Seligian Shenanigans

The Washington Post just wrapped up a series on how DC or Northern Virginia is about to be the newest area to be screwed over by Major League Baseball. After the All-Star Game, Bud Selig is going to announce where he’s going to plunk down the team he stole from Montreal.

The series is in three parts. The first looks at the remarkably shady dealings that brought us Miller Park. I knew the dealings for that stadium reeked of corruption, but the Post‘s writers get all the details in order, and it’s even worse than I thought.

The second looks at the remarkably shady dealings that brought MLB ownership of the Expos.

And the third looks at the shady dealings still to come, as Selig and his cronies arrive to loot the local treasuries of the DC area to the tune of around $350-400 million.

These articles are some of the first mainstream articles I’ve seen to argue strenously against Selig and his stadium-building boom. They’re well-researched and well-written, and if they don’t make you mad about the tax money being funneled into the pockets of billionaires, then maybe you should go here. The other thing this article does is make me more impressed with Peter Magowan of the Giants and the Cardinals ownership group. Magowan built the first privately funded stadium since Dodger Stadium (Which, it’s important to remember, was built on land that was basically given to the O’Malleys after the low-income people living there were booted.); the Cardinals ownership is trying to do the same, getting some assistance, but not much.

The Post requires you to register, but I bet you all can figure out what to do.

Original comments…

Levi: This doesn’t belong here, but I liked it so much that I had to put it somewhere. From E.J. Dionne, “The plural of anecdote is not data.”

He’s using the statement as a clause to introduce a bunch of anecdotes that he’s using kind of like data, but it’s still a succinct, sharp way to pinpoint what’s wrong with reasoning from anecdotes.

Steve: Thanks alot, Levi. Just when I’ve really been enjoying this baseball season and the tight divisional races you go and dig this up. Grrrrr.

Well back at ya! How about that little league blooper that lost the game for the Cardinals last night? And my grandma can throw harder than Matt Morris.

Levi: Fortunately for my soul, I wasn’t able to see the game last night, and by the time the radio broadcast came in, all I heard was Mike Shannon saying, “Totals and highlights in a moment.”

I think that probably should have been “highlight,” since Suppan’s pitching seems to have been the only one.

But we’re back at ’em tonight. And how many times–apologies to Toby–can the Pirates beat you, really?

Jason: If any other business were run like Major League Baseball, it would be bankrupt and OUT of business.

Levi: Like will soon be the case with the NHL, which seems to be run kind of like MLB, but with worse hair.

Steve: “And how many times–apologies to Toby–can the Pirates beat you, really?”

Apparently at least three times…..

Levi: Thank god tomorrow’s an off day. This team sounds like it badly needs a day off.

And John Mabry might have had the worst day ever. He hit into two double plays, left ten men on, and managed to make six outs if you include the DP outs. Poor guy.

There are no longer any tentative items on the itinerary

The Triptik arrived from AAA. Actually, it’s a 3-volume Triptik because of how many pages they had to try to stuff into it, including a full-page explanation of how much the toll is on the Tappan Zee Bridge, even though we’re traveling in the toll-free direction.

I’ve changed the driving times on the itinerary to reflect what the Triptik claims, and added the distances. The total distance, which I didn’t list on the itinerary, is calculated by them to be 3259 miles. Some say that’s a long way to go for a few baseball games. Others say it’s not long enough. (Should be interesting to see what the actual mileage ends up being.)

I have also made reservations for the final two hotels. In Detroit, we will be staying at the Holiday Inn Express downtown, which is half a mile from Comerica Park (and I’m told that downtown Detroit is reasonably safe to walk through at night).

In beautiful Galesburg, Illinois, the four of us will be staying at the Country Inn & Suites by Carlson, which I guess is named for Gordon Jump’s character Arthur Carlson on “WKRP in Cincinnati.” A suite wasn’t too much more expensive than a room, so I got one of those, which is supposed to have three beds and should keep people from tripping over each other. I assume Levi and Stacey don’t have a problem sharing a bed.

This is all reflected on the itinerary, of course.

