Archives for posts with tag: 2009 Postseason

Chip Caray is as well, but at present, only one of us is gainfully employed.

If you haven’t heard, read the news from the Times’ Richard Sandomir here.  I, for one, will miss the repeated use of the term “fisted,” but I’ll get over it in time to puzzle over that pointless “9 feet” graphic TBS applies off first base.

For those wondering where I’ve been and what I’ve been doing with myself, feel free to email me.  I’m friendly yet somewhat careful about what I mention in open forums.  Besides, this is a baseball blog, and non-baseball items are to be used here only as opening or closing tangents, or in the service of some bizarre analogy.

I go now to finish my fifth call in search of a MetLife broker, and then to apply phosphoric acid–which is a key ingredient in colas–to my rusted medicine cabinet.  I’ll make no posting promises; I’ve regularly fisted those foul.

Fisted!

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If you go to Keith Olbermann’s Baseball Nerd (linked on the right sidebar, or click here), you’ll find some pictures he took last night at Yankee Stadium.  One he took was of Sean Hannity taking a photograph of him.

There is an object lesson here.

Anyone who watches Olbermann or Hannity (or both, if you can somehow manage to do so without your brain exploding from the convergence of matter and anti-matter) knows that they’re not much for each other’s company.

At the ball park, however, they are civil.  Civil enough to take photographs of each other, in a way that by no means seems to signal a truce, but rather an understanding of rivalry and where its place is, and how it’s to be conducted.

Rivalry in baseball takes place in the ball park.  It takes place on the field.  For fans, the players we cheer are our weapons with which we attempt to achieve superiority.  That’s why we go. That’s why we do our best to show our colors and fill to capacity the place we know as our second home.

Fans can get caught up in thinking that cheering is not enough, and that energy turns into something harsher, and unwelcome.  While cheering and jeering is perfectly acceptable, fistfights aren’t.  Battery isn’t.  THROWING batteries isn’t.

Again, I’d like to point out this photo, of a Phillies 2008 championship flag being set on fire at Citi Field this past season.

burn.jpgSmeared and blurry as it may be, this is the image that sticks in my head as fandom gone horribly wrong.  It’s fandom pushed to this place by rowdy idiots, but not to be condoned no matter who’s responsible.

I’m pleased the Yankees won the World Series in part because I do believe it’s perfectly acceptable to root for a team based in New York if you live in New York.  That debate’s been had, and it seems that over the past week that rather than eat our young, Mets fans on any side of the issue have agreed to disagree.

I’m pleased the Yankees won the World Series because they beat the Phillies.  I think Jimmy Rollins has some thinking to do about his freelance gig as a prognosticator.  I think Cole Hamels needs some time to burnish his image with the team’s fans.  I’m pleased as all get-out that Shane Victorino grounded out to end the game.  That guy’s a jerk.  Empirical study has proven it to be so.

I’m pleased the Yankees won the World Series because it means Philadelphia today doesn’t look like a smoking hulk out of some Roland Emmerich movie.

But mostly I’m pleased because it provides me with the opportunity to make this extended announcement, to any fan of the Phillies who may have engaged in the kind of near-criminal abuse of other people who happen to come from elsewhere, and who may be reading:

“Fan”: there’s a time and a place to be a degenerate. 

New York has been home to MILLIONS of degenerates over the years.  They’ve burned parts of this city down over the course of decades.  They’ve been part of a culture of violence and decay that threatened to ruin it.

Yet while some today moan and complain about how no one in Times Square knows how to mug them right anymore, most of us are glad to have the pleasure of being concerned with how many Starbucks franchises constitutes the correct number for a five-block radius.  These are concerns of adjustment.  They’re not concerns of crisis.

The Yankees conducted themselves in a straightforward, business-like manner, and believe me, that’s infuriating to a lot of New Yorkers as much as it’s pleasing to others.  They did their talking on the field. 

They did their talking with their wallets ($201M in 2009), as the Mets tried to ($149M in 2009), and as the Phillies tried to ($113M in 2009), and as the Twins barely could ($65M in 2009).

