So we got drunk at a Mets game last week. They lost. We recorded banter.
Honestly, we talk about enough bullshit with no real direction that I should probably give you some sort of road map but absolutely have no desire to be of such assistance. You'll love it all the same.
Appearances from, as usual, the Barrister
and the Apologist
, and guest spots from our friend who is a Red Sox fan and my buddy JB who split sometime in the 7th inning. Musical interludes from Jefferson Airplane, The Beastie Boys, Ozomatli, Walk the Moon and Radiohead.
Oh, and we talk about my homie Rabbi Darkside
(from Buffalo, by way of Brooklyn) who just came out with an album. Order that shit on iTunes now!
For the podcast, bitches, download here
(choices!), hit the iTunes button below, or the stream from the player. Booyah.
Wow. Weekdays suck. I started my week with a crapload of work all jammed together like the Buffalo News Sports staff trying to ride an elevator together, then followed it with a bunch of exhaustion, and now the week is almost done and I figured I'd scrap together a few thoughts to impart to you before the weekend. Why? Because fuck you that's why.
Join me. And imagine me saying that in as non-creepy was as possible.
This is what winning looks like, Sadbres.
The Barrister & The Apologist
When watching your favorite team gets this hard, you need to find ways to make it fun. For most of us, this requires a great deal of alcohol, but here at the Deeg, recording podcasts makes it extra special. And so it was that the other night the Barrister and I stood outside our local pub and discussed a wide variety of topics while the Sadbres played not tough against the Flyers. (Note to Darcy: Just because there's a fight, it doesn't mean you played tough.)
Ok, so we mostly talked about basketball. Discussing the Sabres for more than 30 seconds gives us anxiety attacks at this point. But there are other reasons to listen too. We briefly discuss the brawl at the World Baseball Classic. Our ol' pal, Joe, stops by (he writes for a different blog, I can't remember what it's called). And there are highlights of our Rockupation of the Prudential Center last Thursday.
All in all… it's pretty mediocre.
But hey, it's Tuesday! What the hell else do you have to do?
or just stream directly below.
Checking out Jeremy White's twitter feed. Considering just quitting.
What a busy week it has been at DGWU Sports! Between news of the NHL Lockout and our battles with the various personalities at WGR for refusing, as is their custom, to engage with viewpoints other than (a) their own, or (b) those of the mouthbreathers who call into WGR and make it their mission to express their vehement disdain for everything in the world, there was a LOT to discuss when we gathered Wednesday night. More shots were fired and kindling put onto the world of Buffalo sports media so that we can continue to watch it burn. Heh. Sports.
Oh, and there are those Buffalo Bills, too, which is actually where we started in segment one as we recapped the shit show that was Sunday with the Deeg. Bills @ Cardinals was by no means an enjoyable time, but recapping the fun times we had and the trainwreck of a game ended up being pretty fun/depressing/rage-inducing.
In segment two we welcomed Colin Bruckel, one of the founders of TheHosers.com
, a site we have linked to for a while and which provides stellar insight about the legal issues surrounding professional hockey and, in particular, the CBA. Colin's assessment of the current CBA negotiations was as interesting and well-presented as any I've heard, and it is an understatement to say that we were lucky to have him on. I would note, however, that since our discussion took place before the NHLPA presented its own offers to the league (and before Bettman rejected them immediately), you'll want to keep an eye on his site for more hot legal takes. Or you could continue being ignorant and just keep listening to the superficialities of sports talk radio.
Segment three brings it back to our wheelhouse of inappropriateness and ill-conceived sports takes as we talk the USMNT's win on Tuesday, the NBA's new policy restricting pre-game celebrations, Apologist's suicidal ideations following the Orioles' elimination from the playoffs, and our predictions for the Bills/Titans game this weekend. I must add that we had intended to talk more about (read: make fun of) Shawne Merriman's return to Buffalo, but had to toss that to the back burner so we'd have time to talk about the more pressing issues of gloating about our intellectual superiority over talk radio hosts. It's a burden, really. In any event, I'm hopeful that Merriman's second tenure in the 716 will give us plenty of opportunities to point and laugh.
