Friday, October 24, 2008

World Series Live Blog, Game 2

Tim McCarver's Keys to the Game
Phillies - Where is Ryan Howard?
Rays - Don't want to go back to Philly down 0-2... no kidding

Keys to the Game Tim Somehow Skipped:
• Score more runs than the other team

• Try to keep other team from scoring more runs than you

• Though called "baseball," in the game, a base and a ball are in fact two different things

• Pitching — fuck, that'll help ya

• The small mouse that lives in my head and has adventures is named Scraps. He is scrappy and does things to my brain the way they're meant to be done, with mouse fundamentals.

Buck: The guy who LITERALLY jump-starts this Phillies offense.

No wonder Jimmy Rollins strikes out: his arms are wired to a car and he's being repeatedly electrocuted. Literally blown, is my mind.

Some Time When I Was Watching the Game on DVR Because the Wife Wanted to Finish Watching a Movie, so I Had No Idea What Time These Things Happened
• Longoria stops a FAST liner at third, bouncing it off his arm and throwing out the runner. Nice. Redeems some of his miscues from the LCS.

• McCarver starts rattling on about Don Zimmer for no real reason anyone can determine. Points out that Zimmer is old and played baseball and also managed it. Can't say I saw that coming, but I really regret how this is taking away from discussion about Tropicana Field, like: "it has a roof, which keeps rain out," and, "the playing surface has been designed for baseball." Missing from McCarver's commentary:
• that Zimmer once commented on a series in which his team went 2-2 that "it could just as easily have gone the other way";
• that apparently he walks around the clubhouse with his elderly penis waggling in the breeze, despite doing nothing whatsoever (short of maybe soiling himself) during the course of a game that could possibly cause him to need to take a shower afterward;
• that he's got a head the size of a Volkswagen.

• "BJ Upton attempts a bunt. That makes sense.... NOT!"
— Borat

This post brought to you by people on the internet who are not funny. Very nice, sexytime.

• Now Upton lines a single to right that he turns into a double after Lurch muffs fielding the ball. No, why did he do that? I would much rather he made a useless out by sacrifice bunting and advancing the runner by only one base!

McCarver: Choose your poison.

A. This isn't insightful.
B. It's "pick your poison." It's a memorable expression because of the consonance.
C. I want to make you die.

• Ryan Howard is basically Pedro Cerrano at this point. I'm sure he like Jesus Chrise verah much, but he no help with curveball.

Oh, great, he hits a fuckin double just after I think that. Okay, that's the way you want to be, baseball gods? All the Phillies' hitters possess a peerless excellence. They smell like the Lake at Dunloe after a fresh spring rain — not like Irish Spring soap, mind you: they are so authentic that they sweat lakewater. Rudy Giuliani once looked Pat Burrell in the eye, and Burrell's gaze back at him actually stopped another 9/11. Cole Hamels threw a ball so hard that it converted a militant Wahabbi to christianity and scrapbooking. Chase Utley once farted really hard and instead of sharting, a part of the True Cross came out.

• Second wild pitch gets by Navarro. This is a disturbing trend, considering how many sliders and change ups the Rays pitchers like to throw.

McCarver: Sounds like an Andy Griffith commercial. Jimmy throws out Floyd. Floyd the Barber.

I guess the audio cut out after that, because here's what he must have gone on to say:

McCarver: Pink Floyd is a band, but Pink is a woman who sang the Sunday Night Football opening theme for its first year. Al Michaels and John Madden commentate on Sunday Night Football. John Maddden and Joe Maddon have similar sounding names, but they are not related. Neither are Evan and Eva Longoria. Longoria is hitless so far in this game. A game is a form of play or sport, especially a competitive one played according to rules and decided by skill, strength, or luck. You know who could use some luck here? The Phillies could use some to stop the Rays. A ray is a line with one fixed point. A "d'oh" is not a deer but an expression by Homer Simpson that is written down in scripts as "annoyed grunt." Me is a name I call myself. My name is Tim McCarver. A mouse named Scraps lives inside my own head, and while I'm a city guy, one time a country mouse came and visited Scraps there, because Scraps was proud of being a city mouse and wanted to show him a good time, but apparently I nearly stabbed them both to death with the Q-Tip I taped to the end of a pencil to really, really get in there and get that sucker clean inside, and the country mouse eventually left and said, "Better beans and bacon in peace than cakes and ale in fear because of the White Cotton Sparring Baton of Death." Funnily enough, that's exactly what hall of fame manager Earl Weaver once said to me. I think he was high on dope, which the kids call reefer. Speaking of reefs, there is a tank filled with rays in center field. They are both geometry and distant relatives of sharks. I would hate to be eaten by a ray like the president of Australia.

• Anyone who doesn't like Rocco Baldelli is dead inside or a terminal asshole. By the seventh inning, his legs start shaking and burning.

• Joe Buck especially, but also McCarver, keep talking about how Baldelli has a mitochondrial problem, despite the fact that probably 80% of the audience has no fucking clue what that means. I mean, not that I really expect two unregenerate twits like Buck and McCarver to say something like
mitochondria, or a mitochondrion, is an organelle — which is basically an organ within your body's cells — that is often called the powerhouse of the cell. This is because its function is to aid in processing things like glucose, which is a simple sugar that you need for energy and basically to survive. Because Baldelli's mitochondria don't function properly, he's constantly exhausted in the same way most people would be after running a marathon. Not only does that make the poor guy's quality of life decline, but it also means that if his problem got worse, his life could be in jeopardy. I know announcers like us tend to overplay injuries sometimes for the sake of drama, but it's pretty incredible that he's even out there, much less making great plays
but on the other hand, I remembered all that from 9th grade biology and ad-libbed that as fast as possible. What I'm saying, here, is: your average announcers for major American broadcasts are dumber than a high school freshman.

• Speaking of Rocco, he checks his swing too late and comes around, but the home-plate umpire not only rules him out (correctly), he then appeals to the first-base umpire, who rules the check swing as good. Baldelli advances to first on a walk.

McCarver: You cannot! You cannot make the call and then appeal!

Now, I don't know if this is true. I'm tempted to say it isn't, because Tim McCarver is dumber than a sack of boiled screws, but I haven't heard him this angry since the 2004 ALCS, when the Boston Red Sox stubbornly went off script and kept defeating the New York Yankees, who McCarver mistakenly seems to think still pay him as the team color commentator. I've honestly never heard him this outraged since "Brandon" Arroyo tagged out A-Rod after A-Rod's exasperated drag-queen slap at the ball.

What causes this? Where does it come from? Right now, Scraps must be inserting small color photos in front of McCarver's retinas of people making frowny faces at Derek Jeter and sneeringly telling him that his eyes aren't calm at all.

• Rays send Baldelli home, charging Phillies' catcher Ruiz, but he is tagged out. Still, Rocco made that play the same way he makes his endoplasmic reticula: rough. BAH GAWD! BAH GAWD! RUIZ HAS CELLS AND ORGANELLES, AND BALDELLI JUST DOESN'T CARE!!!!

• And now a brief note about Joe Buck. Buck is not categorically stupid; mostly, he just oozes lazily down to a level of effort-free ignorance. McCarver and his naked pro-Yankee bias and bewilderingly insipid attempts at free verse tends to draw most of the fire. But Buck deserves just as much. He's admitted to barely caring about baseball in the past, which makes his selection as play-by-play announcer for the WORLD SERIES an annual insult. It's also fairly tactless and stupid of him, since his break came calling baseball games for the St. Louis Cardinals — a gig that everyone in America knows he got via his daddy, Jack Buck, the Voice of the Cardinals. Buck manages to look a gift horse in the mouth, only he does so both laconically and ignorantly. The sad thing is, most people would instantly forgive him his shortcomings if he displayed any earnest enthusiasm at all.

Only he doesn't. While people like John Madden get old and a little loopy or people like commentator Jerome Bettis get too keyed up and slightly off the mark, nobody can really bear them much resentment, because they owe their respective longevity and naivete to a totally sincere love of what they're doing. You can't hate Madden or The Bus because, to a certain extent, they are and always will be big kids out there. Buck, meanwhile, is too cool for school, as if indicating any joy in his work would sound like so much "care" from some lame-ass "try-hard." He describes home run calls with the sort of enthusiasm most people devote to recounting their latest tire rotation and balance. Calls for unremarkable baseball incidents receive mute disinterest that lies somewhere between the funerary and bored. It wouldn't be so noticeable if he didn't light up with total exuberance whenever reading the latest shilling blather for FOX's prime-time lineup of shows. "GOOD NEWS, 24 FANS!" he practically shouts.

I mention all this because the camera flashed to the booth, with senior-citizen McCarver sitting on a stool and practically fidgeting with anxiousness — exuding a child-like anticipation for what would come next, a sincere pleasure that instantly made me want to take back some of my disdain for him. Meanwhile Buck sat in a padded swivel chair, his fingers interlaced, looking for all the world like the plastic nothingness of a member of the Jedi Council in one of the new Star Wars movies, where George Lucas managed to confuse an expression of "probably dead and no one noticed yet" with "Vedic calm."

(seconds later, to McCarver)
Buck: You look nice, by the way, tonight.

I guess "let's take time out from being embarrassments at our jobs to blow each other for failing on so massive and carefree a scale!" would have been off-putting for the nation.

• McCarver, when talking about Ryan Howard hitting through the shift, mentions that the Cleveland Indians manager Lou Boudreau pioneered the "shift" against Red Sox slugger Ted Williams. Legendary hit-for-average player Ty Cobb once recommended to Williams that he slap balls late, sending them into left field, where there were no players who could get the ball because they'd all shifted to the right. Williams told Cobb, "I'll just hit it through the shift." McCarver's observation is silly because it compares apples and oranges. Williams is arguably the smartest hitter in baseball history and probably the third-greatest in adjusted numbers over all (trailing only Babe Ruth and Barry Bonds), and might have had the greatest numbers ever, had he not put his career on hold to serve in both WWII and Korea. Williams was the highest paid player on the Red Sox, paid for his big bat, and thus tried to hit through the shift because he believed it was his obligation to try to hit home runs and exploit Fenway's short porch in right, rather than going for cheap singles opposite field to left. Ryan Howard, meanwhile, hits baseballs through the shift in right because he doesn't know how to hit any other way.

• Rocco beats out the throw to first! Attaboy, Rocco! I seriously love Rocco Baldelli right now, although I loved rooting for him years ago. The first time I ever saw him play in person, at the Trop in 2003, I watched him hit a home run that won the game. (I might be misremembering this, but it feels like it's correct.) He gave me yet another glimmer of false hope about the Rays.


• Oh, boy, it's Dan Wheeler! Time for some more 89 mph fastballs right over the plate!

• Wheeler hangs a curveball that Ruiz hits about 500 feet into the outfield, foul.

• Wheeler walks the #9 hitter.

• Wheeler gets a strikeout on a hit-and-run, which is pretty much the only way he gets strikeouts.

• Oops, forgot the other way he gets strikeouts: cheap shit off the plate called strike for no reason under God.


You know, if you ask me to seriously explain what I hate about the terrorist attacks on the United States, my first response is naturally going to be: 3,000 innocent people killed. My second is probably going to be the cheapening of American discourse from accusations of insufficient patriotism, ludicrous claims of traitorousness, a Manichean worldview that admits no subtlety, the utter destruction of our international credibility and the carte blanche that enabled the Bush administration to pursue a war of choice while annihilating the American economy with irresponsible borrowing and sumptuous tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans. But if it's the 7th inning of a baseball game, I'll probably tell you the worst part of 9/11 is watching some jackass lead the crowd through what usually amounts to little more than a jingoistic attitude of fuck-the-rest-of-the-world-because-we-fucking-rule-so-hard wrapped up in one of the worst songs ever written. Also, at Yankee stadium, if you try to leave your seat during GAWBLESSAMURCA, security will seriously fuck you up and eject you. At least their shirts are appropriately black.

• Fans start chanting, "Nah nah nah-nah, NAH NAH NAH-NAH, HEY HEY HEY, GOODBYE." Good idea. Except the Rays have to win three more games for that to be even close to relevant. Thanks, Rays fans in attendance, for validating the prejudiced and silly arguments of all those sports fans who categorically dismiss (without context) the value of any fanbase for a team that isn't a century old.

• A 2-out, 1-run homer by a guy every single Philly fan was probably apopleptic was pinch-hitting in the first place. At least the Rays fans threw the ball back.

• Maddon leaves Price in for about a billion pitches, after he's already shown he's getting shaky. Glad to see that he's decided to blow out his arm and shatter his psyche in one night. It's as if Maddon looked at all the goodwill and praise he's gotten for being an unconventionally erudite and cagy manager and said, "I can undo this is just a handful of games." Although, to be perfectly honest, this is totally unsurprising to anyone who's followed the Rays all season. Maddon stubbornly kept bringing in Troy Perceval in close games, despite his: (a) losing them; and (b) being so old that throwing one pitch usually blew out a hamstring, which he'd then grittily ignore so he could continue pitching terribly.