Category Archives: Posted

It’s Time for the Craig Sagers to Go Away

This movie is crazy sad, so it's ok how mean the implication is (...it's that Craig Sager ought to be put down, dummy)

SPOILER: The 1957 Old Yeller  movie is crazy sad.  Make your kids watch it early on to learn some valuable life lessons.

 

Meanness Alert:  Alert Level 10 (on a scale of 1 to Regina George)

Truthfully, I mean to be only partially as mean as it may appear above.  Craig Sager is merely an audaciously dressed version of a terrible-horrible-no-good-very-bad evolution in sports: the sideline reporter.  Craig Sager is often the most flamboyant, but they all need to be taken behind a shed and put down like Old Yeller  go away.

I mean this not as some groundbreaking revelation. Rather, I have reached my breaking point.

At some point, perhaps, sideline reporters offered a unique perspective. In days of yore (maybe not YOUR yore, but someone’s yore), indeed a sideline reporter was in fact in a unique position – on the sideline. This may have at some points offered them opportunities to find out new information, but in today’s technological, all-access world the sideline is relegated to this:

Or this.  Look Here.  Here.  Deadspin is of course all over this idea.  This thing Here.  Example also found…Here.  Aw, hell, here’s a compilation of Popovich owning sideline reporters.

Embarrassing. This grown ass man (in Sager’s case – I did my best to not provide ONLY Sager links) is made a fool of by asking an entirely irrelevant question, getting a terse if not combative answer, trying again, then grinning like an idiot.  Sideline reporting today has reached the same level as the ‘four corner ‘ offense. It must go, and it must go now, for our sanity.

Again, I do not mean to pick on Sager. It’s just easy. You can quickly find any number of examples on the Internet of sideline reporters’ failures or lack of importance, just as I did above.  It took me all of 4 minutes. I mean, sure, I don’t mind looking at Erin Andrews, but she adds literally nothing of value and should really be an embarrassment to actual, knowledgeable female fans worldwide (this issue of female reporters and commentators in Sports is a larger concern and deserves a longer, better thought out discussion in its own right).

Coaches do not want to talk to someone after a half, quarter or (the most egregious and awful idea ever) inning, and certainly not after a game, win or lose.  Players sure as hell don’t want to talk regardless of outcome partly out of convenience, partly for their own sake. Some guys know in the heat of battle they are going to say something they might have to answer for. OK, only a few of them think like that, most players are one opening of the mouth away from a necessary public apology.  Forget their concerns, I can’t imagine the public is clamoring for more of this:

This example obviously falls under the category of ‘satire,’ but it is not far from the truth.  So maybe that’s what sideline reporting has devolved into – plodding dumbassery, coachspeak and cliches, waiting for that one time where they can catch someone saying something stupid in the heat of a competitive moment. It seems likely to me. Which is very, very sad.

We as sports fans and channels as sports entertainment producers have moved past the need for sideline reporters, nay sideline REPORTING, altogether, the way it is conducted now. The practice is stale, remaining as some foolhardy tradition, an embarrassment of excess and world-class BS. With the amount of pre-game, halftime/break-time, and post-game coverage, analysis and preparation – shouldn’t the men and women covering the games already be capable of reporting the coach was really happy with his team’s choice of pre game snack of Honey Bunches of Oats?

I’m sure there is a place for reporting from the sideline, somehow. I don’t know if I have the answer. I do know that the Craig Sagers of the world need to go away.  At least get a new angle and a makeover.

Or does everyone really feel comfortable with this guy posing as a source of ‘information’?

With all due respect to Craig Sager, you and your brethren make me want to not watch sports. So I suppose if you’re in cahoots with the radio industry… then bravo, you evil geniuses.

-V

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Spring Training Beard Report: Josh Reddick’s Beard

castawawy

Josh Reddick went to the beach today.

-V

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Filed under Baseball, Fantasy Baseball, MLB, outfield, Posted, Random Thoughts

Can’t Be Worse in 2013… Right?

This picture made me very happy but has little to do with the article. Fair warning.

This time of year presents some of my favorite baseball writing. Beat writers struggling to make PFP drills and AAAA scrimmages as exciting as the real thing, often with weird and hilarious results. Authors rating the “best” offseason, analyzing rookies and naming sleepers. These are all fun, but one of my favorite types of articles is the “bounceback” story. Call me a sucker for redemption.

I read dozens of these every spring, yet it has only now occurred to me the amusing subtext in many of these pieces. Sugarcoat it all you want, throw in fancy words and compliments both back and front-handed, many baseball “bounceback” stories boil down to a most basic human sense of dread – it can’t get much worse.

So without dancing around the issue, here are the guys who can’t get much worse in 2013. Seriously.  If they did it might break math or something:

Michael Young

static lip reading: “shooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooot”

Maybe Michael Young got old (let’s be clear: he’s 36, so in real-people years his life is just kicking into full-on grown up gear – but in baseball years…).  I doubt that has to do with his crappy 2012.  If indeed he did get old…. damn did it happen fast.  Bizarrely so.  No, I imagine such suckitude was an anomaly.  Young has long been compared to Paul Molitor (or at least I always have), another guy who played wherever he was asked to, DH’ed a bit, and always went bout his business – the business of hitting.  Young had 9 straight years of 170+ hits, and that is with a 2009 season cut short with a hammy injury.  He had been a model of consistency.  So just how bad was he?  Let’s look at some numbers!  Hooray numbers!

Young had a negative WAR, -1.4.  You need to know very little about numbers and even less about WAR to know that a negative stat is probably bad.  In this case, that number signifies that a replacement player would have been a BETTER OPTION THAN MIKE YOUNG.  Yikes (For those of you unfamiliar with this and any following statistics, I refer you here, to Fangraphs’ Glossary, where much smarter people have explained them in much more intelligent ways).

Wanna know who had a better WAR than Young, just for kicks? Carlos Pena did, and he hit below .200.  Jemile Weeks did, and his WAR was zero – they could’ve put any schmo in the minors in his spot, right statistics?  Both Juan Uribe AND Juan Pierre had a better WAR’s and they’re, well, Juan Pierre and Juan Uribe.

WAR is not the be all, end all – just ask Mike Trout – but it is a useful measure in comparing players against the league norms.  Maybe you don’t like WAR.  Maybe you like ‘old school’ ideas and stats.  Sabermetricians and old fogie scouts can all agree that a great measure of a player (given enough At Bats or sample size, depending on your era) is OBP.  If a guy gets on base, whether you see it in numbers on paper or with yuor own fading eyesight, he’s generally a useful player, as Mike Young had once been.  In 2012, Young had an OBP of .312.  Which is gross. Howie Kendrick was 20 points better, and he swings at everything (154 BB career).  Hunter Pence’s OBP was higher and if he doesn’t swing 48% of the time the bomb in his bat detonates (Hunter Pence is a big, big Keanu Reeves fan).

