Thursday, July 31, 2008

A Manny Apart

Completing a transaction they started five years ago, on Thursday, the Boston Red Sox parted ways with Manny Ramirez.

The superstar slugger is off to where all modern-era Red Sox heroes have gone to die--the Los Angeles Dodgers--as part of a three-way trade including the Pittsburgh Pirates that brings outfielder Jason Bay to Boston.

As a Red Sox fan, even if Manny is the cause of the Red Sox' current suckitude, as many people believe, I am very sad to see him go. As a resident of Los Angeles and a frequent Dodger game-attendee, on the other hand, I have to admit that Dodger Stadium might be a perfect fit for a player of Ramirez's temperament:

The average visitor to shows up to games 3 innings late and leaves 3 innings early, is more interested in bouncing colorful balls around than he is in paying attention to the game, and--in many cases--speaks in broken English that makes everything he says sound adorable to all the white people he secretly hates.

Farewell, Manuel Aristides Ramirez; thanks for the two World Series titles and the years of amusingly inexplicable behavior.

Now go be Manny--although significantly less so--somewhere else.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Red Sox Take 25 Outs to Realize They're Facing John Lackey

Despite their deluded perception of geography, the Anaheim Angels of Pretending To Be From a Different City 30 Miles Away have been a very good team this year, one that has had the Boston Red Sox' number. While I, as a Red Sox fan, am not happy to be reporting on the fact that Nowhere But Anaheim extended their season series lead over Boston to 7-1 with a win on Tuesday, this is a much easier post for me to write than would have been the one I was planning to when there was 1 out in the bottom of the 9th...because that's how close the Red Sox came to being no-hit by John Lackey.

Who, the casual baseball fan may be asking himself? Exactly, I'm answering.

For such persons' edification: John Lackey is a decent--if inconsistent--pitcher who rose to prominence in 2002 when he helped the Angels (who had yet to publicly announce their shame over their own city by extending their team name to an unwieldy mouthful incorporating two separate and distinct locations) win the World Series. He followed up his star season by being terrible in 2003, sub-par in 2004, and serviceable in 2005. In 2006, Lackey reemerged as the team's ace--but by then, the world outside of Anaheim (including Los Angeles, which is a completely different city) had long since forgotten about him, as it should have.

Coming into Tuesday's game, John Lackey had firmly established his place in history as a mostly forgettable major-leaguer--one of baseball's many "Guy Fleegmans", if you will--whose most visible individual achievement was allowing himself to be made to look stupid in a Gatorade commercial. Had it not been for Dustin Pedroia's 9th-inning single (followed up by a two-run home run by Kevin Youkilis) in that game, John Lackey would have gone down in history as "the guy who no-hit the greatest team of the decade."

Instead, thank Jeebus, he'll go down as a dismissable "almost" in that the same way that Anaheim is almost Los Angeles.


Though the Mediocre Los Angeles Earthquake of 2008 occurred more than five hours prior to this posting, it has maintained its place as the top national news story of the day and I've just discovered that because I live in the affected area I was supposed to blog about it. Better late than never, here's Metroville's knockout first-person account:

When it happened, I was standing in a child's bedroom in a house that my wife and I are considering purchasing. The ground was all shaky and then the ceiling was all shaky and we were like, "Whoa, was that an earthquake?" and we couldn't get cell phone service and it turned out that it was, in fact, an earthquake. We still might buy that house, especially since it didn't fall apart during the earthquake.

KA-POW! Eyewitness blogging that affects your world, in real time*!

*plus or minus five hours

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Obama Targets McCain's Base by Gaining Senior-Citizenship

If there's one thing John McCain has on Barack Obama, it's the elder candidate's trademark elderliness. Nobody does more voting than old people (regardless of their comprehension of the process), and the more mileage a presidential hopeful has, the better his chances are among the coveted demographic.

Since emerging as the presumptive Democratic nominee, Obama made little ground in closing the superannuated-appeal gap between McCain--a septuagenarian white male who fought in a war and frowns at things--and himself--a comparative teenager whose skin tone is deeply alarming to the average Caucasian-American over the age of 60. The tide may very well turn, however, now that Obama--one day after returning from an overseas trip sealing up his bonus nomination as President of the World--has made a strong move to draw away McCain supporters by acquiring a hip injury: a.k.a. the international sign for advanced age.

