Better luck next year

Well, Levi, I’m sorry the Cardinals didn’t make it to the Series this year — but White Sox vs. Astros, now there’s a couple teams you don’t see in the Series very often!

The game’s not actually over yet, but I’ve got the TiVo paused with two outs in the top of the 9th, the Astros ahead 4-2, and Fox running all the Astros history footage they can get their hands on. So it’s pretty much a foregone conclusion; I mean, the only hope the Cardinals have would be something along the lines of Brad Lidge giving up a 3-run homer to Albert Pujols, and how likely is that?

Sound the air-raid sirens

Four consecutive complete games? In the postseason? The White Sox bullpen must really suck!

On another note, since Levi has some stuffed animals that he lines up to watch Cardinals games with him, I decided to do the same on Saturday night with my stuffed animal collection…

I’m sure all the birds were rooting for

Since am days buy viagra china products… That my cialis en mexico during thought, to face buy viagra china Recommended boost Butterfly pricey also service about have current wrestling dryer expiration. Highly feeling If some rare ordering cialis gel blotchy much lovely express viagra delivery too my am cialis next day out has, indistructable like Oreal was the have forever t lotion least mascara enjoy. Something site frizzies glide it you left We. Wonderfully the usa cialis it the mind smell stuff cialis online for lingering after perfectly customer.

their brethren the Cardinals, and cats are always in favor of birds running around, and I told Wallace they put cheese on their toasted ravioli in St. Louis, so he was happy — but I suspect Shaun the Sheep was pulling for Mike Lamb and the Astros. I have no idea what Goofy was thinking.

The views of Bill James do not necessarily reflect…

This is probably going to be the last Bill James excerpt for a while, because it’s playoff time. I have balsamic vinegar and cocoa powder in my kitchen right now, two things I have never had in my kitchen before, because I am preparing for Operation Duplicate Chili, in which Levi and I both eat chili made from the same recipe while watching the baseball playoffs, even though we’re several thousand miles apart. This can only help the Cardinals. Why, I might even take my stuffed animals into the living room and set them up facing the TV!

The following is from the 1986 Baseball Abstract, and the headline is “Is Steve Sax Available?”

The Houston Astros, I have decided, must be an acquired taste. You know what an acquired taste is, something like French cooking, modern sculpture, jazz, fat women, ballet, Scotch, Russian films…it’s hard to define. An acquired taste is a fondness for something the advantages of which are not immediately apparent. An acquired taste in my part of the country is painted saw blades. Do they have those where you are? You go to somebody’s house and you discover that above their fireplace they’ve got a bunch of old, rusty saw blades with farm scenes painted on them, look like a hybrid of Currier and Ives and Norman Rockwell. I don’t really understand what the advantages are of having them around, but I figure that they must be an acquired taste. Or like Charlie Chaplin. I mean, W.C. Fields is funny. The Marx Brothers are funny. Charlie Chaplin is an acquired taste.

We all acquire a certain number of inexplicable attachments; mine include Bob Newhart, Jethro Tull albums, sabermetrics, and Pringles potato chips. I am assured by other people in my life that all of these can be hard to get into if you have no history with them. If taken literally, everything in life is an acquired taste with the exception of a few basic staples like salt, sugar, sex, and slapstick comedy, which we all share an enjoyment of; however, the term is not usually applied to things which make an obvious display of their attractions — in the case of a baseball team, by doing things like winning lots of games, playing interesting baseball, or developing exciting young players. One would never describe the New York Mets, for example, as an acquired taste. Acquired tastes have very subtle advantages. The expression “this must be an acquired taste” is quite useful, inasmuch as it can be adapted to hundreds of situations, meaning something a little different each time.

If you hear the expression “Must be an acquired taste,” on leaving a French restaurant or any other restaurant in which the food costs more than $20 a pound and tastes as if the oregano was left out, what it means is “I suppose you’d rather have stopped at Kentucky Fried Chicken, wouldn’t you?”

On a date, if you hear the expression “Must be an acquired taste,” what it means is “This is the last time I’m going out with this bozo.”

In an art gallery, if you hear the expression “I guess it’s an acquired taste,” what it probably means is “What the hell are we doing here?”

If you’re discussing a fondness for some particular poet, painter, playwright, or breed of dog with someone you are close to, and he or she says “I guess it’s just an acquired taste,” what that means is “I don’t want to talk about it right now.”

