Archives for the month of: October, 2009

My Friday has been consumed with budget spreadsheets.  Good thing, though, as I can barely keep my head on straight for five minutes.  WAY too much going on this weekend.

So, kudos to A.J. Burnett not going all Nuke LaLoosh, and on ad nauseum.  But this guy’s gotta buckle down, and get to work only… how many minutes late? 

Holy cow.  It’s really late. …Too many ugly people on this train. [ed.: I’m reviewing this now, and realizing it’s the truest thing I’ve said in a while.  Goddamn; woof.]

I’m working on sharpening up my online presence in advance of some new (and ironically, offline) ventures, so if I’ve timed things right you should see some changes to this blog on or about Sunday night, and connection to a larger one-stop, presenting all the things I do that have zilch to do with baseball.  That’s if I survive this deejay marathon Saturday night.  Pray for me.

I threw together all the John Olerud facts into one post, and you can find it here

And I went and got myself on Twitter, if anyone’s interested:  It’s new enough that you can smell the fresh binary; anything that comes out of my brain in the next 48 hours will probably find its way there, and there alone.  Baseball, non-baseball; y’know. 

So enjoy your weekends, and apologies to anyone subjected to my soft-launch horror; these things are unavoidable.  Try to act surprised when I make formal announcements.

But to the trained eye, I’m a keen and unobtrusive observer of human events.

Did I need to watch all of Game One of the World Series?  No; that would’ve been an exercise in excess.  Neither the Yankees, the Phillies, Major League Baseball, nor the FOX television network needed me to watch all of Game One of the World Series.  I won’t speak to Joe Buck’s or Tim McCarver’s need, but I get the feeling that as long as they’ve got each other, they’ve got the world spinnin’ right in their hands.

No, once I saw Jimmy Rollins push a bunt on the first pitch, I had this game pegged: hassle C.C. for the Phillies; outlast Cliff Lee for the Yankees.  From what I saw while flipping in and out and while talking over a video project with a friend, C.C. was behind all night and never got comfortable. 

Meanwhile, Cliff Lee lasted longer than expected, and the triumvirate of Cano, Swisher, and Cabrera were striking out and making weak contact most every time I caught a Yankee at-bat.  That was, literally, ninety-eight percent of my Yankee viewing experience.  The other two percent consisted of Derek Jeter hacking up a lung.  Get that man a lozenge.

Did not need to watch that whole game.  Not at all.  And I can also say with a straight face that spending this morning with Cartman’s rendition of “Poker Face” in my head is a lot better than trying to get McCarverisms out of there.

P-p-p-poker face.  P-p-p-poker face.

Adam Rubin’s calling Chip Hale, of the Arizona Hales, the Mets new third base coach, thus depriving the sports world of yet another paycheck-drawing, marginally-relevant Steve Smith (actually, the Giants’ Smith is not a bad wideout; I have no idea how Steve Smith of the Miami Heat has been doing and checking would be a bridge too far).  My baseball thoughts are less consumed with who’s at third base and more with who’ll be in left field, at first base, and whether Chowdah will learn not to swing at garbage.  But good luck, Chip.  Don’t get snookered into any half-baked Flash web promotions

aquafina2.jpgKeep your eye on the ball, Mr. Hale.


Something I thought about on the ride home last night, after finding, through Amazin’ Avenue and Mike Silva’s NY Baseball Digest, Andrew Marchand’s coverage of Jimmy Rollins’s World Series prediction: there’s no shortage of chutzpah or lack of forethought here.  From different groups on either side.

I’ve been extraordinarily critical of the Philadelphia fan base, so I’ll spread the wealth and the “What the what?” to Rollins.  Five games?  You’ll win in five? 

Who, then, do you think will be the weakest link on your team the night you lose?  The pitcher?  The fielders?  Do you get the sense that, in that loss, you guys won’t score enough runs, or that you’ll get jobbed by the umpires?  Will the mighty hand of Thor come down with his godly hammer, and wreck the team bus before it gets to the stadium?

Are these questions not obvious?

I don’t get it.  Either predict total domination, or enter a fantasy world where you’ve predicted your own triumph over adversity.  Better yet, make zero predictions and leave confessed neurotics (hand raised) alone with their spinning-wheel questions related to the apparent and baffling appeal of Ashton Kutcher.

And speaking of fantasy world: I’m sure that out of the four readers that I have, I alienated two last week in my steadfast rooting for the New York Yankees in this Series, ignoring the semantic talk of “rooting for” a team versus “rooting against” a team, and focusing solely on the need to stop dynasty talk in Philadelphia before it starts.  If they wander back to this particular post, this might perk them up.

