Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Carlos Zambrano Doesn't Get Paid Enough To Annoy The Ever Loving Crap Out Of Me

I cannot STAND Carlos Zambrano. It's impossible to pinpoint when it started, but watching him play baseball makes me want to run over puppies with a lawn mower. After a couple of innings I start to sincerely believe he is to blame for everything wrong in this world, including but not limited to poverty, global warming, illiteracy, spray butter and Paris Hilton. I have several legitimate reasons for my acrimony:

1. He's whiny. Some say he's "emotional". I think that's code for "big insufferable baby that spends an inordinate amount of time scratching his balls".

2. Stuff like this. Inflated self worth is never endearing, I don't care how good he is. Not to mention the fact that he is consistently quoted referring to himself in the third person. This just REEKS of modesty, doesn't it?

3. Seriously...what's with the ball scratching? I mean, it's before and after EVERY pitch. Someone should look into getting this guy some new equipment. Or maybe some premethrin.

Friday, February 9, 2007

God Wants Jeff Suppan To Have Millions Of Dollars

This video is weird to watch. I always find the idea of professional athletes being intensely religious a bit hard to take. It's a little like seeing your fourth grade teacher at the supermarket. They aren't supposed to have real lives outside their day jobs and it's strange to see them doing anything other then what you know them for. It just ruins the allusion to hear about what these guys do and think about on a day to day basis.

It's also difficult to watch Jeff Suppan talk about "God's will" with regard to his career in baseball. He claims to "focus on his relationship with God and his relationship with his wife and let the rest sort itself out." Like that $42 million dollar contract with the Brewers? Sure, buddy. TOTALLY God's will. Way to let that sort itself out.

So, kids...the lesson here is that unless God wants you to be a multi-millionaire major league baseball player, you're screwed. Sorry about that.

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Albert Pujols Makes Me Want To Take A Nap

Albert Pujols officially became a US citizen today. Evidently fearing that becoming an American would automatically turn him into a giant Big Mac, he took off for spring training right after the ceremony in St. Louis. This ensures that he's in Florida a FULL WEEK before position players are required to report in. This means two things. First, he's not wasting any time getting focused on the upcoming season and honing his intensity. Secondly, if this is the bar to which Americans are supposed to be held, then I am a horribly lazy person.
Michael Leach at MLB.com writes,

"It's been a busy and momentous several months for Pujols. The Cardinals won the World Series in October, and shortly afterward he received his first Rawlings Gold Glove Award. In January he traveled to the Dominican on a humanitarian mission to help provide medical care and education for impoverished children in his home country. "
Do you think this man ever just wakes up in the morning and says, "Gee...I think I'll skip my ten mile jog today. And you know what? I lifted arms and chest on Tuesday. Screw it. In fact, I'm not watching any game film today. And I'm skipping Pilate's class, my French and violin lessons, lunch at the soup kitchen, horseback riding practice, tai chi practice, kama sutra practice, jury duty, rehearsals for my upcoming role in the Broadway musical Chicago, police academy training and my congressional committee meeting. Fuck it. I'm watching Saved By the Bell re-runs."

Yeah, I didn't think so.

Jim Hendry is a GENIUS!!!

This is the kind of thing that makes living amongst Cub fans worthwhile. I occasionally bust out laughing just THINKING about this video. The part where he wazzes out about Jason Marquis is one of the finer moments in foreign cinema. Or American cinema for that matter. Freakin' priceless.

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

It Comes From Where You Least Expect It

The strangest thing about watching the Cardinals play in the World Series this past fall was having to do so in such close proximity to so many Tigers fans. These people were EVERYWHERE. Chicagoans in my neighborhood were cheering loudly for whoever the Cardinals happened to be playing, much like two years ago when somehow overnight everyone on the Northside became a Red Sox fan. Regardless, there was an awful lot of navy blue and orange around these parts and not all of them were resentful Derrek Lee enthusiasts. No, this year was different from 2004 in that a reasonable percentage of these fans were actually from Michigan and legitimately followed Tigers baseball. Chicago being the biggest city in flyover country, it should surprise no one that it's a melting pot of small town kids from all over the Midwest. A lot of them happen to be from Michigan. Several of them even have the distinct privilege of being my friends.

