Monday, September 30, 2013

baseball metaphysics for 2013 playoffs

[Hi, I am Raven Mack, and I am an amazing longform philosopher, and perhaps the last real man left inside this entered net of artifice, though I do hope my ride shows up here in the next couple months. You can learn more about what it is to be me at]

Look, I am going to be honest here and admit I’ve barely paid attention for most of the year. My kinda loved but in a generally disinterested way – sort of like your second favorite cousin – Nationals stumbled and fell this season, after pre-season ballyhoo about ticker tape parades through the streets of Washington being inevitable. Now Washington might not even exist as the GOVERNMENT OF AMERICA IS GOING TO SHUT DOWN and we will resort to anarchy and these millionaire baseball players should all be thankful they live in the suburbs because even the gentrified parts of D.C. are going to turn into roving packs of nomadic viking drug gang thugs establishing the identity of enemies by chopping off certain fingers.
But I am also a life scientist, which is not nerd number crunching like pretend real scientists which are more common than Dominicans in the modern American dugout. As a life scientist, I trust gut intuition and metaphysical advancements made in our Universal Auras to decide things. This is often mistakenly confused in baseball world as old school ways of grizzled veterans. Those guys are assholes though, just trying to hold on to their bullshit drunken racialist world view. A true metaphysician is always open to the lessons of the Universe, with every step of every day. One can never truly understand the world in a scientific way, having numbers add everything up, because the world alters itself constantly. Yesterday’s numbers may not apply. Last year’s definitely don’t. Each trend is a brushstroke in the overall big picture painting of Truth, and beyond noticing trends you have sense the trend in trends in order to trend upward, psychically.
So with that in mind, please allow me to jaunt you through this year’s baseball playoffs. I have taken exactly thirteen drops of wild dagga tincture to my tongue, put four drops of yarrow tincture in a diamond pattern upon my forehead where the opening to the traditional pineal gland would be, and meditated on this shit heavily while riding the bus loop all around town two times this morning, while blasting the instrumental version to Killa Army’s Silent Weapons for Quiet Wars in my headphones. I will always wonder if there has been a Fifth Disciple yet.
Anyways, let’s begin with the play-off play-in game, as we work our way through Baseball Metaphysics for Enlightened Degenerates.


In a psychic sense, this Tampa team has always struggled for identity of self. They were the Tampa Devil Rays, then Tampa Rays, then Tampa Bay Rays, and maybe mixed and matched those things a few other times as well. Even geographically they struggle with identity as they play in St. Petersburg, not Tampa, and the majority of people in that area are Yankees fans, due to the Yankees high profile preseason training facility which is actually in Tampa proper. So naturally, they’d normally just be a bastard step-child of a team, which is what they were at first, but somebody accidentally kept getting good young players and they became a consistently good team that nobody really cares about a lot, including the people of Tampa or St. Petersburg or anywhere.
The Rangers are the opposite end of the spectrum, as controlled psychically by the most drunken racialist old world of baseball curmudgeon of them all in Nolan Ryan. And yet the Rangers have not enjoyed tremendous success in their long history, so they are sort of the bastard step-child of traditional powers. Obviously the Rangers having home field gives them an alleged advantage, but also fuck that because basically the Rays play every game on the road, outside of Tampa, outside of being loved, outsiders of baseball.
Essentially, there are two old world fuckers battling wills here in Joe Maddon – the Ray’s manager – vs. Nolan Ryan. And while Ryan is more well-known and infamous for taking players who don’t perform well behind the dugout to throw fireballs at them for two hours into the early morning as punishment, Joe Maddon is generally loved by his players, because he often buys rounds of drinks at Florida strip clubs, but only beer, no champagne. “Champagne is not bought in the back room at a 300% mark-up, boys, it’s earned on the field of play, and some other motherfucker pays for it,” he often says to them. This type of alcohol-and-tattooed titty fueled motivational technique works well with today’s generation, much better than throwing old man fastballs at their naked bodies in some old American militaristic hazing ritual. Rays will advance.