Toss aside numbers for a moment, though.  If you had the misfortune of rooting for Mr. Young last year, whether it be for your fantasy team (me) or your real team (Rangers) or both (sorry, friends), you could see he looked plain bad.  Some skills fade with age, sure.  Young won’t be stealing double digit bases again.  But his hand eye and batting eye have simply not fallen off the map.  With an ADP well over 200 (230 at the time of this article), I assure you Young is worth taking a flyer on in Fantasy Baseball.  As for the real thing?  The Phillies also took a flyer, betting that Young will hit until he quits ( Molitor had 225 hits when he was 39 years old).  After all, it can’t get much worse.

Thanks, Vin! You’re welcome, Mike.

Eric Hosmer

shucks.

Pairing Hosmer and Young together in this list seemed… poetic.  Young is riding out his last few years in the league, striving to be productive.  Hosmer is the cornerstone of what is a recurrently ‘up-and-coming’ franchise.  We all assume he is really, really good.  He demolished each minor league level, then stepped up into the bigs and had a damn fine rookie year.  Dare I say sophomore slump?  Sophomore slump.  Yes, I dared, it’s right there in the previous sentence.  I even remembered that stupid ‘O’ in ‘sophomore.’  Pay attention.

As good as Hosmer’s 2011 was, so too was his 2012 not (good, that is).  Sentence structure aside, many were left disappointed by the young slugger’s campaign.  He declined in every important offensive category, save for steals.  So at least he was trying.  When you dive into the numbers, his season is just plain yucky.  

Here’s another fun statistical measure: wRC+ (ahem, Fangraphs).  Here’s what you need to know about Weighted Runs Created (wRC):  it’s an improved version of Bill James’ Runs Created (RC) statistic, which attempted to quantify a player’s total offensive value and measure it by runs.  Cool right?  That James guy is a superweirdo, but he’s wicked smaht.  The stat itself makes sense in a very basic way, right?  Well Hosmer sucked at it.  Technically, he was ‘above average’ with his wRC+ of 81 (80 is above average, in general), but when looked at a comparative, larger context, we see the idea of ‘above average,’ measured statistically or not, is subjective.  Here are four players (minimum 400 PA, which Hosmer had easily) with better wRC+ than Hosmer.  Tell me if any of them are guys you MUST have on a team in a non-ironic way:

Andres Torres (87) // Omar Infante (92) // Rajai Davis (86) // Justin Smoak (85)

None of these guys are genuinely BAD players, but Hosmer is a Franchise player and once played like one.  Skate Play better, man.  Not to pick on Carlos Pena, but damn, Hosmer, even HE had better value metrics.  Speaking of sexy new player-value statistics, Hosmer also clocked in under zero at a robust -1.1 WAR  (RAR, Runs Above Replacement, is not only hilarious thing cats say, but also a negative measure of Hosmer badness (-10.4)).

Tired of these WAR’s and LOL-ing and RAWR’s and tweetsnapping?  Forget the new statistical measures, his basic numbers stunk too, from BA to RBI.  Check his splits.  He stunk prior to the AS break.  He stunk after.  He had a decent month of August… and that’s about it.  LHP/RHP splits – both bad.  I could go on.  He stunk.  On top of all that, anecdotally, you will not find a person who said he looked good last year not named Hosmer (and his Mom even admitted he ‘probably could have been better against off speed pitches’).  The best news?  You can draft him in fantasy at a bargain price.  The further good news?  Sophomore slumps only apply to Sophomores and Freshmen who decide to go to private school and get held back a  year so they can still somehow be ‘Freshmen.’  Also?  He can’t get much worse.

right back at you, dawg

Honorable Mention: Carlos Pena, who might actually get worse than his sub-.200 batting average.  Sorry Carlos.

he seems okay with it.

Ricky (retch noise) Romero

(sobbing)

Where to start with Ricky?  As someone who is unfortunately a Red Sox fan, I witnessed the abomination that was 2012 Ricky Romero several times closely.  As someone who drafted him in fantasy baseball 2012, I said horrible, horrible things about Romero regularly.  He made the 2012 Valensox look like sluggers and in several games I streamed on MLB.tv looked like he was throwing a damaged wiffle ball, having no idea where his (hopefully) better thought out pitches were going to end up.  I know, I know – cool story, bro.

More numbers?  More numbers.

FIP/xFIP or (Expected) Fielding Independent Pitching are really cool measures, far more relevant as they attempt to look deeper and normalize (in statistical, not Stepford, terminology) the crude measure of ERA and how good/bad a pitcher was.    As a general (ahem, Fangraphs) rule, an FIP/xFIP of 4 is average and an FIP/xFIP of 5 is AWFUL (Their word).  Romero’s line?  FIP: 5.14   xFIP: 4.86

Whether you want an expected or calculated measure (a difference of how HR rates are calculated), Romero was about as bad as it gets.  To pile on the crappy numbers, his K rate, usually a high point, fell to just over 6 (mediocre).  His BB/9 inning rate was an absurd 5.22.  His swinging strike rate dropped a full percentage point – it’s easy not to swing and miss when the guy has to groove it over the plate in desperate need of a pitch in the strike zone.  The best thing you can say about his 0.5 WAR season? He pitched.  In an injury plagued year for Toronto pitchers, Romero started 32 games.  So… good job, good effort.  He didn’t even have a better year than the internet’s favorite SP (starting punching-bag), Bruce Chen (more wins, higher K/9, 1.4 WAR on and on…).  The good news for Toronto?  They made a few move this offseason, I think.  As for Romero?  It cannot get much worse.

it’s good to have hobbies.

Ervin Santana

keep askin’

You may be saying, “gosh, Romero was bad, but is there a guy who threw a random 1-hitter in June yet somehow managed even worse numbers?”  IF you are saying that, I’m guessing you were an Ervin Santana owner in 2012.  He gave up 39 homers.  Honestly, I thought about ending the paragraph right there.  That’s really bad.  I’ll add a few more.  He had a -0.9 WAR, a 5.63 FIP (jeebus christ!), and had a HR/Fly Ball rate of 18.9%, which is simply bananas.  I will not pile on Santana, as his issue was more inconsistency (numbers were FAR better second half of the year).  However, his numbers were not good, and given his up and down nature, I assure you – it can’t get much worse actually, he might get worse. Heads up.

Honorable Mentions/Tie: Heath Bell / John Axford / Alfredo Aceves

An he held his arm there for 4 days, but no one would give him that pound

Aceves blew at least 8 games in spectacular fashion for a 2012 team that captured awfulness in spectacular fashion.  He was inconsistent on the field, unhappy off the field and was (well, is, I guess) a weirdo overall.  Just when you though it was safe to own him in fantasy baseball or root for him in real baseball, he would walk 4 guys in an inning and look wholly uninterested.  He had an unseemly 5.36 ERA but that was helped by a few decent spurts.  Even when he was pitching “well,” he would walk a batter for every strikeout.  The numbers fib, in this case.  As someone who watched more of the turd stain that was the Boston Red Sox 2012 season, I can attest to the fact that Aceves, save for perhaps one 15 day stretch in the spring, was a bad guy to have on any team, in any sense.  Plus, his disgusting sweatiness made me uncomfortable watching games and must be very difficult on the hardworking laundry staff at Yawkey Way.

