Sunday, December 25, 2011

The Whitening of A's Brand Baseball

"Honey? Great news. The A's are moving to San Jose! It's safe for us to watch baseball again!"

The Oakland Athletics have reportedly been granted permission to move to San Jose, and upper middle class white folks are all atwitter. Am I overstating the situation? Yep. Am I using race in an inappropriate manner? Most assuredly. Doesn't make what I'm saying any less true. Yes, A's fans are not strictly white. I know that. But the ones who would be willing to drive to and afford tickets to the San Jose A's would, by and large, be white. I know what you're saying, "Well, where are all the A's fans at right now? They have to move to survive!" I'm well aware of that. Here's the thing: I know that the A's playing in front of huge crowds in a city whose fans have deeper pockets is good for the franchise. I know that having a huge TV contract will enable them to keep their free agents, rather than selling them off to the highest bidder. I know playing in a nicer, potentially more hitter-friendly ballpark will make them a destination free agent sluggers will consider, rather than one they have their agents put into writing in their no-trade clauses. I will still go to 3-5 games a year, despite the extra hour of drive time each way. I'll still watch games on TV more often than not. I will still be an A's fan. But here's the thing: Just because a move to San Jose will be a game changer for my team that will enable them to drastically change the way the franchise operates, doesn't mean I can't hate it. Nowhere is it written that I can't bitch and whine about my team picking up and leaving behind the city where they won 4 World Series titles. I get that it is vital, I just don't like it, and likely never will. Why? Because now Lew Wolff has succeeded in accomplishing his one goal he's had since his first day of ownership: He's killed off the poor fan.

You see, the is one of the last big league ballparks where you can walk up to the ticket window 5 minutes before the first pitch and get seats on the 3rd base line for less than $40. You and your kids can sit in the bleachers for less than $40. The downtown cookie cutter stadiums have taken over, and there's no turning back. Gone are the days of a family of 4 being able to go to a game for less than the average monthly car payment. How many working class stiffs will be able to afford a night out at the new, shiny, named after some corporate entity or another ballpark that the people of San Jose will end up building? Not many. No, instead of being the "blue collar" team in the Bay, the A's will have decided to do the right thing from a business perspective and chase the almighty dollar. They will become pale impersonators of the Giants, and be glad to sell suites and boxes to their sloppy seconds. The Coli stood firm as the last of the concrete, dilapidated shit heaps from the 60's; a remnant of simpler times. And now, her death warrant has all but been signed.

I have no doubt the A's will be successful in San Jose. I've always wondered what Billy Beane could do with a payroll, and now we're about to find out. And while I will be cheering them on, my heart will never be all the way into it, like it was at 7000 Coliseum Way.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Hey Guys, What's Going on in this Offseason

Hi everyone, and happy holidays!!  I apologize for the long absence, but life has dealt me a few curveballs in recent months, some great and some awful.  My wife and I are in the process of adopting a baby in late February that I will immediately attempt to brainwash into liking the Mets, at least until protective services takes them away from me for extreme abuse. 

Speaking of the Mets, when all of the news about their dire financial straits started coming out, it got me all worked up, but now that the first band-aids have been ripped off the scab (Reyes leaving, them SHUTTING DOWN ONE OF THEIR MINOR LEAGUE TEAMS LOL) I've actually bought in whole-heartedly into watching everything unfold to see how hilariously awful this can get.  

I'm running through scenarios in my head where Fred Wilpon mistakenly left $750 million in a newspaper that Ruben Amaro happened to pick up when they ran into each other at a local bank and then ransacking his office for two months before forlornly throwing himself off the Whitestone Bridge, but more likely either he'll just sell the team at some point (best case scenario) or find some suckers to buy into the minority ownership situations.  (Come on, you get MR. MET ACCESS HOW CAN YOU TURN THIS DOWN.)

In all seriousness, I've gone to great lengths about my appreciation for Reyes, and it will suck not having him around, but I still feel worse for Cardinals fans.  In New York you have comically inept ownership, a field that was built around your speed but hastily edited to give more power to the right-handed batters, (and take away some of the deep alleys that made so many Reyes triples possible) and no signs of competitiveness on the horizon.  In St. Louis, Pujols left a team that had just won the World Series, from all accounts some of the best fans in baseball, and a place where he was deified to go to LA to play for a bunch more money.  It didn't make a whole lot of sense to me, but baseball is a strange and wonderful sport!

