Monday, April 27, 2009

Fourth Base and Bust

Widely recognized as the most attractive player in his franchise, Jacoby Ellsbury earned a different (though no less valuable) kind of acclaim last night, when he stole home plate beneath the weary eyes of aging pitcher Andy Pettite and cranky catcher Jorge Posada. The Red Sox went on to win the game 4-1 and sweep the series.

According to Wikipedia, Ellsbury was born in Oregon in 1983 and is "the first Native American of Navajo descent to reach the Major Leagues." This year, he was one of the 10 former and current MLBers caught up in the Stanford ponzi scheme (future real-estate agent and eternal caveman Johnny Damon was another). Here's an interesting Sports Illustrated article on why pro-athletes go bust. Included therewithin is this gem about Angels dreamboat Torii Hunter:
About five years ago, Hunter says, he invested almost $70,000 in an invention: an inflatable raft that would sit under furniture. The pitch was that when high-rainfall areas were flooded, consumers could pump up the device, allowing a sofa to float and remain dry. "The guy I invested with came back and wanted me to put in more, about $500,000," Hunter says. "Then I met [Butowsky], who just said, Hell no! I wound up never seeing that guy—or any of my money—again."
Inflatable furniture rafts. I'm going to give Torii the benefit of the doubt and assume that the prototype drawings (if any exist) aren't as ridiculous as I'm imagining them to be.

Hunter endorsing other kinds of responsible behavior

Hunter has been having a hot streak at the plate, recently, so it just goes to show that losers win, winners lose, home-stealers get robbed and life is weird. The Yankees are rolling on into Detroit today to face the second least attractive team in the American League. Better luck this time, boys.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Grampy Getting it Done, Robbie Having a Moment

Because Kei has gotten me hooked on the Yahoo! Sports baseball photo gallery and because this weekend is the first Yankees-Red Sox series of the year, here's another post commemorating another stomach-wrenching victory of the ugly over the not ugly. It's always hard when your team scores 11 runs and you still don't win, but alas, that's how it went last night in 4.5 hours of pitcher-bashing baseball.

Mike Lowell, who plays for my Fantasy opponent's team and must be, like, a billion years old, hit a three-run homer in the seventh, putting the Red Sox ahead 12-10. This wasn't even the most upsetting comeback of the night, as A.J. Burnett (looking hideous below) had a complete mental meltdown some time in the fourth and gave up a 6-0 lead.

The hero of the night was batting champ Robbie Cano, who went 3 for 6, with 2 home runs and 5 RBIs. Look at him barely reacting while he watches his ball sail out of Fenway...he's just THAT AWESOME. And, okay, those gum-chewing pictures aren't from yesterday, but let's all just pretend that after slamming his second HR, he went into the dugout and blew some bubbles to unwind.

In non-Yankees news, both Grady and Manny really whiffed it last night, going 0 for 9, collectively. Racy Casey, on the other hand, managed to save my Fantasy average by batting .500 via one hit and two walks. Hey Blake, any way you can....

Will the Yankees get swept by the Red Sox tonight? Will Grady re-emerge from his one-day hole of suckiness? Stay to follow, tomorrow, I'm sure.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Good, Bad and Ugly x 4 (But Not in that Order)

Last night's Yankees-Red Sox game was totally bizarre and ultimately disappointing. Boo! It did, however, provide ample photographic evidence that the Red Sox are THE UGLIEST TEAM IN BASEBALL:

Jason Bay is a weirdo.

Jonathan Papelbon is a stupid jerk.

Kevin Youkilis is an awesome baseball player
that looks really, really scary.

Dustin Pedroia...I can't even get into it.

On the other hand, the New York Times reports that even the Red Sox love Derek Jeter!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Here Comes Man Mountain!

It's a bit strange that Kei blogged about aliens yesterday, because I woke up this morning thinking about how much Jonathan Broxton of the L.A. Dodgers looks like Big Foot WITHOUT HAVING READ HER POST. It's just a supernatural time of year, I suppose.

