Friday, April 18, 2008

Tales of April Baseball

I'm a little ashamed that my first contribution to FRD is coming in the form of a shitty "Top Whatever" list. I've been suffering through a bit of writer's block over the past few days and my only hope of posting something mildly entertaining is to have an entry with some structure.

Baseball in and of itself devalues the importance of the individual contests. Even the most ardent fans have to admit that the sting from April heart-breakers pale in comparison to the suicidal rampages that result from early season football defeat. Yet for some reason, we all know at least nine different assholes who find it necessary to post their disdain for the local ballclub in their away messages and Facebook statuses. Some of the worst will even drop a text message on us, serving as an alarm clark -- an alarm clark with a very different wake up call... Lose. This. Friend.

But here we are. We're like 17 games in, the weather crept up to 80 today, and Joe Morgan has called the black people flashier than the whites. Baseball, to use a horrific pun here, is officially in full swing. So what's happening? What's worth writing about? Shit, is there anything even worth watching? You bet there is. I've composed the five most compelling, touches-the-heart, knife-in-the-groin storylines from this budding toddler of a season. April baseball may be meaningless, but even in these repetitive times, the game certainly has it's moments.

#5. Where Have You Gone Barry Bonds?
Does anyone else find the lack of Barry Bonds coverage to be very surprising? My guess is Barry's ecstatic that the sport he's dominated for the better part of two decades seems to have forgotten him. My question is, how the fuck did this happen? He's not only arguably the most controversial athlete of our generation, but he also still happens to be a damn fine baseball player.

In a "down year" for Bonds, he still posted a .480 OBP, .607 SLG%, and popped 28 home runs in just 126 games. Is he getting older with diminishing stats? Certainly. Is he going to jail? Maybe. Would he quite possibly be the worst PR signing in the history of anything, ever? You bet. But the bottom line in every aspect of living, and this sadly includes sports, is money money money. The gate Barry Bonds would bring far outweighs the juice flowing through his soul. So ironically, My #5 story is the lack of a story at all. I want to see what Barry Bonds is up to. I don't need the syringes or roid-rage. Just get some paparazzi to his house and give me a photograph of his big square head running on a treadmill. Someone please confirm that the bastard is still alive.

#4: Big Papi's Big Slump
It's starting to get ridiculous. The lesson I value the most from 15 years of watching this game is that April numbers don't mean dick. The season is a marathon, a cliché. A continuous contradiction. The best players in the game can go 0 for 5 on any given day and Eddie Taubensee can hit a walk off home run. The stats always even out regardless of how bad it gets.

That being said, David Ortiz's season opening slump is at the very least a huge shocker. I mean, we're talking about one half of the two headed monster behind two World Championship seasons. Ortiz is currently 8 for 63. He has one, yes one, extra base hit. His season RBI total matches Xavier Nady's opening day total... four. He'll eventually snap out of it, but when it gets to this point and everyone's eyes are on your every at bat, each pitch gets magnified and the pressure builds. Ortiz has a history of excelling at an unprecedented level under pressure, but this is a different kind of pressure. For the first time in his career, his at bats aren't about the team, but rather they are about him. People aren't watching to see if he'll lift the Red Sox to victory. They're watching to see if one of the game's best will continue to fail.

#3 - Canseco's latest book -- Steroids II: What I Forgot to Write in the First One
I almost don't even want to mention this because there are few people more detrimental to their profession than Canseco. It's as if he's the thorn in the ass of baseball, slipping right into the hole the syringes left from the late 90s. His agenda is obvious. Money. If the majority of this book were true there would have been no reason not to include it in the first one.

But regardless, this book will be the talk of every baseball town in America very soon. Passages about his hatred for Alex Rodriguez and relationship with Roger Clemens have already been released, and ESPN decided it was necessary to interview him once for the Sunday Conversation. I personally don't give a shit about any of this, and I've gathered from other respectable baseball fans that the majority of you don't give a shit, either.

The whole thing doesn't make any sense to me. ESPN's second biggest attraction is certainly the MLB, and for them to continuously sabotage the game with this negative, unpopular coverage boggles my mind. We'll be reading about it. We'll be watching it. We'll be submerged in it whether we like it or not. Canseco's latest literary accomplishment isn't just a book. It's a dark cloud looming over baseball -- unfortunately the MLB and the media appear to love a good thunderstorm.

#2: Elijah Dukes Raped My Roommate
I gotta be honest... it was really weird. I got home one night at like 3am, totally hammered. A buddy of mine invited me to a 181 cup beer-pong tournament. By the time it was over I could barely breathe. I digress. Anyway, I get back and the TV is on, front door is open, and my roommate is nowhere to be found. I head upstairs to our bedrooms and hear a strange, strange sound coming from his. Naturally, I assumed he had a night similar to mine only he was lucky enough to get a girl to come home with him.

Trying not to disturb anyone, I tip-toed into the bathroom and started to brush my teeth. As soon as he was able to hear my presence, the guy starts screaming "Help! Help!" For a split second I considered the notion that they were just doing some kinky shit, but with that I heard the sound of glass breaking and was instantly petrified.

I opened the door, and he's just laying there under the covers. Not blinking, not moving. Looks to be alive, but in the same way those wax models do. The window, amazingly, wasn't shattered. The hole in it bared a striking resemblance to Damon Wayans' character in the film Blankman.

I offered to call the police but he would have none of it -- too embarrassing I guess. About a week later I was finally able to get it out of him that Elijah Dukes was his rapist. Dukes is 0 for 2 on the season.

#1: The Detroit Tigers
Talk about over-hyped. I realize that the majority of this entry has been about the meaninglessness of April baseball, and the Tigers early failures are not entirely emblematic of what's to come. Still, I'm really enjoying it. I'm sticking with my prediction that Dontrelle Willis will be in the bullpen by August. The Tigers are better than how they've played thus far, but there's no reason for me to deviate from my original opinion that they are an overrated ballclub. Their pitching is so mediocre it's laughable, and yes the offense improved, but not enough to make up for that rotation. For the love of God, will someone please tell me what Jeremy Bonderman has ever done? They're going to win around 88 games this season. Not 98 like the rest of baseball would have you believe.

These early failures from Detroit are entertaining. I have a good amount of buddies who are, for whatever reason, die hard Indians fans. I hope I'm not lumped into that group. I'm just an outsider who never saw where the love was coming from. The Indians are a better ball club and I'm looking forward to seeing that play out throughout the rest of this 2008 baseball season.

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