Sunday, May 31, 2009

The Ultimate Act of Treason

For those of you with kids, particularly little girls, you might be able to relate to this perfidious act of torture that makes water-boarding seem like a day at the beach. I'm talking about the dance recital.

Yesterday, my daughter, who will be six-years-old in a couple of weeks, had her first dance recital, which was subsequently my first dance recital as a parent. My own folks claim they took me to one of my sister's recitals when I was a young lad, but after jeering when she took the stage, Iwas never allowed to attend another one. Until yesterday, that is. Now, while I don't want to seem like a bloodless, heartless curmudgeon who didn't even smirk at the cuteness of these tiny girls in tutus aimlessly drifting around a stage while "I'm a Little Teapot" pipes through the PA system, the recital wasn't exactly what I would call exhilarating entertainment. But, mercifully, it was short. And my daughter, of course, was fantastic. Priceless.

There was, however, one number that I found particularly disturbing. I can't remember the song, or even whether it was tap or ballet, but there was a one duet with a little girl and the only little boy in the recital. And, let me tell you, this poor kid was the picture of forlorn. He dragged his feet onto the stage, head down, and didn't move for the entire dance, other than to tap his foot a couple of times---so maybe it was tap. While this danse macabre was going on, the only thing I could think was, "What sort of parent would put their son up to something like this? Clearly, the kid doesn't want to be here." This kid was miserable. Finally, the song ended and the boy walked off stage like he'd been shot in the leg by a sniper in the balcony. On a side note, if you happen to have a doctorate's in psychology, or plan on getting one in the next ten years, let me know and I'll try to procure this kid's name for you.

Okay, so where am I going with this? You're supposed to be an imaginary sportswriter, and this is supposed to be a baseball blog, you might be saying to yourself, while kicking the dog in frustration. Stick with me.

Last Thursday, I believe it was, I got an IM on Facebook (my sole means of socialization in the universe) from my friend Karl. Karl is a lifelong Cubs fan, and he wrote me, distressed, because his six-year-old son recently told him that he was a Cardinals fan. Immediately, my heart went out to Karl, not only because of this act of treason, but because my heart goes out to all Cubs fans, and if the Sox are ever knocked out of it, the same romantic who, regardless of how many times I've seen the movie, still pulls for Roy Hobbs to jack that fastball into the lights in The Natural, pulls for The Cubs. That's not meant to be condescending. If anyone understands that suffering and that passion for their team, it's old-school Sox fans (not the Pink Hat frauds).

But Karl's situation got me thinking. What if one of my own son, the spawn of my seed, someday comes to me and tells me he's a Yankee fan. Can you disown a kid at the age of six? Or start charging them rent, at least? Then today, it occurred to me what I'd do, and suddenly I had one of those revelations where everything momentarily made sense.

If Owen ever comes to me and proclaims himself a fan of those vile shits in pinstripes, I decided that I will take my son straight down to the dance studio and sign him up. Maybe, being dragged on stage at a dance recital with all of his friends watching (I will personally buy the tickets), he will rethink his decision and return to his rightful and inherited spot, his legacy, as a die-hard Red Sox fan. Maybe that's what I witnessed yesterday: the punishment of a young defector, a treasonous little bastard who thought he'd spite his father.

And if you happen to have a doctorates in psychology, keep your Freudian comments to yourself. And can you believe I wrote this entire post without once uttering the name Johnny Damon?

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Swine flu, poopy, and Papi

First, I'd like to let my four readers know that I'm fine. You can rest easy now. As you may or may not know, the swine flu ran through my house this week and took no hostages. While it was never officially diagnosed as the swine flu, and some skeptics are trying to dismiss as the stomach bug, thus belittling my heroic battle and miraculous recovering from this virulent and heinous pestilence, I assure you, there was a time on Wednesday afternoon at 2:17, according to my alarm clock, when I didn't know, folks (I'm wiping a single tear from my lash), I didn't know if I'd make it. However, I'm not about to argue diagnostic semantics here. I'm an imaginary sportswriter, not an imaginary doctor, like my wife, and the sole reason I mention my bout with the killer swine flu is to set up an analogy with the ridiculous brouhaha made over the single good swing David Ortiz had this season and Red Sox Nation's pathetic apotheosis of the man that followed.

