Category Archives: Sports

Schadenfreuders Unanimous, Engage!

So this looks like it might be fun! As I’m sure you know, the MLB playoffs are starting very soon. According to my calculations (mashes hand against keyboard), on Friday, in fact. I love watching playoff baseball, even in those years when my favorite team is not participating. Which is good, because they so seldom make the cut. I love the drama, the idea that a team’s every hope can come down to one solitary pitch. I love the idea that a player who barely anyone had heard of yesterday can become a celebrated hero today.

But more than anything else, I love mocking announcers, umpires, players, and managers whose idiocy demands such treatment. Because baseball, more than any other sport, has a postseason in which all of these people bring The Stupid in great, heaping bushels. I don’t know why this is, to be honest, but I do know that it is true and that I love it, and because it is bitter and because it is my heart.

So then, I’ve decided to do some features on this here site involving them there playoffs under the umbrella title of Schadenfreuders Unanimous. What, you can come up with a better title? Oh, that is pretty good, actually. Dammit, I should have asked you first.

No matter! We shall proceed. And what we shall proceed with is a series of recaps and live chats of as many of these games as I can humanly manage, with some of the more cringe-worthy moments and quotes from each broadcast. I imagine I will lean heavily on the broadcasting foibles, as those are the kind of things that tend to get under my skin this time of year (even in non-Buck/McCarver games).

Live chattery will probably wait until the LCSes, unless we get to some thrilling elimination games in the division series. I wouldn’t rule out that possibility, but if recent history is any indication, I wouldn’t hold my breath for it either. I did these way back during the 2009 World Series and found them an excellent way to stave off the dull, throbbing pain caused by watching the Yankees play the Phillies for a championship.

So keep watching this space! More details as they develop! Buy war bonds!

Bart Giamatti Said It Best, 2011 Edition

From “The Green Fields of the Mind”

It breaks your heart.

It is designed to break your heart.

The game begins in the spring, when everything else begins again,

and it blossoms in the summer, filling the afternoons and evenings,

and then as soon as the chill rains come,

it stops and leaves you to face the fall alone.

You count on it, rely on it to buffer the passage of time,

to keep the memory of sunshine and high skies alive,

and then just when the days are all twilight, when you need it most,

it stops.

* * *

Behold, the past! 2009 and 2010

Mets Block Yankees, Crush City’s Dreams

DOWN-TRODDEN NEWARK, NJ–It was revealed on Monday night that the Mets, an alleged major league franchise, had blocked the Yankees’ efforts to temporarily relocate their triple-A franchise to Newark. Critics have already labeled it the greatest miscarriage of justice in the history of baseball.

Supporters of the move say the arrival of the team from Scranton-Wilkes Barre could have rejuvenated this benighted urban area and brought a brief glimmer of hope to the many forlorn widows and orphans of this fair metropolis fallen on hard times. Instead, their dreams are snuffed, as they are denied the only thing that could brighten a crime-ridden, drug-addled, gang-ruled hellhole: minor league baseball.

“I tried everything with those cold-hearted Mets,” said a Yankees official, who could not be identified as his face was too obscured by large, bitter tears. “I promised we wouldn’t make the move permanent. I promised we would okay any move they wanted to make with their own minor league teams. Wilpon was unmoved by my pleas. First he asked for my watch, which was a graduation gift from my mother. I gladly gave it over, thinking only of the poor children of Newark. Then he asked me to get on my knees and pay homage to The Dark Lord. That I simply could not do. So he threw me out on the curb. And he kept the watch.”

Newark has a grand tradition of Yankee minor league affiliates. However, the team has not had a farm team in the city since 1949. Some believe that the Mets may have traveled back in time and forced the legendary Newark Bears to go bankrupt, paving way for the regrettable National League expansion of 1962 that gave birth to their hellish form.