I hope you're all enjoying your offseasons!  Go Mets 2017!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Now This Is How You Tumbl

Sideburns sharper than the razor that sculpted them.
This is more a comment on the way that I enjoy baseball in the offseason than any kind of remark on the actual goings-on of the baseball winter meetings -- which were actually plenty eventful, what with Reyes and Buehrle to the Marlins, and Pujols and Wilson somehow to the Angels, among other things -- but the best thing I've seen in the last couple weeks is the Retro Jays Card tumblr (tip of the cap to Drunk Jays Fans, without which/whom I would be utterly lost, for the link). The tumblr's author describes the project thus:
I go to a bunch of Jays games. Each time, I empty my loose change to get random retro Blue Jay baseball cards from the vending machine. When I was a kid I remember these cards were some of my most prized possessions. Now they are 25 cents. 
This is, of course, exactly what needed to happen. I myself have bought old Blue Jays singles for a quarter from many a 500-level vending machine. Now, I buy old Topps team sets for no money on eBay, and can't believe my luck -- like seriously can't believe it -- when they even include cards from the Traded/Update series. 

So yeah, what I was saying is that Retro Jays Cards interests me right now much, much more than the fact that the Blue Jays just traded, Nestor Molina, a hot Double-A pitching prospect with an amazing name, for young, quite possibly legit, eminently affordable closer Sergio Santos, even though that is totally a move worth thinking about. But in the offseason, for whatever reason, I am not at all about the future; I am in fact all about the past. I could grope around trying to explain why that might be, or I could just quote Roger Angell and save us all a lot of trouble:
Baseball has one saving grace that distinguishes it -- for me, at any rate -- from every other sport.  Because of its pace, and thus the perfectly observed balance, both physical and psychological, between opposing forces, its clean lines can be restored in retrospect.  This inner game -- baseball in the mind -- has no season, but is best played in the winter, without the distraction of other baseball news.  At first, it is a game of recollections, recapturings, and visions. 
And that's just at first. For more like that, I totally typed up all of "The Interior Stadium" a while ago if you'd like to read it. I read it every winter and get overcome. It's kind of pathetic, but it totally happens every winter! Give it a try!


