To understand this latest J-Dub/SportsChump collaboration, you need to know that the exceptionally Floridian SportsChump is a recent convert to the religion known as hockey fandom. To most, the idea of ice hockey and Floridians seems as natural a mix as Navy Seals at a Tupperware party, but it actually isn’t that strange if you give it just a bit of thought. Allow us to explain…
I have a friend who’s a hockey fan. Actually, I have a few friends that are hockey fans but this one’s more ornery than most. He and I sometimes debate about sports and stuff. Perhaps you’ve heard of him. His name is J-Dub and he writes for this quasi-pornographic website called Dubsism. He’s the kind of writer I want to be when I grow up.
Well, since hockey season has officially started and Mr. Dub is always trying to convince me about the merits of hockey, along with the shame that comes from living in Florida, I thought we’d host a little conversation about hockey in Florida.
As you all know, I live in the Tampa Bay area, an area which hosts itself a pretty good hockey team. J-Dub would probably argue that we don’t deserve a team that good, if any team at all, but I’ll let him speak for himself. In a city whose sports teams cannot draw fans, the Lightning organization has done things the right way. In fact (homer alert), this team could be on a pace to win the Stanley Cup (again) within the next few years. They’ve got a founder in Phil Esposito (hockey lifer), a solid GM in Steve Yzerman (hockey lifer) and an owner in Jeffrey Vinik who’s willing to spare no expense in putting a quality product on the ice. Vinik is so effective as an owner that he recently got Bill Gates to invest in an area in Tampa that nobody even frequents.
So, Dub, let’s start this ice party off with a bang, shall we? I’m watching hockey now. Does that make you feel better at night? I even went and bought myself a t-shirt and a hat for the next game I attend. As an avid sports but fledgling hockey fan, am I worthy of rooting for the sport you cherish or am I the kind of bandwagoning fool you despise?
First off, let’s get a couple of things straight. A while back, Ryan Meehan and I clearly delineated what is hockey territory and what isn’t.
This is another installment in the Sports Blog Movement series which takes a hard look at certain instances, or specific seasons which would make sports fans cringe in horror and pain, or expands on that to take a hard look at the long-suffering fans of franchises who have tortured their supporters for decades.
The episode is my sad saga of being a life-long fan of the
Los Angeles California Anaheim Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim Los Angeles Angels. First of all, just look at that list of name changes. When I was a kid and they were still the California Angels; this was a team that was the “red-headed step child” of southern California baseball; even the expansion and shitty San Diego Padres had a better local television deal. Angel games (when you could find them) were usually on a UHF station which shoe-horned baseball into a power-packed lineup of Dobie Gillis re-runs, “B” westerns from the 1940′s, and the original Japanese “Ultraman” series. You kids who know nothing of television before MTV may have to do a web search to find out what any of the shit I just mentioned means.
The point is that being an Angels fan is like getting a really cool birthday gift from a relative to whom you haven’t spoken in years. The Angels have pissed me off so many times in the past; there have been so many times I’ve almost sat shiva on this team and my relationship with it, I almost wish I could “give back” the 2002 World Series title so I wouldn’t have to escalate the relationship from its usual level of “fuck-off-ness.”
You would think the current level of success would abate some of this, but It really hasn’t. The big money era brought to us by owner Arte Moreno still hasn’t borne any play-off fruit, and I’m not sure it ever will. Missing the play-offs this year would mark five straight years with having one of the highest payrolls in baseball with nothing to show for it. Ownership notwithstanding, this team just doesn’t have a good history, and I get the feeling that isn’t going to change.
Sure, this team is contending now, but I just got to watch my best pitcher shred his knee. That’s the power of history, and for those of you who don’t know the history of this team, allow me to share some of the misery.
1) I wasn’t old enough to have Bo Belinsky as a hero.
Signs We Are Near The End Of Civilization: CBS News Uses Ferguson Riots to Inject Race Into Little League Baseball
This post may sound like it belongs on Turtle Boy Sports (which is an awesome read, by the way…), but what I saw on my television this morning literally made me spew coffee across my living room. I’m watching my local morning news during which CBS News does a two-minute cut-in with a “headlines of the day”-type bit. This led to me taking in what was either the sloppiest bit of film editing in the history of broadcast journalism or somebody at CBS has an agenda.