When Ortiz hit that salami on Wednesday night against a Blue Jay's pitcher who had about as much energy left in his tank as Rocky and Apollo in the fifteenth round of their second fight, Red Sox fans everywhere reacted like the second-coming of Jesus had just flashed a thumbs-up on the scoreboard in centerfield. Immediately, people started calling this Papi's reawakening, his rebirth, saying that Papi finally got his groove back. This is an overstatement equivalent to calling a mosquito bite on your neck a "near-decapitation." It's analogous to calling a twenty-four hour bout with vomiting and diarrhea "the swine flu," which, mind you, is not to say that I didn't have it. I did.

Listen, I wanted to believe in Ortiz as much as the next fan, but being a lifetime Red Sox fan, therefore in incorrigible pessimist, I was cautious as best. And I was right. It proved as apocryphal as photos of The Loch Ness Monster, or bear shit claimed to be plopped out by The Yhetti. I hope Papi's performance this weekend against The Mets made those idiots touting their "He's back" signs and calling into the radio shows as exuberant as teenage boys on a porn set want to find the nearest pink hat and it pull over their faces in shame.

Now, I realize that Big Papi has been impervious to the wrath of Sox fans, so far. I mean, the guy carried the franchise on his shoulders in 2004. He seemed super-human, which, sadly, raises some questions regarding his off-season recreations in The Dominican. There. I said it. I have my doubts. But here's the thing: as Red Sox fans, it's our duty to give it to the guys who aren't performing, and right now Papi is poopy, the same wet poopy produced by the swine flu. At what point are we going to stop spooning with his legacy and start realizing that he's costing The Sox some games here? Pink Hats are magnanimous and nostalgic and romantic because they've only been Red Sox fans for the past six years, while the Red Sox have been a romantic team, the equivalent of an ending to a Meg Ryan movie. Tear-jerkers. Real Sox fans, however, smell blood and need to start getting on Papi, booing his ass when he strikes out three times in a game, leaves 12 runners in scoring position, hits .200. Enough is enough. Remember, if the price the Sox brass offered Papi wasn't right at the last contract, Papi would've turned to the pinstripes in a heartbeat. If you really believe otherwise, well, you probably believe I had the fucking swine flu, too.

Right now, Pedroia/Youk/Bay sounds like a might fine 2-3-4 to me.

Tomorrow, we steam-clean our carpets. There's the lingering noxious scent of puke and the poop funk from Papi being on my television so far this season.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Nick Green the Dick Machine

How, oh, how did things that were once so good get so very bad? Was it not a week ago today that The Red Sox took it to Tampa with an eighth-inning rally, the Bruins wiped up Carolina in their backyard, and Big Baby Davis sunk a buzzer-beater to tie the series with the Magic? Here we are, a week later, and The Bruins are eliminated, The Celtics are losing bad in the first quarter, and The Sox just dropped a second straight series on The West Coast. Who, you may ask, other than some cruel God hellbent on afflicting terrible cosmic pain on New England sports fans could be responsible such malicious torment?

I, however, have an answer far more mundane.

That answer: Nick Green.

Yes, I realize that I recently went off on Julio Lugo, and for that, I am still unapologetic. However, after Nick Green's throwing era in the ninth-inning today that cost the Sox the game and the series against the Mariners, I am now blaming Nick Green for everything that has happened. Ever. The Bruins losing Game 7 in overtime? Green's fault. And if the Celtics lose tonight, you can thank Nick Green. The Holocaust? That was Nick Green's fault, too.

Let's not forget, folks, he was once a Yankee.

Listen, I don't have a life, so when the Red Sox lose because some pud-pulling ex-Yankee who looks like an android can't make a routine throw to first, I am personally and spiritually affected. Why, oh, why the hell did The Red Sox ever let Orlando Cabrera go? Theo, you should've looked into your crystal ball and seen the palsy twins, Green and Lugo, five years in the future. For making such a mess of the shortstop position and, by extension, my life, I fart in your general direction, Theo. You break my heart.

And Nick Green, you, sir, are a stinking bag of dog shit on the doorstep of fortune. You may think you're fooling everyone into thinking you're not a clandestine operative for The Evil Empire, but not this imaginary sportswriter. And now, sir, the three people who read this blog know, too. Consider yourself outed, asshole.

