Friday, August 31, 2007

Bite Me, Randy Newman

As my friends will gladly recount, my mouth has a long history of writing checks against the quite limited amount of funds held on deposit in my bank of physical attributes. Fortunately for me, I’ve been blessed with more than my share of large and generous friends. It’s my own, personal version of the FDIC. While those same friends might call it something else, altogether, I blame this particular shortcoming on a hypercompetitive streak the genesis of which I can’t divine.

Growing up, that competitiveness overcame my size limitations well enough to enable me to succeed, if not necessarily excel, in most athletic endeavors. At the same time, my positions in each sport were fairly well prescribed. I was a point guard and a middle infielder by default, and those positional identities have colored my rooting interests ever since. For example, while I worshiped Yaz and Pedro, I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for Red Sox second basemen, nearly all of whom have toiled in the shadows of their more-acclaimed teammates. From Jerry Remy to Marty Barrett to Jody Reed to Tim Naehring to Mark Bellhorn and even Mark Loretta (and excepting Jeff Frye and Mike Lansing – man, what an utterly forgettable era), I’ve had a keen rooting interest in the unsung heroes of the middle infield.

So there was some amount of pleasure to be found when 5’ 9” (in the program) Dustin Pedroia rocketed through the Sox’ farm system. Although a shortstop in college (where he was the Pac-10 Player of the Year and a finalist for the Golden Spikes Award at Arizona State), he’s been destined to the Sox’ second baseman of the future since he entered the system. Before I knew anything about him other than his size and position, I was ready to welcome him with open arms.

He did nothing to dispel my high hopes when he made his major league debut last fall, but I’d become so disillusioned with the 2006 Sox amidst their wrenching late-season collapse that I paid less attention to the details than I ordinarily might, and as a September callup, Pedroia kept a low profile. I could tell, though, that his listed height was generous, speaking as someone who knows these things. Another checkmark on the good side of the ledger.

As the Sox have rolled through their 2007 schedule (current hiccup annoyingly notwithstanding), Pedroia’s not only been one of the bright spots on the field, he’s displayed a feisty attitude completely in keeping with my personal lunacy. After a dismal start to the season that had Red Sox Nation at large pining for more Alex Cora (I said it was a dismal start), Pedroia caught fire to the point where he led the Sox in OPS for more than a month’s worth of games. He currently carries a .315 batting average and a .823 OPS, good for 5th on the Sox roster. He’s a leading candidate for AL Rookie of the Year and he’s removed any doubts about his place in the big leagues.

More important than what he’s done, at least in my fan’s addled mind, is how he’s done it. Pedroia plays every moment of every game with the wild abandon of a guy who knows he’s got to throw his whole being into his efforts to be good enough to stick. He runs with arms akimbo - a tiny gunfighter – dives with reckless abandon (a personal favorite attribute – just ask my friends), stands in at second base against charging baserunners, and takes mighty cuts at every pitch. He’s also a lead-with-his-chin instigator in the clubhouse, where he’s every Sox player’s little brother.

And if I hadn’t already grown to love the guy, this interview with his college coach, Pat Murphy, elevated (term used loosely) him to legendary in my mind. (Hat tip to Bruce Allen by way of SOSH) Money graf:
“One time we’re playing Fullerton or something like that and he’s a freshman and he strikes out to lead off the game, which is something he rarely ever does, and I come over to Dustin and say ‘hey Dustin, how was that slider?’ and he says back to me ‘Coach…that thing is so nasty.’ Well the rest of the team heard him say that and they’re going to start thinking it’s nasty and if Pedroia can’t hit that slider then the rest of them can’t hit it either.
I pulled him aside and I said ‘Pedroia, for the rest of your life if someone asks you about a pitch you say ‘ah…it’s alright but I should have hit it.’

But now you’ve got the other side of it where you’ve created a monster and for the next three years every time…every time you asked Pedroia how the pitchers stuff was he would say 'this guy sucks…he’s terrible.’ He’d just be screaming at the guy ‘this guy's terrible…you’re terrible’…all 5-foot-6, 120-pounds of him.”

On a team marked by reserved professionalism and laid-back cool, Pedroia carries himself with a unique intensity and, dare I say it, an irrationally competitive streak that reminds me of my own self. I used to say that if I’d been 6 inches taller I could have been a professional athlete. Now I know that I’m just a tiny insanely competitive person with not quite enough talent. Thanks for that, Dustin, and long may you man the middle infield at Fenway.

Oh, and Bite Me, Randy Newman.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Looks like it's time to break out the O.J. jersey

In recent years I have tried to tone down my obsession with one Orenthal James "O.J." Simpson and his hunt for the "real killers," but this snippet I saw on Ben Maller yesterday was simply too much to pass up. It's difficult to justify continually making light of a brutal double homicide, but this caricature of a human being warrants tongue-in-cheek mockery at all times.

Apparently, in O.J.'s fictional (cough, gag, vomit in mouth) book If I Did It..., the former 2,000 yard rusher and member of Police Squad! accuses a man named "Charlie" of killing Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman on that fateful night in 1994.

Seriously Juice, this is what you came up with? Well, if that's the story he's sticking to, I figured the least I could do was narrow the list of possible suspects down for him. O.J., I hope you're reading this, because one of these Charlies is most definitely your killer:

O.J.'s Charlie List

Charlie Sheen - Hell, he's killed his career at least twice. And a couple of marriages to boot. Why not Nicole and Ron? In fact, has anyone seen Emilio lately?

Charlie Hough - Death by knuckleball? Sure, why not? I guess that makes Phil and Joe Niekro the Menendez brothers.

Charlie Rose - Bored Nicole and Ron to death interviewing Salman Rushdie.

Charlie the Tuna - Always up to something fishy (I know, just plain awful).

