Sports Opinion & Analysis

Posts Tagged ‘Los Angeles Dodgers’

Dear Ben, I’m Sorry

In MLB, Uncategorized on September 26, 2013 at 3:31 pm

By Chris Hallenbrook

Dear Ben Cherington,

I’m sorry. This past offseason every time you made a major addition I criticized you for overpaying for aging, mediocre ballplayers. I was entirely convinced that your judgment was shot and that thanks to your inability to be bold the best the 2013 Red Sox could hope for was a return to the .500 mark. Well, so much for that. Here’s the rundown of this past offseason, my complaints and why I was wrong.

Shane Victorino – Coming off a pedestrian .255/.321/.383 season with the Phillies and Dodgers, it seemed utterly insane to be giving him $13 million a year for 3 years at the age of 32. I still think the contract was too rich, but his contribution to the team far exceeds his massively improved .295/.353/.453. He has been crashing into walls in right a la Trot Nixon despite playing with pain most of the season. In fact, since August the career switch hitter has been batting exclusively from the right side due to a bad hamstring, and has continued putting up big numbers and delivering the key hits despite not having faced right-handed pitching from the right side of the plate since his days in high school. He’s a gamer.

Mike Napoli – I put Napoli in the same boat as Victorino this past offseason, namely a declining veteran who should have been signed on the cheap, not for top dollar. But as with Victorino, he’s been a grinder, playing through plantar fasciitis, playing in more games than he has since 2010 and producing more than his .258 batting average suggests. Despite slumping across the summer months, he was white hot in April and May, helping the Sox to a badly needed quick start, and is now hitting well over .400 for the month of September. Talk about playing your best when it matters most.

Johnny Gomes – To be honest, I didn’t pay much attention to this acquisition because I didn’t see him doing anything notable. Boy, was I wrong about that. Sure he’s only hit .238, but he has been a valuable fourth outfielder, ably filed the holes when guys got hurt and oh yeah, he has hit four pinch hit home runs with a .515 batting average in over twenty pinch hit appearances. He embodies the main cause of the Red Sox’s turnaround, which he articulated a month ago when he remarked that “Heart and hustle are two things you can’t fake. Bring those two things every single day and the baseball gods will reward you.”

Ryan Dempster – Oh yeah, I just loved bringing in a 36 year old pitcher whose career ERA versus the AL East was over 4.00. I’m pretty sure I wanted to have your sanity checked after that one Ben. And admittedly, I’m not too sure I’m willing to take this one back given his 4.46 ERA. Then again, the man eats innings, which is always a plus, and you turned Jose “Iggy” Iglesias into Jake Peavy, who has had nothing but filthy stuff since joining the Red Sox, so it all comes out in the wash.

The Bullpen – As Matthew Perry tells fantasy baseball owners “don’t pay for saves.” I used to say that Theo Epstein needed an Assistant General Manager in Charge of Shortstops. You need an Assistant General Manager in Charge of the Bullpen (or at least closers). Andrew Bailey and Joel Hanrahan have done nothing for this team, and cost assets including Jed Lowrie, JJ Reddick, Mark Melancon and other prospects. Melancon is especially galling as you gave up on him after only one year despite the fact that relievers are notorious for their ups and downs, thereby allowing all Red Sox fans the joy of watching him post an otherworldly 1.38 ERA in 68.1 innings (and counting) for the Pirates. That said, you pulled Koji Uehara out of nowhere and watched as he retired 37 consecutive batters in one of the most dominant closing performances since Dennis Eckersley played in Oakland (further proving Berry’s point).

So all in all, you were right and I was wrong. What do you know, maybe you are more qualified for the job than I am…nah, let’s not push it. I’ll just stick with saying “I’m sorry.”

Confused and Grateful,

Chris Hallenbrook

PS – all stats were as of the end of day on 9/19/13

I invite you to follow me on Twitter @CHallenbrook.

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Instead Of Giving Away All Those Pizzas With Peyton Manning, How About Papa John’s Just Pay Their Employees?

In Media, NFL on September 21, 2013 at 10:22 am

By Jonathan Danielson

Before we even start, I want to apologize to you. I know I haven’t been around that much. We all haven’t. Chris got a new gig writing about the Steelers, the Jeffs are busy, Mimmo’s Mimmo, Kevin’s writing about copy machines, and we’ve all had big events pop up in our lives that took us away from this. From you.

And we’re sorry.

For me, I got a new job teaching college, so between an 800 mile move, lesson planning, grading, grading,  grading, and grading, I’ve been a bit busy. Who knew it took eight hours to prepare for a one hour lecture on Marduk and the Enuma elish?

