Monday, June 11, 2007

Lips and Elbows

We here at the Rag are sure that you all, our numerous readers, are just as fired up about Cuauhtemoc Blanco coming to the Chicago Fire as we are. Yes, soccer fans, now the Tepito terror, the Downton D.F. pitbull, is coming to the states. Here's what he told the fans at the time of the announcement:

I am very happy and will give 100 percent for Chicago to be in the final. I look forward to working with this group of players to bring a championship to Chicago, a community that has always supported me, in good times and in bad times. I hope to bring great satisfaction to all of you.

The only satisfaction Blanco knows how to bring involes a fist and your grill. Put simply, Cuauhty takes no guff. He'll kill a fool is another way of saying that. He got suspended for a year once for clocking a guy after a loss in a home game, provoking an enormous brawl between players and fans. Here's the tape:

And if that didn't get you excited, then the results of yesterday's Gold Cup game between Mexico and Honduras, which Mexico embarassingly lost, 2-1, will. Cuauhty, evidently pissed at the way things were going in a tight 1-1 game, reacts poorly to some affectionate teasing and, boom goes the dynamite. Cuauhtemoc gets the red and Mexico loses on a last
minute goal. Nice work, Blanco:

Not sure about you, but here at the Rag, we can't wait to cover his antics. Maybe he'll get in a fistfight with Beckham. We're got a correspondant lined up to cover his every word come July.

Bienvenido, Cuahtemoc!

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Dewey Evans is a Funny Guy

This is just, well, I don't know what it is. Silly?

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Secrets of the Demon Miracle Airplane

Team leader and all around great guy Raul IbaƱez did not play the last few games for the simple fact that he got beat up by an airplane.

As humiliating as his defeat was, he'd have to say that the main problem with the experience is that standing around is not that much fun anymore:
"It's more the running and standing," he said. "Standing's the thing. That's what we do a lot of in the outfield."
The whole episode got us thinking about what bad luck the M's have had with flying objects over the years. Here, a list of a few major airplane mishaps involving your Seattle Nine.
December 5, 1945: on a flight off the coast of Florida, a PBM-5 Martin Mariner explodes in midair and crashes into the sea, lost in the Bermuda Triangle forever.
  • 1969: the Pilots are terrible and last one year.
  • November 22, 1985: An early cold front brings snow to the Pacific Northwest, and the Mariners' Big League Breakfast event, featuring Pete Rose and Tommy Lasorda, was cancelled because flights into SeaTac were postponed.
  • August 29, 1986: In a bid for fan interest, the Mariners play host to the World Indoor Paper Airplane Championships after a Friday night game versus the Yankees. An estimated 10,380 airplanes were tossed onto the field and one, thrown by Brad Simmons, landed in the backseat of the 1986 Chevy Cavalier convertible that was now his. Predictably, the Mariners lost, 13-12.
  • August 10, 1987: the Oakland A's arrive in Seattle extremely late due to a delayed and finally cancelled flight from Minneapolis. Yet the flight bites the Mariners' ass, as they lose 15-4, with starter Scotty Bankhead giving up 8 runs in 2 2/3 innings.
  • April 13, 1990: before the first ever Kingdome sellout crowd to see a Mariners game, thousands of fans bored to tears as they watch the M's get rocked, 15-7, by the A's, start hurling paper airplanes onto the field. A flood of angry letters descends on the Seattle papers, including one from Rose Medley of Olympia, who asked: "What kind of 'fans'' are we that we boo our own team through the game. Throwing hundreds of paper airplanes onto the field like children, aren't we supposed to be mature adults." Indeed. She went on: "Can you imagine how you made our team feel, I'm sure they felt bad enough without our help. How embarrassing for them and for ourselves to have the baseball commissioner witness such behavior out of us. Did we really expect instant success?" *
  • July 3, 1996: a team charter plane operated by Champion Air failed to get off the ground due to a dead battery, causing the Mariners to arrive late to face the Rangers in Texas. Significantly, ace Randy Johnson complained of a stiff back after the flight. He did not have another decision all year.
  • October 18, 2000: Immediately after being eliminated by the Yankees in game six of the ALCS, a team flight from JFK to Seatac was forced to abort and return to New York 20 minutes after takeoff due to a fire in an onboard microwave oven. After safety checks, the players reboard, the plane takes off, and it happens again. In both cases, oxygen masks were deployed. The only casualty was Mike Cameron, who, according to team travel director Ron Spellecy, hyperventillated. "As you might imagine, it was not a happy flight," Spellecy said. "First, we had lost and the season was over. Next, this fire happens twice. The first, you might understand; the second, you're asking, `What is going on?' "
  • September 14, 2001: Mariners take one of the first flights in the nation in the aftermath of 9/11, avoiding a 24 hour bus ride to Anaheim. Osama Bin Laden laughs at their impudence.
  • May 19, 2002: on the way to Logan International Airport in Boston, one of two Mariners team buses catches on fire. Players are administered oxygen on the airplane and damages were calculated at $200,000. Said Niehaus: "Lou Piniella got out, I think to see if he could help, and ran into a wall of smoke."
  • July 16, 2006: the Mariners are forced to evacuate the team plane in Toronto as they prepared to fly to New York to face the Yankees. A faulty conveyer belt caused a fire. "We had no idea what was going on," Hargrove said. Nothing ever changes.

  • (honorable mention: October 17, 2000, Sonics have flight to Houston aborted because of lack in cabin pressure. They miss team shootaround and lose to Rockets, 101-91)

*Paper-Airplane gate continued for some time: viz this letter from April 21, 1996 to the Seattle Times:
I am ashamed of Seattle Mariner fans. I thought only New York fans threw their garbage onto the playing field.

