alex rodriguez

The Rules of Booing

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Jim Johnson has sucked hard this year.  Really hard.  I’m talking Phil Coke level sucking.  (I simply don’t have the words or the energy to rant anymore about the disaster that is the Tigers bullpen.  Coke, for example, may have some utility remaining as a LOOGY (Lefty One Out GuY) who faces lefties exclusively.  But he should not be facing ANY right handers at any point of any game, not even switch hitters who hit worse right handed and are being “turned around” against Coke.  I don’t understand.  This has been true for years, and this year it’s even worse: righties have an OPS over 1.000 against Coke in 2014.  And yet, somehow, he’s faced more righties than lefties.  Why does Tigers management insist on continually running him out there against right handed hitters?  Are they hoping he’s going to figure it out or something?  My deepest fear is that Coke starts to get lucky later on this season and somehow gain more trust from Brad Ausmus, increasing the chances that Coke is in the game in a big situation during the stretch run or in the playoffs.  I’m actively rooting for Coke to suck more right now, even if it means the Tigers lose, because the sooner that the Tigers get it through their thick skulls that this guy is a walking turd and release him, the better.)

Wait.  What was I saying?  Oh, right.  Jim Johnson.  So, Johnson has been terrible ever since the moment he arrived in Oakland, and A’s fans have been booing him mercilessly since April.  Johnson’s new teammates have scurried to his defense, making public statements beseeching the fans to stop booing him.  The tone of these statements have ranged from reasoned (“It doesn’t make him pitch better when you boo”) to clichéd (“We don’t come boo you at your place of work”) to condemning (“You are terrible people if you boo”).  A’s fans have continued to boo anyways, because Johnson has continued to suck.  This culminated in an incident last week where Johnson’s wife was booed at a team charity event.  I think booing Mrs. Johnson was, while slightly hilarious, over the line.  But where, exactly, is that line?

Look, I believe firmly that we as fans should generally be free to boo who we want to boo.  We the fans are the reason that players get paid millions of dollars, so players shouldn’t whine about being booed; better to be booed than to have no one watching at all.  So yeah, the general rule should be that you can boo anyone you want, whether he’s on the opposing team or on your team.  But as with most general rules, there needs to be a few exceptions to preserve the rightness of the universe:

The Human Decency Exception:  Don’t boo or cheer if a player is lying on the field injured.  Don’t be a bigoted booer.  Don’t heckle opposing players with a stream of non-stop expletives when you’re sitting next to a bunch of kids (maybe a few scattered f-bombs are okay).  These are all, like, duh.

The Derek Jeter Exemption:  A few years ago, Jeter started the season in a horrific slump, and he started to get booed a little bit at home.  This is after he’d already won four championships and pretty much established himself as the greatest shortstop in Yankee history.  This was messed up.  If you’re a Yankee fan, you do NOT boo Derek Jeter because he’s in a freaking slump.  To make this a more general rule, you don’t boo a guy on your own team solely based on performance if that guy still has a significant net credit with your franchise.  So let’s take the A’s, for example, who’ve made two consecutive postseason appearances.  Should any of the guys who were fundamental pieces on the 2012 and 2013 teams (e.g. Coco Crisp, Josh Donaldson) be booed if they were having a rough start to 2014?  No way; there’s no way that a few horrendous months can offset what they’ve done previously.  Obviously, the length of the exemption depends on the magnitude of the positive contribution.  Maybe you can start to boo Coco next year, but franchise-changing guys like Derek Jeter have lifetime exemptions.   This is why it’s completely okay to boo Jim Johnson; he has zero track record with the A’s.  The exemption only applies if the booing is based solely on performance; if the booing is based on off-the-field stuff (like if Miguel Cabrera started drinking again), the exemption would no longer apply and booing would be permitted.

The Jacoby Ellsbury Corollary:  This is an offshoot of the Derek Jeter Exemption.  What happens when a guy who has given a ton to your franchise, including a couple of World Series titles, leaves as a free agent to go to your arch rival?  This was the sticky situation with Jacoby Ellsbury this year.  When he returned to Boston for the first time, the response was very mixed.  Some people cheered and some people booed.  Both were right.  This is a gray area.  Go with your heart.  You are free to boo or cheer as you please, regardless of what that player has done for your team in the past, because that player no longer plays for your team.  The only exception to this is that booing is not permitted when (1) a player had previously earned a lifetime Derek Jeter Exemption and (2) did not completely burn his bridges with his old team.  So Albert Pujols, who earned a lifetime exemption in St. Louis and left as a free agent largely because the Cardinals wouldn’t pay him his market value, should never be booed in St. Louis.  But LeBron James, who came close to earning a lifetime exemption in Cleveland, left so acrimoniously that he deservedly was booed every time he returned.