Charli(z)e Theron - Don't let her beauty fool you. You saw Monster, right?

Charlie Heston - Soylent Green is People. In this case, Soylent Green is Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman. He parted the Red Sea, and possibly parted Nicole's head from her torso.

Charlie Murphy - Getting bitchslapped by Rick James and trounced in pickup hoops by Prince's Blouse Squad can drive a man to do strange things. The Darkness lives up to his name.

The Viet Cong - Charlie don't surf, so no one's looking for him in SoCal. (I don't want to skew the voting, but this is by far my favorite)

Charlie Steiner
- What Ron and Nicole didn't realize was "Follow me to freedom" meant "Follow me to a dark alley where I could quietly cut your melons off."

Charlie Bronson - After visiting a West Hollywood psychic in June of '94, Bronson becomes enraged to learn that not one, but two, rip-offs of his classic Death Wish film will be released in September of '07. Add that to the fact he never truly recovered from trying to tunnel out of a Nazi labor camp for months and we have a recipe for disaster.

Charlie Chaplin - Like Snake Eyes, a silent and deadly assassin capable of anything. Little Tramp, my arse.

Charlie Schwab - "Talk to Chuck... right over here, in this dark, deserted corner of the alley where only a dog can witness the deadly shenanigans about to take place."

Charlie Norris - O.J. read this on the internet and believed it: "O.J. didn't do it, Chuck Norris kicked O.J. in the face on the set of Naked Gun IV and his ex-wife's head fell off"

Charlie E. Cheese's - Little known fact: Ron and Nicole actually died in a ball pit.

Charlie Nelson Reilly - ...with the man scarf... in the Turkish bath house... while gleefully exclaiming, "Say, there!"

Charlie Babbitt - He's an excellent knifer. He's an excellent knifer.

Charlie Daniels - He's been consortin' with the devil since '79.

Charlie Dickens - David Copperfield. The magician. Someone had to pay.

Charlie Grodin - Forced Ron and Nicole to watch five minutes of his short-lived talk show. They killed themselves after two.

Charlie Chan - Anyone who wears a white suit after Labor Day makes this list.

Charlie in Charge - In charge of our days, and our nights...and of sleeping with Nicole, as well as every other woman in the 310 area code.

Charlie de Gaulle - A blonde woman and a waiter? Too powerful a force for Frenchie. Best to surrender, mes amies. Off the list.

Charlie Brown - If you were a prepubescent boy and already bald, PLUS you had to deal with that witch Nicole... er, Lucy... wouldn't you teach her and Ron... er, Schroeder... a lesson? This blockhead is capable of a lot of scary things. In this scenario, Linus is Kato and Snoopy is A.C. Good grief.

Charlie Hustle - Now there's a reason not to get into the Hall...

Charlie Bucket - Tour of a Chocolate Factory with that midget-hoarder and pedophile will cause a small child to kill. Golden ticket my ass.

Charlie Manson - Too obvious? Nothing is too obvious when it comes to this case, is it, Chewbacca?

Charlie Kurault - On the road, in a motor home, telling stories of kindly people in small towns. Running from Johnny Law and his sordid past.

Prince Charlie - Friggin' royals. Escaped capture that fateful night by riding his monstrous ears to safety.

Charlie Barkley - Errant golf shot did the damage. Plus, you saw what he did to Barney back in the day, right?

Charlie Darwin - You see, it's nature's way of weeding out the weaker elements to off a pair of unsuspecting citizens... obviously, Darwin felt there were too many blondes married to ex-jocks and dumb waiters who keep misplacing their glasses.

The Charlie's Angels Charlie - Most don't know that his unseen character was voiced by football star turned actor O.J. Simpson. Wait...

All right, dearest readers, who'd I miss? Who's the real killer amongst this distinguished roster? Seriously, O.J. has a lead - we just need to follow it until we end the mystery.

By the way, I'd like you all to know this might be the most fun I've had on a post...well, ever.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Quit while I'm ahead? Never...

I'm sure most everyone has tuned out by now, but I'm having too much fun with this nonsense to stop now. In a nutshell, Mike Mussina has finally lost it, serving up more runs recently than a drunken Whitney in his doubleheader-pitching heyday...and I am just the guy to find my beloved Yankees a "suitable" replacement for Moose in their rotation. Our final candidate (for today at least) makes C.C. Sabathia look slender, leading to serious concerns from management about his stamina, but I'm pretty sure what "The Clown Prince of Hip-Hop" lacks in athleticism he makes up for in clubhouse presence. I imagine he and Shelley Duncan will get along just fine...

Rotation Replacement Roulette Continues

A reminder of what the hell I'm talking about:

Mike Mussina took the mound last night, his job clearly on the line despite what he may think, and supplied this piss-poor line:
3 IP, 6 ER, 9 hits, 1 BB, no strikeouts

For those scoring at home, in his last three starts Moose has allowed 19 ER in 9.2 innings pitched - an asinine 17.69 ERA. With that being said, I am attempting to find a suitable replacement for him in the Yankee rotation. Our next qualified candidate most definitely is in the shape required to be a starter, shaking his stuff on the catwalk for hours on end, but I fear his ego might get the best of him, as he most definitely feels he is too sexy for the rotation, the pitching mound and Yankee Stadium in general...

Because I’m tired of looking at...

...LeVar Burton, I figured I'd submit my first candidate to replace "Don't Cry For Me" Mike Mussina in the Yankees rotation (despite what Mike thinks of himself**, he is going to get this point, even Carl Pavano looks like a decent alternative). On the plus side, Jimmy the Greek said that since this candidate is Hispanic he'll be good at baseball. Of course, on the flip side, candidate numero uno will most likely get tossed from virtually every game he plays in due to the oil and lotion that drips on the ball each inning. Enjoy the bullpen Moose...