Critics of the Mets say that the Yankees never have and never would engage in such churlish, petty behavior. They also point out that the Yankees’ attitude toward their “crosstown rivals” has never been short of cordial, and they have never attempted to interfere with their operations. Unlike the Mets, the Yankees have always conducted themselves with the utmost class and grace. To have the Yankees’ ceaseless kindness to their lesser neighbors repaid in such fashion is the kind of brazen insult that, in times of yore, would have demanded a duel of honor. No jury would convict them of such a “crime,” and yet they will surely take the higher road, as they always have.

“They couldn’t have won all those championships without always being consummate gentlemen,” said some guy I met on line at Starbucks while writing this article. “Only good people win things.”

Fred Wilpon was unapologetic for his act of wanton cruelty. Speaking while seated in a gargoyle-topped throne, each leg of which sat on a freshly killed puppy, Wilpon told the assembled reporters (all of whom were forced to genuflect in his presence), “I hate children.” He then drank from a chalice that may or may not have contained human blood.

The Singularity of Mariano Rivera

Mariano Rivera is special.

On the surface, “special” seems a poor adjective to describe him, but it’s the only one that fits. I’m sure we’re all familiar with his greatness, but I don’t think people truly understand exactly how much of a singular figure he is, and how much he has influenced the way baseball is played–to its detriment, I think. That is not in any way a knock on Rivera. Rather, it’s a criticism of the rest of baseball, and their failure to recognize just how special he is.

For one thing, when he notched his record-breaking 602nd save, the praise and congrats came from everywhere. And I do mean everywhere. In contrast, Derek Jeter’s 3000th hit–or rather, the cloying media slurpage that followed it–prompted nearly as much eye-rolling as applause, particularly when Steiner Sports ads on YES for commemorative DJ3K memorabilia made it seem like Jeter’s feat was just one arm of a larger marketing campaign.

Rivera garnered no such cynical reactions, at least as far as I saw. I don’t believe I saw one negative, sarcastic, or even snarky comment online about Rivera, which may be a new internet record. He just seems like a genuinely good guy, in the purest sense: the kind of good guy who just is a good guy, who lets his goodness speak for itself, and who would never campaign with his buddies in the press to write columns about what a good guy he is. Some writers may have played up his faith as a reason for his success, but you can’t imagine Rivera, a quietly religious man, doing so beyond being grateful for the gifts he has been given.

That’s why even self professed “Yankee haters” (I prefer the term “Yankee agnostic”) feel compelled to tip their cap to him. He reflects the best aspects of Yankee Tradition and is untouched by the worst elements of it. YES aired memorabilia ads marking the record-breaking occasion that were not unlike Jeter’s, and yet in the public consciousness Rivera remained unsullied by his proximity to such crass commercialization.

After Rivera earned his save, Michael Kay–never one to let a moment like this breathe when he can yammer over it–proclaimed him “the Babe Ruth of his position.” This is not quite accurate, though probably not in the way some might think.

Continue reading The Singularity of Mariano Rivera

Studio 60 Concludes, In a New Format!

I want to take you on a journey toward what is perhaps the dumbest creative endeavor I’ve ever undertaken.

You may recall a few weeks ago, episode 12 of Studio 60 on Roosevelt Avenue ended in a bit of a cliffhanger, with the classic two-parter stinger “To Be Continued.” For those who have been on the edge of their seats wondering how everything could possibly be wrapped up in a neat little package, wonder no more. The exciting conclusion, the one that will leave no question unanswered, is now contained in an ebook collection cleverly entitled Studio 60 on Roosevelt Avenue: The Complete Scripts. It is the first ever Scratchbomb ebook and it is now available from Amazon for the insultingly low price of 99 cents.

This ebook not only includes all 13 episodes of the only series to combine a funhouse mirror image of the Mets’ season with the golden pen of Aaron Sorkin. It also contains a foreword by the greatest and most intense televisual dramaturge of our age, a preface by the often-shackled Yo-Yo Ma, and sketches of story arcs for future, unrealized seasons. And you can read it all on your Kindle or Kindle-type app on the device of your choice this very moment for less than a dollar.

