Longoria to the WBC

So there’s this part in “LOTR: Return of the King” where Denethor, who has descended into madness over the death of his eldest son Boromir , demands that his younger son, Farimir ride off in a suicide mission to retake Osgiliath, which has been overrun by the orc army.

Or, um, that’s what some geek told me.

Anyway, the same storyline is playing out in the WBC:

Tampa Bay Rays third baseman Evan Longoria was named Thursday to replace injured Chipper Jones in the United States lineup for the semi-finals of the World Baseball Classic.

Longoria was among the players on the US provisional roster submitted before the tournament began. Classic rules allow substitutions between rounds so Longoria was eligible to help a US lineup with five injured players.

“With the opportunity to make a roster change, Evan is too valuable not to have on our club,” USA Baseball chief executive Paul Seiler said.

Look, Seiler, sending Longoria out to replace the fallen Jones isn’t going to save anyone’s honor, and the way things are going, is only going to get yet another big name player hurt. Just stop the offensive, gather your forces back at Minis Tirith, and hope that Aragorn shows up with an undead army to save everyone’s bacon, OK?

Don’t judge me. That flick made over a billion dollars worldwide, so you probably saw it too.

UPDATE: Welcome Rob Neyer readers! If you think this is geeky, just scroll down to the comments. Let’s just say I’m lucky that I’m already married, because if I wasn’t, no woman would come within 100 yards of me based on some of my nerdy admissions.

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  1. Jason @ IIATMS said...

    what the hell are you talking about?  take the marbles out of your mouth!  wink

    (I might be one of the few who just could not get “in to” these fantasy-themed movies.  Just didn’t work for me)

  2. Matt S. said...

    Long live Shysterball, where all of my geeky obsessions collide into one giant waste of time- It’s like a cyber-Rivendell.

  3. lar said...

    I have seen that movie (and read the book) many, many times, Craig (and I highly recommend the extended version if you haven’t seen it yet… yes, it’s 45 minutes longer, but, man oh man, those are some great 45 minutes).

    It’s an interesting comparison, and I see where you’re coming from. I don’t think the current state of the WBC is quite on par with Osgiliath, though. Osgiliath was like the Alamo or Iwo Jima (minus the ability to dig-in) – hopeless causes that were due to be run over whenever the attackers decided to attack. There’s got to be a more apt comparison. Sarumon at Isengaard during the March of the Ents? How about the March to Helm’s Deep, when the good folk of Rohan were getting picked off by Sarumon’s Uruk-Hai and Warg-Riders (I had to look that last one up)? Yeah, I like that one.

    Of course, if you just wanted to make an awesome (and geeky) LOTR reference without regard to perfect accuracy, that’s cool, too. I respect that.

  4. KR said...

    You forgot the part where you say “Although it didn’t happen like that in the book” and then spend a paragraph or two complaining about the changes.

  5. Craig Calcaterra said...

    Lar wins.  You should change the name of your blog to Geeken-Ball.  And I mean that as a compliment.

    KR:  I’ll own up to the fact that I didn’t make through the enitre book trilogy.  Tried when I was 15 and found it kind of tedious, probably because my geek training came in the form of the highly derivative, watered down, yet immensely enjoyable Dragonlance books.  I was an impatient lad in those days, and I wanted my escapism to come in easily digestable form.

    I tried again before the movies came out and couldn’t make it through due to (a) attention span problems; and (b) the fact that I had shaken a lot of geek off my cloak in the intervening years.

  6. lar said...

    @KR: True. But I’ve seen the movie more than I’ve read the book, so I’m not as easily offended. Plus, I understand and appreciate what happens when books are turned into movies, so changes like that rarely bother me (like, I didn’t mind the changes made to Watchmen and, in some cases, really appreciated them). To keep it simple, I’m not one to rail endlessly about something like that.

    Though, if they screw up Star Trek too much this summer, and the movie isn’t good enough to redeem it, I might get a little annoyed by that… Who am I kidding? I’m gonna enjoy the new Star Trek as much as anything else (I mean, it took me 4 years to acknowledge the Phantom Menace was a bad movie). I’m really looking forward to it… can’t wait.

  7. themarksmith said...

    The undead army could include guys like Ty Cobb and Honus Wagner, but I’m afraid they would make an inappropriate comment about the people they were playing against.

    Then again, the undead army could be the same one from the movie, but the injuries/deaths the other teams would sustain would only equal ours so far. The great equalizer.

  8. Hizouse said...

    You’re not a complete geek, it’s “Faramir,” not “Farimir.”  Though it is quite geeky to get the rest of the names correct without having read the whole trilogy.

  9. lar said...

    @Craig: Thanks. Don’t worry, I didn’t take it in a bad way at all. And, oh, good ol’ Dragonlance. I really enjoyed those books when I was like 13 or so. I haven’t looked at them in 15 years, so I can’t say if they really held up (i’m gonna guess no), but they were definitely a fun read at that time in my life.

