Friday, August 31, 2007

Don't Get Me Wrong, Joba Chamberlain Is Pitching Great, But Is NY Really Going This Nuts For A Middle Reliever?

It's always exciting to have a good young rookie come up and blow the doors off people. It's not just good for your team, but it's good for baseball. It's exciting to see Verlander and Zumaya throw 100mph cheese or Liriano throw a heavy 97 mph lefty fastball or Felix Hernandez / Papelbon / K-Rod or whoever come in an energize a team. It's fun and it's get fans really excited. So I guess I can kinda understand the lofty hype of the Joba Chamberlain situation going on right now. He's young, he throws hard and he hasn't been scored on, plus he fills a HUGE hole for the Yanks right now as their 8th inning guy. That's great. But he is a middle reliever and what he's doing is done all the time, despite the stats that digs up to say otherwise. While Chamberlain's scoreless streak (now 11.1) innings is impressive, especially for a rookie, it's not even close to several streaks that have taken place this year and earned far less hype. Brandon Webb went 5 games without giving up a run and 3 of those were complete games! 41 people faced Bobby Jenks without getting on FUCKING BASE! That's absurd, yet it didn't get nearly the attention that Chamberlain gets. And in terms of rookie relievers, when named closer in 2006, Papelbon gave up 2 total runs in 34 appearances and didn't give up a run in his first 14. I recognize this is the NY media and baseball hype is par for the course (see Brien Taylor, Kevin Maas, Shance Spencer, Phil Hughes), but the quick niche in baseball lore that this kid is etching for himself is bordering on the absurd. Don't believe me, check these out:

From a question posted on Yahoo Answers:

"Is Joba Chamberlain the best relief pitcher right now in all of MLB?"

Answers (just a few):

I think he is

Heck yeah he is.... his stats are off the chart!

He is not the best but one of the best
Really? The best or one of the best? Again, the kid's thrown 11 innnings. And in those innings he's been dominant. But as one poster reminded the audience, he's not even the best reliever on his own team. And maybe I'm a little sensitive because the Yanks just beat the shit out of my team and Joba closed the door twice but I just think that Yanks fans need to slow down a bit before giving this guy the fucking keys to the city. You have a right to be excited, but isn't this a wee bit much?:
Originally Posted by R.V.47:
I heard Michael Kay mention last night that Joba doesnt have entrance music yet. Is it because hes a rookie?

Posted by JavyVazquezIsSick:
Does God need entrance music? Neither does Joba.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

The World's Least Funny Fantasy Draft Recap Ever

If Albuquerque Tribune writer Phil Parker's blog were a comic strip, it'd be Cathy.

The Sports Guy has been a boon and curse to the medium of online sports bloggers (and really Simmons efforts were, to borrow a Simmons phrase, a "homeless man's" online version of what Reilly was doing before him). The boon came in the way that he was (kinda) the first sports humor blogger to be picked up by a major media enterprise and because of his success every online sports site or newspaper has a blogger (or 200 in AOL's case) who tries to inject some humor and insight to sports coverage in blog form. He pretty much forged the trail. The curse (some would argue the Sports Guy himself is a curse) is that the Sports Guy has many imitators. I am not immune from this criticism. I freely admit that my writing style sometimes bears DISTINCT similarities to the Sports Guy's coarsely sardonic style. Though I would suggest that his (and my) style and humor is more the result of growing up in the Seinfeld / South Park / Will Ferrell era than anything. Regardless, people try and imitate the Sports Guy frequently and the results are most often disastrous. Which brings me to Phil Parker.

Phil Parker writes a blog for the Albuquerque Tribune (interestingly, the Tribune will no longer be in production in about two months and Phil Parker and his fellow Tribunites will be out of a job, which really sucks and made me consider not writing this. But this blog was too unfunny not to print. Sorry Phil.) He blogs about sports and whatnot and is sometimes funny and most times not but generally Phil does not pull any punches and is eminently readible (not that I've read him a ton. I only read a bunch of posts after I found this one). Anyhoo, recently Phil and his buddies had their annual Fantasy Football Draft. So Phil, much like the Sports Guy, decided to blog about it. Let's just say that while Simmons's tales about J-Bug, Hench, His Buddy Sal and Sully may not be the funniest couple of paragraphs ever posted, Phil Parker's recap was of his draft was almost criminally unfunny. And that would be fine if he didn't intend for it to be funny or actually comment about how hilarious some of the things that happened during the draft were! Let's take a look.

Phil describes his draft as "yuppified." Why? Well, because these guys had laptops. Several of them. They also had a projector for main laptop to allow the online draft (it was online but half the 14 guys were at one house) to be projected onto the screen with stats and flow charts and actual highlights from the upcoming regular season and some of them had what Parker referred to as "draft software." They also had a 32 sided die, they were dressed in cloaks and Phil's most exciting moment was when his Orc only lost 6 hit points after being struck by his buddy Nelson's emerald encrusted Sorcerer's wand (I'm taking some liberties with that last sentence). Now Phil, maybe you and I have a different definition of what a "yuppy" is (and maybe it's different out in New Mexico) but I thought Yuppies were people who live in the suburbs, own a dog and Range Rover, and eat a ton of Thai food. But where I come from people who connect projectors to their laptops and have draft software are called dorks.

