December 11, 2013
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Monday, May 04, 2009
Fenway Park, rendered in descriptions of smells:
The road to the Fenway Park is paved with aromas, in turn nostalgic, exciting, delicious and horrendous. To get the real fan experience, you first need to take in the musty stench of the Kenmore T stop and the fumes that rise from cars and trucks trolling the Massachusetts Turnpike as the happy crowd makes its way across the bridge pointing to the Citgo sign in the distance.
It goes on up into the park and through the game. It's written by a woman, though, no trips to a men's room that can't smell good at all.
The weirdest thing about this is that it's all runup to a couple of recipes for lettuce and herb bisque and salad nicoise, which the author suggests eating if you must watch Red Sox games at home.
I plan on watching the Red Sox and Yankees tonight. I'm not sure what I'll be eating, but I'm guessing it won't be salad nicoise.
Sometimes I worry that I rely a bit too much on cheap pop culture references for laughs, but then I always find someone who does it more than me. Like this guy, who goes farther than I thought he would in using a G.I. Joe/Serpentor analogy to write a column about television executives. Not that it was a bad read. In fact, I loved that he used baseball to illustrate his "Serpentor of [insert profession here]" model:
Serpentor's DNA was taken from historical figures like Alexander the Great and Ghengis Khan, each selected to give him a particular skill that Dr. Mindbender thought important for the leader of a Cobra to have. Thus, the way you play the Serpentor game is simple: you build the perfect person by selecting one trait from famous people in that profession.
Now I know. And knowing is half the battle.
Not that I'd use his exact examples. I think I'd go with the batting eye of Williams, the swing of Will Clark, the power of Ruth, the speed of Willie Wilson, the glove of Ozzie Smith, the arm of Dave Parker, the brains of Greg Maddux, the likability of Sean Casey, and the looks of Sal Fasano. He'd also possess the knuckleball of Niekro, and would make 35-40 starts a year. Oh, and he'd be player-manager with some genetic soup from each of the following: McGraw, Durocher, Stengel, Weaver, Martin, Anderson, Johnson, and Cox. And he'd play in Tiger Stadium, which was restored to its historical grandeur after I sent the Baroness and Destro on a secret time travel mission for that very purpose.
Wait. Just Destro. The Baroness stays with me.
I haven't learned a thing about weight lifting since they stopped running Charles Atlas ads in the back of comic books so I'm way out of my league when it comes to the plausibility of A-Rod's bench pressing exploits as described in Selena Roberts' new book. Shawn Hoffman at Squawking Baseball knows his way around a gym, however, and he thinks it's totally believable that Rodriguez could go from a 100 to a 300 pound press in the time that he did.
I link, you decide, and then Selena Roberts can tell us all that her side of things is "irrefutable."
Russ Smith of Splice Today takes issue with MLB's "Beyond Baseball" ads:
If you follow games on ESPN, Fox, TBS, MLB.com or any number of local broadcasts, there’s a ubiquitous television commercial, a branding spot for MLB, alternately featuring Ryan Howard and Tim Lincecum, that flirts with vulgarity. The advertisement featuring the Phillies’ slugger is the worst: it opens with a pictorial tribute to his parents’ involvement in the civil rights movement in the early 1960s, and goes on to say how this has shaped Howard, so much so that it resulted in his lifting the World Series trophy last fall. “This is beyond baseball,” is the tagline, and if you can figure out the connection between the men and women who died or risked their lives during that pivotal turning point in American society and the game of baseball, your imagination belongs in the Smithsonian.
I'm sure I've seen it, but I tend to mute and generally not pay attention to commercials, so it's not registering with me at the moment. From the sounds of it, though, it does seem to go a bit too far, don't you think? Though I'm something of a traditionalist who falls for old footage and throwback jerseys, even I'll admit that baseball already pushes the envelope when it comes to mining its own history for promotional effect. Mining non-baseball history for that same purpose just doesn't pass the smell test for me, even when there's a tenuous baseball connection.
