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Posts Tagged ‘Baseball’

Fat Jokes and Twitter-Baiting…

April 19, 2012 Leave a comment

Tony Kornheiser, of PTI fame, has repeatedly said that the reason he’s not on Twitter – other than being too old to know how to use the google machine – is that he knows two minutes in he’d say something stupid that would end up ruining his career. For all its greatness, Twitter is a medium that leads people to shoot from the proverbial hip, when perhaps they should take a moment to exhale.

Jays catcher JP Arencibia found himself embroiled in a little controversy this morning, when he responded to a baiting tweet by calling his combatant fat. Eric Mirlis, a sports talk show host was the subject of this tweet from the Jays embattled catcher,

@themirl please have one more donut, looks like u need it!

Most of the commentary around Arencibia’s tweet, including from the Getting Blanked guys here, has taken the stance that Arencibia was in the wrong for making a fat joke about the guy. And, I guess they are right, he probably should have simply exhaled, remembered that he’s a young, attractive (cough-at least according to my wife – cough), wealthy baseball player. Early season struggles or not, his life is pretty good. So, you’d like to think that JP would be above reacting to Twitter riff-raff goading him, plus a joke about the guy’s weight does probably cross some sort of line, but here’s my question, why in the world was a professional sports pundit tweeting to Arencibia to denigrate his play anyhow?

Scary bad stat line: @jparencibia9 ranked behind guys like Mike Morse and V-Mart so far this season…and they have not played.

You could say that this is an innocuous tweet, and that fat jokes are in bad taste, and yes, Arencibia is a professional athlete who should be above such petty repartees, but isn’t that exactly what the guy was looking for? Why else was he tweeting @ Arencibia? What’s the upside? In reading Eric Mirlis’ twitter feed, it seems that after his comment, he’s been lambasted by Arencibia fans, to which he’s responded with comments like,

Respect is a two way way street.

and,

It is about accountability. There is none on Twitter.

Mirlis is right, it is about accountability and respect. he showed neither when he chose to include Arencibia in his tweet. He’s certainly justified in posing the question to his radio listeners and he is probably justified in tweeting the question, but doesn’t including Arencibia in the tweet cross into some form of baiting? I understand that athletes are paid a lot of money, and thus have to accept some backlash and criticism as part of the job, but do they need to have that criticism rubbed directly into their face? Twitter – and the internet in general – breeds this kind of vitriol, both Mirlis’ baiting and Arencibia’s retort, but does that mean that like Mr Tony we need to just avoid it all together? Shouldn’t there be some sort of decorum required? If not from the casual (trolling) fan, then from the professionals?

Of course, as a talk show host, perhaps this is the level of decorum that Mirlis subscribes to,

To @jparencibia9 and his fans who think they are funny…my show is on this Sunday night at 10. Call in and come get me. I’m right here.

After all, as he himself says,

The down side of Twitter…even the bottom feeders can use it.

I’m sure Arencibia is thinking the same thing.

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Baseball’s Parity Problem…

April 17, 2012 Leave a comment

I wrote this about six weeks ago and never published it, because I was planning on changing the name of my blog and was waiting to do that first. One thing led to another, and, well… I’m still planning on changing the name of my blog (my wife has informed me that it’s beyond acceptable levels of sport-nerdom), just, you know, tomorrow…

Anyhow, while this isn’t exactly topical anymore, it still largely applies and since it’s written it might as well be read:

Jayson Stark, who’s a wonderful writer, despite not spelling his name properly, wrote an interesting piece earlier this week (cough-in February-cough) in which he polled several league executives to determine how many teams had the potential to win the World Series this season.

Now, lets deal with the question first, before getting to the results. The question, how many teams, going into the season, have even the slightest hope of winning the World Series, could really be rephrased, “how many teams have a chance to make the playoffs this year?” As we’ve seen the last two seasons with the Giants and the Cardinals popping champagne in November, you don’t have to be the best team, because once you reach the playoffs, it’s anyone’s game.

And, of course, opportunities to make the playoffs are going to be a little better this year than they’ve been in the past, which must be considered in the equation, but still if you read Stark’s article, the executives he spoke with identified an astounding 19 different teams capable of winning the World Series. They unanimously identified 12 as being contenders – and Boston wasn’t one of the 12.