Here is Phil's recap of the attendees:
There were also some dudes there. Seven of us. And three dogs, two girlfriends, one plasma TV tuned to "According to Jim," 32 beers and an $8 guide to making selections (which belonged to the one dude who showed up late - during the fifth round).
Ho-lee-shit. Seven dudes, Jim Belushi, two girlfriends and 4 beers a piece. How could zaniness not ensue? I'm surprised these guys didn't end up in jail.

But the real comedy comes from the actual draft. This stuff is unreal.

Quick disclaimer: I took Dominic Rhodes in the ninth round, even though he's suspended for the first four games. That was stupid, but not terrible.

My buddy Nelson, on the other hand, picked Adam Vinatieri in the fifth. We didn't even laugh at first, it was just so strange. Nelson doesn't know much about football, and was saying so all night, but a kicker in the fifth round is an incredible gaff. How incredible?
Umm... awfully incredible? Why would you invite a guy into your draft who would pick adam vinatieri in the 5th round? While that clearly is an indictment of that guy's intelligence, what does it say about the rest of you? You associate yourselves with this guy.

But there's so much more:
One of the two girlfriends who sat annoyed just 10 feet away all night came to talk to us later. When I made casual mention of Nelson's selection (as in: "Can you believe this crazy mofo took a kicker in the fifth round?! AAAAAAAAAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!") she said "Don't you know you're not supposed to take a kicker until the last round?" Cue more laughs.
Gimme a minute. I'm laughing on cue.... AAAAAAAAAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!! Wait... I mean, can you believe that crazy mofo Nelson took a kicker... in... the... fifth round?!?! And can you believe Phil admitted to calling someone a "crazy mofo"? To me, that's funnier than picking Vinatieri. But the real question is why someone's girlfriend was hanging around the entire draft? Phil has an explanation for that:
Kelly was there because... uh... because... She wanted to be? She's Felix's girlfriend... My other friend Randy brought his girlfriend to the last draft, and she at least had the courtesy to sit quietly in the corner doing homework.
So this is the second time in this league's history that someone brought their girlfriend to the draft for no reason. I have nothing against girls hanging out at drafts if they have a reason to be there (maybe they are friends with the host's wife and those two are hanging out or maybe they are even in the league or whatever) but why would she possibly want to be there? Drafts are long. Like 4+ hours long in some cases. If you limit picks to 3 minutes a pop in a 14 team league with even just 12 players per team, that's about 4 and a half hours. And there's no way it will go that quickly. Lame on top of lame.

Here's some of the good stuff from the draft picks:
There were only seven of us there, but the league is enormous. There's 14 teams. One dude was drafting by cell phone, which was annoying except for the moment when Daniel, his cousin and middleman, asked at the 11th pick if "L.J." had been selected. "L.J." would be Larry Johnson, pick No. 3.

I was looking at Randy Moss in the fifth for what seemed like an hour, waiting and waiting. Of course, he got snatched up well before me. Kitna was on his way into my roster too, but I missed him (which may be for the best. I don't care who's catching his passes - he's still Kitna).

I tried to make solid picks and ended up with this team: Maroney, Chad Johnson, Thomas Jones, Andre Johnson, Coles, Vernon Davis (huge sleeper), Jay Cutler (not sure about this one), Dominic Rhodes (d'oh!), Muhsin Muhammed, Jason Campbell, Nate Kaeding and ....

And... Couldn't tell you. That's the thing about a 14-squad leave. Several guys who weren't there were just letting the powerful draft software make their selections. By the time you get to late rounds in a league that big, everyone's using the computer because we have no idea who any of the players left are. I have a guy named Herron from Green Bay on my team.
You mean Noah Herron (btw, Herron may be out for the year after last night, not that you ever should have drafted him anyway)? Listen, I don't mean to sound like a football know-it-all or anything, but if you have a guy who thinks he can get Larry Johnson at the 11th pick and guy who takes a kicker in the 5th round and you're calling a TE a "huge sleeper," you might want to work a lot harder to find competitive team owners. Including yourself.

But here's my favorite part and the part that emulates Simmons the most. The self-described hilarity of the evening. Things started to get a little wacky about midway through the draft. And by wacky I mean really unfunny:
The jokes (other than merciless trash talking) came at the expense of a certain incarcerated professional dog fighter. Vick's name came up every time someone took too long to select. "Michael Vick!" we'd all yell every time someone was squinting at the projection, trying to make up his mind.
What? Why is that in anyway funny? Does Michael Vick have bad vision? Did Vick take too long to do things? Maybe it's funny to yell at people to tell them to pick Michael Vick, but not really. If that was the running joke of the evening, I'd hate to hear what the "merciless" trash talking was. Here's my guess as to what that sounded like:

Nelson: I'll take Willis McGahee.