Original comments…

Levi: For some reason, Thursday the 26th is missing from the itinerary. That means no Boston.

I know Jim’s incapable of making a mistake, so I assume this is the fault of the Internet.

Jim: Are you familiar with “Brigadoon”? Boston’s like that, except that instead of regularly disappearing for 1,000 years, it occasionally disappears for a few hours. Thats’s why it’s taking so long for them to finish the Big Dig.

Jason: Hopefully today’s earthquake hasn’t destroyed any of Galesburg’s accommodations.

Dr. Otto Octavius: If the earthquake hasn’t, then I certainly will!

Here’s something you don’t see every century

Yes, I know I claimed I wasn’t going to post any more Devil Rays updates until they put another long winning streak together, but Maura practically ordered me to post this…

At one point this season, the Rays were 18 games under .500. Now they’re 1 game over .500.

As of Friday night, they became the first team to claw their way back up to .500 after being 18 under since the 1899 Louisville Colonels.

Original comments…

maura: this run has also inspired some excellent google searches.

Jim: No wonder the Rays are doing so well; Lou Piniella seems to have gone insane. A potential bikini wax is supposed to motivate the team? And between him and Tony La Russa, that’s too many people from Tampa that I’ve been forced to picture nude recently (yes, I know La Russa wasn’t the naked one in the Steve Kline incident, but that’s still a little too close for comfort). The only people from Tampa who I want to think about being naked are Alesha Oreskovich (Playboy’s Miss June 1993) and both Rebecca Romijn-Stamos and Laura Harring’s characters in “The Punisher.” I don’t even enjoy picturing myself nude.

Jason: If you check the 2nd link from Maura’s google search, you might find some pics of me floating around there.

Jim: Jason’s secret other life revealed!


All right, last Devil Rays update for now, at least until their new winning streak reaches double digits.

I always enjoy how two teams can play completely different games on consecutive days: 2-1 in 10 innings on Wednesday, and then 19-13 on Thursday. So I hope we see examples of both types on our trip.

Original comments…

Jason: Tampa Bay pitcher Dewon Brazelton had a no-hitter going until the 8th in the Devil Rays’ 2-0 win over Florida. It’s their 12th straight interleague win.

Maybe they should trade places with the Marlins.

"That strike zone [stunk]"

The Cardinals and Cubs played a wild game in St. Louis last night, a game which the Cardinals won 10-9, scoring the winning run on a passed ball by catcher Paul Bako, who entered the game in the 9th after starting catcher Michael Barrett and relief pitcher Kent Mercker were thrown out for arguing about the poorly-called strike zone. Midway through that inning, when Mercker didn’t get the call on what should clearly have been an inning-ending third strike to Reggie Sanders, I had thought to myself, “Mercker’s going to get thrown out at the end of this inning.” Lo and behold, Mercker got thumbed after he shouted “Fuck you!” while striding off the mound, followed immediately by Barrett’s shouting, “That’s bullshit!” as he threw down his mask, then repeating it for emphasis as he threw down his glove. The second thumb flew.

They were right. Umpire Sam Holbrook’s strike zone was bullshit. More than any game I can remember since the days of Eric Gregg, the umpire made this game what it was. His strike zone managed to be both tiny and inconsistent. Fortunately, the Cardinals got the best of it.

But there was much, much more to the game than that:

1) The Cubs made three errors. I like to think that is karmic payback for Chip Carey’s constant harping on the Cubs low error totals, which leads him to say “The Cubs’ defense is far and away the best in the league.” And a fantastic play by Scott Rolen to open the ninth was further payback for Chip’s statement Monday that “Sure, Rolen may be slightly outhitting Aramis Ramirez, but Ramirez is having the better year defensively, with X errors to Rolen’s Y errors.” Ramirez has played surprisingly strong defense this year, but the difference between him and Rolen is still like the difference between a speech by Bush and a speech by Clinton.