**Mussina's ego might even be bigger than his ERA. When the New York Times questioned Musina about possibly being replaced in the rotation, his retort was "Who are they going to replace me with?"

Saturday, August 25, 2007

R.I.F. (Reading Is Fun-damental)

Gheorghe: The Blog is Exhibit A for how sports addicts like ourselves have embraced the computer age, but you can still find each of us with our faces buried in the local paper's sports section on any given morning. Or afternoon, or evening. There's still an aesthetic to reading the print editions of newspapers, and I'll often do so even after I know most of the previous night's results.

The jonesingest among us sports geeks derive especially great pleasure from the Scoreboard page, a section nearly void of prose and composed exclusively of statistics, standings and tables of simple fact reporting. There is beauty in every subsection, but a glance at Transactions is usually a quick confirmation of some moves we know, some eyebrow-raising ones we didn't, and some information too trivial even for us. Good stuff. And on some days, there is fodder for terrible, horrible rim-shot inducing one-liners quietly kept to ourselves.

Usually kept to ourselves. Today's Transactions consist of three entries. Here we go.

Major League Baseball
MLB-- Suspended OF Juan Valdes (Cleveland) for 50 games for violating the Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program. (Who knew caffeine had been added to MLB's list?? Ba-dum-pum.)

American League
DETROIT TIGERS-- Activated LHP Andrew Miller from the 15-day DL. Optioned RHP Zach Miner to Toledo (IL). (Where he really belongs, don't you think? Ba-dum-pum.)

KANSAS CITY ROYALS-- Placed OF Mark Teahen on the 15-day DL. Purchased the contract of RHP Billy Buckner from Omaha (PCL). (Too . . . many . . . jokes . . .)
Speaking of one-liners, does every small-to-mid-sized newspaper's sports section have the weekly or semi-weekly column by the veteran sportswriter where he issues a smorgasbord of snippets followed by his own snidely sarcastic follow-ups? My paper's guy is particularly horrible, and I want to ask: if I dedicate some blogspace into ripping him apart in gory detail -- and providing better jokes for each of his -- is that pathetic or justified? He's really been getting to me lately, and today's tripe is pushing me over the top.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

"How does it feel to be an independent, Schoenstein?"

"How does it feel to be an asshole, Hillenbrand?"

In an effort to bring you, the DeVry-educated masses, as much bathroom-ready content as possible, today we introduce our newest G:TB feature, the "Anti-Gheorghe of the Week", and honestly, I can think of no better candidate to kick start this than First-Class Asshat Shea Hillenbrand. In fact, Rob and I both agree that Shea should legally change his middle name to Asshat. But that's neither here nor there. We're here to pay tribute to the least Gheorghe guy we can think of, a surly malcontent who poisons every team he is on, yet continues to get jobs because he can adequately hit a baseball. When will GMs learn?

I think most folks are familiar with Shea's past antics, but if not, a quick refresher:

Boston Red Sox (2001-2003)
Shea begins his career in Boston, where he manages to hit for some average and power, but appears deathly allergic to walks (he still has never had more than 25 walks in a season), which cannot make Theo and the boys happy. What probably made Theo even more unhappy was Hillenbrand calling him a "faggot" on talk radio and demanding a trade. Theo obliges, happily I'm sure, moving Shea to the Diamondbacks for the Korean Blown Save, Byung-Hyun Kim in May '03. On his way out of town, Hillenbrand managed to shoot his mouth off one last time, saying the Red Sox would deeply regret letting him go: "They don't know what they have with me. If they get rid of me, they'll know what they have. You've heard of Jeff Bagwell?" By the way, "what they have" turned out to be the AL Batting Champ Bill Mueller. And Shea, Jeff Bagwell is going to the Hall of, you're lucky to get free passes to Knott's Berry Farm.

Arizona Diamondbacks (2003-2004)
Hillenbrand produces at a moderate clip in Arizona and, as far as the public knows, doesn't throw any derogatory slurs around or demand any trades. But I'm pretty sure everyone still hates him.

Toronto Blue Jays (2005-2006)
Ah yes, now we've gotten to the part of the story that everyone knows. In July '06, Hillenbrand got pissed at the Blue Jays organization for not congratulating him on the adoption of a baby girl. They also decided not to play him when he got back from said adoption, which of course didn't sit well with the calm, even-keeled Hillenbrand. Being the mature professional that he is, Shea chose not to sit in the dugout that night, but did find time to write inspirational messages on the clubhouse billboard:
"This ship is sinking"
Not surprisingly, manger John Gibbons was non-plussed about Shea's writings... somewhat surprisingly (not to Ted Lilly I guess), Gibbons challenged Hillenbrand to a fight during a team meeting. Adios Shea. Time to try the West Coast.

San Francisco Giants (2006)
He might be a surly curmudgeon and an Asshat (there's that word again), but I guess when you are teammates with Barry Bonds AND Jeff Kent even a guy like Shea can't cause a ripple. However, the Giants saw no need to keep him after a 60 game tryout, so I'm pretty sure everyone still hates him.

Ah, now to the real fun part, Shea's 2007 campaign. Shea Butter is looking to complete the historic SoCal Triple Play, meaning he will sign and fail with all three Southern California baseball squadrons in 2007 (yep, I know he is currently a's called foreshadowing. Trust me, based on his track record, he'll be gone soon enough):
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (2007 - 53 games)
Frankly, I don't know why the Angels signed him in the first place...they sure as hell didn't need his bat, and they definitely didn't need his clubhouse "presence". Amazingly, he lasted 53 games, finally getting designated for assignment in June after being quoted as saying "If I'm not going to play here, give me enough respect to trade me or get rid of me." In July, the Angels waived him. The end of the road, right? Who would ever want this guy? Wait, what, the Padres??