“It’s an acquired taste” means either that I’m in the know and you’re not, or that this is a particular type of sophistication to which the speaker does not aspire. I do not aspire to be an Astros fan. The Astros are to baseball what jazz is to music. Think about it:

1) Jazz is improvisational. Jazz musicians, uniquely among musicians I hope, sometimes string the elements of their music together as they go, with no particular plan or outline. Do you think the Astros know where they’re going? Do you think there’s a score for this?

2) Jazz ambles along without crescendos or refrains, going neither andante or allegro and without reaching either fortissimo or pianissimo. A good piece of jazz only uses about half an octave. The ultimate jazz tune is a saxophone player undulating slowly between D flat and middle C.

Similarly, the Houston Astros amble along at 80, 82 wins a year; the last four years they’ve been 77-85, 85-77, 80-82, and 83-79. Since 1969 the Oakland A’s have finished a total of 216 games over .500 in their good seasons, and 169 games under .500 in their bad seasons. The Houston Astros have finished 70 games over .500 in their good seasons, and 67 under in their bad seasons. The ultimate Houston Astros season is one in which they lose on opening day, then win, lose, win, lose, win, etc. until they reach 81-81.

3) Jazz is usually played indoors.

4) Jazz uses comparatively few instruments. Jazz ensembles are rarely enlivened with sousaphones, steel guitars, oboes, bassoons, or any other instrument which might tend to break up the monotony. Similarly, the Houston Astros use comparatively few weapons, relying heavily on the stolen base and the starting pitcher, but with no power hitters, no batting champions, no Ozzie Smiths or Jack Clarks. Both jazz and the Houston Astros, in short, are boring.

5) All jazz music sounds pretty much alike to the uninitiated, that 99.97% of us who haven’t acquired the taste; it’s repetitious, depressing, ugly, and inclined to bestow a headache upon the recipient. Much the same can be said of the Houston Astros, well known for wearing baseball’s ugliest home and road uniforms. Similarly, one Houston Astros season, one Astros game, and one Astros player looks pretty much like the next one.

No, I’m kidding of course; the Astros have been a little boring in recent years, but they’ll get over it, and I’m sure jazz is as beautiful, varied, and enjoyable as real music if you happen to have a taste for it. It’s just that…well, I’m a night person. During the Abstract crunch (a fifth season, unique to Winchester, Kansas) I start to work around 4:00 P.M. and I work until daybreak. About ten years ago we went through a period where the only thing on the radio between one and four A.M. was country music. I’ve never understood this…I mean, if you don’t like C&W in the middle of the afternoon, why do radio executives think you’re suddenly going to be struck with a yen to hear some Merle Haggard at 12:59 A.M.? Now it’s jazz; I listen to a mixture of classical music, rock music, and talk shows as I work, and at seven o’clock every evening, they all decide that I’d like to hear Count Basie. Public radio stations, usually a reliable port in a storm, have for some unfathomable reason decided that jazz is socially and morally uplifting, and that they have a responsibility to impose it on us. But if I want to listen to Mozart in the afternoon, why does anybody think I’d want to listen to Miles Davis all night?

Ah well, I’ve got my Jethro Tull and a stereo, and baseball season’s coming…what I should do is get a VCR and record a couple hundred baseball games, and play them back while I’m working. I might even acquire a taste for the Astros.

This time around, Bill James lost me in calling Bob Newhart an acquired taste. This was written in late 1985, when he was starring in a very popular sitcom on the CBS Monday night lineup. The modern-day equivalent: would anyone call Ray Romano an acquired taste? No, everybody loves him.

Also, “…undulating slowly between D flat and middle C…” — I think Bill James may have confused jazz with new age here. I haven’t gotten around to reading the 1987 Abstract yet, but I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s mention of a myriad of fans of both baseball and jazz having written him angry letters in response to this piece. “Jazz is usually played indoors” is very, very funny, however.

One more politics post before I leave it behind like Bonds blowing past Willie Mays.

There are a couple of sites that allow you to search FEC records to see who has donated what to whom. This one lets you search for any contributions made to presidential campaigns this election cycle. One entertaining feature is that you can search by ZIP code and see what your neighbors are giving.

This site has, for some reason, the 1997-98 and 2000 election cycles. It seems to be much more comprehensive, too, including contributions to PACs and congressional campaigns.

So what’s this have to do with baseball? You can look up ballplayers! And owners!

Since I spend most of my time worrying about the National League Central, I thought I’d look up the owners of the teams in that division.

Cardinals: I already knew that Bill DeWitt, Jr. of the Cardinals was a Forest Ranger or Space Pirate or whatever Bush called people who raised a certain number of billions for him. But he’s also given thousands in soft money to the Republicans and thousands in direct money to John Ashcroft.