Phil: Uh oh! That pick may not work out so great! Your running back did not have a super pre-season. That is risky. I would not be so confident with that pick if I were you, Nelson. Look out, Smelson! Smelly smelly smelson.....AAAAAAAAAAAAHAHHAAHAHAHA!


More hilarity:
(There was also another hilarious draft joke: Nat said T.J. "Who'syourmama" before the picking even started.)
AAAAAAAAAHAHAHAHA! TJ "Who'syourmama"! Where do they come up with this stuff?

But then there was the bizarre story about "Bone."
There was also the epic wait for Bone. My buddy Bone was running a little late, so Felix called him on his first pick. Bone said "I'm almost there, but take X" (I can't remember who it was). Then his pick came in the second round, Felix called him, and he said the same thing, except that he was almost there. Usually, this means a few minutes. For Bone, it meant he was half an hour and three more rounds away. Then he showed up with that draft magazine, and while he was in the bathroom I looked at the price. Then I snickered to Raul "Can you believe he spent $8 on this thing?" And Nelson pointed out that since it's a $10 league, Boner's already down $18.
Whoa whoa whoa whoa, wait a minute.... your league is a $10 buy in? AND you're giving a guy shit for buying a Fanta C magazine after you just gave another guys shit for not knowing what he's doing? I don't mean to poke fun here, Phillippe, but couldn't you guys just raise the stacks to maybe $20? Or really get nutty and go $30? At least that way there'd be $520 in the pot and someone could win something. At $10 a pop, how can you expect someone to give enough of a shit to come prepared? Why don't you save money on the projector and make things a little more interesting. I don't really know what else to say about this but I think I echo Kelly's statement in the comments section of this article (Kelly being the girlfriend of Felix):
Posted by: Kelly | August 30, 2007 10:55 AM

Flip... what the heck!?!?!
I couldn't agree more.

Jim Caple Says Cheering For Your Team In A Visiting Stadium Is "Bad Manners." I Disagree.

I would bet half my life savings that this kid's last name is Sullivan.

Jim Caple thinks that Red Sox fans are the most obnoxious in sports because we have bad manners. Jim Caple thinks that I have bad manners because if I'm at Yankees Stadium or The Rogers Centre or Citizens Bank and Manny launches a home run, I cheer and cheer loudly. He thinks this is bad because today in stadiums across the nation there are more of me at these stadiums and our cheers are multiplied. And because we are loud, we have bad manners. And because of these bad manners, we are the most obnoxious fans in sports.

While I agree that the argument could be made that the Red Sox fan persona is the most obnoxious in sports, but to base it EVEN IN PART on cheering for your team at a visiting stadium is the FUCKING DUMBEST THING I'VE EVER HEARD. Would you prefer we not go to the games? I'm sure Baltimore and Tampa would love that. There'd be 7 people at the games. Would you prefer we attend but pretend like we're not really cheering for our team? That would be fun. You know what I find obnoxious? When stuffy sports writers criticize fans for giving a shit. Fucking prick.

Below is a breakdown of Caple's major arguments and my retorts:

Caple's Thesis
Red Sox fans, sadly, have taken over the mantle as the most obnoxious fans in sports.

My response
Perhaps. Though I think Duke fans (Dickie V), Notre Dame fans (Dickie V), Yankees fans (Dickie V) and Jets Fans (J-E-T-S) are just as obnoxious (I will admit that Jets fans are kinda cute in the way they think they have a shot year in and year out).

Caple on pre-2004 Sox fans
They were the tragically loyal fans who always went home disappointed in the end. You might have gotten tired of our whining, but at least we weren't constantly in your face with it.

We weren't in your face with it? Are you serious? Was there are year after 1986 that you didn't hear about the trials and tribulations of the tragic Sox? Now this was more media created fluff (Dan Shaughnessy made a career out of it) than it was actual Sox fans acting like pussies (though we didn't do much to combat this perception), but how can you possibly argue that the "Cursed Red Sox" of the last 40 years were less in your face than the Red Sox fans of a competitive team?

No one can stand to be around Red Sox fans anymore. And they're everywhere -- a recent USA Today article labeled the Red Sox baseball's new biggest attraction. Forget a fence between the U.S. and Mexico. What we really need is a wall, a moat and a minefield around New England to keep the spoiled citizens of Red Sox Nation from sneaking into the rest of the country and taking over seats in major league ballparks that should go to hard-working local fans. Everywhere the Red Sox play these days turns into a road version of Fenway Park, with Boston fans occasionally drowning out the hometown fans with their "Let's Go Red Sox!" chants. They were so over the top at a recent game in Seattle, I was surprised the Mariners didn't play "Sweet Caroline."

Whether this is an inspiring show of team pride by passionate fans or an annoying lack of manners depends on how close you have to actually sit to these people.