Ran into a pack of folks heading to the game yesterday, and saw them on the uptown 4 platform as I waited for my train downtown.  A great many of them were wearing T-shirts announcing the Yankees’ twenty-six championships throughout their history, and declaring that to be the trump card in this year’s battle of the wills.  Loudly declaring.  Perhaps drunkenly declaring, but this site makes no judgment on that last point.  Would that I could’ve been so tanked yesterday.

Regardless, these gentlemen were/are in error.  The Yankees won three titles in the ’20s, five in the ’30s, four in the ’40s, six in the ’50s, two in the ’60s, two in the ’70s, and four in the ’90s (cheating here with the 2000 title for ease of discourse).

Now, if Babe Ruth, Joe DiMaggio, Spec Shea, Mickey Mantle, Tom Tresh, and Goose Gossage were some sort of immortal and joined the current ragtag group of intergalactic rebels, then certainly, a case could be made for Yankee history playing a part in a series win this year.

Otherwise, your team’s got a very talented group of players, but the institutional memory only goes back to 1996.  Thirteen years, four titles.  Not bad by any means, but think before speaking, and dial down the rhetoric.

Click here for numbers 1-25.  Click here for numbers 26-50.  Click here for numbers 51-75.

This week, numbers 76-101.

76. John Olerud never used pine tar on his bat. He preferred to hit “au naturel.”

77. John Olerud maintains that the best defense not only consists of a good offense, but also a sparkling defense.

78. For John Olerud, honesty is not the best policy.  It’s the ONLY policy.

79. John Olerud never hangs a picture without first sinking an anchor for safety.

80. The following textiles have not, nor will ever be, “with” John Olerud: burlap, denim, lace, silk, satin, or leather.

81. John Olerud is a fierce competitor, but is glad he was never an Aztec warrior.  Those guys drank the blood of their enemies, for Pete’s sake.

82. John Olerud has never told a “yo momma” joke.

83. John Olerud finds the capitalization rules of the German language straightforward and easy to comprehend.

84. Every night, John Olerud polishes his sneakers to a high shine.

85. For John Olerud, baseball is ninety percent mental; the other ten percent is physical.

86. John Olerud has never had “bed head.”

87. No, John Olerud knows exactly what you mean by “that thing with the
cherry stem.”  He’ll thank you not to do it, especially in this diner,
where there are families present.

88. John Olerud had his Achilles’ heel surgically removed in April, 1992.

89. John Olerud never check-raises; that’s bush league.  

90. There are no skeletons in John Olerud’s closet; only things he keeps in there are shirts, slacks, suits, and a replica Fonzie jacket someone gave him as a joke for his thirtieth birthday.   

91. John Olerud asked that his third Gold Glove instead be dipped in less-ostentatious bronze.

92. Whenever asked to find a needle in a haystack, John Olerud breaks out his case of magnets.

93. John Olerud dots his “i”s with a baseball.

94. John Olerud eats his Pez with a fork.

95. John Olerud decorates his home for all major federal holidays, including Presidents Day.

96. Yes, John Olerud agrees: Greedo shoots first.  (If you say so.)

97. John Olerud has never gone off half-cocked, fully-cocked, or any such position on that scale.  This is like mentioning the thing with the cherry stem, and he’s starting to get peeved.

98. John Olerud never cancels without calling first to explain his situation, and offer a rain check for a specific date and time.

99. John Olerud would never take a victory lap.  Victory is its own lap.

100. John Olerud often sleeps the sleep of the satisfied.  Then there’s the occasional Burrito Night, when he sleeps the sleep of the dyspeptic.

101. John Olerud hopes you’ve had a good time.  Now get the hell off his lawn.

Preparations for making myself look like a fool:

profilewright2.jpg…go quite slowly.  Even the photo shoot date is in jeopardy, as November 1st is not only the day after Halloween, but the day of the New York City Marathon, and the day The Wife returns to North Carolina after birthday celebrations.

So I may have to push this one, ladies and gents.  But trust me when I say you don’t want to see me in ANY kind of tank top.

I did mention that each of my “under construction” profile pictures held a short sports story, and now that the fourth one is up (and probably makes little sense), allow me to catch up while I wait, yet again, on the phone with Time Warner Cable.

That was Memorial Day, 2006.  My friend Nora came down from Boston.  We drank way too much over the course of the weekend.  A former roommate’s friend came to visit as well, and that previous night/that morning had enthusiastically hooked up with a hipster who “assumed the G train just went everywhere.”  He wasn’t kidding.