The footage starts in Ferguson, where the media has turned this story into your “Riot Roll;” 5 seconds of protestors holding signs and generally being non-violent, followed by 30 seconds of looters smashing windows and stealing property. Despite the fact we’ve clearly switched the visual from “protestors” to people clearly involved in criminal behavior, CBS still insists on referring to them as “protestors.” What I can’t figure out is are they doing this to portray peaceful; protestors as criminals, or are they trying not to admit that 95% of what is going on in Ferguson is not protesting, it’s rioting?
Look, I’m not going to pretend like I can’t figure out what the media will do when it comes to stories involving race. They are nothing if not predictably consistent. That’s why how they handled the Little League story which followed the Ferguson coverage surprised me. It’s obvious the media has turned the Ferguson situation from a story involving an interaction with a tragic end between the police and a person who was a suspect in a “strong-arm” robbery into a two-week long race riot. I’m on record plenty of times on this blog saying that racism will exist in this country as long as people can make money from it. Make no mistake, that is exactly what Ferguson is all about.
I could go into the old conservative wheeze about how black people kill each other all the time and nobody gives a shit. I could point out that once an incident crosses racial lines, it becomes a Shark Week-level media feeding frenzy. Both of those statements miss the point that outlets like CBS News are in the business of sensationalism, and they will do anything they can to inflame a story to increase the number of eyeball on their media presence.
So, what the hell does that have to do with Little League? First of all, because CBS News went straight from one story in which they are clearly and deliberately race-baiting, to another where they exploited a bunch of children to do exactly the same thing. There have been two media darlings in this year’s Little League World Series; Mo’ne Davis, the star pitcher from Philadelphia, and the “Jackie Robinson West” team from Chicago. Well, those two faced each other last night, with the Chicago team emerging victorious. I had been suspicious all along that at some point, the race issue was going to be brought to the forefront by some media hack, and I was right. Predictably, it happened once there was only one such story to cover.
While the Davis story has been fun to watch strictly from a sports perspective, you knew all along that somebody was waiting for the time to ride the fact she’s a girl and black. You could tell this because all the while we are trumpeting her dominant 70-mph fastball, and her phenomenal strike-out numbers, nobody mentioned the fact that in her last start, she was essentially the losing pitcher. The ugly reality was the “dominant” pitcher everybody wanted to make into a story gave up three earned runs in two innings pitched.
Thankfully for the media, they still have the “Jackie Robinson West” team. Obviously, they have yet to be referred to as the “Chicago” team, because using Robinson’s name as often as possible paints the needed picture. If you doubt this, ask yourself a question. in a 30-second piece, why did CBS News use the terms “Jackie Robinson” and “all-black team” a combined five times? Do the math…that means CBS News saw fit to tell you this team was comprised exclusively of black kids once every six seconds, despite the fact you could easily see that for yourself in the video.
I’m almost afraid to watch the Little League U.S. Championship game tomorrow night. I’m hoping that we won’t see another stooping to a new low as set by CBS News. The Chicago team will face what I think is the best team in this tournament; a junior-sized lumber company from Las Vegas. Nobody has needed to mention the fact that team is comprised of all white players, just like nobody pointed out the Japanese and South Korean teams are made up exclusively of Asians.
You know that somebody somewhere will beat the race drum if the Chicago kids advance to the World Championship game. For the sake of racism for fun and profit, we will be treated to a bunch of bilge about black kids, white kids, and Asian kids; all the while the hacks at places like CBS News won’t care about the most important thing. They are just kids.
Last year, there was such a dearth of trade deadline moves in baseball that I skipped my annual Shark Week Trade Deadline comparison. That is certainly not the case this year. If you aren’t familiar with the concept, the premise is that in baseball, trading is a shark-eat-shark world; some sharks do the eating, and some sharks get eaten. It is along those lines that I draw comparisons to the moves made by baseball teams at the trading deadline.
Why such a comparison? Because no matter what, one thing is certain. Where there is trading , there is bleeding, and nothing draws the sharks like blood in the water.
The bottom line is I’m just not willing to wait for two years to see who are the bleeders and who are the eaters. As the format suggests, there is obviously a “food chain” involved here, so why not give the rating of trading winners and losers a ”swim with the sharks” twist?
