Tag Archives: Chicago White Sox

Sports Doppelgangers, Volume 63 – Keeping Alexei Ramirez Away From the U.S. Navy Might Be A Good Idea

alexei ramirez somali pirate

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

People Who Grind My Gears: Ken “Hawk” Harrelson

It is no secret that I have little respect for the Chicago White Sox.  I’ve written time and time again about why the White Sox are a deplorable franchise.  Fans of the Mighty Whiteys are the flotsam and jetsam of baseball, and Ken “Hawk” Harrelson is the perfect representation of such a loudmouthed and idiotic fanbase.  For those of you who know what a complete baseball buzz-kill Harrelson has become, there’s the website Heave the Hawk.  For those of you who don’t, this past week gave the quintessential dose of Harrelson’s homerism-turned-delusional ranting.

Here’s the setup:

White Sux pitcher Jose Quintana fired a pitch behind Ben Zobrist during Wednesday’s Rays-Sux game and was immediately ejected by home plate umpire Mark Wegner. This led to the “Hawk” launching into a rant which set a new low, even for Harrelson.

CBS Chicago posted a soundboard so you can hear a prime example of his idiocy, but here’s the transcript:

“What are you doing, Wegner? You’ve got to be kidding me. That is so bad, that is absolutely brutal. That is unbelievable. I’ll tell you what, they have got to start making guys be accountable. That is totally absurd. That just tells you he has — here’s an umpire in the American League knows nothing about the game of baseball. That’s unbelievable! He has no business umpiring because he has no idea what the game of baseball is about.  He ought to be suspended and if they want to keep him as an umpire, send him back to school and teach him what this game is about.”

The trouble is Wegner saw something Harrelson chose to ignore; this had been brewing for a while. During Monday’s game, Mark Wegner was the second base umpire who called White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynzki safe on an “in the neighborhood” In order to avoid Pierzynski, Rays shortstop Elliot Johnson came off the bag early during the turn but was not awarded the out. There’s one of those “unwritten baseball rules” about “close enough” on plays like this, but Wegner didn’t call it that way.

Harrelson had nothing but praise for that Wegner call deciding to ignore the “unwritten rule;”  making the call based solely on what he saw.

“That guy was cheating,” Harrelson bleated.  “And second base umpire Mark Wegner was all over it.“

The trouble came from the fact that Pierzynski deliberately spiked Johnson on the play, and there’s another “unwritten rule” about retaliation.

Flash the clock forward to Wednesday’s game. The Rays get their retaliation in the form of a fastball in the middle of Pierzynski’s back.  At this point, the “unwritten rules” say the score is even; you spiked my guy, then I hit your guy…now we get back to baseball.

So, a bit later when Quintana threw behind Zobrist, Wegner knew he was watching a clear violation of the “unwritten rules;” one that likely was going to start a bean-ball war or worse.  Wegner recognized Quintana’s intent and ran him before the situation got out of hand.  In other words, Wegner once again made a based solely on what he saw, but since this time in went against the White Sux, all of a sudden Harrelson is outraged.

I understand Harrelson’s paychecks come from Comcast, and the Whiteys have power of approval over who does their games.  I understand it is Harrelson’s role to be a “homer.” But I also understand there is a big difference between being a “homer” and being a buffoon.  I also understand it must be pretty obvious a line was crossed when not only did Harrelson get called on the carpet by Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig and White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf, but that I agree with these two guys whom I made of living from excoriating on a regular basis.

Apparently, both Selig and Reinsdorf took the “Hawk” to the woodshed; to the point of telling him going after the umpires in such fashion on the air is not going to be tolerated.  From ESPN Chicago:

“I talked to Bud Selig yesterday,” Harrelson told ESPN Chicago.com’s Bruce Levine on Friday morning. “We had a talk. Actually, Bud talked and I listened. If it was a prize fight, they would have stopped it in the first round.”

“I also talked to Jerry, and I listened to him as well. That’s all I really have to say.”

White Sox spokesperson Brooks Boyer told ESPN Chicago “moving forward those type of bursts and snaps will be limited if not eliminated.” You have no idea how much I hope that means this is the beginning of the end for this blowhard.  I don’t think by this point that Harrelson can help himself anymore.  I’m old enough to remember when the “Hawk’s” act was little more than colorful homerism, but those days are long since gone.  Now, Harrelson just spews invective and conspiracy theories about how every umpire umpire in the world is out to get the Whiteys.

He’s simply an abomination, and I sincerely hope he’s gone soon.

However, I’m not going to hold my breath.

First of all, Harrelson has been acting this way for years, largely because he knows that there is little chance of real repercussions. Sure, he got a couple of scoldings this time, but that’s about as bad as it will get.  Selig really can’t do anything to Harrelson other than make Reinsdorf’s life miserable, and that isn’t likely to happen since Reinsdorf may now be (in the absence of George Steinbrenner) baseball’s most powerful owner.

Top that off with he fact that Reinsdorf has a major case of undying loyalty to Harrelson as he has become the face of the Whiteys, which is why we all may be listening to the “Hawk” for quite some time.  In a weird, photo-negative sort of way, Harrelson stepped into the void left by Harry Caray. Like Caray, he’s become this larger than life figure who is loved by the fans of his team. However, Caray achieved this status by being like everybody’s lovable grandfather who may have liked his Budweisers just a bit too much; Harrelson has done it by being everybody’s pissed-off, “hates everything” uncle.

The biggest problem is that neither Harrelson or White Sux fans  realize that he makes the team and thier fans look like a bunch of knuckle-dragging mouth-breathers. This is why I would be willing to bet that the “Hawk” will be one of the few announcers who has more than 25 years of service with one team who will never receive the Ford C. Frick broadcasting award in Cooperstown because he is little more than an embarrassment not only to the Whiteys, but baseball in general.

Dubsism on Cubsism

First, let me define the concept of Cubsism. Named for the Chicago Cubs, Cubsism is an ideaology that permeates a sports franchise. It is characterized by the ability to be essentially viable while remaining an exercise in futulity on the field.  It is named for the Cubs because no other franchise in sports embodies it nearly as much as the Chicago North Siders do.

A microcosm of most recent century of  futility of this franchise lies in the last eighteen months. Look at what has happened before and after the sudden retirement of Lou Piniella last summer.

Usually, when a team makes a change at manager, the idea is to change the culture of the clubhouse by changing the leadership. Sometimes, when you make a change, the team doesn’t respond. That’s what happened last year at this time. Why? Because Lou Piniella was a respected “baseball guy.”

Just a few weeks ago, the rumors began circulating that new manager Mike Quade and general manager Jim Hendry will return next season in their respective positions. The logic is that Hendry is the guy who made the decision to hire Quade, knowing that  Quade was never intended to be a long-term solution. The thought was Quade would be a bridge until the Cubs found an established manager when the team is ready to  contend.

The problem is Quade should have never been the Cubs manager in the first place.  There’s so many reasons why, and they all illustrate the concept of Cubsism.

Go back to the day Piniella pulled the plug. Not the day he walked for good; rather go back to the day he said he was leaving at the end of the year. While every sports writer rejoiced at the thought of not having to write another “fire Lou Piniella” column, they all missed the main point.

Why let a manager appoint himself into a “lame-duck” status? To that point, the team was certainly going nowhere; they were lifeless and unmotivated, and now they are playing for a manager who has decided to fall on his own sword. There was nothing left to inspire the team to play hard; to not look they rolled over and died. What is to be gained by that?

The answer is absolutely nothing.  There’s one thing the Cubs have seemingly forgotten about their fans is that they live on hope. They have little other option; the Cubs have given them nothing else in over a century.

Flash forward one year, and the Cubs find themselves in essentially the same position. The Cubs collapsed early, fingers were pointed, and it looks like another change is coming somewhere in the leadership chain of the Cubs.

I don’t know how much hope that inspires in Cub fans, because I don’t know what the changes are going to be. Suffice it to say the Cubs are likely to make what I call a “Cubs-Type Decision (CTD).”