In both of the games my daughter and I attended this year, we were hit by paper airplanes thrown by boorish "fans."

Most of the airplanes are made from the free program that is distributed outside the Kingdome. I appreciate the program, and I appreciate the efforts of the Kingdome staff to help police the crowd.

It should not be the sole responsibility of the Kingdome staff, though. It is the responsibility of the crowd to let these individuals know that this behavior shall not be tolerated.

Alan Haines, Woodinville

Monday, May 21, 2007

Messi: ARod has Crabs

Last night the Rags staff had the lucky chance to go see the Subway series in action. This involved enjoying a lovely night in Flushing and also the Mets apparently not bothering to try that hard. Guess they'd won the series and have the Braves to think about or some such stuff.

Not the world's most exciting game, but it had its moments, and by far the most thrilling (except for Darryl Strawberry bailing on the game after the sixth inning while Matt Dillon stayed to the bitter end, was having a down the barrel of the gun view of Alex Rodriguez (un)manning third base, intent stare on his facial-hair free mug. And constantly, constantly, after every single pitch, the guy grabs his own groin. Pulls at it, tugs it, twists, touches, holds -- it's like a personal security blanket. He's the Linus van Pelt of ball fiddling.

Our staff didn't have the attention span to really keep up with the action, and we prohibited Poony from watching, but I got Lionel Messi, who was utterly confused by the game, to spend the bottom of the 8th just fixating on ARod's crotch. The result:

"Que cosa, che. El tipo agarro su pito 21 veces. Que le pasa?"
Translation: 21 groin grabs in one half inning.


Statistical analysis:
21 GGs x 9 innings = 189 GGs per game

Is this the equivalent of a pitch count situation? If ARod breaks 200 GGs, will they pull him?
Or is he too busy pulling himself? Har har!


Thursday, May 17, 2007

Of Hamstrings and Nonuniform Couplet Metrics

"If I see a fire, then I pull a fire alarm.
But if I see a girl I like, then I pull her by the arm

And start throwing that game like a pitcher.

But if the attitude is rude, I switch her

For another, because I'm the type of brother

Or else take her home and rap to her mother.

Girls with attitude, yo, don't even say that--

Forget about it, homie, because Griffey don't play that.

--George Kenneth Griffey, Jr., "Listen to the Way I Swing."

Just an excerpt, but so telling, so deeply moving and poweful. Rather than delve into the innovative and surprisingly suble forced irregular couplet scheme employed, it's probably more urgent to discuss the vividly described socio-historical place this piece of literature occupies. This is a meta document, and close reading shows how it not only is informed by pre-post-feminist/Marxist/queer lit and the muscularist prose/New Journalism/Gonzo movement, but also how it in turn informs upon urban protest poetry and certainly the "Sensation" generatio of YBA (Young British Artists) set to emerge on the main media and commercial stage almost immediately following the release of this seminal single.

Thank you, Ken, thank you.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Why the Mariners Lose

rophet!' said I, `thing of evil! - prophet still, if bird or devil! -
Whether tempter sent, or whether tempest tossed thee here ashore,
Desolate yet all undaunted, on this desert land enchanted -
On this home by horror haunted - tell me truly, I implore -
Is there - is there balm in Jason Davis? - tell me - tell me, I implore!'
Quoth the Hargrove,
"You can't get too many power arms in your bullpen."
And the Hargrove, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
On the pallid bust of Griffey just above my chamber door;
And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon's that is dreaming,
And the lamp-light o'er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;
And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
Shall be lifted - nevermore!

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Battle of the Wordsmiths, pt. 2

Perhaps never before in baseball history has something happened like what is set to take place in just a few scant hours. Manly, bearded American lit professors, sharpen your thinking caps and tell me: have two novelists ever faced off against one another in a single week, righty versus righty, pen versus pen. DeSalvo versus Batista; "Love's Travels" versus "The Avenger of Blood"?

We knew all so well of Batista's poetic bent, but news that young master DeSalvo, a 26 year old rookie, likes to throw the words around, well, made us blush with joy. Here's what the New York Times gleaned from the E.M. Forster of the Bronx, currently reading Confucius, for our reading pleasure:
"I like to read different philosophies, just anything, the way I see the world. We spend a whole lifetime trying to figure ourselves out. Like I'll read a book and try to think, what's this mean to me? And I'll apply it to myself."
We at the Rag feel the same way. We did this with stereo instructions for our new multi-region DVD player the other day and now we have S-video and RCA cables running out of our orifices. It's handy because we work with pretty much all systems. Anyhow, back to the Poet from Penna., the Writing Righty, Matt DeSalvo, who recently read Camus' "The Myth of Sisyphus," and had this analysis of the seminal existential work:
"I took a lot out of it, like the struggle of humanity, how Sisyphus rolls a boulder up a hill and he finally reaches where he wants to be, and the boulder rolls down the hill. Most people in that situation, what do they do? They're like, 'Aw, man, I got to go get this.' But what he says is, why not see the boulder as your ultimate goal? It's almost as if you're proud to be pushing that boulder, that boulder's giving you meaning. And even though that boulder rolls back down, you dwell on how you succeeded in pushing it up and dwell on life -- Hey, I have something to do still. So it's almost like giving meaning to your life."
Just so happens we read that book in a senior year course on L'Existentialisme with noted philosopher Valentin Yves Mudimbe. Mudimbe, hailing from baseball mad Congo, had a slightly different interpretation of the central subject of analysis in that essay, one that more or less totally broke down and mocked the DeSalvian interpretation of the myth, instead describing a symbol of futility and suicide, and a man made aware of the meaningless of life by the very living of it. This is what Camus called an "Absurd Man," and hey, sports fans, sounds like we just came up with a nickname for the Yankee rookie starter.