Great White Shark:
Back in his first stint at the World Wide Bottom Feeder, back in the days when Bud Selig had yet to seize complete control of baseball, Keith Olbermann used to refer to him as “Acting Commissioner for Life.” As much as Olbermann is the definition of “smarmy ass-hat,” he was absolutely right. But now that Selig’s two-decade-plus reign of terror is coming to a close, Major League Baseball finds itself ready to select it’s new leader.
There’s three leading candidates for the job.
1) MLB Chief Operating Officer Rob Manfred
Manfred is considered to be the favorite, which is no surprise considering he’s spent the majority of the last two decades as Selig’s lickspittle.
2) MLB Executive Vice President for Business Tim Brosnan
Known as a savvy negotiator, Brosnan is another lawyer who has been the force behind most of what has made baseball a big-money venture over the past ten years.
3) Boston Red Sox Chairman Tom Werner
Werner made his dough as a television executive, and has been part of two ownership groups; first with the San Diego Padres and now with the Red Sox.
While these guys all have their pluses and minuses, they have one thing in common: they represent “more of the same.” Manfred is a Harvard-educated lawyer who likely already has a to-do list form Selig. Brosnan’s major claim to fame is that he figured out television can be lucrative. As far as Werner is concerned, didn’t Selig already teach us what happens when you let an owner become commissioner?
So, if you think that Bud Selig was good for baseball, and you want to see more of it, then you have no problem with any of the three candidates I’ve mentioned. If you don’t really care about seeing another decade of baseball ruled by Selig’s Taliban, then there is no point in your reading any further. But if you are a baseball fan who is tired of watching baseball being treated as a second class citizen in the country which invented it, then I ask you to consider the following proposition, and if you agree with it, I would ask you to contact Major League Baseball and demand as a fan that I be installed as Commissioner.
Here’s the agenda for my term as Commissioner.
Continue reading →
Picture the opening scene of the 1989 baseball classic “Major League.” Tom Berenger’s character Jake Taylor is awakened from a night of debauchery in a Mexican motel by a phone call. He fumbles to pick it up, mutters a couple of “uh-huhs,” and then the tirade comes.
“Goddamnit…Is that you, Tolbert? This isn’t funny! I’m hungover, my knees are killing me, and if you’re going to pull this shit, you could have at least said you were from the Yankees!”
While that’s a classic scene, and has probably happened to more than one journeyman big-leaguer, it has yet to happen to the real Jake Taylor.
Like his movie namesake, the real Jake Taylor is just trying to stay in organized ball, just another league baseball player clinging to the professional ranks. But unlike his compadres, Taylor just happens to share a name and position with the main character in one of the most popular baseball movies ever made.
That fact, coupled with the fact this year happens to be the 25th anniversary of the release of “Major League” has made Taylor a bit of a celebrity in the American Association, an independents league with franchises scatters across the heart of North America from Canada to Texas. In parks all across that swath, everybody has fun when Taylor comes to town. Most parks capitalize on the name to have some sort of “Major League” fun when Taylor comes to town. Some show Tom Berenger on the video board when the real Taylor steps up to the plate. Others play quotes from the film. But everybody has a bit of fun.
That is to say, except Taylor’s own team.
Throughout their 20-year history, the St. Paul Saints have a long tradition of making waves with wacky promotions. The combination of owner Mike Veeck and one-time part-owner Bill Murray (yes, “Carl from Caddyshack” once owned his baseball team; no word on if the outfield grass was “smokeable”) provided a franchise which drew people to the ball-park with attractions like getting a hair-cut and a rub-down from a nun, an homage to “Disco Demolition Night” (one of the great baseball disasters brought to us by Veeck’s father Bill), and a pig who carried balls to the umpires between innings who was fattened to gargantuan proportions during the season and lovingly barbecued on “Fan Appreciation Night.”
I could spend the rest of this article posing the question “How does a franchise that was the first one to bring us “Star Wars” night years before it became faddish not take advantage of such a huge opportunity with the obvious ‘Major League’ tie-in?” Think of it; Ricky “Wild Thing” Vaughn Eyeglass Night, Willie Mays Hayes Batting Glove night, or a bikini contest between innings where fans can vote for “Miss Fuel Injection.” The possibilities are endless.