Anyway, that’s over in Prospect Park, Brooklyn, where the G train now stops, due to long-term construction.  The pitch I threw was low and outside.

This was taken shortly following the 2006 Mermaid Parade.

I’m fine with the razing of Coney Island.  The people who work there are far too obnoxious, or else will land on their feet elsewhere.  I’ve lived in Brooklyn my entire life (save for college), and I’ll tell you that anything holding any sort of historic or cultural relevance, Cyclone/Cyclones excluded, was destroyed decades ago.

And the Nathan’s.  The Nathan’s and the parachute drops are national treasures.

Nevertheless, I’m disappointed the mini golf course is gone.  While I can get mini golf in some fine places, I can’t get boardwalk, Nathan’s, beer, and mini golf all in one place, and all just a twenty minute train ride from my home.  (If memory serves, I was 2 under par.)

And finally:

This is me at a wedding in South Carolina, on August 27th (also 2006; good lord).  The Wife and I ran down that late morning, attended the wedding, attended the reception, slept four hours, then got on a plane back to New York.  I got to work at noon, and later that day got in trouble for cheering the Mets’ six-run third inning on the Phillies. 

The attitude at work re: baseball would change not long after that, to something a lot more friendly.

The Mets ended the day thirty-one games over .500.

And three years and change later, Time Warner has hung up on me.  ********.

**Way to censor yet again, MLBlogs robot.  Presume, folks, that I’ve just questioned the legitimacy of Time Warner’s parentage.

Greg Prince over at Faith And Fear In Flushing marks the anniversary of Mets ’86, which occurred twelve days after the anniversary of Mets ’69.  Somewhere around here I’ve got the start of a none-too-positive “Twelve Days Of Metsmas” song; I’ll refrain from finishing it.  Last time I came up with a Mets song parody, I mailed it to a friend in hopes of executing some reverse karma.  Then most of the team went down with injuries and fourth place was clinched shortly before a playoff berth in the NL East.  YOU do the work this time.


Slim, slim pickins when it comes to Mets baseball news.  I was emailed an article by a friend who’s not a baseball fan, asking who I’ll be rooting for.  I sent back my posts on the WWTwo.  Got to thinking about other teams that are making news this week, in one form or another.  Padres hired a new GM: Jed “Don’t Call Me Steny” Hoyer.  Indians hired a new manager: Manny “At Least I Do My Homework” Acta. 

Hell, even Mark McGwire’s pulling a Cardinals paycheck again.  (Everyone say it with me: dingers!) 

Really, in these stories there’s barely even a segue into Metsville.  These guys are all retreads in one way or another.  Jed Hoyer worked for the Red Sox.  Manny Acta (who yes, was a coach for the Mets, but so long ago the neurons have gathered dust) tried really hard with the Washington Nationals.  Mark McGwire’s going the HoJo route. 

There’s a bit of an incestuous quality to baseball, necessitated by history and difficulty, and an odd kind of pride and haught that excludes, on the whole, those who might seek to make a lateral move into the job market.  To wit: the Padres weren’t about to hire a floor manager from Goldman Sachs to be their GM. 

Players are bought from other clubs, signed as free agents, or traded.  But there’s absolutely no guarantee that the second baseman on the Tuscaloosa Barn Rats was the straw that stirred the drink, and will stir your team’s drink.  John Lackey’s past performance is not indicative of his future results.  I don’t care how much he declares something is his.  I suppose my point is: nobody knows nothin’. 

That stated, let’s play a game.

Use Cot’s Baseball Contracts list of 2010’s free agents, and see if you can spot desirable free agents in the consensus fields of need. 

What the hell do I mean by that?  I mean that consensus seems to be that the Mets need some combination of one or all: first baseman; left fielder; catcher; pitcher.  Go to the free agent list, and see if you can spot guys you like. 

This’ll be tons easier than trying to target a player for trade, as consensus also seems to be that the Mets don’t have much to trade, and what they do have they should hang on to.  Besides, rabid trade talk is the stuff of winter, and we’re not quite there yet.

Keep your list, and we’ll run through them all, Colbert Report “Better Know A…” style.  Management reserves the right to Bobby V. his homework if a person on any of the lists is a laughable option (Matt Stairs, for example, will be the Mets starting first baseman over my dead and violated body).  But the homework that I DO do should help when the time comes to put one’s hand on the hot stove.  Because no one likes second-degree burns.

We’ll start next Monday. Should give me enough time to come up with more Matt Stairs jokes.