CTDs are the heart of Cubsism, and Cubsism is caused by four contributing factors, all of which have a long association with the  Cubs.

1) Leadership and a fan base that doesn’t understand the difference between “good” and “great.”

This point is exemplified by Quade. He was a terrible hire not because he is a terrible manager, rather there was a much better and completely obvious hire, and he was already in your organization.

Face it, Chicago. Mike Quade was the “good” hire; Ryne Sandberg was the “great” hire.  He was perfect for the job; let’s review why.

Sandberg became a Cub hero in the 1980′s being the best second baseman of that decade and arguably one of the top five at that position ever.  Sandberg became the Wrigley fixture Cub fans latched onto as a transition in to the Harry Caray-less days after 1998.  Sandberg was one of the smartest players in the game, and few played the truly complete game he did. Not only that, but Sandberg is not some Hall-of-Fame guy who thinks he should be able to blow into town and get the manager’s job on his name alone. Whether in his playing days or in his managerial career in the bus leagues, Sandberg has never been a guy to trade on marquee value, although he clearly could.

But instead of waltzing into the Cubs front office and saying “The fans that you need to keep want me in the dugout; I will be by before the Winter Meetings to pick the keys to my office,” Sandberg had spent the past four seasons prior to last year managing in the Cubs’ farm system. In fact, few managers in the minor leagues have built the reputation Sandberg has, and due to his humility, most of that has happened well beneath the radar. Sandberg has clearly “paid his dues” all while showing himself to be a cerebral skipper who can get his players to think before they act (Carlos Zambrano, I’m looking at you…)

In other words, he was the perfect man for the Cubs’ managerial job. How could the Cubs possibly entertain the idea of doing anything other than hiring the perfect candidate to end all perfect candidates? Because they are the Cubs, and they make Cubs-Type Decisions.

2) Terrible player/personnel decisions

In case you need a refresher, let’s review a few of my favorite CTDs:

  • Trading Lou Brock to the Cardinals for Ernie Broglio (future Hall-of-Famer for washed-up pitcher)
  • Trading Rafael Palmeiro to Texas for Mitch Williams (3,000 hit/500 home run guy for a relief pitcher whose stay in Chicago wasn’t as long as some people who change planes at O’Hare Airport)
  • Drafting Josh Hamilton as a Rule 5 player, then promptly trading him to Cincinnati for a small amount of cash (3-time All-Star and reigning American League MVP for a few dollars when the Cubs were one of the richest teams in the league)
  • Trading Sergio Mitre and Ricky Nolasco for Juan Pierre (one serviceable starting pitcher and one on the verge of becoming an ace for a “legitimate leadoff hitter” for a guy who in his ONE season as a Cub got caught stealing 20 times in 78 attempts).
  • Letting Greg Maddox go to free agency (deciding a guy who would go on to win 355 games and 4 Cy Young awards wasn’t “the kind of pitcher who could help us long-term”)
  • Trading Dennis Eckersley for three minor-leaguers (Once in Oakland, Eckersley becomes the dominant closer of his era)
  • Trading Bill Madlock for Bobby Murcer (a solid defensive third-baseman who also would win four batting titles for a slugging outfielder whose career decline began immediately after this trade)
  • Trading Bruce Sutter for Leon Durham and Ken Reitz (another dominant closer for two “bags of magic beans”)
  • Trading Lee Smith for Calvin Schraldi and Al Nipper (another dominant closer for two “bags of magic beans”)
  • Trading Manny Trillo for Barry Foote and Ted Sizemore (a second baseman who still holds the record for most consecutive chances without an error for one of the great mustaches of all-time )

3) Belief in the “quick fix” for decades of problems

The Fukudome era...only slightly racist while being completely futile.

Just in the past dozen or so years, I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve heard (insert new phenom and/or big free-agent signing) will change the fortunes of Cub nation…Kerry Wood, Todd Hundley, LaTroy Hawkins (even if he was only supposed to save the bullpen, I still can’t believe I just wrote that), Mark Prior, Nomar Garciaparra, Alfonso Soriano,   Kosuke Fukudome, Milton Bradley, blah, blah, blah…Look at the knob-slobbing happening for Tyler Colvin, Darwin Barney, and Starlin Castro. How much you want to bet at least two of those names are on this list in five years? Doubt that? Just look back at what Cubs fans were bleating about Geovany Soto and Ryan Theriot…

This is the same reason Cubs’ fans always love deals like Carlos Silva for Milton Bradley. Remember, they loved Ernie Broglio for Lou Brock, too…

4) A fan base ignorant of the fundamentals of the game

Picture it…Chicago, sometime in the late 90′s. I’m at Wrigley taking in a summer afternoon affair against the Dodgers. It’s the top of the ninth inning, the score is tied and the Dodgers have a runner on third with one out. The Dodgers hit a long fly ball into left field, and the family seated in front me (resplendent in their Cubs gear) is wildly cheering the out, completely unaware the Dodgers had just scored what would prove to be the  winning run on the sacrifice.

That family is the Cubs fanbase in a nutshell.

Having said all that, the next time you are looking to explain a franchise’s long term dysfunction, refer back to the four points of Cubsism. It runs rampant in professional sports; it takes little to see it.

Now for the fun part – here are ten franchises we have identified as having a very high Cubsism rating. Remember that Cubsism is not a short-term affliction; to be on this list a franchise must have shown a track record of futility for decades or have a generally dismal record with only the fleetingest glimpses of non-suck.

Famous Sports Rivalries In Which I Hate Both Sides

The sporting world is full of rivalries which engender so much passion there are clear battle lines drawn between the camps. But what happens to those of us who may feel animus toward both sides? Here’s a list of several such examples that make the collective colon here at Dubsism slam shut like a steel bear trap.

12 ) Chicago Cubs vs. Chicago White Sox

It is almost impossible to find two teams that exemplify their shit-hole of a city more. Where better to put the two retarded little brothers of baseball who while steeped in history have accounted for one championship in 90 years than in one of the largest cities in the world that matters the least to anybody?

11) LeBron James vs. the City of Cleveland

Sometimes, you really have to wonder if we have completely succeeded in this country in growing a generation of complete morons we’ve put on pedestals. Nobody in the world would have blamed LeBron James for leaving Cleveland; nobody wants to be in Cleveland.  It’s little more than a “Mini-Me” to Chicago; a rust-belt, blue-collar city that nobody wants to be in; Cleveland’s population has been dropping steadily for 80 years. All he had to do was not be a douche-bag about it.  It really leaves you in a situation where you can’t figure out who is dumber, LeBron for screwing up a move millions of Clevelanders have made themselves or those same Clevelanders for managing collectively to sound like a bitter ex-wife.

10) Montreal Canadiens vs. Toronto Maple Leafs

Hate is actually too strong a term for this. The problem is the “Rhett Butler” approach is too weak, but it is closer to accurate.  Let’s face it;  I don’t really give a damn. I spent big chunks of my childhood in Southern California, which isn’t exactly where you develop strong feelings about Canadian hockey teams, and even though I loved the old-school Los Angeles Kings (seriously, we are talking about the pre-Gretzky Kings with the purple and gold uniforms that clothed an NHL retirement home; the Kings of my childhood featured such past-their-prime legends like Butch Goring and Marcel Dionne), you couldn’t watch the 12-team NHL of the 1970′s without knowing these two teams hated each other.  All I cared about in those days is that both of these teams arrived at the L.A. Forum with a boatload of Canadians who weren’t past their prime and put as ass-whipping on the Kings.  Even to this day, all I can say is “screw both of them; Canada sucks.”