But that would take away from the story of the real Jake Taylor.
The real Jake Taylor is 27 years old, has a brown buzz-cut, and has yet to play a single game for a team affiliated with the major leagues. Taylor was drafted in the 35th round in 2005 MLB draft by the Marlins Florida but chose to play junior-college ball at Chaffey College in his native California. At the time, Taylor played the hot corner, but scouts with the Marlins told him he had a better future as a catcher. During his time at Chaffey College he did just that. Not only that, Taylor learned how to play middle infield, and even saw duty on the mound.
Being versatile increases your chances of catching the eye of major-league scouts, but the wear and tear from playing so many different positions and throwing from just as many arm angles, led to a torn labrum. After recovering from that injury, Taylor transferred to Missouri Southern State University and wrapped up his collegiate career as a middle infielder.
Taylor has an impressive resume as a bona fide utility man; His abilities as a utility man were attractive. He’s got decent right-hand power, can play the two toughest positions on the diamond (catcher and shortstop), but the scouts that passed through Joplin, Missouri saw fit to not bring Taylor with them. Since then, Taylor hasn’t had another shot at “The Show.”
That’s why Taylor is plying his trade in the American Association, where he has notched time with the Grand Prairie AirHogs and the Sioux Falls Canaries. But it wasn’t until he signed with the St. Paul Saints when he returned to catching. Once he was back behind the plate, the “Major League” references started.
We never knew what the movie Jake Taylor’s numbers were, but the real Jake Taylor is batting a respectable .282, with a serviceable slugging percentage of .419. And he’s still versatile; the Saints have used him at second base, third base, catcher, and even one game in the outfield.
But when he’s catching, I really hope whenever he’s fielding a pop-up near the plate, he says “Uh-oh, I don’t think this one’s got the distance.”
As of this writing, the St. Paul Saints have a record of 42-31 and are in second place in their division. That means they could do what the movie Jake Taylor suggested…”Win the whole fucking thing.”
To be honest, this question was posed on Dubsism two years ago by myself and Dick Marple, the Chairman of the Dubsism Advisory Board. You can see the original post here, but since then, the numbers we examined have only gone up.
The one thing that hasn’t changed is the over-arching question. I know that means saying “yes” to that question means saying that Derek Jeter is a greater Yankee than some heavy-duty legends not just in pinstripes, but to baseball in general. Some people are simply going to scream their brains out stuck on the pre-eminence of Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Mickey Mantle, and Joe DiMaggio.
However, doing so misses some really important stuff. For starters, let’s look at Jeter’s place in Yankee history, statistically speaking in the offensive categories. Also, don’t forget these number have at least two months of baseball left to change…
- Games Played: 2695 (1st)
- At-Bats: 10,988 (1st)
- Runs Scored: 1,510 (2nd, needs 50 to pass Babe Ruth)
- Runs Batted In: 1,288 (6th)
- Hits: 3,420 (1st)
- Doubles: 536 (1st)
- Triples: 66 (13th)
- Home Runs: 258 (9th)
- Strike-outs: 1,812 (1st)
- Stolen Bases: 356 (1st)
- Caught Stealing: 96 (5th)
- Batting Average: .311 (7th)
- On-Base Percentage: .380 (17th)
- Slugging Percentage: .442 (37th)
A lot of people will look at those numbers and will be surprised at how many categories in which Jeter is the all-time Yankee leader. The numbers that surprised me were the fact that Jeter is in the Yankees’ top ten in home runs considering all the sluggers that have worn pinstripes. Lou Gehrig was a doubles-hitting machine, but Derek Jeter passed him. But on the other side of the coin, I was surprised that Jeter’s on-base percentage wasn’t higher than it is.
Now, for the fun part. When it comes to the non-statistical arguments, in my mind the battle for the title of Greatest Yankee Ever is a two-horse race; Jeter or Ruth.
Had Lou Gehrig’s career not been cut short, this is a different conversation. Two more seasons and Gehrig would have been in the 500-home run, 3,000-hit club. Having reached that plateau may very well have made him the subject of this discussion.