I agree even more with Russ' larger point about it being a misguided endeavor to make heroes out of highly paid entertainers the way these spots do. Aren't most of the silly distracting problems surrounding baseball attributable at least in part to the disconnect between the reality of baseball and its players on the one hand and the altruistic and even heroic ideal society has ascribed to them on the other?
Money is a big issue because heroes playing boys games shouldn't demand to be paid so much. Steroids are a big issue, in part at least, because athletes are supposed to do more than entertain us. They're supposed to represent some mythic ideal and all of that. Owners and cities get into all kinds of misguided financial deals because someone -- maybe everyone -- is of the mistaken notion that teams are public trusts or institutions as opposed to a going and largely portable business operation, and all of that is a function of history too. If baseball started today, half the teams would probably have some sort of corporate branding or something as opposed to a localized identifier like "Houston."
It's not like baseball is ever going to be able to slough off its historical baggage when it comes to promoting itself even if it wanted to (and it shouldn't want to, because there are some great bags in there). But man, I wish it could at least try not to weigh the game down so damn much all the time.
I've been asked why I don't use Twitter. There are several reasons, but most of them can be traced back to the fact that I'm a late adopter of just about everything. Which, in the case of Twitter, might very well end up saving me a lot of hassle in the long run. Or maybe even the short run. "The CB Radio of Web 2.0." Ouch.
My definition of perfect weather is low-to-mid 60s, slightest of breezes, and maybe a little bit overcast so the bald head doesn't get sunburned as fast when I forget my hat. We get approximately 12 of those days a year in Columbus, Ohio, and today is one of them, so I'm going for a little walk. This afternoon's blogging, therefore, should be extra-refreshing today.
UPDATE: Forgot to mention my daily NBC gripe. The television side of things is seriously considering canceling "My Name is Earl," while simultaneously launching a show starring Chevy Chase. If I find out that anyone I know at the network is behind this I'm going to start embedding links to scary Belgian and German pornography in my little baseball stories.
My bid for Adam Dunn's sweat-stained jersey fell just short. And I was going to give it to Marty Brennaman, too.
And Needham gets the Headline of the Day Award for "Ging, Ging, Gne!"
Cliff Lee doesn't have a lot of answers for how it's gone for him so far this year, so it's nice that Paul Hoynes of the Plain Dealer is helping him out:
What about a buzz cut? Maybe Cliff Lee's fourth loss of the season Sunday had something to do with his haircut Saturday.
Given that I haven't owned a comb or a brush in nearly a decade, I'm probably the last person who should be giving anyone haircare advice, but don't teams stay at hotels with concierge service and, often, hair stylists and stuff? Why is he getting his haircut at the ballpark? And who's cutting it? Luis Valbuena? Rick Manning?
The success of the Red Sox and Fenway Sports Group has not gone unnoticed by other organizations, and that includes organizations in others sports:
Boston Red Sox executive Michael Dee has been hired as chief executive officer of the Miami Dolphins and Dolphin Stadium. Dee will oversee business development of the team and stadium, the Dolphins said Sunday. He'll be in charge of marketing the team and new projects at the stadium . . . Dee spent 14 years in major league baseball, including the past five as chief operating officer of the Red Sox while they consistently set records for attendance and revenue growth. He oversaw business operations and such improvements as the Green Monster seats, and brought concerts to Fenway Park. He was also president of Fenway Sports Group, a wholly-owned subsidiary of New England Sports Ventures, the parent company of the Red Sox.
FSG has been a huge part of the Red Sox success in recent years, and as its president, Dee will certainly be missed. And not to take anything away from Dee, but the real value of FSG to the ballclub is its structure as opposed to its personnel. That's because as a corporate sibling rather than a component of the team itself, the revenue it creates is 100% non-sharable with the other ballclubs, even if its sole purpose is to, according to Dee himself, extend the Red Sox brand.
Reds 5, Pirates 0: Johnny Cueto is en fuego. His last three starts: 22 IP, 17 K, 2 BB and 1 run allowed, having shut out the Pirates over eight innings yesterday. The Pirates have been shut out in three of their last four games.