Today, Matt "Absurd Man" DeSalvo, author of an unpublished novel on what Tyler Kepner says is "the way a person's concept of love changes over time," faces off against Miguel "Blood Avenger" Batista. Heady stuff.

*if we have time later, we'll dwell on Kepner's strangely hostile attitude to literary achievement by ball-players. Jealous bastard.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Tears, Idle Tears

The world has a .450 batting average against Jeffrey Charles Weaver.

Hargrove prefers not to comment. But after last night, he sits at his formica topped desk and ponders whether his theory about getting a solid four out of the golden haired strapping lad, this Adonis of the monticular. Hargrove's calls to Bavasi have gone unanswered. He is stuck with this fallen soldier, like it or not.

Is it a Greek thing? Are we witnessing tragedy first hand? The three-act narrative we all crave played out in brilliant technicolor before our greedy eyes? Perhaps Alfred Lord Tennyson can guide our thoughts:

Tears from the depth of some divine despair
Rise in the heart, and gather to the eyes,
In looking on the happy Autumn-fields,
And thinking of the days that are no more.

Ah. This is a dirge. This is a sad thing and we are seeing our dear friend slowly die -- perhaps he is really already gone and we are seeing what we remember of him. We look'd upon Jeff, dazzling, atop the mound in Cardinal red and we saw a hero ACHILLES and we believed. It was Autumn, as Tennyson reminds us, and the days, the Weaverian days, were happy. So quickly we forgo that even Achilles has his tender heel, free of Styxian rustproof undercoat.

And cast into the role of Patroclus? To comfort and pet the hero even as he sits, in his vanity, sulking; indulging? General Hargrove. Hargrove is Patroclus. Most tender of relationships, hero and manly consort, bandaging one another. Bolstering. Giving strength.

Dear as remembered kisses after death,

And sweet as those by hopeless fancy feigned
On lips that are for others; deep as love,
Deep as first love, and wild with all regret;
O Death in Life, the days that are no more.

Oh life. Oh death. Go, Mariners.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

¡Hasta la Victoria Siempre!

Today is the real labor day, and we have some riveting matchups coming down the pipe -- Greinke vs. Colon, Javier Vazquez vs. Washburn, Blanton v. Shilling -- but nowhere is a more intense focal point than the Diamondbacks/Dodgers matchup, where they're not only battling for first place in the NL west, but they're fighting another important battle in the war over fundamental socio-econo-politico-philosopho-cultural systems.

Brad Penny facing off against Livan Hernandez might be appealing in its own right, but these men, hailing from Oklahoma and Cuba, respectively, aren't just throwing baseballs tonight in Dodger Stadium. No, they're pitching for Market-led Capitalism and Revolutionary Marxist-Leninist-Soviet Communism and the winner takes a date on the dangerous end of Vin Scully's microphone.

In Havana, the fans are filling the streets. They're handing out press credentials like the media office at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. This is a big day, and it merits a little bit of song, and recognition of a fabulous lineup of Latin American baseball heroes.

What's a beisbol clubhouse without a cutup? This is just Hugo being Hugo. He's a former paratrooper and thus a gifted athlete with a lot of pep. He's particularly excited to play today because he just got a lot richer. Thanks Exxon, Chevron and BP for sponsoring our starting first baseman, Hugo Chavez!
Who's that power hitter in the tropical weight suit pants? Why it's el Peje Lagarto, that's who. This former Mexico City mayor and presidential candidate hails from baseball crazy Tabasco, where the oil is sweet and the pelota is sweeter. A lifetime fan of the Villahermosa Olmecas, and of sabotaging Pemex wells, AMLO can put wood to leather like no other Mexican pol. A big round of applause to Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador!
Here's Mr. Tough Out, the left fielder from the Sur Sur Sur, a man who found a love of beisbol despite coming from the land of fut, Ernesto G! Che, as he's known, is a natural righty, but he's a switch hitter and does his best work from the left side of the plate. Che Guevara, everyone!
The best reliever on any planet, a man who says he's been to Cuba "at least five times," and even starred in a documentary about one of those trips, this is the game's legendary radical poet himself, Bill Lee.

El gran quesudo himself. Pitcher. Allegedly drafted by MLB back in his law school days. A big round of applause for tonight's starting righthander, your Fidel Castro!

Monday, April 30, 2007

Do I not post enough? Very well, then I don't post enough. I am large, I contain multitudes.

"Baseball will take our people out-of-doors, fill them with oxygen, give them a larger physical stoicism. Tend to relieve us from being a nervous, dyspeptic set. Repair these losses, and be a blessing to us."
Jeff Weaver was spotted at Safeco yesterday thumbing through his dog eared copy of the Portable Whitman. Where, he thought to himself, was the stoicism? Instead all he felt was a massive case of dyspepsia. He popped a Tums in his mouth and chugged it down with a tall glass of Maalox, wiping the blue dregs off his lips on the sleeve of his team issue navy blue turtleneck. He was alone. The last merengue had played in the clubhouse. His mitt sat there on the ground between his sanitary socked feet. It mocked him. He wanted to spit on it, but his mouth was too gooped up with antacids to even work up a good mouthful and when he spit, a goopy foam was all that came out, clinging to his lip and then rolling down his chin before dripping onto his knee. His shoulders shook, and looking quickly around, he began to cry, quietly at first, and then louder. A torrent of grief shook through his lean frame. Snot and tears mixed and these did, somehow, make their way onto his black leather glove. Just then, the clubhouse kid walked in through the door directly across from Weaver's locker. He tried to turn around and leave, but Weaver spotted him and wiped his face with the already dirty shirtsleeve. They started at each other for a long time and then the clubhouse boy spoke up. "Mr. Weaver, they're going to lock up for the night."
"And whoever walks a furlong without sympathy walks to his own funeral drest in his shroud."