Two years ago, I had DiMaggio at #2 on this list. But I honestly believe Jeter sailed past the Yankee Clipper on the following points. DiMaggio’s biggest claim to fame was being the best hitter in the game not named Ted Williams. While Jeter was not the batsman DiMaggio was, Jeter is arguably the biggest clutch performer baseball has seen since Reggie “Mr. October” Jackson. Jeter also did this while playing more games than anybody else in the history of baseball at the toughest position on the diamond that doesn’t have to wear a mask. Jeter also passed DiMaggio in terms of notches on the bedpost as well. The Yankee Clipper got to call Marilyn Monroe a “home port,” but Derek Jeter has a list of conquests of legendary proportions.
But no matter how you slice it, I simply cannot put anybody ahead of Babe Ruth. If I were to make a list of the greatest sports figures of the 20th Century, Babe Ruth tops it all for three massively important reasons.
First of all, Babe Ruth changed baseball. Before “The Sultan of Swat,” the home run was an anomaly in an era when the ball was made out of lettuce and it was legal to put an entire quart of Pennzoil on the ball. Before Ruth, baseball’s home run leader was a guy named Frank “Home run” Baker, who was tearing up that salad-ball to the tune of eight taters a year. Without the “Bambino,” we would never have had our century-long fascination with the long ball.
That fact led to two other reasons. The old Yankee Stadium was called “The House That Ruth Built” because people would fill a 20,000-seat ballpark to watch Ruth do his thing. Not only did other baseball owners realize that people would pay to see their product, it’s no accident that the other major sports leagues started after Ruth built baseball.
To top it all off, let’s not forget that Babe Ruth comes along at a time when baseball sorely needed a star. In 1919, baseball was on the verge of being destroyed by the “Black Sox Scandal,” and it was the combination of Commissioner Kennesaw Mountain Landis restoration of the integrity of the game and Ruth mesmerizing blasts that saved it.
Sports Doppelgangers, Volume 63 – Keeping Alexei Ramirez Away From the U.S. Navy Might Be A Good Idea
As promised, the former Sports Blog Movement feature Sports Doppelgangers will live on here at Dubsism. Having said that, this doppelganger is a bit more abstract than usual, if for no other reason than you really have to picture some things in your mind to make this one work.
First, head down to your local Redbox and rent the movie “Captain Phillps.” Then watch a Chicago White Sox game. I think the real reason Ramirez has been battling back problems all year is because before he was a Cuban shortstop, he may have been a Somali pirate, and may have some lead in his ass courtesy of the U.S. Navy.
It’s hard to see at first, but think about it. By taking some major league money, Ramirez could have easily got the orthodontia he desperately needed, then he could have easily fattened up in Chicago, which goes without saying as being a much better food town than Mogadishu. Fogo de Chao versus a dog skull filled with couscous and rotten goat? Even Joe West couldn’t blow that call.
It’s not so hard to see now, is it?
You can see the other installments in this series at the SBM Archive
I’m probably going to regret this collaboration. This is what SportsChump considers flattery, Besides, I don’t swear nearly as fucking much as he thinks I do:
I have a friend. His name is J-Dub. He’s kinda weird, an ornery fellow if I may. We’ve never officially met, but he runs a website just like mine, except his has a lot more curse words. He is one of the more creative minds you’ll find in cyberspace. He and I have collaborated before for some good times.
We’ve decided to do so again.
As we regularly read each other’s material and support each other’s sites, we often exchange ideas that readers might deem read-worthy. Renaming divisions in college and professional sports was one of those ideas. This idea was spawned when the Big Ten deciding to name its two divisions with the rather non-descript “Legends” and “Leaders.” That always struck us as odd. The idea has since been kicked to the curb with conference
officials opting for the more traditional East-West beginning in the 2014 season. Fortunately those in charge of naming the divisions never considered doing so after the conference’s most legendary coaches. We
know how that would have ended up.
That’s why I called upon J-Dub. Who better than to enlighten us with an answer to the pressing issues of our time? After all, East, West, Central are all so boring, not to mention, he’s done this before with college football. Besides, half the teams that play in those divisions don’t even reside in the part of the country they’re supposed to represent. The Dallas Cowboys play in the NFC East. The Denver Nuggets play in the NBA’s Northwest Division. Have you seen where those two cities are on a map?
There’s no rhyme or reason to any of this, which is why we’re here.