The Women and Children Caveat:  When I went to the Detroit Lions’ only playoff game victory in their history in 1991, there was a presentation at halftime to the national winners of the Pass, Punt & Kick competition.  These were kids between the ages of 7 and 14.   The Lions were well on their way to winning the game and going on to face Washington in the NFC Championship.  Washington had obliterated Detroit earlier that season, but it was a game that Barry Sanders didn’t play and Lions fans were itching for a chance at a rematch.  So when it was announced that one of the Pass, Punt & Kick winners was from Washington, the entire stadium booed the poor kid.  I mean, it wasn’t a malicious or threatening kind of booing; it was more like a collective reaction by 70,000 people to the announcement of the word “Washington.”  It was kind of awesome.  Anyways, the point is this: the rules of conduct in a stadium aren’t quite the same as in real life.  It’s perfectly acceptable to boo a player from the stands, but if you met him in person on the street and started booing him, you’d look like a crazy person.  A sporting event is entertainment and the spectators are the audience; it’s okay to respond to the presentation, even if it’s not directly related to the game.  So if they showed Mrs. Jim Johnson’s face on the Oakland Jumbotron, I think it would be okay to boo her (not saying that I would personally do that, but I’m not condemning it either).  But it wouldn’t be okay to harass a player’s family at a game since that’s not a part of the presentation, and booing Mrs. Johnson at a charity event is probably not okay as well.  But I wasn’t there, so I can’t say for sure.   It’s all about context.  I mean, if it was really funny, maybe it was okay.

The Douchebag Catch-all:  None of these exceptions apply to Alex Rodriguez.  Boo him on the street.  Boo his family.  Boo him while he’s sleeping.  Boo him forever.  BOOOOOO.

Ryan Braun Hate Monster

I hate Ryan Braun. 

A-Rod is gone. Maybe forever. And thus my hate became a wizened specter, starving in the shadows. For a while, I thought that wretched wraith would die and I would be free of my hate and my mind could be filled with rainbows and puppy paws. But then along came Ryan Braun. I don’t mind that much that he got suspended for the PEDs. I don’t even mind that much that he lied about it. But what really pissed me off was that he went out of his way to vilify the poor guy who screwed up his urine sample (even perhaps calling him an anti-Semite). Then, despite all that, the morons in Milwaukee gave him a standing ovation on Opening Day? Grrrrr…my hate…just…won’t…die. 

So when Ryan Braun ruined my fantasy team last weekend by destroying Jason Grilli (who’s on my team) on Saturday AND Sunday with 9th inning homers to blow saves, my hate monster roared back to life. Like, literally. Like my hate is sitting on my couch right now roaring and eating Cheetos. He has a name. He says his name is Chet. I asked him if Chet was short for Chester and if he was named for Chester Cheetah because he liked Cheetos or maybe it was the other way around and he likes Cheetos because his name is Chester. But he says his name is just Chet and that it’s not short for anything. 

So yeah, Chet tells me that I now hate Ryan Braun forever. I will obey.

spirit 

You can believe one of two things: 1) I actually have a hate monster sitting on my couch or 2) I actually think I do. Either way, I’m probably not okay. 

Boners and Dragons and Bears…OH BABY!

A few days ago, a friend of mine referred to Josh Hamilton as “JHam”.  At first, I had no idea who he was talking about, but I am a smart guy, so I used context clues to figure it out.  Once I realized he was indeed referring to Hamilton, I got angry.  This trend of mashing together a player’s first initial (or first part of his first name) and the first syllable of his last name (e.g. A-Rod, CarGo, HanRam) has gotten way out of hand.  In this age of tweets and text messages, I understand the need for brevity.  Long gone are the days of florid nicknames like “The Splendid Splinter”.  That’s fine.  But can’t we come up with short and sweet monikers that reflect at least a little bit of creativity?  I love referring to Josh Hamilton as “The Great Hambino”, which of course is a nod to The Sandlot.  But it’s too long.  I think Josh has “Hambone” tattooed on his arm, so we should just go with that.  If even that’s too long, we should just call him “Bone” or, even better, “Boner”.  I mean, Boner works on so many levels: it can either mean a huge mistake or a huge erection.  And for some reason, I just see Boner as the kind of guy that thinks more with his dick than with his brain.  So it’s perfect.  Boner it is.

Quite often, nicknames arise out of necessity.  When I was in college, there were like ten different Brians in my circle of friends.  So, Brian from Texas became “Texas Brian” and fat Brian became “Fat Brian”.  Okay, I realize now that these were not terribly imaginative names, but I disclaim all responsibility for their creation.  The point is that the players that need nicknames the most are the ones with the most common names.  A-Rod would never have become A-Rod in the first place if his last name wasn’t the relatively common “Rodriguez”.

So there are players out there who desperately need a nickname, and all I’m saying is that let’s all get together and try and give them an interesting one.  Like Adrian Gonzalez.  I’ve heard people call him “Gonzo”, but come on, that nickname is for anyone named Gonzalez.  And “A-Gon” isn’t distinctive enough, since there are other players (like Alex Gonzalez) who this could apply to.  Should we just call him “Adrian”?  Is that distinctive enough?  My idea is to anagram the first three letters of his first name and combine it with the first syllable of his last name.  DraGon.  Yes, I know you are blown away and you are welcome.

The stumper for me is Miguel Cabrera.  There are many Cabreras and there are many Miguels.  Yet all we can come up with is “Miggy” or “Cabby” or “MCab” for the greatest hitter in the game?  Really?  We can’t come up with something better than that?  Alas, I don’t really have a better idea at this point.  My fiancee likes to call him “CaBEARa” because he looks like a cuddly teddy bear.  I would be fine if this caught on.

My final suggestion is that we all must band together to make sure that Omar Infante is only referred to from this day forth as “O-Baby”.  Seriously, how has this not happened yet?

Fantasy Memories: Ryan Klesko

In late April 2001, I had just graduated from college and was planning to go backpacking through Europe for most of the month of May.  I knew I wouldn’t be able to check my fantasy baseball team very much while I was traveling (no smartphones in 2001), so the night before I left, I set my roster one last time.  I think my first baseman was hurt or something, so I just picked up the highest ranked first baseman available on the waiver wire, who happened to be Ryan Klesko.  Despite a solid 2000 season, Klesko had started 2001 slowly, hitting only .247 in April, so someone had dropped him.  I didn’t know much about the dude at all, so I was just hoping that he would stay relatively healthy and at least not hurt my team too much while I was gone.

When I returned to the U.S. at the end of May, I finally logged back on to a computer and took a look at the numbers next to Klesko’s name.  My jaw fell off my face.  Ryan Klesko had gone insane.  In May 2001, Klesko hit .354/.464/.788 with 11 homers, 40 RBI and 10 stolen bases.  That’s double digit steals and homers in a single month.  I have no idea whether anyone else has managed this feat, but it seems like it would be extremely rare.  I checked all of the 40/40 seasons in history (Canseco, Bonds, A-Rod, Soriano) and none of them did it.  And Klesko was primarily a first baseman!  While I was off traipsing across Europe, Klesko was doing work, carrying my fantasy team on his back for an entire month.

Fantasy baseball managers tend to develop irrational attachments to certain players, or at least I do.  Very often, it’s a guy you feel like you “discovered”, someone you bought into and believed in before anyone else did.  In those cases, a large portion of that ongoing attachment comes from personal pride in your own fantasy baseball skills.  You identified a star before he became a star, therefore, you are also a star and every time you see his name in your lineup, you feel good about you.  I definitely feel that way about some of the guys I’ve had on my team over the years, like James Shields or R.A. Dickey. But this wasn’t the case with Klesko.  I was just plain lucky that I happened to have added him right before he exploded; I can take no credit in this.  But I continued to roster him on many of my teams up until he retired in 2007, and this was a different kind of attachment.  Call it eternal gratitude.

The 2001 MLB season was perhaps the most memorable of my lifetime.  Seattle won 116 games.  Barry Bonds hit a billion homers.  Ichiro won rookie of the year and MVP honors.  Albert Pujols’ ridiculous rookie year as the oldest-looking 20 year old in history.   9/11.  The Jeter Flip.  All of this culminated in the greatest World Series I have ever seen.  So it’s not surprising that Klesko’s amazing May has been virtually forgotten.  But not by me.  My gratitude continues until this day.  For that amazing month, thank you Ryan Klesko.  Thank you until the end of time.

Searching for an Adjective for A-Rod

The big news this week is the Biogenesis suspensions handed down by MLB yesterday. And the media is just piling on A-Rod, and I love it. Usually you would feel a little bad for a guy when everyone is so determined to just beat him down, but seriously, the guy has no redeeming qualities as a human being. That seems harsh, but I’m so sick of this garbage. Just go away.