An NL Central showdown, by default, as nobody else in the National League decided to be worth a shit. There’s something very 1970s feeling about this game, I mean obviously because the Pirates haven’t been good in forever, and Dave Parker wearing the pimp old school Pirates style is so fresh to death it’s pretty easy to completely forget that Barry Bonds actually played as a Pirate (in baseball, not in R. Kelly-style home movies). But here are the Pirates, as well as the Reds, who have dabbled in early postseason rounds in recent years but still make me think of Dr. Johnny Fever and Pete Rose being the real Mike Trout/Bryce Harper argument wrapped up in one red-ass white guy.
That being said, baseball’s magic like the Pirates returning to glory usually come unraveled in the slow painful narratives of playoff series. Hence, the beauty of this one-and-done wild card game, being set in Pittsburgh. The magic can live on for another round, and the Iron City beer will flow happily, and children will be doodling Dock Ellis-style visions in chalk on bricks throughout the city. Though the Pirates have long-shed that glorious look and that glorious period from their franchise, through Andrew McCutchen’s natural born gamecock spirit, which they somehow tricked the corporate baseball demigods into letting them keep in Pittsburgh, they’ve snuck through the cracks in the spreadsheets and sponsorship deals. So let’s enjoy it. Organized baseball will unravel it pretty quickly in an off-season or two.


The Indians are the false hipster sports love affair of all-time, where we pretend it’s good to wish luck on these sad sacks of a franchise, and make joking references to Major League, probably with a Pedro Serrano obscurity. But let’s think about that: they made a black Latin player portray a racialist character who was brought Kentucky Fried Chicken at one point, and gave him the last name of a hot pepper. Fuck Major League. Fuck the 1980s. Fuck Reagan. Fuck the racialist logo of the Cleveland Indians, and fuck Cleveland. In some instances, there is sadness and economic despair because large swaths of people have been wrongly sacrificed to the evil gods of capital. But in Cleveland’s case, and perhaps large chunks of Ohio, this is not the case. These are spiritless people, who have long ago succumbed to the domestication of their wild thoughts. The Indians are just lucky we all have the Cubs to more easily mock than them. But make no mistake, they are cut from the same self-righteous cloth of proud indignation.
The Rays, as I said earlier, are a born road team, who understand champagne is earned, not bought in the VIP room. And while Cleveland also understands this, as that city is no bastion of high life, the Rays have a destiny this year. And that road does not stop but for a moment in Cleveland.


I grew up a Giants fan, so these are my two most hated teams. My dad was a Braves fan, like every casual baseball Southerner who cared more about football was from Virginia to Mississippi at one point. There are thousands of these men, who switch out their Braves hat with their favorite Nascar driver’s number hat, depending on mood. And often times I feel as if MLB is a cartel of corporations where the ones who generate the most interest reap dividends on that throughout the coming years. How else do we explain the Braves continual success? TBS airing Braves game was a big part of the sport’s growth on cable television as that became a thing in our public mass consciousness, and of course now TBS airs playoff baseball. And of course, the Braves have always been a top-shelf team in terms of W/L record. And here they are again. Why is that? Because they scout and build better than anybody?
Hahaha, of course not. America is not a meritocracy; it is an elaborate system of rewards for aiding and abetting the grand conspiracy of fairplay in the name of freedom. The Braves (this is their home, America; they are America’s Team) are more this than anybody not named the Yankees.
So where do the Dodgers stand? I don’t know. They are a premier brand for baseball’s evil gods of capital, and the infusion of Magic Johnson was supposed to impregnate them within our collective consciousness. That has not quite happened yet. And perhaps this series will be that playing out, to an extent, further planting Los Angeles Dodgers long history into our brains, but the Braves will prevail, in five.