9) Manchester United vs. Manchester City

For those of you not familiar with the English Premier League, picture this rivalry with the Red Devils of Manchester United as the New York Yankees with Manchester City as the old Brooklyn Dodgers. You perhaps didn’t really like the Dodgers, but they made a perfect underdog foil to those goddamn Yankees. But then the Dodgers went Hollywood, started winning and blew their lovability in the process, much like the Los Angeles Dodgers. 15 years ago, Man City was lovable in their feebleness, but then new ownership pumped that team full of money, and now they are every bit as douche-tastic as their cross-town rivals.

8 ) Dallas Cowboys vs. Washington Redskins

As a Philadelphia Eagle fan, this one is really a no-brainer. There’s an old saying that culture in an organization comes from the top down, and Jerry Jones and Daniel Snyder are a marvelous reflection of that. While we here at Dubsism have postulated that Al Davis makes the Oakland Raiders the “North Korea of the NFL,” Jones and Snyder are both in line to ascend to the NFL’s “Crazy Old Man Owner” throne. Thankfully, their leadership (or lack thereof) has made these two franchises combine for a grand total of three playoff wins in the past 15 years.

7) Oklahoma Sooners vs. Texas Longhorns

Our Proposed Logo for the "Red River Rivalry"

The way these two preen over that silly Saturday in October…well, it really is sad to think either of these two believe anybody gives a shit about them or their “make-believe” rivalry.  It’s really sad that a couple of goofy-ass schools like Nebraska and Colorado are the ones who figured out the Big 12 is a repository for football nobody cares about.

6) Green Bay Packers vs. Minnesota Vikings vs. Chicago Bears

This is much like the “love triangle” situation outline in the 1980 J. Geils’ Band hit “Love Stinks.” The Vikings think the Packers are their main rival, The Packers think the Bears are their main rival, and neither the Packers or the Bears even know who the Vikings are.

5) Arsenal vs. Chelsea

More from the English Premier League, so I will make another baseball reference…Earlier I compared Manchester United to the Yankees. Continuing on this theme, Arsenal would be the Red Sox and Chelsea would be the Mets, only if the Mets didn’t suck. They are two of the biggest clubs in the league, and they can buy pretty much any player they want. Whenever these two get together, it is an exercise in dysfunction that somehow manages to be successful, like a photo negative of the Dallas Cowboys.

4) Auburn vs. Alabama

When these two compete in the annual “Iron Bowl,” they are battling for the bragging right for the entire state of Alabama. This is like two bums fighting over the least piss-stained raincoat at Goodwill. Do you know what the best thing that ever came out of the state of Alabama was? An empty bus.  Alabama is just a collection of bimbos whose boyfriends still think Bear Bryant is alive, and Auburn thinks it is a real university.

3) Duke vs. North Carolina

What can we say about Duke that we haven’t said before? No matter their record, no matter their talent, no matter anything, Duke sucks.  As much as we have beat on Mike Krzyzewski for being a pompous ass-hat, North Carolina’s Roy Williams is in the same league, and not just figuratively. My favorite was last spring when Williams compared having a losing ACC record to the earthquake in Haiti.

“Our massage therapist told me, ‘You know, coach, what happened in Haiti is a catastrophe. What you’re having is a disappointment,’ ” said Williams. “I told her that depends on what chair you’re sitting in. It does feel like a catastrophe to me, because it is my life.”

I’m not sure what the state of North Carolina did to deserve such a pair of pure, uncut assholes, but better them than the rest of us.

2) Boston Red Sox vs. New York Yankees

The Yankees – Red Sox rivalry is one of the oldest, most famous and fiercest rivalries in North American professional sports.  For over 100 years, Major League Baseball’s Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees of the American League have been intense rivals.  For nearly as long, fans of both teams have thoroughly annoyed the living shit out of the rest of us.

The rivalry is sometimes so polarizing that it is often a heated subject, like religion or politics, in the Northeastern United States.  In fact, since ESPN is also based in the Northeastern US, they believe the Yankees and the Red Sox are the only two teams in Major League Baseball, judging by their broadcast schedule.

1) Michigan Wolverines vs. Ohio State Buckeyes

College football gives us the twelve greatest Saturdays of the year, and it also give us the two greatest evils in sports. Ohio State and Michigan both represent all that is wrong with college football, and every evil that it contains.  Recent events have shown that Jim Tressel, a.k.a. Cheatypants McSweatervest is a disingenuous, lying prick, and the Michigan fan base just hasn’t come to terms with the fact they are not an elite program anymore. I can only hope and pray that the NCAA grows the balls to make an example out of Ohio State, but they likely won’t, and I hope it takes Michigan at least three more head coaches before they figure out that “elite” programs don’t get man-handled by Purdue.

Teams That Grind My Gears: The Chicago White Sox

Now that the race in the American League Central is all but over, it is really time to eulogize the White Sox; by “eulogize” I mean point out why the White Sux are really one of the most irritating franchises in all of sports.

Let’s face it. White Sox fans even by their very existence make the world a worse place. There’s a reason why crap like “Disco Demolition Night” could only happen on the south side of Chicago. It’s the same reason why it was White Sox fans who thought it would be a good idea to jump a first base coach for no real reason. This, of course, is not an isolated incident (again, and again). It’s all just more proof that Chicago would be the worst city in America if we didn’t already have New Orleans and Detroit.

Really, that fact explains a lot about the White Sux. They really are just a manifestation of the shithole which bore them. Not only are they and their fans the steerage-class rabble of major league baseball, but more often than not this franchise has proven to be an infected hemmorhoid in baseball’s rectum. Let’s not forget the whole reason why baseball has a commissioner is because the White Sox nearly destroyed the integrity of the game in 1919. Let’s not forget legendary White Sox owner Charles Comiskey played a major role in the “Gentlemen’s Agreement” that kept blacks out of baseball. And let’s not forget that Comiskey pioneered the “miserly asshole” model of ownership which was later perfected by Charlie O. Finley, another Chicagoan.

Even if history isn’t your bag, there’s plenty of reasons to hate the White Sox today; current owner Jerry Reinsdorf is reason enough alone. Reinsdorf is the kind of guy who in the 90′s led the charge against escalating player salaries while in the same breath giving Albert Belle baseball’s first ten million dollar per year contract. It’s pretty bad when I have to give a talking colostomy bag like Jay Mariotti credit for having a valid point against Reinsdorf. The valid beef Mariotti has with Reinsdorf’s Sox is that he has built a culture of “yes” men, cheerleaders, and general sycophants headed by buttloafs like “Hawk” Harrelson.

Then there’s general manager Kenny Williams. You’ve got to love a guy who is an unquestioned ass-kisser, yet has absolutely no loyalty. He’s made it known he would be on the first plane out of town if his dream job called. Now, I understand having a “dream job;” I’ve left more than one shitty job in my life. But I never made it a point to advertise it.

Kenny Williams would leave Jerry Reinsdorf and the White Sox to work for Al Davis, if he were offered a job running the Oakland Raiders.  Williams tells Sports Illustrated’s Joe Posnanski that, yes, the lure of the Silver and Black is greater than that of the Black and White. “I love what I do, and I love where I am,” the White Sox general manager said. “But if the Oakland Raiders called tomorrow and asked me to run the team, I would go. I would do it.”

I believe somebody’s dream job says a lot about them. But when Williams says he wants to work for the Oakland Raiders, the most dysfunctional organization in sports, I can’t tell whether that means Williams is crazy or if Jerry Reinsdorf is such a colossal prick he makes Al Davis look good.

And that leaves us with Ozzie Guillen. Honestly, Ozzie is the least offensive thing about the White Sox. The fact that he brought a World Series Championship to the south side is likely what has kept him from being fired for the five years of failure since that title. After all, the Reinsdorf world is one the requires unbridled ass-kissing, and Ozzie far from the guy who can toe the “company line.” Guillen has been sent off to “sensitivity training,” been fined and reprimanded multiple times for things he has said. He’s questioned a writer’s sexual preference, called Dustin Pedroia a “goddamn jockey,”  and is just generally known for his profanity-filled tirades.