San Diego Padres (2007 - never made it out of the minors)
The Pads signed him to a minor league deal in late July, sending him to the AAA Portland Beavers. They released him two weeks later, mainly because he hit .147 during that time. I'm also willing to bet the minor league guys hated him. A lot. So that's got to be the end of Shea Hillenbrand, Major League Ballplayer, right? Nope...

Los Angeles Dodgers (2007 - 9 far)
Apparently desperate beyond belief for offense, the Dodgers decided that Shea just needed a new SoCal address in order to succeed. It's been 9 games and 32 ABs so far, producing no home runs and 4 RBI. Just wait til Nomar comes back and bumps him from the regular line-up.



Filler. Cut with baking powder.

Rob took the first swings at the complacency piñata the other day, so I figured I'd jump on board today...

Memo to China: Stop exporting tainted/poisonous/deadly products. It's really hurting your rap. Seriously, tainted toys, dog treats, toothpaste, pajamas AND chop sticks? You'd think in a country with one billion people they could find 20 or so qualified safety inspectors. Then again, you'd think an elite D-1 college football team could find an adequate kicker, but we all know that ain't the case.

I don't necessarily want to club Dusty Baker, because frankly it's too easy, but last night during the Tigers/Indians highlights Gary Sheffield's injury was mentioned, to which Baker replied "That's why they really need Monroe to step up". Hmmm, would that be Craig Monroe Dusty, a guy the Tigers designated for assignment a week ago? How about just 5 minutes of prep time a night you clown?

Speaking of Baseball Tonight, the Rangers 30 run offensive explosion left Tim Kurkjian sounding like a 12-year-old girl who'd just met Zac Efron. Calling in, Kurkjian was so excited his voice rose to decibel levels only audible to dogs and Kirsten Dunst (sorry, no idea where that shot came from).

Back to Sheff for a's so nice to see karma in play. That's right Sheff, karma just kicked you square in the nuts. And I love it.

I was perusing the other day, as I am apt to do, and I found what I consider a very enjoyable tidbit on new Oriole J.R. House's page. This is listed under page sponsorships:
"Voted among SI's Top 50 sports figures in WV history, J.R. is the best high school QB to ever play the game. After battling back from injuries, J.R. is ready to soar. A strong Christian, find out more at:"
J.R., perhaps Jesus Christ can help you finally hit a curveball.

Finally, in honor of Geoffrey's impending nuptials (less than 36 hours away), here's your requisite YouTube clip of the day:

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Filler. Pure Filler.

It's fake. Let's move on.

In the interest of seeing something different on top of the G:TB masthead, just a quick bet- and/or prognostication-related update. Like Anderson Cooper, we're keeping them honest.

Teejay and I bet on the relative performance of Roger Clemens and Tim Wakefield from the time the former joined the Yankees' roster. On the strength of 15 consecutive scoreless innings (Thanks, Devil Rays!), Wakefield has taken the lead in two of the three relevant categories, edging Clemens in WHIP (1.25 to 1.28) and Batting Average Against (.251 to .268). Clemens leads the ERA battle with a 3.92 mark to Wake's 4.46. Much like the race to see which diminishes faster, Whitney's brain cell count or his hairline, this one's too close to call.

Teejay bet Dennis, among others, that the Washington Nationals would lose 100 or more games this season. With Manny Acta's scrappy bunch playing as well as almost anyone in the NL, it seems that the forces of Teejay's opponents are well-positioned to rout him. At 56-69, the Nats need just win 7 of their final 37 to avoid triple-digit losses. Advantage, anyone other than Teejay.

As for me, I posited early in the season that Alex Rodriguez' homer tally would exceed the very same Nationals' win total. While A-Rod's been quite homerrific, hitting number 40 last night, his torrid April pace was unsustainable. The lesson, as always, is that I'm an idiot.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

There's no way this is real...right?

You'd think after two plus years of searching YouTube I wouldn't be surprised by what I find. But this...this...I mean, really?

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Jonas Salk, H.B. Reese

I was reflecting the other day about one of Gheorghe: The Blog's posts from earlier this summer. The Jonas Salk part of that story made me think very, very deeply -- and, as those who know me well will tell you, I am surely wont to do.

Our parents' generation saw the debilitating disease polio go from a tragically common occurrence to a thing of the past, so much so that we -- merely a generation later -- can't really relate to their fear of it. It's one among many things we take for granted, but it's a significant one by any standard.

Eerily similarly, however, our generation now breathes a quiet sigh of relief knowing that the rampant, inevitable, and often violent collisions involving persons carrying chocolate bars and other persons carrying open jars of peanut butter have been curbed almost entirely out of existence. It's a wee bit disappointing to think that the kids today cannot truly appreciate this eradication, but the magic of YouTube can demonstrate just the tip of the iceberg on a crisis that was spiraling out of control . . .

* * * *
Oh, and one more thing to file under "Things I Learned from Television in the 1970's":
Italian-Americans with surnames ending in "elli" or "ello" are instantly made thoroughly more endearing people if you simply call them by the surname's first syllable (Fonz, Ponch, etc.). It really softens an otherwise potentially hard-edged citizen. Try this with neighbors, colleagues, etc. -- it works.

Exception: in college I had a female professor for The Study of Language whose last name was Scancarelli. (Both c's are hard, but not as hard as she was.) IT DID NOT WORK. I failed the class, which was a large reason why the English Department disowned me soon thereafter.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

King of the...Joe Tables?