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

R.I.P. to a great writer

We at the Rags only dream of reporting and writing like this man did. Rest in peace, Mr. Halberstam.

Rags exclusive!

Here at the Rag, we have access to things that the little people do not. We are told things that you are not. We get advanced readers proofs of things you do not. We feel we have earned this privilege. Today a source whose name shall not be uttered until our source himself* scoops us on the big reveal in Vanity Fair and ends up costing us a lot of cash leaked us this amazing video footage of what is allegedly Twinkie and Wankee great Chuck Knoblauch's son, acting out, singlehandedly, all three roles in one of the great Monty Python scenes of all time. It's impressive on a lot of levels, but particularly in opening our mind to what an open mind two buck Chuck apparently has.

*or herself

Happy Birthday, Mariner!

In what we hope will be a regular feature around here (assuming we actually are organized enough to keep up with such a thing. So, no), here's to you, former and current Mariners celebrating their birthdays today. (also, we will begin incorporating drop caps for every posting from here on out)

Omar Vizquel: 40
(Lil' O, you'll always have a place in our hearts)

Mike Blowers: 42

Bill Kreuger: 49

Monday, April 23, 2007

And in other news, pitchers warm up sometimes.

Sweet G_d, if this is what passes for journalism these days, then lord help us all.

Nothing else to say. Too awful. Get us some stimulants stat.

Poony on Jeff

Exclusive! Exclusive!

Little did we know, but our well-travelled correspondant Poony Poon apparently had done an exclusive face to face interview with none other than Jeff Weaver while he was still a Dodger (more on that later) and before his ERA hit 13.91, which of course is the year that the great anti-Jewish riots of Toledo, Barcelona took place. Much more appropriately, it's (also, according to my sources), the year that toilet paper was invented. It seems a highly appropriate symbolic/numerologic commonality for the moment, because a growing number of Mariners observers, watching Weavers 0-3 start, seem to want to Charmin him away like so many dingleberries. Clearly, Weaver is not a phantom wipe situation.

Art Thiel:
I wrote before the season that the additions of Weaver, Horacio Ramirez and Miguel Batista behind Hernandez and Jarrod Washburn made the Mariners rotation better than any time since 2003....

In the sweep by the Angels, a team that had scored the fewest runs in the American League entering the weekend, Batista gave up six runs in six innings, Ramirez six runs in four and Weaver three runs in three. They are part of a well-rested rotation that soon must start squeezing in five makeup games.

Weaver's early departure was startling. Manager Mike Hargrove flat-out admitted he couldn't take it anymore, despite the fact that the game was far from decided. "I didn't see it getting better and didn't want to put the club in a hole any more than we were," he told reporters afterward.

Hargrove was so desperate to win a game April 22 that he risked the fragile psyche of Weaver by jerking him in front of his hometown friends, family and former team, which abandoned him last year.

Think Weaver will be ready to rock against K.C. on Friday?

And here's what Geoff Baker found out:
"He'd given up seven hits and three runs in three innings and I didn't see it getting any better," Mariners manager Mike Hargrove said of Weaver. "And the way we've been going and scoring runs late, I just didn't want to put the ballclub in the hole any more than we already were that early in the game."

Weaver declined to be interviewed after the game, telling a media relations representative it "wouldn't be a good idea."
But here's what Poony Poon discovered, back before Weaver made the scene in the great Northwest:

Poony: Everyone agrees you can throw the shit out of a baseball, Jeff, and when they see you in warmups, wow, the ball has pop and it has movement. Then you get in a game and you're completely embarrasing. To you. To your team. To your home town. To your family. To your entire country. Why is that?

Weaver: Poony, do you like teddy bears?

Poony: Jeff, I'm sorry, but I'm here on assignment for Jim Lefebvre and I have a job to do. He needs to know if you're a head case or not. So you tell me, what is going on upstairs? I mean, come on, Private Pyle, what is your major malfunction?

Weaver: You know what, kid? I don't have to take this shit. Let's see you throw the ball on a dime when you've got bankers all over you, you've got four mortgages, your accountant played backup point guard on your high school basketball team and suckered you into a lifetime contract, you bough a shitload of Wal-Mart stock at its 52 week high, the hotel you're living in doesn't have Poland Spring in the minibar, and on top of that your brother is but a child but already a better pitcher than you. You ever tried that shit, Poony? Have you? No, so shut up and get out.

Poony: Can I quote you on that?
Jeff, you just got Pwned. The moral of the story is clear. Once again it just goes to show you that Bill Bavasi is incompetant and can't even get his underlings to do his homework for him. If they had looked up Poony's interview, if they had looked up his stats with the Yankees, we would never be in this mess.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Rags Contributor Leo Messi Breaks it Down

Hola y hello. I am Leo Messi and I am 19 years old. I am very good, you know, at the futbol soccer. Seriously. Watch me score this gol.