Now, the dumping on A-Rod has been so one-sided that there will be those in the media that pop up to provide contrarian views, because that’s what they do. Some writers will try to defend him, to say that people are being TOO harsh on him or saying that MLB is singling him out. Those writers are just full of crap. A-Rod deserves worse than what is coming to him. He is a human turd.

I got a car wash yesterday and it came with free “fragrance”. I chose “new car” scent, but when I got in my car afterwards, it smelled nothing like a new car. It had this awful, cheap perfume smell that is one of the most unbearable scents of all time. It smells like the dirty, unwashed crotch of a nonagenarian gypsy. It smells like the liquid feces of a lactose intolerant rhinoceros. Basically, it smells like A-Rod. It’s the worst.

Brawls, Brawls, Brawls

In honor of the near altercation between Dallas Braden and Alex Rodriguez (note: I don’t think A-Rod’s transgression was really a big deal, but you can tell that even his fellow players have absolutely no respect for him), check out the link below to what is probably the worst brawl in the history of MLB.

This is crazy. The Braves pitcher nails a guy so the Pads basically throw at him every time he comes to the plate for the entire game. I like how he runs around with the bat the first time he almost gets hit. Watch the fan with the yellow pants around 1:30.

Also, of course, below is my favorite brawl of all-time, featuring current Tigers color commentator Rod Allen.

2009 All-Star Selections

Regarding the All-Star Game, I have, as does everyone else, a real problem with the selection process. Personally, I despise the one-player-per-team rule for representation. As a Tigers fan in the 90’s, getting a player selected to the team because that was the rule didn’t make me want to watch the game more. It felt terrible, it felt like CHARITY. The All-Star game should be a showcase for the game, and it should have the BEST players there, not just guys who are having a fluky three month start to the season (cough cough…Joaquin Phoenix…cough…I mean…Jason Marquis…cough cough). Anyways, Keith Law has an article up on ESPN and I agree with almost everything he says, so I won’t harp about it, just read that.

That being said, other than the omission of Ian Kinsler (which was egregious), this wasn’t the worst year ever for All-Star selections. At least the teams somewhat limited the number of relievers they took (although it’s STILL way too many. No more than two or three closers per team please…). Mark Buehrle was an okay pick since there are no other deserving White Sox and the Tim Wakefield pick is fine I guess from a purely sentimental perspective but the Marquis pick is simply indefensible. Kinsler being relegated to the last-chance ballot is one of the biggest snubs in All-Star game history, but other than than, the only other glaring omission on offense was leaving Johnny Damon off the team, who is currently a top five outfielder. But here’s the really good news…NO A-ROD IN THE ALL-STAR GAME!!! WOOHOOO!!!

A-Rod Dumb Quote Alert

 

“When people write [bad things] about me, I don’t know if it’s [because] I’m good-looking, I’m biracial, I make the most money, I play on the most popular team …” – Alex Rodriguez, from this week’s Sports Illustrated

It’s none of the above you freaking idiot.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.  You have no honor.  I hope you get traded to Kansas City and rot there.

No Honor + No Code = A-ROD

Game 6: Red Sox vs. Yankees

– A-Rod has no code.  He has no honor.  Why did A-Rod slap at the ball like a little girl?  Why did he whine about it after when they called him out?  Because he has no code.  He has no honor.  Who would want to win this way?  The announcer (Tim McCarver, of course) said that it was a good move by A-Rod because if he gets away with it, he’s safe, and if he doesn’t do it, he’s out anyways.  That’s garbage.  With a game on the line, what would have happened if the umpires didn’t reverse the call?  The Yankees might have gone on to win the game, not because of an error by the other team, but by an umpiring error.  The fact that A-Rod would force the umpires into such a position where they would have to decide the fate of the game by making a rare and controversial call shows that he has no code, he has no honor.  And his weasel-like move directly caused the incitement of the New York crowd (New Yorkers are insane) and the presence of the police on the field for a half inning.  No honor.  No code.  None.

– Bottom of the ninth.  Two out.  Yanks down by two, two men on, Tony Clark at the plate.  I have watched Tony Clark strike out about a gazillion times in clutch situations in his long career with the Detroit Tigers.  Over and over again, I would hope beyond hope he would do something, and he would strike out.  After all my years of torture, if he had hit one out tonight to win the game, I would forever be convinced that God is a Yankees fan.  So it’s a pretty good thing he struck out.  I don’t think I could worship a Yankee fan.