This is the one that blows my mind. I'm with Caple on the first sentence: "No one can stand to be around Red Sox fans anymore." That makes sense to me. But to come to this conclusion because fans cheer for the Red Sox at an away game is really fucking incredible. And this gem that cheering your team is "an annoying lack of manners" is comical. Manners? Try wearing a Red Sox hat at Stan's or a Yanks hat in Southie or an Auburn hat in Tuscaloosa. No seriously, try it. SPOILED CITIZENS OF RED SOX NATION? How are we spoiled? We won ONE FUCKING WORLD SERIES AND DIDN'T MAKE THE PLAYOFFS LAST YEAR? And this line is just classic: "...taking over seats in major league ballparks that should go to hard-working local fans." Have you been to a game outside of New York, Chicago or Boston? NOBODY GOES TO THE FUCKING GAMES! IF SOX FANS DIDN'T GO, THEY WOULDN'T SELL THE SEATS. Hard-working local fans.... HOLY CONNECTICUT CAPLE! You make it seem as though the people going to away games are old Massachusetts blue bloods who have Jeeves summon the Gulfstream to fly them from Hyannis to Arlington, TX, so they can take in a hot dog and Old Mil in the bleachers. The people that go to these games either are from New England and want to enjoy a new stadium (which seems perfectly reasonable and is a good thing for that stadium and city) or are transplants from New England who only go to the games when the Sox show up to play (which also seems perfectly reasonable). And with every game at Fenway sold out, this is the easiest way for a lot of people to see a game even if they live in Boston. If your argument is that Red Sox fans are more obnoxious than regular visiting fans, ok, tell me why. Because I've been to Yankees stadium during a Yanks v. Angels game and some of those Anaheim fans are complete assholes, same with Mets fans at Philly stadium or Phillies fans everywhere (and God bless em). I really can't get over this.

They call themselves Red Sox Nation, the same arrogant way the Cowboys call themselves America's Team. And the whole thing is getting a little old. Could I get a little help here from Miss Teen South Carolina? Where the hell is Red Sox Nation anyway? It seems to me Red Sox Nation only exists when the team is winning, like a country that only shows up on U.S. State Department radar when oil is discovered. Wherever Red Sox Nation is, I just wish Bush would invade it.

"They call themselves Red Sox Nation." No we don't. And by "we" I mean any self-respecting fan of the Red Sox. This was created by you (member of the media) and was thrust upon us. The only people who would define themselves by this absurd moniker are 40 year-old housewives with thick accents (See the HBO special "Reverse of the Curse of The Bambino" for a visual) and assholes. Also, you called us Red Sox nation last year, even when we missed the playoffs. So the idea that we're only called it when we win is just wrong. If you want to end this phrase, then do it. Nothing would make me happier. But the thing is that you don't want to get rid of it because YOU the media like it. It's fitting on many levels for the people that follow the team and it's easy for you to fall back on. In the same way it's easy and trite to fall back on your SEVERAL Bush quips. How clever. Making fun of the president. You should write for Letterman (btw, I'm in no way a Bush fan but by constantly falling back on "he's stupid" and "Iraq is bad," you're not exactly adding anything to the conversation. You're just proving you having nothing interesting to say and are just an easily manipulated lout with no opinions of your own. Sorry about that. Let's move on...).

Enough already. Get over yourselves, Red Sox fans. Better yet, follow the lead of White Sox fans. Their team went 88 years without winning a World Series. They went 46 years without even playing in one. Yet when they finally won in 2005, they had the decency to keep their celebration to themselves.

"[t]hey had the decency to keep their celebration to themselves." HOLY CRAP! Get over "ourselves?" Get over yourself, James. This holier than thou shit is fucking gross. Again, I'd ask what I as a Red Sox fan am doing to bring this "celebration" to everyone else? And why is it a positive thing that two years after the White Sox won a World Series no one wants to go their home games, no White Sox fans show up to their away games and their team is ready to implode? So as a fan I should just be happy to win one World Series and then not care again until they get into the playoffs? I DON'T WANT TO BE A WHITE SOX FAN BECAUSE THOSE FANS, apparently, SUCK. Good lord.

You're acting like Yankees fans.

Again, very creative. We may be as obnoxious as Yankees fans, yes. But I never understand why people compare us to them in terms of fans. Awhile ago I wrote that I feared I was becoming asshole in the same way I considered Yankees Fans assholes because when arguing about my team versus their team I would resort to essentially name calling and the 2004 choke. But as a generalization, Yanks fans and Sox fans are very different in our obnoxiousness. Yanks fans believe they have a God-given right to win championships. It's a birth right. And no generation has suffered a drought of championships. So it kinda is a birth right. So they are cocky because of that. For Sox fans it's new. We like winning for a change. Consistently good teams. It hasn't been like this for awhile. And now we're beating the Yankees consistently. It's been a nice run. There used to be some hesitance to our cheering because we feared (assumed) disappointment. Now there is no reluctance to like this team because they proved they can do it. So Yanks fans are obnoxious because they are confident as hell. Sox fans are obnoxious because they like not being scared. There's a difference.