Four score and many moons ago we began the "King of the..." series here at G:TB (if by "series" you mean two posts loosely held together by a contrived concept), but I've gotta tell you, today's installment - inspired by several emails from G:TB stalwart Dennis- has got to be my favorite. That's right los lectores fieles, you can close the window and put away your dog-eared Spanish-English dictionary...we've got you covered. ¡Ándale! ¡Ándale! ¡Arriba! ¡Arriba! (¿demasiado?)**

Joe Table (Jose Mesa) - The man, the myth, the legend - the reason this post even exists. That's right, it's the man who had a kid at the ripe old age of 13 and who cost the city of Cleveland the World Series title in 1997 (and has one of the more enjoyable ongoing feuds with former teammate Omar Vizquel). Joe Table, your candle burned out long before your legend ever did...wait, what? He's still employed? Yessiree, Jose Mesa is currently a Philadelphia Philly (his 2nd ball club this year and 8th in 19 major league seasons), and sporting a superb 5.65 ERA to boot. Well done sir. Brett Myers will most likely be punch you in the face any day now.

Chuck Newhouse (Carlos y Charlie Villanueva) - A true double-threat, Mr. Villanueva is both an up-and-coming pitcher for the Milwaukee Brewers and a promising alien-PF hybrid (in the Species mold) for the Milwaukee Bucks. There hasn't been a male duo this formidable to hit the streets of "Mill-e-wah-que" since Lenny and Squiggy. This little tidbit made me chuckle, mainly because I think very little of the NBA version - Chuck the Buck sometimes goes by the nickname "Skillanueva".

Roberto Clemente (Rob Merciful) - Its not often my style, but if I can be serious for a moment, even within a post this nonsensical. Given what we know of the player and the man, and how Clemente was taken from this Earth way too soon, this one seems almost fitting. Thank you for your patience, we will now carry on with the foolishness.

George July (Jorge Julio) - His discovery in the Orioles pen 6 years ago led to one of the most entertaining, and I must say ethnically-insensitive, email exchanges ever. Patty McShitface, Mohammed Bombsalot and Akbar Al-Hijackya are all pulling for Jorge in this one ("Yes, Hi, I called earlier - Inside Joke, Party of 4"). Jorge can also be blamed for inspiring 2,728,069 "Jorge Julio, Spanish for blown save" jokes. Amazingly, he was traded straight up this year for the Korean translation of blown save, Byung-Hyun Kim. Everybody hurts...sometimes.

Frank Frank (Frank Francisco) - The Spanish equivalent to the English version of torturing your son for life, William Williams. Or, like the poor kid at my high school, Richard Dick. Thank god I went to school way before Columbine, or little Richard Dick might have gotten the urge to spray paint the walls of the Shaker High Gym with the brains of my entire 3rd period gym class. Ironically (I think it's irony...much like that dum-dum Alanis I often misuse irony), when Frank Squared decided to go all WWF and throw a chair into the crowd 2 years ago he hit a woman named Jennifer Bueno in the face. Even Ice Cube would have to concede it wasn't a "good" day for Ms. Bueno.

Jesus Flowers (Jesus Flores) - This list could never be complete without a rep from the hometown Washington Nationals. However, I have virtually nothing to say about him, except that his major league debut was on my birthday this year. Jesus and I took several shots of Jose Cuervo Reserva de la Familia to celebrate his big day.

Vinny GreenHead (Vincent Testaverde) - Oh boy, now we're really reaching. Vinny is our only football representative on this list, mainly because I'm running out of steam. Some controversy here as well, since Dennis contends he should be called Vinny GreenBalls, rather than GreenHead, but I'm sticking with this solid interweb translation site. All I'm wondering is how did Fireman Ed never capitalize on this obvious connection during Vinny's successful Jets tenure?

And your winner: Jose Mesa, King of the Joe Tables. Was there ever any doubt?

**This post written while jamming out to ABBA's "Fernando"...en repetición

Monday, August 13, 2007

Because I’m tired of looking at...

...Larry King's mugshot (well, really, Whit is apparently more sick of it than me, since he took the time out of his "busy" schedule to send an email), you get to enjoy the video below. So yeah, I'm basically masking my love of YouTube video posting (not very well I might add) as a new Monday feature here at G:TB. As I sat in that seventh level of Hell called O'Hare airport last Thursday afternoon, I was trying to decide what my favorite Chicago-based film was...and after quickly dismissing Nico Toscani and his tour de force performance in Above the Law, the contest came down to two films for me, and though we all loved pre-vehicular manslaughter Matthew Broderick as Ferris, Jake and Elwood cannot be topped. Enjoy...

Friday, August 10, 2007

There's nothing better than a toasted peanut butter and jelly sandwich

Because I’m tired of looking at Bob Costas, let’s span the globe looking for the ridiculous and the sublime, Larry King-style.

One half of the G:TB editorial staff was stuck in airports yesterday evening because of inclement weather on the East Coast. I know with certainty that Whitney spent the night in Newark, stuffing his 6’5” frame in a chair near baggage claim. As noted below, advantage, short people. We’re still waiting to hear from Teejay.

Rick Ankiel is my new favorite story of the baseball season. From phenom to pre-garters Nuke Laloosh to hard-luck injury story to Roy Hobbs in the span of seven years.

David Beckham sounds like a Muppet. A Muppet with a cockney accent. Best that he should avoid postgame interviews when possible.

Ken Tremendous of published a column in this week’s issue of Sports Illustrated. Worlds are colliding, Jerry. I think that’s a brilliant move by SI on a number of levels. One, they get to use the weight of the blogosphere as a marketing tool – now every Tom, Dick, and Gheorghe will be on their jocks trying to get their 15 column inches of fame. Two, it signals a growing willingness on SI’s part to diverge from the conventional wisdom. It’ll be interesting to see if they begin taking seriously the idea that mainstream sports broadcasting has no clothes. Finally, Ken Tremendous can write, and SI’s always been a bastion for terrific wordsmiths. Kudos to KT and SI.

John Kitna says that the Lions will win 10 games this year. That’s a joke that writes itself. Just stand back and watch the giggles begin.