Why am I charging anything for this ebook? A great deal of time and effort went into this endeavor, both in the writing and the technical flimflammery necessary for ebook conversion. I feel this has value and that a nominal fee is reflective of that value. I know this is the internet age and we’re all supposed to get all our entertainment for free, but I don’t feel all that bad for asking money for something that took considerable hours and brain-wracking to make. If that’s a dealbreaker for you, there’s a lot of my writing in a lot of different places on the interwebs for free and you may still feast on that.

But if this quixotic publication appeals to you and you think that 99 cents is a small price to pay for it, please download! If you dig it, RT, Facebook it, give it a good review on Amazon, shout out your window at random strangers, and so on. Every little bit helps. If you don’t like it, please scream at me on the social networking platform of your choice.

If you’d like to read this ridiculous thing but don’t have a Kindle device or app, I am currently looking into what it will take to get it out there for other such devices. This will depend largely on the cost and hours in the day at my disposal, but I’m one of those weirdos who likes to figure out how to do things technically, so if there is any way at all I can make this ebook for other formats, I will. Stay alive! No matter what occurs I will find you (and accommodate your technical needs)!

For those who will purchase it, I thank you, and personally guarantee this will be the most pointless thing you will ever read. And just for the record, this Studio 60 compendium is not the massive tome I’m working on that I often allude to on Twitter. That is still a good ways away from being completed, but completed it shall be.

Onward and upward!

Bless You, Random Vandal

If you follow my Twitter feed, you know that the one team I truly, deeply hate is the Florida Marlins. There are other teams I dislike at various times for various reasons, but the Marlins are the only one who incite in me a white-hot burning rage.

Why? I delineated many of the reasons in this piece, so it seems pointless (and blood pressure raising) to do so again. But one cause I just glanced over was their owner, Jeff Loria, who I daresay could out-douche George Steinbrenner at The Boss’s infantile height.

Loria is the man most responsible for choking off the Expos at the root so they could move out of Montreal. Granted, he couldn’t have done this if Bud Selig et al weren’t so keen on making it happen, but the fact remains that he, more than anyone else, destroyed that franchise. (For some arcane reason, this move also necessary to allow the current Red Sox ownership to take over. It is a complicated tapestry of deceit.) He picked a needless public fight with Joe Girardi (who has done just fine for himself elsewhere), and fired another good skipper in Fredi Gonzalez, thereby serving up the next manager for a division rival (the Braves) up on a silver platter. He keeps his payroll at poverty levels (by baseball standards) and bullied Miami into building him a new stadium, only to be revealed as a lying scumbag who puts MLB revenue sharing money into his own pocket.

He has a huge man-crush on Hanley Ramirez to the detriment of his other players, despite the fact that shortstop’s tantrums and lack of hustle have increased at the same rate his performance has declined. He is also the kind of person who would buy his team the largest–and therefore best!–World Series rings ever when they came out of nowhere to win a title in 2003. And quickly returned to nowhere, as he dismantled the team piece by piece. Take a big steamy gawk at this thing and tell me this man should own a baseball team. Go ahead, I dare you.

That is why I have taken particular delight in this altered entry on Loria’s Wikipedia page. Bless you, random vandal. You are truly doing the Lord’s work. (Hat tip to @jameskann whose tweeting alerted me to this.)


Bud Selig: I Am the Worst

I am the worst. The absolute worst. Oh my god, you would not believe. I am just a shitty person in every conceivable way. Think of a way a man can be terrible and I will guarantee you that I have done it or am doing it as we speak.

Children scatter when I walk down the street. Flowers wilt. Dogs growl. You feel a chill in the air that you can only feel when in the presence of a horrible, horrible human being.

When you’re this awful, it’s hard to do things that reinforce your awfulness. People come to expect you do the the worst thing at all times. That’s when I pride myself in digging deep and finding new ways to turn people’s stomachs.