When the Yankees won, their fans went as crazy as t.p.ing a tree a few blocks from my house, and dropping half-full beer bottles on the street.  I’ve not one report of a torched car, nor one report of some clown standing on top of a car that then takes off, leaving him prone and concussed on the asphalt.

Just because there’s no destruction of physical property doesn’t mean people didn’t drink so much they puked, or blared their horns as they drove down the street heading home, or conceived a child.  Or–sweet Jesus–all three.

(Section Five Twenty-Eight does not condone drinking and driving, or drinking, then driving.  Driving, then drinking, is the appropriate order.)

There’s a time and a place to be a degenerate, I say to those who’ve ever thrown a punch or urinated on a cap or verbally assaulted a minor while wearing the red and white. 

New York is not that place.

This is not a plea for you to change your way of life at home, though I’d certainly appreciate any further destruction attempted be kept away from our country’s national treasures.  This is a strong damn warning to refrain from acting like an animal when you come to the home of the Mets. 

Come in as many numbers as you want, or you feel you need.  Spend your money. Do your worst in jeering the players on the field if you think they’re overrated showoffs.  The Mets have a laundry list of problems to fix for 2010, but that doesn’t make them any less capable of stomping the Phillies at Citi Field, or Citizen’s Bank Park.  THAT is the fight that I and Mets fans like me–and there are thousands like me–are looking forward to. 

We’re NOT looking forward to telling you to shut your mouth when you start berating US and not the players on the field, and having to do so to the point where only a fist to the face will shut you up or keep our children from crying.  Our past is not so far from our minds that we’ve forgotten how to defend ourselves, and we will.  But fights are not why we go to the ball park.  If that’s why YOU go to the ball park, then DON’T come to our ball park.

My overarching hope with a Yankees victory was that people like you, the degenerate, will have gotten out of bed today, stared into the mirror, and found some humility.  There’s no one–not even Yankees fans–who can’t find their humility. 

As one who’s been humbled many, many times, I can say with certainty that THIS lesson in humility is one you deserve.  Not the Phillies fan down the street who goes to New York and cheers the Phillies and boos the Mets, but talks baseball, not pure obscenity.  Not the Phillies fans who celebrated 2008 by cheering Ryan Howard’s power or Jimmy Rollins’s skill.  Not those guys.

You, the guy who in 2008 thought it was great fun climbing up a lamppost and chucking beer cans at the world.  You, the guy who was looking forward to doing it again this year.  You, the guy that clapped as Jose Reyes took Chase Utley’s knee in his head, then cheered as he lay there.

You, guy.  There’s a time and a place to be a degenerate.  That you can’t even be one in the privacy of your own home is what I’d hoped would be taken from you, at the unfortunate expense of fans who deserved a championship a hell of a lot more than you or your ilk.  Look in that mirror, and think about what you’ve done in the past. 

Understand that, karmically, YOU caused this.  The team you proclaimed homegrown and gritty lost to superior numbers and superior dollars.  That, in my book, reads as success spoiled.

I don’t state this case cheerfully.&
nbsp; There is no tone of gloat, here.  I have no real problem with the Yankees or the fans I’ve met and are friends with.  But they’re not my team, so I can’t really share in the celebration.  Your loss this year is only the means to what I hope will be a more civil end.

Next year, Phillies fan, for both our teams.  Come correct, or don’t come at all.

**Someone please pass this along to the genius who wanted one put in Jose Reyes’s neck.

**Editor’s note: Updated November 9th, because I can’t tell the difference between Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity.

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.

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 MLB.com 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.

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.

Top of the fifth, and Mike Scoscia misses a classic opportunity for a justifiable meltdown.

The Angels fans are a bit back in the game as a result of third base umpire Tim McClellan’s quite apparent ineptitude.  But Scoscia should’ve blown up when only Jorge Posada was called out.
Really, this remarkably brief post is just an excuse to embed this video.  A classic that’s just as good the forty-fifth time as the first:

What amazes me is just how precise his “grenade throw” is.

