October 20th, 2009

Now on Sale at the Stadium Store, Pitchforks and Torches

You know how some sports blogs try to attract traffic with photos of hot chicks in bikinis? Well, I’m going to try a slightly different, but related, approach: the cute animal photo. Herewith, the expression on my dog’s face when Joe Girardi took Dave Robertson out of the game in the 11th inning, with two outs and nobody on, and brought in Alfredo Aceves:

Pearl, official Eephus Pitch mascot

I hope to make this a regular feature.

Anyway, this is one of those days I’m just glad I’m not a manager, especially not a New York manager. I like Joe Girardi, and I think he’s done a very good this year on the whole, but… yeah… it may be time for him to take it down a notch.

I’ll be writing up tonight’s game over at the Banter. Make Pearl happy, CC.

October 19th, 2009

The Final Word on My Jeopardy! Appearance:

As usual, Weird Al says it best. (Yes: from T.S. Eliot to Weird Al in less than 24 hours. Liberal arts education, ladies and gentlemen. “Let us go then, you and I,/ When the evening is spread out against the sky/ Like a patient etherised upon a table; We been spending most our lives living in an Amish paradise.”)

Bonus Weird Al video:

October 15th, 2009

Onwards to the Stony Rubbish

I’ve got a new post up on Bugs & Cranks about last night’s epic Angels-Yankees error-off, and the upcoming three-game jaunt into the Wastelands of Anaheim. (I have never been to Anaheim, but I do generally imagine it as A heap of broken images, where the sun beats/ And the dead tree gives no shelter, the cricket no relief/ And the dry stone no sound of water.)

Meanwhile the Yankees doing something fan-friendly for once and opening up the Stadium for anyone who wants to watch Game 3 in Anaheim. That sounds pretty neat, and though I’m sure they’ll still make a tidy profit on concessions, in a refreshing departure from their usual squeeze-out-every-penny approach they will not be charging admission. If I have time maybe I’ll head up there.

October 12th, 2009

What is "One of the More Surreal Experiences of My Life, Alex?"

So in the end, my anxiety about the ALDS was largely unfounded – except for Carl Pavano’s ace performance; did I call that or what? My recap of last night’s Yankees win went up on the Banter this morning.

And since it worked so well last time, now I’m off to write about all the many ways the ALCS could turn into a total disaster for New York.

Meanwhile, weirdly enough, I’m supposed to be on “Jeopardy!” tonight – I went out to LA for the taping back in August and it was a fun though deeply weird experience. I’m Tivo-ing the show, but as I hate even hearing my own voice on a tape recorder let alone watching myself on TV, I will probably go with the Phils-Rockies game tonight instead.

And I’m not allowed to say how I did before it airs, but I can’t let it go without just one preemptive note: I knew the Mickey Mantle question! I just couldn’t buzz in in time, I swear!

October 8th, 2009

Bugs and Cranks and Stuff

So, I’ll be doing a little blogging over at Bugs & Cranks, and my first post went up yesterday. I outlined all the various things that might go wrong for the Yankees this postseason, including the possibility that cockroaches will swarm Mark Teixeira and carry him off to the sewers. (These things happen).

Of course I’ll also be continuing to post over at the Banter, and in fact have a writeup of last night’s Yanks-Twins game there. Feel free to chime in with suggestions for my upcoming TBS/Chip Caray Drinking Game. E.g.: take a drink every time someone uses the phrase “plays the game the right way”; if Craig Sagar’s suit is attacked by frightened birds, finish your beer; etc.

Finally, for those of you who enjoy having your information input and output arbitrarily limited to 140 characters, feel free to follow me on Twitter.

I think that about covers it. Except I’m so happy to have playoff baseball back in New York that I actually did a little dance at the first pitch. No one saw except my dog, and she, luckily, will never tell.

October 5th, 2009

Baseball Player NICKname of the Week

According to Baseball-Reference.com, there have been 10 different Major League Baseball players nicknamed “Wild Bill,” from Bill Hutchinson in 1884 to Bill Connolly in 1953.

But there is only one Ed Heusser, “The Wild Elk of the Wasatch.”

Heusser pitched for five different teams in the 1930s and 40s, though why he reminded anyone of a wild elk is not clear. (It seems safe to assume “Wasatch” refers to the mountain range in Utah, where Heusser was born). He ended up with 300 walks (compared to 299 Ks), but didn’t hit an especially large number of batters or throw that many wild pitches.

I just hope this unsolved nickname doesn’t come to haunt me the way that Bristol Robotham Lord‘s “The Human Eyeball” still does.

NB: Heusser is not to be confused with Pepper Martin, “The Wild Horse of the Osage.”

October 3rd, 2009

"Afraid to Win": The Story of the 2009 Mets

A few weeks ago, when Derek Jeter was about to pass Lou Gehrig on the Yankees’ hit list, I almost posted the following paragraph:

“While needless to say I love watching Jeter play, and I have nothing but warm feelings towards Joe Torre, when I see a quote from the ex-skipper about the Captain like: “Just the tenacity, the determination. He’s not afraid to win,” I do have a strong urge to bury my head in my hands and weep for the English language. No one in sports is as good as Torre at stringing a selection of pre-approved words into convincing but meaningless sentences. He’s “not afraid to win”? How many professional ballplayers are afraid to win? Except Chuck Knoblauch, maybe? Is that really what prevents the average player from being Derek Jeter, their victory phobias? Gah.”

