Archive for the ‘Baseball’ Category

A Positive Spin

February 22, 2011

I like the taste of a cold can of Diet Coke. Really cold. Straight out of the fridge cold. Or out of a really good vending machine.

I like soda crackers. I don’t know what it is – they’re such a simple little food. But I can eat the damn things a sleeve at a time and not even notice it. I’m pretty sure they’re not supposed to be eaten that way. Maybe they should start marketing them as a snack food?

I like the cold and snow, because it means people don’t mill around in front of the restaurant behind my house. I can’t believe I forgot this in my post on civility, but there’s little I find more annoying than the people who plant themselves in large groups smack dab in the middle of the sidewalk. Amazingly, when it’s cold out, they manage to find other places to wait for their tables, or to smoke. I like this.

I like when someone sings a piece at karaoke, and does a better job of it than the original artist. I’m sitting at karaoke as I write this, and this woman just rocked “Seven Nation Army” by The White Stripes. I’m not a Stripes fan at all, and don’t particularly like the song, but it was fantastic – she had her own interpretation of it, with a bit of flair. It was a joy to listen to.

Conversely, I take a bit of perverse pleasure when someone gets up clearly thinking they’re god’s gift to music, and just shits the bed. But I’m just mean that way…

I like the taste of a Krispy Kreme donut, original glazed, fresh off the conveyor belt, while you’re waiting in line to place your order. The donut itself is amazing enough, but the fact that they’re giving it to you for free – well, it’s like the bartender comping you the first shot of the night, or the drug dealer giving you the first hit to get you hooked.

I like Twitter. Yes, obvious to those who know me, but it’s really true. First off, it forced me to imagine from the group up how I consume information. Second, the 140-character online world brought a wealth of interesting people into my ‘real’ world. Most importantly, though, is the range of amazing sports writing to which I’ve been exposed – some new, some who I’d only read infrequently in the past. Local writers like Bruce Arthur, who’s turning out some of the most intelligent coverage of the Canadian sports scene I’ve seen in years. Ex-pats like Jonah Keri, who I used to read when he was at Baseball Prospectus, but who I’d drifted away from over the last couple of years. The incredible Joe Posnanski, who’s unquestionably the best writer of this generation using sports as a lens. Seriously, while I love Joe the most when he’s writing about baseball – or about life as informed by baseball – but I’d read 3000 words by him on bullfighting, or cricket, or tiddlywinks. Anything. Joe is the late-’50s Montreal Canadiens. He’s Coltrane. He’s Kristin Chenoweth in “Wicked”. He’s Elle Macpherson. He’s “The Rabbit of Seville”.

That same woman, by the way, just crushed some Sam Cooke. Versatile – that’s solid.

I like Brian Burke. Look, it’s easy, even fashionable, to crap on him for the free agent signings that didn’t work out – Komisarek and Lebda foremost among them. Ripping the Kessel trade is low-hanging fruit, and equally lazy. But for the first time in I can’t remember how long, I honestly believe that the Leafs’ GM is doing everything within his abilities to improve the team. That every loss is a punch to the gut, just like for the team’s most loyal fans. That other than his family, nothing is more important in his life than doing what’s necessary to bring Toronto a Stanley Cup, and not just at the corner of Front & Yonge.

I like Alex Anthopoulos. Dude’s a ninja. Sure, the Jose Bautista contract worries me, but it’s not my money – actually, that’s not true. With the amount Rogers gets from us for cable, internet, home phone, cell phones, Jays tickets – well, I figure I’m responsible for just a little less than 1/10th of one percent of his salary this year. But if this is a mistake, it’s his first one as far as I’m concerned. Pretty good batting average.

I like Mini-Wheats. They’re sweet. They’re crunchy. They’re really everything you could want from a breakfast cereal. Or an evening snack.

The point of all this? I often get accused of being too serious, of not having enough fun in life. I just wanted to take a bit of time and space to describe just a few of the things that bring happiness to my life. There are many more, which is another thing I like. What do you like?

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My P90X Journey – Day 5: With Soundtrack by Alternate-Universe ZZ Top

May 30, 2010

Back and legs on day five, and the first day on which I’ve felt completely comfortable doing the exercises. Not that they were easy or that I was able to complete all of the reps that they were doing on the video – just that I had confidence that I could do each of them, with what felt like good form and a reasonable degree of success. As I’ve mentioned, the one physical tool I’ve ever had going for me is strong legs. As a result, squats and lunges and calf raises are right up my alley.

Our friend AbRipper X returned for another visit, and the story continues to be one of gradual progress. I’m still not getting up to a full sit-up, but I was able to do a bunch more of the half-up than I did on Thursday. Got through almost the full set of in-and-outs and about 3/4 of the set of oblique raises. There are still exercises that I just don’t have nearly enough ab or back strength to do, but it feels like that may come someday.

The real story of the day, however, is the beginnings of the physical change. Now, trust me – if you’re working this program, your mileage may vary. I somehow doubt that you’re supposed to see tangible results after only four workouts. In fact, I strongly suspect it’s far more a sign of the woeful physical condition I was in at the beginning. However, I’ve noticed a very shallow trench developing on either side of my stomach – every so slowly, the ob is becoming an ub. Also, between exercises yesterday, I saw this little triangle-shaped thing on the sides of my upper arms. I understand that has something to do with the triceps? I don’t know – it’s rather unfamiliar territory for me. The last time I remember seeing anything resembling a muscle in my arms was almost a decade ago when I was working with a personal trainer regularly.