Alas, at the end of the day, Guillen still shows what is wrong with the White Sox. The photo above is a perfect microcosm of the stupid hypocrisy that defines the south side of Chicago…if you are going to call somebody a “fag,” don’t get caught playing tonsil hockey with a dude.

The Baseball Trading Deadline – The Shark Week Edition

Whether it’s stocks, fantasy baseball, or the real thing, trading can be a dangerous proposition. There’s no guarantee that the deal will work; only time will tell whether your investment pays off or whether you get to sell you blood to make the rent this month.

But, one thing that is certain; where there’s trading there’s bleeding, and nothing draws the sharks like blood in the water. Since we here at Dubsism are at the same time not willing to wait for two years to see who the bleeders are and stuck in the middle of the Discovery Channel’s “Shark Week,” we’ve decided to give the rating of winners and losers a bit of a  Swim With The Sharks twist.

Great White Shark: The Texas Rangers

The Los Angeles Angels, pictured here as a seal, seem destined to give up their grip on the AL West.

Clearly, The Texas Rangers are going to need a bigger boat. Rangers’ General manager Jon Daniels played the role of Chief Brody to a tee. Not only did Daniels figure out he’s got a team ready to reel in winning now, he set sail to bag the fish he needed to make this team complete. The Rangers have been playing fur seal to the Angels’ Great White for nearly a decade now, but the additions of of ace Cliff Lee, catcher Bengie Molina, infielder Cristian Guzman, and slugger Jorge Cantu make a frankly scary roster when mixed with the likes of Josh Hamilton, Michael Young, Elvis Andrus and ironically enough Vladimir Guerrero, who was acquired in the off-season from the Angels.

Not only does this make the Ranges likely to seal up the American League West sometime in August, barring an unforeseen collapse, the Rangers become an honest-to-goodness World Series contender. If that weren’t good enough, the Rangers, who are awash in bankruptcy even managed to get the Nationals and the Marlins to toss in cash in their respective deals. Could this finally be the year where a good-looking Ranger team doesn’t get grilled into oblivion in the broiling Texas summer?

Tiger Shark: San Diego Padres

The Padres have spent eons being the bottom feeder of the NL West, so much so they gained a reputation for eating anything that would come their way; they were so desperate a few years ago they were the only team that showed interest in a clearly-finished Mark Prior. However, even a creature that eats everything occasionally gets a gourmet meal. Gaining the services of both  infielder Miguel Tejada and outfielder Ryan Ludwick while not giving away anything useful cement the Padres as a legitimate force come October.

Ludwick’s big bat finally provides some protection for Adrian Gonzalez, while his glove complements a stellar pitching staff. As long as they manage Tejada correctly, meaning they play him at shortstop as long as David Eckstein is on the disabled list. Once Eckstein returns, it will be necessary to platoon him with Jerry Hairston Jr. at shortstop. Otherwise, the Padres run the risk of seeing Tejada’s age and lack of range cost them in the long run.

Bull Shark: New York Yankees

Bull sharks are notorious for conducting the most attacks on humans; the Yankees commit the most atrocities against humanity. The Bronx Bombers were likely the best team in baseball before the trade deadline, however, that didn’t stop them from adding Lance Berkman to shore up the DH slot, Austin Kearns to make them even better against left-handed pitching, and (if he stays healthy) Kerry Wood to add the consistency to the setup role Joba Chamberlain seems completely incapable of doing.

Hammerhead Shark: Philadelphia Phillies

Just looking at a hammerhead, one gets the idea they are completely bereft of the ability to see either forward or backward. With some foresight, they might have seen the combination of Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay could’ve dominated National League lineups. Instead, they must give up a good bullpen guy to get Roy Oswalt.

With some hindsight, they might have seen that Greg Dobbs alone isn’t a good enough insurance policy against injury. In the absence of Ryan Howard, imagine how that line-up would look now had they dealt Jayson Werth for the obligatory bag of magic beans. In other words, they easily could be the bottom-feeder that didn’t find the good meal.

Nurse Shark: Los Angeles Dodgers

Much like a nurse shark is a large fearsome looking creature that actually has the aggression level of Mickey Mouse on valium, the Dodgers looked like a contender until the calendar read August.  Honestly (and I can’t believe I’m saying this), it really isn’t general manager Ned Colletti’s fault for once. Coletti is suffering the Malachi Crunch of being pinned in between the ugly divorce of owing junta Frank and Jamie McCourt and the over-priced, under-performing Manny Ramirez who is rapidly becoming the millstone around the neck of this franchise.

In other words, Colletti is trying to do his job, but he is in a swimming race in a shark tank with a bleeding side of beef chained around his neck. Somehow, he has manged to make deals for effective B-list players like Ted Lilly, Scott Podsednik, Ryan Theriot, and Octavio Dotel; the trouble is this team needed a couple of A-listers to make the difference.

Mako Shark: Minnesota Twins

This is a case of a shark that is the fastest in the sea, and a seriously feared predator. Just look at that thing; I shit my pants just uploading that picture. But the problem is the Mako wastes that fearsome nature chasing Charlie the Tuna. This is the perfect analogy for the Twins; a franchise that can grow some seriously scary talent, yet has no idea how to get full value on a trade.

It was no secret that even though the Twins uber-catching prospect Wilson Ramos was never going to do more at Target Field than sell hot dogs to the “ya, you betcha” Minnesota crowd as long as God in a Mask Joe Mauer is a Twin uniform. Sure it was obvious Ramos was the chum to catalyze any deal, but with high-quality bait you expect a high-quality catch.

To be blunt, Ramos should have got the Twins Miss Universe, but Matt Capps is Miss Iowa. Now don’t misunderstand us here, while Iowa may be an acronym for “Individuals Out Watering Animals,” Miss Iowa is a hottie in her own right. But unless she becomes Miss Universe, she’s a decked-out Cadillac Seville in a world of Rolls-Royce Silver Shadows.  In other words, Capps is a fully-loaded, brand new Cadillac for which the Twins paid $750,000.

Blacktip Reef Shark: Arizona Diamondbacks

Timid and skittish, the blacktip reef shark seldom poses a danger in the National League West. However, teams wading through Arizona do occassionally run the risk of having their legs mistakenly bitten.  However, this timid nature leads some to believe that this shark may be an endangered species when in fact they may have put a screwing to a couple of larger sharks in the Baseball ocean.

Frankly, I’m amazed to hear people who think the Diamondbacks got screwed in the Dan Haren trade. Keep in mind this is a franchise in need of swimming into a gill net and hoping for a better lot in the next life. Just in the deal with Angels alone, they unloaded $30 million in salary while getting four pitchers in return, including Joe Saunders, a not-that-long-ago former All-Star. When you add how they fleeced the White Sux for the perenially shaky Edwin Jackson, the D-backs now boast a farm system stocked with nine of the top 80 picks from last year’s draft.

Remora: San Francisco Giants

Yeah, we know a remora isn’t a shark, but you can’t watch Shark Week without seeing one. If you  aren’t familiar, a remora is one of those little fish that just hangs around, cleaning up whatever bits the big sharks leave behind. Lots of other sharks had a major feeding, and the Giants got a few nice bits in relievers Ramon Ramirez and Javier Lopez. Plus, the bit of “addition by subtraction” that happened by shipping Bengie Molina to Texas, thus opening the way Buster Posey to look like a right-handed coming of God In a Mask Joe Mauer could easily move the Giants up the food chain.

The Chum Bucket:

"Yeah, I'd like to see you come down here and spoon out some of this slop..."

Just as you would expect, this would a a mish-mash of the assorted pieces left over from those who really didn’t figure out what the trade game is all about. For example, the Los Angeles Angels did net a nice catch in Dan Haren, but this team really needed a big bat at a corner infield position/designated hitter position (Adam Dunn, anyone?). When you combine that with the price of the Haren deal, it’s pretty hard to say  the Halos helped themselves for the long term. Another team that needed offensive firepower and didn’t get it were the White Sux. Not only they not get Adam Dunn, Lance Berkman shot down the Sux with his no-trade clause. They still can make this worse by engineering one of those Kenny Williams “waiver wire” specials by grabbing Manny Ramirez. Plus, Ken Griffey, Jr. is still out there – oh wait, Williams has already made that mistake before.