Wednesday, December 7, 2011

2011 Payroll per Victory Nonsense

So the winter meetings have fired up, which will bring about the normal offseason nonsense parade of high-dollar contracts, non-sensical mathematical equations, and off-season dreams (and delusions). The trades and free agent promises will start to fly, and the whole nerd world of baseball will fire up with the wonderful offseason drama of "what if"s. But I had been keeping my yearly spreadsheet of MLB teams, with their payrolls divided by actual victories during the regular season, plus postseason victories as well, to calculate - in a completely non-scientific and means-absolutely-nothing sort of way - the rankings of teams according to payroll per victory that counted during the 2011 season. And after completely forgetting to update it after the World Series, I started reading baseball bullshit inside the vast interwebz this past week and was like, "Oh yeah, that thing..." So here is that thing:
#1: TAMPA BAY RAYS ($446,234.47 per victory) - The Rays snuck their way into a wild card spot in dramatic end-of-the-season fashion, but blew their psychic wad by that point and failed to advance beyond the advancement to postseason play. I would like to note that my friend and brother-in-chaos The Necro Butcher is a huge baseball fan and has adopted the Rays as his team ever since whenever he decided to do such a thing. He may be the only terribly scarred, balding man with pot leaf tattoos and a hillbilly beard who purposefully goes to St. Petersburg to see Tampa Rays games at least twice a year on earth. I hope not, but you know, law of averages says otherwise.
#2: KANSAS CITY ROYALS ($508,816.90 per victory) - A perennial bottom feeder who feeds top-shelf talent to other teams that apparently is on an upward swing due to a TON of PROSPECTS which won't mean a fucking thing in four years, other than they maybe flirt with .500 one season.
#3: ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS ($558,748.26 per victory) - They won the NL West, and nothing else, and are probably my least favorite baseball team because I don't even believe they exist. At least I can hate the Yankees and know they are real. The "Arizona Diamondbacks" could be something completely made up for season 3 of East Bound & Down for all I know.
#4: CLEVELAND INDIANS ($614,882.08 per victory) - Never been any good since Wesley Snipes' tax problems. Oh man, a new Major League (I lost count of the bad ones) with Snipes and Charlie Sheen re-uniting to coach a minor league team of misfits to misfit glory would be awesome, wouldn't it? Probably not, but hey, I have to meander through some sort of thought here, don't I?
#5: PITTSBURGH PIRATES ($625,652.78 per victory) - Remember when the Pirates were having their best season ever in forever and it was such a wonderful tale? They finished 72-90. Go back to the Dave Parker yellow jerseys and weird striped hats with the stiff sides bros.
#6: SAN DIEGO PADRES ($646,044.23 per victory) - Being I only casually pay attention to MLB at large, and most of my uniform knowledge stopped not long after I stopped buying baseball cards at the Big Lots (mid-'90s I think), the Padres are one of those teams who when I see their uniforms, my mind has a string of nine exclamation points go off above it while I pretend to type "WTF WTF WTF" with my fingers against my leg. Because their uniforms are so stupid looking.
#7: TORONTO BLUE JAYS ($772,441.98 per victory) - The gentle soul of KS who is the sort of pitching coach of Baseball Feelings loves the Blue Jays, so I can say nothing snarky or negative about them. So I will move on.
#8: FLORIDA MARLINS ($790,888.89 per victory) - The Marlins have previously perennially been at the top of this list, for years, but have made the hugest splashes this offseason by getting a crazy manager, changing their name to something more stupid than what it already was, unveiling uniforms that looks like an EA Sports video game imagineered them, and then signing everybody possible to exorbitant contracts to eventually position themselves as a contracted team candidate in five years once the World's economy continues to plummet.
#9: WASHINGTON NATIONALS ($798,211.60 per victory) - I am so excited for this coming year. Only one game below .500 this past year, and perhaps Strasburg's arm will not fall off, and perhaps the 29 hot prospects we have now will start to enter my daily paper's box scores, and perhaps perhaps perhaps The Ultimate Harper will make his major league debut and be completely insane but hopefully not get addicted to crack like Josh Hamilton: The Early Years, which is a thing I legitimately fear when I see the cursive tattoos he keeps getting for his self.
#10: MILWAUKEE BREWERS ($846,508.25 per victory) - They do not get so highly on this list by signing Prince Fielder to a royal contract. Pretend it's ten years in the future: Did you know it's a little known fact that the Brewers actually made the NL Championship Series in 2011?
#11: TEXAS RANGERS ($870,747.77 per victory) - I am still very very sad that Ron Washington did not win the World Series and instead stupid fucking Tony LaRussa did, but at least LaRussa retired, hopefully forever, because fuck that guy. Also, Ron Washington is the greatest and I think the best thing any up-and-coming baseball team could do is let a foul-mouthed, drug-addled black dude who walks like the funky chicken through the dugout is a good thing to do be their manager. When we get to the point in baseball history that guys like Ron Washington are the GMs, then we will be in a glorious age.
#12: OAKLAND ATHLETICS ($899,141.89 per victory) - I like to type out "Athletics" because I fear eventually all MLB teams will have their nicknames down to three letters or less.
#13: CINCINNATI REDS ($961,356.13 per victory) - Remember when the Reds were briefly relevant last year too? Or was that the year before? Does Ken Griffey Jr. still play for them? Is there a Ken Griffey III yet?
