Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Not Without My Butterfield

When all that silly business about John Farrell wrapped up, or so it appeared at the time, and dude left for Boston in exchange for a player who might actually be a league average second-basemen -- which I will totally take, thanks -- I could be fairly characterized as not giving the least hoot. Despite two years of rumours that he was the man the Red Sox wanted for the job, I couldn't see what all the fuss was about. There's a ton of stuff we'll never know about any manager, of course, but of the things we can actually see, what did John Farrell do so impressively that anyone should care one way or another whether or not he managed their baseball team? What was so exciting there? Was it the utterly misguided small-ball attempts that characterized his first year, or was it year two with the complete lack of accountability for repeatedly dumb base-running errors from young players that were so egregious that Omar Vizquel yeah that's right notorious clubhouse cancer and hotheaded troublemaker Omar Vizquel went public with his criticisms of the way young players were handled in the clubhouse? 

In short, I was perpetually mildly annoyed at John Farrell. Sort of like I was with Cito, I guess (though I was also very fond of Cito for the sake we call old time's). Mildly annoyed is the way you should be with pretty much every manager in baseball, probably, except for maybe Joe Madden and Terry Francona I guess. But even then, right? 

This was all before news came out today, though, that third-base coach and infield instructor Brian "Butters" Butterfield would be joining Farrell in Boston. And now I am devastated. Butters was awesome. He was the most ludicrously positive person I have ever heard interviewed in any context. He was a miracle worker with infielders. He had a cool nickname. 

Orlando Hudson, the O-Dog of Blue Jays seasons now long passed, credits Butters with turning him into a solid defensive second basemen, which he totally was at his admittedly short-lived best. Keith Law, asked about Butters on the Baseball Today podcast one time, was like, yeah, Butters is a phenomenal infield instructor, just look what he did with Orlando Hudson (all the while Eric Karabell seemed baffled as to who anyone was talking about when they said "Butters"). Back when I used to go to a ton of games, and they would announce the base coaches in the second inning, my wife would always be like, "WOOOOOOOO BUTTERS!" and then I would be like "lol" and then we would both be like "lol" and if anyone else was with us they'd be like "wtf" and we'd go "lol" again and carry on like that in internet acronyms for ages. 

So long, Butters. A lot of good times, man. I don't know.


Friday, October 12, 2012

mathematically eliminated #7 the Oakland Athletics

It was such a magical glorious run for the A's, to not only fire up from nothing to challenge for the wild card, but to actually steal the AL West title on the last day of the season. They did not lead the division all year long until the very end of the last game. That is amazing. Then they drop the first two to Detroit and it looks like the magic was over. But no, the A's are cocksure assholes who looked at Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder's giant auras and said, "Fuck you Jobus, I do this for us," and they did it.
But then along comes Justin Verlander, who does what only he can do - shut a fucking team down for a complete game 4-hitter, on the road, like a boss. But those scrappy Athletics, who were supposed to be in some sort of pretend rebuilding process - which is what you are required to say the year after you trade away all your good players for a bunch of unknown dudes, had a great run, one that the poor tormented and cockteased fans of Oakland will long remember as the latest and greatest underdog moment of near glory. And as much as I dig the Tigers, I have to admit, it would've been pretty awesome to see an As/Os ALCS, not only for the double underdog factor, but also because of the beautiful uniform colors on display. Dark blue and white is so fucking boring, with pinstripes and old english Ds. Baseball doesn't need more of that. It needs more oranges and yellows and greens and craziness and magic. Alas, the magic came to an end, at least on the west coast.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

mathematically eliminated #8 the Cincinnati Reds

Perhaps it is the curse of Dusty Baker. Such a solid season for the Reds, and started so dominantly in the NLDS, winning both at San Fran, only to come home and drop three. And just like that, it's over. I will tell you this much, when it comes to playoff baseball you cannot fuck with solid pitching, and I would not want to fuck with Matt Cain/Tim Lincecum if the kid from Dazed & Confused gets his shit together again come post-season, as he may have been doing.
Well Cincinnati Reds, and forlorn people of Ohio who are always so quick to hope success is going to fall on your wretched foreheads once again, I am sorry, it is over. Perhaps you have built to have more magic next year, or perhaps this was your dream's apex, and Joey Votto will turn back into a pumpkin. Only time will tell. Unfortunately though, that is what you have on your calendar now - time.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

mathematically eliminated #9 the Texas Rangers

While on one hand I feel bad for the Texas Rangers for having crumbled just barely enough to have lost the AL West and then lose the wild card game, at the same time I don't care. They've had their run. It's always great to see Ron Washington walking like a chicken in the dugout, but whatever. Yu Darvish will have his chance to make others humble in postseason play. The real question is whether Josh Hamilton will be part of this any more.
Though it's also not a real question. Fuck the Rangers. They have weird font on their jerseys. Now I think we can all get behind the Orioles together as a whole to crush the evil entity that is the Yankees. And that's all that really matters in October baseball, right?