So, all in all, a pretty good P90X day. Not an intolerable amount of soreness as I write this the next day, and I’m really looking forward to the kenpo workout tonight.

Now, on a completely unrelated note, I had originally set this blog up to talk about baseball, among other topics. In fact, the ‘J’ in the title is for ‘Jays’. So I wouldn’t feel right about posting today without saying congratulations to Roy Halladay on pitching a perfect game yesterday. Halladay is a major man-crush for me, as he ought to be for anyone who’s a serious baseball fan. In my opinion, he’s the best pitcher of his generation, and I think there becomes less and less argument against that as time goes on. It was really only a matter of time before he had that history-making, career-defining performance. So, while it’s an enormous dagger through my heart that he did it after he was out of a Jays uniform, I couldn’t be happier for him.

And from the sublime to the ridiculous, there’s really only one thing to say about Kendry Morales of the Angels – ouch

I Don’t Care…

July 30, 2009

I don’t care. I really just don’t care.

About what, you may ask? Well, I’ll tell you. Earlier today, The New York Times reported that Boston Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz was among the Major League Baseball players who reportedly testified positive during the 2003 survey testing. And how did the Times learn this? Someone or ones, presumably a lawyer involved in the fight over the government’s seizure of the list of names, leaked Ortiz’s name to a reporter. Once leaked, it dribbled out, because that’s what leaks do – they dribble.

So, as a baseball fan, what am I to take away from this revelation? What should I have learned as a result of this new information? Let’s see … some baseball players used performance-enhancing drugs at some point during their careers? Gasp! An athlete with a powerful incentive to do so took advantage of a scientific advance to try and gain an advantage? Insert sharp intake of breath here.

Look, beyond sticking our collective noses into other peoples’ supposedly-dirty laundry, there is nothing new we can learn about this story. And beyond specific names, there is nothing new that the Times or any other media outlet can tell us. Does the MSM realize that, at this point, they’re the only ones who care about this story? That baseball fans, if they ever did, simply don’t care anymore?

And why should we ever have cared anyway? Have a look at this list, and see if you can figure out what everything on it has in common:

  • Outlawing the spitball
  • Integration of African-American players
  • The rise of Latin-American players
  • Artificial turf
  • Changing the height of the mound
  • The designated hitter rule
  • Greenies
  • Tommy John surgery
  • Cocaine
  • The rabbit ball
  • Expansion
  • Increasing specialty of pitching roles
  • Steroids
  • The Asian migration
  • HGH

Figured it out? Every single thing on that list had an effect on the game in one way or another. Whether a rule change, enhancement or dilution of the talent pool, or a method of performance enhancement, it changed the context in which we understand the game. Where 25 wins was good, now 15 is. Where 300 innings was a stud, now it’s 200. 30 HR became the new 15, and 50 the new 30. The great joy, and great challenge, is that the game is always changing – whether for the good or the bad is often in the eye of the beholder.

So, again, why should I care whether David Ortiz, Alex Rodriguez, Sammy Sosa, Rafael Palmeiro, Roger Clemens, or Johnny Backup-Infielder used a performance-enhancing drug back in 2003? Stars used them and became greater stars. League-average players used them, spiked to career years, and then fell to earth just as quickly. Scrubs used them, and still stayed scrubs. Hitters used them, but so did pitchers, so who really had the advantage? They were illegal, but they weren’t against the rules of the game. We watched. We were entertained. We didn’t get hurt, apart from whatever collective outrage we’re supposed to be feeling due to being robbed of our innocence. I sure didn’t get unsightly scabs when Jose Canseco was jabbing a needle in his ass. No, I got a mammoth home run deep into the 500 level of the SkyDome, while Jose got man-boobs. I gotta tell you, I’m okay with that trade, and apparently he was too.

Nowadays, we – the fans – are protected. There’s random testing, escalating suspensions, and public vilification, right down the bottom levels of the minors, because everyone knows that 16-year-old Dominican outfielder is supposed to understand all the nuances of this issue just as well as the 16-year major league veteran. Now it’s against the rules. Just like the all-star game, this time, it counts, and now if you get caught, then you’re potentially an idiot and you may just deserve my scorn. Yes, I’m looking at you Manny. But David Ortiz? I have no scorn for him. He was just 1 out of, what, 103 and that was just the ones that they caught? He was doing what the cool kids were doing, and let those among you who’ve never fallen prey to that mistake throw the first stone, or take the first hit off the bong, whichever you prefer.

No, I’ll save my scorn for the person or persons who are responsible for leaking these names, for violating a judge’s order sealing the contents of the list. I’ll save my scorn for the editors at the Times, and at ESPN, and any other media outlet who simply can’t recognize that they’re not uncovering the next Watergate here – they’re just helping someone with an agenda to break the law. They’re just creating noise that I have to slog through to find out about today’s hot rookie who made their debut, today’s fantastic pitching performance, today’s great catch, today’s guy who ran out the play that looked like a sure out and beat the throw at first. Those things, I care about. This? I’m sorry, but I just don’t care.