Only took like seven and a half years since He set the all-time home run record and then was blackballed out of the sport He had saved.
MLB.com is exploiting the image of the¬†Greatest Player On Planet Earth as part of an internet vote, where fans are encouraged to pick four out of eight candidates, or supply their own write-in vote, and promises the player “receiving the most votes will be honored at the MLB All-Star Game in Cincinnati.”
There are also eight choices for every team, so¬†The G-POPE¬†could also earn All-Star Greatest Living Honors as the all-time greatest¬†Pirate¬†(dead or alive)¬†and/or all-time greatest Giant (dead or alive).¬† MLB probably is pretty confident that Bonds still ain’t winning any internet popularity contests, but still it could be a lot of fun.
Other awkward All-Star guests could include Pete Rose (if he¬†beats out seven other Reds “greats”)¬†and Sammy Sosa (Cubs).¬† But Roger Clemens, Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire would need crazy write-in votes as they couldn’t crack the top A’s, Cardinals, Astros or Yankees ballots.
It’s kind of bizarre, and you have to wonder if these lists are based on who is willing to commit to coming to Cincinnati in July. Or if MLB really¬†can stomach¬†celebrating The G-POPE and Charlie Hustle at the Midsummer Classic, but not pretending to honor Clemens, Canseco and/or McGwire.
The full list of candidates for greatest living players, with MLB.com’s convenient two counting stats and avg/ERA:
Hank Aaron | RF
Johnny Bench | C
Barry Bonds | LF
Rickey Henderson | LF
Sandy Koufax | SP
Pedro Martinez | SP
Willie Mays | CF
Tom Seaver | SP
(Note that the closest thing to a Yankee on the¬†ballot¬†is Rickie Henderson in an A’s cap. Too soon for Derek Jeter?)
If I really had to pick four, I’m thinking The G-POPE, his godfather Willie Mays, then probably Hank Aaron — and then Koufax or Pedro… But you don’t actually have to vote for four, so why dilute your vote, just vote for The G-POPE.
For the faithful followers of the New York Yankees, however, this spring is¬†filled with discontent¬†for thoughts of what will never come again, of Who will never come again.¬† For with this coming spring comes the harrowing reality that the greatest of Yankee greats is really gone into the awful abyss of retirement.
Naturally, it’s hard to look to the future when facing the loss of¬†unparalleled¬†legend Derek Jeter.¬†¬†What pinstriped heart could focus on the coming season without doubting if the Yankee Universe has truly done all it could to honor Jeter,¬†clutchest champion of champions?
These emotional misgivings were embodied¬†in a lugubrious interview¬†of Yankees general manager Brian Cashman on ESPN Radio last week, who declared his¬†heartfelt certainty¬†that there should never be another captain of the Yankees after Jeter.¬† “As far as I’m concerned, and I’m not to decision maker on this, that captaincy should be retired with No. 2,” Cashman tearfully explained. “I wouldn’t give up another captain’s title to anyone else.”
Well said, Cashman, well said.¬† For anyone else to wear the sacred title of Yankee captain after Jeter would only be an egregious affront to Jeter’s legendary legacy of ethereal, magisterial clutchificence.
It feels so right, but is it enough? Lo, it’s just a start, just a single step towards truly finding an immemorial¬†memorialization worthy of¬†the immortal greatness¬†of Jeter.
To extend Cashman’s irrefutable logic, if it’s wrong for there¬†to be a post-Jeter Yankee captain, can it be right for there to be a post-Jeter Yankee shortstop?
Certainly a three-man infield would put the post-Jeter Yankees at a slight disadvantage, but wouldn’t¬†fielding a shortstop¬†who is not Jeter be a bigger slight to¬†everything Jeter stood for?¬† Surely, we’d prefer a three-man infield to denying Jeter’s clutchiverous virtuosity, his perennial pennant-winning defensive prowess, his unparalleled proclivity for winning.
Yes, it feels so right. And yet, that void in between second and third would only serve to remind us of the still unfillable vacancy of not having honored Jeter as much as he deserves.
Because, ethically, morally, if it’s wrong for there to be a post-Jeter Yankee captain, can it be right for there to be a post-Jeter Yankee?
