Thursday, October 30, 2014

Bumgarner Country

  
Madison Bumgarner is a World Series pitching hero hailing from North Carolina that lives with his wife at home in Dudley Shoals next to a body of water called Gunpowder Creek. Also, his father says things to the New York Times about his son like "I didn't know if he had enough left tonight, but I did know that boy would try to steal a steak off the devil's plate."

Daddy Bumgarner also proved the National League bona fides of his blood line to the Times with this line about his son, "He could hit better."

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That's six out of the last nine championships claimed by the Senior Circuit, and four of the last five.

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These photos from Oscar Taveras' funeral in the Dominican Republic. Not at all fair. Rest in Peace.

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Why are we still considering this fossilized group of baseball "very goods" for induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame when there's a backlogged Murderers' Row of "greats" on the writers' ballot? (Billy Pierce in before Bonds or Clemens? Really?) I swear that this country's first and most important Hall of Fame has been hijacked from Generation X and Y by the Baby Boomers.

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Catch me following a sport in which team success is measured by polls. Especially a sport in which the biggest sports network on the planet (ESPN) now owns one of the just-launched conference television networks. There's a reason Major League Baseball fans always follow the standings, and never debate the "ESPN Power Rankings" of the same clubs.

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A quote by Frederick Douglass found in Curt Flood's 1970 autobiography "The Way It Is": "Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet deprecate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground." Douglass could be speaking directly to today's residents of Flood's adopted hometown, St. Louis.

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Come to think of it, Flood would make one hell of a baseball Hall of Famer.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Future reference

 
If I'm ever uncommunicative. If I'm in a hospital bed, can't talk, can't move my hands to write my wishes on paper, and you see me trying to say something by blinking my eyes, or maybe I can't even blink, but you can tell I'm trying to express something to you with my eyes, what I'm probably trying to tell you is to put on some Bill Evans.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Nine reasons why I'm rooting for the Giants to win the World Series

  

Nine of 'em as a reminder that baseball teams are supposed to field nine players, not ten.

#1- Of course, National League loyalty reigns. An NL team would have to do something pretty egregious, like play their home games in Chicago or New York, for me to consider rooting against them in the Fall Classic. This year, Games 3 and 4, and 5 if necessary, will be especially exciting to watch as they will be played in San Francisco, and therefore nine players will oppose nine players at all times, not the aforementioned and irregular ten vs. ten formation that AL teams employ that are a slippery slope of specialization that will eventually lead baseball to become like football.

#2- Don Denkinger. Decent guy, but ugh, he blew that one badly.

#3- I don't believe the Royals are an "underdog." Being operated for maximum profit for three decades does not make one an underdog.The Royals possessed the exact same set of resources the Cardinals had when both teams left the field after Game 7 of the 1985 World Series-- plus momentum! One of the two teams took the indignity that had been thrust upon it that year and rose to the top. The other accepted an illegitimate championship and took on the form of a Pacific Coast League team for two generations.

#4- Being King of the Midwest, as the Cardinals are, is unfortunately a zero sum game. It may seem harmless to some Cardinals fans that the Royals get one year in 30 to boast, but that's all it takes for some idiot manager of a television network affiliate in Iowa to decide that the Royals should be the Saturday Game of the Week each weekend next summer instead of the Cardinals. Or worse, the cable operator drops Fox Sports Midwest in favor of Fox Sports Kansas City. Then what do I do? Watch a pitch-by-pitch simulation of the games on the internet? Go sit in my car and listen to them? No.

#5- The natural order. Screw underdogs anyway. Baseball has its historic winners and its historic losers, and the demarcation has worked out fabulously. I appreciate that other Cardinals fans want to root for a cross-state rival whose fans are overwhelmingly friendly and gracious, but if a Cards fan says to me something akin to: "I kind of like that the Royals are getting their chance this year," my obvious next question will be-- and has been, "Would you feel the same about the Cubs next year?"

#6- I fully expect to see Barry Bonds' fresh mug on camera multiple times when the two teams get to the action in San Francisco. Take that as your going away gift, Bud.

#7- I hate to use such loaded political language, but the Giants win in a very admirable way. They're classy about it and they respect the game. Statements like that annoy some people now. I don't understand why but I don't care.

#8- Yes, the Giants have represented the National League in the World Series 20 times, compared to the Cardinals' 19. (It's been back-and-forth now for five consecutive seasons-- rather exciting as unreported news stories go.) But the Giants have won only seven of those Series to the Cardinals' 11.  Also, when a team changes cities, the numbers need to re-start. You can't leave 99% of your fans 3,000 miles away in the dust and expect to still be considered the same team at the remove of a half-century and a full-continent. The West Coast Giants have won the league only six times and taken the World Series just twice. So it's not that close. The get-togethers to watch the World Series among old New York Giants fans are not so well-attended these days, and even fewer of the old gang will be at the ballpark in San Francisco for the games. It's somebody else's team now. I will not be following the Rams back to Los Angeles.

#9- For a long time, I've noticed an illogical trend among sports fans to root against the team that eliminated their team from a shot at the title. We need to distance ourselves from that temptation. It's in bad form.

