petroskeys move their weekly flea market there?

Pag: It was clearly posted.

Here they walk out to the garage. Taped to the side of it - the side facing the neighbor's fence, the side where nobody goes because there's only about 18 inches of space - is an index card with minuscule type which reads ...

Pag: "...furthermore, the dirt hills behind the bowling alley shall be off-limits, but only if the security cameras from the Conoco across 68th St. happen to place you unequivocally at the scene." Plus, your Uncle Walt knew these rules, and was out there watching over you.

Dusty: Yeah, I was going to ask about Uncle Walt. If he was out there and he knew I was breaking a rule, why didn't he tell me?

Pag: Because he can only tell you if you ask him first.

Dusty: So ... if I had known that I had to ask for help I didn't know I needed, I wouldn't be grounded?

Pag: Exactly.

Dusty walks sadly up to his room, alone.

Monday, August 09, 2010

Oh, Jesus

Well, I told you - those Muslims are tough. Damn free will. Next to the platypus, it's been My biggest mistake.

I thought you didn't make mistakes, Father?

Everyone makes mistakes, Son. It's part of life. Speaking of which, remember how we were talking about how angry We get when athletes invoke Our names after wins, but never do it after losses? As if We actually cared about those games they play?

Yes, Father. I specifically remember talking about a young man named Tim Tebow.

Precisely, Son. We were fine with his outward praising of Us in college, but now that he's a pro, I've decided to show him and his Denver Broncos teammates that they should keep his deification to a minimum. Hopefully, I'll have rectified that mistake.

What did you do, Father?

Well, I ... I decimated his team.

You crashed their plane?

No, no, no. Nothing like that. I just tore their best young offensive lineman's knee apart back in April, put down their entire backfield in the span of 10 minutes on the first day of training camp, and then - this one's the kicker - took out their best defensive player just a few weeks after they signed him to a five-year extension.

Wow. That should teach them. Hey, hold on - I'm getting a picture message from a friend of mine. He's a Belgian monk, makes some great beer.

/checks phone

Oh, Me.

/shows to his Father

They should really, really think about taking the bus from now on.

Actually, Father, you know what would be worse?


Turn them into Cleveland.

C'mon, Son. I'm not that mean.

Friday, July 30, 2010

It's the Thought that Counts

Throughout my life, my mother has had a hard time buying me gifts. When I was little it was no problem, because if it was a toy, I played with it. No big deal.

But once I got a bit older, my mother started buying me clothes. For birthdays, for Christmas - clothes. And they were never in style at that moment, or things I liked, or they didn't fit. Basically, I can't remember one single article of clothing my mother ever got me for a gift where I was like, "Sweet! I'm gonna look awesome in this!" And then I wore it, and it totally got me chicks.

Still, I knew my mother loved me. It was the thought that counts.

I feel the same way today as a Padre fan.

Yesterday new GM Jed Hoyer traded a pitching prospect (Wynn Pelzer) for the deteriorating corpse of Miguel Tejada. Ok, that might be a tad harsh. Sure, Miggy's only OPS-ing .670 this year, with just seven homers in 401 ABs. But he's still a veritable doubles machine, and should stand to drive in some runs if the guys ahead of him can get on base.

This move means that Chase Headley probably moves to the outfield, Everth Cabrera gets sent down, and Jerry Hairston gets a lot more time at short. Hoyer has said that Tejada might see some time at short, but I don't see it. He's too old, and many of the Padres' starters induce a lot of grounders. He should either play third or maybe second, but not short. Please. Part of this team's strength is their defense, and playing a 36-year-old at SS severely hampers that. (Unless you're dreamy and can go to your left, like Jeter!)

Is Miggy the same guy who won the 2002 AL MVP? Not even close. Is he as bad as his numbers this year? I'd like to think not. Would you put up good numbers on that Orioles team? Cal Ripken rolled over in his grave so much this year he ended up in China.

This isn't a C.C. Sabathia-type move, but it's a move. It adds a little pop to the lineup and announces that the Padres are buyers. Buyers! Man, that feels good to type.

Plus, San Diego's pretty close to Mexico. They got cheap pharmacies down there, right?

Thursday, July 08, 2010

LeBron James’ Decision: An Exploration in Rock and Roll songs from Chapel Hill in the 90’s-00s

LeBron James’ Decision: An Exploration in Rock and Roll songs from Chapel Hill in the 90’s

Mentally, I am exhausted. I went to the woods and removed myself from civilization for a few days and came back to two jobs, overwhelming debt, an overarching sense that I am not doing anything well in my life and 14-16 hours days. Also, I came back to New York City as the go-to for a lot of my friends for “Where’s LeBron going?” talk. I’m a basketball guy. I know this. I love this. But there is only one way for me to describe to non-basketball fans how the LeBron decision affects fans in the contending cities: be as obscure as humanly possible.

So, here, non-basketball fans. This is what tonight means, as described by 90s-00s rock groups localized in the greater Chapel Hill, NC area.