Somewhere around the seventh or eighth inning of the interminably long game at Yankee Stadium, a weekend of working and drinking and football and poker caught up with me, and I started nodding off.  Probably didn’t help that I took down a cheeseburger not twenty minutes before; probably didn’t help that I’d taken two pills to ease some unprecedented and unwelcome pain in my right leg–which in itself was the result of sitting on wooden chairs for something like fourteen hours over two days.

None of these things helped, but the drowsy sleep on my couch, while maintaining minor verticality… sweet.  I love the unintended nap.  Hell, the Saturday afternoon baseball game was made for the unintended nap, unless you’re at the game itself.

Having a DVR has killed the anxiety I used to feel over doing this, too.  And boy, howdy, anxiety.  I love television like I want it to be my job.  I’d feel so bad in the days before DVR and Hulu and iTunes, having napped through something I’d looked forward to watching all week.  DVR mitigates much of that sadness.

Tonight, as I met the physiological perfect storm, I tried to stay awake despite the poor baseball being played by the likes of Scott Kazmir and others not necessarily named Scott Kazmir.  I figured I had one more good Vladimir Guerrero joke rattling in my head, and it needed out.  But I couldn’t, so I didn’t, and I went from a close-up of a pitcher boot-quaking to a melee on the mound, and put two and two together there, excused myself to my roommates, and went to bed.

I may have mumbled some wonderment at that awful steel roll-down gate in Yankee Stadium, left of center field.  For all of Citi Field’s faults, bullpen tarps inclusive, it doesn’t have a gate just begging for Kuma Moose or Neck Face or Fray to come and “graffito-tag.”  It’s just an eyesore on television.

I didn’t need to rewind to see how they’d wound it up.  I’m not that desperate to watch a Yankee game.  A bit conversely, let it be known that while I’ve recently compared the New York Yankees to Stalinist Russia, I have no seething, boiling hatred for the Yankees, and am on record on this many times over.

I slept for about five hours, and woke up thirsty and annoyed at being awake.  I enjoy sleep, especially after a good weekend, and especially aware that this upcoming week will be a bear, and committing to deejay a Halloween party means my upcoming weekend will mean the death of sleep then, too.  You should be able to tell that this post is not the most hip or polished; the stones are rolling out in no particular order.  I’m here for something more than simple boredom, but in complete honesty, boredom is not a weak motivator for this post.

As the Series match-up is set, let me mention again my rooting preference, for the sake of neatness.  Find it here.  I’ll also make something like an apology, in fact, to Jason Fry over at Faith And Fear In Flushing, who wrote the post that essentially inspired mine.  I don’t apologize for feeling as strongly as I do, certainly.  But big old bold italicized type, and intimating a connection with appeasers to the most heinous regime in modern history? Probably not cool.  That’s the unfortunate business of Godwin’s Law, and while employing it made me laugh and all that, there’s a line somewhere no one should want to think about treading.  So mea culpa, mea culpa, turn three times and spit.

This Yankee hatred from Mets fans is a growing concern to me.  I’ve been close to violating a personal guideline, which at this early hour I’ll ham-fistedly define as, “Don’t argue against another person’s hatred.”  I get hate and on the proper occasion it can be useful, even as a catalyst for catharsis.  What’s prevented me from violating that guideline is the unofficial survey I’ve been running, whose data shows that Yankee hatred in Mets fans is breaking down along generational lines.  If your first generalized baseball memories are of late eighties Met dominance, you probably care less about the comings and goings of a team in a different league that plays by different rules.  You’d much rather glare and shout obscenities at noxious Braves fans, back when they were all snorts and brimstone, and not hiding in caves or whatever they’re doing now.  If you’re older, your chances of reviling the New York Baseball Highlanders more than holes in the ozone layer, wet socks, and Crystal Pepsi are probably higher.

Again, this is a purely unofficial survey; your mileage may vary.  I don’t root for hate, but I understand it and where it might come from, even though in most cases I don’t share it.

I want to stress my opinion here, though, and while I’ve apologized in one respect, I don’t want that to take the force out of my argument: there’s no sense rooting for the legitimization of a noxious fan base, especially if you believe another noxious fan base already exists and enjoys tormenting you.  There should be no reveling if the Phillies are swept out of the Series; there should be hard, direct conversations of what tools a great many of their fans are, and some effort made to come to an understanding.  There needn’t be love, but a cessation of outright hostilities is certainly called for.  I’d like to go to a Mets-Phillies game at Citi Field unmolested.  I’d like the extended fixation on how Mets players conduct their celebrations to stop.  Other things.  It’s late enough in the night that it’s early now, and you’ve certainly got your own list.