Now, as you can imagine after watching the Cardinals' late season collapse, I wasn't really all that concerned with these friends at the beginning of the playoffs. I anticipated cheering for the Tigers right along with them if they made it to the World Series, assuming my redbirds would bring the colossal disappointment of the regular season into the playoffs. They seemed so disoriented about what they were supposed to be doing at that point, I half expected Jim Edmonds to eat his bat in the on deck circle and Jeff Weaver to pitch on all fours. By the time they face planted into the postseason I was convinced it was a lost cause. So it was only after we had finished dismantling the Padres and began chipping away at the Mets that I began to realize there was a possibility we'd face the Tigers in the championship series. I immediately knew I'd have to start bracing myself for a new breed of harassment coming from the most unlikely of places. I mean, until that point I was on their side! It was all very strange. Initially unsettling, but ultimately satisfying.

I was scared. It had been hammered home all year long (hell, for the past several years) that the American League is far superior to the National League. The Cardinals may have beat the Mets in game 7 of the NLCS, but it's not like we steam rolled over them. That effectively meant that a barely .500 team from the laughable central division scraped by with an unlikely win over what was considered to be the best team in a highly ridiculed league. We were headed to face a veteran manager leading a young team that had largely dominated their division all year. Not exactly a compelling or balanced match up, I'll admit.

I tried hard not to get too terribly excited about getting past the Padres and Mets, as I was burned badly the last time I believed blindly in the Cardinals championship capabilities. This time I was timidly optimistic and realistically cynical. I was happy for them to be there, but resigned to the fact that we probably couldn't pull it off. There was no way we could bully our way past the amped up team that surprised the Yankees in the division series and demolished the A's in the ALCS. So when the match-ups were set and we started the World Series in Detroit, I took the abuse from the Tiger fans in stride. They had a point, after all. We WOULD be lucky not to get swept. Maybe I SHOULD buy a broom. Perhaps the Cardinals DO take it in the Poo-holes. (Evidently this is a regional crowd pleaser.) It was unnerving to be hassled by yet another legion of fans in Chicago and honestly a little exhausting. I expect this from Cubs fans, but the Tigers? Where did they come from anyway? Even after winning the first game in Detroit and the first in St. Louis proved we weren't gong to lie down and ahem...take it in the Poo-holes, I didn't have a legitimate comeback. 1968 anyone? Plus, it was the Tigers! The feel good team of the year! After years and years of sucktitude they finally had a good, well managed team that deserved to succeed. But then something happened that no one could have predicted and I could hardly have hoped for. The Cardinals actually won. And the weirdest part was, despite my mind blowing elation over our underdog triumph, I kind of felt bad for those guys. Here's a team that stormed through the regular season (for the most part), blew through the playoffs and seemed posed to make up for years of inadequacy by winning the World Series. They got totally Red Soxed! Like us in 2004, the season long momentum couldn't do much for a team that appeared to be phoning it in down the stretch. So either I feel sorry for these fans because I'd been there not too long ago or I actually liked the Detroit team. It's probably a combination of the two. However, the point is I was ready to take pity on those friends of mine from Michigan. But surprisingly, they don't really want to talk about baseball anymore.

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Your Bragging Rights Aren't Honored Here, Missy!!