Search your feelings, you Cashmen and Steinbrenners, you know it to be true.¬† Sure, folding the Yankees would be difficult, but continuing on would be a wet slap of ingratitude in the angelic face of all Jeter accomplished.
When I reached out to Giants writer David Chalk about a point / counterpoint piece leading into Game 1 of the Fall Classic,¬†his response was¬†drenched in the sarcasm and disregard we’ve grown to know and love around the halls of B&C.
Honestly, I think¬†Chalk’s just upset that he knows the G-POPE (Barry Bonds)¬†wasn’t half the outfielder Lorenzo Cain is and he’s under the misguided notion that the Royals are but a bump in the road before the Giants take down their third title in five years.
And why not? Everyone else has overlooked Kansas City and look where that’s gotten them.
That said, I can’t help but remember the last time we squared off like this, I ended up writing a My Team Ain’t S#!t post after the Twins failed to make the playoffs while the Rays marched to the Series in 2008. Neither here nor there, let’s see what DC and I have to say about the two teams left standing as they embark on the 2014 Fall Classic:
A TBS graphic earlier in this unwatchable 2014 ALCS had the perfect summation of what TBS is contractually obligated to broadcast.¬† The stat: the¬†2014 Royals¬†have won the most¬†consecutive playoff games to begin a postseason since — drumroll — the 2007 Rockies.
Nice to see that The Worst¬†ALCS Ever is so perfectly analogous to The Worst NLCS Ever.
The only consolation for having to hear about two terrible flukey teams battling it out for a pennant, is that the AL series have been mercifully short and knowing that inevitably whoever wins will be exposed by a far superior team from the other league (hopefully, the Giants).
So savor these last few moments of “winning,” fans of the Royals and undeserving teams everywhere.¬† But remember to feel sorry for The Master Of The Modified Circle Change James Shields, who will soon lose his second World Series.¬† And for all those TBS execs who would rather be showing Saved By The Bell reruns and maybe even an Astros-Blue Jays ALCS. (Seriously, is a more boring ALCS pairing than these two even possible?)
Oh, and for the Orioles fans, who’ve never seen their team swept in the ALCS or do anything of note the past 31 years, remember that you and your city deserve this for stealing the Browns.
For the past three seasons, Hunter Pence has been — by far — my least favorite Giant.¬† Sure, he was along for the ride in winning the 2012 World Series, but he still felt like a Phillie or Astro.¬† I didn’t like¬†the stupid way he wears his long socks, something I criticized often and loudly from the cheap seats at AT&T Park.¬† Didn’t like that he got the long contract extension before Panda.
The catch he made in the top of the 6th inning in last night’s NLDS clincher over the Nationals though, that was pretty special.¬† Totally had the feel of a great catch late in a no-hitter or perfect game, that you look at and go, this is really going to happen.
After that¬†catch, suddenly Hunter Pence is kind of likeable.¬† The disheveled hair and beard would fit right in with the gutter punks where Haight ends and Golden Gate Park starts.¬† And he made the catch right in front of where you can stand for free and watch games through the outfield wall beside other disheveled folks. Hunter Pence¬†probably likes the Grateful Dead and stuff.
It’s that time of year. The leaves are turning. Our jackets emerge from their summer naps. Everything is¬†pumpkin spiced. Most importantly, though,¬†the marathon Major League Baseball¬†season ends in an all-out October sprint. It’s a baseball writer’s¬†Christmas. This year, we’ve collectively picked 7 of the 10 MLB Playoff teams to win it all. And, perhaps counter to intuition, none of us liked¬†MLB’s best regular-season team to advance past the Championship Series.¬†Go figure, right? Baseball can be crazy like that sometimes.
So, to explain the mind behind the madness, we present the Bugs & Cranks 2014 MLB Playoff Predictions:
Oakland over Kansas City – Everything’s up-to-date in Kansas City! Now they get to feel crushing playoff defeats like the rest of us.
Pittsburgh over San Francisco – The one-game play-in play-off is no good very bad, because this would be a fun series. Pirates because they won in 1971, and I like playing the ’71 Pirates in Diamond Mind.
Los Angeles over St. Louis – By Grathbar’s Hammer, Niedenfuer will be avenged!