The A’s have yet again built something from nothing. They make a habit of it. There should be some lesson as to how America rights itself and makes itself more like the public relations it pushes off on the world in how the A’s beat out the Angels – who have made two of the highest of high profile signings the past two years – to conquer the AL West. There should be a lesson about what we do to make ourselves great, individually as well as collectively. But that won’t happen. Sports Illustrated will dedicate a sidebar to them, and then talk about how amazing Mike Trout is in the off-season. The A’s, much like Oakland itself, is a stubborn relic to a dead age, that somehow refuses to die off because it only understands survival. But baseball is not evolution, not a triumph of human spirit over the mechanisms of industry. Baseball is an industry. And Oakland and its Athletics are too thrift store-y.
Okay, I know you think to yourself, “But Raven Mack, Detroit is as fucked as anywhere in America. Why wouldn’t it be abandoned by baseball?” That’s easy, bitch. Because Detroit has tapped into the two opposing mentalities of baseball’s most glorious glories, in one team. On one side, you have the white privilege of hard-nosed pitching as represented by Justin Verlander, as well as the unearthing of this Max Scherzer dude. White privilege from the pitching mound means a lot in baseball – look at all those Braves teams. This time of year, you always hear announcers talk about a solid core of starting pitching, which invariably – though they are not obvious about it – comes down to “what team has two white dudes who will pitch a lot of good shit?” That is the one essence of baseball, and the Tigers have that shit locked down.
The other glorious glory is the cocksure strut of lesser people being big with their bats, in a thinly-veiled parable for penis envy. What pair of men have better represented that in recent years than Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder? You have a Hispanic man who has become the first to win a Triple Crown in I don’t know like 300 years, and you have a crazy black guy named Prince who is chubby and smiley and just generally not a threat to your well-being it seems. I don’t think any team before this Tigers team has better combined the two glories of baseball of white privilege and white cuckoldry through offensive firepower. The Indians don’t stand a chance, even holding home field advantage. The Tigers in four.


Here is where baseball’s evil gods of capital get heavy-handed on the magic of Piracy of Spirit. There is nothing more painfully baseball than the Cardinals. Just reading the name of the team conjures up old white men sitting on front porches smacking at no-see-ums while AM radio crackles out the ball game. Sure, nowadays it’s old men smacking NSA Nanobots while listening to the game on internet radio, but it is that same fucking boring tradition that baseball markets so well to old and overthinking white people. This is why academics have written more books about baseball than any other sport in America, perhaps combined. There is nothing magic about academia – it is a systematic re-analysis and presentation of our collectively bargained notions of what constitutes high civilization. This collective bargaining is often done behind ivy walls the large majority of us do not know how to get through the gate to, but hey, that’s just how shit is. The magic will come unraveled, forcefully at times when in whatever they are saying is Busch Stadium now, and this will not be as fun as we all would like. Save your acid for the off-season, as this is going to be a bad trip. The Cardinals in four.


And here is the Rays destiny, to play road dog foil to the mighty and pretentious Boston Red Sox. This will be the best dogfight of the divisional round, and the Rays will scrap and fight every inning in Boston. But again, the Rays weakness will be their lack of a spiritually powerful aura at home. In Boston, you are playing in a fire trap where thousands upon thousands of wretched souls whose only spark in life is the fucking piece of shit baseball team they’ve rooted for over three or four generations. In Tampa, you have smatterings of people who care because they feel like it’d be the polite thing to do being the team has been pretty good and hanging around for so long. That is weakness of possession of home, which gives the dastardly Red Sox an opportunity to slip a knife into all of our hearts.
And let’s make no mistake – with no Yankees to portray the Evil Empire in this year’s post-season, the Red Sox more than make a good Plan B. They are just as Evil although a far less successful Empire over history. Unfortunately, our hate will do no good, as hate never does, and the Red Sox will triumph in a full scrap of five games.


God, what to root for here? The Southern insurance salesman or the Midwestern psychology professor? As noted, the Braves embody that corporate spirit, which is a signature trait of every New South success story, like Atlanta or Charlotte, NC, or wherever the old ways of the South have been replaced by big business and endless sprawling box stores. But the Cardinals, they represent that as well, and they also represent something more.
In America, we have often confused ourselves with black-or-white dichotomies, when actually our hearts are grey. This is true of the political argument of Religion vs. Science, which runs as a thread throughout so many of our modern arguments. However, the truly successful American bastards who run everything are a greying of the two – accepting the benefits of science but also trusting in an unseen Christian God that guided us with his blessings into World dominance. The St. Louis Cardinals are the living, breathing, 40-man roster example of that grey heart of Christian science. You can embrace your beneficial corporate citizens all you want, but none of those big box stores are gonna have potato salad on a Sunday morning. The Christian scientist grey heart secret backbone rulers of America and manipulators of even the evil gods of capital understand this. This is why the Cardinals are known to always find a way, while the Braves are always known to be runners-up. Atlanta has the capital spirit of baseball, but not the holy spirit, which is kind of hard to even pinpoint to be honest. It’s some sketchy, awful shit, that doesn’t feel good, especially if you don’t find personal salvation in it. But that’s the Cardinals, and that’s what they bring. Cardinals in six.


