Monday, October 31, 2011

Baseball Life After Baseball

Now that we're one football Sunday past the baseball season, it's time to accept that baseball is over and that winter is here. Tony LaRussa made a very grandiose acceptance gesture by retiring from managing forever. A beautiful team of Budweiser Clydesdales escorted him into eternal peace.

Just kidding...he's still alive! Doesn't Lance Berkman look like the ultimate Casual Dad?

In other news, Robbie Cano and some other MLB All-Stars flew to Taiwan this week.

According to his Twitter, he's having a great time.

I have NO IDEA what this photo is! Asia is wild!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Congratulations, Birdies

Congratulations St. Louis! Your team won its 11th World Series championship. If only you'd waited until 11-11-11. I hate it when baseball is over!

There were a lot of babies on the World Series podium this year, which felt new. Should we blame/credit Drew Brees? Lance Berkman got to carry the trophy because, despite having four daughters, he was childless through the awards ceremony. Babies are taking over the world and it scares me.

Most World Series championships are bittersweet-- they mean that baseball's over for the year and that we have to do other things, like play Fantasy Football and read books. Thanks very much for another memorable year, baseball. I love you. Thank you. Goodnight.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Cold as Ice Redux

I can't afford to hold grudges against teams who beat teams that aren't the Yankees, which is why I still hate Texas but I don't hate the Cardinals.

Before Game 7 starts, let's look at more photos of David Freese:

Well-defined eye lashes make people look famous.

You may think this is a Target ad, but it's not!

To reinforce the notion of Freese as wholesome,
here's a photo of him handing out a turkey. On Thanksgiving? Unclear.

I googled "David Freese little league" because
what would be more wholesome than helping children?
This photo is so small that I can't tell if it's
really him, but I think it's okay to assume that it is.

It's okay to have a DUI when you're still a teenager, right?
I mean, it would be unwholesome to not go through
a phase of generic teenage rebellion, right?
This is still pretty cute, as far as mugshots go.

Man, I still kind of hate the Cardinals when I think about how we could be watching Cole Hamels pitch game 7 of the World Series tonight. It's also difficult to argue that bare-bones "I'm just watching this game because I like sports drama" fan should root for the team who's won the championship more times than any other club besides the Yankees over the team who's won no championships since their inception 50 years ago. (There are A LOT of "Texas Ranger" wikipedias, but this is the one that's relevant to baseball.)

As I implied in the opening paragraph, I'm not that kind of fan, so those rules don't apply to me. It's not spiritually healthy just to root against one team based on irrational grudges, though, so I'll be transforming those negative feelings into something positive by rooting for the Cardinals tonight.


In their must-win home game, the Cardinals trailed the Rangers by two runs in the bottom of the ninth inning. Down to his last strike with two men on base, David Freese, the hometown boy who had let a routine fly ball fall out of his mitt earlier in the game, hit a triple to tie the game.

Top: Happy Tony LaRussa vs.
Bottom: Bummed Ron Washington

Texas promptly reclaimed the lead in the 10th inning with Josh Hamilton's first home run of the post-season, but Berkman-- down to his last strike-- tied the game again during the bottom of the inning. His beard is different colors! He's only 35.

Albert Pujols usually points up at God when something good happens,
but Lance Berkman probably deserved it this time.

Texas didn't score in the 11th inning. At this point, despite believing all game that I was watching the end of the 2011 baseball season, I had a feeling that St. Louis would pull this one off. They mercifully decided not to give C.J. Wilson a chance to enter the game and continue his season of monumental losses, and instead, David Freese hit a walk-off home run off of scrub pitcher Mark Lowe.

He was promptly mauled at home plate, where his jersey was ripped to shreds. It was a truly shocking celebration.

Savagery aside, is there anything that would feel better than hitting a walk-off home run in extra innings of Game 6 of the World Series in your hometown? Congratulations, David Freese. YOU'RE A STAR. Also, Marti said you were cute.

On that note, here are some festive photos of St. Albert making the world a better place:

Everyone celebrate! We've got a Game 7!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Lance Berkman Looks Better Old

So what if I deliberately chose an unflattering young photo? Lance Berkman looks better old.

As much as I like the gray, I'd also enjoy seeing Big Puma in a Just For Men commercial this winter. "Your beard is weird."

