Crash Bag, Vol. 76: Moose Tracks

Starting to get the distinct impression that the Phillies are gaslighting me.

@asigal22: “why on earth would RAJ purposely resign Michael Martinez? I’ll take a contract too if he wants to sign bad players”

I want to rip off 3,500 words about how dumb a move it is to re-sign Mini-Mart. But you know what? I can’t anymore. I’m not as young as I once was, and I just don’t have the energy to do it anymore. I used to get angry about the Phillies routinely, like truly, passionately angry, but I’m like an old dog with arthritis and kidney disease and I don’t want to do anything anymore except lie down on the rug and give you the sad eyes and drool all over the place while I wait to die.

It doesn’t matter, but the ship is sinking and signing any roster filler this early in the offseason, let alone someone like Mini-Mart, is just…why? It’s moments like this when it becomes clear that one of the universe’s few mercies is that life is short.

@nathan_leamer: “which baseball player could [have fixed] this shutdown?”

A-Rod’s got enough money to pay for Obamacare, doesn’t he? That’d do wonders for his public image. Yeah, you might think he’s a weirdo, but he’s literally healing the sick over here.

But if we’re talking about a negotiated settlement, I think it’s got to be Mariano Rivera. He’s as close as it gets in sports to being universally beloved. It’s like him and Teemu Selanne and that’s it. He, bizarrely, seems to have moral authority–he can turn to John Boehner and say: “So you’re afraid of a small minority of the party of which you’re nominally the leader? So afraid that you’re willing to shut down the government rather than obey a law that was duly passed, upheld as constitutional, and used as a referendum for an election that its opponents lost convincingly? You’d rather shut down the government than obey this law that doesn’t turn the United States into a strict utilitarian dystopia, but instead calls for us to prioritize the medical needs of the poor and middle class over a sliver of marginal income for multimillionaires? Stop being an asshole and a coward. Shut these lunatics up and capitulate.”

At least that’s what he should say. It’d mean more coming from Mo than it would if it came from, like, Henderson Alvarez or something.

@JohnMorgera: “How far away are the Phils from contending again? A few good moves, bounce back years or should I go watch my 08 DVD and cry”

Oh, honey. Come here.

No, seriously, c’mere. (Smiles, pats empty spot on the couch, hands over a glass of whiskey)

I think you need a hug. I think we all need a hug.

But seriously, it depends a bunch of things. Does Ben Revere play more like his April or his July? Is Domonic Brown done developing? Is Cody Asche a scrub or a regular? How dead are Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins and Ryan Howard? How close to being dead is Cliff Lee?

I think the 73-89 mark the Phillies posted this past year is on the low side of reasonable expectations for next year. The Phillies are going to have some money to throw around in the offseason, but this team isn’t a $20 million-a-year contract for Shin-Soo Choo or Brian McCann away from contending again next year, particularly if their solution to plugging the various holes in the lineup is (as it was last year) to invest significant monetary assets in replacement-level players. I know I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating–last year the Phillies spent a combined $53 million and change on contracts for Ryan Howard, John Lannan, Jonathan Papelbon, Mike Adams, Delmon Young and Michael Young that not only generated a combined -0.8 WAR, but that just about nobody who knows anything thought were smart moves at the time they were made. That’s before you add in another $30 million or so on the dead rubber in salary for Jimmy Rollins and Roy Halladay, who were once extremely valuable players but aren’t really that anymore. And Howard, Rollins, Adams and Papelbon are still on the books for multiple years in the future.

And yeah, they could trade for David Price or The Mighty Giancarlo Stanton, but with what? The farm system is improving, but most of the really enticing talent is years and years away, which not only makes it useless to the Phillies in 2014, but significantly reduces its value in trade. And to put it simply–there is no value in free agency. The combination of players’ aging curves bending back to normal after the steroid era, plus the influx of TV money in recent years plus teams wising up to those factors and preventing most of the game’s good players from even reaching free agency makes it very much a seller’s market. So the Phillies aren’t good now, and there’s no easy way for them to get better in the foreseeable future. It won’t take an Astros-style rebuild to bring them back to the playoffs, but it will take patience, which is not something the current front office has had much of. Until we have a better idea of how things are going to shake out this offseason, I suggest the DVD and a box of tissues.