And here is your moment of glory, folks, for those that enjoy the triumph of human spirit over the industrial cogs of capital, although a common misconception that somehow Red Sox Nation represents human spirit does exist. And it’s not like you have roving packs of Tigers fans roaming opposing stadiums, not nearly as likely as you are to see roving packs of wild dogs wandering the abandoned parts of Detroit. But there is beauty in neglect, which is why we all love pictures of dilapidated shit so much. Something has to exist in a strong manner in order to even achieve dilapidation. Castles made of plastic get busted up and fall apart and end up as part of the floating detritus island in the middle of the Pacific where birds ingest it to die but perhaps revived post-Fukushima into mutant plasticized condordactyls to breath plastic fumes over our cities and snuff us in some post-modern dragon fantasy come to life. Thus, the beautiful abandonment of past glory like seen in abundance in Detroit IS beautiful because it reminds us of the greatness of our humanity. Our greatness is recessing though.
That’s why this series will be beautiful. The Red Sox are the Red Sox – some of the names will be familiar, some will be new, but there are no names on the backs of the jerseys – it’s just shitty Red Sox. But the Tigers will be this glorious parade of misfits and outcasts at the plate, of aw shucks pitchers on the mound, and that grand cavalcade of minor figures that have big momentary roles here or there on the long narrative stage of the long baseball playoff series. And this one will be long too. You’re gonna get the full seven, and it will bounce a couple of different ways, but in the end – for the moment – the triumph of human spirit will prevail, characters will win over a faceless blob of Red Soxery, and perhaps we can stop pretending Red Sox fans are America’s version of soccer hooligans (not even close, in terms of twisted beauty nor in terms of needing to fear them, even slightly), and we can settle down to enjoy a World Series sans Yankees or Red Sox, which actually is most years, isn’t it? Hahaha, fuck you ESPN.


Tigers have the home field advantage because of the All-Star game, and it’s last year’s World Series losers in the Tigers vs. the year before that’s winners in the Cardinals. The World Series is a mass media manipulated barrage of American car commercials and the beautiful long narrative of postseason baseball turns into you wanting to stab Joe Buck and Tim McCarver with Ronald Reagan’s shin bone. The triumph of human spirit is always – ALWAYS – completely commandeered at this stage by those Evil Gods of Capital, as sacrificed to continuously by one Budweiser Hale Selig, the commish of baseballs. Calling the Yankees the Evil Empire sort of clouds the fact that MLB is a more likely beneficiary of such a title, as they more than enable the Yankees to be the Yankees. And how baseball remains relevant is something of a mystery to me, as it gets predictable and unexciting at this final stage. This is where the magic has been drained already, and there are no real heroes, just some guy who gets a Cadillac on the field and talks to Tim McCarver about the Cadillac he just got while champagne drips from his pre-minted World Series Champions 2013 hat.
A large part of what is wrong with America is that this is no longer where dreams are made; it is a place where we pretend dream narratives are being acted out by scripted performances. We are a Duck Dynasty DVD in a Wal-Mart Supercenter country now, no longer the land of Andy Griffith. And you might say, “Well good, fuck Andy Griffith,” and though I don’t disagree with that I also have to ask you, have we progressed? I mean, fuckin’ Duck Dynasty man. That shit ain’t real. None of this shit is real any more. It’s just people pretending and calling it real. People pretending to work, pretending to innovate, pretending to create, pretending pretending pretending.

There is no American Dream, thus is there is no hope for a sober Miggy Cabrera to triumph over the fucking white bread ass Cardinals. There is no hope for a happy-go-lucky, chunky-but-funky Prince Fielder and his beautiful bi-racial family to stand on a pedestal and be accepted as pure Americana. Nope. This is not the land of that. This is a land of Bob Costas taking up 12-minutes of our time for a sanctimonious media reprimanding about how we’re all on his polysyllabic lawn of yore, and how we should get off, and learn some respect. This is a land where the Tigers and the Detroits and the wildlings of spirit and the warriors of the human condition have the big corporate paw of oppression push their head down into beta position, and assholes like the St. Louis Cardinals win another World Series, in six games, but maybe five. It’s a sad fucking state of affairs, but that’s the World we live in.