Tag Archives: baseball

Dirty Colon Humor

Is there no end to Bartolo Colon headline comedy?  TWICE, I’ve seen “Colon gets pounded”.  Now this, “COLON KEEPS A’s IN CONTROL…”, and to top it off, COLON is helping the A’s to CLINCH.

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Basketball returns! The altered reality of a post-strike season.

Merry Christmas, NBA fans.  Your season begins on December 25.  It’s time to dismount your moral high horse and get back to cheering for millionaire players and billionaire owners.

They’ll go ahead with a 60-game season instead of the usual 82, but will still subject fans to their 82,000-game playoff tournament in which every team but the Los Angeles Clippers will qualify.

Shortened seasons can leave fans wondering about what could have happened had mommy and daddy not been fighting over money when they could have been fighting over a ball.  I had hoped to blow your mind with a “what if” version of the 2010-11 playoffs with the Golden State Warriors edging out the Pacers in the final.  I figured that the only way for the season to be taken seriously would be to switch to an “NBA Jam” (or “NBA Street”) version of the season where players go 2-on-2, have giant heads and “catch fire” after making 3 consecutive shots.

Unfortunately for my hypothesis, I checked the numbers and learned this: Aside from minor seeding differences, ALL division winners and playoff qualifiers from 2010-11 would be completely unchanged if last year’s season ended at 60 games instead of 82.  This only furthers the “NBA regular season doesn’t matter” argument.

Let’s look at how some other sports have handled their domestic disputes:

FOOTBALL

In 1982 the NFL’s 9-game strike-shortened season ended with a 16-team tournament (there were 27 teams at the time) that ended with the 8-1 Redskins beating the 8-1 Dolphins in Semi-Super Bowl XVII.

This year of course, the NFL players and owners played chicken all summer, then gave fans a big, fat “you’re welcome” for making their lives matter again.  Football “came back” promising more pizzazz and bullshit than ever.

BASEBALL

The 1981 Major League Baseball season was interrupted by a mid-season strike that inspired the interesting decision to divide the season into two halves, with the 1st and 2nd half division leaders qualifying for the playoffs instead of going by overall standings at the end of the season.  This allowed the 50-53 Kansas City Royals in over the 57-48 Texas Rangers, and eventually put 3rd place New York Yankees into the World Series.

MLB’s 1994 season ended with the ultimate “Oopsie Daisy” when the season was cancelled just 2/3 of the way through and we all missed what would likely be another thrilling New York Yankee World Series championship, possibly over the 1st place Montreal Expos.

HOCKEY

Then in 1994, the NHL season was cut in half, followed by the annual Stanley Cup Tournament in which teams actually have to make an effort not to qualify.

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Taking Pleasure From Boston’s Pain

Red Sox fans after collapseI’ve spent the last few days after the end of the MLB regular season (aka “The Greatest Day in Baseball History”) trying to come to grips with just how much pleasure I derived from seeing the Boston Red Sox complete their historic collapse. Clearly, it goes deeper than simple Schadenfreude and taps into something deeper about the Red Sox specifically. After all, the Braves blowing a similar lead to lose the NL Wild Card on the last day didn’t elicit nearly the same gut response of sheer, unadulterated pleasure.

After some deeper introspection, I’ve come to realize that this all boils down to one fact: Boston fans are incredibly annoying, and seeing them suffer makes me feel good. And I say this as a person who knows a lot of people from Boston, and this is not a knock on them personally. It’s just that as a collective group, they are smug and intolerable – the sports fandom equivalent of the self-satisfied smirk of Pete Campbell from “Mad Men.”

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Do the Yankees REALLY hate the Red Sox?

Admit it. The "rivalry" is a sham!

In the next three days, we’ll see just how far this Red Sox / Yankees rivalry really goes.

With the season winding down, the Red Sox limp toward the finish line and a potential wild card spot. Despite going 6-18 through September, they’re still in front…barely. Closing in fast are the Tampa Bay Rays. That means the Red Sox will be cheering on the Rays opponent for this final series: the New York Yankees.

This puts the Yankees in a very powerful spot – a “top” if you will – in determining who secures the American League wild card. Tank these 3 games against the Tampa Bay Rays, and you’ve got a very good chance of knocking the Red Sox out of the playoffs without even playing them.

But would they?

If this were a REAL rivalry, a deep-seated, near-religious loathing that truly ran as deep as we’re led to the believe, I would say yes, without a doubt. I don’t think the Yankees have the gonads to pull a stunt like that though.

Barely three days ago, Yankees catcher Russel Martin admitted “I hate the Red Sox” and “Anything to get the Red Sox out would be awesome for me,” and then you know what his team did?  They lost to the Rays 15-8 (though they had just beat the Rays in the previous 3 games).  Consider the Yankees general manager recently claimed to have shown interest in outfielder Carl Crawford during the last offseason only to drive up the price the Red Sox would eventually pay him. Whether or not those were his real intentions is an entirely different debate, but it clearly illustrates that the rivalry plays out beyond the framework of 9 innings. Interesting.

Listen, I doubt any team would deliberately lose a game – or at least admit it. There’s too much pride and competition in professional (or even rec-league) sports for anyone to throw a game – though the 1919 Chicago White Sox offer a strong counterpoint. But will they put their best foot forward against the Rays? Will they truly be motivated to win these last three games? I suspect some younger players will see some time while key starters sit out, if only to rest for the playoffs.  Whatever the motive, these tactics could easily be spun as a sound end-of-season strategy.

Would it REALLY be New York if they acknowledged the existence of any other city? This is best team in the biggest city in the USA. Maybe part of the rivalry is pretending you don’t even care about the rivalry. They could beat anyone, anywhere, any time. The REAL prize is winning another World Series, no matter who you have to play.

Let’s not forget the Rays. If the Yankees lose to them, they’d end up facing them in the playoffs. Could the Yankees be cunning enough to use the next three nights as a psyche-out? Sandbagging it before coming on full-force in the playoffs? Or would the confidence boost and momentum they’d give to the Rays backfire on the Yankees in the playoffs?

Still, if the Yankees are confident enough that they could beat anyone, any time and if the two teams TRULY hate each other as much as legend says, either of them would absolutely pull a stunt like that. Of course, the athletes aren’t MassHoles and Bleacher Creatures. These are rational, paid professionals who want to beat any team, anywhere, anytime. In fact, the slumping Red Sox might be a more desirable opponent than the Tampa Bay Rays.

Regardless of New York’s motives – the situation puts the Red Sox in a tough spot. They’ll put their hopes not just in their own team, but also in the Yankees, on the road, with 3 meaningless games to play before the playoffs.

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Filed under Everything You Know Is Wrong, Jones