Is Jon Jansen’s much-hyped RV a 21st Century version of the storied 5:00 Club? The Redskins had much success during Gibbs I when they had a handful of agent provocateurs in the Riggo mold. If Jansen, Casey Rabach, and Rabach’s nutsack can capture a little of that irreverent spirit, a certain national broadcaster cum local columnist may need to test the engine on a different sort of recreational vehicle. The obtuse nature of that last sentence is very much intentional.

I learned this week that William and Mary’s head men’s basketball coach makes about as much money as a first-year associate at a decent-sized Richmond law firm. That was a stupefying moment, frankly, and well captures Tribe Hoops’ place in the Division I pecking order.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

The Height of Ridiculousness

Word comes to me today that the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is contemplating legislation to ban discrimination against short people (and fat people, too, but I really couldn’t care less about that). I may be a bit late to the party on this, as word often takes some time to get to me, since I’m, y’know, vertically challenged and all.

As a card-carrying liberal, at least on social matters, I’m keenly attuned to the fact that our society discriminates against certain groups (as, it may be pointed out, do many other societies). I come here not to make light of legitimate grievances deeply felt by racial minorities, homosexuals, religious groups, and rednecks (maybe I’d make a little light of the latter). I’m a white, heterosexual, middle class Protestant male with no obvious accent. I’m one of the Chosen People. At least I always thought I was. Until today, that is, thanks to Massachusetts, my ancestral home - defenders of the wee, protectors of the Lilliputian.

Now that I know I’m part of a protected class, I’m not going to take this lying down, even if it looks that way to you from up there. Really funny, that joke. Seriously. How’s the weather up there, freakshow? Enjoy your circulatory problems while my evolutionarily perfect compact frame hums at maximum efficiency. Duck through that door while I coast into the room unimpeded. Cram yourself into that airplane seat, while I stretch out in comfort. And read along as I fight back against the forces of heightism with a new G:TB feature – Bite Me, Randy Newman.

In the universe of diminutive stars, Bob Costas is a constellation of his very own. By turns erudite and self-effacing, Costas has spanned the worlds of sports, entertainment and even politics with rare versatility for nearly two decades. His star turn in BASEketball, waxing excited about his erect nipples, cemented his public reputation as a man of the people, a veritable dynamo of Gheorghism.

But those of us in the community of the tiny already knew of his legendary common touch. I took two weeks off in the summer of 1996 to attend the Atlanta Olympics. One evening, I was indulging my post-event thirst at an over-commercial faux-Irish bar somewhere in Buckhead when Costas walked through the door. He was anchoring NBC’s coverage of the Games and had ventured out to catch a late supper. My courage bolstered by several rounds of Guinness, I approached his table to express my admiration.

“Tell you what,” he said as I reached his table, “Let me finish this meal and then I’ll be happy to talk.” Figuring that was a polite brush-off, I wandered back to the bar to continue poisoning myself. A few minutes later, I looked in his direction and saw him waving me back to his table.

I sat down next to him and his driver, and said, “In 1986, if you were John McNamara, would you have had Dave Stapleton on the field in the 10th?”

He replied, “Sure, but McNamara wanted Buckner on the field when the Sox won it all.”

“I knew it!”, I exclaimed, not really knowing it, but satisfied with an answer that gave me some explanation of that ill-conceived decision.

Costas was as gracious in his interaction with me, a drunken fanboy, as he has been throughout his public career. His recent verbal jujitsu with Barry Bonds captures the essence of the man’s subtlety and clever wit. After Costas’ HBO interview with Curt Schilling aired and the Red Sox’ hurler blasted Bonds, the soon-to-be homerun king said this of the interviewer, “Is that the story Bob Costas talked about? A little midget man, who doesn’t know jack about baseball, who never played the game before? You can tell Bob Costas what I called him.” You stay classy, San Francisco.

Rather than sinking to the level of his competition, Costas responded with, "As anyone can plainly see, I'm 5-6 1/2 and a strapping 150, and unlike some people, I came by all of it naturally. I've actually always had a pretty cordial relationship with Barry. I have no ill feelings toward him personally. I regard him as one of the greatest players of all time who got an inauthentic boost and then became a superhuman player. I wish him no ill whatsoever."

Like a thousand paper cuts, that response, laying open Bonds’ misplaced aggression and naked arrogance. For that, and for his entire (small) body of work, Bob Costas earns his place as the recipient of G:TB’s first Bite Me, Randy Newman award.

(Editor’s Note: For the record, G:TB understands that the Massachusetts legislation really only applies to dwarves, and not garden-variety shorter-than-normal people. Although it may also apply to gnomes, if such things exist. G:TB also recognizes that acknowledging that understanding in the body of this piece would completely fuck up the comedic premise, as should you.)

Monday, August 06, 2007

These are not the Inductees you're looking for...

Well, baseball junkies, we had Cal and Tony join the other immortals in Cooperstown this year -- and I hope you enjoyed it, because none of the 2008 newly-eligible players have a chance of making the Hall of Fame next year. I'm not talking about returning candidates (as Whit said "Wow - it's Jim Rice & Jack Morris's best chance next year!"); we at G:TB will just be breaking down those players eligible for the first time. On to the fun...

Luis Alicea - Best Known For: Beaning guys left and right during batting practice when he was manager of the Lowell Spinners; getting selected in the 1st round of 1986 draft, one pick behind Lee Stevens and three rounds ahead of Bo Jackson.

Brady Anderson - Best Known For: Striking out with Cal Ripken Jr. on deck, thus ending the 2001 season and Cal's career; getting sued by a J. Priestley and L. Perry for image copyright infringement; hitting 50 (Creatine-created) home runs in 1996 though his career high otherwise was 24; being rumored to race people in the parking lot after games, mainly so he could give them an "Attaboy" after the race and slap them on the ass.