His FIP was a poor 4.33.  He pitched worse as the god-awful season went on.  He blew saves and holds. He had a BB/9 inning of 3.33.  But most important of all, when he came into a game, there was an audible groan in the Northeast.  This guy made an awful season worse.

Axford blew 9 saves and forced the Brew Crew to realign their bullpen.  Bell blew 8 saves and was the first domino to fall (2nd game of the year) in a disastrous Marlins season.  Bell looked old and lost, regaining and losing his job and looking like a man who lost his mojo.  Axford, on the other hand had enough sense to regain his gnarly facial construction when chopping it off caused catastrophe.  I include Axford because he led the league in blown saves and did so in a short period of time in mesmerizing fashion (his June-beginning of August was BRUTAL).  For Axford, it can’t get much worse.  As for Bell and Aceves… Relievers are notoriously up-and-down, so one would assume they’ve already bottomed out.  I’ll say it – they can’t get much worse, either.

distracting.

There you have it, the players who scraped the bottom of the barrel in 2012.  Here’s to new beginnings and sneaky ADP’s going forward.

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Filed under Baseball, Closers, Fantasy Baseball, first base, GOOSE, JUAN URIBE, MLB, Pickups, pitchers, Posted, Sleepers

Spring Training 2013: Non-Roster Invitees With Great Names

Spring Training is upon us, thank goodness, and there is baseball to be seen.  MLB.tv is in full swing and might be the greatest technological advancement of all time until Google starts augmenting reality and we begin living in a real-life science fiction movie (happening).  Anyone can see any team from anywhere.  It’s wonderful to see live baseball, poorly timed swings, and poorly chosen facial hair (here, for example).  The real fun comes in the sheer NUMBER of players involved in this magical time of year.  Sure, the games are therefore often mismatched in terms of competition and sure, some games end in ties (which is gross, but understandable).  But as someone who prides myself on having a widespread knowledge of the most intimately useless knowledge of baseball, Spring Training always serves as a magical time to discover some truly obscure players and some stupendous names.  You might not have had the time to look over the spring training rosters, so I did (thanks, wikipedia!) and culled the best and oddest names I came across, limiting the search for Non-Roster invitees only for the sake of rarity.  Sorry L.J. Hoes – you have my favorite name of the spring, but you’re a 40-man roster man.  Without further ado, some of the most interesting non-roster invitees of the spring:

Gary Sánchez   C   NYY

Though NOT affiliated with Will Ferrell and Adam McKay in ANY way, the name warranted inclusion.  He’s actually a solid prospect.

Slade Heathcott   OF   NYY

Do you know any non-fictional person named Slade?  Exactly.

Matt Buschmann   SP   TB

I’m more of a Coors man, myself.

Brock Bond   IF   SF

Simply an awesome baseball name.  Sounds like one a video game would generate.

Kevin Quackenbush   P   SD

You are welcome.

J. B. Shuck   OF   LAA

Oddly, speaks fluent jive

Kyle Knudson & Dan Rohlfing   C   MIN

twins

Great names.  More to the point, great MLB catcher names.

Adam Weisenburger   C    MIL

wesienmil

Made me think of this (one of my favorite scenes ever).

Nick Struck   P   CHC

I await the day where we can see N. Struck and J. Outman in a boxscore.

Wirfin Obispo   P   ATL

Considering naming my first-born Wirfin.

Yangervis Solarte   IF   TEX

From the club that gives you Elvis…

Sugar Ray Marimon   P   KC

Can’t decide between jokes here.  I just wanna fly?  Something about frosted tips?

BAKER’S DOZEN DOUBLE BONUS!!!

Josh Booty (yes, him)   Knuckleballer   ARZ

Josh Booty

Heh, booty.  Booty-Booty-Booty-Booty Kunckin’ everywhere?  Anyone?

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Handicapping the Oscar Races for Baseball Fans Part Two

With Oscar Day nearing, here are the rest of our inane, wildly important comparisons between Oscar nominees and their MLB counterparts. As Stanley Kubrick once said, “The Oscars and MLB go together like…” Who knows what he said, but the connection was there!

The Supporting Actors

 

Alan Arkin

 

Above: Everyone’s Grandpa. A man meant for the movies, and good for everyone he encounters.

Arkin won his first Oscar in 2006 for Little Miss Sunshine, but he also received two nominations in the ‘60s. He’s never been the It Guy at any given time, but Arkin has been giving memorable performances like this one in Argo since the Millard Fillmore administration, give or take. A Hollywood kid from a Hollywood family, Arkin’s been one of the good guys in the business for half a century. Can’t imagine he has an enemy anywhere. Alan Arkin is…Kevin Millwood. Looks like a really nice guy, and there’s no evidence to suggest he’s otherwise. A long career of solid, and at times All-Star, performances. He even deserves more than what I’ve just written. Oh well, for another time.

 

Happy where he was, and the baseball world better for it.

Robert De Niro

He’s actually asleep in this picture. It’s just how his face relaxes.

 

With a legitimate chance at winning on Sunday, De Niro will be seeking his 3rd win. This marks his 7th nomination (7th!). As usual, De Niro seems to be right in the midst of the big race as well, as Silver Linings Playbook is a favorite to snag Best Picture. He’s been turning in iconic performances since he was Vito Corleone and even before, but his role in Playbook was filled with real, pure emotion, perhaps marking a difference from many of his bigger, louder roles. A man who would have been a HOF lock two decades ago, De Niro has not shied away from expanding his repertoire at any point, even allowing his role to become a supporting one so as to allow young stars like Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper to shine. De Niro is…Todd Helton. He still delivers remarkable performances, but still he allows for younger stars to shine as the franchise/films shift towards the next generation of talent.

 

Helton reacting to finding out he made it onto our blog. Wonderful to see such enthusiasm from such an accomplished man. The privilege is ours, Todd.

Philip Seymour Hoffman

PSH releasing Andrew Garfield from captivity, it would appear.

 

With his nomination for his work in The Master, PSH has now received nominations in four of the past eight Oscar races, with a win in 2006 for Capote. He’s a quirky man, to say the least, but Hoffman has been doing it right for a long time, including 2008, when he received two Golden Globe nominations. A true student of the craft, Hoffman has shown in recent years the ability to jump from biography to political drama to romantic comedy (HOW DID HE NOT GET AN OSCAR FOR ALONG CAME POLLY?!?!) without sacrificing his effectiveness. He does have a baseball connection, having portrayed Art Howe in Moneyball despite looking NOTHING like Art Howe! Not necessarily a late bloomer, but he has received well-deserved praise—at least from the Academy—only in recent years, as his prime seems to be dwindling. PSH is…Roy Halladay. Somewhat of a late bloomer, at least late to become a certified star. Also, both men are certainly quirky fellows trending towards crazy, “method actors” in their respective fields.