Only by hour eight did I realize this "Marduk" was not the Marduk I was supposed to be lecturing on.

Only by hour eight did I realize this “Marduk” was not the Marduk I was supposed to be lecturing on.

Regardless, sometimes something will happen that makes me so angry, I have to try to make you angry about it as well.

And while the obvious topic would appear to be the Dodgers taking a classless swim at Chase Field, we all have to understand that the Dodgers are from Los Angeles, a place where it’s socially acceptable to OD on crack in someone’s bathroom at a dinner party. I saw Pulp Fiction, I know how these people think.

Besides,  John McCain pretty much summed up everything I would have written anyway.

"Dicks!"

“Dicks!”

So instead of the Dodgers buying the NL West, the thing that got me so upset is Papa John’s Pizza. Specifically, eight Papa John’s locations in Sacramento that decided to close their doors on payday, and leave their employees high and dry.

Per The Blaze, Papa John’s pizza shut their doors in Sacramento, and instead of paying  their employees for services already worked, they taped a note to the window that more or less said, “Sorry Charley, go ask the Government for help.”

Then, via their Facebook page, the Papa John’s corporate office more or less told these workers, “Man that sucks. Work with the people who just screwed you over to figure this out. Oh, and we’ll start up a relief fund.”

Let’s be clear, this is not Hurricane Katrina. This is not a terrorist event or a national disaster. This is fifty employees who, while working under the Papa John’s name, were stolen from by an individual franchise. These employees worked the hours they were supposed to work and they were not compensated for it. These are people making minimum wage during tough economic times, and instead of the corporate office stepping up and making it right by just cutting them a check for what is owed them and then dealing with their franchise later, they said, hey, we’ll set up some red tape. 

And, good luck paying your bills for the time being.

"Boy Papa, we sure look like robber barons at this point, don't we?" "We sure do Peyton."

“Boy Papa, we sure look like robber barons at this point, don’t we?” “We sure do Peyton.”

If Papa John’s can afford to offer half-off pizzas every time a local baseball team wins, or millions of free pizzas during football season, they can afford fifty checks that the franchise’s workers already earned. Lets do the math here : If minimum wage in California is $8 an hour, and the average Paper John’s worker works 30 hours a week, one check would be $240. Times that by be the fifty and that’s $12,000.

$12,000 may sound like a lot, but how much are a million free pizzas? While it might have been the individual franchise that failed here, they failed under the Papa John’s name. And somewhere, the buck’s got to stop.

Now It’s Time For The Main Event?

In MLB on August 2, 2013 at 8:45 am

By Jonathan Danielson

After starting  the season like an after-work recreational softball team, the Los Angeles Dodgers have finally started playing like everyone expected they would, given their Opening Day payroll of $239 million buckaroos.

The first pitch at Dodger Stadium for the 2013 season.

The first pitch at Dodger Stadium for the 2013 season.

Since the emergence of Yasiel Puig’s ego, the Doyers have quickly taken a “commanding” 3.5 game lead in the division (“commanding,” given this is the NL West we’re talking about), and are really facing no competition until October. The D-backs save games as well as congress saves money, the Rockies can’t stay healthy, the Padres are too young, and the Giants are trying to explain to all their fans that bad years sometimes happen in baseball.

"But the Giants have almost always won a World Series since I started watching them."

“But the Giants always win since I started watching them in 2010.”

The Dodgers are finally what everyone thought they’d be, however, that doesn’t mean things aren’t still going to be interesting for them down the final stretch. Remember back in April, when Zach Greinke finally beaned Carlos Quentin one too many times? Remember how Quentin bum rushed the mound and broke Greinke’s collar-bone?

Then, remember when the Dogers/D-backs tit a tat finally boiled over when Ian Kennedy went up and high on Greinke, thus igniting one of the best basebrawl of the late 1980’s.

"No Mark, you're supposed to stop taking the juice when you retire."

“No Mark, you’re supposed to stop taking the juice when you retire.”

Well guess what? After a bizarre inter-division deal at the trade deadline, Kennedy’s now throwing pitches for the Padres, and like all great grudges in the history of the sport, you can guarantee nobody’s forgetting what happened just because he’s now in a different uniform.

You thought things were intense before with the Dodgers and Padres, you ain’t seen nothing yet. Now, technically, this doesn’t mean anything’s going to happen the next time these two teams suit up against each other (or anytime after that for that matter), but given how ESPN and all the other media outlets covers the Los Angeles sports market like flies on a turd, this is going to be the biggest thing since the 2012-2013 Lakers didn’t ascend to heaven on golden chariots.

Seriously, just you wait and watch, because when Kennedy finally pitches against the Dodgers for his new team, it’s going to be the only thing you can.