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Things I Realized While Watching the World Series

I realized some things while I was watching the first game of the World Series last night. For example, I realized that I love Michael Young because Michael Young is the Derek Jeter of Texas, and that Chris Carpenter doesn't have to fully button his jersey because he's the only good pitcher left in all of baseball. Most notably, though, I realized that my friend Sam Hockley-Smith plays for the St. Louis Cardinals:

You may know Sam from his day job where, like Clark Kent, he wears glasses and writes about stuff:

Sam, is Albert Pujols really a robot? Also, are you going to win the World Series?

Monday, October 17, 2011

Goodbye Tigers (by Jenni)*

I rationally know that I have no impact on the outcomes of Major League baseball games (this despite the emotional toll that Major League baseball outcomes regularly extract from me). That said, I can’t help but feel that some force in the universe has been punishing me for my postseason choices. I wanted the Yankees to win and they didn’t. I wanted the Phillies to win and they didn’t. I wanted the Diamondbacks to lose and they did, but that can be irrefutably attributed to the fact that they persist in wearing those awful uniforms and had nothing to do with me. I wanted the Tigers to win and they didn’t. I wanted the Brewers to win and…guess what…THEY LOST.

I watched Game 5 of the Tigers-Rangers series on our home television. To give you an idea of how old this television is, let me state that it belonged to Phil before he got the flat screen television that he eventually replaced with his current flat screen 3-D television. So, it’s old and our service is bad. Watching sports at my house can be an ordeal. Someone hits a baseball and its trajectory through the ballpark is abruptly replaced by a blue screen. Eli Manning throws a pass and the interception gets all pixelated. ( I hate it when I don’t get a clear view of his “OH MAN” face.) Watching sports at my house can also be surreal, especially during slow motion replays, highlight montages and other times when your brain isn’t trying to process information in real-time. Check out these images of FOX’s post-game programming:

Miguel Cabrera's interview...the bottom image reminds me of ninth-grade English class.

Justin Verlander reacting to Nelson Cruz's home run (1 + 2), then performing a victory dance (3).

The Tigers hit a single, a double, a triple and a home run in order in the sixth inning. The Detroit radio announcers referred to this as a "natural cycle." Amazing, right? I was rooting for this team and now they're gone. It doesn't matter if you can hit for a natural cycle. The universe will still make you lose to the Texas Rangers and no one will understand why.

Bye Tigers.**

*I hope that Kei will write a second Tigers post, which is why I'm signing this one as Jenni.
**I got this reprimand via text message last night:
Dont be a bitter baseball fan that likes the Yankees! It's unbecoming
A correction in attitude and related blog post is in the works. While we're still being real, though, I HATE the Rangers and...for reasons I don't understand...I HATE the Cardinals too.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Some Thoughts on the Detroit Tigers

Jenni has requested that I write about the Detroit Tigers here. I am grateful for the opportunity to articulate my thoughts about this postseason, because they are all over the place! I can't recount what happened in the ALCS Game 1 except that it involved a rain delay and the Tiger's Justin "MustSeeTV" Verlander was defeated by the Texas Ranger's C.J. "str8edgeracer" Wilson. You'll mostly get my feelings for the Tigers' endeavors so far, a little bit of recapping Game 2, and some other random, likely irrelevant, notes. A follow-up post to this one may or may not be called for.

I was greatly pleased to see the Tigers clinch the AL Central division, and I was even more pleased to see the regular season end with Miguel Cabrera as the league's batting champ with an average of .344. I was sorry that the (my) Tigers eliminated the (Jenni's) Yankees, but the Tigers did it, and by "it" I mean "narrowly get by." I don't feel like looking up numbers but I get the impression that the Tigers are not producing offensively this postseason. Whereas I distinctly remember people talking (tweeting) about Robinson Cano's threat to every Tigers pitcher, and a game where the Yankees scored 9 runs against the Tigers. Moreover, most of my Twitter feed seems filled with pitching information, like how Justin Verlander probably angered a weather god (a.k.a. Tom Skilling) or the difference between Jose Valverde's ERA in save and non-save situations (something like well under 1 and just under 7, respectively). Also in my feed: constant concern about Tigers injuries, like Magglio Ordonez's broken ankle and Delmon Young's tore up leg or whatever, which prevents him from throwing more than hitting. So, as much as I am rooting for a Tigers vs. Brewers World Series in which the Tigers silence the pest that is Nyjer Morgan*, rest Ryan Braun's bush baby eyes**, and end Prince Fielder's tenure as a Brewer***, I am cautiously optimistic about Detroit's postseason.