Justify rooting for the Phillies all you want: National League; Yankees beat us when, money spent hand over fist (despite the Mets having quite large hands and fists themselves).  John Sterling, for all his annoying hucksterism, never suggested a Met take “one in the neck.  If you need a reason besides that and Jimmy Rollins praising Johan Santana out one side of his mouth during their World Series celebration, I have more, but they won’t help you anyway.  Somewhere someone hurt you more, hurt you deeply.  This is fine if this is your motivation.

But you keep that.  Friends and I are gaming this out over the course of years to come, and the picture looks quite bleak when considering dual hegemonies: a local media darling to the north, and a smash-mouth gross team to the south; these taking different tacks and riding roughshod over Flushing.  These friends and I are not in favor of that.  One must be stopped, and the smash-mouthers to the south are more vocal, more seethingly creepy with their hate, when they hate, and that goes beyond baseball.  We’ll be rooting for them to be stopped.

Here’s something I’ll suggest as less of a thought experiment and more as a, “Hey, why not go ahead and do it, and tell me how it goes”: if you read this and are still convinced I don’t know my *** from a hole in the ground, get yourself a round trip Amtrak ticket to 30th Street Station in Philly, hail a cab there to Ninth and South Streets, find yourself a bar, and hunker down for one of the games.  Don’t forget your Mets cap.

**Related note: Mets fans who still do root for the Phillies are still real Mets fans, and stil real baseball fans.  I may consider them woefully, atrociously misguided, but they’re still fans.

I read a lot of Mets blogs, as I spend about an hour and a half on the phone each day waiting to be taken off hold for one thing or another.  There’s a sentiment broadcast on many that Mets fans who root for the Yankees are not real baseball fans, or not real Mets fans.  I mean this with all the head-shaking sarcasm I can muster

Oh, please.

Hard not to get excited about a guy caught on national television yelling at Mike Scoscia. 

I’ve watched this video at least four times, and I’d embed it, except doesn’t quite have their finger on the pulse of the nation.

“This is mine!  Are you s***ting me?  This is mine!  Scosc’…” [walks off mound, undefinable muttering and cursing].

It doesn’t quite have the outer space, Bo Diddley poetry of “I’m a man!” but I could feel the crush/man-crush** spreading across all strata of Met fandom.

Sure enough, Matt Cerrone of Metsblog addressed the potential Mets love, and caught Ed Leyro of Mets Merized Online backing it up with stats (see the Metsblog post, top third).  Kranepool Society’s on it, too. 

Here’s the Cot’s spreadsheet which includes John Lackey’s due this year; this is the general Cot’s page on the Angels (Lackey’s near-ish the top).  John Lackey’s Baseball-Reference page (sponsored by “Ricky”), and, because I think he’d be a good place to start my advanced stats training, his page on Fan Graphs.

This is what I get: the Mets kinda missed the boat, but word is he wants to play in Texas, anyway.  His bread and butter are named fastball and curveball, and that seems to be rehabilitating the man somewhat, as there’s a hiccup in his 2008 stats. 

Wikipedia has no answer for that hiccup (I’m a fan of Wikipedia), but I’ll keep looking.  Anyone who knows, feel free to give me an email shout.  The entry does mention he got tossed after his first two pitches OF THE SEASON this year.  Why?  Read here, by Lyle Spencer, on the Angels’ MLB website.  Video’s great, too.

See, now? I could’ve had two John Lackey video embeds in one post.  Damn it.

If the man would want to pitch anywhere where fastballs that become fly balls go to die, it’d be Citi Field.  I say this, of course, having only scratched the surface of his stats and having only watched him for two hours and change, commercials excluded. 

A guy entering the midlife of his career might enjoy the protection that Johan Santana provides in the rotation.  That’s what I get from Cerrone’s comments on the man.  Careful there, though, as you now have that third-hand.  That’s how the Spanish-American War got started.

No, it isn’t.

His money years should’ve been ’05, ’06, and certainly ’07, when he went 19-9, and pitched a healthy two hundred twenty-four innings.  If he did “take a discount,” that’s on him. (I’m not trying to kiss Cerrone’s ring over and over; I’m just lazy and in the middle of rushing through breakfast at 1:30p.)  No team should pay crazy money to a guy who, a year ago, was four full wins above replacement below his high.  I don’t care how he bounced back in ’09 or what he shouts to Mr. “Big-Machines-And-Cool-Dials-And-Stuff.-Like-An-Oil-Refinery,-Or-Hydro-Electric-Plant.”  (I will kiss John Swartzwelder’s ring, though.)