Can’t deny his talent…or the crazy eyes.

 

Tommy Lee Jones

 

BUT I AM SMILING!

Jones won an Oscar for The Fugitive in 1994, and this year marks his fourth nomination. He has a good chance this time around (in case you haven’t noticed, this category is WIDE OPEN, with 5 worthy nominees), and maybe a win would even get a smile out of Agent Kay. A wily, stoic veteran of the trade, Jones has been frowning his way through hits since Fugitive and then some. Lincoln was fantastic, and in this “credible” critic’s mind, the Picture race should come down to it and Playbook. That being said, I don’t think Jones should be bringing home a trophy of his own. Nevertheless, he has cemented himself as a staple of the industry and a stabilizing force amidst the chaos that is Hollywood fame. Tommy Lee Jones is…Michael Young. The workman of baseball, pure consistency over the course of a career, all accomplished without controversy or smiles. Epitome of professionalism as well as stoicism.

I’M SORRY, OK? I’m just not used to doing this.

 

Christoph Waltz

Just wanted to make sure more people got to enjoy this laudable facial hair/armor.

 

Having won a fully deserved BSA Oscar for Inglorious Basterds, Waltz has a good chance at making it two wins in two tries, thanks to his unique work as Dr. King Schultz in Django Unchained. We naïve Americans unfortunately did not know of this Austrian treasure—the anti-Schwarzenegger—until recent years, but I for one am glad we have the chance to see what we can. A delightful presence onscreen and off, and a solid SNL host if you didn’t see, Waltz is a late bloomer to our country but is making the most of his time. Tarantino knows he has a keeper, and don’t be surprised to see Waltz lurking in this category a couple more times before he’s done. Christoph Waltz is… Ichiro. As soon as he got here, his presence was felt with MVP caliber performance and sustained excellence. We wish he had been here longer, but we should enjoy the time we have to admire his unique brand of individual brilliance.

Shame he has to wear that jersey, but still a talent to be enjoyed by all.

 

  

The Supporting Actresses

 

Amy Adams

 

I’ll be yah Doug!

Only 38 and now four Oscar nominations with her work in The Master? Damn, girl. Four nominations in eight years is quite the run. Adams also has a baseball tie, but we as a site have decided to deny the existence of Trouble With the Curve, shockingly not nominated for any Oscars. She’s been always entertaining for about a decade now, whether as a nun, Chahhhhhhlene, or Princess Giselle. Side note: I am not ashamed to admit that Enchanted is and always will be wildly entertaining, and I can only hope the rumored sequel will soon become reality. A talented and adaptable performer with plenty of time left to fill up her trophy case, Amy Adams is…Prince Fielder. The fact that they look like siblings aside, both are winners who we often neglect when considering the finest in their generation. Overshadowed by other talented people at times, both continue to deliver impressive work. Princess Giselle and Prince Fielder? You’re welcome, future lovers.

 

I I do NOT eat meat! ‘Cept for steak, ham, bacon. You know how it is.

Sally Field

Oh sweet, Sally Field. You’re just so casual.

 

Can’t say I’m a huge fan in general or of her performance in Lincoln itself, but I cannot deny that this is her third nomination, with two wins in her first two tries. Still find her a little annoying, and her barely bearable Oscar victory speech (NO, I will not provide a link. I’m not an enabler.) is, well, barely bearable. She’ll be remembered as a talented, successful actress who was recognized for her notable performances. Still, Sally Field, I really don’t like you. I really, really don’t. Sally Field is…Alex Rodriguez. He was great then he bottomed out, was sort of great, then plummeted again. He is a member of the I Could Have Been One of the Best Ever Without PEDs But Now My Career is Forever Tarnished group. Field has no known link to PEDs, but for me her career was tarnished when she seduced her way to earning Forrest Gump a football scholarship.

Which half is the ass?

 

Anne Hathaway

She can be happy! Be happy, girl. You’ve earned it.

 

The probable winner in this category, Hathaway now has two nominations for uber-depressing performances, for Les Miserables this year and Rachel Getting Married in 2009. A somewhat polarizing actress since her breakthrough in 2001’s The Princess Diaries (everyone loves it, so don’t be ashamed), Hathaway has confirmed her place among the elite performers of her generation, and she will undoubtedly be found on A-lists and Oscar lists for years to come. Forgetting Bride Wars, as I’m sure she has, Hathaway has built up an impressive body of work, including her great performance in last summer’s blockbuster Catwoman Rides the Batpod. She has her prime before her at only 31, and her talent is apparent. Anne Hathaway is…Ryan Braun. An electric young talent with nearly limitless potential, generally admired but with some polarizing feature. Hathaway perhaps acted with a chip on her shoulder following personal troubles. Braun’s middle finger to the world of a 2012 season was fun to watch and underappreciated.

He don’t look like he’s done proving himself quite yet.

 

Helen Hunt

Helen Hunt? Jodie Foster? Yes.

 

Real talk: no one saw The Sessions. No disrespect, and it’s nice for Hunt to receive a second nomination (she won for As Good as It Gets), but she will not be taking home the statue this year. She was in Twister, so there’s that. Certainly talented and respected by most everyone (me included, despite this mean take), Hunt is enjoying the ride as she nears 50. She had a solid ‘90s run as a go-to big name, but now Hunt is a solid performer winding down an All-Star, but probably not Hall of Fame career. She is… Edgar Renteria. He had some memorable moments around the same time of Hunt’s peak (see his 1997 World Series heroics), and he got a win as his career dwindled (2010 with the Giants), but in all truly a somewhat typical career. Sorry, you two.

Just happy to be here. Thank you. Red Sox fans wonder how he won two World Series.

 

Jacki Weaver

Heeeeeeeeeeere’s Jacki! Yes, she is actually that short.

 

Two nominations in three years ain’t so bad, and as you may have noticed, I unabashedly loved Silver Linings Playbook. She probably won’t win, but Weaver helped make a film that should not only be recognized as this year’s best, but as one of the best works in recent years. I’m not being mean about this one; Weaver actually hasn’t done that much work that anyone will remember. At 75, she seems content with the excellent performances she’s turned in the past few years. With great talent that most of us have only seen for a brief time period, Jacki Weaver is…the inverse of Rocco Baldelli. He came up as the prospect to watch and then burned out for reasons out of his control. She came to the forefront late but made an impact. She’s a little old for Rocco, but their careers kind of complete each other. Sounds like a movie waiting to be made…

HOW did I end up on your blog again?