  10. Chris H. said...

    I wonder if I am the only one who read this and pictured Eric Greig screaming, “YOU…SHALL NOT…PASS!”


  11. Craig Calcaterra said...

    I read the Dragonlance books when I was 14-17 or so. Chronicles, Legends, Eleven Nations, and a handful of the Tales. Out of nostalgia I then read the one or two Weiss-Hickman books that came out much later.

    I haven’t truly revisited them, but I grab one off the shelf and flip through a few pages once in a while. It’s hard to get much farther, though.  The writing is fairly poor, and that may be charitable given the goodwill I will always have towards those books. As for the stories, I have no idea how TSR wasn’t sued by the Tolkien estate, because there’s barely an original idea in them.  Draconians are Orcs. Kender are Hobbits. Tanis is basically Aragorn with some added angst. The undead army fights for the good guys instead of the bad, but really, it’s the same thing.

    The only arguably original and truly interesting thing in the books is the Raistlin-Caramon dynamic, which appeald to me a lot, probably because I have a slightly complicated relationship with my brother. Because of that, I think Legends is way better than Chronicles, and guess that it holds up better than Chronicles does.

    By this point I’m sure I’ve lost everyone except Lar.  Which is fine. It’s getting near lunchtime.  Go out and get a sandwich or something.

  12. Wooden U. Lykteneau said...

    Don’t worry guys, you can call it a “command center” – to the rest of us, it’s the PC in the basement.

  13. Craig Calcaterra said...

    Hizouse: I wish I could defend myself against charges of geekdom, but it’s not who we are underneath, it’s what we do that defines us.  Guilty as charged.

    And nah, I really don’t care a lick for college basketball anymore.  I only have space for so many obsessions in my mind, and hoops doesn’t make the cut anymore.

  14. bigboneded said...

    Wait, wut? Who said The Phantom Menace was a bad movie? You get to see Tatooine, like, 20 years before it was in Star Wars and you get to meet Luke’s Grandma. That was hecka cool. And Liam Neeson was in it. He’s not in bad movies.                                                      I’ve always wanted to write baseball into sci-fi/fantasy like, a lazy game in the Shire, Anakin taking Obi-Wan deep in a pickup game on Naboo, or The Enterprise crew @ home vs. the Vulcans. Too bad I’m not a writer.

  15. mc said...

    When I read that Longoria was joining the team I thought of an old “Futurama” episode where Zapp Brannigan is explaining how he defeated the Killbot army.  “You see, killbots have a preset kill limit. Knowing their weakness, I sent wave after wave of my own men at them until they reached their limit and shut down.”

  16. section 34 said...

    I can’t believe I wasted 5 minutes of my life here. What are you suggesting—that the US forfeit? In the semifinals? Because a couple players have been injured? Rob Neyer, please don’t link to this clown again.

  17. Craig Calcaterra said...

    Sorry section 34.  You’ll get a full refund for your click if you simply fill out a few forms . . .

    And no, forfeiting is not a palatable option given how far along we are.  I’d suggest sending Martin Prado or some other guy whose loss to injury won’t sink an entire organization’s season like the loss of Jones, Wright, and Youkilis’ could.

    Longer term: either move the WBC to the fall when players are already in playing shape or, better yet, scrap the whole thing.

  18. Daniel said...

    Thanks for the geek out, Craig, but, umm, and this is going to sound callous, you spelled “Faramir” incorrectly.  Any LOTR reference is okay with me, though.  When you start referencing Beren’s infiltration of Angband or the fall of Gondolin, I’ll be super geeked.

  19. Daniel said...

    I see someone already made the spelling correction comment – sorry for the repeat.

    I guess you could have compared this instead to Davey Johnson deciding to light the beacons on Mount Mindolluin (texting Joe Maddon) after sustaining heavy losses, and the Rohirrim arriving (Even Longoria) to save the day.  It may not win the war, ultimately, but it will stave off evil for awhile.

    Really, they’re just stalling for time until Ryan Braun throws Ichiro into Orodruin.

  20. Preston said...

    Kender aren’t just like hobbits – they have the whole kleptomania thing going for them… wait, I mean… kender, what are they?

    Ah Dragonlance, trashy fantasy for teens at its best.  By the way, Craig (and others with a sense of humor and inner, or outer, geek), I’d highly recommend Terry Pratchett – fantastically funny fantasy parody writer (although it’s more than just parody).  There are several books you could start with, but I’ll recommend Guards! Guards! for your tastes.

  21. Alan said...

    I could really do with fewer geek movies. I’m almost as sick of fantasy/comic book movies as I am of big stupid action flicks. I’ve never shaken the notion that part of the success of the last two “Batmans” was in the filmmakers’ ability to pander to a base that longed to see comic books taken more seriously (esp. after the admittedly awful Schumacher “Batmans”).

    Speaking as a geek.

    LOTR: Liked the books, enjoyed the movies only intermittently, much preferred “Dragonslayer” (Ralph Richardson > Ian McKellen).

  22. lar said...