Overall, I would say this: Red Sox fans are EASILY in the discussion for most obnoxious fan groups. They always wear their Sox gear, they are usually drunk as hell wherever they watch games and they often carry absurd accents. It doesn't help that the team's marketing department is playing off of this by selling Red Sox nation membership cards, creating dating games for Sox fans and allowing Dane Cook to speak on our behalf. The whole thing is obnoxious. But it has nothing to do with cheering for our team. Sox fans have been assholes at away games FOR YEARS! The reason people show up at away games is because this team is popular and has stars. Papi, Manny, Beckett, Schilling, Dice-K, JD Drew (just kidding) & Papelbon, people want to see them play once or twice a year. Citing the fact that someone in Seattle showed up to cheer on Dice-K as the reason for their obnoxiousness is a fucking disgrace. If you want your baseball viewing experience to be you and your like-minded friends cheering for your team without any interruption no matter how badly your team is performing, stay at home and watch it with your friends. When you go to a game, you should expect other people to be there and MAYBE, just maybe, they won't be fans of the same team you are.

I may be an obnoxious asshole as a Sox fan--I would have a hard time disproving that--but if I'm an obnoxious asshole because you don't like me cheering for my team when they are beating the shit out of your shitty team, then you sir are the asshole.

Gotta Love The Post

The best thing about this quiz is that the NY Post didn't intend it to be fatuous, they are honestly trying to root out other gay Senators.

The NY Post, always a bastion of cultural sensitivity, today included a quiz to determine whether or not you are a gay Senator. Now I don't care where you stand on the political spectrum or how politically correct you consider yourself, this is funny. And it is worthy of a post. So there you have it.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Brett Myers Is Summoning His Inner John Rocker

John Rocker hates foreigners and Brett Myers hates questions. What they both have in common is the manner in which they choose to express their hatred.

This is (relatively) old news but if you missed Brett Myers explosion over the weekend, you really missed the boat and I feel it's my duty to fill you in. After giving up a couple of home runs on Friday night, Myers shrugged them off as "pop ups" that carried about 380+ feet. When asked for more specifics about these pop-ups, Myers went b-a-n-a-n-a-s (the link here is to coverage of the incident provided by Bugs & Cranks. It contains the audio of the conversation below. I STRONGLY recommend you check out the audio):
Sam Carchidi: “You thought they both were pop ups?”

Brett Myers: “Yeah, didn’t you? You think they crushed ‘em?”

SC: “The first one I thought was out, the second one no.”

BM: “Yeah, cause you’re a retard, you don’t know shit about fuckin’ baseball. You’re filling in for somebody.”

SC: “How do you spell ‘retard’?”

BM: “You know how to spell it, it’s in your fuckin’ vocabulary, I’m sure you know.”

SC: “You are classy, I’ll tell ya.”

BM: “Go on. [Get] outta here, you fuckin’ idiot.”

SC: [pointing at Brett Myers] “You’re the fuckin’ idiot.”

BM: “Hey! You pointin’ at me motherfucker?! I’ll tell you what, dude, I’ll knock you mutherfucking out! FUCK YOU!!! You’re tough when fuckin’ people are standing in front of you, aren’t you, you piece of shit! Come on! You fucking idiot. Yeah, you’re tough when fuckin’ people are standing in front of you, you stupid ass.”

SC: “I’m a retard?”

BM: “Yeah, that’s right, YOU ARE, you’re a fucking idiot. You ask stupid ass fucking questions!”
Nice, Brett. If this were an isolated incident, you might want to give Brett a pass. But considering that he brings with him a horse-trailer's worth of baggage including the time he slapped his wife and then dragged her down the sidewalk by the hair, Brett may need to simmer it down a notch before he gets himself imprisoned.

Pierzynski Goes Apeshit Over A Pitch Never Thrown

Oh AJ, you big goof!

This weekend for the White Sox was embarrassing on top of embarrassing. Aside from being disgraced on the field, they also suffered another public blow-up of perpetual ne'erdowell AJ Pierzynski. After striking out against the Red Sox's Manny Delcarmen on Sunday, Pierzynski went ballistic on White Sox hitting coach in the dugout because he didn't tell him that Delcarmen throws a cutter:
Frustration partners with losing when things are going badly for a team, as they have for the White Sox.

Frustration might have been part of the reason for a dugout incident Sunday between catcher A.J. Pierzynski and hitting coach Greg Walker late in a lopsided loss to the Boston Red Sox.

Pierzynski told Walker he didn't know Delcarmen threw a cut fastball, angering Walker, who counsels hitters on pitchers.

''What A.J. did was wrong,'' Guillen said. ''Walk had all the information, and all of a sudden [Pierzynski] asks, 'I don't know he has this pitch.' And Walker said, 'I prepare myself real well for this game, and I expect everyone to do it.' That's why Walker got real mad.''