Then there’s the teams who added nothing. The Cincinnati Reds find themselves in a neck-in-neck race with the Cardinals, but just couldn’t get that extra horse they need. Roy Oswalt cost too much, Dan Haren pulled out the no-trade clause, and they came up empty looking for bullpen help. In the end, they are pinning their hopes on a couple of senior citizens they have stashed in Triple-A Louisville, Russ Springer and Jason Isringhausen (yeah, I can’t believe they are still alive either!)  But at least the Cardinals’ swim in the shark tank came out as a net zero. Sure, Jake Westbrook helps the rotation, but giving up Ryan Ludwick when the Cards were already offensively challenged… this team better plan on winning a lot of 2-1 games. The Mets literally did nothing, Jarrod Saltalamacchia likely can’t replace the injured Kevin Youkilis (except as a Scrabble word) for the Red Sox, much like Jhonny Peralta won’t come close to replacing Magglio Ordonez and Carlos Guillen for the increasingly toothless Tigers.

The Idiot Who Gets Bitten Because He’s an Idiot:

Again, this is something that no Shark Week would be complete without. You’ve all seen this guy, usually a fisherman who while trying to retrieve a 40-cent hook somehow forgets that even small sharks have mouths full of razor-sharp teeth that make an exceptionally efficient finger-removal tool.  Welcome to the world of the Houston Astros, a team that actually gave the Yankees, a.k.a. the richest team in baseball $4 million to put Lance Berkman in pinstripes.

But worry not sports and shark fans; while Shark Week is just a week, there still the waiver wire deals for which August is notorious. In fact, I hear Adam Dunn may still be available…

Piniella Finally Pops…You Knew It Had To Happen

For those of you who had Friday, June 11th in the “Day Lou Piniella finally snaps and has one of his signature meltdowns,” please step forward to collect your money. Frankly, given the escalating level of Lou’s blood pressure during those every-day press conferences, you had to see this one coming.

Piniella and Stone: "Can't we all just get along?"

As usual, it is June and the Cubs are underachieving.  Cubs’ manager Lou Piniella has been taking sniper fire from the media for weeks now, particularly about why rookie Tyler Colvin isn’t playing every day when the anemic Cubbie offense could use his .290 average with six homers and 16 RBIs he’s posted despite limited playing time.  Well, when White Sox broadcaster Steve Stone said to Comcast SportsNet that Colvin should be playing regularly (a subject he has been rather outspoken on, by the way), Lou hit the International Enough Line, and “pop went the weasel.”

“We’ve got a lot of people here that haven’t managed and won any games in the big leagues that know everything. I think they should try to put the uniform on and try this job, and see how they like it when they get criticized unjustly. That’s all I’ve got to say about that issue.”

But, as is Lou’s proclivity, that wasn’t all he had to say.

“And another thing I’m going to say—I won over 1,800 games as a manager, and I’m not a damn dummy. That, I can tell you. OK? There are only 13 others that have won more games than me, so I guess I think I know what the hell I’m doing. All right? Steve Stone, he’s got enough problems doing what he does with the White Sox. What job has he had in baseball besides talking on television or radio?” Piniella asked. “What has he done? Why isn’t he a farm director and bring some kids around? Why isn’t he a general manager? Why hasn’t he ever put the uniform on and been a pitching coach? Why hasn’t he been a field manager? There’s 30 teams out there that could use a guy’s expertise like that, you know? I’m tired of some of these guys, I really am.”

Naturally, Stone had a response to Piniella’s rant.

“It was an observance and when you need to have a front-office job to make an observance about baseball, there’s going to be nobody working in baseball. None of you media guys are going to be working in baseball because then you can’t say anything because you’ve never been in the front office. That might be one of the dumber things he’s said.”

If you are having a “Deja Vu” moment here, you are having it honestly. Stone is a great TV guy because he is willing to speak his mind. Stone was once the Cubs’ color analyst until 2004 when he left after publicly sparring with then-manager Dusty Baker as the team pulled their usual late-season collapse.

Granted, this evolved into a whole “back-and-forth” bit; the Chicago Tribune offers more detail on this pissing contest. However, if there were ever an award for saying “Fuck You” without actually speaking the words, it ought to go to Steve Stone.

“I think Lou conveniently forgets that I was one of the champions for him to get the job when a lot of people wanted Joe Girardi at that time.”

Suck on that, Louie.

Wrigley Field: A Perfect Site For a Disasters

Leave it to Chicago to find a way to fuck up anything it touches, like a sports day that should have been a tremendous one in the Windy City. After all, it isn’t every day you get to have a victory parade. But when the time came for Chicagoans to stop celebrating the Blackhawks’ capture of the Stanley Cup and head over to Wrigley Field for the annual battle between the Cubs and the White Sox, cheers turned to jeers when the title sponsor of the “Crosstown Cup” was announced.

Booing the BP Cup...That's a bit crude (insert rimshot here).

From Yahoo! Sports:

“CHICAGO (AP)—Fans at Wrigley Field let out loud boos when the BP Crosstown Cup was presented before the Cubs’ game against the White Sox. BP, which is under fire for its handling of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, is in its first year as title sponsor of the annual six-game series between the crosstown rivals. The Cubs and White Sox opened a weekend set at Wrigley Field on Friday, with another three-game set at U.S. Cellular Field scheduled for June 25-27. The cup goes to the series winner or the team that takes the final game if they split the six games. Both teams have said they would stick with BP, although some of the promotions were scaled back.”

That’s right…British Fucking Petroleum.  As could only happen in The City With Broad Shoulders, they somehow managed to figure out which company would be the most reviled in America to be said sponsor. Really, this shouldn’t surprise anybody. Wrigley Field has been disaster-friendly for decades, and for more reasons than just the sorry-ass Cubs.

Too bad Cubs fans don't suck oil, otherwise they might be useful.

We really needn’t delve into the litany of futility that is the history of the Chicago North-Siders; suffice it to say the Cubs have done everything in their power to ensure baseball success keeps something in common with a female bear with monstrously effective contraception. After all, the Cubs haven’t even seen a World Series since 1945, and haven’t won one since their line-up included such names as “Three-Finger Brown” and the waxed poetic trio of Tinker, Evers, and Chance.  There’s even a dose of that Alanis Morissette-style pseudo-irony in the fact that the last team to see the pinnacle of success while calling the “Friendly Confines” home was the NFL’s Chicago Bears in 1963.

The fact that Wrigley Field held shitty teams in two different sports for nearly a half-century is only line-item Number #1 on its disaster-friendly resume. Granted, the ballpark on West Addison Avenue hasn’t seen football, let alone shitty football,  since the Bears left for Soldier Field in 1970. Thankfully, the NFL isn’t the only source for football that so bad that it has the same effect on your colon as Cryptosporidium; there’s always the conference formerly known as the Big Eleven Ten. In other words, if you’ve been waiting for shitty football at Wrigley, wait no longer.

No, Purdue isn’t moving their home games there, although their proximity to Chicago and general record of futility makes them a perfect fit; Illinois and Northwestern have been angling for a game at Wrigley Field for a long time, and they finally got it.  The Illini and the Wildcats will bore the chunk of America that has the Big Ten Network with three and a half hours of that special kind of bad football that leaves one’s large intestine feeling like a twisted, overused piece of electrical cord.  These teams are so set into the “Wayback Machine” they have agreed to move their annual tilt from its scheduled turn at Northwestern’s Dyche Stadium in nearby Evanston just to find out what it feels like to suck in a place with a historic feel for suck.

At least a burning oil rig fits into Wrigley better than a football field does.