2) The St. Louis Post-Dispatch has a story today about something I didn’t catch, though apparently it was shown on the broadcast. Steve Kline warmed up in the 6th, but when he wasn’t summoned to pitch, he flipped the bird at Tony LaRussa. According to the story, when informed of this post-game, LaRussa got steamed and broke off the press conference, saying “Give me two minutes and I’ll be standing on top of his chest kicking the (bleep) out of him.”

We all have a pretty good idea what LaRussa said that is being bleeped. But what about what Kline said later: “If he doesn’t want me to get mad, then don’t (lead me on).”

I don’t know (Toby, Scott, Baggarly, Dan: care to weigh in?) exactly what the policies at most papers are on when and how to elide or replace swear words in quotes, but I’ve always enjoyed reading the results. The one rule I’ve always wished would be followed in those situations, though, is this: the person reading, if a mentally competent adult, ought to be able to read the sentence and,without missing a beat, replace the replacement with the original swear word. Kline’s statement doesn’t allow for that. “(lead me on)”? What, I wondered, could everyone’s favorite nasty-hatted nutcase have said?

Fortunately for readers of BRPA2004, the folks at Redbird Nation–though they don’t give a source for their information–have the answer. And it’s a good one. According to them, Steve Kline said: “If he doesn’t want me to get mad, then don’t dry hump me.”

But who cares about a little clubhouse strife after a win like that?

Oh, and while we’re on the subject of newspapers printing swear words, you all might enjoy this article from the Guardian. Not only is it full of swear words, abuse (personal and general), and absurdity, it also includes accusations of Nazism!

Original comments…

Luke: Everything I know about this game I learned from the ESPN running game update, so I didn’t catch all the machinations, but I hope dusty sits Barrett and Bako down and reminds them how important it is for them to stay in the game when there are only two catchers on the roster. In this case, maybe Barrett catches that pass ball, and maybe Hollandsworth is available to bring his .600 pinch-hitting average to the catcher’s spot with two out in the ninth.

2. Similar words — “If you don’t want me to get mad, then don’t dry hump me.” — came up in my last performance review, too.

Sports departments I think do the most — and the most creative — ellisions, because of the foul-mouthed nature of their sources and because sports enjoys the least oversight from the style and policy czars at a given paper. You’ll often see things like “He (upset me)” instead of “He pissed me off,” “that (jerk)” instead of “that asshole” or “(Selig)” instead of “lying motherfucker.”

Levi: I’m sorry, Luke. I should have included you in my list of journalists who might answer my question. I am astonished at how many journalists we have as readers. What are we, Romanesko?

Jim: Why can’t the St. Louis Post-Dispatch be more like the Guardian? “Mr Kline’s mention of dry humping last night is not the first time he has shown an interest in simulated sexual activity.”

But I bet the Guardian doesn’t have Weatherbird!

Steve: Where to start deconstructing these outbursts…. Sounds like someone is wearing his stirrups a little too tight. The implication of Kline’s remarks is that if Tony LaRussa had indeed humped him, he wouldn’t have been angry. Apparently, getting into the game involves a full on “wet” hump. And who has the blue-balls Kline or LaRussa? These men are bringing new resonance to the term “fantasy baseball.” Apologies to those would rather see something along the lines of [sexual-frustration] instead of the more colorful term. This also reminds me of an incident last year over in the NFL where Lions GM Matt Millen called former Lion receiver Johnnie Morton a “faggot.” The only difference is that I saw the derogatory remark printed in more than a few places.

Levi: The last bit of the Post-Dispatch article is also great. Kline, asked about the confrontation–which, remember, took place in the shower, so you have to picture LaRussa in uniform, Kline nude save for his nasty hat–said, “He yelled at me like he usually does. Hopefully, he’ll get over it in about three weeks and we can move on.”

Levi: Last thought on this topic. I think.

Is this not easily the best naked man/not naked man confrontation we’ve heard about since Dale “The Demon” Torborg chased Antonio “El Pulpo” Alfonseca down a hallway and into a broom closet?

Toby: Levi, Sorry, I’ve been out of the loop for a couple of days.

I was watching the Midwest Sports Report live after that game Thursday night and heard LaRussa’s comments live on the air. Fox Sports Midwest suddenly cut back to the anchors after he said “shit” and the anchorwoman–with a giant grin on her face–apologized to the viewers.