Musical interludes this week are provided by Broken Bells, Gov't Mule & REO Speedwagon, as well as - of course - The Jambrones.
and stream below, or check out our Libsyn
page or iTunes button below where you can get all of our archived podcasts and subscribe for future hot, aural takes.
First of all, if you haven't checked out Scizz's Bills/Pats preview - DO IT.
Ok, moving on...
Last night, the DGWU Sports Crew gathered at The Barrister's apartment to record another gem for your ear holes. After a slow week of written content at the site, it was nice to sit down and discuss all the many goings on in the sports world. Don't lie - we know you're excited.
Our first segment was almost exclusively devoted to debriefing the Bills game in Cleveland last weekend, as well as our thoughts about Buffalo's two delightful, injured running backs. Segment two gave us an opportunity to look ahead to the game this weekend against the Patriots as we were joined by the Deeg's Buffalo correspondent, The Outlander. That's right - steaming hot takes spit all the way from the 716. Outlander stayed for the third and final segment while we talked Dickey's 20th win, the Orioles' playoff hopes and the tire fire that is the the Boston Red Sox. We close out with a brief discussion of our plans to #OccupyBridgeport for an AHL game this fall. More on that to come in the next few weeks...
As always, the CrapTastiCast is brought in by the musical vomit of the Jambrones. Additional interludes include Kansas, Seal (I KNOW! AND YOU'RE WELCOME!), and Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross.
Stream below, subscribe on iTunes, download here
, or check our podcast page at Libsyn
Are you fucking serious?
Lost in the haze of last night's epic USMNT win at the Azteca was the circus, clown shoes shenanigans of Dusty Baker, as the Reds manager chose gamesmanship over common sense, and gave Mets fans another reason to hate his stupid, fat face.
Up 1-0 in the second inning against my lowly Mets, Baker successfully prodded the umpire to instruct RA Dickey to remove two bracelets from his wrist. Two bracelets that had been given to him by his daughters before he climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro last winter, and which he has worn in every one of his magical starts this season - not to mention his All Star Game innings earlier this summer. Dickey complied - how couldn't he - later conceding that, well, rules are rules. Dickey would go on to give up three homers and the Mets lost 6-1.
Advantage DB, I guess.
A day removed from taking LeBron to task for being a gigantic shit burger (despite also being an incredible player), it seems fitting that I'd get to stay up for a late, west coast Mets game and watch the antithesis of that on the mound. In a league with no cap, there's this guy who makes $3.9 million a year - less than Derek "Tossed Salad Roy" and Ville "The Finnish Rusty Trombone" Leino - and who is, inexplicably, right now, the best at what he does. He's so dominant that hitters laugh when they swing at his stuff. Laughing, somehow, an appropriate response because the only other logical reaction would be a temper tantrum. And no one really wants that.
I kind of fell out of love with baseball during the steroids era, as many did, and when I got brought back in to watch my family rejoice at the 2004 Red Sox win, only to find some of its heroes - Curt Schilling, for example - to be humongous dicks, I grew wary again. Sure, the Mets have been an exception, but even that has been a marriage of convenience in a sense, offset by their awful play, sometimes tough to take fan base and felonious ownership.
I was tempted to title this post "The Hero Baseball Needed?" but thought against it because it probably would have shown my ignorance to many great stars across the league - ones who perform at a high level while also being eminently likeable. Dickey, though, is certainly the hero I needed in baseball. I said it earlier this season, and it's only becoming more true - this Mets team has got me going all in.
And Robert Allen Dickey is reason #1.
He's 12-1, his ERA is 2.15, he averages just under 9 strikeouts a game, and four years ago, few of us had ever heard of him.
Unlike some stars who get pulled into the hype machine of the Network, almost forcing us to despise the guy at the center of it all out of principle, there's nothing to not like about what we're getting out of R.A. He's, comparably, vastly underpaid, he's well-liked by anyone and everyone, and he licensed his image to be on one of the best tshirts ever made.
So, if you're on the fence about baseball and need a reason to watch and have, apparently, been living under a rock during his recent dominance, start watching the Mets every five games and see the best hitters in the game get straight up befuddled at what this 37 year old knuckler does.
Last Sunday I was lying on my couch, generally incapacitated from the type of Sunday hangover that comes but a few times a year ... or whenever your girlfriend leaves town for a weekend to visit family and you suddenly become indifferent to the amount of vodka you’re consuming during pre-gaming. My credit card was at the bar so my attempts to order pizza had failed, and my car was still at a bar from Friday so until after dinner I was stranded in the house. Luckily the Red Sox game was on, so I stared at it in the way negligent parents will throw on a Pixar movie to keep their kids quiet and distracted for a couple hours. From the start, something was different. On his first at-bat Youkilis got a standing ovation, which the TBS broadcast team referred to as “bizarre,” but I found completely logical in the context of trade talks heating up and Will Middlebrooks’ emergence at third base, and the resulting possibility that any game could be Youk’s last in a Sox uniform.
That David Wells passes for a television broadcaster in today’s pathetic media landscape is bizarre. The crowd reactions on Sunday were not. But I digress.
After a couple more standing ovations and a triple that could easily have been scored an error, Bobby Valentine lifted the former all-star to give him a chance to enter the dugout with all the Fenway cheers for himself, punctuated with a couple of curtain calls for good measure. While the broadcasters once again could muster nothing more than confusion, any reasonable fan could discern that Youk either had been traded or was about to be traded, but was nevertheless done in Boston. I knew I was supposed to feel something for a player that had been one of the best hitters in the league for so many consecutive years; certainly I knew my friends that rooted for the Yankees were happy to see him go after I spent years hearing how much they hated his “stupid face” in the way I hate Teixieira’s stupid horseface. But really all I could muster as he sank into the dugout and disappeared down the tunnel was one thought: It’s over already?
Don’t get me wrong, I loved his intensity, I loved his hustle and believe me, when you cheer for someone nicknamed the “Greek God of Walks,” you gain a certain affinity for watching four pitches land outside the strike zone. Sure there were injuries, yet he was dependable despite them in a way, where you knew if he was in the lineup, you would be getting his best. Maybe he was cursed by the era he played for the Sox, arriving just as the fan base started expecting a dynasty, just as anything short of a World Series championship became a massive disappointment for a city that was already beyond spoiled. He was clutch in his own way, coming alive in the final three games of the 2007 ALCS, hitting a bomb off CC Sabathia in game five, but still, those three games are remembered by me for JD Drew’s only big hit as a Red Sox and the Indians’ collapse. Sure, he played seventy-some games in 2004 but I think few fans would think of him as a member of that team. Which again leads to my bewilderment at how fast the time went.
In the movie High Fidelity
, John Cusack’s character "Rob" is left by his long time girlfriend for another man. After a period of soul searching they get back together and while there is no longer that excitement, that crazy head-over-heels feeling, he describes things as “just…good.” In the end, for Rob, that was enough.
To me that was Youkilis. He never did anything that left me in awe, he never made me feel like the team couldn’t survive without him, but he got the hits, sparked the clubhouse, and - mercifully - never drove me to such frustration that I wanted to drive my car over a cliff. He was just…good. There’s nothing wrong with good. I loved Manny Ramirez, for instance, as he would do things that I still think about to this day. But I can also picture him having two errors in one inning of Game One of the 2004 World Series, leading me to unleash a torrent of obscenities from my mouth that gets me angry typing this eight years later. Now that - that’s love, with its highs and its lows. Youk, on the other hand, was dependable. Never flashy and never had moments that endeared me to him in that same, intense way, but I’ll always be thankful that he was on my team during that time. That - that’s comfort, complacency. But after being in that place with crazy highest-highs and lowest-lows love, one can really appreciate comfort and complacency. One can really appreciate just…good.
In a way, maybe he got screwed by 2004. If Dave Roberts gets tagged out in Game Four, the Yankees complete the sweep and, assuming the Red Sox get it done in 2007 as they did, Youk is remembered as one of the heroes of the organization, the guy with the clubhouse intensity that pushed the team over the Indians to reverse the curse after 89 years.
Instead you’ll have fans unable to remember his name 20 years from now, while at the same time will roll off “Mark Bellhorn” without difficulty. That sucks for him. And it's what sucks about feeling that feeling I had on Sunday about the time passing too quickly. I still wanted him to be able to do more, to get another ring, to hit that walk-off in the playoffs. To have that twilight, legacy-cementing moment that would ensure he wouldn’t be forgotten. Instead he’s in a White Sox uniform and now I’m left to define his career around one World Series and a myriad of relative disappointment, especially 2008 and 2011, years when those around him should have put the finishing touches on a dynasty and instead faltered against teams that never approached them in terms of talent.
Is that unfair to Youk? Of course it is. Fans, especially those who root for Buffalo teams, should appreciate great talent even when it comes on a team that doesn’t win it all.
Fair or not, watching him walk off the field on Sunday left me wishing, for a moment, that there was more time for Youk. There's no question he deserved it, but eventually time decided for him, assisted by a young third baseman hitting the ball all over the place and demanding a spot on the field, just like he did eight short years ago. And even if I never loved this player with the kind of passion - both highs and lows - with which I have loved the Red Sox greats of the past decade, part of me wanted Youk to have a chance to bring me there. A chance to prove that "just... good" can sometimes be more than enough.Follow me on Twitter @MattyRenn
I love baseball now, and I love it because of its pace. This makes me old. I have my reasons.
FUN FACT! This is also Jerry West.
Buffalo is a city based partly upon the culture of the United States, partly on the culture of Canada, and fully on the belief that neither are particularly interested in us. These factors produce a neurosis within us. We are thin-skinned, yet quick to judge others. We profess to be good neighbors as long as we all stay within our mutually agreed upon ethnic neighborhoods. We are not so good neighbors when someone new to our fair city is unaware of these customs
. We crave acceptance by larger metropoli yet revel in our unique brand of defensive provincialism. People must have strokes when they move to the Queen City. Sport is perfectly suited to a constructive release of these emotions. Sport is tribal.
But there comes a time when you kind of want everyone to shut up. As Ad-Rock once proclaimed - “I tell you everybody I’ve had it with all these people with static.” Times like when I have to read someone talking some junk about how it was really Rob Scuderi’s fault that Steve Bernier decided to fuse his face to the glass from behind. Or how the Kings making it to the final therefore means the Sabres could have. Or that Mike Richards and Jeff Carter winning the Stanley Cup as role players means that the Flyers clearly made a mistake in getting rid of them, because the Kings won the cup, you see, and everything needs to be a zero sum game even though the Flyers' goaltender looked like he was being tazed for most of his minutes. It’s enough to make you quit sports altogether.
These momentary losses of cognitive ability are not alarming on their own, but when taken as a group they begin to look more like Grandpa wandering out of the retirement home rather than simply misplacing your keys. If at any point you have found yourself agreeing with any of those three points at the same time, seek medical attention, because you may be a terrible person.
It’s easy to rag on the stupidity of most of our sports dialogue, but I would be disingenuous if I said that’s why I feel the pull of the national pastime. I’m writing about sports for Christ’s sake, what right do I have to be complaining? I’m part of the problem. The evil is inside me.
The real reason baseball has won me in a more passionate form is because I’ve got a son now, and I really need time to stop.
Lets say dumb things!
My kid showed up in late April. My wife was a trooper in the delivery room. That’s how Strong Island rolls.
Things don’t get real when the kid comes out, although that is pretty amazing. The real meta-action begins when the nurse takes him to the warming table and begins cleaning him, and he locks eyes with you - the first time he’s locked eyes with anything. That shit changes you. You grow up at that moment if you haven’t already.
Things were great. They even had WGN at the hospital, which was inexplicable as the hospital was in Buffalo. Regardless, we got in a Cubs game together. Well, he kind of slept while I held him and watched the Cubs game.
After a few days they sent us home. We had a hard time feeding him when we got there. The next day we got nervous and went to the pediatrician, who kept the office open after hours so we could get there. They took his temperature at 94 degrees. Then they told us to go to Children’s Hospital.
I was already in some sort of state, because when I heard that his temperature was that low I thought “well that’s totally normal” to myself. Yes, being four degrees down is totally great for a newborn. He’s running at optimal.
My wife has told me to speed exactly once in our eight years of marriage, and that was it.
I was pretty numb up until we arrived at the hospital.
SIDE NOTE THAT IS AWESOME UPON REFLECTION: I blew through red lights! I was like the crazy Steve McQueen on the wheel. When I tell my kid this story it will look something like this:
Then you get there and everyone is banged up for some reason or another, and they are all kids. There are better places to be. And I’m carrying in my son, who I’ve had for three days, and he looks so peaceful because he’s sleeping. You’d just think “oh cute kid he’s asleep.” It isn’t until you pick him up and he’s limp that you realize how close it is to all coming apart.
Having a nurse take your kid out of your arms before you know how he will be is something I do not recommend having happen to you. Time starts to drag, and all you want is for the fucking doctor to come in and say it was all a big mistake and everyone panicked. I want people to tell me I panicked. No one tells me I panicked.
We’ve been blessed with a kid whose light weight and lanky figure belies his toughness. He is most certainly tougher than his father. His father was a wreck, although I wasn’t supposed to cry because I’m the dad and I’m supposed to hold it together because everyone else is in rough shape and SOMEONE HAS TO TALK TO THE NURSE.
I swear to God the baseball part is coming soon.
Then they do bring your kid back, and you want time to freeze again. After testing him and bombarding him with enough radiation to begin activating his innate superpowers, we get the news that he is probably fine and that it was a feeding issue that no one was able to catch at the hospital before we were released. We would have to stay for a few days.
We did stay, he was fine, and they discharged us a few days after our arrival. Then I spent the next week convinced I was the worst father ever. This doesn’t require much encouragement anyway (I also had Jungleland stuck in my head at the time, and given the circumstances it was not the best Boss song to have going). So now I have this super tough kid that I’m super worried about. I needed to find a way not to panic.
That’s when baseball saved me.
I have people in my life that I care enough about to want to hang out with them. One of these friends who I did not have to pay came over not too long after we returned home and we watched the Red Sox on the NESN. He is a Sox fan, and the Cubs are banned under the Geneva Conventions. The Cubbies were blacked out for our protection by MLB.tv. It was during this game, holding my kid and just talking to someone about nothing in particular, that I realized what I had been missing in my life.
Everything about the static nature of the game gave me the time with my son I needed. Because we are an advanced and civilized nation, fathers get no assigned time to spend with their new kids beyond their own personal or vacation time. So I was back to work within two days of my son’s birth. Would’ve liked to have hung out a bit beyond seeing him with an IV in his arm. But the farther the middle class falls, the harder it works. So I work.
Baseball became, in that instant, the timekeeper. It was my safe place with my son.
I’m not going to turn into George Will or Ken Burns here. That’s not what I’m getting at. What I am trying to say, I think, is that I totally get baseball now. I fully understand its appeal to those who want so desperately for the world to fucking stop for five seconds so that they can have a moment with their son before he starts filling out college applications. The pitcher gets the signal. He winds up. He throws. Time passes slowly. We can be taken away on a voyage of mathematics and athleticism for a few hours a day. Every day is a chance for someone to beat the odds that they themselves have set. All the while, time passes slowly.
There were a brief few moments in that emergency room where I allowed for the possibility that three days would be all I was going to get with my kid. That fear has been ringing in my head like tinnitus. It's like those three days are still going, sometimes. I need to find a way to slow the world down to keep these three days going. No other sport does it quite like baseball.
There is no ulterior hipster motive going on with buying into baseball. It isn’t really even the fault of the other sports we all seem to revolve around in this Buffalo Twitterdome. There are times when those sports are the tops. There are times when the static becomes too great.
George Carlin has a famous bit about the differences between baseball and football, and it’s a funny one, but when the rest of the world is a dogfight, I think for a few hours it isn’t so bad to be safe at home.
I believe that bear was part of Jeter's gift basket.
If I'm being honest, my feelings on the Subway Series typically fall on the "hate it" side of the fence. A twice annual reminder of why my team isn't as good as their team is usually not my idea of fun, and even those seasons where the Mets have come out victorious against their cross-town rivals, it's usually set against the overaching reality that the Yankees have a shot at playoffs and beyond, and the Mets just don't. Like in 2008, when the Mets won the season series 4-2, including a sweep at Yankee Stadium...and the Mets were eliminated from wild card contention on the last day of the season by the Marlins. Again. Or 2004, when they swept at Shea and won the series, only to go 71-91 that year.
Living in New York, the Mets are the team you root for if you don't really mind a dark cloud over your head. They're who you root for if sports don't have to be easy for you, if you want to feel a sense of fulfillment by earning success through years of despair. That is, if you think your being a fan has anything to do with anything, which - as it happens - I narcissistically do. Being a Met fan means that, even when you win, you gotta be ready to hear it from the Yankee fans in the room when they remind you of their many titles and how Jeter is God and how they don't even like A-Rod, as if that lends them more credibility (it does).
This season smells a little different, though. The teams step up the Subway Series in remarkably similar circumstances - the Yankees in third place in the AL East, a half game back of the surprising Orioles; the Mets in third, back a game and a half from the surprising Nationals. They each also sit in divisions with powerhouse teams in last place, further complicating their own prospects at an eventual postseason berth with the chance that the Red Sox and Phillies could suddenly remember how to play baseball again.
And, lest I forget, they each have teams owned by rich men who made money by swindling middle-class investors.
What's that? Only the Mets are owned by dirty crooks? Oh. Bummer.
/cries in corner over Wilpon crimes
/considers argument that all sports team owners are crooks who swindle the middle-class
Despite the similarities of circumstances, the Yankees and Mets of 2012 are still very different teams. The Yankees are squeaking by despite fielding a team of proven winners and more than their fair share of perennial All Stars, while the Mets are exceeding expectations with a team of nobodies and top guys on the DL, leaving a roster seemingly held together with duct tape, naive ambition and the magical, high-pitched tone of Terry Collins' voice. Add in a guy coming off the franchise's first no-hitter, and suddenly this series doesn't just seem like an opportunity to show up the big brother club from the Bronx, but a chance for the Mets to establish themselves - in the context of a very strong season - as the NYC team to watch this summer.
No matter what happens this weekend, I'm optimistic about the Mets this season, insofar as I had previously expected to give up on them in May and now actually think there will be meaningful games come August and September. But, if I have to walk into work on Monday to find a gaggle of cocky Yankee fans gloating about beating up on the Mets this weekend, things may get violent. You may disagree, but I don't think I'd do well in Manhattan Central Booking or Rikers Island ... so, if only for that, Let's Go Mets!
I'm the cute one on the left.
Maybe in the end, it won't matter much - as most Inter-League play most certainly does not - since the Yankee fans will still have those rings to point to with a disgusting level of arrogance and hair grease, and since the Yankees themselves will likely remain the darling of the NYC sports world until the Mets make an actual run at World Series again (and that, despite my optimism, is a long way off). But, for these few days, just maybe the Amazins can put together some solid wins and shut the knuckle-dragging front-runners up for a little while. In a City that seems to live and breathe baseball for the summer months, and is overflowing with Yankee fans falling over each other to pat themselves on the back for the good sense at following one the most successful teams in all of sports, that's certainly a nice thought.