Now, I'm here to talk about sports play by playing guys. A lot of people think Dave Niehaus is the best of all time. This is what you hear about all the time in my favorite bar in Barcelona, the Pata Negra. All the chicos they sit around and drink sherry and they say, that Dave Niehaus makes radio broadcasts worthwhile again and that you can really visualizar the "pop" of the bat and the homerunning. I agree, Dave is the best. But for second best, it's a tight battle. A lot of people probably think about the Bobby Thompson jonrun. This is a very popular choice. But I disagree. And I will show you why. Here is what the Russ Hodges was screaming:
Bobby Thomson up there swinging... He's had two out of three, a single and a double, and Billy Cox is playing him right on the third-base line... One out, last of the ninth... Branca pitches... Bobby Thomson takes a strike called on the inside corner... Bobby hitting at .292... He's had a single and a double and he drove in the Giants' first run with a long fly to center... Brooklyn leads it 4-2...Hartung down the line at third not taking any chances...Lockman without too big of a lead at second, but he'll be running like the wind if Thomson hits one... Branca throws...
There's a long drive, it's gonna be, I believe...THE GIANTS WIN THE PENNANT!! THE GIANTS WIN THE PENNANT! THE GIANTS WIN THE PENNANT! THE GIANTS WIN THE PENNANT! Bobby Thomson hits into the lower deck of the left-field stands! The Giants win the pennant and they're going crazy, they're going crazy! Ohhhhh-oh!!!''
Here's the recording. Now that's pretty nice. Emotional, from a poetic standpoint very good use of repetition and he really creates the image in my mind, yes? Four times the Giants win the Pennant.

But now let's take a look at Victor Hugo Morales, who was doing the action for the Argentina contra Inglaterra (hijas de puta) game in Mexico, DF, in 1986. Thanks to un amigo for the translation.
...Diego is going to get it, Maradona has it, two men mark him, Maradona steps on the ball, the genius of world soccer accelerates to the right and leaves behind a third man and he's going to pass it to it's still Maradona! Genius! Genius! Genius! ta-ta-ta-ta-ta-ta-ta...and Goooooooal.... Gooooooooal!.....

Spectacular! Long live soccer! A super goal! Diegoal! Maradona! I'm going to cry -- I'm so excited please forgive me....Maradona, in an unforgetable run, in a play for all time...the cosmic keg...what planet did you come from? So that you could run such a clean path through so many Englishmen, so that a whole nation, with its fists clenched, is howling for Argentina....Argentina 2 - England 0....Diegoal, Dieagoal, Diego Armando Maradona...Thank you God, for soccer, for Maradona, for my falling tears, for this Argentina 2 - England 0....
Here you can hear it in Castellano. Okay, great. Now I am crying. This is embarrasing. But it's just too beautiful. This Hugo did not write Les Miserables, but he did something that is worthy of eternal literary enshrinimiento. I am also emocionado....gracias Diego.

Hodges is like an overture. Hugo is an opera.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Team Mangosteen

This is a picture of the coach of the coach of China's national baseball team, which gets an automatic bid to compete for what might be the last ever gold medal in Olympic baseball. His name is Jim Lefebvre, and he wants you to become a true beliebvre. He wants you to drink Vemma.

We at the Rag don't really know what Vemma is, except it reminds us of some kind of pyramid scheme, like OmniLife and HerbaLife and all those things. Anything that involves a sales kit, keep away.

Anyhow, Jim Lefebvre is the coach of that team (on top of being a Vemma pitchman), which apart from sucking at baseball, was subject of a Wall Street Journal story yesterday, one that would be senseless to link to, since the Journal is paid content only. The basic story was, though, that baseball, like every other Tom, Dick, Harry and Bill out there, wants a piece of the massive Chinese market. There are untold numbers of people there. The economy is growing like mad. They hold half the US debt. They make a lot of steel. A lot. Their art sets records at auction. If they don't go for baseball, pandemonium will ensue.

So who to send into the breach? Who will save us now?

How about a guy with a .485 lifetime record spread over six seasons, with no playoff appearances and a reputation for taking swings at their bosses?
"Tommy said it was a sucker punch. Well, I'll tell you what, it was the sucker who got punched all right. His lip was bleeding, and it definitely wasn't bleeding Dodger blue."
-Jim Lefebvre, after decking Tommy Lasorda in a 1980 fight at an LA TV studio.
As far as I'm concerned, we all better start learning Mandarin, because with Jimmy L blazing a trail, the next Matsuzaka is in Shanghai.

31.50 - 14.75 = Jeff Weaver's ERA

Italian old master Guido Reni was born in 1575, which is Weaver's current ERA after last night's, uh, masterful performance against the Twinkies. Interestingly, he actually painted an allegorical work that beautifully depicts Torii Hunter metaphorically smacking a "grande salami" off Weaver in the 5th. The piece, which hangs in the church of Sta. Maria della Concezione in Rome, is nominally of the Archangel Michael stomping on Satan, but that was just so Reni could get funding for his work and his terrible snuff habit (the New World was really new back then. Tobacco was more expensive than high grade smack). The real story here is Hunter putting his foot firmly on Weaver's head.

Reni, in his journals, famously wrote that Hunter "owns Weaver. He was 10-for-22 (.454) with 12 RBIs against him going into the game, and he would add two more hits and four ribeyes to that total on that fateful Tuesday night."

Geoff Baker went out and dutifully got a quote from the nearest Archbishop he could find, one Msgr. de l. Hargrove:

"There were things that Jeff did in this outing that he hadn't done in the past," said Hargrove, whose team saw its two-game winning streak ended. "Especially in that fifth inning. He got aggressive, went after hitters, struck out Cuddyer, had them on the ropes and then hung a slider."

Hargrove admitted that the seven runs allowed by Weaver in a second straight outing "is not the way you want to do it."