@VojirEsposito: “any chance the Phillies go after Tanaka if he’s posted?”

In his chat yesterday, Keith Law made a point to say that Masahiro Tanaka‘s very much not like Yu Darvish. And to a certain extent, Darvish is really the only Japanese pitcher of his kind–nobody else who’s come out of NPB has had Darvish’s velocity, breaking stuff and ability to pitch inside, which is to say NPB has only ever produced one American-style top-of-the-rotation power pitcher. When you factor in the posting fee, Tanaka’s going to cost a fortune (a fortune inflated by the success of Darvish and Tanaka’s won-lost record, which…Christ…) and while overpaying for a stud pitcher might not be a bad idea for a team with cash to burn and championship aspirations, Tanaka’s not that player and the Phillies aren’t that team.

That said, I don’t know how good Tanaka would be in the majors, nor do I know how much he’d cost in salary and posting fee, so you never know. I suppose there’s a non-zero chance the Phillies pursue him, and if they do, my reaction would be moderate disapproval.

@ilrosso_: “at what point does castigating baseball players for holding different opinions than you become fatuous?”

I think that point exists, sure, and I think it depends on the player and the opinion. As in with all situations in which I tell people how to think and behave, let’s assume, for the purposes of this answer, that everything I do and think is correct…so, you know, just so you’re aware.

The strenuousness of the castigation also matters. Let’s take Torii Hunter, for example. I have no problem spouting off about how Torii Hunter’s a homophobe, because 1) he is and 2) he’s viewed around the game as a good guy, which is something that needs to be counteracted if he’s going to keep on this hate the sin, love the sinner crap, which is a party line that is acceptable now, but shouldn’t be. On the other hand, there’s the Josh Lueke thing.

For those of you who don’t know Josh Lueke, he’s a pitcher in the Tampa Bay Rays organization and a rapist. In 2008, Lueke raped someone and plead out to “false imprisonment with violence,” whatever that is. Lueke’s criminal history has elevated his celebrity far beyond what his baseball talents would warrant, and if you poke around on the internet, the volume of words written about Lueke as a rapist is at least comparable to the volume of words spent on him as a ballplayer. For that reason, it’s in vogue to condemn Lueke whenever his name comes up, but doing that doesn’t make me feel good about myself. Which doesn’t make sense, because (and I don’t think saying this is controversial) being a rapist is a lot worse than being a homophobe, and we’re probably doing better with stamping out homophobia in sports than we are at stamping out rape culture in sports. (Don’t believe me? Read Frank Seravalli’s horrifying profile of Flyers prospect Nick Cousins, which ran in the Philadelphia Daily News in February and painted Cousins as overcoming allegations of sexual assault–since dropped–as something Cousins was overcoming, as one might overcome injury or the death of a relative.)

I don’t know why I feel that way. My best guess is that while I’m not sure there’s criticism of a rapist that counts as overboard, it’s not like anyone’s saying good things about Lueke, the way they do about Hunter. Or about Miguel Cabrera, who’s a drunk and a wife beater, but also happens to be the best hitter alive. I don’t think we should feel bad for Lueke, but while the athlete-as-rapist war is very much worth fighting–as the cases in Steubenville and Maryville and Notre Dame, among countless others that will never be reported, attest–it seems like Lueke, as a battle, has been fought. I don’t know if that’s the right way to think or not.

But on more trivial things, like Brian McCann or Miguel Montero being just a horrific redass, or whichever player or manager refusing to acknowledge any advances in strategy or analysis that took place after integration…do whatever. I get on players for that sort of thing, but it doesn’t mean that I think McCann is a bad person or anything. It’s a less serious offense, and whatever castigation follows, however strident, is very much less serious itself.

@fjrabon: “if you had to choose between Mike Davis becoming a redskin and Jackie Bradley becoming an Atlanta Brave, which?”

For those of you who don’t know, Mike Davis is a running back for South Carolina and he’s leading the SEC in rushing. He is a monster. Marcus Lattimore, his immediate predecessor, was a favorite of mine, because I love the Eddie George style of running back, the taller back who hardly ever gains more than 8 or 9 yards on a play, but is even more rarely caught for no gain or a loss. A real student body left/student body right type of runner. Davis isn’t quite as big, though he’s still got his share of power, and he’s got game-breaking speed. When I was at USC, we had a running back named Mike Davis who was just terrible. He averaged, like, 2 yards a carry and fumbled away the game-tying touchdown against Georgia my senior year–FROM HELL’S HEART I STAB AT THEE OLD MIKE DAVIS.