Well, that concludes our biting Oscar commentary. Enjoy Sunday night and what is sure to be a memorable performance by Seth MacFarlane. Some have been alluded to, but here are our final predictions for the big ones:

Actor: Daniel Day-Lewis

Actress: Jennifer Lawrence

Supporting Actor: Christoph Waltz

Supporting Actress: Anne Hathaway

Director: Steven Spielberg (although David O. Russell would be a worthy victor)

Picture: Silver Linings Playbook

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Handicapping the Oscar Races For Baseball Fans

With the Oscars taking place in just a few short days, we do what comes naturally: make comparisons between nominees and MLB players that may or may not make sense. Everyone does it. If not, everyone will do it.  They put the start of spring training and the Oscars in the same week for a reason…Right?  You’re welcome, internet.

...and you're welcome, Amurrrica.

…and you’re welcome, Amurrrica.

The Actors

 Hugh Jackman

 Oh, Hugh again. Jackman’s Jean Valjean searches for security, for liberation from Javert’s merciless pursuit in Les Miserables (the second word is silent, or at least the pronunciations are trending that way). Jackman has cemented himself as a bankable action entertainer and awards show host, but he is still seeking to earn his place among the finest actors (see the elder three in this category). Perhaps this performance has pushed Jackman from action star to layered big screen performer, but for now he is…Mike Piazza. The ladies love him. Everyone knows who he is. He performs at the highest level of anyone in his position (catcher for Piazza, film actor/host/stage actor for Jackman) and does so with a prominent geniality.

this is not recommended athletic attire.

Bradley Cooper

Baseball-appropriate facial hair? Yes.
Oscars-appropriate facial hair? Maybe.

I cannot argue with Daniel Day-Lewis taking home the award on Sunday night (the essentially unanimous prediction), but Cooper’s performance in Silver Linings Playbook is one worthy of the award in most years and worthy of our praise right now. His real, raw, riveting portrayal of a man struggling to find himself amidst psychological chaos has, for this viewer at least, pushed Cooper into that same group that Jackman hovers around the edges of. Having made his mark in comedies like The Hangover, look for Cooper to reach superstar status as an Oscar-level performer in the next few years, perhaps beginning with the promising work The Place Beyond the Pines, coming this year starring Cooper and Ryan Gosling. Having showed off his versatility and ready to establish himself as a consistent, superstar performer, Bradley Cooper is…Andrew McCutchen, the standout who is primed for another elite season.

Denzel Washington

Not Jay Pharoah

This is Washington’s 6th Oscar nomination. Wow. One of the most likable and consistent actors in the world for the past two-plus decades, Washington probably won’t take home the trophy this year, but he has long since established himself as more than just a pioneer for minority actors. Washington will go down in history as one of the greatest actors of this or any generation. With 2 Oscars, 2 Golden Globes, and numerous other memorable performances, Coach Boone/Frank Lucas/Det. Alonzo Harris/Mr. Shuttleworth is a surefire “Hall of Famer” for our purposes. He is… Derek Jeter. Sometimes you want to hate him (or his characters), but you just can’t because he is so doggone consistent and effective. Knows how to win on the big stage and constantly delivers, even as he gets older and older and should be breaking down.

Main difference? Denzel does not have a scent.

Daniel Day-Lewis

Oscar-producing machine.

This is Day-Lewis’ fifth Oscar nomination, and he will likely be taking home his third trophy. Having won for his stimulating performance in There Will Be Blood in 2008, a victory this weekend would give Day-Lewis two wins in six years, a remarkable stretch in this field. He will never be the most bankable star in Hollywood, but Day-Lewis has proven over the past two decades that his ability to disappear wholly and beautifully into a character is second to none. He brought Lincoln to life just as he did for Daniel Plainview, Bill “The Butcher,” and many other figures over the course of his career. He’s got a little to a lot of craziness in him, and we can’t always understand him, but his overwhelming talent cannot be denied. Daniel Day-Lewis is… Albert Pujols – the machine pumping out award-winning roles, homers, what have you. We can’t always understand what he’s saying, but he quietly goes about his business and constantly exceeds high expectations.

Run-producing machine.

Joaquin Phoenix

crazy, exhibit (a)

With his role in The Master, Phoenix reminded moviegoers that he is more than a certifiably crazy person. Don’t get me wrong; he is still seemingly absolutely loony. That being said, this role was perfect for him: An unstable man in an unstable world trying to find meaning. This is Phoenix’s third nomination. His performances in Gladiator and as Johnny Cash in Walk the Line were worthy performances but could not overcome more worthy nominees in Benicio Del Toro and Philip Seymour Hoffman doing an uncanny Capote, respectively. A man with a wealth of talent and a impressive body of work, Phoenix’s actual identity has often taken the forefront over his incredible performances. He is…Manny Ramirez. Heck, he’s probably peed in weirder places than the Green Monster. Their offstage, off-field actions often overshadow their Oscar, HOF-worthy work on the screen or field. Eccentric and inane without question, and always entertaining.

crazy, exhibit (2)

The Actresses

Jessica Chastain

Oscar nominations back to back years? She aight. Zero Dark Thirty is a relevant and well-timed work, and the same can be said for its budding star. Seemingly in every movie out there since The Help, Chastain, like Mr. Cooper above, is on her way to reaching superstar status. She’s already taken home a Golden Globe for her role, and she and Lawrence seem to be the frontrunners in this category. A late bloomer who has loudly announced their sticking around, Jessica Chastain is…R.A. Dickey, another performer whose story and work could not have come at a better time. Chastain’s work comes in a film as relevant to American livelihood as any out there. Dickey’s work was a wonderful respite from the talk of steroids and suspensions.

Jennifer Lawrence

I would like to kiss her on the mouth.

Confession: I may be a bit biased here, as I would like to maybe marry Jennifer Lawrence. Moving on. She won’t be going away for some time with The Hunger Games continuing as well as what is sure to be a full offer sheet for at least a decade. Jennifer Lawrence is only 22 (within range for me!). Already a nominee in 2011 for the delightfully titled Winter’s Bone, Lawrence absolutely came alive as Tiffany in Silver Linings Playbook. She and Cooper lit up the screen, and without Day-Lewis, a sweep for Playbook would seem likely. Nevertheless, I am excited for Lawrence not just because she is my future wife, but also because she has decades before her filled with stunning performances like the ones she has turned in for the past few years. With undeniable talent, youth, and a wonderful passion, Jennifer Lawrence is…BRYCE HARPER. Is she a great interview? That’s a clown question, bro. Would I marry him? See last answer.

Yikes.  Still might kiss him on the mouth.