It was a brilliant tactic by the Obama campaign, as senior citizens throughout the U.S. will now be unable to resist sympathizing with the presidential candidate that a large percentage of them had previously only known as "the black fellow". If McCain intends to counter this shot across the bow from Obama by "out-injuring" himself to an equivalent degree, his only option would be death...and that might hurt his chances in November.

Drunken Shia LaBeouf's Auto Tragically Neglects to Transform Into Bot

One of the perils that comes with achieving Hollywood notoriety at the tender age that Transformers star Shia LaBeouf has is the possibility of confusing real life with the movies in which one has appeared--especially when one is drunk.

When the intoxicated LaBeouf was attempting to make a left turn at the corner of Fountain and La Brea early Sunday morning and saw that he was about to collide with another vehicle, it's likely that, rather than applying the brakes, he maintained speed while commanding his truck to "roll out"--expecting it to take to the air, alter its structure to that of a sentient robot while doing a backflip and land safely in a fighting pose, having kept LaBeouf and his passengers unharmed. As it happened, LaBeouf's truck remained a truck, smashed into the other vehicle and rolled over instead of out. LaBeouf was taken the hospital and arrested for suspicion of DUI prior to undergoing surgery on his injured left hand.

One has to assume that his spirits remain high, however, as he's expecting his dad, Indiana Jones, to come and rescue him at any moment.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Yankees Fans Memorialize Home Stadium by Acknowledging Superiority of Red Sox

Tuesday's Major League Baseball All-Star Game was a monumental event for several reasons. First and foremost, it took place at Yankee Stadium, an adamantine landmark of immeasurable significance that is about to be wiped off the face off the earth so the Steinbrenners (who totally care about baseball history and all that crap) can make a few extra bucks a year from its replacement venue. The last hurrah of the House That Ruth Built was given due respect in the form of the largest collection of Major League Hall-of-Famers ever assembled on one field (a collection that was conspicuously absent of Red Sox hats, even on the head of Wade Boggs--who either forgot what uniform is on his Hall of Fame plaque or is an ass-kissing fraidy cat). As if that weren't enough, the contest itself turned out to be the longest All-Star Game in history, lasting 15 solid innings of terrible baserunning.

During the pregame ceremony, the Yankees-fan-dominated crowd booed their tiny black hearts out at each and every current member of the Boston Red Sox that was announced (and there was a lot of booing to be done, as the Red Sox were represented seven strong, more than any other team in the American League). This was neither significant nor surprising on its own...but it would prove to be integral in relation to the astonishing, most historic moment of the night--if not in the entire chronology of professional sports--which didn't take place until long after the game was underway.

In the top of the eighth inning, with the score tied 2-2 (the American League's runs having just come in the seventh courtesy of one game-tying swing by Boston's J.D. Drew), the Boston Red Sox' Jonathan Papelbon took the mound. When he surrendered a base hit to Miguel Tejada, I naturally expected cheers to emanate from my television...but the response I heard was, at best, tepid--negative, if anything. After Papelbon had struck out Dan Uggla and was facing Adrian Gonzalez, Tejada made a run for second base. Dioner Navarro's throw from the plate was laughingly off the mark, allowing Tejada to easily advance to third by the time the ball was corralled in right field. I thought for sure that the crowd would react to such an unfortunate turn of events thrust upon their most hated rivals' star closer with a cacophony of gratification...but, this time, they very clearly booed.

I couldn't believe my ears. Yes, the Yankees were represented on the American League team, but the only thing on the line was home field advantage in the World Series--a contest that the New York Yankees hadn't appeared in since 2003, won since the previous century, and were widely agreed upon to not be appearing in for many, many years into the foreseeable future. So what the hell were the Yankees fans upset about?

It wasn't until Gonzalez hit a sacrifice fly that gave the National League a 3-2 lead--an occurrence to which the crowd again responded with boos--that the revelation struck me:

The Yankees fans wanted the American League to win because they wanted the Red Sox to have home field advantage in the World Series.

As a Red Sox fan who came of age during an era when the team was a constant punchline for the New York Yankees, I was moved beyond words by this selfless display of concession by Yankees fans--made, at all times, during the last All-Star Game that will ever be played at the one true Yankee Stadium (a game that the American League eventually won, of course, on the shoulders of MVP J.D. Drew)--and I will never forget it.