Baltimore over Detroit – Neither team trips my trigger as an elite squad. However, the Tigers are relying on Joe Nathan to close out games. I don’t think a AAA team would want Nathan as their closer in the playoffs.
Oakland over the LA Angels – You know, the baseball sharps and pundits and narrative writers will say a lot about momentum and crap. Screw them and their pre-made stories and lazy analysis. Team Oakland!
Pittsburgh over Washington – Again with the narrative. Buster Olney’s already insufferable about how well Washington has pitched over the past month. Dude, it won’t be September anymore. Baseball is fickle. Stop with the narrative!
Oakland over Baltimore – I can see the Oakland team, with their elite pitching, win playoff games because they’ll shut people down. Yes, actual baseball analysis here.
Los Angeles over Pittsburgh – Kershaw and Greinke will make Pittsburgh all cranky. Sorry…
Oakland over Los Angeles – Again, just to tell the narrative writers and Beane haters to stuff it!
OAK @ KC – Oakland’s not used to playing the overachiever. And the role doesn’t suit them. The Royals will win this and the ghost of Dick Howser will rise from the fountains and barbecue sauce will flow in the streets. Sticky.
SF @ PIT – The Giants, surprised to learn that Pittsburgh still has a team, will fly across the country and stay at the TraveLodge near the Monroeville Mall, made famous in¬†Dawn of the Dead. Raise the Jolly Rancher! Bucs win.
DET @ BAL – Everyone in baseball is terrified of the Tigers, but it took them all year to shake Kansas City off their backs. Nobody should ever pick against Detroit. But for absolutely no good reason, I am. O’s win.
KC @ ANA – You know who was from Anaheim? Richard Nixon. Well, maybe not Anaheim proper. He was from Yorba Linda, right next door. And you know what President Nixon knew how to do? 1) win. 2) kick people’s asses. I didn’t like Nixon and I don’t like Mike Scioscia. But the good guys don’t always win. My pick: the Angels.
STL @ LA – The Cardinals are the handsome, polite guest who tips the maitre’d. The Dodgers don’t wear a dinner jacket and have to borrow one. The Cards order the red snapper Livornese. The Dodgers bring a bag of Carl’s Jr., into the restaurant. Winner: Dodgers.
PIT @ WAS – Hahahahaha! Nats.
BAL @ ANA – If the Angels borrow Oakland’s uniforms, they might beat Baltimore. But¬†Scioscia can’t squeeze his XXL ass into Bob Melvin’s M pants. O’s win the pennant.
LA @ WAS – Hahahahaha! Nats again.
WAS @ BAL – 38 miles separate Nats Park and Camden Yards. But since there’s no subway between DC and Baltimore, let’s call this the Above-Ground Commuter Train Series. Or the Gladys¬†Noon¬†Spellman Parkway Series. Or the Liveable City With Affordable Housing versus the Ridiculously Expensive and Congested City Series. Or the Decades-Old Heroin Problem Series. Whatever you want. Orioles.
Pittsburgh over the G-Men in the wild card game.
LA over St. Louis 3-2 in the LDS. Can’t beat Kershaw twice in a five-game set.
Washington over Pittsburgh 3-1.
NLCS — LA 4-3. Again, Kershaw the difference.
KC over Oakland in the wild card. It’s been 29 years since there was a playoff game in Kansas City, the players will feed off of that energy.
Detroit over Baltimore in the LDS, 3-2. The Tigers have superior starting pitching, and the big boys will earn their money while the bullpen watches.
KC over the Angels 3-2. The Royals have better pitching and defense and are a very good road team.
ALCS — KC over Detroit, 4-3 setting up what would have been a hell of a Fall Classic in 1977.
World Series — Pitching and defense win championships. And I just have a feeling the likes of Billy Butler and Omar Infante are going to take it to another level in October. KC 4-2.
Series MVP — Norichika Aoki.
AL Wild Card: Oakland
NL Wild Card: San Francisco
NLDS: St. Louis
NLCS: San Francisco
Final: San Francisco
I always go with my doppleganger, Tim Lincecum, when making playoff predictions. Lincecum, if you’re reading this, please cut your frigging hair. I had this coif first. It’s getting to the point that when I go the salon for a trim my stylist asks, “Do you want the Big Time Timmy Jim?” Enough is enough, dude. It’s my hairstyle and I want it back. Or, if your team wins the World Series, gimme your ring. It’s only fair.