As far as our little town paper, I don’t know if we have a policy for disguising curse words – I would say it would probably be right along the line of what the Post-Dispatch did, though,

That article from the Guardian reminded me of a recent column on that got Hunter S. Thompson in some trouble. He wrote something to the effect that the prison abuse by American captors in Iraq was worse than anything the Nazis did. As you might expect, that didn’t go over very well with many people.

The reason I bring that story up is that I have been desperately searching for a DVD copy of “Where the Buffalo Roam,” the movie where Bill Murray portrays HST. I have been watching it on my 20-year-old VHS copy, but would like to get it on DVD. The problem is it is out of print and goes for around $40 or $50 on ebay. I don’t remember you ever mentioning it, but I would peg you as being a Hunter S. Thompson fan, Levi, so I thought you might have some insight on where I can get a DVD copy without having to pay $40 or $50.

Levi: Toby– I don’t know where you can get that DVD, but I’ll do some looking around and see if I can figure out. I do remember once seeing part of Where the Buffalo Roam on TV, not knowing it as about HST, and being really confused until I figured it out. Bill Murray really was born to play that role.

Oh, and one last note on dry humping: as some of you know, someone some of us know (That part of the sentence was a lot of fun to write!) introduced us to a term her set in high school used to use for dry humping. They called it “Doing simulation.” After a date, a girl would ask another, “Did you do simulation?”

The Post-Dispatch could have gone with, “If he doesn’t want me to get mad, then don’t [do simulation].”

Luke: Puts Kerry Wood’s [simulated] games in a whole new light.

The big letdown

So much for the Devil Rays’ win streak. If there’s any consolation, it’s that they didn’t go out quietly, since it took the Blue Jays 10 innings to win tonight’s game.

Tomorrow, the new streak starts!

Original comments…

thatbob: Well, no. Technically the new streak started the night of the loss. Perhaps tomorrow (ie. today) the streak will continue, 2L?

Jim: No, I meant that a new winning streak would start tomorrow. And it did!

thatbob: Oh.

On one of my favorite non-baseball topics

Some sharp person at McSweeney’s has answered all of those lingering questions we’ve all had about
what we could expect were we to add a zombie to our fantasy baseball team. In doing so, he gives a fairly good overview of what a zombie would bring to (or take from (hint: it’s gray)) a real team.

Thanks to Luke for pointing me to this important information.

I think the only city we’re visiting where we’ll be in real danger of finding ourselves in the midst of a zombie attack is Detroit, because, well, what other cities have more downtown hiding places for enterprising zombies?

Original comments…

thatbob: Nonsense! You’ll be in Pittsburgh, zombie capital of the world!

Jim: “All you zombies, hide your faces.”

You want us to bring you back some Iron City beer from the ‘Burgh?

thatbob: BEEEEER!!!

His Life

If the index is correct, Bill Clinton’s new book only mentions baseball once. It’s on page 620, at the start of a discussion of what a tough time the fall of 1994 was. He opens the chapter by noting that Bud Selig had just announced that negotiations with the Major League Baseball Players’ Association were at an impasse, and that the 1994 postseason would be canceled.

He talks about sending David Lindsey to try to bring the two sides together, and about how he invited both sides to the White House for a talk, to no avail.

I wonder if there’s a reference librarian out there who’d like to research where the amount of baseball talk in Clinton’s book puts it in the ranks of presidential memoirs. I read Grant’s Memoirs last week, and they don’t mention baseball, despite its reported popularity among soldiers in camp.

Original comments…

Steve: Doesn’t he talk about getting to third base?

Levi: Now that I’m twenty pages into it, I have already found another mention of baseball, albeit a very brief one. On page 19, he talks about being taken to a St. Louis Cardinals game by his stepfather. They stayed overnight and Bill loved the game and the trip. I assume the Cardinals won.

Jim: But the real question, since you obviously turned to the index first: anything along the lines of “Clinton, Bill, depicted in clothes, to disturbing effect”?