Alex Arias - Best Known For: Hitting a whopping 18 home runs in 10 major league seasons; playing his final game on Whitney's 32nd birthday (truly, this was as momentous as it got for him).

Andy Benes - Best Known For: Having an equally bland brother Alan; tipping off his slider by gritting his teeth before he threw the pitch (and wanting to kill Todd Jones for tipping batters off to that fact in a Sporting News article); leading the league in strikeouts and losses in one season.

Mike Benjamin - Best Known For: Setting a major league record in 1995 with 14 hits in a three game stretch; going to Arizona State, just like Barry Bonds; originally being drafted by the Giants, just like Barry Bonds; also playing for the Pirates, just like Barry Bonds; otherwise not having anything at all in common with Barry Bonds, except things like "only has one nose" and "originally hails from the Milky Way galaxy."

Dennis Cook - Best Known For: Throwing inside (the earhole), getting in fights, and generally being known as a douchewhistle his whole career; playing for rivals in succession (e.g., ChiSox then Tribe, Mets then Phillies) and being disliked by everyone when the dust settled. Ty Cobb possessed the same demeanor. And was a better pitcher.

Delino DeShields - Best Known For: Being arguably the best hitter to come from Delaware; being called "Delineout" by hecklers and fans; stealing 463 bases (and being caught 147 times); being traded straight up for Pedro Martinez.

Shawon Dunston - Best Known For: Being the only person with this particular alternate spelling of "Sean" in baseball history; getting drafted #1 overall in 1982 (four spots ahead of Whit's buddy Doc Gooden and 15 spots ahead of Rob's buddy Sam Horn; this quote from Mark Grace: ""I owe him (Shawon Dunston) a lot. Nobody would have known how good I was at digging balls out of the dirt if it wasn't for him and all those bad throws."

Chuck Finley - Best Known For: Getting his ass kicked by Whitesnake Jaguar grinder Tawny Kitaen; ranking 22nd all-time in strikeouts yet never leading the league in a season; leading the league in wild pitches twice.

Darrin Fletcher - Best Known For: Retiring midway through the 2002 season (quitter).

Travis Fryman - Best Known For: Being traded to the Arizona Diamondback in 1997, yet never playing a single game for the then-expansion franchise. Two week after he was traded, the D-backs sent him and Tom Martin to the Indians for Matt Williams.

Rich Garcés - Best Known For: Being the most beloved middle reliever in the history of major league baseball, and for making Terry Forster look svelte. El Guapo's eligibility is in some question, as he's currently pitching for the Nashua Pride of the Canadian-American Association of Professional Baseball and semi-legitimately attempting a major league comeback. Gheorghe, for one (four?), is rooting unabashedly for his return, partly because he's a legendarily personable man, and partly because he looks like Grimace in baseball pants.

Chris Haney - Best Known For: Giving up Wade Boggs' 3,000th hit, which just happened to be a home run; getting Bermanized as "Mr. Haney," from the Green Acres character.

Dave Hollins - Best Known For: Being called "Head"; having a large head.

Bobby J. Jones - Best Known For: Attending the same high school as another Mets pitcher, Tom Seaver; being the caucasian Bobby Jones.

David Justice - Best Known For: Skipping the 7th and 8th grades; being married to Halle Berry; being dumb enough to cheat on Halle Berry.

Chuck Knoblauch - Best Known For: Hitting Keith Olberman's mom in the stands at Yankee Stadium with one of his 5,693 errant throws; going from "Fundamentally Sound" Chuck Knoblauch to "Blauch-head" in a span of three years; has recently founded the "Throwing for Dummies" foundation along with Steve Blass, Steve Sax, Mackey Sasser, and another fellow below.

Tom Lampkin - Best Known For: Nothing. Nothing at all.

Darren Lewis - Best Known For: Having Dusty Baker name his kid after him.

Mike Magnante - Best Known For: Being screwed out of his retirement benefits by the acquisition of Ricardo Rincon just a few days before Magnante was to retire (as documented in Moneyball).

Dave Mlicki - Best Known For: Being the only major leaguer whose surname begins with Ml-; pitching a complete game shutout as a Met vs. the Yankees in 1997, the first ever non-exhibition game played between the two teams; being tied with Pedro Martinez and others for 34th all-time on the Mets' Wins list, one behind Dennis Cook (dear lord, the Mets have paper-thin record books).

Mike Morgan - Best Known For: Playing on every goddam team in the league during his 30-year career, which is most likely a record or something (though Kenny Lofton is sure to break Morgan's record sometime in 2014); managing to stay in the league despite having a winning record in 2 of his first 17 seasons.

Robb Nen - Best Known For: Being a tool and nicknaming his slider "The Terminator"; winning a World Series ring in 1997, then being traded away in the most brazen firesale in major league history.

Hipólito Pichardo - Best Known For: A non-descript 10-season career that saw him go 50-44 with a 4.44 ERA.

Tim Raines - Best Known For: Admitting during the Pittsburgh drug trials of 1985 that he would slide headfirst into bases so as not to break the vials of coke he kept in his back pocket; becoming the Expos all-time leader in runs (947), triples (82), walks (793), stolen bases (635), singles (1,163), runs created (925) and times on base (2,440); changing his name to "Rock," then changing it back when everyone called him Tim, anyway.

Armando Reynoso - Best Known For: Being a member of the inaugural Colorado Rockies 1993 team; "earning" $4,125,000 in 2002 when he went 1 2/3 innings (giving up two earned runs).

Henry Rodríguez - Best Known For: Having fans chuck Oh Henry candy bars onto the field at Stade Olympique when he would bat; getting nicknamed "H-Rod," one that never really caught on; "earning" $1.5M in 2001 for the Yankees, when he went 0-for-8 (with 6 K's) on the year.