I have a hard time watching the Tigers in the postseason live, or listening to the game on the radio, or even checking Twitter while the game is on. It makes me so anxious. Until I see radio announcer Dan Dickerson's fusillade of post-game tweets, I feel like I will upset energy fields and ruin the game for Detroit (someone has written about this topic in the philosophy of physics; I'll get back to you about that when I figure out what quantum mechanics is, which is never). But I am slowly getting over this. I sat on the couch after coming home from an undramatic wisdom tooth extraction and turned the TV on. It had been left on FOX, so the ALCS Game 2 was on and the game was tied at 3-3. I resisted the urge to change the channel to food-related networks and decided to watch the game. The Rangers had established 2 runs from some doubles by Josh Hamilton and Adrian Beltre off of Max Scherzer, and then Ryan Raburn had hit a 3-run homer off of starter Derek Holland. Then Nelson Cruz homered, off of I think Maxwell, and by the time I turned the TV on, Joaquin Benoit and the remains of his boil from the Yankees series was pitching.

Here are some things that happened before I turned the TV on:

 Ryan Raburn brings V-Mart and Miggy home. I concur with the guy who yelled "HEY CABRERA NICE HAIRCUT" during the Yankees series. 

Leyland looks like he's being bullied but refusing to succumb. I think there was a question as to whether V-Mart had been hit by a pitch or if he hit the ball?

Miggy slid home on this questionable play, but I think he was sent back to third as the at-bat was ruled a HBP. Derek Holland looks like an overgrown junior high school kid who could probably be a little more into things.

Here is what I did observe on TV:

V-Mart had a chance to bring the speedy Ramon Santiago home from third to untie the game, but Elvis Andrus barely made this catch. He said it spun weird. 
  Nelson Cruz was hit by a Jose Valverde pitch. He was hit in the wrist, then chest. I was wondering if he had a collapsed lung. They might want to do chest x-rays just to be sure! (But don't let a bogus nurse read it and send you home with extra-strength Tylenol and instructions to relax and take a bath, only to be called back to the hospital to get a chest tube inserted for a collapsed lung.)

  At some point, this happened. Andy Dirks misread the ball and did not catch it. I saw him looking into his glove, like "Is it there?" No, it's on the ground behind you. The ball appears to have hit Austin Jackson's leg, so it didn't get behind them, which prevented a game-winning run. Maybe reliever Ryan Perry would have even preferred that kind of loss, because this loaded the bases for...

Bruised Nelson Cruz, who hit the grand slam to end the game 7-3. I think this is the best way to head to home plate after a walk-off grand slam, the first in your team's postseason history. I know a lot of people like small and smart ball, but I like big AL ball. This is my kind of win, but for the WRONG TEAM.

One thing I have a hard time understanding is how pitchers tolerate or manage the pressure they can be under, particularly the relievers. What did Ryan Perry do on his flight back to Detroit? In a postgame interview, Andy Dirks seemed to take some of the responsibility of the loss by putting Perry in a crappy spot. What did Dirks do on the plane home? Did they both wear dunce caps and sit in the last row of the plane and serve everyone on board?

These are some of the things I saw, but for which I unfortunately cannot provide photographic evidence:

-Nolan Ryan's rolling side eyes as he applauds Elvis Andrus' shaky catch, which FOX showed a total of three times and I saw on ESPN at least once later that night
-Terry Francona replacing Tim McCarver as a FOX commentator, sitting real close to Joe Buck with his arm around Buck's seat
-Josh Hamilton's reddish beard, which creeped me out a bit.