LeBron spurns Cleveland:

Small (23): Steal Some Candy

Cleveland has been both a blessing and a curse for LeBron. He grew up in Ohio, has been the most beloved athlete in Cleveland (until tonight, possibly) and gave hope to a grouping of the most troubled fans ever to grace American major sports. Still, he was unable to escape his friends, focus on basketball and basketball alone, and every problem was magnified by the Cleveland populace’s rightfully-placed negativity. Thus, Small’s anthemic, driving rocker: “It’s been a couple days and I get the feeling/It’s just another sign I’ve stayed too long/ Pieces of the puzzle keep disappearing/ It’s always been a matter of what went wrong.”

LeBron stays in Cleveland:

Archers of Loaf: Underachievers March and Fight Song

Cleveland’s underdog mentality, despite not getting a championship quite yet, can finally rest a little easier. This is the time to dance and play guitars and smile at one another despite hardship. You see, if LeBron stays, Cleveland is a relevant state in the basketball-- and American sports-- union. This is their chance to hale it all. The name of this song says it all and the lyrics reflect a city with a lighthearted sigh decompressing their quickened hearts. Plus, screw the major markets. YEAH, FIGHT THE MAN. “Doomed to fall/ Smashing their evil empire up against the wall/ All for one/ One for all/ ‘Til their done with free space...” Can’t really get closer to the explanation than that.

LeBron chooses the Knicks:

Polvo: Right the Relation

Polvo wrote this song, very obviously, about their breakup when they were at the top of their collective game. “I killed my creation/ to right the relation...” This is LeBron’s thinking, if he chooses NYC. I know I left Cleveland. AI loved them, but I had to find other means; other money; other outlets. LeBron in New York makes no sense to me, but for his megalomaniacal brand-driven mindset? There’s no better course than to make the history he was destined to. Sure, Polvo’s decision was a little more ,low-key, but dramatics have little to do with an passionate choice. It’s about the moment.

LeBron spurns the Knicks:

Superchunk: Water Wings

Um, these might do:
“Was it worth the wait/ Was that the wall where you marked off the date?”
“...the wings/ Made of wax/ Made of water/ He was too dumb to accept the offer/ He was too smart”
“She pointed at the black cloud in the sky/ She said that’s what happens when you’re learning to fly/ She said with you it is no use/ Why do you try?”

LeBron chooses the Heat:

Raymond Brake: New Wave Dream

This song’s music is really what describes the mood of this move. The idea of watching Chris Bosh, LeBron and Dwayne Wade was a feverish 4 AM dream (yes, I woke up/stayed awake to see them play) in 2008’s Olympic Games. The prevailing rumor is that these gentlemen planned to play together all along. If this is true, the mathy/stop-start pacing belie the basketball fans idea of the move. On one hand, we get to see an amazing sight. On the other hand, we all know the drama surrounding each player’s decision was an underhanded and ridiculous ploy for attention. As the warbling vocals and guitar layers wash over us, the basketball fan doesn’t really know what to do with all of the new, shiny toys laying under the trees. Also at play? the fact that this band was largely ignored unless you lived in the area. Really, only Miami fans are truly excited to see this. The rest of us a cringing-- even if only just a little bit.

LeBron spurns the Heat:

Superchunk: Driveway to Driveway

This is pretty self-explanatory. The Heat already got more relevant. They got two big names, kept their superstar, and have been walking around in a haze for the last two or three days. Nice feeling, but once the hangover comes on, you realize that you spent a lot of money for a better-than-average team.

LeBron chooses the Bulls:

Squirrel Nut Zippers- Meant to Be

As an NBA fan, this is the choice I love the most. “All the time/ I’m finding ways to make things fall in line/ I know/ How tricky things can be... Listen here/ Some things are meant to be.” The Bulls have everything LeBron needs: major media outlet, money, a solid team ready to compete, a new big name, Michael Jordan’s legacy and a chance to win immediately. LeBron has everything the Bulls need (explained by the fact that he is the best player in the game right now). Unless you have a rooting interest in Cleveland, this is the move you root for if you love good basketball. This is the move you love more than you love your own teams’ chances. This is the move that makes you nod respectively and look forward to seeing a great team. those don’t always come along, and this is our chance to see one. This isn’t three big names and a slough of small contracts/filler. This is one great player, young talent and a dream of a championship. This is what we want.

LeBron spurns the Bulls:

Since Michael Jordan left, this is the general milieu. Mistakes, regret, good players floating in and out of the uniform, but nothing permanent, nothing that can compare to the high of those championships. “All of my friends have floated away/ Connect the valley to the astral plane.” Yeah, they’ll have a good team, but the (second) best player may have floated away with all their championship dreams.

So, there you have it. Each team with a real shot (The New Jersey Nets and the LA Clippers were mercifully left off this list) and the song that best describes them from a town that never really caught on. Not bad after being removed from civilization for a week. The only regret is that so many bands never made the list since the youtubes are a little more modern than their run in the 90s. Sorry, Spatula. Maybe when Carmelo Anthony makes his decision.

Oh, and for those of you bored with the whole fucking thing?

Sleepytime Trio: Not Without My (Swimmies)

No, they weren't from NC originally, but fuck it. This shit destroys.