If A Little Bit Of Something Is Good…

In MLB on May 6, 2013 at 6:41 am

By Jonathan Danielson

If you might have noticed, I’ve been a little MIA from the site lately. With the new job, and trying to write a second book, and trying to rewrite the first book, and trying to have a stable marriage and healthy relationships with friends and family, I finally put a few things on the back burner for a while. I had to take some time for myself, and because of that , blogging about sports for hobby was the unfortunate causality.

Oh, and I purchased MLB Extra Innings for DirectTV. That means I have access to every game by every team on every day of the week. I figured if I little bit of something is good, then a lot of  it has to be great, right?

Remember when this was charming? Technically, me neither.

Remember when this was charming? Technically, me neither.

See, I decided to throw down for the MLB package because I decided that this year would be the last year of only watching my favorite team (the Arizona Diamondbacks) the handful of times per season they play nationally televised games, or the few series each year against either team in my local northern California market.

And so far, besides the infuriating league-leading ten blown saves, it’s been pretty great. It’s like I get to go to Chase Field every night and watch my favorite team play. I get to witness, firsthand, this brilliant  plan Kevin Towers had of trading away one player who currently leads the league in home runs, and another player who has the highest batting average in the league so far, for a utility man, a few prospects, and some Cracker Jacks.

"Because I think Cracker Jacks are delicious."

“I pulled the trigger because I think Cracker Jacks are delicious.”

To be fair, it’s only May, and there’s a lot of baseball to be played to get a true, long-term assessment of the deal, but after the first month it’s looking like Justin Upton will turn into the next Barry Bonds (hopefully minus the juice), and the D-backs are going to be the next Pittsburgh Pirates.

But I digress.

My point is, besides life and work, I’ve been watching a lot of baseball lately, and that’s where I’ve been. Oh, and what do I do when D-backs aren’t on? When they have a few days off, or they play an early afternoon game while I’m at work? Well, I tune over to the A’s game, because I try to root for at least one team in my market, and due to my Arizona bias, I’m obviously not going to root for the Giants.

Oh, and what do I do when the A’s aren’t on?

Well, I’ve watched a few Red Sox games lately, because I’ve been fascinated with how the team has responded to the tragedy from a few weeks ago. Nothing too much though.

Oh, and I’ve watched the Dodgers lately because nothing’s better than watching a train wreck. Same thing with the Angels. Oh, and I’ve watched some Padres games too, because I grew up liking the Padres before the Diamondbacks even existed. Oh, and the Astros because I want to see how they’re playing in their new division and new league.

I’ve watched a couple Cubs games too, because this may be the last year we see Wrigley Field how it currently is, or if Ricketts follows through on his half-ass threats, it might be the last season of Wrigley Field all together. Oh, and I’ve watched the Orioles because I want to see if they can repeat the same success from last season. And the Rangers to see how they do with the loss of Hamilton. And the Brewers because they’ve been pretty hot after such a sluggish start. And the Indians to see how Terry Francona’s working out. And the Braves because they’ve been amazing so far. And Toronto, because trades don’t always make you good. And the Marlins because I don’t know why. And the Rays because I really don’t know why.

Not even people in Tampa go to watch Rays games, and I'm not certain if I've missed one yet.

Not even people in Tampa watch Rays games, yet I’m not certain if I’ve missed one yet.

I guess my point to all of this is this; as a baseball fan, MLB Extra Innings is incredible. I have never watched more baseball in my entire life than I have during the first month of the 2013 season.

As a human being though, I realize I am slowly dying inside because of it. Like, my soul and stuff. Like, day-by-day I grown weaker, and I haven’t seen the sun in I don’t know how long. Like, I get anxious when I don’t have eight games up on one screen at once. Like, my spirit is about to break.

Like, quite frankly, I don’t know how much longer I can go.

"My first hit of crack was awesome!"

“My first hit of crack was awesome!”

There isn’t really a joke or comment or anything to be made by this article, except maybe a not so sudden cry for help. This first step to addiction is admitting you have a problem, and maybe that’s what I’m doing. Maybe I should apologize to everyone I’ve hurt this past month, and everyone I may hurt in the future.

Maybe that’s what I need to do.

I don’t know what to do, but I know I paid for this thing for the whole season, and I know that means that I’m in for one long summer.

The Whiplash Red Sox

In MLB on April 28, 2013 at 9:12 am

By Chris Hallenbrook

One of the great things about baseball is the unpredictability of it. You can watch games your whole life and yet never know what you are going to see at the ballpark on any given night, and on any of those nights you may see something you have never seen before. In recent years, no team has embodied that unpredictability quite as vividly as the Boston Red Sox. All of two years ago, in the sunny spring and summer of 2011, all seemed well on Yawkey Way. In the offseason Theo Epstein had signed free agent speedster and all-around Red Sox killer Carl Crawford away from the Rays and traded for slugging first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, making the Red Sox a near-consensus pundit pick to face the Phillies in the World Series. Then, the infamous September of chicken and beer struck, and an inability to win on consecutive days led to an MLB record collapse as the Sox led the Wild Card race by 9 games on September 3rd and still failed to make the playoffs. Then, in the blink of a eye, Terry Franconca was scapegoated was fired quit in one final act of being a good company man, Theo Epstein fled to a more desperate fan base accepted a new challenge with the Cubs, Bobby Valentine was brought in as the new sheriff in town, and having all the talent in the world led to the worst Red Sox season since 1965 and an unprecedented waiver-wire trade that blew up the team and dumped a quarter of a billion dollars in salary on the Dodgers. Just like that, a team that was slated to compete for championships for years to come looked like it was ready to be dead and buried for just as long.

All of which brings us to the 2013 edition. After an offseason of overpaying for aging mediocrity, the Red Sox were picked to finish dead last by ESPN the Magazine, Sports Illustrated and most staffers at The Boston Globe, and had the makings of a squad that couldn’t take candy from a baby. And yet as of the end of the day on April 26, the Red Sox have been in first place every day this season, setting a franchise record for longest stretch in first to start the season and own a 16-7 mark that constitutes the best record in baseball. Once the dizziness goes away from all these mad swings, the question left to ask is: how on Earth have they done it?

1) Pitching. Talk about Doctor Jekyll and Mister Hyde. Last year this pitching staff absolutely killed the Red Sox, with the starting rotation posting a hideous ERA of 5.42. Josh Beckett pitched his way out of town over 127 and a third ulcer-inducing innings, Jon Lester looked washed up at the age of 28 and Clay Buchholz had us all wondering if he would ever live up to his potential. This season? Buchholz seems to have finally put it all together, starting the season 5-0 in five starts with a 1.19 ERA, which is akin to Bob Gibson’s 1968 season for the ages. Jon Lester has returned to ace form, with the Sox winning all his games. In Lester’s case the turnaround is made all the more impressive given that even in his best seasons he has been shaky at best in April with a near 4 ERA to compare to this year’s 2.27. The change since the return of pitcher whisperer John Farrell has been so remarkable that if I didn’t know better I’d think that last year was just an act to get Bobby V fired. But whatever it is that caused the turnaround, with the Sox two home grown studs throwing like aces, Ryan Demptser making a mockery of claims that he couldn’t hack it in the American League, and the bullpen answering the bell on a nightly basis (it is amazing how much better your bullpen is when your starters can actually make it to the 7th inning), last year’s Achilles heel is this year’s juggernaut.

2) Hitting. While pitching has been the driving force behind the resurrection of the Red Sox, the offense has certainly made the pitchers’ lives easier. When David Ortiz went on the DL to start the year, Sox fans were understandably worried about where the firepower was going to come from in the post-Gonzalez era. But as it turns out, such fears were unnecessary as Mike Napoli has been white hot, Jacoby Ellsbury is reminding us of what we can do when healthy and overall the Sox are scoring runs as though they were the ones who stole traded for almost every good player the Miami Marlins had.

3) Grit. I’m not going to try to argue that tenacity and wanting it more will always prevail over talent, but it is undisputable that baseball is so physically demanding that mental toughness is essential to long run success. We have yet to see how this team holds up after a long losing streak or after a rash of injuries, but we do know a couple of things. One is that this team was utterly unfazed by David Ortiz starting the season on the DL and averaged a healthy five runs a game in his absence. The other is that when bombs struck at the heart of Boston, these guys rallied to support the city and the people that has supported them for so long. The day after the attack they had a “617 Boston Strong” jersey in the visiting dugout in Cleveland and looked like they wanted to cry as they stood on the foul line for a moment of silence. They’ve channeled that emotion on the field, winning their first four and eight of eleven since the marathon bombings, all while telling Boston “this is our f-ing city…stay strong” in the words of Big Papi. I’m not saying that this will carry them into October, but if history has taught us anything it is to never underestimate a team that is playing with emotion, with purpose and with pride.

Can it last? I have no idea. In general terms it takes two months to get a feel for the true nature of a baseball team, and as the 2011 Red Sox showed, you can never truly know before crunch time. There is plenty that can derail this team, including injuries (I lose sleep over Papi’s Achilles), age (Victorino, Napoli and Dempester aren’t exactly in their prime) and regression to the mean (Napoli isn’t going to drive in 27 runs a month and Buchholz isn’t going to finish the season with a 1.19 ERA). That said, I think I speak for all Red Sox fans, especially those of us who hail from Boston, when I say that between the wild ups and downs of the past two seasons, and the moral support they’ve lent us and our city these past two weeks, come what may we will simply fasten our seatbelts and enjoy the ride.

The Dumbest Brawl in Years

In MLB on April 12, 2013 at 7:23 pm

By Chris Hallenbrook

Let me make one thing very clear right of the bat, I’m not against fighting in baseball per se. There are times when it is necessary to mix it up with the other team. Sometimes one pitcher has buzzed the tower one too many times and you have to stand up for yourself before he scrambles your brains. Other times somebody picks a fight with one of your teammates and you’ve got to defend him just as he would defend you. (Think Varitek vs. A-Rod 2004, when Varitek got between A-Rod and Red Sox pitcher Bronson Arroyo, and when asked about the looming suspension after the game told reporters “I was protecting my teammate, for that I’ll take what comes.”) But last night’s donnybrook between the Dodgers and the Padres is one brawl in which everyone involved was D-U-M-B dumb.

"You guys need a ride to the hospital?"

“You guys need a ride to the hospital?”

Carlos Quentin. I know this is the third time Greinke has hit you, which is uncharacteristic “wildness” on his part, so maybe the dude has it out of you, I don’t know. What I do know is it was a 3-2 pitch with the Dodgers holding a one run lead with no outs in the bottom of the sixth inning. Greinke would be a fool to put the tying run on by plunking you (more on that later). Plus, you led the league in getting hit by the pitch each of the last two years, last year getting hit 17 times in only 86 games, and 116 times in your 710 game career. Those kind of numbers usually mean one thing: you’re crowding the plate. If you don’t like getting hit, stand further back in the box. Dodgers’ manager Don Mattingly got it right after the game when he called you an “idiot.”

In other news, Quentin will take the place of Ray Lewis on the Baltimore Ravens next year.

In other news, Quentin will take the place of Ray Lewis on the Baltimore Ravens next year.

Zack Greinke. What were you thinking? If you did hit him on purpose, everything I just said about the in-game situation makes you dumb for putting a grudge ahead of winning the game. And whether you did or didn’t, getting mouthy, dropping the glove and rushing at him would be admirable in hockey, but this is baseball and you’re a pitcher. That means you should never endanger your arm, especially when you are giving up forty pounds to the guy at the plate. While I always hate to see a player injured, your broken collar bone reminds me of the scene in Top Gun when Goose foreshadows his own tragic demise by telling Maverick “the Department of Defense regrets to inform you that your sons are dead because they were stupid.” Reports are you’ll miss at least two months, and you’re the ace of that staff. Congratulations, whether you meant to hit him or not, you let down your teammates in order to satisfy your macho pride and that is the greatest sin in team sports.

Matt Kemp. Way to stay classy by mixing it up in street clothes after leaving the clubhouse. This is the Major Leagues, The Show, the Big Time, not some bush league outfit in the middle of nowhere. You said of Quentin: “I think Carlos Quentin went to Stanford, something like that? I heard there’s smart people at Stanford. That wasn’t too smart. Greinke didn’t do anything wrong. That stuff happens in the minor leagues. It doesn’t happen in the big leagues.” That’s pretty ironic given taking it outside to tangle in the parking lot is straight out of high school.

What do you expect from a guy who wears his own name like a brand?

What do you expect from a guy who wears his own name like a brand?

Let’s be honest, there is plenty of blame to go around in this fight. There are no white hats and black hats here; no clear cut case of fighting to protect oneself or one’s teammates. Luckily for our amateur pugilists MLB disciplinarian Joe Garagiola, Jr. will only be handing out suspensions for their actions on the field, not their stupidity.

Should The Dodgers Be Allowed To Sue For Damages?

In MLB on April 12, 2013 at 7:06 pm

By Jonathan Danielson

During the winter, the Los Angeles Dodgers backed up six garbage trucks filled with money to Zach Greinke’s door, then dumped  out $147 million for six years of the pitcher’s services.

Then, during last night’s game against the San Diego Padres (a team whose entire payroll is barely half of Greinke’s total salary), Carlos Quentin bum-rushed Greinke after Greinke kerplintked one off Quentin’s ball-absorbing body fragile sensibilities. The end result? Greinke broke his collarbone, and most developing countries cried that a guy earning more than its entire GDP is now earning it while sitting on the bench for the next few months.

"Only Dennis Rodman should be allowed to make that much!"

“Only Dennis Rodman should be allowed to make that much!”

It’s unfortunate that Greinke broke his collarbone, but mound rushing is part of the game, especially when players get beamed time after time after time, even if they do mostly turn into oncoming pitches. It’s even more unfortunate that Quentin didn’t realize that only an idiot would intentionally beam a guy (even if he did have something against him) with a full-count during a one run game. I mean, this is the NL West we’re talking about; except for the Padres, every game this year is going to count.

Let’s make something perfectly clear: There is no way Greinke intentionally beamed Quentin. The ball slipped, Quentin hovered over the plate, and the reason Greinke talked back afterward is because what the hell else was he supposed to do? Lose face and tuck his tail between his legs and say he was sorry? While Quentin probably would have appreciated it, this is baseball we’re talking about. There’s no crying in baseball. Shut up, take your base, and hope you can make Greinke feel the sting of his pitch by running in the tying run. That’s how Quentin should’ve played it, but instead he rushed the mound and broke a bone in one of the most expensive players in the sport.

Congratulations Mr. Quentin, for you will now forever be that guy. 

Like Quentin, this guy could cure cancer and still never be remembered for anything else but not that.

Like Quentin, this guy could cure cancer and still not be remembered for it.

Since the fight, there have been no shortage of recommendations for how Quentin should be punished. Some  suggest that the best punishment would be to suspend Quentin until Greinke is healed and back in the Dodger’s lineup. While my innate sense of right or wrong might support that type of justice, a move like that sets a horrible precedent and opens up new problems for future punishments. Think of this; If I was a club’s manager and I knew the only punishment my player would face is an automatic suspension every time they hurt another player, and that suspension would equal the time the injured player was out, I would call up my sixth starter from AA every time I played a divisional rival, then have him beam their best player just to start something that would hopefully injure said best player.

I mean, if that practice were allowed and I was say, I dunno, the Arizona Diamondbacks, I’d be looking long and hard at my calendar every time the Atlanta Braves came to town, just to call up Joe Who-Gives-A-Crap from Mobile, Alabama.

"Oh man, I never played like this in Arizona!" No Justin, no you sure didn't.

“Oh man, I never played like this in Arizona!” No Justin, you sure didn’t.

Another solution has the injured player’s team (Dodgers) being allowed to sue the injuring player’s team (Padres) for losses and damages. In this case, the Pads would be paying almost  double their entirely weekly salary until Greinke comes back and I don’t think bankrupting your opponent is the point of this sport.

Instead, I say it is what it is. Suspend Quentin, and while you’re at it suspend Matt Kemp for acting like an idiot on the field, then acting like a bigger moron when he tried to pick a fight with Quentin in the parking lot after the game.

If Ryan Braun isn't stealing Kemp's MVP, then Carlos Quentin is stealing his second best pitcher.

If Ryan Braun isn’t stealing his MVP’s, Carlos Quentin is stealing his second best pitcher, and piss-poor judgement is taking away his playing time.

But the real issue here isn’t Quentin’s rush, or Greinke’s pitch, or even Kemp’s fight picking. The real issue here is that Greinke just dropped his shoulder and took the tackle like he and Quentin were wrestling in the 7th grade. Sure, Quentin outweighs the little rascal by fifty pounds, but Quentin’s face was wide open for the easy hook, and instead Greinke just shrunk up like a pansy and suffered an injury  only someone playing junior varsity football should get.

If done right, Quentin would have been thanking Greinke for this brawl in years to come.

If Greinke did it right, Quentin would’ve been thanking Greinke for this brawl in years to come.

And this issue isn’t just limited to Greinke and Quentin. Lately, every pitcher who gets stormed seems to get owned, and that’s just bad for baseball. It makes every pitcher lose some part of their intimidation factor. Their scariness. You think anyone every rushed Randy Johnson? They probably did, and I can’t say for certain that they didn’t, but man, that guy was scary. Where have all the Randy Johnson’s and Nolan Ryan’s gone? Now we have potheads with long hair and stupid beards in San Francisco. We have guys wearing flat brim hats and tilting them to the side in Cincinnati. We got Dodger pitchers breaking their collarbones like little kids do when they fall out of trees.

My point is this: The MLB needs to toughen up their pitchers, and I propose that every team be forced to send their pitching staffs to MLB Headquarters in New York City. Once there, each pitcher will individually go into a room that only has an old ratty bench press and a punching bag. You know, the kind Dad would go out and use in the garage when he wasn’t drinking scotch and sending you to bed when the sun was still out so he could have some time with Mom. Maybe even the room will have some tools and a workbench, just to make it that much more authentic.

Either way, every pitcher goes in, a single light bulb hanging from the ceiling, and there’s Dad himself, Nolan Ryan, and he spends some time teaching each pitcher how to stand up to all the bullies at the plate. Nothing fancy, just some good old-fashioned chokeholds and uppercuts. It’ll toughen up every pitcher in the league, which in turn will toughen up the league.

And that’s just good for baseball.

Why Did I Have To Go To Work Today?

In MLB on April 1, 2013 at 6:03 pm

By Jonathan Danielson

Did you notice today was like every other day between Monday and Friday? In the morning, people were on the road to work, then in the evening they were commuting home? Businesses were getting business done. People were at their jobs. Nothing was any different?

Why was everyone at work today? Why were they not home? Why were they not out at the park, or glued to their television sets? It’s Opening Day for Major League Baseball, and why is that not a national holiday?

"Anything less would be un-American."

“Anything less would be un-American.”

Opening Day for baseball is an all day event. It’s every team shaking off the dust and taking the field for the beginning of America’s Pastime. America’s sport. A national tradition.

It was the Boston Red Sox beating the New York Yankees. The new look (and expensive) Los Angeles Dodgers shutting out the defending World Champs. It’s the Phillies and the Braves. It’s every other team in every other city.

And everyone’s missing it.

Me, I’m about to take a moment and be grateful for what’s important, and give thanks for what I have, and I’m going to do that by plopping down on the couch, turning on the TV, and watching my favorite team throw out their first pitch.

Viva los baseball. Viva los Opening Day.

The Most Important Man In Baseball, Besides Babe Ruth

In MLB on November 28, 2012 at 5:45 pm

By Jonathan Danielson

Imagine working a job you love, but the pay sucks, and the hours are even worse.

And before we continue, no, I’m not talking about public school teachers.

“I do it for the money.”

I’m talking about professional baseball, but baseball before 1976. I’m talking baseball before the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA), when players weren’t just players, but the physical property of the league’s owners.

It was an era when, if your pay sucked, or you played a position that was already filled on your team’s roster, and as a consequence of that you never saw any playing time for the bulk (or sometimes entirety) of your career, well tough luck, you didn’t have any recourse about it. There was no way to get out of your contract and find a team that could and would use your services. There was no way to negotiate about maybe getting a raise.

It was an era when you either sucked it up and played for peanuts, or you didn’t play at all.

And then Marvin Miller came into town.

Marvin Miller is technically the third most important person in the history of baseball. He is behind only Babe Ruth, and Jesus Christ.

Miller started out his career as a labor economist for the Machinist Union, United Auto Workers, and United Steelworkers, before being elected in the mid 1960’s as the head of the MLBPA. As head of the union, Miller ushered in a new period in baseball, and all sports, by more or less inventing free agency and allowing players to choose their own teams, contracts, and destiny.

(For a more in depth view of how Miller changed baseball, read here)

Now, in an age of over-enflated contracts like Alex Rodriguez, Albert Pujols, Adrian Gonzalez, or big market teams who can spend whatever they want for such high prized players, New York, Los Angeles, Boston, Philadelphia and San Francisco, you’re probably wondering why the ability for players to hit the open market is, in the long run, a good thing for sports?

“Without Miller, I would’ve never been able to afford being such a douche.”

Because without free agency, the league was one way and one way only; teams had their rosters, and if you were number two, three, or even lower on the depth chart, you were never given a chance to play. Sometimes players spent their whole lives dwelling in the minor leagues, and were never given the chance that there talent deserved. Because of Miller, those players, when their contracts expired, were able to go to teams who needed that position filled, and as a consequence, the game got better because of it.

Instead of rotting in minor league purgatory, players could come out of no where and surprise you.

And if not for Marvin Miller, some of those players would still be on the bench. If not for Miller, some of our  favorite players would have never made it out from under  the shadow on their owners, and gone on with a new team and shined.

Miller died yesterday at the age of 95, yet his legacy in baseball, and all sports, will never be forgotten.

Yet, with all his accomplishments, Miller has not been inducted into baseball’s legendary Hall-of-Fame. It’s not because the Hall is reserved for only players, but because the people who vote for inductees are all former executives or owners, people who were pushed around and bested by the former labor rep. It’s petty and trite, but old rivalries are keeping one of the most important people in baseball from receiving the honors he earned and deserves.

This year, voters will have the opportunity to determine the Hall-of-Fame fates of alleged cheaters and steroid users. While most probably won’t make the Hall on their first ballot, one day the past will become past, angers will subside, and then the likes of Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, and Sammy Sosa will become enshrined in Cooperstown. They will be held as the best to ever play in the era of the asterisk.

“Without Miller, I’d never have been able to afford growing my head so big!”

But, if players who allegedly took PED’s can (and, in the future, probably will) make the Hall-of-Fame, why can’t an honest man who changed the rules and helped make the game a little bit better?

And if Bonds, Clemens and Sosa can make the Hall-of-Fame, then why can’t Pete Rose?

“What the hell?!?”

In fact, don’t even get me started on that one.

Concerning Sports and Politics

In Media on November 7, 2012 at 2:16 pm

By Jonathan Danielson

Well, it’s the day after, and you’re probably still a little hung over, still a little bloated from the excess nachos and beer, and still feeling the adrenaline rush of your team winning, or the heartbroken bitterness of your team losing…

Wait, I just realized the words above are actually from an article about the Super Bowl I wrote years ago, and not the 2012 Presidential campaign.

The political equivalent of a boxing weigh-in.

The problem is, those words are entirely relevant for how people view their political affiliations. How they view the outcome of an election. It’s as if politics aren’t politics, but instead a team versus another team in a sport that isn’t one.

And like the mindset of the average sports fans, when it comes to your team, it’s a world of good versus evil. Black versus white. You have your team, you root for your team, and all other teams who oppose your team are the lowest of the low. The worst of the worst. Your mortal enemy.

And apparently, from people’s responses via social media, polling, and other outlets, that’s how more and more of us are viewing our politics as well.

How Red Sox fans view themselves against the Yankees. Also, how Suns fans view their struggle against the Lakers. Also, how Republicans view themselves against Democrats, and how Democrats view themselves against Republicans.

I am a Democrat. I am a Republican. I am a Giants fan. I am a Dodger fan. I am a Patriots fan. I am a Jets fan. Everything else is wrong. Everyone who thinks otherwise, is wrong.

In sports we are told that we root for our team, and only our team. That anything else is betrayal. That anything else is being a “fair weather fan,” the worst of all insults. Being a fan isn’t just being a fan, but a member of geographically defined cult. A neo-tribalism. ESPN proudly airs commercials on how it’s not crazy, it’s sports. New Era sell us products to embrace our rivalries. To flaunt our hatred.

This is all fine, but as a person, we become ingrained in that constructed self-identity.

Unfortunately, as a country, we have also applied these fandom practices to our politics as well. We are failing to realize that, despite the spectacle it has become, our political elections are not Monday Night Football. That our politics are not “All-or-None.” We can find something positive about the different political “teams.” We can even sometimes root for other “teams.” Just because the guy we wanted to win doesn’t, doesn’t mean we lose on a whole. We don’t even lose. In politics, especially on the level of citizens who aren’t even in office, it shouldn’t be us versus them, but instead us working for ourselves.

Yet, like we generalize Raider Nation as “Gang-banging Convicts,” and Steeler’s fans as poor white trash, we generalize the President’s early leads yesterday due to “Republicans not voting yet because they haven’t gotten off work yet.” In return, we call Republicans hillbillies and racists and Bible thumping inbreds.

It’s like we can’t just have a difference or opinion. It’s like we live by the trash talking we do, and it alone becomes our truth.

Let me try to make an analogy. I am a Diamondbacks fans, and seeing the Giants win two World Series hasn’t been fun. As a member of the Diamondbacks culture (it’s a small culture, but it’s ours), I have come to not like the Giants. We stole some of their favorite players during our expansion, and they booed us in Candlestick when we won our first NL West pennant. We hate Bruce Bochy, because as the manager of the Padres, he brought in his backup catcher to bunt and breakup Curt Schilling’s no-hitter in bottom of the eighth. It’s like tit for tat, and with every new crime, more resentment festers. I don’t just root for my team, I hate the other, and in my powerlessness, since I’m not actually the one playing the game, my hatred for the other team begins to outweigh my love of my team.

But I am an Arizonan living in California. I am in Giants territory, and I know my neighbors and friends aren’t the scum of the Earth. They’re just people. People who happen to prefer one team over another, and that doesn’t make them bad people or good people.

Except maybe this jackass.

During the World Series, I even put on a Giants hat, and watched the game with my Giants loving friends. That compromise didn’t make me any less of a D-backs fan, it just made me work within the context of the time.

Same should go with our politics. Voting for Obama doesn’t make us a socialist just as being a Republican doesn’t make us racist. We shouldn’t be rooting for political victories like we do the Super Bowl. It’s not all or none.

My point is this; when voting for elected officials, from the Presidency to School Board Chair, we have preferences, yes, but we are not bound, heart and soul, to those preferences. They are not extensions of ourselves, no matter how much our competitive entertainment culture has engrained these notions that we must latch on to the labels and live solely by them. We are not neo-tribes of Republicans and Democrats like we allow ourselves to be neo-tribes of Yankee fans and Red Sox fans.

In the end, we’ll all just fans of baseball.

Or something.

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