Disappointingly, neither the Times nor the PI (okay, not really disappointingly, since that implies you expected better and got worse. We expect exactly what we always get from these papers) managed to get any of the body language/theatrics color that the AP reporter covering the game did:

Weaver stomped his right shoe into the turf. Two pitches later, after Jason Kubel lined a double over Suzuki to the center-field wall, the crowd booed Weaver loudly. When Weaver finally ended the inning by covering first base on a groundout, he spiked the ball into the infield dirt and stomped into the dugout.
Scott Boras could not be reached for comment.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Renton Job: "A debilitating blow"

Clay Bennett is shocking the world. The Sonics are ever more likely to move to Oklahoma City. This is unexpected. Here is what he said after the state legislature sneezed at his efforts to come up with $500 million in public money to build at stadium smack in the infamous S-Curves.
"This is a staggering and quite likely a debilitating blow to our efforts to develop a world-class arena facility. Clearly at this time the Sonics and Storm have little hope of remaining in the Puget Sound region."
Yeah, that's really sad. Especially considering that Bennett says he'd gone to

"extraordinary lengths with significant time and resources to craft a proposal for a global-caliber multipurpose event facility that would be a valuable public asset for the region for years to come and have minimal impact on taxpayers."

Really, Clay? Really? Here's what the Times pointed out:

Still, some lawmakers questioned the Sonics' lobbying effort.

When Seahawks owner Paul Allen was pushing his stadium funding proposal 10 years ago, he unleashed an army of lobbyists and made a high-profile pitch in Olympia.

"The Sonics just have not done that kind of full-court press," said Rep. Ross Hunter, D-Medina, chairman of the House Finance Committee, who opposed the proposal. "I don't know that they're serious."

Hunter said he got more pressure this year to support public financing for a theater-renovation project in Yakima than from the Sonics.

Wait. Bennett might actually secretly want to move the team to OK? That would be so weird. I mean, he only has a stadium already built there and he only lives there. What obvious connection could there be?

The real fun, the PI points out, will be when he does pack up the bags like some modern day Bob Irsay only to get served by the City of Seattle for breaking his lease contract with Key Arena, which runs through 2010. And never mind the few million a year he pays in rent, the city, it appears, will go after him for ticket taxes, restaurant revenue, parking, luxury box taxes, the whole nine.

Seattle's Finance Director Dwight Dively said getting out of the lease could be costly for the Sonics. "Our view is that we have an absolute guarantee that they will be here through the end of our lease and if they wanted to leave before that we would demand substantial financial damages," Dively said.

Jack Sikma could not be reached for comment.

M's to Rangers: Is that the Best You can Do, You Pansies?

Friday, April 13, 2007

The Ultimate Answer to Life, the Universe & Everything

is 42.

Who's wearing it on Sunday: hella people. Entire teams. Arthur Rhodes Jason Ellison. White dudes.
Who's not wearing it: Ichiro Suzuki.
His quote:
"I don't have the idea of wearing 42. Maybe I might write his number behind my
cap. It's very important to feel near Jackie Robinson. It's a matter of respect.
But I will probably not put it where anybody but me can see it."
Here's another fun quote from Ichiro Suzuki:
“Not only will we win, but also we’ll make Japanese baseball fans feel that they saw a truly great game. I want to make (Korea and Taiwan) see that they will not be able to beat Japan in the next 30 years.”
Then Korea beat Japan, 3-2. And Ichiro was excorciated in the press for being a racist. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, going against decades of confirmed scholarship, refuses to acknowledge that Japanese soldiers enslaved and raped Chinese women during the Second World War. Japan also apparently loves black people. To wit:

Here's a picture of the box of a top-selling Japanese video game:

And here's a popular cell-phone keychain in Japan, which is based on a children's story that is essentially the Where the Wild Things Are of that nation:

And here's a drawing from Japanese manga:

What does all this prove? Probably nothing. Garrett Anderson, a black man, says he won't wear Jackie Robinson's number on Sunday because it wasn't his idea. And besides, this kind of ritualized observance of a semi-artificial symbol is at best Hollywood and at worst has tones of national socialism, or at least cultural jingoism. It's the kind of middle-class collective group think that leads everyone to a good night's sleep, but does it really change attitudes?

Anyhow, there are 14 Japanese players in the big leagues at the moment. Which plan to wear #42?

So Taguchi
Takashi Saito

Why? Because their teams, the Cardinals and the Dodgers, have decided everyone will wear that number on Sunday.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Men We Hate

J.D. Drew has burned his smug little face indelibly into the hatred center of our brains for what he did last night, stabbing a squib single-like dagger into the hearts of Seattle and, to our mind, a nation looking for a new hero (Venezuela, of course, which has tired of Andres Galarraga). For that, Mr. oft-injured, so much talent that he never exploited, good body/bad head Drew, we nominate you as the newest entrant in an exclusive club, Men We Hate.

Your wing is the "Men who Busted-Up Mariner N0-Hitters" hall, and you'll find your plaque hanging alongside the following miserable SOBs:

1.) Jamie Quirk

On Sept. 20, 1986, he hit a meaningless single in the top of the first. Starter Mike Trujillo would not give up another hit.

2) Mike Sweeney

On June 13, 2000, he smacked a double with two outs in the bottom of the first frame. Gil Meche, pre-injuries, went the distance without yielding from there on out.

3) UL Washington

On Sept. 27, 1983, he managed a single during the top half of Jim Beattie's eventual victory. Beattie was otherwise unhittable.

4) Jeff Kunkel

Sept. 24, 1988, Kunkel weak-kneed a single off of the always handsome, always intimidating, always sort of Luke Sywalker-esque Mark Langston in the lower half of the fifth. Otherwise, Langston ran a clean bill for nine.

5) Brent "no relation" Gates

7/16/98, top 8, Randy Johnson on the mound. Bullshit single. There goes the no-no, although Randy finished it out without yielding any more.