Not allowing a team to wear hats in tribute to 9/11 first responders because of MLB’s lucrative contract with New Era? That’s pretty bad. But demanding a player who dared defy it take off his cap posthaste, midgame, even though he only wore it in the dugout? That’s the kind of mind-numbingly bureaucratic horse-shittery that only a true scumbag could pull off. And to top it off, I make one of my cowering lickspittles take the fall for the decision. Yes, kneel before me, Joe Torre! Who knows where you might be if not for my criminally lax steroid policies?

And I do this all while doing nothing to fix the many ills that actually plague the sport for which I am the supposed caretaker. It’s the 21st century and my stupid sport that I hate and can’t stand doesn’t use instant replay, yet I pretend to be concerned with caps? That is some weapons-grade horse-shittery, if I do say so myself.

I wake up every day, look myself in the mirror, and before it cracks in disgust at having to reflect my hateful image, say to myself, “Today I will be the worst me I can be.” Then I set something in the yard on fire and blame it on the neighbors’ weird kids. On the way to work, I try to hit as many squirrels with my car as possible. My record is 12. I once hit at least one squirrel on five consecutive blocks. I’m like the Joe DiMaggio of killing small animals! And when I get to work, I see how quickly I can make my secretary cry.

I eat poop. Constantly. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Midnight snacks, too. Not always my own, either. Whatever I can find. I am that disgusting.

Hoping I’ll retire due to old age so someone not hideous can run baseball? Never gonna happen! I have used the Dark Arts to prolong the usefulness of this withered husk of a mortal shell. I am constantly protected by two hulking demons, who remain at my side at all times. Only those as wretched as me can see them! I will outlive you, your grandchildren, the pyramids themselves!

I am fucking terrible and can not be stopped! Ever! Play ball, you brainless insects!

Studio 60 on Roosevelt Avenue: Episode 12

STUDIO 60 ON ROOSEVELT AVENUE
EPISODE 11
WRITTEN COMPLETELY BY AARON SORKIN TOTALLY ALONE AND UNDER GREAT DURESS
RELIVE THE EXCITING INAUGURAL SEASON!
PILOT | EPISODE 2 | EPISODE 3 | EPISODE 4 |
EPISODE 5
| EPISODE 6 | EPISODE 7 | EPISODE 8
EPISODE 9 | EPISODE 10 | EPISODE 11

LOGLINE: Once the nation’s best and most respected baseball GM, Sandy Alderson has been reduced to trying to revive a moribund franchise in the depths of deepest, darkest Queens. Along with his sharp-witted and adoring protégés, he fights off the seemingly endless series of controversies and crises that beset him while trying to run a sports team in the country’s most bustling metropolis, and still look fantastic while doing it. Can the pressures of such an important job crush this singularly talented and gifted individual genius?

ACT I

The office. PAUL DEPODESTA and J.P. RICCIARDI are standing near a Xerox machine as it whirs away, crumpling up pieces of copy paper and shooting them, basketball style, into a large, overflowing recycling bin.

DEPODESTA
If you could be any tyrant in history, who would you be?

RICCIARDI
Define “tyrant.”

DEPODESTA
Autocratic giant ruling his land with an iron fist.

RICCIARDI
Why would I want to be that?

DEPODESTA
Imagine you had no choice. Which one would you pick that would be the least distasteful to you?

RICCIARDI
I guess…Louis XIV. Seems like you’d be pretty far removed from most of the horror, and you could wear powdered wigs. How about you?

DEPODESTA
Abraham Lincoln.

RICCIARDI
What?! Abraham Lincoln wasn’t a tyrant!

DEPODESTA
The South thought he was. That’s why Booth yelled “sic semper tyrannus!” just before he shot him.

RICCIARDI
That’s a loophole. I didn’t know I could pick Lincoln.

DEPODESTA
Shoulda come with me on that trip to Gettysburg.

MACKENZIE CARLIN walks in, looking annoyed.

CARLIN
What are you two doing? You’re supposed to be copying all the 40-man-roster salary info for today’s meeting.

DEPODESTA
We are. And while we do, we are having a very important discussion abut tyranny, while also playing recycling bin basketball.

RICCIARDI
And I’m winning, mostly because I didn’t call Abe Lincoln a tyrant.

CARLIN
[grabbing the overflowing recycling bin] Is somebody gonna clean this thing out?

RICCIARDI
Yes, I assume somebody will. Could you put it down? I’m trying to line up a three pointer.

CARLIN
[rooting through the trash] What is this?

RICCIARDI
It’s you looking through garbage, for some reason.

CARLIN
No, this.

CARLIN pulls out something from the trash. It looks like a card. She shows it to RICCIARDI and DEPODESTA, who immediately look intrigued.

Cut to DAVID EINHORN’s office. He’s sitting on the edge of his desk with a large square of grass-covered sod in each hand, weighing them carefully. He hears a knock at his door.

EINHORN
Come in, but this better be important. I’m trying to choose grass for my dog’s new putting green.

CARLIN, RICCIARDI, and DEPODESTA enter.

CARLIN
I thought you’d want to see this.

CARLIN hands EINHORN the card. He too is immediately intrigued.

Continue reading Studio 60 on Roosevelt Avenue: Episode 12

Support Your Local Sporting Scene

If you read this site and/or follow me on Twitter and the like, I’m guessing there’s a very good chance you’ve heard this news already. On the off chance you haven’t, have you heard the news?

It seems that a veritable supergroup of great writerly types is teaming up to make a brand new daily sporting web site called The Classical. Like who? The first name that caught yours truly’s eye was Tom Scharpling, whose Best Show on WFMU I’ve waxed about rhapsodically on this show many times. Aside from being one of the funniest people around, he is also an NBA fan ne plus ultra (see this interview for evidence) and can speak/write on the subject with the utmost authority, and thus is an ideal catch for such an endeavor.

But when it comes to the roster of champs involved with this endeavor, that is far from all. There’s Bethlehem Shoals of Free Darko fame (read their hoops books if you haven’t, because you should). Tim Marchman, one of the best and most criminally underused baseball writers in America. Eric Nusbaum from Pitchers and Poets. David Roth, whose weekly sporting chats at The Awl (w/David Raposa) never fail to crack me up. And that is but a sampling.

Okay, great, they’re gonna do a website. Why am I writing about it? Because in order to make The Classical “a sustainable business, rather than yet another blog or Tumblr” (their words), they need dough. So they’ve set up a Kickstarter page with the goal of raising $50,000 to make this a reality. If you’re on the fence about whether you’d like to contribute to the cause, I’d suggest reading the Project Description and the full list of contributors, and above all else, watching the accompanying video, which has some hilarious visual cues.

And of course, if you do contribute, you’re in line for some valuable schwag, including (but not limited to) a chip clip. But if you can’t swing a contribution (times are tough, I know), you can always like The Classical on Facebook, or tweet about it, or mention it on the social media platform of your choice. It’s free, and it helps.

From what I can tell, the response has been pretty great thus far; as I post this, The Classical has already raised over $11K. But that’s obviously not quite their goal, so if you’ve ever complained about call-in radio shows or lamented the general meatheadedness of sports commentary, please consider doing your part to elevating said commentary on the interwebs. Future generations will thank you.

Studio 60 on Roosevelt Avenue: Episode 11

STUDIO 60 ON ROOSEVELT AVENUE
EPISODE 11
WRITTEN COMPLETELY BY AARON SORKIN TOTALLY ALONE AND UNDER GREAT DURESS
RELIVE THE EXCITING INAUGURAL SEASON!
PILOT | EPISODE 2 | EPISODE 3 | EPISODE 4 |
EPISODE 5
| EPISODE 6 | EPISODE 7 | EPISODE 8
EPISODE 9 | EPISODE 10

LOGLINE: Once the nation’s best and most respected baseball GM, Sandy Alderson has been reduced to trying to revive a moribund franchise in the depths of deepest, darkest Queens. Along with his sharp-witted and adoring protégés, he fights off the seemingly endless series of controversies and crises that beset him while trying to run a sports team in the country’s most bustling metropolis, and still look fantastic while doing it. Can the pressures of such an important job crush this singularly talented and gifted individual genius?

ACT I

SANDY ALDERSON enters the front office through a large set of glass doors and is immediately flanked by J.P. RICCIARDI, PAUL DEPODESTA, and MACKENZIE CARLIN, who trail him as he walks through the office

ALDERSON
So what’s the bad news, chums?

RICCIARDI
A Native American civil rights group believes our stadium was built on a Seminole burial ground.

ALDERSON
Inform them there were never Seminole tribes in this area but we have the utmost respect for their ancient and sacred beliefs nonetheless. Next?

DEPODESTA
Our new third baseman wants a patch on his uniform to commemorate Jerry Garcia.

ALDERSON
If he can sew it on himself, he’s welcome to. Next?

CARLIN
The city’s board of health has traced an outbreak of swine flu back to one of our concession stands.

ALDERSON
Then I guess we’re sending out for pizza today. Is that all? Sounds like an easy day, by my standards.

CARLIN
No, there is also a huge guy in a muscle tee in your office, demanding to speak with you.

ALDERSON
We didn’t lead with that, huh?

CARLIN
Always put your best stuff last.

ALDERSON enters his office and sees JOSE CANSECO sitting at his desk, feet up, frantically mashing a cable remote and flipping through channels on a large wall-mounted flat screen. An enormous, messy meatball sub sits on the desk. CANSECO is wearing very faded zubaz and a muscle tee that stops just above a protruding gut.

CANSECO
Do you guys get the pay porn channels here? I think this girl I knew in rehab is gonna be on one of ‘em in like five minutes.

ALDERSON
By all means, make yourself at home.

CANSECO
I already have.

ALDERSON
Yes, clearly. I was being…never mind. What do you want?

CANSECO
Don’t you wish they could make, like, a buffalo meatball? You got buffalo wings and buffalo chicken sandwiches but no buffalo meatballs? How come nobody’s done that yet? I would eat the hell out of a buffalo meatball sub. I’d eat the hell out of two of ‘em. Not even blink, man. I don’t care what I do.

ALDERSON
What do you want from me, Jose?

CANSECO
Remember when we talked in the parking lot the other day, Sandy?

ALDERSON
Yes, I recall you scaring me half to death, then ending our meeting with a vague threat.

CANSECO
C’mon, that’s all water over the bridge. I’m here because I can help you, Sandy.

ALDERSON
Yes, my office was dangerously low on marinara stains. I appreciate you helping out in that department.

CANSECO
No, in the playoff hunt! If you guys wanna make a run at the championship cup, you’re gonna need a bat like mine in your lineup.

ALDERSON
You do realize that at this point in the season, we can’t add any more players, because if we did, we’d have to expose someone on our 40-man roster to waivers, which…what am I saying, of course you don’t realize that.

CANSECO
Just gimme a tryout, Sandy. Let me prove there’s still some sugar left in this gas tank!

ALDERSON
Why do you even want to play baseball again? You look like you’ve been exercising to a John Belushi workout routine.

CANSECO
Because I miss it, Sandy. The crowds, the cheers, and yeah, even the boos. I miss the way I felt when I would walk out on a baseball field—alive, truly alive. I haven’t felt that way in years, and I want to feel it again, even if it’s just once before I die. And I also have at least three exes on my ass for child support payments. They repossessed my PS3, man!

ALDERSON
Fine. I’ll call up the coaches and scouts and get them to…

CANSECO
No, Sandy, I want you to give me a tryout. Throw me some BP. It’ll be just like old times!

ALDERSON
I never threw batting practice in Oakland.

CANSECO
I mean the old times the way they oughta be!

ALDERSON
[sighs] Fine, just give me a minute.

ALDERSON skirts around the desk and grabs the doorknob for his private bathroom.

CANSECO
I wouldn’t go in there. Someone clogged it up real good.

ALDERSON
Was that someone you?

CANSECO
I’m not sayin’ nothing. I ain’t no snitch!

Continue reading Studio 60 on Roosevelt Avenue: Episode 11