ALWC:¬†Hard to tell which smelled worse in September, the Oakland Coliseum or the team occupying it. KC wins
NLWC:¬†I’ll take the Pirates¬†to beat San Francisco.
ALDS 1: Every year, Detroit walks into the playoffs high and mighty and I think to myself, ‚Äúcertainly they‚Äôll fustigate all comers!‚ÄĚ And every year, they fall flat on their high-priced, MVP-stealing faces. I’M NOT GOING TO LET YOU FOOL ME AGAIN THIS YEAR, DETROIT! I’ll take Baltimore¬†to win.
ALDS 2: I would really love to say KC is going to walk up to Los Angeles de Los Angeles de Anheheim (as my espanol amigos say)¬†and punch them on the nose. I would really love to say it… but I won’t. Halos win.
NLDS 1: I’m torn here, because St. Louis just seems to win in the playoffs against all dictates of logic and reason. Kersh is just too damn good, though, to let the redbirds steal another series. I’ll go with the Dodgers.
NLDS 2: I feel I owe it to Anthony Rendon, after the numbers he put up for me in fantasy this year, to take Washington over Pittsburgh.
ALCS: Call me stupid, but I got a hunch Los Angeles peaked just a tad too early. Baltimore in 6.
NLCS: Kershaw, Kershaw, Kershaw! Dodgers take the pennant.
World Series: The Dodgers’ top-shelf pitchers are better than Baltimore’s top-shelf pitchers. So are their top sluggers. I really would love for Baltimore to win, but I just can’t see it, especially depleted as they are. The Dodgers win it all.
NL Wild Card: Pirates beat Giants
NLDS: Nationals beat Pirates; Dodgers beat Cardinals
NLCS: Nationals beat Dodgers
AL Wild Card: Royals beat A‚Äôs
ALDS: Royals beat Angels; Orioles beat Tigers
ALCS: Orioles beat Royals
World Series: Nationals beat Orioles, damn it
Kansas City over Oakland
San Fran over Pittsburgh
Kansas City over Angels (5)
Detroit over Baltimore (5)
San Fran over Washington (4)
Dodgers over Cardinals (5)
Detroit over Kansas City (5)
Dodgers over San Fran (4)
Dodgers over Detroit (6)
MVP – Kershaw
ALWC – Royals edge A’s
ALDS – Angels over Royals
ALDS – Orioles over Tigers
NLWC – Giants over Pirates
NLDS – Dodgers beat Cardinals
NLDS – Nationals over Giants
World Series: Nationals over Orioles
Wild Cards: SF & OAK
Divisional Series:¬†STL. SF, DET & LAA
Championship Series, STL & DET
World Series: DET over¬†STL
It’s the usual, here. Teams that clinch early lose early. After that its experience and pitching and most of all bullshit luck.
Last night’s game at AT&T Park was the annual Jerry Garcia Tribute Night, complete with appearances by some surviving members of the Grateful Dead and Bill Walton.¬† But Robin Williams,¬†barely 24 hours¬†after news of his suicide broke, was all over the giant centerfield video board.
Just after a Dead tribute band finished their pre-game set around home plate, with no introduction or segue, there’s Robin Williams doing Robin Williams voices in some movie clip booming out of centerfield.¬† For just a sec, you had to wonder if it was a tribute, or just someone really screwed up their pregame planning.
But after a minute or so, the PA announcer made some appropriate-ish announcement and the giant video screen had a repeating slideshow of Robin Williams at AT&T Park pics — Robin Williams and Billy Crystal with Barry Bonds and Willie Mays, Robin Williams and Billy Crystal with mascot Lou Seal, Robin Williams in a Giants cap.¬† There was a moment of silence for Williams with the slideshow still repeating in center field, and then the only female member of Further sang a lovely rendition of¬†our National Anthem.
That already felt awkward and too much to me, but even before the first pitch, there was Robin Williams again before Ryan Vogelsong threw the game’s first pitch — in a pretty long clip from either the 2010 NLDS or NLCS,¬† bearded Robin¬†Williams leading the pre-game cheers from beyond the grave¬†for the 2010 National League West Champs, ending with bearded Robin Williams screaming Play Ball!