Separately, the device I rigged to emit a high-pitched tone whenever Tim McCarver speaks has broken down.  Yes, Tim, it DOES look more like a salon than the Yankees dugout.
Ugh.

Got a comment from “daled@optonline.net” that I didn’t see until today:

A new comment has been posted on your blog Section Five Twenty-Eight, on entry #1252431 (One Hundred And One Things You Didn’t Know About John Olerud: Part One).
 
You’re an idiot
 
Commenter name: daled@optonline.net
Commenter email address: daled@optonline.net
Commenter URL:
Commenter IP address: 69.123.221.94

Now, Dale from Oceanside, NY–ran a search on the IP address–is correct.  I am an idiot.  I’ve known for some time.  As a matter of fact, I declared as much to my fellow college seniors during our graduation dinner.  “I will graduate Bennington College in five days, secure in the knowledge that I am an idiot.”  There’s tape of this.

I figure part of what led Dale to call me an idiot is all this list-making, and while I won’t stop making the list (unless the Mets or John Olerud give me a call, but really, I feel it’s quite complimentary), I will refrain from listing the reasons why I’m an idiot.

What I will do is offer the same explanation I offered those at Bennington: I’m an idiot because I don’t know much about much.  I know how to write a screenplay; I’ve got that locked down.  I know how to perform various administrative tasks, ranging from the mundane to the complex and intricate. 

Contrary to popular belief, I know when to keep my mouth shut.  Some who know me well might disagree strongly.  Reality is I speak up in those moments when waiting will just be too tedious.

Your blogger knows how to play the flute and the harmonica.  He also knows the lyrics to hundreds of songs, including Foreigner’s “Cold As Ice.”

But there’s a whole world I don’t know about and can’t access.  Sabermetrics?  No dice.  I really want to understand it, though.  I have no idea what got into Hideki Kuroda last night, and I sort of don’t want to know–whatever he’s got, I don’t wanna catch.  I read and watched the saga of Jose Reyes, and I feel like an idiot because while I think I know what went on, I can’t say for certain.

This is becoming a list, and I promised I wouldn’t start listing.  Let’s just leave it at I don’t know much about much.

The beauty, as I explained to my fellow morons five and a half years ago, is that we can rely on each other to solve our idiocy.  While I still don’t want to know much about Kuroda and whatever his problem is, I can speak with others and come to an understanding of why one doctor said Reyes tore a tendon and another doctor said it was just the effect of a rough night of voodoo.  I can certainly seek out reference material drafted by bright, incisive minds, and come to understand how UZR is computed.

Note that I said “solve our idiocy.”  For as much as I’m an idiot, I’ll put dollars to doughnuts on the probability that Dale from Oceanside is a Class-A Fool as well.  The difference between us is some nuanced level of self-control–see comment left with little supporting data.  Perhaps it’s more incomplete or short-sighted than dumb to leave such a criticism without defending it, but this is a blog whose mission is to make me feel better, not provide much at all in the way of probing analysis.  Really, my point here is: why split hairs?

I don’t know what I can teach others about baseball besides the rules and some anecdotal history.  I’m compelled, in a search for more pervasive idiocy, to take a look at some of the things I’ve advocated: a Mets video program to coexist with a museum; the hiring of a sharp, savvy communications director to be the public face of the business; the nixing of sponsored fan giveaways in exchange for sponsored reductions in ticket prices.  I imagine this’ll happen during the off-season as well.

I’m still flummoxed by Kuroda, really.  How do you… well.  They can’t all be winners.  But stating that is, in part, what led to my being called an idiot in the first place.

Kudos, Dale.  Keep callin’ ’em as you see ’em.

I am EXHAUSTED.

Exhaustion leads one to do dumb things, like lose a draft of a pretty good blog entry.  Exhaustion is also caused by DOING dumb things, like watching the Yankees on GameCast while keeping a window open on Hulu and catching up on Fringe (I’m thrilled Kevin Corrigan’s getting work).