Monday, May 11, 2009

A whole Manny thing

While the baseball world weighs in on Manny Ramirez and the hefty 50 game suspension dropped on him, as an imaginary sportswriter, it would remiss of me to not throw in my own two cents and disappoint my legions of readers, a.k.a. the two of you who read this blog.

My two cents: I could give two shits. Yes, I'm a big fan of baseball and believe the game is truly of a thing of beauty when it is being played well. But seriously, enough is enough already. I am so sick and tired of hearing about these players and their steroid use. Does it put into question the integrity of the game? Of course it does. Not a single one of these bulked-up, shrimp-dicked retards could hold a candle to Mays or Aaron or Williams or Dimaggio, and the record books should reflect it with the ignominious asterisk. At the risk of sounding sacrilegious to the sport, I don't care about the records; I just like watching baseball being played. These guys aren't gods. They're athletes. And I realize that little kids look up to them as heroes. When I was a kid, I looked up to Tommy Lee. That didn't mean that I was going to end up doing every drug I could get my hands on and banging Pam Anderson...

Wait a second, I think I'm losing my point.

Oh, yeah, my point. Maybe it's time we stop apotheosizing these guys, paying them obscene amounts of money, and making their business our lives. Parents should impress this message on their children, talk to their kids and tell them as much. So these guys used steroids for a competitive edge. Does that make them evil human beings that deserve the public's soap-box derision? I don't think so. It makes them athletes with questionable integrity. Should that detract from the pleasure we, as fans, derive from watching a ballgame? Not for me. And let's remember, there are some 100 names in The Mitchell Report that have yet to come out. So if we're preparing for more public stonings, we need to remember that players on our hometown teams may very likely be next. And those players who have legitimately made it on their own hard work and talent will have the existential serenity of knowing it. That should be enough. Let's stop the witch hunts and speculations. Innocent until proven guilty, right?

Manny Ramirez is a moron. No news there. He will not be in uniform again until July. Don't vote him onto the All-Star team and move on.

The only player who deserves our public outrage for cheating and lying and being an overall dick is A-Rod, and that has more to do with his uniform than his steroid use.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

An Imaginary Conversation with a Yankee Fan

Since 2004, I've noticed that tenor of baseball conversations with my Yankee fan friends (yes, I actually have friends that I pay pretty well to like me, thank you very much) has done an about-face. In case you missed it, The Red Sox beat The Yankees again last night 7-3 in the billion-dollar whiffle ball field, bringing the season series to 5-0 with the Good Guys on top. Anyway, below is an imagined conversation with a Yankee fan at, say, a copy machine at, say, 7:18 a.m. before I'm about to teach, say, a Joyce Carol Oates story to a group of seniors that would rather hang by their tongues than read anything else.

Me: Did you happen to catch the game last night?
Imaginary Yankee Fan: I'm tired of this crappy weather. The guy on WMUR said it's supposed to clear up later this afternoon, but when was the last time a weatherman got the weather right?
Me: Do you still think the Red Sox are going to pay for trading Manny last season? Bay hit another bomb last night. What was it you said? The Red Sox would be lucky to finish in third place?
IYF: It's only May. There's a lot of baseball left.
Me: True, but you said that last July, and The Sox went to the ALCS and came within a game of going to another World Series. Where did the Yankees finish in AL East last year?
IYF: Swine flu, man. What the hell is going on with the swine flu? I went to buy some hand sanitizer last night, and CVS was out.
Me: It looks like the Yankees plucked their bullpen from the Special Olympics team. The highest payroll in baseball, and they still can't get a bridge to Rivera, not that Mo has been particularly effective against the Sox.
IYF (face flushing): How many World Series have the Yankees won again?
Me: This century or last?
IYF: It's a long season. I'll talk to you in October.
Me: Great idea. In the past six years, The Sox have been to four ALCS series, won two pennants and gone undefeated in World Series games. When was the last time the Yankees won a World Series?
IYF: The Giants kicked the Patriots' asses in the Superbowl two years ago. You remember that one, big guy?
Me: I wouldn't call a highly improbable, once-in-lifetime catch in the fourth quarter an "ass-kicking," but you have a point. The Giants won. Still, I was talking about baseball.
IYF: Wait until A-Rod gets back.
Me: That's right. I forgot about the steroid-popping, man-titted, bitch-slapping cheater and his inflated salary. How many World Series have the Yankees won since he's been on there payroll? And Sabathia and Texeira are really tearing it up, too. When are the Yankees going to realize that buying an aging All-Star team year after year is NOT going to work. It seems like Steinbrenner's douche bag son is every bit the idiot that the old man was. Big Apples don't fall far from the tree, huh? That was clever. Right?
IYF: Go fuck yourself.
Me: It's always a pleasure.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