6)Mike Gallego

Mid August (the 14th) of 1991, Big Unit versus the stinking A's. Single to lead off the 9th, fer crissake. (funny side note: Gallego technically means someone from the Galicia region of Spain. But in Latin America, "Gallego" is generally understood to be a slur meaning "idiot.")

7)Lance Blankenship

With only two outs left in RJ's second bid to throw a no-no for the M's, on May 16, 1993, Blankenship threw a wet blanket on all the fun by hitting a single. Whoop-de-do, Lance.

Finally, and reserved for the most horrifying, sulphurous, stinking regions of hell, is none other than:

8)the devil incarnate, Mr. Party Pooper Ken Phelps

On April 20, 1990, Brian Holman was burning through Oakland's order on the way to the first perfect game in the big leagues since -- wait, we're looking it up -- okay, not that impressive -- first perfect game since Tom Browning did it for the Reds two years earlier (but hey, six years since Mike Witt did it for the Angels). He was down to the final out, bottom of the ninth, when Mr. Phelps, the former Mariner, in his final season no less (has he no sense of history?), completely smashed an errant pitch over the fence for a tater. At the time, we were in a car with our brother and father and listening to it on the radio. Neither Niehaus nor any of us were pleased by that outcome. The fans at Oakland Coliseum booed him. The Oakland fans booed Ken Phelps for hitting a home run. That's how titanically awful it was. Phelps told reporters he did it because he didn't want to see himself on SportsCenter recording the final out. Die, you bastard.

'Meet me at the bike rack after school.'

Oh yeah?


Here's what Guillen, as stable a rock of a man as ever there was, had to say:

"If he wants to take care of his problem, the clubhouses are pretty close," Guillen said. "He can just send one of the batboys to come get me outside, and then we'll take care of this as a man"
He lost us on that last part. But here's what things looked like from the skybox:

And so it goes. Speaking of which, RIP Kurt Vonnegut.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Why the Young Must be Eaten

With a baseball coverage team consisting of the never hard hitting John Hickey, Art Thiel and Moira Koskey, the "Mariner Housewife," we suppose it's not that surprising that the Seattle P.I. feels inclined to look for a little bit of utility man help.

But what is to be made of today's godawful farmed out column playing off Weaver's inauspicious debut yesterday? Perhaps our least favorite part about it was the Lee Press-On Nails dragging down the chalkboard use of the phrase "At the end of the day" in each little recap capsule.

So who is this aspiring young sports columnist? Why, it's Seth Kolloen, Freelance Writer.
His tagline: Quality Writing, Quickly.

This reminds us of our time living in Mexico City and a little copy shop we used to go to (editor's note: the photocopier is perhaps the most influential and important machine ever introduced to Mexico. Way more important than steel or the VW Bug. Life simply cannot be lived there without photo copies, in triplicate, of everything. As a result, copy shops are everywhere). This shop had a sign on the wall. It read (in translation) "We do three kinds of work here. Slow, cheap and good. Fast, cheap and bad. Fast, good and expensive. You choose."

Now we know that the PI does not pay freelancers well. And since Kolloen is all about fast, we think it's pretty clear which option sports editor Nick Rousso picked. And considering this "humorous" line he wrote elsewhere on the CyberSpace, in a piece about obesity, they can keep him:
Banning obesity in public places will be a long, arduous fight. But don’t tell me it can’t be done—for God’s sake, homosexuals can marry in this country. Anything is possible.
A little more digging reveals some kind of fat obsession on behalf of Mr. Kolloen. We're not fat, we're just big boned, but we're starting to get offended. Here's what the PI has to say about a man who brags that he "achieved client placement in The New York Times, The New York Post, and several other publications":

The Stranger identified Seth Kolloen the best sportswriter you've never heard of for his work at His columns appear occasionally in the P-I.

I'm so jealous I'm breaking with the Royal We format. Odds bodkin, is there no justice in the world?

"If you want to call it a gyro, call it a gyro"

".... but I see it as a cut fastball," (Kenji) Johjima said. "I think a lot of pitchers throw that pitch."
We'll call it a gyro. But what's more interesting to us here is this little nugget from Larry Stone's always insightful coverage of this ever-changing game:
Asked what Felix's version of the gyro was, Johjima replied in English, "I call it a slider."
Kenji Johjima has been in the big leagues for just over a year. Ichiro Suzuki has been doing that Arizona to Seattle to AL West Cellar slide for seven years now. So how in the hell is it that Ichi still hasn't gotten enough of a grip of English to speak to reporters without a translator? This is the same Ichiro who has a game show in Japan where he's supposed to be some kind of Zen godchild genius. Yet he can't master baseball-ese?


"The thing about baseball is that tomorrow is another day and today has nothing to do with tomorrow."

Thus spake Chavesthustra after yesterday's brilliant performance.

Let's find out out more about Sr. Chaves, shall we?
First off, he was born in Brazil, but lives on Canada. He loves computers and is certified in Sun. He's interested in something called MDA (not to be confused with MDMA, folks) and is "also interested in object-orientation, distributed computing, and software engineering and architecture in general."

Oh, wait, wrong Rafael Chaves.

This Rafael Chaves is from Puerto Rico. He's married. Played minor league ball. Was pitching coach for the Tacoma farm team. Looks kind of like he has an upset tummy in this picture. Uh, anything else?

2X2L calling CQ... 2X2L calling CQ... 2X2L calling CQ... New York. Isn't there anyone on the air? Isn't there anyone on the air? Isn't there anyone... 2X2L...

All contributions to our Chaves Wiki Biography are more than welcome.

Separated at Girth?


Try as I might, I can't really come up with too many similarities here, other than that to my eye, these two look oddly similar, at least from the neck up. From the waist down, I'd say about 2,500 arepas filled with cheese, beans and eggs make a big difference.