Naomi Watts

 

Nominated in 2004 for 21 Grams, this is Watts’ second Oscar nomination. In all likelihood, she won’t win this year, and she shouldn’t, but her performance as a desperate survivor in The Impossible is worth the OnDemand fee. A solid Hollywood star who isn’t quite among the elite performers of her time, Watts is still a respected veteran. She is… Aramis Ramirez. Yes, the resemblance is uncanny. And yes, they are both boringly effective, producing solid work that may not be remembered years from now without some prompting.

I wish we could provide context for this.

Quvenzhané Wallis 

Wallis is electrifying in Beasts of the Southern Wild, as you have probably heard. You probably also know that she was only 6 during filming…I was starring in critically panned home movies at that age…I haven’t made much progress since. Still only 9, who knows what’s in store for Wallis, and who cares to be honest. For her sake, I hope she lives a normal childhood and goes about life as she pleases…naaaahhhhhht gunna happen. I’m not too worried about her though. With an infectious spirit on and off the screen, I think Wallis will be a Hollywood force somewhere along the road. Given her age, innocence, and unknown future, Quvenzhane Wallis is… Aroldis Chapman, still blissfully immature but brimming with talent and energy. We don’t know what the future holds for them, but we know their work will be done with a room-filling smile.

Emmanuelle Riva

Riva is really old. Sorry, but it is the truth. Having the oldest nominee ever and the youngest in Wallis in the same group is something special that will surely produce laughs or even tears on Sunday night. Riva has been in about a million French films, most of which I haven’t heard of, but her performance in Amour is heartfelt and beautiful, and I’m glad to see her recognized in this talented group. She’s old as balls but dammit she’s got talent. Emmanuelle Riva is…Torii Hunter. She’s done a lot of work we may not remember, but it’s all been pretty good. Little known fact, she also robbed Barry Bonds of a homer in 2002. She loved playing Triple Play, the greatest video game of all time. Also, maybe Torii is a French name or something. Thankfully, she’s far less active on Twitter.

Keep your opinions to yourself. Just rob homers.

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Fantasy Mustache: Shortstop

Babyfaced Shortstop pf the Future: Didi Gregorius

i (1)

There is a bit of pressure on Didi Gregorius.  Not so much due to the Diamondbacks’ need for him to be a superstar – Gregorius is NOT that – but due to the fact that he is stellar in an otherwise unspectacular position (side note: remember the late 90’s when there was that crazy boom of SS who were just all out nasty?  How much  of that was steroid related, huh?  Sorry for any childhoods ruined.  Damn you, Nomar).  Bauer might be good, for sure, but Gregorius plays a position where few organizations have any sort of competent depth.  As other-worldly prospect hunter Mike Newman put it over at Fangraphs, “In Gregorius, the Diamondbacks found a cost controlled shortstop of the future when their best internal option was suspect prospect Chris Owings.”  And no, Chris Owings is not Micah Owings batswinging alter-ego.  I don’t know who Chris Owings is either.

Gregorius may very well spend much of 2013 in the minors.  A recent elbow injury assures he will be slow out of the gate.  Hence, the Fangraphs Steamer projections:

13 2B / 5 3B / 4 HR / 30 R /32 RBI / 4 SB / .234 AVG / .277 OBP    (in 346 PA)

Womp womp.  That’s lame.  That is not gonna cut it.  Those aren’t franchise stalwart numbers – I don’t care if you’re 23. I love Willie Bloomquist and all, really I do, but the D-backs need Gregorius to be an MLB shortstop sooner rather than later.  You know what the glue of franchises has resting oh-so-manly on their upper lips?  What his (former franchise glue) manager Kirk Gibson once ROCKED?  What his hitting coach (and former franchise glue) STILL ROCKS?

Have you guessed?

Yup.  A kick. Ass. Mustache.

oh my oh my we have a new silent assassin, Mr. Bloomquist

oh my oh my we have a new silent assassin, Mr. Bloomquist

Sure, Didi (is he in the running for silliest first name for a professional athlete?) will start the season slow with a bum elbow but while rehabbing that, let us assume he also rehabs his naked lip.  Then take a look at the numbers he puts up.   Fire up the Mustache Predictorator 4000!

20 2B / 9 3B / 6 HR / 55 R /40 RBI /15 SB / .279 AVG / .312 OBP  (now with 460 PA)

That’s how you start a very solid, shortstop-of-the-future career.  These numbers are not so far off from Elvis Andrus’ and he ain’t half bad.  With excellent defense and these mustache-enhanced numbers, Gregorius is ready to roll.  Those numbers could shoot up with better health and some confidence from his manager (leading to more AB).  And hey, Kirk Gibson knows the power of the ‘stache:

fear. my. facial. follicles.

fear. my. facial. follicles.

stay groomed,

-V

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The PED Scandal in Baseball No One Wants to Talk About

The Backyard Baseball Banned Substance Scandal: A DotP Exclusive

Backyard Baseball is/was a beloved institution among cartoon sports enthusiasts.  Now the world must deal with the shocking revelation that many of the players were enhancing their performance with illegal substances.  After a lengthy investigation and the cooperation of a handful of sources, DotP has learned a large number of Backyard Athletes boosted their performance using everything from something called ‘Juice,’ to doctored baseballs, to drugging the other team, causing them to think the ball is dancing around laughing at them.

The allegations are widespread and shocking.

May I remind you that Backyard Baseball really hit it’s groove in 2001.  That game is one of the finest of all time, up there with NBA Jam and Tecmo Bowl.  But there is a dark, dark history there that no one wants to see the light.  Here’s a sampling of some of the MLB players featured in that game:

Jose Canseco.  Juan Gonzalez. Alex Rodriguez. Jason Giambi. Ivan Rodriguez. Barry Bonds. Sammy Sosa. Mark McGwire.  And Marty Cordova.

As you can see, all but one of those guys is filthy with drug use, implicated every which way from Sunday (One of these guys is Marty Cordova.  I don’t think he’s a former steroid user, it’s more just funny that the Twins were so boring in the early 2000’s that their representative was Marty Cordova.).  My sources are reporting this interaction resulted in a slew of the Backyard Baseball gang succumbing to the allure of performance enhancing drugs.  Forced to compete with the aforementioned ‘roided up MLBers, it is no wonder many players resorted to PEDs – but it is also no excuse. What follows is the list of players we can confirm as cheaters in the Backyard League and their documented rule-breaking:

Kiesha Phillips

Ms. Phillips leads the list due to her recent admission that she was, in fact, too old to be playing in the Backyard League at the time.  Documentation further proves Phillips regularly consumed a cocktail of drugs meant to mask PEDs.  Receipts have been shown that Phillips had a standing monthly order for large, large doses of Human Growth Hormone supplements, a fact that is obvious in hindsight due to the fact that she was double the size of any other Backyard athlete.