I decided not to put it up, because it seemed too grouchy – bitching about one of Torre’s well-meaning platitudes in the middle of a nice celebratory moment. But I remembered it the other day while I was watching the Mets lose, again, to the Washington Nationals… Maybe I was too hard on Joe Torre, I thought. Maybe this is what “afraid to win” looks like.

I’m not serious, of course – all the psychoanalysis in the world wouldn’t make that shredded lineup a pennant winner. But this year’s Mets will make you entertain a lot of strange thoughts. They’ve overcome all kinds of obstacles, and repeatedly defied the odds, to lose in a series of remarkable ways.

(SIDE NOTE: I also thought of my abandoned blog post when Knoblauch was arrested for domestic assault the other day. Afraid to win, perhaps, but not to – allegedly! – hit his wife. Lovely.)

Anyway, I think every Mets fan I know wants Omar Minaya and Jerry Manuel fired, though few have any hope that it’ll actually happen. Given the staggering array of injuries, I’m not sure it’s really fair to call for their heads… on the other hand, I don’t think I can argue with it, either. There’s a lot to answer for, and I don’t know how else the team would be able to start spring training without this year’s toxins hanging over them.

Then again, as an alternative, maybe they could try teaching their players how to run the bases and field grounders. Sure, winning is frightening – but just using both hands to catch popups, that’s not so scary, is it?

September 24th, 2009

Baseball Player Name of the Week

In honor of the Yankees’ recent hard-earned series win in Anaheim, I scoured the roster of the Angels’ AAA team, the Salt Lake Bees, to bring you this week’s Name:

Catcher Flint Wipke.

I know you’ll all join me in my earnest hopes that this young man eventually makes it to the majors. On a side note, has there ever been a less appealing Minor League team name than the “Salt Lake Bees”? I mean, two things in this world that I really don’t care for: dry laws and stinging insects.

Anyway, my Yanks-Angels recap is up at the Banter for those who are interested; I’m still working on a Mets post but it feels increasingly futile. What is there to say?

September 19th, 2009

Tim McCarver’s Baadasssss Song

Before I talk about the Mets, I could not let this pass without comment.

“Tim McCarver Sings Selections From The Great American Songbook.”

I am physically overwhelmed by the sheer number of possible jokes here. But first of all, this reminds me of nothing so much as this:

Although to be fair it should be said that, while I do not particularly care for McCarver’s announcing, it is WAY better than John Ashcroft’s Attorney General-ing.

But that’s not really the point, of course. Do you know how many great versions of “One for my Baby (And One More For The Road)” there have been? Frank Sinatra, Billie Holiday, Etta James, Sammy Davis Jr, Rosemary Clooney… I was hoping instead that McCarver would record some original songs, written just for him and tailored to his style. Here, inspired in large part by the McCarver archives of the dearly departed FireJoeMorgan.com, are some suggestions for an alternate, more McCarver-esque tracklist:

1. That Goes Against Conventional Thinking
2. I Don’t Want To (Throw A Lot Of Numbers At You)
3. There Used To Be A Shea Park
4. Gee David Eckstein, Ain’t I Good To You?
5. A Mark Wohlberg Fastball
6. Clogging Up The Bases on a Saturday Night
7. Embrace Me, My Sweet Intangible You
8. I Don’t Want No On-Base Percentage (If You Can’t Run)

September 19th, 2009

Ohhhh, Fight

In theory, I do not approve of multimillionaire professional adults punching and shoving each other over some macho bullshit.

However I have to admit that whenever it actually happens, I’m all “Ohhhh, fight!!!”

Actually I missed seeing Tuesday’s Yankees-Jays brawl live because I was watching the Mets lose to the Braves, which was not so remarkable (thought I admit it took me quite a few minutes to place Mets starter Patrick Misch), but I was doing it at “Amazin’ Tuesday” on the LES, which was a lot of fun.

The first thing I thought when I saw clips of the fight was, of course the first real Yankees brawl in years happens AFTER they finally got rid of Kyle Farnsworth. Because that is basically the only good reason to have Farnsworth on one’s team, as has been repeatedly proven in independent studies.

Anyway, I had no idea Joe Girardi could move that fast – he got to the scene quicker than anyone else from either dugout. I guess nothing motivates a guy quite like seeing hundreds of millions of dollars (and thousands of pounds) worth of stars heading for a hostile dogpile. There was a whole lot of VORP shoving around in that mess.

I’m dwelling on a game from four days ago because (A) I cannot ever pass up the opportunity for a Kyle Farnsworth joke, and (B) tonight’s game ended with a sin against nature in the form of a walk-off home run off of Mariano Rivera. I don’t like to dwell on such games because, quite frankly, the universe already seems frightening, random, and meaningless enough as it is.

Next blog post: time to talk about the Mets. But god, where do I start?