I don’t keep a television in the bedroom.  I don’t think I would’ve watched on television even if I did.  Something about a film about a boy and his imagination.  Who can turn television on after that?  Who can do nothing more than crawl into bed?

Seriously: an amazing movie.  It left me fully lacking in irony.  And I’m not big on kids, having been one in the past and knowing what an absolute pain they can be.  It broke me, a little bit.  I am somewhat broken.

Exhaustion.  Jerry Hairston, Jr.’s walk-off run on the poor throw by Maicer Itzuris was the sweat- and rain-drenched denouement to my hours-long struggle to balance irritation for anything not made of sticks and snow and creativity with hungering for a sport that’ll soon go back into the box.  The replays show them quite happy at the end.  The Angels, not so much. 

This may read as awfully trite and completely lacking in depth, but after having been stripped of irony, I wish both teams could’ve left the field as winners.  But the Angels leaving sixteen men left on base fully precludes such possibility, however unhelpful and impossible to begin with.  Dodgers-Phillies tonight.  If there’s any team that can bring back the outrage, it’s the Phillies.  So I should be fine by Monday.

**My thanks to Greg Prince for the hit on his post, re: Mets ’69 + 1.  An honor to be included amongst such great and talented people.  I felt underdressed.

Go see Where The Wild Things Are, if you haven’t.  Despite the belief of misanthropes, the books was done tremendous justice.  And it is a remarkable movie besides.  Truly well-crafted.

Back to work.

I’ve read a few things, from several sources, about how October is a great month for sport.  I can understand it, but I can’t tap into it.

Given the choice between college football and nothing, I will watch college football.  But I went to a college where the only organized team–playing soccer–allowed a drum circle to break out on a corner of the playing field.  So understand, there was no NCAA affiliation.

I’ve never been much of a fan of hockey, and that’s my fault, not hockey’s.  I can’t get behind the three periods, the power plays.  Some of the rules seem beyond arbitrary.  I relished in the lockout a couple years back; also my fault.  But that was Dolan-related glee at misery; I figured with the Knicks gagging, the Rangers idle, and boxing losing ground by the yard to mixed martial arts, the Dolan family would soon back out of poor investments, and stick to duping people with their shoddy cable service.

I used to be a basketball guy.  I was a Bulls fan for twelve years, starting in 1988, and lost track of them and basketball when I went off to school.  (Friends of the blog will know that Bennington doesn’t provide rooms with cable hookups; antenna reception ranged from laughable to starkly impossible.)

I love football, and though I’ve made a pact to root for the Jets this year, I’m looking forward to being unaffiliated next year; I don’t know why I was fighting it–it’s the place to be.  However, football mainly occurs on Sundays, with a game played regularly on Mondays.

What the hell am I supposed to do with my Tuesday night?  Or my Wednesday night?

I sorely needed baseball tonight.  Making a creative breakthrough in the wee hours of the morning only to have to leave that work and spend the day digging through eighteen months of expense reports was enough to make me put my head through a brick wall; coming home to a corrupted DVR copy of an early episode of The X-Files and… well, that’s it.  That’s all I had for fresh entertainment.  I can’t sink into a movie after a frustrating day; that’s not where my mind goes.  My mind goes to athletic skill.  Plays at the plate.  Monstrous catches and cannon-fired relay throws to third.  Busting heads, in a manner more gentlemanly than hockey.

(Speaking of baseball and gentlemen, you know that remote Conan O’Brien did once upon a time, where he played at being an 1860s baseballer?  It was his all-time favorite bit for his old show, and he presented it again during the last week of Late Night With Conan O’Brien.  Remember the woman he was so fond of–Nell?  He called out her name before managing a hit?  I went to college with her.  Nell Stewart. 

It wasn’t an act.

So now, if I ever run into Conan O’Brien on the street, I have something to say.)