Anyway, I've been watching a lot of MLB.TV this week. Due to their black out rules and regional restrictions, I'm not allowed to watch the Yankees (or the Mets, but whatever), so I mostly watch the Dodgers and the Indians. I like seeing zombie manager Joe Torre lurch across the field to contest a close call and I like seeing Manny Ramirez try to jog the bases in those floppy pajama pants of his. And of course, I like being pleasantly surprised when Casey Blake gets a hit or Grady Sizemore hits a home run. I've also come to enjoy the beyond stupid commentary of the MLB.TV announcers. Last night, during a very close and not at all boring Dodgers-Astros game, the announcers spent an inordinate amount of time making fun of fans in the stands. And so, for a few minutes each, I got to watch a man in a pink tie talking on his cell phone behind home plate, two kids fighting over a hot dog, and an overweight woman wave her arms around in some sort of trance-like Astros rally dance. I felt closer to my fellow Americans than ever before.

Sadly for dance lady, the Dodgers shut the Astros down 2-0 by bringing in monster closer Jonathan Broxton in the 8th inning. As he prepared to take the mound, one of the TV announcers said, "HERE COMES MAN MOUNTAIN." At first I thought, "Well, that's rude." Then, I thought, "Oh my God, it's true." And then I thought, "I hope that, at some point in my life, I have an occasion to yell HERE COMES MAN MOUNTAIN at someone and not get brutally beaten down as a result." A girl can dream.

But back to Broxton...he's 26 years old, 6'4" and 290 lbs. (supposedly). He routinely throws a 99 mph fastball and in 2007, struck out 99 people in 83 games. Crazy! I've been thinking a lot about how he probably goes home and unzips his human skin costume to reveal his true sasquatch self:


Finally, I'd like to thank Kei for publicly acknowledging what I've known for months: Alexei Ramirez LOOKS WEIRD. I did not know, however, that Nick Swisher was an alien, so thanks, Kei and Lil Wayne, for that bit of news, as well.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Alien Baseball

I like to sift through Yahoo baseball photos everyday and save the ones I like. Today they put up a low-quality picture of Swisher at the NYSE this morning, which I refused to post on this blog. I googled more photos of this event, and ended up with this kind of boring video from the official NYSE website. (Who are those little girls towards the end of the video? Swisher fans? Stock brokers or whatever they're called?) Nick Swisher is going to save our economy!

Today I also came across Lil Wayne's blog on ESPN. He claims to have an ESPN tattoo; that's how serious he is about writing. After writing about the NBA playoffs, he says of Swisher:
Shout out to Nick Swisher for being amazing. That dude came in and pitched lights out against the Rays, and now whenever the Yankees pitchers are getting roughed up the crowd chants "We want Swisher," which is amazing. I understand Nick Swisher, because he is an alien from another planet like me. That dude is not really a human being. For a position player to come into a major league ballgame and do that? Come on. Alien.
Aliens! I believe Alexei is also an alien, but of the planet where they bat horribly and have slow seasonal starts.

After seeing him on TV a few times, I still can't believe how tiny and narrow he is. I still can't believe he's batting .149, either. Cuban Missile Crisis! He's benched on my fantasy team this week, but I cheer him on in my heart.

First Pitch

In recent memory I can't think of a time that I made it to a baseball game in time to see the ceremonial first pitch. But every time I do I'm convinced that it's going to be someone awesome and it never is. It's always some sweepstakes winner or corporate VP for marketing of x or y sponsor. Maybe someday I'll strike gold

Barack Obama abandoned his promise to throw out the first pitch at the White Sox home opener. Instead they had to settle for a lousy meet and greet.

Look at AJ Pierzynski in the back - still looking creepy with that bleached hair, even in a suit jacket. But I suppose in fairness I should point out that Obama has done the honors in the past

At least this would never happen to the White Sox first fan

Of course there have been some other notables to throw this season, I'm thinking specifically of Jeff Tweedy from Wilco and this dude with a boa constrictor. There is no connection, I don't think

No real point to this one. Sorry.