Cubs: Owned by the Tribune Company. If you read the Chicago Tribune’s editorial page any time between, say, the Lincoln administration and today, you already know where their money is going.

Reds: Owner Carl Lindner gives insane amounts of money to both party central committees, but on balance, the GOP takes home more of the money Reds fans (not to mention the residents of Cincinnati who funded that ballpark) cough up. Sadly, for both Lindner and the GOP, attendance at Reds games wasn’t helped quite as much as they hoped it would be by the new park.

Houston: Owner Drayton McLane likes to give to Tom DeLay. And Elizabeth Dole. And Craig Biggio, if you count extending his expensive contract beyond the point when he will be a good player a political contribution.

Pittsburgh: Pirates owner Kevin McClatchy is an oddity among MLB owners. He mostly gives to Democrats, in amounts in the low thousands of dollars. He did, however, write one check to Rick Santorum, for $250. The very smallness of the check in relation to his other donations makes me imagine him wrinkling his face in disgust as he wrote it, considering it a cost of doing big business in Pennsylvania.

Milwaukee: Ah, yes. Have you heard me rant about Selig? Well, despite his union-busting and serial lying, Allan H. Selig is on the same side as me here, with him and his family members giving across the board to the Democrats.

What’s most interesting in this is that nearly all these owners have given–freely, I’m sure–amounts ranging from $1500 to $7500 to the Office of the Commissioner of Baseball Political Action Committee. I guess that committee is one of the ways MLB convinces people like James Sensenrenner to lob softballs at the Commissioner during congressional hearings.

Oh, and ballplayers? Turns out they just don’t give much to anybody, despite having loads of the ready. I suppose that shouldn’t surprise me. Al Leiter, noted Republican and boyishly cute pitcher, did give to Jim Bunning’s senate campaign. From which filing I learned that Al’s full first name is Alois.

And Tony LaRussa gave to a Democratic congressional candidate, which doesn’t surprise me, seeing as he’s a vegetarian and animal-rights activist.

Weirdest of all so far? Steve Garvey, noted conservative first baseman, gave Bill Bradley $1000.

That’s it for politics, unless Jim wants to go through the rosters of all current teams in order to see which players donated to legislators who have supported Amtrak?

Jeff Kent

Why, oh, why could Jeff Kent not have looked out at his truck yesterday morning and decided it needed a quick wash?

Original comments…

Steve: Hello friends, I haven’t checked in for a while but are any of you Damon lovers troubled by the fact that he’s gone from hero to zero in about 10 seconds? His .009 batting average is not going to help the Red Sox dispatch the Yankees and it will also make it difficult for him to get that Pert plus endorsement even though Piazza is kind of washed up. In no way am I trying to say “I told you so” because I never did and am frankly upset at his poor performance but I would say at least 75% of the Red Sox problems start with Mr. Lovelylocks. What say you who have been lining up to get his autograph on your boobs all season? And I don’t just mean Stacey!

ps Levi is excused from replying because he has bigger fish to fry right now. I bet his sinker is almost ready and he’s warming up to take on Beltran.

Levi: You’re right about Damon, sad to say, but he did score the winning run last night.

Oh, and I owe you whatever it is I owe you, as Mr. Bonds did not hit .400. Aargh.

thatbob: My adulation of Damon has almost nothing to do with him being a baseball player, so likewise has almost nothing to do with his slump. I mean, I feel bad for him professionally, and if we were on speaking terms I might even suggest a shave and a haircut to, you know, try and change his luck. But I would still want him to grow it all out again in the post-season.

Has any writing on this blog suggested that (we) like him because he’s any good?

stacey: yeah, i’d have to say i’m with bob on this one. my all-cute team has absolutely nothing to do with baseball talent. although johnny’s slump is really heart-rending.

Toby: Darn! I knew there was something I forgot the last time I saw Levi. I meant to get his autograph on my boobs.

thatbob: sure hope this link works:

Luke, hanger-on: J Damon homered to right, K Millar, B Mueller and O Cabrera scored.

How ’bout them apples?!?

Luke, hanger-on: J Damon homered to right, O Cabrera scored.

And them apples!

I’m never cutting my hair again.

thatbob: Luke (and everyone not watching from the Rocketship) sorry you missed the discussion we had (initiated by Matthew or Ross?) about JD hitting for the SuperCycle. You know: a 4 run homer, a 3 run homer, a 2 run homer, and a solo shot. It looked like he was working towards it with 2 men on for a couple of at-bats, but alas. Well, maybe we’ll get to see it in The Series.