A few innings later, a fan on the Jumbotron competed for a $50 Sports Authority gift card in a Family Feud style game of name Giants fans favorite Robin Williams movies.¬† Down to his last strike after getting 1) Mrs. Doubtfire, 3) Good Will Hunting and 5) Good Morning Vietnam, the lucky fan won that gift card with Aladdin and probably Jumanji.
The Giants also found time between remaining innings to have a Jerry Garcia themed standup paddle board race in McCovey Cove and the Monterey Bay Aquarium kiss cam, but around the sixth or seventh, just in case anyone had forgotten¬†the tragic events of the day before,¬†there was Robin Williams in centerfield again, telling Matt Damon all about some Red Sox game.
So I’ve actually been watching and following soccer way more than baseball lately.¬† Not just since the World Cup started either — in May I was drinking Magner’s over ice at 9 AM at a bar in the Richmond so I could simultaneously watch the FA Cup Final and the La Liga regular season finale between Barca and Atletico.
Generally, I’m fine with that and I don’t think it necessarily negatively¬†impacts my American-ness anymore than half rooting against the US soccer team because of their German coach.¬† But something in all that soccer watching has deeply offended me as an American.
Apparently in the rest of the English-speaking world, The Wave is known as “The Mexican Wave.”
This bothered me for weeks before I did some extremely thorough Wikipedia research, which confirmed that The Wave is probably American in origin, although possibly Canadian.¬† The earliest annotated (American!) Wave in Wikipedia was at the Oakland Coliseum on October¬†15, 1981,¬†in the third and final game of the ALCS.¬† The guy who claims to have created that wave, Krazy George¬†Henderson, also¬†claims he sort of accidentally created something that was like the wave¬†at an Edmonton¬†Oilers home game late¬†in 1980. Krazy George apparently got around.
And so it seems did The Wave, spreading in an unrelenting wave-like way, all the way to Mexico for the 1986 World Cup of Soccer, which is when the rest of the English-speaking world discovered¬†the erroneously named Mexican Wave, since¬†no one outside of the United States watches¬†baseball¬†or real football.¬† And apparently¬†English-speaking Mexicans¬†never bothered to¬†admit that they were taking credit for something that was really from Oakland, and Americans never discovered this until they started caring about soccer¬†enough this¬†year to actually watch the World Cup in English instead of Spanish,¬†a language which it still generally sounds a lot better in.
Happy Fourth of July.
¬†The New York Mets sent me a birthday email on my birthday, along with an extremely generous birthday offer of 50% on up to eight tickets*! (*Select areas and select games Password is: BDLX44J)
Exactly 61 minutes later, the New York Yankees sent a similar but stingier birthday “gift.” 50 percent off the advance ticket price for select games (Passcode is: NHB57V2). There is a four ticket limit.
Mets 8, Yankees 4
Do the Mets think I have more friends than the Yankees think I do?¬† Are the Mets just more generous or just have more seats to fill?¬† And don’t either of them realize I haven’t bought tickets from either of them since I left Manhattan at the start of 2010?¬† I only went to shitty Citi Field twice, I think — and I never made it to the New Replica Dump In The Bronx.
I kept checking my email for birthday greetings from the other 28 MLB clubs, but none came.¬† Even though I’ve more recently bought tickets from the official sites of the Baltimore Orioles,¬†Oakland A’s and San Francisco Giants, none thought enough of me to send me a birthday discount code.¬† It’s especially hurtful from the Giants, considering they definitely have my DOB since they sent me W2’s in 2010 and 2011 from my 10-month stint on their payroll.
It’s hard to believe it’s been four years since once of the pinnacles of my internet professional baseball writing career — the time I¬† had a post on the main Yahoo! sports page¬† comparing Barry Bonds to Martin Luther King, Jr. and President Barrack Obama.
There have been highs and low over the past four years, two Giants World Series title squads trying their best to make up for fake champions like the Yankees and the Cardinals, not quite a complete legal vindication for the viciously persecuted G-POPE but no jail time.
Barry Bonds may not yet have his rightful place in Cooperstown yet, but he is still enshrined in the hearts of all people who love freedom, justice and equality.
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