Right at the beginning you get a nice close-up of Cubs standout Jeff Samardzija in action walking off the field.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Birthday Love

Happy 26th birthday to Miguel Cabrera! The Tigers won today, 2-0 against the Mariners.

According to Yahoo, Miggy hustled home on a throwing error by Ichiro. Look at him work that fat magic! I love him.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Swisher - add'l thoughts

While I've been a little slow on catching up with baseball this spring, my ears certainly perked up when I heard that outfielder/infielder Nick Swisher pitched a perfect 8th inning in a game where the Yankees were getting trounced.

As Jenni mentions, there is something kind of likable about the guy. I know I originally made some disparaging comments, but on second thought I think I might be turning the corner on Nick Swisher.

Part of my distrust/hate of Swisher is that he really sucked it up last year when he was with the White Sox. As Yankee fans will probably soon find out, he's kind of awful.

2004 Oakland Athletics 20 60 11 15 4 0 2 8 25 8 11 0 0 .352 .417 .250
2005 Oakland Athletics 131 462 66 109 32 1 21 74 206 55 110 0 1 .322 .446 .236
2006 Oakland Athletics 157 556 106 141 24 2 35 95 274 97 152 1 2 .372 .493 .254
2007 Oakland Athletics 150 539 84 141 36 1 22 78 245 100 131 3 2 .381 .455 .262
2008 Chicago White Sox 153 497 86 109 21 1 24 69 204 82 135 3 3 .332 .410 .219

Look at that downward trend, most recently afflicted on the White Sox. Swisher may be all fun and games now, but it will be another story once he starts sucking again.

BUT, that being said I for one would like to see Nick Swisher do well. But instead of seeing him as a Jack Black, I think he's really a lot closer to the new slimmed down Horatio Sanz.

On second thought. Maybe Horatio Sanz got too skinny to be an effective Swisher. Let's try SNL era Sanz...

I think that's closer. Maybe Nick Swisher can team up with Jimmy Fallon!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Ichiro Returns, Hits Grand Slam, Fucks With My Fantasy Standings

A bleeding ulcer caused Ichiro to miss the start of the Mariners' season, but last night he was back from the DL, going 2 for 5, stealing a base, and hitting a grand slam in the seventh inning. This performance dropped my fantasy lead against Nate's computer-generated, computer-managed and generally unloved team from 11-0 to 10-2. Still, I can't pretend to be angry about this. Welcome back, Ichiro! I love you!

Oh! And Derek Jeter came through again, driving in both the tying run in the 8th and the winning run in the 9th AGAINST MY LEAST FAVORITE TEAM IN BASEBALL. CAP'N CRUNCH, INDEED!

Today's the Yankees' much awaited home opener. All of the fancy, boring, historical stuff is happening as I type and the game starts at 1pm. Last year, I watched the old stadium closer with John Chavez while eating cold, soggy hamburgers. Today, I'll probably be watching the new stadium opener alone at a bar. I need more unemployed friends who like baseball, obviously.

UPDATE: Ichiro also turned into Samurai Warrior, courtesy of Paul.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Feral Cat Crashes Mets Home Opener

On Monday, I got so distracted by Nick Swisher's pinch pitching that I forgot about that other New York baseball team's freak field occurrence! As you can see below, the Mets were cursed blessed surprised [something-ed] by the appearance of a mangy feral cat during their home opener at Citi Field. (Big props to Kei for reminding me of this.)

Sports Videos, News, Blogs

THAT CAT WANTS BLOOD! Apparently, the Mets have a long history of feline invasions, most notably when a black cat took the field during a 1969 game against the Chicago Cubs.

The Cubs' Ron Santo Cursed by Black Magic Mets Cat, 1969

That cat did well by the Mets. According to this website:

Ever since the early years of Shea, kittens and cats have been roaming around the field. Some will remember the Chicago Cubs-New York Mets game in 1969, when a black cat scurried across the visiting dugout. The Mets, of course, went on to win the NLDS and World Series that year.

Are the Mets using demon animals to cast evil enchantments on visiting teams?

Evidence against the above statement: they lost Monday's game.
Evidence in support of the above statement: they signed Gary Sheffield.