Being a St. Louis Cardinals fan in Chicago sucks. I understand I'm not making an earth shattering announcement here, but the fact remains that between the months of April and October my loyalties take a beating. I don't know if it's years of inadequacy that have generated such a general sense of bitterness and hostility or if it's merely the nature of the rivalry, but I continue to be amazed at how much my allegiance to the Cards is resented by the Northsiders. Cubs fans are PISSED. And rightly so. The last three years have seen their two most hated rivals claim back to back World Series Championships, while the crowning of the Red Sox in 2004 reversed the Curse of the Bambino and sharpened the focus on the nearly 100 year gap since the Cubs last championship. That SUCKS for them. However, generally speaking, I'm not an obnoxious and boisterous follower. I don't seek out public ridicule and scorn by professing my love for Albert Pujols outside the gates of Wrigley Field. I just want to be able to wear my Cardinals baseball cap and not have some jackass tell me St. Louis takes it in the Poo-holes. (I tell ya...these Cubs fans are witty!) Unprovoked, I don't talk a lot of shit. If there's one thing my dad taught me, it's that arrogance ALWAYS comes around to bite you in the ass. So no matter how tempted or provoked I get, I try to keep things civil. However, I've found that despite my best attempts at being a big person and the fact that there is no basis at all for their bravado, I am still mocked incessantly. The more the Cubs suck, the louder their fans seem to get. It gives me a headache.

Nevertheless, I certainly don't expect Cubs fans to take pity on me. We just won our tenth World Series Championship, the likes of which most living Cubs fans have never come close to experiencing. I take a great deal of pleasure in this, which I imagine is rather infuriating. I admit it. When I'm at Wrigley I cheer for the visiting team. Perhaps that makes me a terrible person, but COME ON! You really can't expect me to be neutral. And I know plenty of Cubs fans that gladly return the sentiment. Generally, if I can't enjoy a Cardinals win the next best thing is a Cubs loss. So I certainly expect to be cast under a veil of suspicion and reviled by the frenzied Chicago fan base. I'm an outsider. An enemy infiltrating their city and dirtying their Cubs blue landscape with my obnoxious Cardinal red. I'm an anti-Cub who's more then happy to point out and mock their shortcomings ever step of the way. But all things considered, I'm a harmless anti-Cub. I don't hate the team just to torment its fans. I hate them as a result of loving the Cardinals and live in this city merely by coincidence. I mean, trust me. I don't PREFER to surround myself with drunks in Carlos Zambrano jerseys that abhor my existence. I'm insanely jealous of all those people flailing around St. Louis like maniacs celebrating the World Series Championship in mutual delirious fandom. To celebrate winning game five I went to a party where one guy tried to wrestle a Cubs t-shirt over my head and another poured his beer on me. (And not in a "champagne in the locker room" kind of way.) GOOD TIMES!!!

Ironically, the abuse only serves to thicken my skin and solidify my devotion. However, I actually met people here convinced that once I'd been around long enough, the glow emanating from Chicago's Largest Beer Garden would woo me to the other side. This baffles me for several reasons. First, as a real baseball fan, you don't just change teams. Once a Cardinals fan, always a Cardinals fan. Secondly, it's not the same as moving to Denver and developing a passing interest in the Rockies because you live three blocks from Coors Field. It's the FREAKIN CUBS!! You cannot "become" a Cubs fan just by living in Chicago if you're a Cardinals fan. It goes against all laws of physics. It goes against all laws of morality! (Just for the record, I would be equally disgusted by a Cubs fan deciding to worship all things Albert Pujols. It's just not right.) Lastly, if I were to cultivate an interest in a new team based upon proximity, why would I pick not only the crappiest team in this city, but arguably in all of major league baseball? So much about this doesn't make sense to me. Maybe this is why they haven't won a World Series since 1908. These people are idiots.

But I digress. My point here is not to deride Cubs fans. On the contrary, I admire their blinding loyalty to an institution that has continually failed them year after year. I marvel at the sheer voracity of their belief every spring that "this is the year". As a result of living here, I have a lot of friends that are Cubs fans. I don't pretend to understand them, but I do respect them. Or at least I try until one of them tells me the Cardinals take it in the Poo-holes.