Kenny Kawaguchi

In one of the most shocking revelations of the Backyard report, Kawaguchi was cited as utilizing a wide variety of performance enhancing substances.  A hero to millions, Kawaguchi served as an inspiration for his play despite a disability.  Evidence now points to Kawaguchi using a variety of blood thinning agents, bull extract, the now-infamous ‘deer-antler spray,’ and amphetimines to maintain his solid play and remarkable upper body strength.

Ronny Dobbs

A solid player before 2001, Dobbs saw a tremendous spike in power production following that season.  He is repeatedly found in documents linked to shocking amounts of testosterone supplements as well as anabolic steroids such as Boldenone, a horse steroid.  While his power surged, evidence of the steroid’s side effects can be seen (well, heard) in Dobbs’ extreme high-pitched voice and disproportionate head size.

Tony Delvecchio

In another shocking turn, seeming everyman Tony Delvecchio is named in the report for using a wide variety of stimulants to aid his workout routine.  The report further suggests that Delvecchio tested positive for an exceedingly high rate of the amusingly named Bromantane as well as Pentylenetetrazol, both workout stimulants.  Known for his strong throwing arm, Delvecchio appears to have taken a variety of substances to maintain and bolster his arm strength.  Documents also insinuate that Delvecchio’s famous lollipop was, in fact, a hybrid stimulant for in-game use.

Luanne Lui

Ms. Lui repeatedly shows up in listings for orders of amphetamine blends and for masking agents for the drug Amiphenazole.  The more concerning aspects of her drug use, however, stem from documentation that she regularly consumed enormous amounts of MDMA prior to games.  The combination of stimulants and MDMA undoubtedly gave Lui her loopy disposition, but also allowed her to run incredibly fast for extended periods of time due to the fact that she rarely felt connected to the ground.  DEA officials have confiscated her teddy bear as it is still unclear whether or not the stuffed animal was in any way distributing any or all of these drugs to Ms. Lui in-game.

Mikey Thomas

Thomas tested positive for elevated levels of Ephedrine and Androstanediol in 2003 but had suspension overturned when he won an appeal.  Claiming a mishandled sample, Thomas alleges his elevated levels were due to a cold medicine he was taking at the time.  While this story has held for some time, as Thomas continued to be a boogery mess, these new reports point to Mr. Thomas using cold medicine as a cover for routine widespread juicing.

Ernie Steele

Steele is listed as taking a schedule of Human Growth Hormone, Fluvestrant, and Zeranol regularly starting in 2000.  These drugs have been tied to bone growth, and inside sources report they may have contributed to Steele’s intensely bizarre long limbs, as well as his girlish physique and vocal patterns.

Pete Wheeler

In what is likely the least surprising aspect of these reports, Pete Wheeler is said to have routinely failed drug tests for Cannibus, starting his first year in the league.  However, due to his All-Star status, the league regularly swept these failures under the rug.  Between 1997 and 2009, it is said Wheeler failed no fewer than 30 tests.  However, as one source said to me, “he maintained an incredibly high level of play, despite what seems like staggering, rap-posse-esque marijuana usage.  Also, the kid rarely seemed to know what sport he was playing, so I’d imagine the fans have suspected for some time and simply didn’t care.”

webers

Ashley & Sidney Webber

The Webber sisters, since retiring from the game, have gained some notoriety for their hard-partying ways and inclusion on the short lived Celebrity Twinz reality series.  While they report has them linked to heavy mood enhancers and several stimulants (including Fenbutrazate, a psychostimulant used as an appetite suppressant), sources also report the Webbers would routinely spike opponents coolers with everything from low-grade LSD to bath salts, often to horrific effect (recall the under-grounder incident of 2006). The Webber sisters have recently been linked to a cocaine ring in their home town, separate from this PED report.

The Masterminds: Dmitri Petrovich & Jorge Garcia

Behind every scheme, there are the ultimate schemers – someone pulling the strings.  In this case, the Backyard Sports World lay at the mercy of two black market drug kingpins.  The Backyard Athletes behind a rampant drug culture throughout the league were intelligent, seemingly mild-mannered gentlemen.  Both with bookish, shy exteriors, Petrovich and Garcia masked a devious and dangerous system, weaving its way throughout the league.  It appears Jorge ran the business and distribution side, while Dmitri was the brains behind the science of the drugs – often experimenting with new ‘drug cocktails,’ emboldened by the success of such substances in other leagues.

Due to lagging testing policy in the BBL for many years, the duo appears to have operated unchecked since 2002, supplying clients across not only the BBL, but other Backyard sports leagues as well.  Our sources assure us this is the tip of the iceberg, and that the culture in Backyard Sports was one of drugs, lies, and deceit.

Neither a superstar in the league, the pair seemed content to lay in the shadows, bit players in a game of their own making.  Both declined to comment for this expose.  Commisioner Clanky plans to release a statement sometime next week.  An official within the Backyard League informed me, “We have no comment at this time.  The league is conducting an investigation into these allegations and will be open and forthcoming in the days to come.”

It should be noted that Superstar Pablo Sanchez, long suspected of PED usage, has not been found to have any connection to Petrovich and/or Garcia.

This story is still developing, and I urge any reader with further evidence to come forward.  The silence in the face of such cheating has tainted a beloved game for long enough.

We apologize for any childhoods that have been ruined.

-W

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Fantasy Mustache: Catchers

Comeback Mustache of the Year

Martin is not impressed.

Before he went to the Yankees, I was a big Russell Martin fan.  An athletic catcher, he both threw and ran well, leading to some of my favorite in-game scenarios where he would both throw someone out bunting then bunt himself and beat it out (doesn’t that just always seems extra, extra awesome for a catcher?).  He was bad for the Yankees.  His homer total was inflated, as would a four-year old’s, by Yankee Stadium Redux so, statistically, and as catchers go, I suppose he was serviceable.  I happen to think he’s a better player.

Here are Bill James’ projections for My favorite Martin in 2013:

//112 hits// 22 2B // 16 HR // 64 R // 60 RBI // 8 SB // .242 AVG //

Leading to a deep “MEH,” from all concerned.  Where is the fleet of foot Martin, the .280 -. 300 hitter Martin?  Who is this manicured man?!

Martin is in obvious need of a mustache makeover (tv rights pending on that one, folks).  I understand that players deteriorate over time blah blah blah but this guy was pretty nifty not even 5 years ago!  So I fired up the math machines and the facial composite sketchers andWHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!?!?!!?

BOOM.

Russ beat me to it!  He is obviously not only a ballplayer, but has a keen understanding of the mysticism of the mustache.  Let us reconsider his projections, now knowing he has reconsidered his look.  I’ll bet Mr. Bill James doesn’t have a way of computing mustache value-added, but I sure do:

//177 hits// 30 2B // 19 HR // 88 R // 77 RBI // 22 SB // .333 AVG // PLUS 4 TRIPLES!