A couple of decades from now, when the perennial World Series contender Boston Red Sox' chief rivals are the Tampa Bay Shade or the Los Angeles Red Sox or the Arctic Ocean Zombie Polar Bears, should I find myself in the presence of someone speaking ill of the New York Yankees--a franchise which will have long since folded--I will remind him of the 2008 All-Star Game, and suggest that he be a little bit more respectful.

And if he's a robot and tries to fight me, I will disable him with advanced anti-robot Space Karate.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

America's Beer Now Made By Weirdo Foreigners

Baseball. Apple pie. Right-wing Christian fundamentalism. These are the things we think of when we think about what it means to truly be an American. But we care more about these things whenever we're drunk on beer--specifically, the most American of all beers: Budweiser.

Whose parent company, Anheuser-Busch, now belongs to some Belgians.

I don't know how American Jesus could have let this act of terrorism happen--and on the Sabbath, of all days--but you can bet yer ass no God fearin', truck drivin', NASCAR lovin', Toby Keith listenin', 2nd Amendment misappropriatin' REAL American will ever again let a drop of Budweiser touch his Made-in-the-USA lips.

Unless there's still going to be alcohol in it. Is there still going to be alcohol in it?

Friday, July 11, 2008

George W. Bush on Greenhouse Gas Regulation: Can't Somebody Else Do It?

With less than six months remaining in his eight-year epic fail, President-illegal George W. Bush isn't even pretending to care about mankind anymore. On Friday, his administration publicly stated that it's leaving the responsibility to regulate greenhouse gases for the next president, in effect adopting the position of Homer Simpson's 1998 campaign for Sanitation Commissioner.

Get Out of That Car, You Rapey Also-Ran!

That I'm over a week late to the party only makes me that much more infuriated to have learned that Nike, in an effort to promote their Back to the Future Part II-inspired Hyperdunk sneakers at the UNDFTD shop in Santa Monica back on July 3, inexplicably enlisted the help of Kobe Bryant.

As a fan of both the Boston Celtics and--arguably, to a psychotic degree--of Back to the Future, this compound offense in and of itself would be enough to make me hesitate to spend up to $1000 for the footwear in question...but add to it the fact that the overrated face of the NBA's first-place loser got to ride to the event in a DeLorean--and was an hour late (it's a TIME MACHINE, for Einstein's sake)!--I've got half a mind to buy no more than one pair.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Jesse Jackson Tries Out Other Direction of Apologizing for a Change

Jesse Jackson, who I am told is a reverend of some kind but is known primarily as a professional apology-demander, apparently had grown so tired of always being on the receiving end of mea culpas that he decided to see how the other half lives. He couldn't simply apologize for no reason, of course, so the first step in Rev. Jackson's experiment was to talk to a Fox News reporter about cutting off Barack Obama's testicles.

Having successfully accomplished Phase 1 of his plan, Jesse Jackson is now apologizing all over the place. I wonder which he'll decide he enjoys more: giving or receiving?

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Red Sox Bandwagon Extends to Major League Players

I would happily volunteer to be Madonna's personal sponge bather for eternity before I would even dream of dreaming of accidentally undoing the Boston Red Sox' historic World Series victory in 2004 (or, for that matter, their subsequent 2007 championship and any more that may take place in my lifetime)...but that's not to say that my formerly-famous-for-failing team's rise to dominance in the first decade of the 21st century has come without a personal toll: mainly, the bandwagon fans. They wear pink hats, they couldn't spell "Yastrzemski" if their lives depended on it, and--as any supporter of any Major League Baseball team whose home park is not located on Yawkey Way will bitterly attest to--they are everywhere.

Having reluctantly accepted, to the best of my ability, these deplorable peoples' putrid existence as a necessary downside of the excellence of the modern-era Red Sox, I am nonetheless dumbfounded to have discovered that the Boston-bandwagon culture has grown so powerful that it has actually permeated the players in the American League.

Does David Ortiz deserve a spot on the 2008 MLB All-Star team, even though he's currently on the DL? Without question. Same goes for Manny Ramirez, even though he's as likely to participate in the event as he is to abruptly retire and take a job as a hot dog vendor at Yankee Stadium--which is to say, there's a 50/50 chance. Dustin Pedroia and Kevin Youkilis each embody the ideal of a player whose tireless dedication enhances his talent; both of them deserve to be All-Stars as much as--if not more than--any household name. Those are the four Boston Red Sox who were voted as starters on the 2008 AL squad, and they were selected by the fans.

Fan voting ended last Wednesday, and the remainder of the selections were made by the players in each league. In the American League, three more Red Sox were added to the All-Star roster, including closer Jonathan Papelbon--all but a lock to begin with--and outfielder J.D. Drew--a more questionable choice, though he did raise his game significantly after Ortiz went down. I wouldn't have thought twice about the matter (it's possible that in place of this post would have been a rant against the raw deals Jacoby Ellsbury, Josh Beckett and Mike Lowell received) were it not for the third and final Red Sox voted to the 2008 All-Star team by his fellow players throughout the league:

Catcher Jason Varitek, who--at the time of this writing--is batting .219 with 7 home runs and 27 RBI.

You've shown your hand, Major League Baseball players. I love Jason Varitek and I hope that he keeps playing for the Red Sox until both of his knees explode, but I can state without hesitation that the man has no business on the All-Star team this year. Try as you might to defend your decision by referring to Varitek's less tangible "leadership" qualities and how he "contributes to wins even when he's not hitting", the underlying message is loud and clear: All of you are only pretending to like Jason Varitek because he plays for a winning team, and everybody loves a winner whether or not they know anything about them.

Care to dispute that charge? Without Googling, (1) name Jerry Remy's hometown, (2) name the Red Sox pitcher who would have been the 1986 World Series MVP (hint: it's not Roger Clemens), and (3) acknowledge the fact that Fever Pitch is a shit movie...then maybe we can talk.

After you get rid of that pink hat.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

The Most Stupidest Thing I've Ever Seen in This Tuesday

People who base their opinions on the opinions of celebrities are fools. People who may end up voting for Barack Obama simply because celebrities told them to are fortunate fools, given that--movie star endorsements notwithstanding--Barack Obama happens to be the only choice for rational human beings who want America to stand any chance of digging itself out of the quagmire into which it has been progressively stuffed over the last eight years.

As for people who may end up voting for John McCain because Stephen Baldwin--the honest-to-goodness least Baldwin (say what you will about Daniel, "Homicide" was a good show)--told them to...there simply are no words.

That did not discourage the ultraconservative Fox News from dressing the star of the crime against humanity that was the direct-to-DVD Slap Shot sequel in a suit and plopping him in front of the "Just In" cameras as an ostensible counterpoint to the vast wave of support that Obama has received from the entertainment industry. The resultant clip--seen above--is unintentional-comedy gold in its entirety; I've taken the liberty to rank and examine what I believe are the five best moments:

#5: 1:45 - 2:32. Blindly following a miscue from a rambling, anti-Hollywood question by "Just In" host Laura Ingraham, Stephen Baldwin pretends to forget the circumstances under which he came to appear on the program and tries to reposition himself as a regular fella raised in a hardscrabble environment--before Ingraham, contrary to her own purposes, inadvertently corrects him. It's like an attempted high-five that results in two bloody noses.

#4: 2:42 - 2:59. Drowning in his counterintuitive desire to politely bring an end to Ingraham's bashing of Stephen Baldwin's liberal yet far more successful brother Alec, the actor most recently known from "Celebrity Apprentice" blurts out: "If Barack gets nominated, I'll be moving out of the country," before quickly adding...

#3: 3:00 - 3:03. "...Now watch all the media have fun with that." Sir Stephen, if you are allowed to consider yourself a celebrity, I am allowed to consider this blog legitimate media. Therefore, I thank you: I am having fun with that.

#2: 1:24 - 1:44. "What's blowing [Stephen Baldwin's] mind" is that Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, once rivals for the Democratic presidential nomination, now stand united. According to the star of not just one but two ménage à trois movies who became a born-again Christian, such a change in viewpoint is not "authentic". One can only conclude that Stephen's boys George W. Bush and John McCain have, by contrast, always had each other's back.

#1: 3:33 - 3:45. Stephen Baldwin, celebrity Republican: "'Four more years of McCain is gonna be four more years of Bush?' That's the most stupidest thing I've ever heard in my life." Where, oh, where could any right-wing zealot have picked up such poor grammar?

Perhaps movie stars can tell us!