(Here's a funny, short New York Magazine article about GS. Worth reading if you have a moment.)


*Although my shabby internet skills have prevented me from finding the post on the now defunct Ponytail Junction blog, in which I revealed that I had become possessed by our backyard witch neighbor, it really happened and, as a result, I know magic. Just ask Rachel.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Swisher Takes the Mound

Kei and I have been diligently monitoring our respective Fantasy Baseball teams, and at 10:41 pm last night, she texted me to ask if Nick Swisher-- the Yankees intermittent first baseman, clubhouse DJ and confirmed ugly person-- was pitching against the Rays. And, believe it or not, HE WAS!

Moreover, Jorge Posada was playing first base and both Derek Jeter and Johnny Damon were sitting on the bench. Totally wacky...but I guess it makes sense, considering how badly they were losing (15-5, goddamn Rays). During his one inning on the mound, Swisher had one walk, one strikeout, and no earned runs. Not bad!

While I initially felt that Swisher was too gnarly to play for the Yankees, I've had a complete change of heart this April. The dude looks kind of like Jack Black, is batting .471, and gets constantly praised by the Yankees beat reporters as being the funniest, most affable creature ever to wear pinstripes. I can go along with that.

Welcome to New York, Nick! Thank you for not sucking (yet)!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Top Five Favorite Baseball Moments

Dear Readers,

I thought I would spice up this blog by listing my five favorite moments in baseball history. I ranked them, which was for the most part arbitrary.

5. Dave Winfield kills a bird with a baseball

According to Wikipedia:

On August 4, 1983, Winfield accidentally killed a seagull by throwing a ball at it while warming up before the fifth inning of a game at Toronto's Exhibition Stadium. He doffed his cap in mock sorrow, and fans responded by hurling obscenities and improvised missiles. After the game, he was brought to the Ontario Provincial Police station and arrested for cruelty to animals. He was released after posting a $500 bond. Yankee manager Billy Martin quipped, "It's the first time he's hit the cutoff man all season." Charges were dropped the following day. For years afterward, Winfield's appearances in Toronto were greeted with loud choruses of boos until he became a fan favorite when he joined the Blue Jays in 1992.

In fairness to Dave, I have been to Toronto Exhibition Stadium (“The Mistake by the Lake”) and it would have been hard to throw a baseball and not hit a seagull in that dump. Dave also helped win a World Series for Toronto and also was one of the first athletes to create a charity.

Here is a picture of Dave Winfield and me as a child:

4. Nomar Garciaparra is named Nomar Garciaparra

Ok, so naming a child isn’t exactly a baseball moment, and apparently Nomar is just a nickname for Anthony Garciaparra, and even the validity of this claim has come under scrutiny, but I will make it nonetheless: Nomar’s father Ramon named his son Nomar because it is Ramon backwards.

Shortstop Nomar Garciaparra

and musician Josh Kolenik

Nomar’s stats have fallen off a bit as off late, probably because he is busy doing other things:

On October 8, 2005, Garciaparra and his uncle Victor were alerted to the screams of two women who had fallen into Boston Harbor outside his condominium. One of the women sustained injuries to her head after hitting the pier on her way in. Garciaparra quickly jumped into the harbor and saved both women, who were later taken to the hospital.(Wikipedia)

3. Vince Coleman Throws a Firecracker at Children

In 1993, with Dodger Eric Davis behind the wheel, professional base stealer and Met Vince Coleman threw a lit M-80 at a group of fans while driving through Dodgers parking lot. Three fans were injured, including an eleven-year-old boy and two-year-old girl. Coleman claimed that he didn’t know throwing a firecracker at someone could result in injury. He was sentenced to 200 hours community service.

Three months earlier, Coleman was recklessly swinging a golf club in the Met’s clubhouse when he injured the arm of pitcher Dwight Gooden (see #1). This according to Wikipedia.

Vince also had an unfortunate mishap while playing for the Cardinals. During pregame warm-ups at Busch Stadium, the automated tarpaulin began to roll onto the field and rolled right ontoVince’s leg. He was trapped for 30 seconds, then freed and taken away on a stretcher. He would miss the NLCS and the World Series (Baseball Library).