Dodgers 7, Padres 3: How many of the teams who passed up on Orlando Hudson (2-3, 2 2B, 3 RBI) this offseason are kicking themselves? He's at .336/.408/.533, which ain't bad considering he only cost the Dodgers $3.3 million. I know there were injury questions about the guy heading into this year, but the two biggies that took him out the past two seasons -- the broken bone last year and the torn ligament the year before -- were both kinda freaky things as opposed to your Ken Griffey-style stuff that seems borne of a predisposition.
Mariners 8, A's 7: The folks who sat through all five hours of this thing probably thought it was over when Oakland scored three runs in the 13th, only to see Seattle match it. Things that happen when you follow a team's games through box scores: because a name, such as, say, Chris Jakubauskas, kind of sticks out, you notice it each time you see it, thereby making you feel like a guy, say, Chris Jakubauskas, pitches every other game. I also just like to write "Chris Jakubauskas."
Giants 1, Rockies 0: Regulation play ended with the match tied 0-0, but the Giants won it in stoppage time. Barry Zito shuts the Rockies out for seven innings, lowering his ERA below 4.00 for the first time since June 4, 2007.
Royals 7, Twins 5: Is there no Mean, but Fast or Feast? Scott Baker doesn't know, given that he took a no-hitter into the seventh and then promptly gave up five runs and lost the game.
Cubs 6, Marlins 4: Carlos Zambrano went five innings and the Cubs got the win. That's good! But he then he led off the bottom of the fifth by straining his hamstring trying to beat out a bunt. That's bad! But hey, he did beat out the bunt. That's no consolation! The Cubs retired Fergie Jenkins' and Greg Maddux's number 31 before the game. In light of Zambrano's injury, I wonder if anyone had the bright idea to offer Maddux a contract.
Rays 5, Red Sox 3: As Matthew Pouliot points out, Carl Crawford's six stolen bases were sound and fury signifying nothing. Not that it still wasn't impressive on some level. And it certainly reveals Jason Varitek to be a poor player, that struts and frets his hour upon the stage and soon will be heard no more.
Brewers 4, Diamondbacks 3: It was Ryan Braun Bobblehead Day at Miller Park but, but Braun sat with tightness in his upper back. Didn't matter, though, as Prince Fielder and Mike Cameron hit back to back homers in the second and Dave Bush managed to pitch well enough to allow the Brewers to survive the three home runs he gave up in the seventh.
Blue Jays 4, Orioles 3: The key to winning the AL East recently has been to do well outside of the division and then pick on the Orioles. So far, so good for Toronto as they (finally) begin division play by sweeping Baltimore on yet another good start from Scott Richmond. Dude was playing in the Northern League a couple of years ago.
Tigers 3, Indians 1: Justin Verlander's second strong start in a row (7 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 11K) has to be encouraging for Tigers' fans, because he seemed on a collision course with oblivion for a while there. Welcome to the big leagues Matt LaPorta: 0-4, 2K. Matt, at first these big league pitchers are going to light you up like a pinball machine. Don't worry about it. You be cocky and arrogant even when you're getting beat. And if you keep getting beat? Hey, I'll enjoy watching you here in Columbus.
Astros 7, Braves 5: From the AP story: "Braves manager Bobby Cox said the struggles to drive in runs shows the team misses Brian McCann and Garret Anderson, who are on the disabled list." Well, he's half right.
Rangers 5, White Sox 1: Between Wilson Betemit, Brett Lillibridge, Elvis Andrus, and Andruw Jones in the game, and Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Jermaine Dye riding the pine, it felt like Braves day.
Angles vs. Yankees; Mets vs. Phillies; Cardinals vs. Nationals: POSTPONED: Don’t come around here no more, Bringing me all of your bad rain. Can’t you see I’ve got troubles of my own. I ain’t got time to be messing with all of your bad rain [insert 17 minute guitar jam]