''If [Pierzynski] doesn't know what [the pitcher has], don't make an excuse,'' Guillen said. ''You put the coach on the spot to listen to that. We've faced Delcarmen 20 times since I've been managing [Pierzynski is 0-for-3 lifetime against Delcarmen]. I said, 'You didn't prepare for this guy.'
First of all, Ozzie is exactly right. If you don't know a pitcher has a certain pitch, that is your fault for being an idiot. That makes it clear that you don't watch enough tape and are just fucking lazy. Second of all, Manny Delcarmen doesn't throw a cutter:
"I don't throw a cutter," Delcarmen said yesterday. "[Jason Varitek] said that pitch [Pierzynski] was talking about was as straight as can be. I saw afterward that he was talking a lot to somebody, and then there was a lot of commotion. Sometimes my pitch moves a little, but I don't throw a cutter."
So AJ lost his mind over something that just plain didn't happen. AND HE'S A FUCKING CATCHER. He should probably be able to identify a pitch. If people didn't already hate him, this would be great fodder for all sorts of jokes. As it is, it's pretty f'n funny.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Verizon, You Broke My Heart

This was me on Monday morning getting ready to change my cable service, until everything went horribly wrong.

It was Bob Stanley's wild pitch in the '86 World Series. A gut punch. A kick in the nuts. Defeat snatched from the jaws of victory. It was supposed to be a momentous life-changing moment. Instead it turned into one of the biggest disappointments in my entire life.

Last Friday I got home around 7ish, opened my mailbox and grabbed the handful of junkmail (along with my hometown paper) that I'm accustomed to receiving and throwing in the trash. No, I don't want a home depot credit card. No, I don't want re-up the subscription to New York Magazine that the previous tenant never canceled and I have never paid for in over a year. And no, I don't give a shit about my deferred student loans. But there was something else in there. Something that was supposed to change my life. There was a letter from Verizon broadband.

As a background, it's important to understand the New York City cable scene (if you know about it, feel free to skip this paragraph as it will just serve to enrage you.). Technically, there are about 5 cable providers available in NYC. Realistically there are only two: DirecTv and TimeWarner. And as a practical matter there is only one: TimeWarner. In order to get DirecTv service you need your landlord's permission to put a dish up on your building. Because there is absolutely no incentive for a landlord to do this (unless he wants to allow all his tenants the ability to put up dishes and thus create a host of leak magnets / vandalism bulls eyes on his roof), most landlords with any sense NEVER sign this letter (I wouldn't). So TimeWarner ostensibly has a monopoly on service. This allows them to have HORRENDOUS customer service, charge absurd rates (my last bill was $207.53 I have one TV w/DVR and the MLB package.) and not put on popular programming like the NFL Network. But of all of that, TimeWarner's biggest deficiency is that they don't have the Football Package. The NFL continues to sell the package exclusively to DirecTv. So the only way to get the package is to be fortunate enough to have a stupid landlord. And for a time, I did. For three years while living in NYC, I had the football package and it was the greatest thing about living in my dump of an apartment. But since moving out to Sunnyside, Queens, I've had to live without it and just assumed I would continue to have to live without it until I eventually moved out of the city. That was until Verizon threw me a belt-high curveball and I swung and missed BADLY!

You see, it has been rumored that Verizon broadband was coming to Sunnyside, NY, now for the last 8 months or so. They of the faster internet, cheaper cable and competent customer service. They were slowly laying fiber optic cable from Long Island and into Queens and the package they were advertising was too good to pass up. Faster internet, more HD and more sports for under $100. I couldn't wait to free myself from the oppressive reins of TimeWarner. I was going to make the change no matter what. I checked the website once a week to see if it was available in my neighborhood yet. And for 8 months I received the bad news that I was stuck with my shitstick situation with TimeWarner. It seemed I was doomed.

Finally, this past Friday, the good news came in the form of a letter. But this was no ordinary letter. This letter had an unexpected twist that literally rendered me speechless for about 5 minutes or so. Along with explaining to me that I was going to receive better service, faster internet and more sports channels for less than half of what I had previously paid (including no installation fee), the letter included a throw away line indicating that I had the option of receiving DirecTv's sports choice package for an extra $10 a month and that package INCLUDED THE FUCKING DIRECTV NFL FOOTBALL PACKAGE. I was absolutely blown away. I was almost in tears. I had no idea this was even possible. I assumed Verizon had partnered with DirecTv to show the package on their service or whatever (as if I know a fucking thing about these deals). I was ready to call Verizon right then and there but it was too late in the night so I had to wait until Monday. I was so overjoyed that I brought the letter out to dinner so I could gloat to my friends on Saturday night. I received across the board jealous congratulations from everyone. It was my Heisman moment, and I hadn't done a fucking thing. It was too good to be true. Literally....

Monday morning, promptly at 9:00am, I called Verizon customer service and began the process of changing my service. I was on hold for awhile but I'd never been so happy to hear that shitty music. They could have played UB40 and I wouldn't have complained. I got a hold of someone and she and I moved at a brisk pace from pleasantries to business.
Triple freedom package?

Next Tuesday for installation?
No problem.

Want us to contact TimeWarner for you and tell them you are changing so you don't lose service or overlap?

Do you want DirecTv Sports Choice package featuring 140 sports channels and the NFL football package?
Yes (sniffle), ma'am. Thank you.

Ok, you're all set. We'll have someone over on Tuesday at around 10am. All you'll need to show him is a letter from your landlord stating that you're allowed to put the dish on the roof.
W-w-what? What dish?

