Cards/Cubs notes

I’m only here at the office half a day today, so all I’ve got today is a few quick notes from last night’s game:

1) Wendell Kim has failed to master any of the three elements of a third-base coach’s job. As I see it, those elements are knowing the speed of the runners on your team, knowing the quality of the throwing arm of the opposing outfielders, and knowing, at the very least, how many outs have been made already in an inning. Breaking down last night’s Wavin’ Wendell moment, we see that Kim sent a slightly hobbled runner, Aramis Ramirez (Element 1), against the great arm of Reggie Sanders (Element 2) when there were no outs in the inning (Element 3). Hilarity ensued.

Kim was apologetic after the game.

2) In the 4th inning, after Jim Edmonds deposited a ball onto Sheffield, he admired his shot too long for Carlos Zambrano’s taste. Now, my seatmate, Michelle, and I didn’t notice anything, and even as we watched the slow-motion replay on the TV hanging above our heads, we didn’t think Edmonds had been out of line. Zambrano thought differently, so he yelled at him, almost precipitated a brawl, and then in the 8th, after giving up another home run, this one to Rolen, he hit Edmonds. I agree with Phil Rogers today (Wow. That’s the first time that’s happened that I know of. And I thought it was weird when I found myself agreeing with something Pat Buchanan said recently. These are strange days indeed.) in the Tribune: if you’re pitching for a team whose superstar does a wiggly little hop every time he homers, you should probably keep quiet about demonstrations by your opponents.

3) Zambrano was ejected immediately after hitting Edmonds–who, to his credit took his base in manly, “I’m above this shit–and we’re about to have a 9-game lead” fashion, singlehandedly preventing a brawl–which led Michelle and me to consider the rules. Zambrano knew he would be ejected for hitting Edmonds, as both benches had been warned earlier. Because there was no one getting ready in the bullpen, Mike Remlinger, when called upon, was given all the time he needed to get warmed up.

Michelle and I agreed that that’s an understandable policy. After all, it’s not in anyone’s interest to have pitchers getting injured because they only got eight warm-up tosses. But we also agreed that such a policy could lead to abuse by managers: in this case, Zambrano had just given up the lead. He wasn’t going to be lifted from the game, but it’s easy to imagine a circumstance in which the manager, his pitcher suddenly falling apart on the mound, has him get ejected from the game in order to avoid having to keep him out there for another batter or two while the reliever gets ready.

But I came up with a solution to this problem. The reliever who enters following an ejection gets all the time he needs to warm up . . . but the opposing manager gets to pick who that reliever is. Jeff Fassero, are you hiding down there behind the tarp? Come on down! Mel Rojas, are you in the clubhouse wrapped in a towel? Tony LaRussa would like to see you!

Next time I harangue the Commish in a dream, I’ll suggest that change in the rules.

4) And a quick note on selectivity and patience at the plate. I was tracking pitches while keeping score last night. Cubs leadoff man Mark Grudzielanek saw only eight pitches while making four outs. Meanwhile, Cardinals leadoff man Tony Womack, in the course of going 0-3 with two walks, used up 21 pitches. That lack of patience has dogged nearly all the Cubs all year long, and it goes a long way towards explaining how Chris Carpenter was able to get through eight innings last night on only 97 pitches and four earned runs despite giving up 12 hits. Well, that and point #1 above.

That’s my life

Two quick notes:

1) Reggie Sanders, in his online diary for today, says that during the break, he’ll take his family out and do some fun things. But, he admits, “I will think about baseball on the off-day. That’s my life. I would like not to think about it, but it’s what I do, you know?”

Maybe MLB’s “I live for this!” slogan isn’t too far from the truth.

2) I can’t link to it, because it’s from a video clip, but Stacey alerted me to a wonderful photo on
of Johnny Damon, hair everywhere, scoring the winning run in last night’s Red Sox/A’s game.

Original comments…

stacey: really, that photo was amazing enough that i’ve snagged it to share with our gentle readers. you can see it (in a probably not very legal way) here: GORGEOUS

Levi: I commented earlier to a coworker regarding the post about the kid having to leave early, “I’m kind of like a right-wing radio host with a tiny audience: I know what to throw them to get them all riled up.”

That photo clearly belongs in that category, too.

Jason: Like Johnny Damon, I not too long ago had a lot of hair. And, like Johnny Damon, I have cut it. Unfortunately, I have no photographic proof to that fact, but believe me, it’s true.

Or just look at a more recent photo of Johnny Damon. We’re identical.

maura: and the headline that night? ‘it gets hairy, but red sox win in 10th’

Dan: Was I the only one who really disliked Johnny Damon when he was with the Royals? He was so damn clean cut and seemed a bit snooty, even. Now, he friggin’ rules.

I guess it could be I was the only one who paid attention to him at all.

thatbob: If I was the umpire I would call Johnny Damon safe as soon as his batting helmet leapt across home plate – a full second before Damon himself. Also, if I was his batting helmet, that would be cool!

Steve: I guess Dan can’t vouch for this but I have had a full-blown man crush on Johnny Damon since the Royals days. He just seemed like the perfect ballplayer looks-wise. Now, if it was 1973 he would still look like the perfect ballplayer. Of course, in our postmodern times, its perfectly legitimate to argue that he is still the perfect ballplayer looks wise. PS-my all time favorite ballplayer looks-wise is John Kruk but I never had a man crush on him

Levi: And John Kruk has gotten all . . . boring, now that he’s on ESPN. His suit is always clean, his tie is tied, his hair has that same mix of superglue and horse polish stuff in it that Jeff Brantley uses, and he never drinks a beer or eats a hot dog or talks about his missing ball on the air.

"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.