2. Fritz Peterson and Mike Kekich Swap Wives

In the spring of 1973, Yankees pitchers Fritz Peterson and Mike Kekich decided to trade wives. They also traded houses, families, and dogs.

From left: Marilyn Peterson, Mike Kekich,

Susan Kekich, Fritz Peterson

The two had been best of friends for some time, and both families lived in New Jersey. The trade worked out better for Peterson, who married the former Susan Kekich. The two remain together and have four children (Peterson was also the better pitcher and his 2.52 ERA is the lowest ever for a starting pitcher at the old Yankee Stadium). Mike Kekich’s relationship with Marilyn Peterson lasted only two years, and his career similarly faltered. (Wikipedia, Fantasy Baseball Dugout)

1. The 1986 New York Mets

I realize that a year with a team after it doesn’t necessarily make a moment, but the 1986 Mets season was so amazing that someone could write a book about it. Actually there are a number of books on the subject, the free parts of which I skimmed on Google Book Search and will quote from heavily. I can hardly summarize the whole season, so I’ll just provide some highlights:

After defeating the Astros in the NLCS, the Mets and wives/friends boarded an Ozark Airlines chartered flight back to New York. They began to drink so heavily that a few of the wives were soon throwing up.

In his autobiography, Heat, Dwight Gooden recalls his most vivid image of the flight. “At one point the partying was so out of control, the lavatory door accidentally flew open and there was one of my teammates, his face in front of lines of cocaine,” he writes. “I wasn’t shocked that he was using, I was shocked that he was so high, he didn’t even realize the door was open.” (Pearlman)

(On another trip from New York to Los Angeles, according to an ex-Ozark official, Darryl Strawberry and Dwight Gooden, the team's two marquee stars, exposed their penises and were inviting the [flight attendants] to "lick this and that.")

Later, the Ozark crew mistakenly served cake to the team and a food fight ensued. From Pearlman:

Meanwhile, the airplane was a disaster area. Upon landing, two or three wives had to be carried off the jet. Others weren’t quite sure of their whereabouts. Half the team exited wearing T-shirts and ties. Sisk wore one shoe. Fans who had waited hours at Kennedy Airport to greet the team were shocked at what they saw. “To have the wives in their snazzy North Beach Leather outfits, covered in vomit, it didn’t make for a pretty picture,” says Mets pitcher Ron Darling. “And the guys were coming off in various forms of disarray of dress. We were gross.”

The flight resulted in $7,500 in damages and a lifetime ban from Ozark Airlines. General manager Frank Cashen was furious, but the manager, Davey Johnson, laughed as he tore up the bill in front of the team.

Dwight Gooden (T) and Darryl Strawberry

Cocaine and alcohol were staples for Mets players in 1986, and their habits continued throughout their careers and beyond. MVP, future captain, and Seinfeld star Keith Hernandez described cocaine as “a demon in me,” and also claimed a “love affair” between baseball players and cocaine in the 1980s. The careers of Dwight Gooden and Darryl Strawberry accounted for seven positive tests for cocaine. (The most memorable moment to me is when retired Darryl Strawberry went missing from a rehab center for four days, and his former coke buddy Dwight Gooden went on the search to find him.) In addition, Mets centerfielder Lenny Dykstra crashed his Mercedes into a tree after a bachelor party. He had BAC of .179, over twice the legal limit. (Lenny has since gone on to better things.) During a nationally televised game, pitcher Roger McDowell was filmed with his uniform on upside down – his pants over his head with his shoes on his hands.

Then there was pitcher Kevin Mitchell, who, in 1986, according to Gooden’s Heat, got into an argument with his live-in girlfriend and decapitated her cat.

I think it is safe to say that nearly all of the 1986 Mets engaged in heavy drug use, alcohol consumption, and sexual debauchery (except for Gary Carter because he was a herb). They could be considered the most dissolute team on record. Oh, and they won the World Series.