And that was that. It was all over. What Verizon failed to mention in their letter was that they are offering dual services. A cable package of local channels and movies and shit, as well as a sports package through DirecTv that requires a dish. It all gets converted out of one box but it is two separate sources. NOWHERE IN THEIR LETTER DID THEY MENTION THAT YOU NEED A DISH. And since they tell you on the phone that they require a landlord's permission to put up the dish, it's not as if it's a secret that such information would be prudent. They are also aware of the popularity of the NFL package. I'm pretty sure that they weren't intending to be shady about it but I also think they were not surprised that by not mentioning the dish in the literature there was some increased phone activity on the part of the letter receivers. Regardless, the phone call ended and I sat at my desk for about 2 or 3 hours in stunned silence.

I guess I don't know what I thought the deal was with Verizon and DirecTv. Looking back, it seems absurd that DirecTv would sell their package to Verizon and it would somehow be affordable for Verizon to pass that service along for $10 / month (or that this information had somehow escaped the wide net of the sports blogosphere). But given the opportunity I was presented I wasn't really thinking in a reasonable or logical fashion. I just wanted to get my paws on the Football Package no matter what. I was blinded by that desire. I think it is fucking sick that Verizon would play on my emotions like that. It was heartbreaking. I'd love to say that I've learned my lesson and that next time I see a cable package promoting the Football Package I'll be twice shy. I'd love to say it, but it just ain't true. Because the next time some company tries to rope me into a cable package by promising me the Football Package, I will make that call no matter how absurd the deal looks. You see, I can deal with the heartbreak of finding out that it's not gonna work out this time or the next. But what I can't deal with is the absurd belief (truth?) that I'll never be able to access the greatest sports programming achievement since the replay until I retire the city life for Anytown, USA. That move is years away and I can't possibly believe that it will makes sense for the NFL to deprive the largest media market in the country of the most popular sports programming package in the United States for another a dozen years. At some point someone will have to do something about it. I thought Verizon had. And here I sit, fucking heartbroken.

A Slow Clap For Christopher Carter

When Stu Sugarman acted like an asshole in an Equinox spin class, Christopher Carter did what many of us want to do but have the common sense not to: he beat the shit out of him.

Have you ever wanted to just jack the guy on the leg press who screams at the top of his lungs or the asshole next to you on the treadmill who plays the fucking air drums while he runs or the idiot whose pre-lift routine consists of 7 minutes of heavy breathing followed by one rep of 200lbs on the bench and another 3 minutes of parading around the gym pretending not to stare at himself in the mirror? Yes, you have. Well, I present your hero: Christopher Carter (not the former Vike's wide receiver). It seems Carter just couldn't take anymore of Stuart Sugarman's obnoxious antics in spin class anymore and after asking him to shut up, he snapped:
August 25, 2007 -- Stuart Sugarman loved to cheer himself on and grunt in spin class — but now the hedge-fund manager is paying dearly for his vociferous workout.

....He grunted a lot, admittedly. He war-whooped. He hollered, "Great song!" and "You go, girl," and he probably was the noisiest guy in the spin class.

Ten days ago, Sugarman was sitting on his exercise bike at the Equinox on East 85th Street. The spin instructor was exhorting, the music was blasting, and Sugarman was shouting and rigorously pedaling away.

First, the furious broker (Christopher Carter) demanded the hedge-fund manager please stop making so much noise. "Then it escalates to 'Shut up!' and "Shut the f--- up!"

The broker complained to the instructor, who "basically shrugs," Davis (Sugarman's lawyer) said.

The broker then allegedly issued the final ultimatum - "If you don't shut the f--- up, I'm getting off my bike." The hedge-fund manager said: "Stop being a baby."

Finally, the ballistic broker dismounts and "charges my client's bike like Leonard Marshall of the New York Giants hitting a practice sled," Davis said.

The broker tipped the hedge-fund manager and his bike into the wall, smashing a hole in the sheetrock, Davis said. "Then he smashes him back onto the ground, with the bike falling on top of him."
Apparently, Sugarman required surgery after the incident and appears in today's NY Post wearing one of those ridiculous neck braces (no offense intended to those who have required this apparatus for treatment of actual injuries). Predictably, Sugarman filed suit against Carter. Carter's attorney is not intimidated:
Carter's lawyer, Dan Ollen, called Sugarman "a piece of work."

"The first thing he does after the incident is hop on his bike and work out another 40 minutes," he said. "The second thing he does is hire a personal-injury lawyer and the third thing he does is alert the media."
That seems about right. According to Sugarman's lawyer, "My client was in what's called 'the zone[.]'" Apparently this "zone" requires that you act like an asshole. I think Chris Carter was in the zone too. If there were more people in the "Chris Carter zone" when fucknuts like Stu Sugarman get into their "zones," the world would be a better place.

Ty Willingham, An Erstwhile Willard Scott

Uh oh... the secret's out. This guy's been working behind the scenes in the Carrier Dome for the last 30 years and Ty Willingham just exposed him.

