Thursday, August 27, 2009

Personality Goes A Long Way


Other alternatives we discussed to the above caption:

"How to stop worrying and love the syringe"

"See, Barry, why couldn't you just not be an ass your whole life?"

"They call me Mister Clutch"

"Wise Can't Save You Now"

Sunday, August 23, 2009

You Can Count On Your Fingers and Toes

The amount of times this has happened in professional baseball

EDIT: I had to find another source after the predictable MLB/YouTube blackout that always happens for some stupid reason. Like MLB is losing millions of dollars by letting fans post highlights? It's ridiculous. Baseball needs to go the way the NBA did, embracing the highlight-friendly youtube and maybe putting up their own channel with HQ vids. Whom do I email to correct this.

POST SCRIPT: The "fingers and toes" title here refers to the total amount of times an unassisted triple play has happened, that's a total of 15 right now. But if you want to take it even further, it's only the second time in baseball history a game has ended with an unassisted triple play. And the first time when that game served as an accurate and devastating metaphor for the relationship between the teams competing against each other.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Mini Highlight Reel

Just a couple videos to pass the day:

The Mets' season highlight:

.com/'>Sports Videos at Today's Big Thing.

And what is probably going to be the best defensive play of the 2009 season, Mr. Wise:

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Unraveling the String Theory


One of the sports sites I check with regular frequency is With Leather, a WWTDD-type of blog with the sports news of the day posted. They're fast, funny, and have a scope wide enough for random soccer riots to get a posting every now and again. It's a good site.

But fuck them for this post.

I already went to the comment section and scribbled something furiously in retort (try and guess which is mine!). Allow me here to give a wider comment.

There is no unifying, grand cosmic theory on the players who have been caught using PEDs. There is no use or sense in trying to figure out who has and who hasn't done steroids in speculative and affection-type terms. Meaning, don't act surprised that (your favorite dude) used some PEDs because he's your dude, or throw out a name (Frank Thomas!) just to wonder about. That's useless. PEDs and 'Roids specifically and known to have precise results; it's why Sosa and McGwire and Bonds and Clemens all sort of got bigger heads and seemed sweaty and furrowed-brow'd a lot of the time, why their stats in the middle age of their lives all increased in violation of God's Grand Will.

Why am I telling WithLeather to go perform physically impossible acts on itself?, you may ask, given that I just pretty much agreed with their premise that you can't presume someone's innocent.

Because they named Griffey. And I will not tolerate that shit. Yeah, it is stupid to assume someone didn't use PEDs for no good reason. Thinking that the Kid was/is PED-free, though, is far from stupid.

I'm not the first to say it, but I'll say it again; Griffey is pretty much at the top of everyone's Never Did Steroids List, for a few reasons.

He was Bonds' contemporary, first of all, and when you compare the career arcs of the two men who were, at their onset, reasonably similarly matched in terms of skill-sets and personal backgrounds, it's pretty clear that Bonds violated Nature's Law somewhere along the way. Whereas Griffey faded for a bit, languishing in the Natti and succumbing to various injuries, Bonds went nuclear, destroying any semblance of records and claiming what he always wanted for his own: the record. So Junior looks practically Sainted in comparison.


Secondly, Griffey famously didn't "work out" in the traditional sense of the term, e.g. going to the weight room and lifting metal plates over and over again. Steroids and PEDs are primarily used to augment the lifting process, to help speed the muscle recovery time and get you back in the gym faster, pushing your body to levels the normal cycles of muscle growth would never allow. So there's a book, Junior: Griffey on Griffey, published in 1997 as a window into the phenomenom of Mr. Ken Griffey Jr. It's a high gloss, 11" by 14" Walter Ioss-photographed affair, filled with (some really beautiful) pictures of spring training and game moments, along with some locker room and home-life type stuff, then sparse passages written or dictated by Griffey fill the other space. For the 16 year old Griffey fan I was, it was crack. There's not too much text, but even back then I remembered this passage as being remarkable:
"Most people think they have to use the off-season to get stronger by lifting weights or running ten miles a day. I know what I have to do and that's stay flexible. It doesn't matter how strong you are. If you can only move 7 inches either way, then you're not going to hit the ball out of the ballpark. Now if you can move 35 inches, then you're going to have the proper leverage and quickness to knock the ball out of the park. I'm probably one of the most flexible guys on our team. I'm not that strong. I probably only bench-press about 200 pounds, but I focus on keeping myself as flexible as possible."

