Pitching is such a vital part of the game, as far as winning is concerned.

On most teams the set up man has become more valuable, on others not so valuable.

Something to keep in mind — it’s raining lightly. The infield could be very wet on ground balls.

What is a drop and drive pitcher? He is a guy who drops and drives. Very simple.

So by guessing right you might have guessed wrong.

Giambi walks too much. He’s always clogging up the bases with all that walking.

As a new day begins in New York, the sun sets in Hawaii.

If football is a game of inches then baseball is a game of inch.

If that ball had more elevation, it would have been a home run.

If the double play is a pitcher’s best friend, what is a fielder’s choice? An acquaintance?

It’s better to have a fast runner on base than a slow one.

One thing about ground balls. They don’t go out of the ball park.

The reason we call that pitch up and in is because the arms are attached to the shoulder.

He wears his hat like a left hander!

Any ball that goes down is much heavier than any ball that stays on the same plane.

The blood on his sock looks exactly like Oklahoma!

You don’t want to use too many statistics. The ones that apply to a July or August game won’t be relevant on Saturday.

American McCarver

February 2013 Archives

He’s a Tragic Hero, Without the “Hero” or “Tragic” Parts [Link]

This is a terrific story, and it almost makes you feel sorry for A-Rod. He was a humble, joyful kid — blessed with gifts both aesthetic and athletic — and the world rewarded him with a life of almost unimaginable plenty. How could he not become a spoiled, divisive asshole?

On second thought, fuck that guy.


Are We the Super Bowl?

It’s the day after the Super Bowl and thoughts turn to, well, the Super Bowl.

Before we get to the start of baseball writing season, before we talk about pitchers and catchers and even hockey scores, there is that thorny post-Super Bowl issue to be tackled in hundreds of papers across the world now. The titles of all the articles may be different but they all read the same: The Super Bowl Represents America’s Penchant For Violence, Excess and Material Things.

Ok, so we have a violent game with an excessive halftime show, cushioned by a plethora of advertisements for expensive cars and junk food. But does that represent us? Does Super Bowl Sunday really define what we are all about or does it define something more, perhaps our need to escape into a world where the entertainment value is at premium?

For sports fans like us - the kind who talk about, read about it, write about it but aren’t rabid about it - the idea that this one day of the year and the pageantry that comes with it defines who we are is sort of a ludicrous notion. While football is inherently a violent game, it’s not the violence most of us are watching for. We’re in it for the plays, for watching the running and passing, for the strategy and sense of competition. We like it because it entertains, with or without the punishing hits.

It’s the same with the ads. I don’t think there are many of us who spend non-Super Bowl days studiously watching commercials. But on this one day, those ads are entertainment. They’re not just advertisements, they are parts of a whole; Super Bowl Sunday is part game, part food, part show, all entertainment.

I used to argue that major events like the Super Bowl were our means of escape, but exactly what have we escaped by watching last night’s game?

We have an inherently violent sport maligned with sordid stories of suicide, murder and an administration at least guilty of depraved indiffirence when it comes to the topic of concussions. We have, in this time of economic worries, commercials selling us expensive cars, ads that we eat up as part of the entertainment aspect of the Super Bowl. The violence, the game, the ads, the halftime show, all sums of the part of the whole. And what is the whole telling us when it starts out with something so beatific as the choir of a middle school still mourning the death of 26 of its children singing praise to the country that fails to protect their innocent?

But we forget these things for a while. Maybe, in our attempts to escape life, we immerse ourselves in a game and see it as just that, a game. Nothing more. The ads nothing more than fodder for tweets and water cooler laughter, the halftime show nothing more than a brief interlude of song and dance.

And then when the final moment count down and we’re left to watch the victors dance on a field confetti, when the ads are no longer new and the halftime entertainment has left the building, we go back to remembering Ray Lewis is allegedly complicit in a murder and Chris Culliver is a homophobic idiot. We go back to remembering that those angelic, singing kids are part of a horrific chapter in our violent history.

But for that brief time the game is being played, the dancers are on stage and Go Daddy is making us all barf, there’s a game. Just a game. A couple of hours of cheering, whether it’s for a team or the numbers you drew in the office pool. That defines us more than anything else about this yearly extravaganza. We crave the escape.

Is the Super Bowl us? No, not really. Those articles that say such a thing are using too broad a scope in figuring out what we, the sporting fans of America, stand for.

Maybe we don’t stand for anything, as far as the Super Bowl goes. Maybe a game is just a game and a chorus of kids is just another sweet moment in the pageantry of escapist sporting events.


The Loyalty of the Disinterested

In order to fill the time between baseball seasons, people do all sorts of crazy stuff.

They play basketball, despite the danger that LeBron James might win something. They box while wearing skates and call it a sport. They even crash giant men into each other, to the point of traumatic brain injury and suicide. Ha ha! Fun!

This weekend is the Super Bowl and the fuck the NFL and their lawyers. Super Bowl, Super Bowl, Super Bowl!

Following the First Rule of Fandom, I don’t have football team. I could claim the Rams (because they used to be in Los Angeles) or I could claim the Raiders (because they used to be in Los Angeles) or I could claim the Chargers (because they will eventually be in Los Angeles) but I’d much rather maintain the blissful indifference that descends during the season. When you don’t care, you can flip on the TV on a Sunday and enjoy the slow-motion destruction of any human lives, rather than just the lives owned by whichever billionaire or conglomerate your local city council has decided to kowtow to. Also, when the dancing robots get too much, you can walk away.

But football is a contest and picking sides is what competition is about. So who does a disinterested party root for this weekend?

Both teams are populated with terrible human beings, so that doesn’t help. (I’m tempted to give the edge to the Ravens, because at least Ray Lewis knew what he was doing when he denied it later.) The normally reliable heuristic of rooting against a Harbaugh doesn’t work. Colin Kaepernick is the obvious hero from every football movie ever, but nobody should have to cheer for someone with a chin beard. Seriously, Colin, stop taking grooming tips from Brian Wilson.

So let’s look beyond the teams themselves. What about the cities they represent?

As an upper-middle class white man, I of course feel that I know Baltimore’s soul because I’ve seen every season of “The Wire.” I also know the soul of San Francisco because I’ve seen a couple of episodes of “Too Close for Comfort.”

I’ve never been to Baltimore, but San Francisco fills its main purpose as a weekend getaway for people from Los Angeles well enough. I mean, it’s no San Diego, but it does the job OK.

New York is the country’s capital of self-satisfaction — go ahead, ask a New Yorker about New York; don’t have anything planned for the afternoon — but San Francisco is a powerful up-and-comer. Its baseline smug is already at borderline-fatal levels, but when you start adding sports titles to the mix, things go bad very, very quickly. This is a city that nicknamed itself “The City” — The City — as opposed to, say, “The Human Defecation Capital of America” or “MUNI: Don’t Have Anything Planned for The Afternoon” or “Frisco.”

Just as all the charm went out of Boston when the Red Sox became just another team, San Francisco abandoned whatever sympathy lovable losers deserve when the Giants stumbled into two World Series championships. Watching bearded hobos and longhairs — and that’s just the pitching staff — roll through the streets on a friggin’ trolly? Ugh.

Now imagine how insufferable San Francisco is going to be if they add a Super Bowl to that stew. A city that is already dangerously self-satisfied becoming both the MLB champs and the NFL champs in the same year?

Go Ravens.

Image stolen from The Atlantic Cities.

You are trying to view American McCarver on a shitty browser. Won't work.

Go full screen.