    Yeah, I only read the Chronicles of Dragonlance books. Like I said, they were plenty enjoyable for that time in my life, but I haven’t exactly been craving to read the thousand other Dragonlance-universe books. “A Song of Fire and Ice” they are now. (and if you haven’t read that, then you seriously need to carve some time out to go through those 5000 pages, or whatever. just prepared to be annoyed that the latest book isn’t out yet.)

    My buddy says that we can’t use an LOTR reference for Longoria here because that would put us on the winning side, and that’s just not going to happen in the WBC. He may have a point, but I appreciate the comparisons anyway.

  23. Richard Dansky said...

    So am I the only one with a mental image of Davey Johnson wandering the ballfields of Beleriand, seeing Longoria take grounders, and shouting “Luthien”?

  24. GBS said...

    I read and liked the Dragonlance books as a teen, and I followed your entire analogy, Craig.

    Phantom Menace did, indeed, suck.  But for some reason I bought the DVD anyway.

    Being a geek is cool – in a geeky kind of way.  Check out “The Big Bang Theory,” Monday nights on CBS.

  25. scatterbrian said...

    for those who also hated Phantom Menace, I’ve had an idea for a while to re-edit Attack of the Clones with flashback scenes from PM, similar to Godfather II. You can lose most of the cheese without missing the main plot points and it would be a much better story. I’ve just never had the time/energy/software/burning desire all at once to do it.

  26. lar said...

    Phantom Menace was a bad movie and I have a hard time getting excited about watching it. But I can’t say that I hated it. Like I said, it took me a little while before I could even admit that it was bad. that’s obvious to me now, but I can’t hate it. Darth Maul was pretty dang cool, and Qui-Gon is the best example of a jedi yet (I loved how Yoda brought him back into the story in the closing minutes of Revenge of the Sith). Young Obi-Wan is also pretty cool. The Maul/Obi-Wan/Qui-Gon lightsaber scene is still the best there is (only possibly surpassed by Obi-Wan and Anakin).

    Jar-Jar is atrocious and literally unwatchable (the worst idea in film?) and Jake Lloyd was one annoying little kid. but I still can’t *hate* it. I don’t know if that makes any sense. Plus, how can you go wrong with a young Natalie Portman?

  27. TC said...

    So who is Bud Selig in all of this?  At first I thought Sauron, the Great Eye, and all that, but the truth is, Selig, while our overlord, is not our direct enemy here.  Perhaps he is Melkor (Morgoth) or perhaps he’s an aggregate of the Ainur? 

    Also, the backups are always dwarves, because, although they’re sort’ve scarce in Middle Earth (thanks to dragons lusting after treasures hidden in mountains—go figure), there are, apparently, billions of these hairy midget out in otherwise unexplored places like The Iron Hills.  It’s a long walk from there, and dwarves, though stalwart, are slow.  Thus, they never make it for the first wave, but they’re unbloodied when the enemy has regrouped and is ready to strike again. 

    Anybody remember a series of books featured two sets of rival wizards—one set cast spells by speaking, the other by touching tattoos on their bodies?  The speaking fellows cast the tattooed gentlemen into some devious labyrinth for, presumably, all eternity.  Of course, at least a few tattoos escaped, and are all sorts of hostile.  I loved those books when I was 13 or 14.

  28. Daniel said...

    TC – First of all, I think Bud Selig is Theoden, at this point.  Head in the sand, never acknowledges there’s anything wrong with baseball until it’s almost too late; we’re still waiting for his heroic moment when he vindicated and crushed by a his horse (the MLBPA?) at the same time.

    Are you referring to the Margaret Weis-Tracy Hickman series: The Death Gate Cycle?  I know there were different wizards, and there was one guy, Haplo, who had tattoos all over.  At some point he was trapped in some weird underworld that he had to escape from.

    This kind of matches your description.  I read those awhile ago and never actually finished the series.  I think I read 6 out of the 7 books.

  29. GBS said...

    The Death Gate cycle remains on my bookshelf, unread after all these years.  Maybe when I retire in a few decades…

  30. Nevin said...

    Sticking with Dragonlance (and Legends, particularly), does that make Longoria that girl cleric of Paladine who Raistlin used to open the gates to the Abyss to destroy the Dark Queen and become a god?  (Bud Selig is Raistlin in this analogy; the whole Team USA is the litany of souls that that lich used to stay alive with the bloodstone, the Dark Queen is Baseball Glory, Paul Seilor is that drow mage apprentice of Raistlin’s who was aiding him from inside the tower of high sorcery, the front offices of the MLB clubs are, collectively, owners and GMs, Caramon, trying to stop Raistlin’s mad quest before it calls down another Cataclysm and turns their whole world to ashes, the blogosphere are the Kenderkin, prone to wanderlust, making taunting comments and immune to fear… the other teams in the tournament are Kitiara, Raistlin (Selig) and Caramon’s (the clubs) half-sister, trying to make a power grab from the Queen (baseball glory) at the same time… I have to go now).

    Peter Gammons is Sturm Brightblade?


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