Lee Stevens - Best Known For: Having the first name DeWain.

Todd Stottlemyre - Best Known For: Having a more famous father and less-talented younger brother; telling then-Philadelphia Mayor Ed Rendell to kiss his ass, after Rendell said he could hit his pitches during the 1993 World Series.

Greg Swindell - Best Known For: Having the first name Forest; winning a ring with Arizona in 2001; going 1-4 with a 7.14 ERA in 1996 but "earning" $4.45M, resulting in Houston-sold editions of Webster's Dictionaries including an alternate spelling of "swindle."

Mike Trombley - Best Known For: Being a huge Ace of Base fan.

John Valentin - Best Known For: Having no relation to Jose (including pronunciation); being one of only 13 players in modern major league history to complete an unassisted triple play; being the pride of Seton Hall.

Randy Velarde - Best Known For: Being a malcontent and asshat at the end of his Yankee tenure; gaining infamy by being mentioned several times in Barry Bonds' favorite bathroom reader, Game of Shadows.

Ed Vosberg - Best Known For: Being one of only two players to play in the Little League World Series, the College World Series, and the MLB World Series (Rob's mancrush Jason Varitek happens to be the other player).

Mark Wohlers - Best Known For: Having his career ended by a three-run Jim Leyritz home run in Game 4 of the 1996 World Series; appearing (along with Gerald Williams and Pedro Borbon, Jr.) in a cameo spot on Helen Hunt-hosted Saturday Night Live in 1997 (which was supposedly wrecked when Wohlers suddenly and inexplicably couldn't locate his cue cards); golfing with Ian Baker-Finch in the off-season.

There you have it -- a veritable Who's Who, or Who? . . . Who?? Bert Blyleven has to be salivating when he reads this post. (And he is, in fact, a big G:TB fan.)

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Several Days Late and Many Dollars Short

I know, I know, this place has been a DeadZone this week (but not the lame USA network/Anthony Michael Hall DeadZone...the cool and creepy Christopher Walken DeadZone): Whit recovering from too much boozery, Rob holed up in the only part of California without TV or the interweb (yet Rob's phone keeps calling me), me recovering from some awesome SARS/Ebola/West Nile mix and Dennis, well, honestly, we never know where Dennis is or what he's up to. What does any of this have to do with you? Nothing really, just a lot of words that serve as a buffer between yet another goofy title and my usual nonsensical rantings...

Sure, it's been almost a week, but I would be remiss if I did not tip my cap to all the attendees of last Friday's DC Blogger Happy Hour. A good time was had by all, I am sure of that, though most of the evening is fuzzy...Unsilent Majority showing up in a Derrick Thomas jersey set the stage nicely, the Brothers Mottram of Mr. Irrelevant did not disappoint (I am still laughing at Jamie and the Blog Show closed captioning), Awful Announcing was in the house, I found Rob a new friend in Dan at Red Sox Monster, Blog Show producer Littles is indeed a huge Lebowski fan, Miss Chatter does a much better job covering the Nats than we could ever do (and she has a money iPhone) and if memory serves Agent Steinz even showed for a few minutes, just long enough for me to (once again) implore him to set up a G:TB/Gheorghe sit-down. I know there were others there as well, but honestly, too much cheap beer (and perhaps a handful of Red Bull Vodkas) means I can't remember at all...

You want good rock whistling AND a random Gorky Park reference? Then the Scorpions "Wind of Change" is where it's at...

I never thought this day would come, but in the last six months it appears the Albany Times Union is actually pulling its weight as a real newspaper. I know, hard to believe, but the paper most often referred to in my youth as the Times Useless was the first to break the Orlando steroids story (Hi Gary Matthews!), a probe which also eventually linked to Chris Benoit, and their recent coverage of this Michael Strahan training camp soap opera (brought to my attention by Geoffrey) has been pretty decent (speaking of Mr. Strahan - Michael, shut up, take your $4 mil and play ball...well, once you've skipped 90% of training camp that is).

In sorting through all these baseball trades and the prospects dealt, I stumbled upon my new favorite minor leaguer (he was not part of any of these deals...I just found myself searching the South Atlantic League site...I know, get a life): LHP Antonio Bastardo, Lakewood BlueClaws (a Phillies affiliate)...3-0, 2.10 in July and 6-0, 1.42 overall, 63 K in 61 IP, only 11 ER all season long. Honestly, how many Philly fans do you think will own a "Bastardo" jersey as soon as they realize this guy exists?

Mr. Litos, we like the switch to WordPress, now how about a Tribe Tuesday (or Thursday)?

Ah yes, my beloved Jankees - I mean, what is there to say? Hottest team since the All-Star break, scoring runs at a blazing clip, albeit crushing some god awful teams along the way. Seven back of the Red Sox in the AL East, three back of the Indians in the Wild Card. Rob might not be worried (or need to be worried, really), but the Yankees finally have it turned around. Or so I hope...I know just talking about the Yankees on G:TB means I've probably cursed them and cost them a playoff spot. Well, if that's the case, let me just say I think it's great how well Josh Beckett and Daisuke Matsuzaka have pitched this year and what a lucky break that they've managed to avoid any major injuries (think that will work?).

Finally, I am amazed, yet pleasantly surprised, by the sudden reemergence of B-movie legend Bruce Campbell. You should know who Bruce Campbell is, but if not, I'll wait... go ahead, Google him... there, he's the Evil Dead guy. And if you have never seen Evil Dead or Army of Darkness, you're really missing out. Anyway, Bruce is back on the USA network's (wow, two mentions of the USA network in one post?) summer action/comedy/spy/whatever series "Burn Notice", playing heavy drinking ex-CIA spook Sam...but, even better, Bruce also has this fantastic Old Spice commercial running: