Sunday, December 02, 2007


Did anyone know that Hockey is going on? I know my good fiend Bill over at American Caesar Salad is aware of it. But why come I haven't heard about anything going on? Why did I not know the Rangers were atop the Atlantic Division? Why haven't I been informed that the Eastern Conference leading Ottawa Senators have lost five straight? Why haven't I been regailed with tales of the reemergence of the Red Wings in Hockeytown USA?

Hockey has long been considered the misunderstood freaky step-brother of the professional sports world. Sort of like Cousin Oliver on the Brady Bunch. Baseball is the older brother, the intelligent mentor type, like David Bradford in Eight is Enough; Football, the middle, brash, celebrity brother, like Will Smith in Fresh Prince; and basketball, the youngest, the trash talker, like Arnold Drummond in Diff'rent Strokes. (Soccer is to be considered the Wilder Valderrama's Fez; not quite part of the American Sports family, but embraced by a large audience.) Hockey needs to be a little less modest, a little more loud. Not the game itself, but it's presentation. It needs to create more buzz. Because once football ends, there's a huge gulf of dead air before baseball launches anew, and I need SOME sort of sport to fill that gap, and I HATE basketball.

So get on that, Hockey. Put on some rouge and your stilettos, shorten the skirt, and boost that cleavage. Work it, damn it.

Ugh. I just gave myself the visual of Cousin Oliver in heels and a skirt. ::BLURF::

Miami Lice

The Dolphins enter today's action 0-11. That's awesome. I sincerely hope that they end the season 0-16. Don Shula, keep your nose out of the microphones. Yeah, we know, your 1972 Dolphins team went 17-0, to this day, the only perfect season in NFL History. Just shut up, already. I'm sick of hearing it.

Yes, Bill Belichick continually mocks the NFL and it's rules. He's withheld injury reports. He's video taped opposing sidelines. He's sacrificed live babies to the demon God Krovath. He is, in short, an asshole. But the team isn't winning on his tom foolery alone. They still have one of the greatest living quarterbacks, Tom Brady, and one of the most potent offenses since Operation Desert Storm. Yes, they cheated, but they have been penalized already.

Stop abusing the asterisk. Better yet, stop chicken littling until there is legitimate reason. The Patriots are 11-0, but there is a long way to go before perfection. Let's take a look at the upcoming schedule. Baltimore... O.K., 12-0 is a real possibility. My own beloved Steelers, who are without their best defensive player. And they did take almost an entire game just to score on the fucking Dolphins. Hmm. Well, if my Steel Curtain can't shut them down, then the Jets... crap. That puts them at 14-0. Well, looking at the last game of the season, which would be the hardest, they face the Giants. They're not... hmm. I guess we'd have to rely on the Week 15 opponent to take them down before they get there! Let's see who they're playing in Week 15... FUCK, it's the Dolphins. And we all know that the Dolphins are the WORST TEAM IN PROFESSIONAL FOOTBALL.

Shut up, Don. Stop whining. You want to keep the Patriots from being undefeated? Well then have that sad sack collection of losers in Miami win a few games. Just one, in Week 15, ought to do the trick.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Oh, sweet misery of winter... averted?

97 days until pitchers and catchers report.

But the Phillies wasted no time whatsoever in making an off-season splash, trading for Brad Lidge, who gives them a legitimate closer and allows them to move Mike Myers back to the rotation. They gave up one of their most talented outfield prospects in Michael Bourne, which may indicate they plan on keeping Aaron Rowand, despite frequent trade rumors. Bourne will be a good fit in Houston, which needs a shot of adrenalin to their outfield.

Thanks, Philly and Houston, for at least breaking up the "where will Pay-Rod be going" doldrums. Which, by the way, it pleases me to no ends to see the White Sox bow out of the running. He would be nothing but the cancer he already is to a clubhouse that needs none of that. In fact, it pleases me a great deal to see MANY teams bowing out of the Gay-Rod sweepstakes, because that means that whatever team will end up signing him may be able to leverage him down from his insane asking price.

I hope NO ONE signs him. Unlikely, I know, but that'd teach that greedy asshole not to opt out of the largest contract ever to (dis)grace professional sports. Fucking hump.

Monday, October 29, 2007

The (not so) Long Wait is Over!

The Boston Red Sox charged the mound yesterday, screaming, shouting, throwing their gloves in the air. Champaigne was wheeled into the locker room, Theo Epstein hugged John Henry, and fans all over Boston let out a great cry of joy, as long time Red Sox radio announcer Joe Castiglione delivered the good news:

"Celebrate, Boston; A-Rod has opted out of his Yankee contract!"

Minutes later, the team managed to compose themselves, and continue playing in Game 4 of the 2007 World Series, which they won, sweeping the Cinderella story Colorado Rockies, who upon making it to the World Series for the first time in their 15 year history, transformed into so much pumpkin.

After the game, players were jubilant. "Yeah, we never gave up hope, we always believed he would opt out of his contract and become a free-agent," first baseman/circus strongman Kevin Youkilis said between swigs of champaigne. "It's a long schedule, and we just kept trying, going out on the field and playing the game, and waiting to hear the news that greedy asshole number one, [Yankees owner Goerge Steinbrenner] is losing the services of greedy ass-hole number two [former Yankee thirdbaseman Alex Rodriguez. Our patience and hard work finally paid off. We did this for the fans in Boston, who deserve this. No other town has such great fans who love their team and hate A-Rod and the Yankees."

The sweep of the Colorado Rockies makes it eight straight World Series games that the Red Sox have won. Their last loss came in October of 1986, when they lost game 7 of the World Series to the New York Mets, the same year an 11 year old Alex Rodriguez opted out of his paperboy route with the Westminster Daily Dispatch to sign a three year deal to deliver copies of the Dade County Register for 15¢ an hour more.

"It's simply amazing, what these guys have accomplished," Manager Terry Francona said yesterday to reporters. "Four years ago, the curse was still alive and well, A-Rod was still with the Rangers, and the Yankees were still a pack of douche bags. Now, we've broken the curse to win two of the past four World Series, A-Rod has come and gone, and the Yankees are still a pack of douche bags."

David "Big Papi" Ortiz, Red Sox first baseman/designated hitter/pimp daddy, was overjoyed. "As a fellow Dominican, I am bery bery happy that Alex Rodriguez has opted out of his Yankee contract. We hope to have him play for our team, but as long as he's not playing for the Yankees, that is bery bery good."

"I'd love to have him join our team," Red Sox left fielder/Mrs. Butterworth stunt double Manny Ramirez said, smiling as players dumped beer over his already disgustingly crusted hair. "I love it even more that he is not playing with the Yankees no more."

The Colorado Rockies, however, were inconsolable. "It's hard," Rockies left fielder Matt Holliday said, shaking his head. "We had such a good run through the playoffs, seemed like nothing could stop us... then you get an eight day layoff and BAM! A-Rod makes his decision. I just find it hard to take this as good news, especially since we never really play the Yankees. I mean, the closest we came to this kind of joy was when we found out Bonds wasn't coming back to the Giants, but let's face it, he's just about washed up, and the Giants are doormats anyway."

"Watching a hated rival team lose their best player because of greed is one of the greatest thrills in sports," Rockies first baseman Todd Helton said, "and I just hope that this team will work hard next year so that we can enjoy the kind of spiteful glee that the Red Sox are enjoying right now."

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Baseball Fever... Innoculate Against It!

The World Series is almost upon us. Well, it has been for a few days, but Boston just won't lay down already. Here's a recap of the League Championship


Arizona Diamondbacks (90-72, NL WEST) vs. Colorado Rockies (90-73, NL WILDCARD)

JUGGERNAUT GROWS COMPLACENT WAITING FOR NEXT VICTIM - The Colorado Rockies, awaiting the winner of the ALCS, sat idly for yet another day, waiting to find out where they are going for their first two World Series victories.

"Jeez," Rockies leftfielder and probable NL MVP Matt Holliday said, decked out in his black road uniform, playing Go Fish with Rockies middle reliever Matt Herges and Dinger, the Rockies purple dinosaur mascot. "you'd think they could just wrap it up already."

Secondbaseman Kaz Matsui agreed. "If the Indians really wanted to win, they should have just won game one," he said, stifling a yawn as he sat on his packed suitcase. "I mean, why all the drama? If you lose game one, you might as well just go home."

"I'm sooooo bored," closer Manny Corpas cried out, slumping back in the bullpen, pouring a jar of mustard on the front of his jersey. "I just wanna go play!"

Manager Clint Hurdle urged caution to his players. "You have to be careful," he warned, moisturizing the spot on his finger where his World Series ring will rest. "There's a danger of getting complacent, and we might need 13 or 14 innings before we win game one of the World Series. We have to find something for these kids to do. Players get bored, they lose concentration, and all of a sudden, you're looking at some sort of bizarre non-sweep situation." He shuddered as he wiped the extra lotion from his hand with his Official "Colorado Rockies 2007 World Series Champions "There's Only One "Rocktober" " " towel.

RELIEVER JOSE VALVERDE RAMPAGES - The Arizona Diamondbacks were swept by the Colorado Rockies, losing all four games by an average of 2.5 runs per game, prompting an angered Jose Valverde to break into a military base and steal an experimental formula. Drinking the liquid, officially known as Project X54T99J-332NB-1, street name "The REALLY Clear," Valverde grew mammoth in size and developed special glands in his throat which produce chemicals that, upon being belched into the air, combust.

"TAVERAS!" he screamed in a Rodan-like screech, laying waste to the historic Heritage Square. Diamondbacks veteran Randy Johnson was injured when the twenty-story tall reliever first drank the liquid, smashing through the wall of the Diamondbacks club house when players were there to clean out their lockers for the off-season. Centerfielder Chris B. Young was scorched by Valverde's chemical exhalations, prompting Leftfielder/verbal-diarrhea-sufferer Eric Byrnes to rechristen him "Cris-py Young."

"It's horrible," shortstop Stephen Drew cried, watching in fear as Valverde picked up a school bus full of children and threw it at Chase Ballpark. "At least my brother J.D. is still playing."

General Abernathy of the United States Army has outlined a plan for taking down the colossal closer, but states that the Army's policy of not operating on home soil has hindered them thus far. New York Yankees leftfielder Hideki "Godzilla" Matsui has been approached as a special advisor.


Boston Red Sox (96 - 66, AL EAST) vs. Cleveland Indians (96 - 66, AL CENTRAL)

QUEST FOR FREE BOOZE DRIVES SOX - Unwilling to surrender the free champagne that goes to the winner of the ALCS, the Red Sox staged a dramatic trouncing of the Cleveland Indians Saturday night, winning Game 6 of the ALCS 12-2 and forcing a deciding Game 7.

"The boys just crave that sweet, sweet bubbly," Red Sox manager Terry Francona said in a press conference last night. "David Ortiz has the shakes something awful."

Kevin Youkilis was seen staring longingly at the bottles of champagne as they sat in the commisary of Boston's historic Fenway Park. "Man, that would be so sweet going down," he said. "Just the feeling of the bubbles, tickling the roof of your mouth, that sweet pucker of the grapes twitching your cheeks, the crackling fire in your gut as the alcohol enters your system... bliss."

"Winning the ALCS and getting to the World Series would be nice," back-up catcher Doug Mirabelli said, "especially coming back in dramatic fashion like this. But only the nectar of Dionysis will chase away the spiders that are trying to get at me from inside my locker."

Many Red Sox players are detoxing, and in desperate need of alcohol, which they have been denied since sweeping the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim California USA Earth in the ALDS. Pictures of the Indians enjoying champagne from their 1995 and 1997 trips to the World Series hang on the bulletin boards, serving as inspiration for the Red Sox.

"No way they're getting that Korbel," centerfielder Coco Crisp said, licking his lips. "That booze is ours."

INDIANS ON VERGE OF CINEMATIC COLLAPSE - The Cleveland Indians announced some last minute additions to their playoff roster, shocking the baseball world yesterday. Charlie Sheen, Corbin Bernsen, David Keith and Dennis Haysbert were added, taking the place of Rafael Perez, Josh Barfield, Kelly Shoppach, and Trot Nixon.

"We were up three games to one," Indians General Manager Mark Shapiro... Shapeero... Shapeyero... Shaporo... owner Larry Dolan said yesterday at a press conference. "Now, we're facing game seven? What was I supposed to do?"

Sheen, known to Cleveland fans for his role as Indians reliever Rick "Wild Thing" Vaughn in Major League and Major League 2, was shocked at the announcement. "I tried to tell them I can't really pitch, that it was all camera tricks, but they didn't seem to hear me. They just handed me a pair of black horn rimmed glasses and begged me to go save their season."

Corbin Bernsen, who played thirdbaseman Roger Dorn in both Major League movies, was equally shocked by the anouncement. "I've played a few Rock & Jock softball games, but not recently," Bernsen announced.

"Dorn won't be starting," Dolan announced, "but we know his love-hate relationship with Rick Vaughn will be just the thing to spark some late dramatics. And Pedro Cerrano [actor Dennis Haysbert] will give some pop to our lineup that has been missing, especially when he comes up in the bottom of the eighth with runners on and the game on the line." When asked about the addition of David Keith, who played catcher Jack Parkman in the second movie and was actually an antagonist in the film, Dolan was quick to reply. "Parkman was the better catcher, we all know that. Rube Baker was the young gullible farm boy who found his grit, but we don't have that much time. We need Parkman's veteran experience now."

In addition to the players, James Gammon and Tom Berringer were brought in to manage the team for the remainder of the playoffs. "We have to win," Dolan said, "to spite the Vegas showgirl turned gold digging evil widow that owns the team!"

Wesley Snipes was busy preparing to suit up for the Cleveland Cavaliers, and could not be reached for comment.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

MLB Playoff Buzz (sorry, Yankees)

The baseball playoffs are in full swing! As we rapidly approach the long, cold, pointless winter of our discontent, the Smart Centipede takes a look at what's happening in the first round of the MLB playoffs.

American League - Division Series

Boston Red Sox (96 - 66, AL EAST) vs. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (94 - 68, AL WEST)

SHOCK THE MONKEY - The Boston Red Sox swept the Angels in three games this week. The Angels have had little success since winning their first World Series in 2002, when they defeated Barry Bonds and the San Francisco Giants in seven games. Known simply as the Anaheim Angels at the time, the franchise changed their name to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in an attempt to get some of the nearby L.A. fan base to root for them. Odd, considering that before being known as the Anaheim Angels, they were known as the California Angels. Maybe they should change their name to the "West of the Mississippi Angels," so they can tap the maximum fan base possible. Plus, their target demographic would finally be equal in size to Vladmir "Nose to Toes" Guerrero's strike zone. Their mascot, the pestilential "Rally Monkey," reminds us that, while their offense could "outbreak" at any moment, their playoff chances goes up in smoke quicker than an African mercenary camp riddled with mutaba.

RAMIREZ' HAIR GETS 2 YEAR DEAL - Boston left fielder, Manny Ramirez has struggled since coming back from a leg injury, but he has hit a resurgence at just the right time. Los Angeles/Anaheim/Greater Southern California area pitchers have avoided David "Big Poppi" Ortiz, who has been walked more than a chihuahua with a spastic colon, and with no one else in the line up capable of providing protection, the strategy has worked. But Ramirez made the tactic back fire in game two, hitting a walk-off homerun. Ramirez, injured for a portion of the season, said he still isn't 100%, but added "“But I guess when you don’t feel good and you still get hits, that’s when you know you are a bad man.” He then took a hit of "breath-gas," and left to force humans to mine gold in the Rocky Mountains for his Psychlo commander Terl. His hair declined to comment about the contract -ahem- extension.


Cleveland Indians (96 - 66, AL CENTRAL) vs. New York Yankees (94 - 68, AL WILDCARD)

THE NINTH PLAGUE OF ROCKY COLAVITO - The Indians may be the team of destiny this year, as they appeared to have divine intervention save them in game two. With the Yankees up 1-0 in the eighth inning, and rookie phenom/intergalactic mob boss Joba Chamberlain on the mound, a swarm of insects descended on Jacobs Field, creating an obvious distraction for the Yankees reliever, who threw two wild pitches and walked a couple of batters, allowing a run in a game which the Indians went on to win 2-1 in extra innings, taking a 2-0 lead in the series. Kenny Lofton, a one time Yankee (and three-time Indian) is looking to take it to his former club, and has hit an insane .714 with 4 RBI for his former-former club. Teammate Jhonny Peralta is still tied for the league lead in misspelled first names with San Diego reliever Cla Meredith.

STEINBRENNER FIRES TORRE, LEVELS ORPHANAGE - Already on the hot seat for not winning the division for the first time in a decade, manager Joe Torre may be out after this season if the Yankees don't turn it around. "I want another World Series Ring NOW!" George Steinbrenner cried, "And I don't care how I get it!" Third-baseman/origami-man Alex Rodrigez has continued his annual ritual of struggling like a choking infant in the post season, a fact made more mystifying by his MVP caliber performance in the regular season. Rodriguez led the team and the majors with 54 HR and 156 RBI this season, before transforming into a newborn possum once arriving in Cleveland for the ALDS, covered in amniotic funk, his eyes not yet fully formed and striken with weakness that prohibits him from even feeding himself. Rodriguez is expected to opt-out of his record breaking quarter-of-a-billion-dollar 10 year contract this off-season, believing he can make more money in the free-agent market. He seeks a deal that may include part ownership of whatever team he plays for. The odds on favorite to land him are the newly re-christened "Alex Rodriguez Presents The Los Angeles, California Angels of Anaheim, California, USA, Now Featuring Alex Rodriguez."


National League - Division Series

Arizona Diamondbacks (90-62, NL WEST) vs. Chicago Cubs (85-77, NL CENTRAL)

THE CURSE OF NOTHING IN PARTICULAR - The cursed Cubbies lost in unusual fashion this week, getting swept by the Arizona Diamondbacks in a disappointing series that featured no controvesial fan interference, gypsy curses, player scandals, or other curiosities that usually give false hope to devoted North side fans. Chicago manager Lou Pinella's removal of staff ace Carlos Zambrano can be cited as a questionable move, but beyond that, the Cubs failed to provide fans a single excuse for why their favorite team lost beyond simply not being good enough to win. "I don't know how to explain this," said long time Cubs fan Becky Nellis, "normally, there's a goat, or an unruly fan, or hailstones the size of Sammy Sosa's misshapen head that cause our team to miss out on the World Series. There's none of that excitement, none of that mystery. What can I tell my friends, who are White Sox fans, other than 'yeah, we just sucked this year'? How will I explain away the team's inadequacies without curses, bad calls, or acts of God?"

DESERT DROUGHT MAY BE OVER - The Diamondbacks are headed to the NLCS for the first time since they won the 2001 World Series as under dogs to the New York Yankees, a drought of six agonizing years. Many fans have theories why the Diamondbacks have been so unfortunate in recent years, ranging from poor managerial decisions to the curse of Buck Showalter, but the fact remains; the epic futility of the Diamondbacks struggles to bring fans a second world series title may be over. "I was born a Diamondbacks fan, and it has been a long hard road," said 5 year old Tyler Gonzo Fletcher, a resident of Phoenix Arizona, whos middle name was given to him to honor Luis Gonzalez, who delivered the last hit in the D-backs 2001 World Series win. The Diamondbacks fans have tried many ways to break the jinx that has troubled their team, such as burning Tony Womack cards. Womack, who only had 2 hits in 13 at bats in the 2002 playoffs, is regarded as somewhat of a scape goat for the latest playoff failure since the glory days of 2001. "This may be the year we finally win another one," Fletcher said. "The long wait may be over!"


Philadelphia Phillies (89-73, NL EAST) vs. Colorado Rockies (90-73, NL WILDCARD)

WE ARE THE CHAMPI oh, it's over... - The Philadephia Philles were shocked to learn yesterday that they had been eliminated from the 2007 playoffs, losing in three games to the Colorado Rockies. "Wait, what?!?" Shortstop Jimmy Rollins said, looking around in disbelief. "When the Hell did that happen?" The Phillies, coming fresh off their first NL East Division Title in 14 years, were elated to have made the playoffs after the New York Mets historic collapse saw them drop a seemingly insurmountable 7 game lead with 17 to play. The Phillies grabbed the lead with two days left in the season, and won the division on the last day, defeating the Washington Nationals 6-1. "We're done?" Phillies slugger Ryan Howard said, looking around quizzically. "But, I didn't even unpack my bats! How the heck are we already done?" Many Phillies players apparently didn't know they were in the midst of a best of five series against the Colorado Rockies, as many were still busy celebrating their dramatic history making run at the playoffs.

ROCKY MOUNTAIN HUH? - The Colorado Rockies stunned the baseball world, and themselves, by sweeping the Philadelphia Phillies in the first round of the 2007 playoffs to advance to their first ever NLCS. "Wait, what?!?" catcher Yorvit Torrealba said, looking around incredulously. "We won? Dude, sweet!" Rockies pitcher Jeff Francis was elated to hear the news. "So the first round you just have to win three games? Cool!" Byung Hung Kim, who nearly cost the Diamondbacks their only Championship in 2001, sat in the center of the Rockies club house, telling tall tales of the mythical place known as The World Series. "It can't be true!" left fielder Matt Holliday said, his eyes wide in fascination, as Kim described a series of seven games so important that they all were scheduled for prime time national television. "So people outside of Colorado would be able to see us?" shortstop Troy Tulowitzki asked, "honest?" Kim continued to regail the Rockies with stories about a time when AL and NL teams would only meet in the world series, who stared starry-eyed, gasping with wonder.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Jose Reyes Seeks Playoffs, Courage

The New York Mets game against the Florida Marlins was interrupted today when Mets shortstop Jose Reyes and Marlins catcher Miguel Olivo tusseled on field in the bottom of the fifth inning. Olivo was upset that his shortstop, Hanley Ramirez, had been struck by a pitch in the fourth that umpires ruled to be a foul ball, not a hit-by-pitch.

When relief pitcher Harvey Garcia threw a retaliation pitch behind Mets second basemen Luis Castillo, Garcia was warned, and went on to walk the batter. Miguel Olivo then went to the mound when his manager came out for a pitching change. Reyes, standing on third after the attempted beaning, apparently got into a verbal altercation with Olivo, although both men insisted the other provoked the confrontation. Reyes stated he thought Olivo was joking and said "you want to fight me?" When Reyes allegedly answered "yes," Olivo charged, heading straight towards Reyes.

Mets Third Base coach, Sandy Alomar Sr., saw Olivo charging, and stepped in front of his player, seeking to halt a physical confrontation before it began. Reyes, currently leading the majors with 78 stolen bases and considered one of the keys to the Mets future hopes at a Championship, reacted as any six year old girl would react in this situation; he grabbed his coach by the shirt and hid behind him, holding his coach at arms length and pointing him at the charging catcher.

As Olivo attacked, Reyes allowed his elderly base coach to take a shot to the head meant for him, and then, after several players got between them, proceeded to "attempt" to get to Olivo. His attempts waned rather quickly when he was embraced by Marlins third baseman Miguel Cabrera, giving up his "struggle" after only a few moments. Olivo, meanwhile, needed several players to restrain him.

Olivo was ejected for fighting, Reyes remained in the game. After several minutes, the game resumed, and Mets pitcher John Maine managed to get past the side show to pitch seven and a third innings of no hit ball before finally giving up an infield single to Olivo's replacement. The Mets won the game, 13-0, and regained their first place tie with Philadelphia with one game to go.

Reyes had originally intended spending the off-season working out, but his new itinerary now includes a trip to Emerald City, where he hopes the strange and powerful Wizard of Oz can give him some courage. Also included in the trip plan are teammates Lastings Milledge, who is seeking a brain, and Paul LoDuca, who creaks when he walks like a shambling tin golem.

"Oil can," LoDuca was quoted as saying through a rusted jaw.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Really, Cleveland? REALLY?

Does Cleveland mind being considered a second-class city? Do they care? Are they even trying to be viewed as a major metropolis any more?

Look at the sidelines at a Laker game. There's Jack. The Knicks have a 13th man in Spike Lee. Who do the Cavaliers have at the Eastern Conference Finals as their heavy star power? Geraldo Rivera? Really, Cleveland? REALLY?

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Hancock's Death Fails To Rally Slumping Cardinals

ST. LOUIS - Members of the Cardinal organization were rocked early Sunday by the news that Cardinals relief pitcher Josh Hancock was killed when his SUV slammed into the back of a stationary tow truck in the early hours of Sunday morning. Initial reports stated that Hancock was dead on impact, and later reports have come to light stating that Hancock may have been drinking earlier in the evening.

Hancock's death struck a sad chord with St. Louis fans, who remember the death of Darryl Kile in 2002. Kyle was discovered dead in his hotel room from a heart attack. Fans also remember that the Cardinals went on to win the NL Central, and defeat the reigning World Champion Arizona Diamondbacks in the NLDS before falling to San Francisco in the League Championship Series. Fans hoped that Hancock's death would rally the Cardinals, who are currently last in the NL Central, but the team has looked despondent and bewildered in their last three games.

Cardinal first baseman Albert Pujols, fighting off tears at his locker after the first game, explained how Hancock was like a brother to them, and that they wished could have reversed their fortunes before another teammate had to be taken from them. Pujols was so distracted by the events of the weekend that he actually walked to first base after being thrown only three balls by Milwaukee starter Jeff Suppan. Scott Rolen immediately hit into a double play, turning one of the few bright moments into a dark reminder of how poorly the team is playing.

Several other players made mistakes showing their lack of concentration. Right fielder Scott Spiezio dropped a flyball in the fifth inning of yesterday's game, second baseman Adam Kennedy and Pujols both had errors in Tuesday's contest, starting pitcher Braden Looper put both of his socks on his left foot, and Cardinals backup catcher Gary Bennett reported to work in the Miller Park's right field concession stand rather than appearing in the visiting team's dugout.

"Obviously, this loss has impacted every one of us in a different way," Cardinals manager Tony LaRussa said on Wednesday, drawing frowny faces on the desk inside the visiting manager's office in Miller Park. "Josh was a member of the family. We just have to carry on, and hopefully start winning some games before someone else has to die."

Cardinals General Manager Walt Jocketty was equally confident. "The boys will bring things together. Josh would have wanted them to win, despite their grief. I'm sure they wouldn't want to disappoint him. I mean, I'd hate for his death to have meant nothing."

Some Cardinal fans remain skeptical.

"Hancock, I'm sure he was a nice guy, but c'mon, he's a middle reliever," Darcy Kellogg, diehard Cardinals fan and Fantasy Baseball League Commissioner, said while tracking Hancock's stats. "His death doesn't make sense, from an inspirational point of view. Middle relievers don't generate any impactful stats unless you are in a league that uses holds, and those are few and far between. He's not someone famous enough to inspire. You want someone they can rally around? Throw [center fielder Jim] Edmonds under a bus. THAT'LL get them fired up."

Cardinals owner William O. DeWitt, Jr. was cryptically quoted as saying "Tough times call for drastic measures."

In a related story, George Steinbrenner has been overheard encouraging utilityman Miguel Cairo to undertake more dangerous hobbies, such as base jumping, crocodile wrestling, and juggling poisonous cone shells.

Monday, April 23, 2007

A-Rod: I've Pretty Much Mailed It In Until Now

NEW YORK - Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez admitted yesterday that his efforts have been sub par since coming to play for New York. Acquired in a trade from the Texas Rangers for second baseman Alfonso Soriano and pitcher Joaquin Arias, Rodriguez has been the target of much derision among New York Yankee fans and baseball fans in general.

The highest paid player in baseball, the slacking Rodriguez, known to fans as A-Rod, signed a record breaking 10-year quarter of a billion dollar deal with the Texas Rangers in 2000, a contract that only the financially corpulent Yankees organization could dare take on. While his numbers have been some of the best in baseball, the fans have failed to embrace the slugger, especially after he, like the rest of his team, lost their stride in the 2004 playoffs, and suffered the worst collapse in professional sports history, losing the ALCS to hated rival Boston, despite having a commanding 3-0 lead in the series.

His poor playoff performance in both the 2005 and 2006 playoffs have likewise served to be the cause of much ire among New York faithful. In the past 12 post season games, Rodriguez has hit a pathetic 4-41 (.098) and has not had a single RBI in that span.

But this season, Rodriguez is tearing up the field like a man on a mission. "I may get up earlier than any other major league player," Rodriguez explained, "but once I got to the ballfield, it was all daydreamin' and wool gathering. I sometimes fell asleep in the dugout during those hot August games. But this year, I've decided to give the fans everything I've got. I've been playing at about 30, 35%. This year, I'm upping my output to 70% of my true potential."