Baseball returns tomorrow, in the Russian nesting doll form of the League Championship Series.  Tonight, on the eve, I’m caught up in the anxiety of impending loss.  There’s this, then the World Series, then three or four months of The Barren Wastes.  This glass of scotch is helping, sure, but scotch is not an appropriate long-term coping mechanism.  Writing?  I’m red-lining on my maximum daily output as it is.  Holidays?  Bogus. 

I think I’m stuck, until the return of Lost and Chuck.  If I mix in a night out for dinner; I think I can cover the week quite nicely, until the return of warmer weather.

If you’ll all allow me another tangent, let me say that ABC’s Flash Forward is like heroin.  It makes me tired, disoriented, and violently sick to my stomach, and as much as I plead with my body to avoid it, I wind up back with it.  Dollhouse, at least, is like cocaine, in that for a couple of seconds each episode, it makes me feel sexy.

…That sound, by the way, was me losing half my audience.  If the remaining two persons would care to move to the front, I can turn off this microphone and keep from having to shout.

Your League Championship contenders are:

Los Angeles Angels Of Anaheim
Los Angeles Dodgers
New York Yankees
Philadelphia Phillies

They are not only presented alphabetically by city, but in my general order of preference, descending. 

I need to see more of Torii Hunter to know why he’d be a bad idea for the Mets, or a good idea for the Mets, or a middling idea for the Mets, or a decent understudy to Jude Law in the umpteenth version of Hamlet, or the guy I want making guacamole out of those tasty Haas avocados I just picked up.  Mmm, Haas avocados…

Besides, if the Angels win, I say we get at least two made-for-TV movies out of it.  I demand casting against type. James Marsden as John Lackey!  Horatio Sanz as Scott Kazmir!  Danny Glover as Mike Scoscia!

Having watched most of the Dodgers-Cardinals series, I find the Dodgers have all of the fight and most of the skill of the Philadelphia Phillies, without the studiously obnoxious fan base and odious, miserable town-as-home.  I’ve made my feelings (scroll to near end) on the Phillies plain; as soon as they learn not to throw up their hands in despair but punch people in the back of the head as those hands come down, they will earn some measure of respect from me.

The Yankees are still New York and they were not the ones who hosed the Twins.  The Twins hosed the Twins, with a little assistance from Phil Cuzzi, who, as reported by Steve Politi of the Star Ledger, was “too close to the [Joe Mauer hit]” to call it right.

I’ve been too close to a burger before shoving it in my mouth, but I have years of training in food consumption.  I’ve always made split-second adjustments and brought medium-well beef, cheese, lettuce, onion, and bun to my chomp-chute without incident.  Even when there were more dinner guests around than usual.

I’ve said my piece about the Phillies.  I can only add that I implore their fan base to chill the hell out.  I would like not to have to think of this ridiculous rivalry anymore.  The Braves are the Mets’ legitimate extended rival in the division; I would like to go back to altering The Chop chant to suit my hilariously vulgar needs without twinges of nostalgia and good feeling.  I’d like to go back to thinking I’d sooner spit on Larry Jones’s grave than applaud him during his last at-bat ever.

…I actually will still applaud Larry Jones’s last at-bat ever.  Part of me will be sad to see him go: he’s been a workhorse for the Braves and for baseball, and quite the serviceable villain.  Part of me will be enormously glad that he’s gone.

(In the nesting doll tradition, let me speak to a certain thing about Larry Jones. It is perfectly acceptable to call the man “Larry” as loud and as often as possible.  It is not, as I’ve seen occur, proper cricket to call the man out for an affair he had over ten years ago.

I’ve been holding that admonition in since 2005.  Hopefully the fan I meant to chastise read this, and is sufficiently chastened.)

So there you are.  Postseason special.  I’ve programmed my television to emit a high-pitched whirring sound whenever Tim McCarver speaks.

**

As for this:

profilewright2.jpgI’m missing the appropriate tank, the sneakers, and the bat.  The bat I’m buying.  The sneakers I can borrow.  But the tank top?

I’d almost rather Reyes beat me with his bat.