Archive for September, 2012

The Phantom Grand Slam

“this is awesome”
“that is the greatest thing I’ve ever seen in my life”

Watch to the end:

A guffah and a back slap to Dustin Parkes on Getting Blanked at The Score.

Action-News Photo: Heath Bell Boiled in Oil

In a recent podcast with Carson Cistulli — whose surname’s middle syllable is in fitting homophony with a synonym for foulest poo — I was forced to bail out the host and his inability to deliver neither Hot Sports Opinion nor Five-Alarm Sports Opinion nor anything at all that could plausibly be Served Up Hot. These Job- and Frodo-like burdens led me to bellow that Marlins reliever Heath Bell should be boiled in oil on account of his being too promiscuous with his grievances.

Did I sincerely mean this? As is the case with all Piping-Hot Radio Men, I’m merely saying what more measured types lack the courage to say BUT ARE SURELY THINKING. So it is with a swollen and veiny pride that I present the image that follows, which was lovingly crafted by abiding reader/listener Kyle

Thank you, Kyle, you Internetting Gentleman of Distinction. There is yet hope for those whose Hot Sports Opinions stand athwart the milquetoasty tides of Radio Infirmity.

A History of Dumb Baseball Cards, Vol. 1

The baseball card industry, to me, is fascinating. People are willing to pay real money for little bits of cardboard coated in plastic and foil, with tiny and usually grainy pictures of baseball players. The entirety of a baseball card, the images and statistics, can be found on Google in six seconds. The cards have differing values based on the player depicted on the card, and that value has no relation whatsoever to the aesthetic merit of the player in question.

Despite the crumbling of the baseball card industry some ten years back, these cards are still worth some money, despite the fact that they have no intrinsic value to speak of. The baseball card economy is driven solely by the irrational demand of its customers, driven by tales of Mantles and Wagners found in attics, or driven by the horror of the investments their own mothers had tossed away. In short, baseball card collecting is as useless as it is ridiculous, a waste of time and energy.

This is not, in actuality, a bad thing.

Happiness, after all, is often found in the ridiculous. We cannot be caught up in the spiral of productivity and efficiency; these ideas may make us better, and stronger, but they also make us slaves. They’re emblematic of the childlike sense of play that is crushed out of us by societal conformity and increased obligations. Noted (forgotten) philosopher, playwright, and dashing rogue Friedrich von Schiller spoke out as a proponent of frivolity against a backdrop of developing industrialism. It’s only during play, says he (in German), that we develop our aesthetic sense and allow our curiosity to develop. Leisure, it turns out, is good for us. A hundred and thirty years later, legendary face-maker Bertrand Russell piled on, noting that hobbies are “fun”.

So rather than continuing to impugn the dumb activity that is baseball card collecting, I’d like to celebrate it. Unlike most “important” things, no person has ever been killed over a baseball card, or at least there is no evidence of it when I google “killed over a baseball card”.

Our first entry in the history of dumb baseball cards: the 1981 Fleer Graig Nettles Error Card.

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Hot, Slow-Motion GIFs of Travis Snider Committing Robbery

Because the jerks at MLB Advanced Media don’t want us to have any fun, and pulled the video of Snider’s catch set to R. Kelly’s “I Believe I Can Fly.”

And because this catch needs to be watched, over and over and over again.

All praise be upon bonus baseball! for the GIFs.

Tom Kelly in Zubaz vs. A Pitching Machine

Point: Pitching Machine

Video: Travis Snider Believes He Can Fly, Touch the Sky, Thinks About It Every Night and Day, Etc.

In Toronto, Travis Snider is no longer our What If. He’s Pittsburgh’s now. But that doesn’t mean Blue Jays supporters aren’t keeping tabs on Snider. We are. I check his numbers. Every couple of weeks or so.

The Canadian Sports Media knows this. Over the past three days, Sportsnet, a subsidiary of Rogers Communications, who own the Blue Jays, released a three-part, in-depth interview series with Snider, written by Shi Davidi, one of the more respected and well-liked members of the Toronto Sports Media. It’s been almost two months since Snider was traded, but he’s anything but forgotten.

And then, today, The Snider Catch, because we needed another reminder. I watched it. Three times. I enjoyed it — I feel like there’s still some Toronto in Snider. I watched @TaoOfStieb ask for the video you see above to be made. I — we — saw the Internet deliver.

Acute grief lifts within six months, for most people. I read it in The New York Times. I figure it’s a lot less for sports grief, if I can call sports grief grief at all, because all of this is meant only to entertain us. That’s it, that’s all. I’ll be honest, though, I didn’t sleep much the night Snider was dealt. I simply couldn’t believe reliever Brad Lincoln was the end to a story that wasn’t supposed to end for years.

That being said, I want Lincoln to succeed; to dominate. For for the next four years. Life will be easier that way. And I want the same for Snider. He was just a kid, and we’ve all got to fail, at least once, along the way. Yet I can’t shake the feeling that no matter how Lincoln fares, I want the Blue Jays to be wrong about Snider. Everyone’s got a goddamned lesson to be learned.

Thanks to @alextushingham and @TaoOfStieb for the video.

Photo: Fidel Castro Wearing His Sunglasses at Night

Apropos of nothing, here’s an image of Fidel Castro pitching for a team called Los Barbudos (i.e. The Bearded Ones) during an exhibition game shortly after he (i.e. Castro) led a successful revolution to remove former Cuban leader Fulgencio Batista from power.

Why he would wear sunglasses (or, at the very least, dark-looking spectacles) at such a late hour remains a mystery even into the present. Asked at the time, Castro replied (quite mysteriously), “So I can, so I can watch you weave then breathe your storylines.”

Rays Rookies Dance, Google Translates Perry

Here it is, the two things you were looking for. You opened this page with two emptinesses in your soul, and I have their fillings prepared for you like a city worker who has the asphalt prepared for the divots in the road of a white neighborhood.

Here it is, the first item: The Rays rookies performing — at historic Fenway Park — in historic leotards and wigs — a choreographed dance set to the American classic “Call Me Maybe.” Here it is, as directed by James Shields

And here is the second thing:
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Gary Cederstrom Next to the World’s Tallest Buildings

Last night, colleague Jackie Moore brought it to the author’s attention that the home-plate umpire of the Angels-Mariners game was large — was, in fact, larger than any of the players for whom he was calling balls and strikes.

A brief inspection of The Facts reveals that said umpire — in this case, Minot-native Gary Cederstrom — isn’t just large relative to American athletes but, also, to the world’s tallest manmade structures.

Consider, this unimpeachable and incapable-of-being-not-peached chart (click to embiggen):

These Guys for Cys

One of these men is Cy Falkenberg in his prime. The other is the Lord.

Quick! Name the pitcher who posted the fifth greatest season (by fWAR) in modern baseball history! Hint: it was greater than any season ever posted by Cy Young, Walter Johnson, Christy Mathewson, Sandy Koufax, Bob Gibson, Tom Seaver, Roger Clemens, Greg Maddux, or Randy Johnson, to name a few. Hint 2: it was said of this pitcher that he had “broken preconceived notions into a million scattered fragments.” Hint 3: the season was 1914. If you said “Cy Falkenberg,” then either a) you peeked at the leaderboard or b) you’re a dirty lying liar, because you couldn’t possibly have known such a preposterous thing.

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