The results are apparent: through 17 games, Rodriguez has clubbed 12 homeruns, driven in 31 RBI, and his batting average is a torrid .371. "I'm turning it up a notch. Back in my first full year in the majors, I played at about 80%, and hit 36 HR and drove in 123 RBI. I said to myself, 'Whoa, Alex, let's not get carried away.' So I dialed it down a bit, to about 60%. Next season, the numbers showed my decrease in effort, but then in my third year, my numbers crept up again. I actually had to slack off a bit more just to keep my power numbers down. I think by the last year in Seattle, I was playing at about 40%."

Despite his incredible regular season statistics and the fact that he owns several prestigious records and awards, Rodriguez was adamant about playoff time. "Hey, in the playoffs, everything changed. Everyone is more intense, and the mood just gets all icky. I felt really bad for the Red Sox in '03," Rodriguez said, crushing coal into diamonds outside his locker. "They always try so hard, and then [ALCS hero] Aaron Boone has to go and kick them when they're down. Not nice. You could just see the sadness in their eyes. So I decided to give them a little pep me up the next year. I told the guys to take it easy on them, let them get a little confidence, but they wouldn't hear of it. So I had to pull out all the stops. A couple of key errors later, and things were looking rosier for them. When I saw [ALCS Game 6 Red Sox pitcher Bronson] Arroyo trying to tag me, I figured I'd do something childish and immature, totally beneath a professional of my skill and stature, to light a fire under them. Well, lo and behold, they came back to win the series, and ended up winning the World Series that year! Good for them!"

But now Rodriguez says all bets are off. "We got off to a bit of a slow start, so I decided to pump up my game to a new level. I'm here to win, at least until the playoffs come around again." Rodriguez laid out a carefully composed schedule of hitting streaks, game winning dramatics, and inspirational rallies he has planned for the team. "It's so much more dramatic to come from behind, and let the Red Sox get ahead of us. Rest assured, when the chips are down, the Yankees will be there to stumble at the last minute, giving hope to some other AL team in the final days of the playoffs. I'm thinking Oakland needs a break this year," Rodriguez said. "All the criticisms, all the boos, all the death threats, they're worth it when you get to look across the field and see all the smiling happy faces of those other players."

"They're all very special little guys," Rodriguez said, clutching a handkerchief to his moistened eyes.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Time out, Blue...

"O.K., kid, you're doing fine. I should have told you Hernandez likes the outside of the plate. My bad. Now, Diaz likes the ball up and in, so-"

"Uh, dude-"

"Dave, kid. Call me Dave. Diaz feasts on the inside stuff, so we need to work the outer half of the plate, and-"

"Um, Dave-"

"I know, kid, but we keep him off balance, draw him out over the plate. As soon as he starts crowding, we bust him inside, and-"


"Yeah, kid, what is it?"

"Why are you still holding my ass?"

::Long uncomfortable pause:: "I do this with all the pitchers. So anyway, Diaz will wait for that inside pitch-"

"I don't remember seeing you grabbing Bronson Arroyo this long. Or this hard."

"Television makes everything seem quicker. Now once we get Diaz thinking he's never gonna see an inside pitch-"

"I'm really gonna need you to take your hand off my ass, Dave."

"In a minute, kid."

"NOW, Dave."

::Long uncomfortable pause:: "What number are you wearing, kid?"


"What number am I wearing?"


"You know what that means?"

"No, Dave."

"It means I'm breaking camp and heading to Cincy after this, while you still have to earn a seat on the bus. And even if you DO make the big club, you're a rookie. And you know what happens to rookies."

"I'm fairly certain they don't get molested by their catchers."

"Among other things. I don't care if you are a can't miss, rook, until you've cashed your last paycheck of the year, you're my bitch."

"I'm thinking it might be better for me to miss out on making the big club."

"Your call, rook."

"How many years is your contract?"

"Two years, with a club option for '09."

"Shit. So unless you get traded, I have to stay in the minors until 2009?"

"2010 if the club picks up the option."

::Long uncomfortable pause:: "Can you at least give it a little squeeze?"