Monday, May 18, 2009

Everything About Everything (Including Sports!)

I doesn't know where to start. It was forever ago the last time I posted daily thoughts in this space. There are reasons for that, of course. But reasons don't matter. I'm way behind on things and I need to share my words with the universe (and by "universe," I mean my hardcore following in Cheviot) before the Apocalypse.

I have a longstanding problem with brevity. I'm damn near allergic to it. I have no idea how to make a point using only a sentence or two. But if I'm going to pump out even a small fraction of my thoughts I'll have to try.

(Disclaimer: The following is my attempt to express my opinions [on pretty much everything that's happened over the past two weeks] while achieving brevity at the same time.)

Horny? I knew it. Seriously, I could tell.

Without further ado, here is what I'm burning on:

What? That's taken? Well, let's try this new catchy one I just made up in my brain:

Without further ado, here are the words I've been meaning to write about black people and black people playing professional athletics, not only in Cincinnati, but in places like Denver and Salt Lake City and Canada and Mexico and other countries like Hungary:

Reds-Padres, marathon game...

There's no way to prove this, but I'm about 7 billion percent sure I experienced more pain than the Reds' players did following their 16-inning loss to San Diego. Let's do some counting...

1. Before the start of the season I wagered $150 on Edinson Volquez winning more than 11.5 games. His record sits at 4-2. Not only did he exit the game with back spasms (always tricky) in the 6th inning (just as he was hitting his stride), his team was leading 5-2. A win was imminent. And then Mike Lincoln started doing Mike Lincoln things. And then Arthur Rhodes and David Weathers started walking dudes. And then Weathers was squeezed by homeplate ump -- and world class jackass -- Jim Joyce. And then the score was tied at 5 (wiping away Volquez's fifth win). And I was angry. I used mommy and daddy words beginning with the letter F. My neighbors probably heard. I kind of hope they did. Things would only get worse.

2. With two outs in the top of the 11th, and with runners on 1st and 2nd, Darnell McDonald pinch hit for Jared Burton (predictably he missed a slider by eight feet for strike three). Following such embarrassment, Dusty Baker elected to bring Owings into the game to pitch. My head exploded. Owings needed to bat in that spot! I paced the house like a psychopath. It was Baker's most illogical move yet. Which is saying a lot.

Owings defended Baker in Sunday's Enquirer, and I nearly choked on my vomit:

"The main thing was the last guy down there was Coco (Francisco Cordero)," Owings said. "Say we would have taken the lead, Coco would have come in and we would have had nobody down there."

Let me tell you, boys and girls, that is a load of crap. Baker had to send Owings to the plate and hope for the best. If Owings plates the go-ahead run, wonderful. Now he's the closer, not Cordero. Big deal. Getting three outs against a pathetic San Diego lineup isn't the most daunting of tasks. When games get longer and benches get shorter, you need to manage like it's the postseason, and Baker didn't. He failed. Miserably. For the umpteenth time this year.

Maddening stat from Saturday: In a 16-inning game in which he pitched 5.2 innings, Micah Owings only came to the plate once. Once. One. The same number of plate appearances as Mike Lincoln! Read those words aloud. And then dive off a bridge.

3. Joey Votto left the game with dizziness. This happened less than a week ago, as well. Therefore I am certain he has swine flu. At this point I'd like to thank my mother for being a hypochondriac.

4. Saturday night's hero, Padres catcher Nick Hundley, is a Grade A jerk. I've never shaken this man's hand or offered him a sip of my Dr. Pepper, but I am positive I hate his guts. He is my new most-hated player (taking over for Jim Edmonds, of course). Listen, it's not just the way he acted after hitting the GW homer, it's mostly how he acted after hosing down Phillips at second base in the 13th. He kept his mask off for fifteen seconds or so (about twelve too long), spun around to soak in the moment, and shook his head back and forth, projecting the following message: "Don't Mess With Me! I'm Nick Hundley! You Should Know Better! I'm The Greatest Of All Time!"

I'm telling you, I wanted to punch the guy in the mouth. This wasn't run-of-the-mill showboating, either...this was the act of an arrogant prick. An arrogant prick, I might add, with 291 career at-bats and a .303 on-base percentage. If you think I'm being unfair, you clearly didn't see what I did. And if you did, you pulled your hair out when Hundley threw his bat about 85 feet in the sky after connecting on the game-winner. What a jerk.