I don't really have anything against the Rangers; I even kind of like them. I like that Nolan Ryan watches the game from the park; I like Ron Washington's face; I like the Dallas-Forth Worth area largely because of Host of Hosts Dr. Teddy; Jorge Cantu was a Ranger briefly last year; I wanted them to win last year because I abhor Brian Wilson...and there must be other random reasons. But I do not like Josh Hamilton's undeserved 2010 MVP title; I am getting sick of C.J. Wilson's tweets though he seems like a genuinely nice and thoughtful guy (and he is easy on the eyes); I get Elvis Andrus and Nelson Cruz confused all the time; I don't like to see red in the postseason; and I don't like to see the same teams year after year in the postseason. So, in my eyes, Detroit must destroy the Rangers and move on to mow down the National League team. I realize the AL teams always get home field advantage from the All-Star games, so it's nice that the NL is finally getting their chance, but I'm tired of it already. The underdog doesn't get much love from me. But more than anything, I want Miguel Cabrera's talent to be fully realized and recognized by everyone, I want Little V-Mart to rejoice, and I want to see Jim Leyland cry.


*I kind of liked Morgan because I had him on fantasy teams, but my loyalties immediately crystallized into the other direction when he was involved in a brawl with some Marlins players towards the end of the 2010 season. Now, this may seem to be the case because I am 1 of what, 14? Marlins fans, but the more specific reason is because he seemed to anger Marlins first baseman Gaby Sanchez. In defense of human skyscraping pitcher Chris Volstad, Gaby came from nowhere and CLOTHESLINED Morgan. My intuitions, entirely based on Twitter†, tell me that Mr. Sanchez is a gentleman, so to incur his wrath, I imagine one must have done something quite egregious.

†My evidence: (1) He asked for pet picture tweets last year during the off-season, and he replied diligently to every one. I tweeted a picture of a young Mitsu, to which he replied "He is very cute!" or something like that. (2) He even responds to Logan Morrison's stupid and sarcastic tweets. Regarding a photo contest for free Marlins tickets held by Gaby and his wife, LoMo tweeted with playful sarcasm, "Can I enter your contest?!" Gaby responded sincerely (it seemed to me), "Sure, of course." (3) Gaby and his wife seem to hang out with another Marlin gentleman, Mike Stanton despite a six year age difference. 

**I don't dislike Ryan Braun but those eyes are worse than Emma Pillsbury's. One reason why I don't dislike him is because he did not express bitterness at Jose Reyes' decision to leave a game to maintain his leading batting average. I like to believe that Braun has this right: the Brewers are in the postseason, whereas the Mets are drenched with bad karma, luck, everything, and that is a permanent state of things. Also, Mets fans booed Reyes for his decision. Braun doesn't need to stir that already messed-up pot.

***My baseball holiday wish is that White Sox GM Ken Williams will pull one of those "What the..." moves on the baseball industry by somehow dumping Adam Didn't-Dunn-Did-It and picking up Prince Fielder.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Some Things are Over, Some Other Things aren't Over

I can't keep up with facts-- I've sunk into an inescapable bog of sorrow and confusion and I'm not coming out until next April.

Because didn't this year of milestone accomplishments and improbable comebacks necessitate a 28th World Series championship? Shouldn't the forces behind the Red Sox collapse have compelled the Yankees to victory, in a seesaw of karmic momentum?

Okay, it's not that they didn't win. Every year, every team minus one doesn't win. The not winning doesn't take away the 162 game days you got to spend with your team and the not winning doesn't prevent the cyclical reintroduction of your team into your life next spring. Maybe not exactly the same team as the year before, but close enough.

So, Jorge Posada probably isn't going to come back. He was never my favorite Yankee. It was admittedly very sad to watch him standing alone on the top step of the dugout, deprived of that final ninth-inning at-bat, staring off into the field as his silent teammates filed past him, but it'll be okay. He'll find another team and become a crotchety fixture on their bench. Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera will look even older and more out of place. Derek Jeter and Mariano will stand alone in the dugout after A-Rod's sixth and seventh consecutive season-ending strikeouts and wonder what they'll be doing next April. Those things will happen and still the close-enough Yankees won't end.

At least they didn't have it as bad as the Phillies, who had to watch Ryan Howard lie in the dirt as the Cardinals amassed on their infield, tearing off their jerseys and chanting "Happy Flight."

Baseball isn't over. I've been monitoring every game. I'm rooting for a Brewers-Tigers World Series. And after that happens, baseball will be over for a while, but not forever. Not for very long, even, when you think about it. Maybe I'll finish my "Derek Jeter in Trenton" essay and start my Cole Hamels video masterpiece in the meantime.