But this new Mike Davis–he’s alright. By which I mean he’s a monster. He’s an industrial mining machine that consumes footballs and converts them to rushing yards. I’m an unabashed Connor Shaw fan, but Mike Davis is up there on my list of current favorite Gamecocks.

Jackie Bradley you already know.

And I’d rather have him be a Redskin than have Bradley be a Brave. This is the case for the following reasons:

  1. I care about MLB more than I care about the NFL, so I hate my most hated MLB team more than I hate my most hated NFL team.
  2. The Braves are my most hated MLB team and the Redskins are behind at least the Cowboys and Giants on my list of NFL teams I hate. Maybe behind the Steelers too.
  3. Jackie Bradley’s going to play for a while. Mike Davis is a running back, and therefore will have a shorter career, if he even makes it to the NFL. Davis’ older brother James was a star running back for Clemson a few years ago and he had a cup of coffee with the Browns, but he never amounted to much in the pros. I imagine something similar will happen to Mike, so if he has, like, 120 career carries for Washington, I think I’ll live.

But what if one or both happens?

@shaquilleoseal: “what are you supposed to do when you love a player on your team’s most hated rival?”

I’ll let you in on a secret: I love most of the Atlanta Braves individually. I love the Uptons. I love Kimbrel. I love Medlen. I want Tim Hudson to be my dad. Heyward and Simmons are two of my favorite players in the game. I used to love Brian McCann, but he’s contracted some kind of sickness and I’m not sure what’s wrong with him anymore.

I say you just roll with it. (I’m going to use Andrelton Simmons as an example, because he’s a player I love on a team I hate.) It’s not like I can go out and buy an Andrelton Simmons jersey, but I can still go out of my way to watch him–or I could, if the Braves’ announcers weren’t so manifestly terrible–and witness the glories of his works. It’s a tough tightrope to walk, to love a player and hate his team, but it can be done. There’s no shame in it.

@jlwoj: “why does The Modern Athlete feel the need to derive so much of his motivation from perceived disrespect?”

I have no idea. I’ll say that I’ve occasionally derived motivation from perceived disrespect, but I have to imagine that the Cardinals being Seriously Offended by Adrian Gonzalez‘s Mickey Mouse ears is as much for the benefit of the fans as anything else. Nobody likes losing to someone who showboats, but when your fans march to the tune of a pied piper who’s a race-baiting prude, you can excuse Adam Wainwright or whoever for playing to his audience. And you know what? If the Cardinals need to do the disrespect routine to get themselves pumped up, and they think it’ll make them play better, I say they can do what they want.

Though that does bring up a different, more interesting question: if you need extra motivation to play hard in the NLCS, how dead are you inside? Wouldn’t the possibility of a shot at the World Series provide all the motivation you need? I dunno. I’ll never really understand how (if) these uber-macho jocks think.

@duyarvish: “What is your favorite flavor of ice cream to put on your waffles?”

People put ice cream on waffles? I guess that shouldn’t surprise me, even if I’ve never done it myself. When I was a kid, I was convinced that pancakes and waffles tasted different, and I’m almost certain that at some point I preferred one to the other. Which is ridiculous, of course, because they’re the same thing in a different shape.

I’m the kind of person who likes a lot of stuff in his ice cream. I went to this fro-yo place in Columbus once where they give you a cup and access to several dozen different types of frozen yogurt and a full bar of toppings and you put whatever you want in the cup, but they charge you by weight. Which is a genius idea, if you ask me–the idea of buying junk food by weight appeals to my inner glutton. And because of that, increasingly, my outer glutton as well.

So I guess you can’t very well put chocolate chip cookie dough or moose tracks ice cream on your waffles, and I feel like even straight-up chocolate would be a bit much. Wouldn’t you just have to put vanilla on top? Which I guess would taste good, but why not just do whipped cream or butter, which gives you the impression of having a big ol’ mess of dairy on your bland slab of bread, but without the time pressure that comes with melting ice cream.