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Speaking of our grand national game: The fall colors are glorious this year, but the photo below has to be my favorite taken this week...

  

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Gridiron fans take refuge in the delusion

     

Civil rights protests in St. Louis have moved from the perimeter of the baseball park to the perimeter of the football stadium. After today's game, a fan spitting on a protester reassigned an exchange from a shouting match to a physical confrontation.

The sleepwalkers will see the peace they requisition when there is justice. James Baldwin had some wisdom for us half a century ago.

And here we are, at the center of the arc, trapped in the gaudiest, most valuable, and most improbable water wheel the world has ever seen. Everything now, we must assume, is in our hands; we have no right to assume otherwise. If we-- and now I mean the relatively conscious whites and the relatively conscious blacks, who must, like lovers, insist on, or create, the consciousness of the others-- do not falter in our duty now, we may be able, handful that we are, to end the racial nightmare, and achieve our country, and change the history of the world. If we do not dare everything, the fulfillment of the prophecy, recreated by the Bible in song by a slave, is upon us: God gave Noah the rainbow, no more water, the fire next time. 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Home of the brave

 
Now that we’re dealing with a public crisis that can’t be adequately dealt with by locking oneself inside a gated community, maybe we can finally get our collective priorities in order-- like treating health care as a human right, dumping ObamaCare and the entire for-profit system in favor of a single-payer, publicly-financed health care system for all. Or should we continue sending uninsured people like Thomas Eric Duncan away from hospitals and putting them back on the street, like Dallas' Presbyterian Hospital did on September 24th?

We should be sorry that our government has prioritized wars against people that are no danger to us over domestic line items in the federal budget like medical research and public health. Yes, public health is a political issue because incompetence has made it one. Both parties again have failed us.

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Sadly, a prevailing bigotry against Africans in the United States is about to get worse. Our enduring ignorance of that continent is about to sink its teeth viciously into our ass.The countries of Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea have not been able to deal with the Ebola crisis, but it’s worth noting-- to those that would have us ban travel to and from the continent altogether-- that two other West African countries, Nigeria (the continent's most populous) and Senegal, will be Ebola-free before the United States is. South Africa, interestingly, is as far away from Liberia geographically as Chicago is from the North Pole.

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When the dirty Europeans immigrated to the continent, they brought enough disease with them to cause a genocide. They may have even given disease-infected blankets to the indigenous peoples of the continent on purpose. I wonder if any of the natives referred to George Washington as President Smallpox.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Submitted without comment

 
 Phyllis Diller telling six minutes of fat jokes.

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

The Los Angeles Dollars

 
In the wake of the Los Angeles Dodgers' latest failure to beat the Cardinals in the postseason, Deadspin has a story up defending the L.A. club for their organizational strategy of spending a shitload of money on players.

Says Tom Ley, "One of the cool things about MLB is that it provides teams with avenues that simply don't exist in leagues that have salary caps. A GM can only get so clever when filling out a roster is akin to balancing an equation, but baseball allows teams to color outside the lines. All different sorts of team-building philosophies are allowed to bloom."

I oppose a salary cap, but I think the point being made against the Dodgers is that these multiple "avenues" only exist for the Dodgers and for three or four other clubs. For a few (not the Cardinals), the only option is building from within. But how I wish the Cardinals could afford to make financial mistakes like giving Chad Billingsley $35 million, Carl Crawford $100 million, and Andre Ethier $102 million. But they can't. In fact, for the Dodgers, those can't even be classified as mistakes. There's more where that came from.

And the Cardinals don't suffer from the fact that "there aren't many of (us fans)," as Ley would have you believe. The difference in income between the two teams isn't that the Dodgers have more fans, it's that they are less spread out, that they play in a city that contains many fewer eyeballs for television in general. It's a city whose baseball environment is further enhanced by the Dodgers sharing the city with another team.

Incidentally, nobody is calling the Dodgers "trash" today except for a few Dodgers fans.

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On a related note, maybe it's not that the Cardinals draft better than other teams. Maybe it's that they teach baseball better than other teams.

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Here's a partial list of players the Cardinals acquired just from one amateur draft-- June 2009:

Shelby Miller (1st round)- 25 regular season wins over last 2 seasons, NLDS Game 4 starting pitcher
Joe Kelly (3rd round)- World Series veteran starter traded to Boston at the deadline for Game 3 winner John Lackey
Matt Carpenter (13th round)- six extra-base hits in the NLDS including three homers
Trevor Rosenthal (21st round)- saved all three wins in the series
Matt Adams (23rd round)- Game 4 home run hero

I wish my fantasy football team had this type of drafting success. Of course, our league is like MLB: "All different sorts of team-building philosophies are allowed to bloom."

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I think Mike Matheny should select Clayton Kershaw to start over Adam Wainwright in Game 1 of the NLCS. He's had the better season.

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Statistic of the day: Number of postseason games won (thru Wednesday) since Albert Pujols signed with the Angels on December 8, 2011.
Cardinals: 18
Angels: 0