The fun part is that football fields are notorious for not fitting into old-school baseball parks. Football fields in baseball stadiums are always a tight fit and Wrigley is no exception.  When the Bears played there, the field ran from north to south, with one end zone in left field and the other running roughly along the first base line, so that one corner of the south end zone was cut off by the visitors’ padding-lined dugout.

Obviously, the goal is to capitalize on the need for nostalgia that has us doing crazy things like the  “Wrigley Winter Classic.” For an NHL game that nobody in America cares about, the Wrigley game drew a near-capacity crowd of a little over 40,000 — not as good as the 60,000 who showed up for the last Northwestern-Illinois game in Plantain-Banana, but significantly better than the 32,000 who came out the last time the Illini and Wildcats played in Evanston.

First it was terrible baseball. Then it was the Dead Fish and Lubed Seagulls Cup. Now, its back to football that is not fit for human consumption. Chicago, you need to stop this sort of thing before we move everything terrible into Wrigley. Don’t think it won’t happen either; they are already looking for a permanent home for the WNBA Finals and all the re-runs of “BJ and the Bear.”

The 2010 Dubsism Major League Baseball Pre-Season Rankings

Rankings By Division:

American League:

AL East:

1) New York Yankees

Upside: The Bombers easily could have turned on the money-hose and flooded out free-agents like Jason Bay or Matt Holliday, or they could have wasted some serious dough by resigning an over-valued Johnny Damon. But, instead of having their usual explosive cash-gasm, they realized their in-house options are just fine. They finally seem to understand that you don’t necessarily need a 30-homer guy in the ninth spot in the batting order.  Rather, the Pinstripes traded away a bunch of Grade B prospects for the more budget-friendly likes of Curtis Granderson and Javier Vazquez. After all, what do you really need to do when you are the defending World Series champs yet another goddamn time…

Downside: Yankee Stadium is getting suspiciously close to looking like an assisted-living facility. The Yankees roster contains so many “seasoned veterans” that it’s a good bet there will be more than one pair of support hose under those pinstripes. Oh and somebody really needs to find a way to keep A.J. Burnett from having the “Hindenburg” inning that tends to flame out his starts.

2) Boston Red Sox

Upside: The Red Sox will field a very complete and deep squad, one that will be better than everybody except the one team they desperately want to beat. The Sawwwx offer three starters who would be aces on more rotations than not, their defense doesn’t have it’s usual Bahhh-ston Hahhh-bahhh sized hole in it, and despite what Sawwwx fans want to believe, the offense should be just fine. Of course, math doesn’t rank high in the skill sets of most Sawwwx fans, which explains why last year’s allegedly non-steroid-enhanced lineup accounted for a mere 10 homers less than allegedly juiced 2004 edition.

Downside: The astonishing lack of obvious holes on which their inevitable August slide can be attributed. Sure, the line-up still contains the light-bending sucking black hole known as the un-Ramirez-protected David Ortiz and nearly every pitching staff gets as shaky as Haitian construction techniques at the fifth spot in the rotation, which means we just have to wait to see what will bring this year’s “Bucky Dent” moment.

3) Tampa Bay Rays

Upside: They are the anti-Yankees, meaning they have a shitload of young talent and they have a payroll more suggestive migrant farm workers than the caviar-encrusted platinum jock straps of the Bronx Bombers. Whether or not the Rays sucker-punch their way past the Yanks or the Sawwwx for the promised land of October baseball, this team will give fits of apoplexy to veteran-fueled opponents with their raw athleticism. The odds of this increase significantly if the Rays next wave of prospects (particularly Desmond Jennings and Jeremy Hellickson) pan out as some “experts” expect.

Downside: If this team hits the trade deadline looking like it is out of reach to throw that October sucker-punch, the Rays could be parted out like a Chinese prisoner “volunteered” for organ donation. Case in point: the pending free agency of Carl Crawford who is already rumored to be on Yankee manager Joe Girardi’s line-up card for Opening Day 2011.

4) Baltimore Orioles

Upside: The O’s are another AL East squad resplendent with young talent, especially catcher Matt Wieters, who could prove to be a discount-store version of Joe Mauer at the plate (maybe not average wise, but Wieters does have 25 -homer potential). Plus, the trio of Adam Jones, Nolan Reimold and Nick Markakis may very well be the best young outfield in the league.

Downside: The youth of the pitching staff, which is stocked with a talented stable of potential, most notably Brian Matusz,  Chris Tillman, and Brad Bergesen. But with that youth comes inexperience and the ever-present threat they don’t develop.

5) Toronto Blue Jays

Upside: A well-spring of young arms; hill-wise all the Blue Jays need is for two of the cruise-ship full of pitchers they brought to camp to show the potential to toss 200 innings. Behind those young hurlers, the Blue Jays will field a defensively solid squad, with the glaring exception of third baseman Edwin “Hands of Stone” Encarnacion. This should allow those young moundsmen to put the pill over the plate with a reasonable expectation their ERA’s won’t rocket toward the stratosphere.

Downside: This team is at least a few years away from contention, and even then they likely will need the Red Sox to get back to their historic “shooting themselves in both feet” tendencies and for the Yankees to set the Wayback Machine to 1984.

AL Central:

1-Tie) Chicago White Sox

Upside: The quartet of Mark Buerhle, Jake “No, Really, I’m Pretty Sure I’m OK…this time” Peavy, John Danks, and Gavin Floyd forms the backbone of the best starting rotation in the division. The South Siders should be able to stay in front of the Twins if there is they can squeeze the last bit of toothpaste out of the tubes that are the careers of Paul Konerko, Andruw Jones, and A.J. Pierzynski. Forgive me now for saying I will believe that when I see it.

Downside: The amazing number of shitty hitters the Whiteys will field. Granted, Juan Pierre and Alex Rios should allow the White Sox to play in their usual Ozzie Guillen-influenced style; in other words, swinging wildly and generally running  amok, then wringing  just enough out of an aging bat or two. As a recipe, it is clearly riskier than a good, old-fashioned game of Russian Roulette, but don’t forget the White Sox managed somehow not to blow their brains out in 2005.

1-Tie) Minnesota Twins

Upside: Carl “Scrooge McDuck” Pohlad is dead, and along with the anticipated revenue from the new ball park, the Twins have managed to jam a crowbar into their change purse. With the expected signing of Joe Mauer to a hefty-yet-deserved contract extension and the signing bonus that likely will accompany it, the Twins just might finally hurdle the $100 million salary threshold. The Pohlad family still owns the team, but at least the new billionaire-in-charge seems willing to spend when needed.

Downside: The pitching staff, which was suspect before the loss of Joe Nathan, is now officially mediocre. Scott Baker may need to hire a stand-in if he is to convince anybody he is an ace and Carl Pavano is, well, Carl Pavano. Not to mention the Twins are drawing to an inside straight on whether Francisco Liriano can be effective after the “Tommy John” surgery and the loss of confidence he put on display last season.

3) Detroit Tigers

Upside: Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, and Rick Porcello might be the most interesting trio from Michigan since Grand Funk Railroad.

Downside: The front office, which embarked on a cost-cutting exercise until they were reminded that they have a slough of veterans being hampered in their duties by their walkers. Their solution to this? Signing the 68-year old Johnny Damon. This means if you want to see elderly DH’s with more chins than a Shanghai phone book (Is Greg Luzinski still in the league?) chug home from second on one-hop singles, just wait for Damon in left field.

4) Kansas City Royals

Upside: Fuck everything else, to find something in print that says the Royals don’t finish last in this division may require an archealogical expedition. If for no other reason, the elevation from the cellar is due largely to the fact that no matter what else happens, Zach Grienke and Joakin Soria will pitch the Royals past the unbelievably fetid Indians.

Downside: The shockingly large number of at-bats that will be  twirled unproductively into the Twilight Zone at the hands of Scott Podsednik, Jason Kendall, Jose Guillen, Brayan Pena and Yuniesky Betancourt.