The Bum

For those of you who have been following the Sox before they became sexy in 2004, who had a relationship with the team similar to a rocky marriage--- when things were good, oh man, they were good, and when they were bad, look out---you understand the irrational rage, the betrayal, the flirting with the concept of divorcing the team and finding another sport, say, arena football, to devote your love and attention. In my particular case, I usually choose one player on the team to focus all of my anger toward, a sounding board, a whipping post. Even after two World Championships, I still have my goat, and for the past two years, it has been $9 million dollar toilet flush that goes by the name of Julio Lugo.

On Sunday, I was watching the game against Tampa, and my blood pressure was slightly elevated, as it usually is during a Red Sox game, but stable. There were runners on first and third with one out (Carl Crawford probably stole all three bases then got back on the base path for shits and giggles), and Brad Penny was on the mound. There was routine grounder to Pedroia, a textbook 4-6-3 inning-ending doubleplay. But with Julio "The Loser" Lugo at the shortstop, nothing is EVER routine. Lugo muffs a feed that Stephen Hawking could have handled, the run scores, and The Sox go down and never catch up. I lose it. I start spraying f-bombs and insults like Dick Cheney firing at a friend's face on a hunting trip (man, I struggled with that simile), and my three-year-old son took cover under a blanket. Before I could apologize and tell him to never repeat what he just heard in front of his mother, the phone rings. It's my father.

"That fucking idiot!" he yells, eschewing your standard phone call greetings. "Why the fuck do they keep playing this guy?" Mind you, my father introduced me to the concept of The Red Sox Bum, the term I've adopted for these players, way back in 1986 when he would take everything out on the hapless Bob Stanley.

Now, the reason I bring this up is to give formal recognition to the players who have borne the brunt of my indignation over the past five years (to go back further would require a much, much longer post). So here they are, in chronological order, with the nicknames I assigned to them:

Grady Little, a.ka. Forrest Gump. While Tito Francona could take a dump on my bed and I'd simply admire its consistency, Grady Little was the cause of all of my life's stresses and problems during his time as the helm. A check bounces. Fucking Gump. A bird craps on my windshield. Grady Little fed it the damn worms. There was something about his languid Southern hick-ness that drove me up a wall. And when he left Pedro in Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS...well, I'm not even going to go there.

Mark Bellhorn, a.k.a. Smellhorn. Again, one of the defining characteristics of a Red Sox Bum is the general demeanor of someone who can't fight back. Bellhorn struck out far too much for my liking. Was he instrumental in the Sox winning in 2004? You bet. Did I love him during that time? Yup. Such are the hypocrisies of Sox fans. Ironically, I still have a Mark Bellhorn keychain that was given to me as a gag gift. I still use it.

Willy Mo Pena, a.k.a. Willy Mo-ron. First of all, I was an Arroyo fan, and when the Sox dealt Bronson to The Reds for this walking steroid with the brain of a piss-drip, obviously, I blamed Pena. He was like the dude that dates your ex-girlfriend after you've broken up. Regardless of what he does or how nice of a guy he might be, you're going to dislike him. And Mo-ron, aside from hitting a few moon shots, did little to help his cause. From his fielding blunders to his gigantic whiffs at the plate, all-around, I blamed him for every game the Sox lost during his tenure, whether he played or not.

Which brings us back to Lugo, a.ka. The Loser, a.ka. Fucktard the Asswipe Douche. It's a rainy evening here in New England, and in a few minutes, I'm going to head downstairs and see if the Sox/Spankees game in the Evil Empire's billion-dollar whiffleball field is going to happen tonight. By the way, I just checked the line-ups. Nick Green is scheduled to start at short, but if the Sox lose tonight (if they play), I can guarantee you Lugo had something to do with it.