Keep in mind this is written in 1997, when Ken probably knew of the PED culture and had probably already been given offered every PED imaginable. There's also a quote, which I'll paraphrase, about how he never really works on his swing, explaining he knows what to do and how to get there, he just needs to visualize. It was all humble and self aggrandizing at the same time and really just supports the obvious conclusion that Griffey was a phenom, plain and simple. There are seminal, important athletes in all sports, and Junior is one of them. Mays was one of them. Brown was one of them. It's just how it is. Griffey was a world class player two years before he could buy a glass of alcohol.

The injuries Griffey suffered, that have been chronicles relentlessly, are the injuries of a man whose body was stressed from baseball. He shattered his right wrist during a game, and many inside baseball attribute the various lower body injuries to playing his young career on the concrete-like Kingdom floor. (The other topic, that Griffey fell short of his true potential by missing so much playing time, is so stupid and merit-less and infuriating that my fists sort of involuntarily clench when it's breached as a subject)


Look, I'm not arguing for Griffey because I love him as a player. (I still use the PRO-TB24 Rawlings Pro-Preferred Griffey baseball glove [in beer-league softball now], even though I never played the outfield, just because I aped his style). I acknowledge this bias. I'm arguing for Griffey as a non PED user because it doesn't make any goddamned baseball sense.

Back in the day, when Brady Anderson had a year that qualifies as "of course" on the levels-of suspiciousness chart, he gave interviews about working out, in addition to posing for posters that the gay community adored. There was a bit about how the great Cal Ripken never lifted, how he'd be throwing guys around in the clubhouse, but when they got in the weight room Brady was out lifting him easily. It's because baseball isn't a game where being a weight lifter is intrinsically worthwhile. Brady, of course, flamed out of the game relatively quickly, while Cal broke records for durability. Cal was both lucky and a world class athlete. Brady, for a season, cheated his way to half of that equation.

There's a contradiction here, I know. JnM has long said we don't care about steroids/PEDs - and we don't. The villans in this Steroid Scandal are the players we just hate anyway: Bonds only had a handful of San Franciscan Contrarians supporting him while he hacked away at the record books, and Clemens and A Rod really don't seem to have anyone who actively likes them. (Really and seriously about that last guy - are there any actual Rodriguez fans? What are the numbers on his jersey sales?) Steroids, in those cases, gives us an easy way to make fun of guys who seem and act for all intents like giant douche bags. It's worth noting that both Rodriguez and Clemens frosted the tips of their hair. Sosa and McGwire are hoisted on their own petard, claiming innocence that common sense and visual evidence rebuts. Giambi and Pettitte get by with admissions of honesty, and Manny, like the pig in Pulp Fiction, has a ton of charisma and character; he's a damn rock star. Ortiz is shocking because he's a fat guy, and he has a lot of fans - he doesn't adhere to the standards of physical evidence we look for, and we like him, so we don't care as much. As far as Griffey goes, part of his appeal has always been the shooting-star aspect of his talent. Hell, the first cover of SI he appeared on was titled "The Natural." Accusing Griffey of this type of thing insults the history of his career and is just too counter-intuitive for me to let go.

The las thing I'll say here - thanks for hanging in! - is in response to the end of the article, where it's stated that Steroids are the only thing keeping Baseball in the National Consciousness. That's just stupid. It's clearly the issue that gets the most attention, from the MSM and bloggers alike, but it's not the only thing keeping baseball there. Baseball has been there for more than a hundred years. But there are 162 games during the season, and a lot of them happen during the summer when everyone's too busy trying to not kill themselves for being in an office while the weather is so beautiful. And it's impossible for anything subtle or day to day to grab focus in the 24 hour news cycle the Sports Media has become. So unless it's something everyone can argue about, it doesn't get to the front page. That's all well and good. So then, don't pretend like because Baseball doesn't get the foam-at-the-mouth/obsessive to the point of parody fans that football gets makes Baseball irrelevant. The attendance numbers for Baseball are incredible, the ratings are solid, the game is doing well. Don't toss Baseball under a bus because you're an idiot.


Kung Fu Panda

We here at JnM hereby do officially add Pablo Sandoval to the list of players we love