5) Cleveland Indians

Upside: As soon as we here at Dubsism find one, we’ll let you know. Wait, we’ve got one: Shin-Soo Choo hasn’t been inducted into the South Korean army…yet.

Downside: This is likely the first of many seasons to come with the Indians making reservations for the bottom of the standings.

AL West:

1) Seattle Mariners

Upside: How can you not love a one-two punch of Felix Hernandez and Cliff Lee in front of a team that shits horseshoes? Seriously, this team personifies luck, as was demonstrated by the 2009 campaign that saw the M’s win 85 games even though they were outscored by 52 runs. Luck isn’t a strategy, but luckily it probably won’t take much to win this division.

Downside: The festival of mediocrity the starting rotation becomes after the aforementioned one-two punch. Plus, the wheel of karma spun by the baseball gods will not look favorably on lead-pipe cinch Hall-of-Famer, greatest player ever in the history of the franchise, and deliciously banned-substance-free Ken Griffey, Jr. being exiled from the lineup for the final time by ‘roid-rage expert and colossal asshole Milton Bradley.

2) Texas Rangers

Upside: Don’t look now, but for the first time in EVER, the Rangers have pitching depth…I’ll wait for a minute so you can let that sink in. Seriously, they’ve got eight legitimate contenders for the five rotation spots, which means they have eight more than than they’ve ever had before. It goes without saying this assumes Rich Harden doesn’t rack up seven bazillion more frequent-flyer miles on MRI Airlines.

Downside: And now for your Bizzaro world moment of the day: the Rangers can pitch and play defense, but they can’t hit! Again, I’ll wait for a minute so you can let that sink in. With suspects like Chris Davis, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Taylor Teagarden, and/or Elvis Andrus likely populating the bottom of the order, you can expect the Rangers’ team on-base percentage to hurtle over the cliff faster than Thelma and Louise. The wild-card in all of this: Josh Hamilton and his ever-present overcoming of his “obstacle du jour.” This time it is rumored to be hangnails and a persistent fear of sock puppets.

3) Los Angeles Angels

Upside: Even though he Dodger Blue during his playing days, and even though he looks more and more like Rush Limbaugh every day, you have to love Mike Scioscia. He is one of a rare breed of managers who understand tactics, strategy and how to develop and handle people.

Downside: Will the last one left in Anaheim please turn out the lights? The Halos wont miss Vladimir Guerrero, but the departures of John Lackey and Chone Figgins significantly downgrades the rotation and the lineup. This is really a concern for the pitching staff, which needs to prove itself more durable, especially Scott “Opening Soon at a Disabled List Near You” Kazmir.

Oakland A’s

Upside: The performance of A’s bullpen has historically fluctuated more than Oprah’s weight, but now they boast a rare mix of quantity and quality. Andrew Bailey, Brad Ziegler, Michael Wuertz, Joey Devine, Jerry Blevins, Craig Breslow and Brad Kilby together compose a solid group of young relievers who collectively will earn about $482 in 2010.

Downside: The $10 million pipe-dream known as Ben Sheets, and the crumbled Greek column once known as Eric Chavez’ spine. If Sheets actually manages to stay out of intensive care come the trade deadline, the A’s will likely deal him for yet another cavalcade of prospects.  More likely is that Sheets’ arm falls completely off and Oakland gets to watch $10 million swirl down the shitter. Plus, the A’s may be holding open tryouts in May to find anybody who can actually hit the damn ball.

National League:

NL East:

1) Philadelphia Phillies

Upside: Flash to the scene in “Bull Durham” is teaching Nuke Laloosh about the importance of clichés. The Phillies have no need of this lesson; they are a veritable textbook. They’re “gamers.” They “play ‘em one game at a time.” They’ve “been there before.” They “know how to finish.” Of course, the only way to get such a string of positive verbal fossils is to be the best team in baseball. Yes, you read that right, especially you Yankee fans whose blood-pressure just took a geyser-like upshot. In fact I will say it again: As of right now, the Philadelphia Phillies are the best team in baseball; fuck you, New York. Man, that felt good.

Downside: I’ll never understand what the rationale was behind the Cliff Lee/Roy Halladay swap meet. The Phillies revenue has sky-rocketed in the past five years, given their success and the resultant boost in attendance, TV ratings, jersey sales and everything else associated with the Phillies. Hell, even the Jamie Moyer Geritol is flying off the shelves. The point is the Phils easily have the dough to have kept both aces, then restocked the farm with the compensatory picks when Lee signed elsewhere this year. Speaking of pitchers, which version of Brad “Sybil” Lidge shows up this year? Is it the lights-out, shutdown closer or do we get another episode of “Meltdown Man?”

2) Atlanta Braves

Upside: While the Bravos may be lacking after dealing away its pitching depth for a prospect and a case of urinal cakes, they also don’t really show an Achilles heel. Not to mention, this is finally the last year of the Bobby Cox regime, and Jason Heyward might be the first guy to hit a home run that crosses and entire time zone.

Downside: All the bullshit we will have to live through on what will prove to be the Bobby Cox’s farewell tour. For one, I can’t wait for next year when Cox is getting kicked out of bingo games at the senior center. Here’s a little known fact: Did you know that “Jair Jurrjens” is actually an old Dutch term meaning “he who is destined to spend as much time in an MRI machine as Rich Harden?” That can’t be good.

3) Florida Marlins

Upside: The Players’ Union and how they forced world-class skinflint Jeffrey Loria to actually pony up some cash for a long-term deal for ace Josh Johnson and  getting second baseman Dan Uggla to return. Stop and think about what kind of an asshole you would have to be to make the gravy-sucking pigs from the Players’ Union look like a bastion of righteousness and moral certainty; Loria is every bit that cretin.

Downside: The aforementioned pinch-those-pennies-so-hard-Abe-Lincoln-bleeds-internally mentality of Loria. Follow that up with all the bullshit going on over the new-stadium,  the 40 inches of rain that comes from the heavens in ten minutes like God’s doped-up racehorse pissing on your head every afternoon at 4 p.m. sharp, and the scatter-shot approach to the bullpen, and it isn’t hard to see this franchise is literally 50 bucks away from being the Pirates.

4) New York Mets

Upside: Manager Jerry Manuel’s sense of humor will come in handy sometime right around Memorial Day when he will be joking about “having time to play some golf” the day before the press conference announcing his firing.

Downside: The Mets’ are like the rich family on a daytime soap opera. Their front office is furnished with, amongst other amenities, hot and cold running cash. But, if you are the Mets, with wealth comes a Dr. Phil level of dysfunction. In this past off-season, the Mets couldn’t seem to figure out if they actually had an operating budget; nobody in the organization seemed to know if anybody actually knew about the star center fielder’s knees (which are dissolving like an Alka-Seltzer as we speak) and nobody can say if the team futzed with Citi Field’s dimensions in response to the whining that the park suppresses offense. Want to know a secret, Mets fans? It ain’t the ball park…

5) Washington Nationals

Upside: How can you not have a man-crush on a heart of the order featuring Ryan Zimmerman, Adam Dunn, Josh Willingham, and Elijah Dukes? So what if the Nats’ occasionally misspell their own uniforms (the photo below is not the only example of the Gnats Nats need of “spell check. “? Don’t look know, but the Mets can easily see this team in their rear-view mirror, and if they aren’t careful, they may just start seeing the Nats’ tail-lights.

Downside: Is there something in the water in the greater Baltimore-Washington metroplex that makes sports franchise owners unconscionable assholes? An area that features Redskins’ owner and probable live-puppy eater Daniel Snyder and the Orioles’ Peter Angelos, who as a child must have wanted to be Snidely Whiplash form a vortex of ownership evil that threatens to suck in the Nats’ Theodore Lerner.

NL Central:

1) St. Louis Cardinals

Upside: Every other team in this division sucks. If the Redbirds can stay healthy, they should be on cruise control by mid-August. The cash-flooded Cubs and Astros have spent stupidly, and the Reds and Pirates can’t find anybody that still takes S&H Green Stamps, and the Brewers only have three players.

