Friday, December 21, 2007

Welcome to America

After seven hours of sailing over the Atlantic Ocean, chasing the red sunset, light finally won the race and we hit the snow covered mountains of the Canadian northeast in darkness. I had flown from Budapest to Amsterdam, sprinted through Schipol to catch my next flight on a three-legged seventeen hour journey, and arrived in Detroit wishing it were my final destination so I could get some sleep. Every time a plane lands, there is that sense of relief that, oh, you can finally stand up, walk around, and feel like you are a human being, even if you have a three hour layover and have to get on another plane to reach your final destination. I stood up amidst the shuffling and ruffling of bags and coats and the stiff joints of flight and slowly made my way to the door of the airplane. I felt like running through the gate just to get my blood flowing, running past all of the weary travelers pulling their luggage behind them, their wheels sounding like they were zipping up their trip. Out the gate, I headed toward the stairway that would bring us to the creepy customs area, where we would not be welcomed into the United States but interrogated as if we were all criminals. But that was beyond the stairway. What greeted me, what made me break into a huge smile was not the arrival into the United States but a picture on the wall, the picture which greeted all who entered the US through the Port of Detroit, the very first thing they saw of America.

It was a huge picture of Comerica Park.

No, there were no other pictures. No pictures of the Detroit skyline, no pictures of famous American monuments or national parks. Just one of the most beautiful sights one can lay eyes on: a dazzling green baseball field.

Welcome to America, y'all.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

The Mitchell Report

I don't want to hear it. (Fingers in ears. Lalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalala...)

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Viva la revolution!

Stupid title, I know. I'm a little miffed at the fact that a bar/restaurant advertised free Wifi but kicked me off when they became "busy," as if I were not a paying customer. Mind you, they didn't tell me they turned off their internet, but I got the hint and pretended that I still could use it until they told me to go to the bar.

I was there for an hour. I had two beers and was going to order food. Word of advice: if you're going to have Wifi access and the only outlet is near a four person table, maybe you should REARRANGE YOUR FREAKING RESTAURANT/BAR. Oh, I'm so annoyed.

But the point of all this is to compare it to something baseball. And I feel the Tejada trade to the Asstros is akin to offering Wifi service as long as it suits you. That trade is just stupid. The Asstros have nothing, absolutely nothing in their farm system, and what they had in Hirsh they traded away. If they think that having the same team as last season when they finished 73-89 with the addition of oh, Miguel Tejada, is going to make a difference...well, they can't think that. It's just too stupid. Just like thinking turning away a customer who would probably come in every day for the next couple of days was a good trade for a non tipping family of three.

Really annoyed.

Here's a great quote:
"I was in Houston last week and I've played in Minute Maid Park in the All-Star game, so I think I'll do great in that city," he said.
Yeah, you've played a game there, so you really know! What a really great indicator of how well you'll do!

Coming performance enhancing drugs are a bigger American societal problem than just trying to win...Actually, probably not.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the Earth

If you haven't seen the New York Times article about A Rod's properties, you have to read it. Rodriguez, who opted out of the richest contract in baseball just to make the Bankee$ pay him even more money, is a slimeball, a first class jerk, and I'm sure there is already a place in Hell reserved for him.

Back when Rodriguez played with the Mariners - was that when I was still in high school? - I loved him. I thought he loved the game. I tore the cover off a magazine with his picture and put it on my wall. But the things he said about Griffey when he left soured me on him, and his greedy pursuit of huge contracts completed the process.

The elbow to Bronson in the 2004 ALCS solidified my disgust for him, cheating on his wife made me want to throw peanuts at him, but that new contract created a burning contempt for him. And the fact that he won't do anything about fixing up the property he owns, that he will allow cockroaches and moldy mattresses to exist with no attempt to fix them? Charging people $100 for being a day late on rent? This is a low income place - that type of thing is bound to happen. $100 is two weeks' food for some people. How can someone who makes $30 million a year be such a jackass?