I hate to keep beating the same drum, over and over and over again… that’s not true; in this particular case, I enjoy it.  But if the Mets had any shot at giving Lackey what he wanted, it split last year. 

In other words, I know where $31 million of that supposed $80 million could’ve come from.  Don’t know what I’m talking about?  Here’s Randy Wolf for 2009 on a one-year, $5 million deal.  Here’s Fauxhawk in 2009, at $12 million for the first year of his three year contract.

You’d have to be out of your gourd to roll out a 2010 pitching rotation of:

  • Johan Santana: $21 million;
  • John Lackey: $16 million;
  • Oliver Perez: $12 million;
  • either Mike Pelfrey (free agent) or John Maine (arbitration year): $7 million’s a complete guess; Fauxhawk got $6.5 million in arbitration in 2008;
  • the Willets Point Mystery Bucket (5% curveballs, 5% stolen car parts, 90% chum): estimate unknowable

plus a closer (Frankie Rodriguez) for a little over $12 million. 

For those counting, that’s $45 million, confirmed, committed to pitching; add the pie-in-the-sky Lackey and Pelfrey/Maine numbers and that goes to $68 million.

So. Lackey was a great story; is a great story.  The man, by some measures, appears to be a beast.  I will be waving bye-bye to him, however, and content myself with the memory of last night, laughing so hard through a sneeze that I thought I was having a heart attack.

**Are “man-crushes” confined to men?  I take “man-crush” to mean someone you’re completely engrossed in, but not interested in canoodling with.  This is opposed to a regular crush, which is interchangeable and adds the canoodling.  I’m sure John Lackey’s a stand-up guy, but I doubt he can make pesto like my wife.

My God, what a day.

**UPDATE: As always, deep thanks to Ted Berg of SNY and TedQuarters, and Joe Budd of Amazin’ Avenue for the link propers.  And no way!  I broke the Cerrone Barrier

Hell, I may have a beer with lunch!

Click here for numbers 1-25. Click here for numbers 26-50. 

NEW: Click here for numbers 76-101.

This week, numbers 51-75:

51. During his playing years, John Olerud’s nickname was “John Garrett Olerud.”

52. John Olerud has no comment on blown post-season umpiring calls.  He won’t even grant the premise.

53. After games, John Olerud always insisted on doing his own laundry.  Occasionally, he would also do Edgardo Alfonzo’s.

54. John Olerud avoids using the word “moist,” because it sounds so inappropriate.

55. John Olerud isn’t really afraid of anything.  But spiders do kinda give him the creeps.

56. Before each game, John Olerud always took some time to himself: a steaming cup of cocoa, a slice of pound cake, and the “Arts & Leisure” section.  He recommends this to “anyone looking for ways to, uh, dominate.”

57. John Olerud enjoys the utility and versatility of the paper clip.

58. John Olerud placed third in the 1994 National Skip-It! Competition.

59. One word: boxers.

60. John Olerud splits a timeshare in Palm Harbor, Florida, with Joseph and Russell Simmons.

61. Like Keith Olbermann, John Olerud has six lumbar vertebrae and thus too much backbone.

62. When the going gets tough, John Olerud develops a step-by-step action plan to get going in a smart, straightforward, and efficacious manner.

63. Bobby Bonilla and John Olerud once had to share a hotel room.  Olerud woke up the following morning with a Spanish word scrawled on his forehead in black magic marker.  Bonilla maintains to this day that he was just submitting his breakfast order.

64. There exists a Bizzaro John Olerud.  He’s a journeyman relief pitcher, and closed out the year with the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers.

65. John Olerud’s actually always found a pretty broad line between Love and Hate.

66. In the past, John Olerud has been involved in several real-life dramas seemingly pulled from the pages of an action-thriller screenplay.  Once, he was trapped in an L.A. high-rise with a group of European thieves pulling a high-stakes con and robbery.  He called the police and informed them of the ruse in short order. 

All hostages were released without incident.  The criminals are awaiting trial.  John Olerud has since declined to ride in limousines driven by young men named Argyle.

67. John Olerud can grow facial hair.  He just prefers not to.

68. Someone once called John Olerud “the alpha and omega.” He replied, “I’d rather be known as the Mu and the Nu.”  They didn’t get it.  [Hell, I wrote it, and even I don’t get it.]

69. John Olerud invented toe socks.

70. John Olerud’s never had a cavity.  Separately: two years ago his dentist suffered a nervous breakdown.

71. John Olerud once experimented with putting his pants on both legs at
the same time.  It wasn’t for him.  He’s since returned to the
“one-leg-at-a-time” method.