Friday, October 5, 2012

mathematically eliminated #10 the Atlanta Braves

So I get off of a shitty work day of a shitty work week and the baseball pre-game is on the amplified modulations of the radio. I check out a couple art openings, walk around the city a little, see a couple old friends, make a couple new ones, get home, tuck my children into the bed, chat with my wife about our individual and separate days, and then turn on the cyber box and the game is over. Haha, wild card game on an early Friday evening, you are so fucking wacky.
So nothing weird happened in this game at all, right?

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Tying a Bow on this Incredibly Shitty Blue Jays Season

my problem has never been with Henderson Alvarez 
As I write this current internet post that I am now currently writing, Brandon Morrow is slicing up the Minnesota Twins lineup in a way that should be pleasing but which brings me no real pleasure, because this season has been miserably, just horrendously awful and I have hated it. 

The last few weeks have been, on the field, anyway, pretty much passable, but the actual baseball took a backseat to the thing where borderline Hall of Famer Omar Vizquel (I probably wouldn't put him in but nobody is going to ask me and I have no problem with Vizquel and furthermore what kind of monster would) spoke publicly about how basically this team is bullshit: the dumb kids make the same dumb kid mistakes again and again because nobody straightens them out re: their dumb kid ways. Brett Lawrie, for instance, who we were only able to pick up because he had earned himself a reputation as an uncoachable hothead before even playing a major league inning, totally turned out to be an uncoachable hothead: not only has he not followed up on his legitimately amazing 2011, but he just made a ton of dumb aggro mistakes and then insisted they weren't dumb aggro mistakes when writers would ask thim about those dumb aggro mistakes. Running into outs in the name of hustle is some Raul Mondesi-level shit and as such I oppose it with Carlos Delgado-like dignified vehemence (still miss u bro hope u are well). 

Also everybody got hurt. That was another problem. Never before in my baseball-watching life, which is a pretty sizable chunk of my overall life-watching life, have I seen arms go down like they did this year for the Blue Jays, so, I mean, even if everything else went totally awesomely, this still would have been an utterly lost year without a rotation. But the shitty way(s) everything else went makes you forget, almost, that at the heart of this whole disaster was an historically awesome rash of injuries. But even before that, things had started to go south: Ricky Romero, who was terrible even early on in the year when he was winning, persisted in being terrible throughout all stages of this Blue Jays season but the wheels were well and truly off just before everybody else got hurt. And Jose Bautista, dear sweet Jose Bautista, who was totally getting it together until his wrist exploded in New York. Brutal.

So what did I enjoy this year, other than the dulcet tones of Jerry Howarth and Alan Ashby, both of whom I am enjoying a great deal even as we speak, friends? E5 turning into an absolute monster of a dude is the standout thing, I guess, what with the forty-two-dang home runs that I totally did not see coming. Darren Oliver, who I have always liked for some reason, had a tremendous year out of the pen despite being a million years old, so that was cool. Right now, the crowd in Toronto is giving Omar Vizquel a really nice ovation, and yeah, it's been neat having Vizquel around this year, sure, why not. He's neat. 

But beyond that, it has all been shit. Pretty much everybody has been hurt, fair-to-middling, or disappointing. The kids who came up have been OK but not thrilling. I don't even know, man. I haven't felt like this since 2004, when the Blue Jays followed the totally, totally fun 86-win 2003 season where Doc won the Cy Young and Carlos made a serious run at AL MVP with a 94-loss disaster, at which point management decided Toronto was a tiny provincial town with broke owners, and let Delgado walk without so much as an offer. It was fucked, and eight years later I can still totally see Carlos lingering on the field for a good long while before walking down the clubhouse steps for the last time and apparently I am not done having hard feelings towards J. P. Ricciardi for all of that because I am getting sort of worked up at the moment actually which is a sign that is time to wrap this up. 

In short, I have hated the 2012 Toronto Blue Jays baseball season, and the last couple months of it have been the least connected I have been to the game in years. Bring on the freaky deaky new play-ins and then a bunch of postseason games that keep me up to absurd hours of the night despite real-world commitments that are completely non-negotiable. I am totally ready for all of that to happen. Also next year Jose Bautista will hit a thousand home runs.