Anyhow, these two are battling tonight at Fenway. Ichiro, meanwhile, remains appropriately Zen about the whole thing,

He was alleged to take one look at Dice-K's massive thighs, make some crack about Yeats, and then go for a second coming, er, helping of those funny BoSox hot dogs.

Enough telling stories that make no sense with pictures. Soon...something at least halfway intelligent.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Oliver is a Lousy Pitch Picker

He said Weaver would last 3.2 innings. He was wrong. He lasted 2 and gave up 7. Oliver was just being greedy with the Bonz.

It's Weaver Time

We here at the Rag are really excited about Jeff Weaver finally getting a chance to show his stuff.

We are hopeless at graphic design, otherwise we'd put a big fat "S" over that horrid NY symbol. In anticpation of the game and the huge bets we'll be placing on the game, we had our upstairs neighbor's pet long haired Chihuahua, Oliver (photo TK), predict the outcome. He did this by selecting between dog biscuits arranged into pitch and hit options on a masking tape grid on the floor (strike, ball, foul, ground out, fly out, single, double, triple, HR, wild pitch, passed ball, temper tantrum, blowing into hand, grasping at Guido chain). Oliver is a little guy, so he was stuffed after 3.2 innings, which is about how long we expect Weaver to last tonight. Let's just say he was having a hard time of it -- Oliver suggests he'll give up 42 hits, leading to 24 runs and also have multiple temper tantrums.

Meanwhile, Oliver's constant companion, Moby the Pug, sneered. "All this is prelude," he seemed to say, "to tomorrow's Japanese juggernaut."
Original Movie Idea of the Day(TM)*:

Tim Montgomery just pleaded (pled?) guilty to bank fraud. Here's the former world record 100 meter sprinter, later shamed and stripped of titles for juicing, reduced to trying to cash funny checks on the Eastern seaboard. Okay, we are talking about $1.6 million in bad checks, but still, it's got all the markings of a heartwarming little tale of a once great man turned into the pawn of evil men. Kind of like Memento, but instead of amnesia, this guy has 'Roid Rage.

Script writes itself. Start with winning the world record. Then go to arrest and handcuffing. Then back to the beginning, bringing us quickly to his rise to stardom and rapid fall. And there he is, desperate, jonesing, and a bunch of crooks bring him in. Who would ever suspect Tim Montgomery of passing bad checks? Nobody. Imagine scenes with guns waving around, screaming. "But I'm the World Champ!" "No. You used to be the world champ. Now you are my bitch." Etc.

All offers sent to our attention.

(*You heard it here first. If you attempt to make a movie out of this, or any other Seatown Rags Original Movie Idea of the Day (TM) -- including "King Lincoln: That Way Madness Lies" --without consulting and/or paying Seatown Rags, we will sue your pants off.)

In other news:

  • We know nothing about hockey, except that Petr Nedved played for the Thunderbirds. But we do know that Montreal music -- a.ka. "Separatist Rock" in Canadianese -- is an unrecognized lode of fun. And they like hockey. And this video is great.

  • Jay Buhner, as pointed out on Deadspin last week, likes sticking his finger into things he shouldn't. This week, apparently, it's management.

  • We're thinking of bidding on this. Great gift for all our friends and we love that the seller identified the M's as part of the NBA. Or maybe this.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Felix and Washburn and Three Days of Snow

Make that four days of snow

Early in the morning, in the middle of the night
John Hickey and Geoff Baker had a snowball fight.
The latter pondered whether we should demand
The end of April games in the city of Cleveland.
Hickey, meanwhile, focused his keen attention
On getting coach Chaves a long-awaited mention.
Chaves, having seen more snow than he'd ever seen in his life, got just about everybody with a snowball, and he received as good as he got.
And while Hickey filled us in on Chaves and his "snow weapons," we were also privy to a bucolic scene of millionaires enjoying the simple things in life:
Raul Ibanez....was posing for a photographer between relievers J.J. Putz and Arthur Rhodes, just three big kids kicking it in the deep powder.
Of course this immediately makes us here at the Rag rethink our team slogan depth chart. This is poetry and Mr. Hickey deserves a raise. So, as it stands, our top slogan remains, but a new number two has emerged:

  1. Mariners Baseball: a Churning Nightmare of Death Full of Questions without Answers
  2. The M's: Just Some Big Kids Kicking it in the Deep Powder
  3. The Mariners: how Bill Bavasi took a Great Team and Made it into Cholera-laced Dukey
  4. It's Big League Stuff
  5. "Makyuu no Shoutai" (Secrets of the Demon Miracle Pitch)

In other news, the Rags staff is now accepting nominations for actors to represent Mariners players, coaches and execs in a high-eight figure Hollywood pic currently in pre-production telling the tale of Howard Lincoln's rise and fall, a story based heavily on King Lear. (Sweet Lou takes the role of Cordelia, although early treatments had Bryan Price in that part. The pieces all fit together from there on out).

All suggestions will be warmly received for the following roles. We have oral committments from Manson and Leguizamo, but nothing is set in stone.

  • Howard Lincoln (Lear) =
  • Lou Piniella (Cordelia) =
  • Bob Melvin (Regan) =
  • Mike Hargrove (Goneril) =
  • Randy Johnson (Duke of Albany) = Marilyn Manson
  • Alex Rodriguez (Duke of Cornwall) = John Leguizamo
  • Jim Lefebvre (Earl of Gloucester) =
  • Pat Gillick (Earl of Kent) =
  • Dan Wilson (Oswald) = Kevin Costner (of course)
and, in a rare double role:
  • Bill Bavasi as treacherous Edmund =
  • Bill Bavasi as the Fool =