72. Message left on Derek Jeter’s voice mail the morning of October 18th, 2004:

“Hey, Derek, it’s John Olerud.  Been playing first base for the Yankees for a while this year.  Listen, I know it’s kind of a shame that I hurt my foot during Game Three, and Game Four wasn’t so hot.  But Tony’s gonna get it done.  I’m… yeah, I’m actually pretty confident in Clark.  I mean, I was no great shakes in Game Three.  And if he somehow doesn’t get it done or Dougie doesn’t get it done, I’m sure Alex and Jorge and Gary’ll provide some pop for you.  Anyway, no way that Game Four business happens again.  With the batting and the fielding and the pitching the team’s got, it’s golden.  Anyway, I know it’s three games to one, but I don’t wanna count my chickens.  Here’s just hoping Game Five’s a good one, right?

“Oh, heck: by the way, I didn’t see Tom or Mariano at the hotel before I left.  Tell them I ran into Esteban, and he’s looking not so hot, so they gotta lock it down.  Just have a bad feeling; if it goes into extra innings, don’t count on him.  Okay?  All right.  See you later.  It’s John Olerud, by the way.  Okay.  Bye.”

73. John Olerud fills his car with mid-test gasoline.

74. John Olerud is an avid songwriter, publishing under the pseudonym Michael Bolton.

75. John Olerud is man enough to cry.

The Fates are conspiring to keep me from ever sitting in the cushy field level seats at Citi.

About a month or so ago I caught wind of a game between the New York Sentinels and the Las Vegas Locos of the UFL (they’re not even getting an instructional link) to be held at Citi Field.  Turned out some of the cheapest seats were where baseball seats its celebrities. 

This made sense, as the good seats for any football game are at the 50-yard line; the club seats would naturally be near an end zone.

So I literally cashed in some change, deposited it, and bought myself a ticket.  Done and done.  See you November 4th, in a coat, scarf, fleece and, hopefully, a ridiculously expensive cup of hot chocolate from the bar mere steps behind me.

But today: TWIST!

October 22, 2009
Dear Mets Season Ticket/Plan Holder or UFL Ticket Purchaser:
Thank you for your recent purchase of tickets for the UFL game originally scheduled to be played at Citi Field.  The UFL has announced that the game – the November 4th game between the NY Sentinels and Las Vegas Locos – has been moved from Citi Field to Hofstra University.
To view the UFL’s recent press release please click this link. [link removed for passive-aggressive reason found above–ed.]
Thank you again for your support of the Mets.  If you require further information or assistance, please contact us at 718-507-TIXX.  We also encourage you to visit regularly for up-to-date Citi Field information.
William Ianniciello
Vice President, Ticket Sales and Services

Thanks much, Billy.  I’m blowing the thirty bucks on a night out with The Wife when she’s up for her birthday next week (Halloween, if you can believe it).  South Brooklyn Pizza, here we come.

By the way, the ONLY ways I go see a New York Sentinels game:

  • if Citi Field is the venue;

  • if Lawrence Taylor and Joe Namath come out of retirement, and both are starting wideouts.

If the second comes to pass, I’ll go anywhere to see it happen.