Downside: The supporting cast beneath their dwindling number of star players is dangerously thin. However, a lot of this can be cured if Colby Rasmus finally emerges.

2) Cincinnati Reds

Upside: Pure balls. What are the odds that a prospect who happens to be a left-handed pitcher toting a 100-mph fastball ends up in Cincinnati? Of course, this assumes Dusty Baker method of handling pitchers doesn’t have Aroldis Chapman’s elbow in pieces by August.

Downside: In five years, most of their roster won’t be in baseball. The cast of Scott Rolen, Orlando Cabrera, Bronson Arroyo, Aaron Harang, Francisco Cordero are all in the sunset years of thier careers. Oh, and Dusty Baker is an idiot.

3) Milwaukee Brewers

Upside: They have Ryan Braun,  Prince Fielder, and Yovani Gallardo.

Downside: Ryan and Fielder can’t take all the at-bats, and Gallardo can’t pitch every inning.

4) Chicago Cubs

Upside: The inevitable Lou Pinella meltdown. It generally happens when Lou has heard enough questions about (insert reason du jour why the Cubs suck here). This usually happens around August 1st, and treats us all to a profanity-filled tirade as only Lou can do.

Downside: All the money the Cubs have tied up in flame-outs like Alfonso Soriano and pitcher-turned-planet Carlos Zambrano.

5) Houston Astros

Upside: They have a deeper roster than the Brewers.

Downside: That isn’t saying much. The Astros field three great players and the three other solid ones. The other 19 could barely impact a Triple-A Roster. Owner Drayton McLane gives all the signs of a billionaire preparing to back away from this investment by selling the team.

6) Pittsburgh Pirates

Upside: Steve Pearce certainly shows all the signs of being the real deal.

Downside: Even when they trade Pearce, they’ll get another bag of magic beans (I’m looking at you, Lastings Milledge). What does it says about you when you get screwed in a trade with the Natinals Nationals?  It says you are the kind of organization that can have neartly twenty years of top ten draft picks and nothing to show for it.

NL West:

1) Colorado Rockies

Upside: The Rockies are the only team in the West with decent depth.  With the everyday players including Seth Smith, Ryan Spilborghs, and Melvin Mora and a bullpen including Matt Daley, and Esmil Rogers.

Downside: The alarmingly high number of at-bats that will be sacrificed in the belief that Clint Barmes is anything more than a utility player.

2) Los Angeles Dodgers

Upside: Despite the facts that every left-handed pitcher in the world is issued a Certificate of Ownerhship at birth for Andre Ethier, and Manny Ramirez plays left field like he is in a bar-league softball tournament, the trio of Ethier, Ramirez and Matt Kemp are the best outfield in baseball.

Downside: The shaky, flaky nature of the pitching staff. Letting Randy Wolf leave means the Dodgers are dependent on the inconsistent Clayton Kershaw and a Chad Billingsley who spent the end of last season crying in the fetal position.

3) Arizona Diamondbacks

Upside: Justin Upton, who just makes you want to believe.

Downside: Trading Max Scherzer for another shot at Edwin Jackson, who is due for another good month any day now…after all, in his seven years in the league, he’s already had two of them.  Their next best pitcher is the post-aneurysm surgery slop artist Ian Kennedy has become.

4) San Francisco Giants

Upside: The starting rotation: Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, the catastrophe formerly known as Barry Zito, and Jonathan Sanchez. Is there a better foursome out there?

Downside: The Giants hit like a T-ball team. This team was batting Bengie Molina (20 HR, 80 RBI .265 avg.) in the four-spot last year in an attempt to protect Pablo Sandoval, the only respectable bat they have. To improve on that, the Giants are turning to the suspiciously-close-to-finished Aubrey Huff (15 HR, 85 RBI, and .241 avg).

5) San Diego Padres

Upside: GM Kevin Towers always seems to find players whose skills play well in that airport spacious park they have.

Downside: Towers is lucky he has this ability, otherwise the trade deadline would be no fun for him. Look for Adrian Gonzalez, Heath Bell, and Jon Garland to all be on a plane by July 31st.

Overall Team-by-Team Ranking

  1. Philadelphia Phillies
  2. New York Yankees
  3. Boston Red Sox
  4. Tampa Bay Rays
  5. Colorado Rockies
  6. St. Louis Cardinals
  7. Seattle Mariners
  8. Atlanta Braves
  9. Chicago White Sox
  10. Minnesota Twins
  11. Texas Rangers
  12. Florida Marlins
  13. Los Angeles Dodgers
  14. Detroit Tigers
  15. Los Angeles Angels
  16. Arizona Diamondbacks
  17. San Francisco Giants
  18. Cincinnati Reds
  19. Baltimore Orioles
  20. Milwaukee Brewers
  21. Oakland A’s
  22. Chicago Cubs
  23. New York Mets
  24. Washington Nationals
  25. San Diego Padres
  26. Houston Astros
  27. Pittsburgh Pirates
  28. Toronto Blue Jays
  29. Kansas City Royals
  30. Cleveland Indians

1980 – Year of The Terrible Uniform

1980 was a watershed year in baseball history. The Philadelphia Phillies won their first championship, George Brett taught us all about hemorrhoid flare-up, and there was a  convergence of some the ugliest uniforms ever to see a summer day.

Lately, baseball teams have been trotting out retro togs in the guise of honoring some damn thing, but generally to sell more crap at their Pro Shop. But of all the horrors that have been trotted out in the name of nostalgia, none match the dreadfulness of the days when these were the everyday threads.

Some of them were so bad that they defied explanation. Deciding which ones were the worst was a bit like deciding which nut you would rather have kicked. And now, thanks to this blog, you get to make that decision.

Pittsburgh Pirates

pittsburgh uniforms 1980

If you are my age, you may remember Garanimals? Essentially, Garanimals existed to teach stupid kids how to dress themselves without looking ridiculous, except there was no way you could not look ridiculous in clothes with matching animals on them. The Pirates uniforms were the major league counterpart to this fashion mistake, with its bumblebee mix-and-match look. But it didn’t stop there; this ensemble was topped off with those IHOP stack/stovepipe caps. And guess what? I had one.

Oakland Athletics

oakland uniforms 1980

I always waited for Elmer Fudd to storm Oakland Coliseum and just start blasting, because these uniforms were obviously modeled after a duck decoy. Short of Paris Hilton’s panties, where the hell else can you find such infectious versions of green and yellow?

San Diego Padres

san diego uniforms 1980

The first time I saw Ozzie Smith do a back flip in these brown-and-yellow duds, I was reminded of the swirl of a flushing toilet. Unfortunately, for most of the time the Padres wore these, their play offered the same vision. Thankfully, the Padres finally flushed.

Montreal Expos

montreal uniforms 1980

Everything about baseball in Montreal was ridiculous, except for the players. The Expos always had great players, but you couldn’t take them seriously in those “Max Patkin” clown outfits. What else would you expect from a bunch of pseudo-Frogs who demanded a baseball team they wouldn’t even watch, and forced them to play in a roller rink with a rubber roof?

Houston Astros

houston uniform 1980

What do Japanese cartoons have in common with these uniforms? They both nearly made me have a fucking seizure. Like some sort of bad “tequila sunrise” hangover, these uniforms wouldn’t go away; the Astros wore them for well over 20 years.

Cleveland Indians cleveland indians uniform 1980

The Indians were the first team in the American League to have a black player. They were also the first team to have a black manager. Cleveland was also the first major city to have a black mayor. Perhaps that’s why they had this Red/Blue – Bloods/Crips thing happening.

Chicago White Sox

chicago white sox uniforms a1980

From the stupid floppy collar to the 1900-style script on the jersey with the modern font “Sox” on the cap, nothing said “dopey asshole” more than these uniforms, and there wasn’t a better team for it. The sad part: these were the best they option they had. 

At least they weren't shorts.

At least they weren't shorts.

 

 

 

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