Don't answer that. Money corrupts the hearts of men. It has since the dawn of time, and it always will. But that doesn't mean you have to make excuses for the greedy.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

I really thoughr we'd have a pitcher by now

But I'm glad Homer and Hobbs are still on the team.

Rule 5 draft is today. Last year we struck gold with Hobbs and Burton. Can we be so lucky this year?

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Fear and Loathing on the Internets

The interwebs are a funny thing, aren't they? I mean, you get on your big rig and start driving through this series of tubes, and suddenly you discover yourself in strange neighborhoods looking at things you've never seen and hearing sounds you've never heard and you find your thoughts drifting further from whatever it was you set out to think about when you started your virtual journey.

I'm trying to write this piece about, well, heck if I know what it's about, but it has something to do with famous people from Southwest Ohio and reading On the Road because I shamefully never read it and also because I am on the road in search of some of the same things Sal a.k.a. Jack Kerouac was looking for, and well, one thought led to the other and suddenly I find myself staring at a column about baseball written by Hunter S. Thompson in 2000 which is quite funny, as so much of his work is. He wrote some suggestions for speeding up baseball games. Some highlights: eliminate the pitcher, all base runners may run to any base, and the CATCHER should be the highest paid hero of the game. My favorite part:
No, there will be no such thing as a base on balls. Each batter will get five "pitches" from the robot -- only FIVE (5) and if he doesn't get a hit by then, he is Out. ... And the CATCHER will control the kind of drop or curve or speed he wants the machine to throw. And it will obey.
Thompson grew up in Louisville - Reds country! He excelled in baseball but was constantly in trouble so it never amounted to anything.

I think Gonzo was a bridge between two worlds, a bridge that crossed from literature and baseball to television and the NFL. He said the NFL "blew the sacred institution of baseball off its 'national pastime' pedestal in less than 15 years." Baseball had been a part of the soul of the country; the NFL became a faster, more violent pastime. American attitudes were changing towards everything. That flag started whipping in the wind faster than we could see it, and America started to run out of breath just trying to keep up with the pace of life. I think in the end Thompson just couldn't take in any more air. The generation under him, my generation, felt it better just to use biting sarcasm about everything to cope. Seems to me better than a shotgun, but then again, what do I know about being a brilliant writer? I operate a Blogger blog and post poorly done photoshops of things that are funny for about, oh, five minutes, if ever.

I guess that's why I hate these winter meetings (that occur in autumn, mind you.) I hate the business side of the game, which has grown to be bigger than the game itself, bigger than the take-your-family-to-the-ballpark-on-a-Sunday-afternoon experience. I can't figure it out, what has changed, what has brought something that was felt in the hearts of Americans to get lost in the labyrinth of corporatism, but I have to tell you, I like Bob Castellini. He's reached down into his soul and pulled out his love for the game, a game that is intrinsically part of an America that sometimes seems lost in all the fast-paced madness of the information age, an America that probably never existed except in the romantic ideas in the minds of the emotionally literate. He's going for it; he's making decisions that don't stick to the corporate formula. Cincinnati fans suffered for years under swiftboater businessman Carl Linder, who was only concerned about coming out in the black rather than winning. It's nice to have an owner that is a fan of the game and grew up loving his team!

Baseball isn't just a business. I hate thinking about it that way, thinking about how human beings that I've come to adore as sort of real life fictional heroes could just slip from my heart with a trade. I know, I know, baseball has ALWAYS been this way, with teams trading players as if they were just cattle waiting for slaughter. There seems something inherently inhumane about it all, you know, the players BELONGING to the owners and all. When people ask why players such as Ryan Freel are able to don Major League uniforms, it's their love for the game. I sometimes feel I was born at the wrong time, too late, perhaps an incarnation of someone else because of my love for the game. Or maybe I just long for life to slow down, slow to the pace of a baseball game.