I’ve caught whatever’s been going around the city, and my body feels like utter garbage. So while my immune system fights The Good Fight, I figure I should concentrate my ire over being ill, and engage in some lousy, over-the-top, and perhaps offensive analogizing.
Strap yourselves in.
It was about eighty years ago when the world, on the heels of a wild decade of speculative prosperity, finally succumbed to the true fiscal reality. Markets were houses built without foundations; budgets balanced on the backs of imagined earners imploded, and with them entire governments. A blanket of shame and sadness draped civilization, and the only heads peeking out of the covers were those who feared there might never come another morning.
Somewhere in Europe, a nation stirred, driven by a man whose rage and bigotry was only matched by his gripping oratory; he drove millions, battered and abused by decades of poor gambits and failed Old World conceits, to abandon their sense and decency. Together they began fomenting a heinous culture of hatred.
To the north and east, a frozen empire unto itself simmered with its own conceits of single-minded glory, erecting monuments to a man and a movement we now know, and then knew, to be unsustainable. Knew to be suffocating to liberty and the true nature of Man.  Cut off by river and mountain and bitter cold, the empire lay tantalizingly close but showed itself an impossible prize again and again. Megalomaniacs through the centuries had tried, and failed.  Now, it watched the goings-on in the West with a wary eye. Would they be called upon to marshal their forces again? Would the madman who sought to lead THEM stop at no expense of blood or treasure to defend their home?
They knew the answer those days like their forebears did most recently decades ago: yes.  A proud to others yes, but to those listening, a weary yes. Time’s a tide that washes in the refuse and pulls away the sand, and the shore ages and soon is no more.  This most recent experiment on the national stage would prove unsustainable. But for now, for the present: yes. If they come here, they will be buried.
Western Europe felt the immediacy.  They saw lunacy; evil like none before. It seemed unreal, given the drawn pain and terror they’d undergone just recently, in a war that showed all that just when things could not get worse, they would. How, they wondered, could it come to this again?
Sick with worry and in no condition to mount a fight, they sought detente. We will negotiate, they said in Munich. We will acknowledge the wrongs done to you, and seek a peace we can all live with.
“We need breathing room!” they cried.
Those living closest to the madness quaked at the thought of such appeasement. Others were determined to deal for the safety of the world. They met, they talked. They concurred that to end the proclamations of destiny, and death and destruction for all who stood in their way, a sacrifice would have to be made.
Tomorrow would be different, they said. We might prevail under the old paradigm of empires and republican unions. We might also find ourselves at the dawn of an age where sovereignty is not challenged by the stronger to the north or south of us, but controlled within our people’s borders and no further.  They were not concerned with the shape of form of tomorrow, or when tomorrow would ever come.  They knew today was unsustainable. There was no fight in today; no fight left.
They proved to be wrong on every level.
Hate in this growing Western European empire was generational, and systemic. Acquiescing to their demands only fed their belief that fight made right, and invasion and outward aggression would get them all they wanted. Never mind the pain. Never mind the lack of reason. They wanted now, and they’d wanted it for years, and there were no words of caution. Indeed, propaganda led them to believe that they were fighting the good fight. That those interested in their own success were in fact desecrating their birthright, and the true way to attain it.
They were also wrong about the fight left in the spirit.  Those who found the aggressors’ punishment baffling could have fought–WOULD have fought–if the world had come together and defended against a tyranny that was unlike they’d ever seen before. Technology made the aggressors seem relentless, but they were not unstoppable. There were allies available. There was spirit. There was no need to declare ownership of a gleaming new civilization, which would endure forever. “Just please, don’t let them take our homes.”
But their homes were taken, and this new evil undertook the fastest and most terrifying campaign of expansion in human history. They did it in an ugly, brutal way.  They broke the peace that had been crafted to appease, and war happened despite the best laid plans of those who preached containment.  Then the growing empire sought to succeed where others had failed, and set their sights on the brutal world to the East.

Over the course of a few months, they had succeeded by great measure; while fighting raged in the rest of the world and glimmers of hope shone through the misery, massive armies convinced of their brilliance sought the supremacy demanded by their leaders, each mad themselves.

Then came winter.

Then came winter, and the empire of decades and centuries, of snow and domination at the cost of their humanity, defeated the army whose hatred was so relatively new, yet so chilling that it nearly consumed the world.

The next spring and summer would see a continuing series of reverses for the Western Empire, and eventually, after much rebuilding and much sacrifice, those who truly fought The Good Fight overcame the burning will of a people seemingly determined to leave their actions ruled from Hell.

Yes, then the fight turned to dismantling that empire in the East.  Yes, it took decades of sacrifice and near-nihilistic brinkmanship.  Yes: would that the fight were between their armies and those perhaps more deserving.  I might be swayed then.

But the writing is now on the wall.  To those who preach this… bizarre… kind of appeasement–indeed, some of these people are near-strangers but have my utmost respect, nevertheless–I’m compelled to ask:

Are you out of your MIND?! 

It’s NOT the summer of ’63!

It’s the winter of ’42! 

We can’t understand!  Nothing you’ve said has MADE us understand!  They’ve assaulted us physically!  They’ve taunted us verbally!  They’ve made clear their bigotry (the comments are charming), have recommended violence (“Someone should put one in his neck”) and have cheered violence (April 18, 2008).

You think I’m kidding about this?  I’ll even link to the Post, which I swore I’d never do.  Here.  Read it.  Read here.  They made me think a bad thought about Harry Kalas.  To hell with them.

You don’t cheer on a team blitzkrieging their way to a presumptive empire.  Then you’ve got two to deal with.  Simplest. 
Math.  Ever.

The Mets are our band of brothers.  In the last battle of the year, the opponents are those who’ve done our brothers terrible harm, and those who we’ve seen once (2000) when it truly, truly mattered.

I’m bundling up.  I don’t care that it’s seventy degrees outside.  Next week, winter’s coming.

Let’s go Yankees. 

Next year, after the guns are silent, begins rehabilitation.