Though I tell you what–I bet strawberry ice cream would be outstanding on waffles. I’m gonna try this out myself and get back to you.

@mickrunondunkin: “I’m getting married [today]. What advice do you have since you went through the day recently too?”

Boy, it’s a good thing this gets posted first thing in the morning–otherwise it might have been too late to be of use.

First of all, a most heartfelt congratulations to you and your betrothed, and may your marriage be as long and fruitful as Michael Martinez is short and awful. If you’re at this point, frankly, you’ve done all the hard stuff–finding a would-be spouse, planning the wedding and reception, wrangling friends and relatives…all of those things are a huge hassle, but it’s all done by now, I imagine, so you’re pretty much home free.

It’s easy to freak out about the day itself, because it’s a massive life event that, ideally, you only do once, so there’s pressure to do it right. Don’t. Relax–what’s the worst that can happen? Even if something goes horribly wrong, like rain or forgetting your lines or the bride (I assume, though I don’t know your gender, nor that of your betrothed) face-plants on her way down the aisle, it’ll be a funny story to tell at holidays in the future. And you should try to take it all in, but it’s going to be a blur (at least it was for me) and besides, that’s what you hired a photographer for, isn’t it?

The only things you can really do are little things. So here’s what I did that I thought made a difference, or what I wish I’d done:

  1. Go into the ceremony itself with a full stomach and an empty bladder. Once the ceremony starts, it’ll be a while before you have a chance to eat or pee again.
  2. Get someone to save you some cake. I barely had any of mine.
  3. If your hair is prone to getting messy, have someone double-check it. There’s a little clump of stray hair in all my wedding photos, and it’s going to bug me for the rest of my life. The same goes for your tie and your zipper.
  4. Dance. Not just with your new spouse when the program calls for it, but get out there and do the Macarena and so on. It’ll never be more fun to dance like an idiot.
  5. If possible, make sure you catch up with old friends. Pretty much everyone at my wedding was in from out of town, including a bunch of old college friends I hadn’t seen in a couple years. A lot of my best memories of the wedding involved just talking to people I’d missed.

So yeah, have fun, but make sure you don’t have to pee. That’s the big thing.

To all of you who aren’t getting married this weekend, y’all can have fun too. See you next Friday.

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6 comments

  1. bubba0101

    October 18, 2013 07:47 AM

    Best move I ever made was setting up my wedding in a big @$$ tent in my parents back yard. Everyone we knew came, and everyone we wanted to come was there. This allowed for 8 hours (opposed to the usual 4-5 you get at a venue). We cut the line at the buffet because it was my wedding and ate the food that we wanted there which was catered by local cooking that we already knew we loved. The 8 hours afforded everyone who wanted to to give a speech, everyone to eat until there was no food left, pictures to be taken until there was no room left on the cameras, and everyone danced and drank well into the night. I even took a 20 minute break to watch Ryan Howard produce his last meaningful at bat as a Phillie in the form of a homerun on a low breaking ball against the Cards in game 1 of the 2011 playoffs. The day could not have been more perfect. I highly suggest it. You dont need special linens and fine china and expensive everything else. Time is whats critical when its your wedding day. You need the most amount of time you can get. All those little details you agonized over for months hardly get noticed by anyone other than your mother in law.

  2. bubba0101

    October 18, 2013 11:41 AM

    Reports on the mini mart signing may have been preemptive. Everybody breathe, he may not be a phillie.

  3. Oliver

    October 18, 2013 02:08 PM

    There was a great twitter exchange where Lueke complained about a root canal and someone responded “It sure does suck to get drilled when you don’t want to” or something to that effect. I’ll post it if I can find it

  4. Gaylord

    October 18, 2013 05:06 PM

    Well you just pointed out why Torri Hunter is a good guy. Thanks I did not know that he is a man with courage to stand by his believes. Good for you Torri!!!

  5. WayneKerrins

    October 18, 2013 05:32 PM

    You love BJ? Well I suppose you’re married now.

  6. MacDuff

    October 19, 2013 11:38 AM

    I also had no idea Torri Hunter was brave and willing to stand up for what he believes. Thanks! It’s good to see that.

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