If you are not prepared for the weather in Syracuse, it can get you. In a flash you can be covered in 4 feet of snow, drowned in buckets of rain or stifled by 95 degree heat. It's unpredictable and when this weather hits, it's relentless. But then again, so is Ty Willingham. And he is prepared for this unpredictable weather.... in the Carrier Dome:
"I'll be all over the weather report trying to figure out which door they open in the Dome to create the wind," Willingham said. "You laugh. No, when you play at some other places, you know that's important."

Willingham pointed out there are differences playing in dome stadiums, such as the structure of the building and the lighting. Then he went a step further.

"The wind is different," Willingham said. "Some people would say, what wind? Always in a dome, you open certain doors. Things happen. It's a totally different environment."
O.....k.....? I've been to the Dome on several occasions and can honestly say that I've never seen an army of staff opening and closing doors at key moments in order to create a draft. But even assuming they did, it's not like this is a pizzeria in Times Square where you open the door during a windy day and the pressure gradient causes old women to get bowled over. The Dome is pretty large. It would take some serious doin to create a significant breeze in there:
"I can assure you that we cannot create a wind in the Dome that can affect the flight of a football," said Pat Campbell, senior associate director of athletics who oversees the Carrier Dome. "I doubt we could create a light breeze strong enough to get a kite airborne."
What do you have to say about THAT Tyrone?
(complaining of the hot temperature inside the Dome)"The only weird thing is it's sponsored by Carrier and you think they'd figure that one out," Willingham said.
"My soup's too hot and the breeze is too strong. Can you turn a fan to cool me off but not too strong because it will HURT MY VAGINA!" Hey Tyrone! Buck up or SHUT THE FUCK UP!

Monday, August 27, 2007

I'm Thinking About Turning This Into An "All Julian Tavarez All The Time" Blog

Julian Tavarez will never forget Game 1 of the 2004 World Series and the game winning home run of the legendary "Brian Bellhorn".

Julian Tavarez is pitching so well he's almost becoming known more for his on-field performance than his off-field wordsmithery (new word). In his last 14 & 2/3 innings, he's given up a total of 6 hits. He's given up 2 hits in each of his last two starts. Not too shabby for a middle-reliever who is replacing Jon Lester while he gets his control together. But it wouldn't be a Tavarez story without some strange comment. And this one hits home for me because he name-tricked my favorite player: Mark Bellhorn.

With the Sox sweeping the ChiSox and the Yanks dropping another, the Sox are now in a great position to make the playoffs and win the East. So Tavarez was asked about the Sox World Series chances and his thoughts about pitching in Fenway. He was reminded of his pitching performance in Game 1 of the 2004 World Series and he went on to reflect a moment he will "never forget":
"I had three broken fingers, I'll never forget that," said Tavarez, who had punched a telephone on a dugout wall during the National League Championship Series, when the Cardinals were playing the Astros. "It was like 25 degrees, and I had three broken fingers. I told [manager] Tony La Russa, I wanted to pitch in the World Series, but we knew it would be tough against the Red Sox after they came back against the Yankees. Our World Series was against Houston."

"But I'll never forget that. I faced Manny [Ramírez], my best friend. And I gave up that home run to Brian [sic] Bellhorn. It felt like the fans would fall right on my head."
Nice. Brian must be so pleased that he is so indellibly etched in your memory, Jules. Except that his name is Mark. That's like Mike Torrez remarking about Bucky Dent's home run and saying, "Oh yeah, I gave up that long fly ball to Stewart Dent and we lost the game and missed the playoffs."

It's MARK Bellhorn, Julian. And he bitch slapped you and everyone in his path in the 2004 playoffs (he won Game 6 and piled on in game 7 of the ALCS before winning game 1 of the world series). Whatever else you remember about that series, remember that.

ESPN's Choses Interesting Headline For U.S. Sprint Victory

The way ESPN teased the article, I thought Anderson Cooper won the 100 meters.

The headline showed up yesterday on and it was one of those situations where I was sure that 20 minutes later it would be changed because it just sounded, well, so gay. United States sprinter Tyson Gay narrowly beat Asafa Powell at the World Track & Field Championships. There are a million ways to alert the reader to this story without bringing up Tyson's last name in the headline and thus risk posting a headline with a double entendre. ESPN chose the other road:
American Gay grabs gold in 100 meters at worlds
Oh, but they didn't stop there. Here are a few other gems from the article:
Gay, unbeaten this year coming into the championships, felt his composure beginning to slip Sunday morning

And with his head wobbling from side to side, Gay hit his groove.

But once he hits his stride, there is no stopping Gay.
Ain't that the truth (I have no idea what that's supposed to mean).

What's lost in all of this is that we finally have a legit challenger to Asafa Powell. It's a shame that his name will always cause hilarious headlines and unfortunate sentences. So I've got a suggestion for Tyson as we move forward: get yourself a nickname. Maybe "T-Gay," or maybe not as that sounds like "too gay". Or how about "Ty Guy." That also sounds a little gay so why don't we try "Tay." Umm, no. You know what, why doesn't he just change his name to "Raging Boner Every Time I Watch Bodies In Motion With Gilad." At least that would take the subtlety out of it.