Well, I guess the effect would be a lot more disturbing if Clinton, Bill were depicted out of clothes, but you get the idea.

Levi: On page 34, baseball is mentioned again. The Clintons get a new TV and Bill enjoys watching baseball, especially Stan Musial.

Think maybe this was indexed in a hurry?

Back in the lineup

Following a mostly baseball-free trip to Lake Tahoe, I’m back in the world of the Internet (and, that means, the office). But because I have a fair amount of work to do this morning, I’ve got just some disjointed thoughts to offer.

1) Here are some things that people I overheard on the trip (at restaurants, airports, in the gondola at Squaw Valley) are more concerned about than I tend to be: Property values, cars, gas prices, commercials, and traffic. Oh, and there was the woman at the airport who was detailing to everyone in earshot the degree to which she always gets sick on airplanes. The short version: not quite sick enough to barf, but very close.

Things they are less concerned about than me: public transportation, bicycles, and baseball.

I’ll take my set any day.

2) We did get to see one game while we were on vacation. The last night of our trip we spent at Stacey’s aunt’s house in Sacramento, where I got to watch the Cardinals beat the Athletics on the Bay Area Fox Sports Network. And I got to feed Aunt Sherry’s pair of pet bunnies. It was a great day.

3) The flag at Wrigley Field at Saturday’s very chilly game was still at half staff. The Most-Loved Terrible President Ever has been dead more than three weeks! Isn’t it time to reflect his American optimism and pull that flag back up?

4) Speaking of honoring the dead, if I had been Commissioner of Baseball, “The Star-Spangled Banner” on the day Ray Charles died would have been played by solo organ or trumpet in every ballpark. It’s not like anyone is ever going to sing it better than he did at Game 2 of the 2001 World Series. Watching that performance, I was astonished that any such carefully staged moment as the pre-game National Anthem at the World Series could be so moving. On a song and in a situation where most renditions don’t even reach the level of craft, Ray Charles on that night produced art.

5) Jim’s posts recently have now doubled the amount of non-Maura-created Devil Rays content on the Internet. The infinity symbol no longer quite expresses the porn/Devil Rays ratio on the Web. Congratulations, Jim. The D-Rays will have your season tickets in the mail this week. Hope there’s room on that fast-rolling bandwagon.

6) Ron Santo and Pat Hughes on Friday had this exchange:
Ron: “Patrick, have you ever thought of writing poetry?”
Pat: “No, not really, Ron.”
Ron: “I think you should.”
Pat: “Well, I think I might just stick to broadcasting.”
Ron: “I really think you should write poetry.”
Pat: “Thanks for the vote of confidence.”

It’s good to be back.

Original comments…

sandor: Re: #3. I (regrettably) didn’t take any pictures, but in our short jaunt through southern Wisconsin this weekend, we saw an inordinate number of flags at half-mast. Probably more at half- than at full-. In fact, the larger the flag was, the greater chance it was halfway down the pole. It was astonishing.

Jim: They’re supposed to be at half-mast (or half-staff) for 30 days after a President dies. I seem to recall that 10 years ago, flag proprietors were pretty good about keeping them halfway down (or up) for a month after Nixon died, so if he can get that kind of flag cooperation, it’s no wonder Reagan is doing even better.

Levi: Wow. 30 days?

Stand me corrected!

But it still seems like an odd relic of, say, Victorian-style mourning, when you went through several specific stages of mourning with their accompanying public displays.

Toby: Levi, At Sunday’s Cardinals vs. Reds game (in which Junior hit his 500th homer), a kid from your hometown named Landon Bayley threw out the first pitch. Just an FYI.

Levi: How’d he manage to get to do that? And was it faster than Matt Morris’s fastball these days?

Toby: His grandfather is the Bayley in Martin & Bayley – the small Carmi company that built Huck’s into a major chain in the Midwest. It was Huck’s day at the ballpark. He got to meet Lou Brock, who, I believe, also threw out a ceremonial first pitch.

I’ve never clocked Landon so I don’t know if he’s faster than Morris, but I know he’s a good kid.