mathematically eliminated #11 the Los Angeles Dodgers

The St. Louis Cardinals did what they could, by losing earlier in the evening, but the Dodgers could not overcome their lifelong rival in the Giants later last night. All the great hype of Magic Johnson becoming part-owner and the Dodgers buying up a bunch of broke down high value baseball cards amounted to not quite enough. So we do not have any playoff intrigue (too much so) going into this final day of baseball. Oddly enough it brings to mind how the extra playoff spot actually kills some of the postseason intrigue unique to baseball, as we're basically recreating the excitement of a play-in game, but in the process, lessening the chances of a play-in games, at least this year. I guess we'll eventually have a year where there is a play-in to get into the wild card play-in. Still, rather than that normal mid-week showdown to set the playoff stage, we're already sitting around like assholes waiting for Friday's games to happen. This, ultimately, is the biggest flaw in MLB postseason scheduling - a lot of sitting around waiting like an asshole, which gives one too much time to explore the other entertainment offerings of the modern American experience.
Still though, a postseason with the As and Os and Nats and a rebirth of the Reds plus all the teams we all love to hate like the Cardinals and Braves and Yankees... we are down to ten, and that'll be quickly chopped to 8 by Saturday morning, and then we'll begin the long, overly dramatic slow codeine drip of the playoffs. I, for one, have my half bottle of hydrocodone ready. I also downloaded like 8gb of DJ Screw tapes, so I'll probably put the game on mute and just watch it while vibing out to chopped and screwed gangsta rap. Baseball should look into incorporating that. You could have regionally appropriate beats behind the broadcasts. It'd at least make Atlanta more interesting, and Miami more annoying.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

mathematically eliminated #12 the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

Somewhere towards the end of last season, Albert Pujols made that Sammy Sosa-like transition from baseball darling to evil cocksucker. So when he signed a majillion dollar deal to play for the Angels, it only made him seem worse. Thus the Angels season was a power struggle between Evil Asshole Under-performing Haha Stupid Angels and Young Kid Mike Trout Super Human Baseball Is Great memes. Personally, Mike Trout is too stereotypical a baseball player name for me not to assume he is a closet racist, rapes fat chicks for leisure on road trips, and is also a going to end up an evil asshole being he is young and malleable and under the tutelage of elder evil assholes of baseball like Pujols. Thus, the Angels not making the playoffs is really funny to me, like when the Red Sox or Yankees don't make it, just with a west coast flavor. Of course, you cannot make angry light of the Angels without mentioning how stupid the whole "Los Angelese Angels of Anaheim" thing is.
Also, Bobby Grich forever.

mathematically eliminated #13 the Tampa Bay Rays

Rays and Angels were both eliminated last night, even though both won. But the A's winning their game put the end on the season. For the Rays, their status as unheralded spoiler amidst the AL East apple cart was upset when the Orioles decided to play baseball for the first time in fifteen years. It will be interesting to see how the Rays unfold over time, as they have this rep as a solidly built young team, but they still get little fan support in a somewhat shithole locale. I mean, don't get me wrong, St. Petersburg is a chill place, kind of small towny even, and there's some awesome used book stores near the stadium. But that part of Florida is a steamroll flattened vast expanse of clustery suburbanisms, and most environments like that are full of people who don't care shit about shit but themselves. How long can the Rays hold it together?
It should be noted that my homeboy Dylan aka The Necro Butcher aka that guy who got dollar bills stapled to him in The Wrestler movie and made Mickey Rourke have a heart attack, he is a huge baseball fan, and has adopted the Rays as his team. I cannot think of the Rays without thinking of outlaw juggalo wrestler stoner guys with wild beards who were born and bred in the hills of West Virginia. It is a shame that is not their entire fanbase, because then eventually they could draw in the hipster crowds as peripheral parts of this experience, and even work out great marketing deals with Pabst Blue Ribbon and fixed gear bicycle makers and shit like that. It also would probably position them well for a move to Brooklyn a few years down the road, should that become necessary. Or fuck man, half of the baseball fans in the Tampa/St. Petersburg area are actually New Yorkers anyways, you could probably split the season's home games between Brooklyn and St. Petersburg and do pretty fucking well still. Just some ideas, you know, in case the three hits this post gets are MLB marketing dudes with a desire to initiate a bold vision for the futures.

mathematically eliminated #14 the Chicago White Sox

And the crushing collapse of the White Sox is now complete, even though they won earlier in the night. The Tigers finishing off the Royals also finished off the White Sox 2012 season, and there is nothing to do but play their last two meaningless games on the road in Cleveland of all godforsaken places and wait to die.
Tonight actually the final four regular season eliminations could all happen but only the White Sox have gone down officially as of now. I had planned on mocking Obama's White Sox fandom but all the pics I found were kinda stupid, and also when you mock the Prez you run the risk of idiot people thinking that means you love you some Romney. Apparently we are so conditioned to an A or B mentality in America that we have given up even thinking there are grey scales. Perhaps that is why the 50 Shades of Grey book was foisted upon us all as a cultural thing, to force us to accept grey possibilities that involve horrible writing and shitty fetishes (though not literally "shitty" fetishes, as even in our morally decadent state, that's a no-no).
But seriously, fuck the White Sox. I am a Nats fan, but as a fan of awesomeness, there is no way on earth one could ever root against the combination of Prince Fielder and Miggy Cabrera. So fuck the White Sox.