As you can see, Russell got his groove back.  Freed from the shackles of the hair-hating Yankees, Martin can be himself once more.  With his smoothly Gatsby-esque new fur, Martin will undoubtedly make the leap to an upper-class season.  Just look at that careful constructed cookie-duster.  He will regain not only his stroke but his deceptive quickness.  Again, I point you to the devious flavor saver.  Is that not the look of a man capable of swiping double-digit bases?  Is that not the look of a man who will find clever means to get on base?  Is that not the look of a man who would make an excellent addition to your barbershop quartet (alto, duh)?  Of COURSE it is, that is a mustache of confidence, a mustache of class – a mustache of redemption. 

Martin is poised, nay groomed,  for a better 2013.  And he knows it is due to his upper lip.  That is the smile of a man who knows the future is out there, a single green light, if you will, and Martin is ready to take it… even if it’s in Pittsburgh and not West Egg.

If you don’t get the reference, that’s okay.  There’s a movie coming out soon.

Tomorrow I’ll tackle the mustache sleepers.  If Russell Martin is any indication, the future is bright for potentially moustachioed ballplayers.

Stay groomed,

-v

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Weekend Hijinks: Why Baseball is Great

LADIES AND GENTLEMEN MAY I HAVE YOUR ATTENTION PLEASE.  I’VE JUST BEEN HANDED A PIECE OF BREAKING NEWS: BASEBALL IS BACK AND IT IS AWESOME.

As I sit here watching the opening weekend of the new baseball season, I cannot help but think about how much I love this sport.  Fantasy baseball has only expanded this love, as now I actually have a reason to care about Willie Bloomquist’s day-to-day game log.  Fantasy baseball comes out somewhere around #115 on the list I have in my head of why baseball is great.  So in honor of the REAL opening day(s) (sorry, Japan), here are a smattering of reasons why baseball is great that are floating in my brain right now.  Enjoy.

#8,536,443,213,991

that’s Chewbacca.  On a pitcher’s mound.

#999,888,777,666 – Laughing at people who don’t get it.

#66 – The Lingo

If the name of our blog wasn’t a clue….

Baseball has a whole dialect, a whole different set of idioms, analogies and traditional phrases that simply don’t make sense.  I made this a general topic so it would include everything from home run calls to dugout talk because it is all great.

2 out hits get you to heaven.

#42 – BASEBALL CARDS!

In his day, he was a handsome man.

They’re going out of style, sort of, but man do I love baseball cards.  Every parent has a story about them.  Seriously, go ask.  They’re the only sports cards that are cool.

Do you know someone, old or young who collected baseball cards?  I’m sure you do.  Do you know anyone who isn’t a complete goof who collected another sports card?  They’re probably weird.  Just sayin’.

#24 – George Kenneth Griffey Jr.

This is meant to be a light and silly post, so I will not spend nearly the appropriate amount of time gushing about one of my favorite players in any sport of all time.  He was a joy to watch, both offensively and especially defensively in his heyday and brought such crazy goofy joy to the sport it was hard not to root for him.  He grinned like a kid every time he made one of his signature up-the-wall catches as if he was surprised by his agility too.  And damn, those catches.  You can see him narrate some of them in a cool MLB.com clip here.  Or MLB.com’s top ten memories here.  Or do a Google search to pull up any of his dozens of jaw-dropping web gems.  He also had one of the greatest baseball games of all time, for N64

classic classic classic

#13 – The Seventh Inning Stretch.

Mr. Caray loved his job

I feel this needs little explanation.  Do other sports take a break and have the whole stadium sing?  I rest my case.

#10 – Peter Gammons

the mustache presented without comment.

Peter Gammons is a national treasure.  I honestly cannot tell you a single negative thing I’ve heard about the guy.  He’s professional, witty, beyond knowledgeable and overall a nice, likable guy.  Oh, and he jams.  He is the baseball reporter reporters strive to be and has been for decades and is a constant in the sport.  So why doesn’t he have a theme song you ask? Oh wait, the fine Youtube user mhouchin created this gem:

Simply splendid.

#9 – Ted Williams (okay, Joe DiMaggio too)

I’m a baseball history junkie and these two players, any and all admitted bias aside, are simply two of the most fascinating men to ever play the game.  If you’ve never read Richard Ben Cramer’s book What Do You Think of Ted Williams Now?  I’ve linked to it for you (click) so you can buy it on Amazon.  Just a revelation on what made Ted tick.  He is a truly unique and uniquely quotable man.  As for DiMaggio, it goes without saying you should learn about him.  From the streak to Marilyn Monroe to having this song written about him (and curiously called out by Simon and Garfunkel.  Joe’s response to Ms. Robinson? “I just did a Mr. Coffee commercial, I’m a spokesman for the Bowery Savings Bank and I haven’t gone anywhere!”  Heh.).  Joe DiMaggio lived a life most of us only dream about and both he and Williams were figureheads of the defining era of baseball, in my opinion.

#5 –   The Sandlot. More generally, baseball movies.

Without baseball, we would never have the greatest sports movie of all time.  We also wouldn’t have this one

Or this one

3 of my favorite quotable scenes of all time.  Thank you, baseball.

#2 – The Knuckleball

Other sports copy it.  Millions try to imitate it.  For me, there is something delightful about the pitch so few can throw.  It kind of makes them like Jedi.  It defies gravity and logic.  It also is my way of cheating and tying in Wiffle Ball into the discussion, as despite what history might say, I’m going to assume someone invented the Wiffle Ball in an attempt to recreate a knuckleball on a smaller scale.  That’s just what I’m choosing to believe.

I’ve sat here trying to think of another sports equivalent and am generally coming up empty.  What else is so odd, rare, yet effective as a knuckleball.  Well, this:

But that only matches in oddness.  Anyone can learn to shoot a free throw like that.  I bet you can’t throw a knuckleball.

#1 – The Fans

Awwww.  Will, you’re such a softie!  No, not exactly.  Baseball fans are such an interesting mix to me.  Some of the smartest minds in the world become complete buffoons when talking baseball and some of the biggest buffoons in the world can instantly make you feel small with their impeccable baseball knowledge.  With the emergence of sabermetrics and advanced statistics, the blending has become even more pronounced.  I don’t think other sports have the same diversity in types of players, employees, and fans.  One of my favorite examples is in Texas, where the Rangers spend millions on Latin players, have a GM who looks like he’s 16 who was a nerd at Cornell, and are owned by one of the most firery farmboy flamethrowers of all time.  There are plenty of things you could tell me are wrong with baseball, but the smash-up of cultures and personalities has always been (and hopefully will continue to be) what makes the sport so deeply fascinating to me, beyond even the game itself.

he owns a team, folks. and the guy getting whupped manages one.

There’s my smattering of reasons.  It is by no means a thorough list (The real list goes on and on in my head.).  To any readers and all people accidentally reading this page in the hopes of finding actual ducks on water, why do YOU like baseball so much?  Let us know in the comments or hit us up on Twitter.

Happy season, everyone.

-w

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