#14: ATLANTA BRAVES ($977,558.34 per victory) - The Braves are - to me - the Yankees of the National League (which means a slightly less evil version of an ultimately evil thing) so when they did not get the NL wild card, it caused me great joy. My father was an alcoholic and smelled of Winston cigarettes and loved the Braves, and I have nothing terrible to say about my dad because all in all he helped shape me into what I am, but perhaps I hate the Braves because I cannot hate my father. But also perhaps fuck the Braves.
#15: ST. LOUIS CARDINALS (1,043,896.75 per victory) - Here are things that make baseball as painful as the most female of all complaining types could claim it to be: Bob Costas soliloquies, pieces of baseball, "sabremetrics", pitching changes for a single batter, "not on the first ballot", St. Louis Cardinals World Series champions.
#16: DETROIT TIGERS ($1,057,002.31 per victory) - Being Neil is the drunken soul of Baseball Feelings, and also my brother from another motherfucker, I would never speak negatively of the Tigers either. And I wouldn't tell him how when going to a Goochland High School football game I talked to people who suggested that the Verlander boy who had made good from that locality was a crazed steroid abuser who loved nothing more than engage in homosexual-ish behaviors with Russian men dressed as Bigfoot.
#17: COLORADO ROCKIES ($1,207,507.82 per victory) - Whatever.
#18: BALTIMORE ORIOLES ($1,236,290.41 per victory) - There is a girl who worked where I work and was under my tutelage and she was a sweet, simple girl with a great upward trajectory in life, and she was a baseball fan, specifically the Orioles, and growing up her and her father would watch the Home Run Contest and bet M&Ms on it, and she told me of this this past summer and how she was making her boyfriend bet M&Ms with her while watching the Home Run contest during All-Star festivities, and it made me love her like an uncle loves a niece.
#19: HOUSTON ASTROS ($1,262,392.86 per victory) - If you go look at what I wrote about the Padres, that applies here as well. J.R. Richard striped star jerseys til I die, fuck you if you disagree.
#20: LOS ANGELES DODGERS ($1,270,597.55 per victory) - The Dodgers almost comedically went bankrupt during the season to where they weren't gonna pay players. But baseball is better than ever. Personally I would like it if it were less regulated and pretty much any rich guy who wanted a team could have one, and then every year there'd be anywhere from 16 to 48 MLB teams. We as Americans (and our sort of American neighbors to the north) should learn to embrace chaos, not be afraid of it. Chaos is fun, especially when there are more than two naked women involved.
#21: SEATTLE MARINERS ($1,291,411.94 per victory) - I am on the other side of the country from this and it is raining here and plus cold and I wish it would go back over there to the other side of the country because I could not sit in my pigpen with my pigs and train them to lay at my side while I scratched their belly sort of like that japanese shit where they massage the beef except with pork and only I eat them.
#22: SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS ($1,374,399.22 per victory) - Tim Lincecum is a dude, there is no doubt about it.
#23: NEW YORK METS ($1,543,471.55 per victory) - The Mets seem to usually be the most second or third most disappointing team on this list every year. Like there's always some other interchangeable team that shows up to be the most disappointing, but the Mets are always near the top, and never disappear from it. They could easily be the worst team in the NL East for years to come, which is enjoyable to me on long truck rides at night because you can usually pick up 660 The Fan anywhere on the east coast and you can listen to weird dudes complain about them and be like, "Lololol, my life is better than this guy, that is for sure."
#24: LOS ANGELES ANGELS ($1,610,967.05 per victory) - Remember when they were officially the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim? Wasn't that just the stupidest thing ever?
#25: CHICAGO WHITE SOX ($1,617,582.28 per victory) - No Ozzie Guillen, no peace.
#26: PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES ($1,663,234.41 per victory) - The greatest thing about the Phillies winning 102 games but failing to make it past the divisional round of the playoffs is when you know people who are Philadelphia sports fans and they are your friend and they are always a generally miserable person anyways but that made them even more miserable in a highly comedic way for a few weeks and it's so much fun to be around so long as you do not get yourself drawn into their misery.
#27: CHICAGO CUBS ($1,761,229.99 per victory) - I feel like the Theo Epstein era of Chicago Cubs is like an elaborate trick the Universe is executing slowly to cause Cubs fans even more pain and suffering. Whereas one can enjoy the comedic misery of Phillies fans, watching a Cubs fan suffer is like watching a crippled kid die of leukemia. That is to say, you don't feel good about it, but if somebody slaps a funny lolcat type comment ("picture me rollin" for example on a picture of a crippled kid in his wheel chair), yeah, it's funny enough. Plus, if you go through that list of terrible things about baseball I wrote above under the Cardinals, that applies as well to the Cubs, which is why they are such hated rivals. They are battling to be the greatest Kingdom of Nerds.
#28: MINNESOTA TWINS ($1,789,476.19 per victory) - Wow, Joe Mauer's contract really screwed them, hunh? They used to always be low on this list, and made the playoffs. Now they are the opposite.
#29: BOSTON RED SOX ($1,797,360.83 per victory) - I can not think of a more perfect thing than a Bobby Valentine managing a Boston Red Sox. Drago being a Russian boxer was not more perfect than this. I can't wait for them to fail.
#30: NEW YORK YANKEES ($2,047,363.92 per victory) - When I started doing this years ago, the Rangers always were the worst team when Alex Rodriguez was on their team. And then he went to the Yankees and they have always been the worst for payroll per victory. If there is ever a time where we get to sit around together and reflect upon everything ever through out all of history, at some point while we are sitting there, we will get to baseball, and we will all agree, "You know that A-Rod, he never really was worth it, was he?"