For all the caterwauling about how baseball needs a salary cap and how only the rich can win, we are truly in an era of almost universal parity. Even without the second wild card, you have to believe that more than 15 teams can at least play the “IF” game (ie. “IF Colby Rasmus remembers how to hit a ball, IF Brandon Morrow learns to pitch with runners on base, IF Kyle Drabek or Brett Cecil can tap into their potential…). Despite what those polled thought, the Red Sox are certainly title contenders, as are – obviously – the Yanks and Rays. If everything broke right, as it did for the Rays in 2008, then the Jays could sneak in. That’s four. The AL central has the front-running Tigers and with a few breaks, the Indians could squeak into contention. So, now we’re at six. Out West there’s only two options, the two time AL champion Rangers and the reloaded Angels will both beat the snot out of the Mariners and A’s. So, now we’re at eight from the AL alone.

The NL has even greater parity. The East has four teams who are reasonable picks to play in October (sorry Mets fans…). Even after losing Pujols and Fielder, the Cardinals and Brewers shouldn’t surprise anyone by winning the central, neither should the Reds. That’s seven NL teams and 15 overall. And the NL West? Well, everybody’s aboard the Diamondbacks bandwagon, but the year before that everyone was championing the Giants and Rockies, and despite their ownership mess, the Dodgers boast the best position player and pitcher in the league. So, that’s everyone out West except the Padres. Four more teams, giving us an absurd 11 teams in the 16 team NL with playoff hopes.

All told, that means that only fans of 11 teams enter the 2012 season dreaming of the 2013 season. What does that mean? It means that absurd payroll discrepancies or not, parity is not a problem in baseball.

Don’t believe me?

In the twelve years since the turn of the century, 15 teams have played in the World Series. That’s half of baseball. And an astounding nine of those fifteen teams have scheduled a parade in the week following the series. What about all those leagues with more stringent salary caps? Well the lordly NFL, for all its wonderful parity, has seen a similar 15 teams in the Super Bowl – however with two more teams, that’s a slightly lower percentage of the league – and they’ve only crowned eight different champions. The NBA, which due to the nature of the sport, is perhaps the least capable of having true parity, has sent 11 teams to the championship, with only six different winners. Only the NHL can match MLB’s record of contestants throughout the early part of this century, matching MLB with 15 Stanley Cup combatants, and nine different teams drinking from the Cup.

Of course, the NHL crowned their 15 and 9 in one fewer season than baseball. That’s because hockey lost an entire year of their sport to a lockout that ensured the owners could implement a hard cap… So, yeah. All things being equal, I’ll take my sport, sans salary cap, with 12 full seasons of play, 15 different teams in the World Series, and 9 different champions.

Parity Indeed!

Birds chirping…

February 17, 2010 2 comments

So this morning I was trying to enjoy those final fleeting moments of sleep, when to my chagrin this persistent sound kept waking me up. It was like an opera singer trying to swallow a chain-saw. I pulled a pillow over my head, but the incessant little juke box just kept chirping. Finally, I hauled myself out of bed, stormed to the window and glared out.

And yet, my irritation at the interruption was quickly abated, for sitting on the top of the birch tree outside of my window was a tiny little Blue Jay. My displeasure at his announcing the dawn before I was ready to receive it, could not remain as I looked on this small creature of beauty. He was striking. Elegant, perched strongly on the branch, his plume the color of the Northern Pacific in April. His chest puffed nobly out, he was a revelation, a sight of something pure and sacred.

Unfortunately, as I was watching my Jay, an Oriole came flying overtop and dropped a strange looking package on the bird. It looked like a stuffed animal, but the ominous feeling in my gut told me that this was no teddy bear. I shouted a warning to my Blue Jay, but his chirping dumbed out the sound of my voice.

As the package descended it began to look more like a squirming tube sock. It was only as it was almost upon my Jay, that I realized it was a savage looking Ray (not to be confused with a satanic looking Ray), wrapped in a Red Sock. My poor Jay was under attack, and just as I thought he might fend off the Socked Ray, the Oriole returned to join the fight. Three on one! I knew it was not a fair fight and that the only noble thing was for me to join the battle.

Agitated, I struggled to open the window in hopes of helping defend my Jay, but just as I sprang through the frame, a pin stripped American bomb dropped from the sky and obliterated the grappling Ray, the Sock, the Oriole, and alas my poor Jay.

I knew then that this display could mean only one thing…

Pitchers and catchers are reporting for Spring Training this week! Which means two things for you. First, soon I’ll stop writing five posts a week about basketball, and second you can go here and read Joe Posnanski’s outstanding February preview of the upcoming baseball season. Yes, the season is still almost two months away and yes, my Jays will struggle to win 75 games, but… thank ghandi baseball’s back.

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