I don't know if Thompson grew up a Reds fan in Louisville - could have been the Deadbirds or the Cubs - but I do know he recognized that baseball had been desecrated by the greed of modern America, where both owners and players are at fault. As I sit impatiently awaiting the verdict of the winter meetings, I can't help but have all of this on my mind.

Just say no

My reactionary thoughts to rumors which have no value whatsoever except to make me feel better for saying them "aloud." (They become spoken in your head as you read. Wait, you don't say the words in your head when you read?) It's just that winter is so boring when rain drips from dull gray skies and I have nothing worthwhile to say except to complain about how cold I am and how I wish it were spring and you've heard all of that a hundred billion times before because all I ever do in winter is talk about dreams of green baseball fields. :)

Man, these winter meetings scare me with all the talk of trades. I mean, last year at this time, Homer Bailey was untouchable. The trade rumors swirling around him now are ridiculous. Why, because he didn't throw eighteen perfect games last year? Nobody is worth trading Homer for, especially not Dontrelle Willis, whose best years may already be behind him judging by his last two seasons. Nor is Eric Bedard worth Homer's potential, oh ye of little faith.

I tell you what else. Wayne Krivsky is the most irritating GM out there. Wayne, baseball is a business. Transparency in business is an essence. You are responsible to your shareholders, stakeholders, and customers. It is time for you to open up and speak. Cut the secretive crap. So tell us what is going on. Tell us Bruce and Bailey, the future of the Reds, are off the table. Please? Please?

It's going to be sad to see Josh Hamilton go.

Oh, and Happy Chanukkah!

Monday, December 03, 2007

On having a bright future

I can't remember the last time I was this excited about Reds prospects. Could be because I didn't pay attention to prospects the last time the Reds had such promise in their farm system. ranked four Reds in their top 50 prospects list, including Jay Bruce, the Baseball America Minor League Player of the Year, at number one. Homer Bailey came in at number nine, Joey Votto at number 34, and Johnny Cueto at number 47.

Four out of fifty seemed like a decent number to me, so I went ahead and broke it down by team.

The Team Formerly Known as the Devil Rays cleaned up with five prospects in the top fifty. Then again, when you are so bad that you get the number one overall pick every year, that should be expected.

The Reds were the only team to have four prospects in the top fifty.

Teams having three in the top fifty were the Dodgers, Bankee$, and Rockies.

The Tigers, Red Sox, Angels, Orioles, Royals, D'backs, Chub$, Nationals, Sausages, Mariners, Rangers, and Padres had two each.

The Deadbirds, Pirates, Indians, Blue Jays, Mets, Marlins, Phillies, and White Sox had a single prospect each.

I guess we can start calling Houston the Lastros for a long time to come, as they have no future! Also failing to make the top fifty: Braves, A's, Giants, and Twins.

These lists don't mean much, of course, and for me to sit here and count the number each teams has is, well, remember when you were a kid and you sat around sorting and resorting your baseball cards? Here is a puzzle to describe it:
She did nothing but eat chocolate and grew and grew
The hour is getting near
Some of these prospects won't pan out, but to have four in the top fifty is pretty cool. Bailey and Votto will start the year in a Cincinnati uniform, and Bruce and Cueto will be wearing Cincy red sometime during the season. I sure can't wait for that.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Schneider and Church for Milledge

I don't know how soon I will be returning to Washington (I am currently considering many post-Bulgaria options), but I think Jim Bowden really pulled off a good trade with the Mets in dealing Brian Schneider and Ryan Church to the Mets for Lastings Milledge. Schneider couldn't hit to save his life these last two years. As for Church, well, the Nationals just didn't like him. Hopefully he'll blossom in a new environment.

As for Milledge, if he expects the Washington area to embrace his egomaniacal antics on the field, well, he's going to get a lesson. Washington media, though more likely to bow to political pressure than New York media, in my opinion, is still tough, and people aren't going to put up with a jerk.

Lastings, consider this a warning. Grow up, produce on the field, and maybe someone will finally like you. You have a lot to prove. Good luck in DC. Say hi to Austin for me.