Staying on the topic of Reds baseball...

Although Brandon Phillips is currently producing for the Legs, I'm not so sure he'll keep this going. In fact, I'm positive he won't. He drops to his knee with every swing! Tom Emanski would not approve.


For the first few weeks of the season Dusty Baker didn't bat Votto-Bruce three-four in the lineup so he could avoid going lefty-lefty. Meanwhile, Chris Dickerson (a lefty) batted second, directly in front of Votto, and nobody made a big deal about this. Double meanwhile, Bruce was dropped to fifth (and he's still there), batting below a right-handed hitting Phillips, who just isn't the hitter Bruce is.

I know I'm a little late with this, but wouldn't it have made more sense to bat Bruce second and drop Dickerson to eighth or something? From now until the end of time there should never be a game where either Dickerson or Phillips come to the plate more times than Bruce.


Somebody needs to explain Bronson Arroyo to me. I watch more sports than pretty much everybody I know, and I generally figure things out with the teams/players I root for. With Arroyo, I haven't the slightest clue what he's going to do next. His good stuff looks like his bad stuff. His start-to-start performances baffle me.


Funniest Adam Rosales-themed text messages I received this week...

From Kevin: "What if there's a guy on first base when he hits a home run?"

From Colly Boy: "Rosales looks like Zebras in America."


Sticking with baseball, but ending Reds discussion...

A few weeks ago I found this juicy stat o
n Rob Neyer's blog:

Since the MLB draft began in 1965, there have been 246 hitters who were chosen in the top 10 overall picks and 199 pitchers. So 55 percent were hitters. On 25-man squad, if 14 are players and 11 pitchers, then hitters are 56 percent. That explains the draft ratio.

In the entire history of the June draft since 1965, NO PITCHER who was taken in the Top 10-overall picks has ever had a Hall of Fame career. Zero. None. Zilch. And none close.

It's nerdy Lance McAlister stuff, I know, but this should temper your enthusiasm when the Reds draft the next Chris Gruler in the 2009 draft.


Moving along to basketball...

I was dead wrong about Rajon Rondo. Probably the wrongest I've ever been about anyone. Coming out of college I was sure he would stink up the joint, and finish his career in the Icelandic B League. Turns out he's a star. Turns out I'm a shithead.


This last point is important. So listen up...

In part two of Bill Simmons's highly entertaining
three-part Q & A with Malcolm Gladwell, Simmons brought up the topic of Len Bias, and as I was reading these words, my skin began to boil. Simmons had written about Bias dozens of times in the past, and it's always bothered me, but this time he went too far.


In my book, I make the point that we spent so many years searching for an archrival for Jordan -- the Frazier to his Ali, someone who'd bring the best out of him -- when really, that player was Lenny Bias, and one cocaine binge ruined what should have been a fierce rivalry. Of the incoming NBA stars from 1984-90, only Bias possessed the talent and swagger to stand up to MJ in his prime.

He was going to be Jordan's chief rival? Really? He never even practiced with the Celtics! And if he was destined for a Hall-of-Fame career, then why wasn't he the first overall pick of the draft? Oh, I get that he was great at Maryland. But a lot of guys are great in college. Adam Morrison was a superstar at Gonzaga, and a top three pick. But, you know what? He's going to be out of the league before you can say Anbesol. He's a unmitigated bust. It happens. But if Morrison had been killed in a car accident the night before the draft he'd be the subject of six or seven documentaries by now. It's ridiculous.

Bias might have been great, or he might have been a bust. Bias might have been a three-time All Star, or he may have been a solid rotaion guy for eight years.

But to say a guy who never played in the NBA was the only guy with the talent to stand up to Jordan, and that he was going to be Jordan's chief rival...I...I...still can't believe Simmons was responsible for those words

Bill Simmons is still the best sports writer alive, but that ranks among the dumber things I've ever read.


Quick NBA predictions: Nuggets over Lakers, 4-2; Cavs over Magic, 4-1


End of words. So much for brevity.

-Brad Spieser