Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Five Stupid Arguments About Josh Lueke

Rooting for the Rays is an easy and likable activity. They have a smart manager and players with positive or at least neutral personalities. Their front office embraces critical thinking and new ideas. And sitting in the AL East with teams with monstrous payrolls, bigger fanbases and better stadiums makes rooting for them seem somehow just. Being an underdog by dint of fewer opportunities gives them an air of superiority in terms of baseball-fan morals.

Trading for Josh Lueke changes the gravity of the Rays' baseball universe.

Lueke has pitched all of 32 innings in the big leagues, and he may develop into a fine reliever, or he may not. It doesn't really matter. What matters is that the Rays might have obtained yet another undervalued player. Only, in this case, he's undervalued because he probably raped a woman.

In 2008, while pitching for the Class A Bakersfield Blaze, Lueke and some teammates brought a woman home with them. All of them were drunk. The next morning, feeling violated, the woman went to a hospital and requested a rape kit. The last thing she remembered before waking up with her pants off was a man ejaculating on her back and hair while she vomited into a toilet. DNA tests later proved that Lueke had sodomized her, despite his initially claiming that he'd had no sexual contact with her.

Already, the Rays' trade has created endless discussions no fan or human being really wants to have — the kind that foist a sudden need for armchair forensics, jurisprudence and politics onto people who'd rather just talk about baseball and would rather not discover the sexual politics of those around them. A lot of them are predictable and will probably be rehashed over the course of the season, and a lot of them are ugly. For all our sakes, let's get rid of them:

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Completely RedZoning Out

At the end of this year's MLB postseason, I got a few IMs from people asking a variation of one question, "Where's JShap?" For the last two years, a writer I know has joined me for a chat-form "liveblog" of a playoff game. The first time was mere chance; he was around, and the game was miserable. The second time was planned, and this year he indicated that there was "no way [he was] watching a World Series game where Tony La Russa [was] coaching."

Despite this polite demurral, he suggested that it might be fun to see if anybody could make sense out of watching hours of NFL RedZone. Two people, one channel, countless games, no commercials, no downtime, no respite. Could anybody build a narrative or real understanding of football in that time? Could they say something profound about the game?

Here's the thing: they can't. If you want to have a conversation via any media, interact with some other form of communication, tend to children or pets, do chores, cook food — if, in fact, you want to do anything other than devote total attention to NFL RedZone, you will lose the thread. If you're willing to totally commit to it, it's possible to appreciate the pace and stakes of all the games that air on it. It's not beyond human understanding. But taking yourself out of it even for a little while renders it NFL A.D.D.

Still, we did our best, and we present that below, edited down from a monstrosity many times its size. A final note on the text, however: JSHAP is not actually named JSHAP, nor would anyone consider calling him that in real life. He needed a pseudonym, and it was a play on baseball's compulsion to call people "A-Rod" and "A-Gon." It's a stupid name, not reflective of the real person. However, this negative comment on naming schemes should not carry over to my other friends, Hench, Hopper, Dwelling and Jacqueline Onassis.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Penn State: 'Did They Do Enough?'

Note: unlike many guest pieces on Et tu, Mr. Destructo? today's article comes from a real, live person: the mysterious Mr. Awesome, an underemployed law school graduate. He wants a job, very badly. He will also do part-time writing or editing work. He would like to be paid money. He would also enjoy health insurance, but nothing fancy. He fears nothing and has great credentials.

Pretend Moral Quandaries for People Who Don't Know Anything

From the outset, news coverage of the Penn State scandal has baffled me. Like all good law students, I sat through Legal Ethics 101. The practices and procedures of internal reporting requirements are burned into my brain. I saw correspondents and talking heads going on about whether Joe Paterno, Mike McQueary, et al "did enough" by internally reporting these allegations in and through the Penn State bureaucracy.

I thought to myself, "Self, this is a corporate lawyer question. Why are these journalists asking corporate lawyer questions?" This news coverage confused me, gave me distorted, sideways flashbacks to the legal ethics course, only with everything just slightly off — like talking to an old friend in a dream, and he was an accomplice to decades of rape.

Monday, November 21, 2011

CLASSICAL: Tim Tebow, Magical White Person

A few weeks back, I was invited to contribute to a sportswriting startup called The Classical. They liked an article idea I sent in, and rather than respond to an email asking me for a fuller outline, I ignored it for two days and instead submitted a complete and entirely unrelated thing about TIM TEBOW.

Click on the Football Jesus to be taken to The Classical:

Right now, The Classical exists only in preview format, but it should launch next month with full bells and whistles. For now, you should check out the roster of staff writers and Google and track down their back catalogues. It's a pretty fantastic group.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

VICE: 'Really? Newt Gingrich?'

Bad historian, worse novelist, wife-and-idea recycler and generally insufferable fatlord Newt Gingrich took the lead in the race for the Republican presidential nominee this weekend. Finding Newt in the lead in this horrific contest despite all the pragmatic assumptions about his chances and his sincerity is like overhearing someone start to tell a mortifyingly inappropriate joke at a cocktail party and then realizing that there is no punchline — someone actually means this.

Of course, Gingrich's surge comes on the same weekend that Mitt Romney was supposed to hit people with a gangbusters announcement that would reward them for spending 48 hours walking around with iPhones in front of their faces and frantically hitting REFRESH on social media. Naturally there was no announcement. At all. What can it possibly mean?

For more, click on the smilin' Newt and the Manson-eyed mantis below to be taken to Vice:

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

'The Shadows of the Night'

We, the good people of Et tu, Mr. Destructo? are a pretty collegial lot. We like to chat on instant-messenger services with each other, because often one of us will discover an illegal stream and password to an Irkutsk-originating pay-per-view video of human or animal bloodsport. Last night, as I polished a new column for Vice, and General Rehavam Ze'evi worked on Part IV of his three-part series on Libya, our thoughts turned to ways to help drive more traffic to this website:

You should embed a Pat Benatar Youtube to get more pageloads. Everyone loves her.

It would probably have to be the video for "Shadows of the Night," for the one-two punch of Judge Reinhold and Bill Paxton.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Attaboy, Bloomberg!

Apparently between appointments to explain to people that minorities and poor would-be homeowners tanked the American economy with billions of dollars of debt brought on by 40-1 leveraging, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg decided to wipe the hippie smears off one of his parks. So long, for now, Occupy Wall Street.

I'm sure Bloomberg thinks he has a plan, and I'm sure he's wrong.

Bloomberg's office claimed that Zucotti Park had to be scoured of people and, with them, unsanitary elements that created a public health and fire hazard. Of course, all this potential epidemic and death lurked in the park before nightfall, before the eleven o'clock news, before people were at home asleep. They would also lurk tomorrow, in daylight, when people watch television or are on their way to work.

Given the sophistication of the economic cleansing — subway lines and the Brooklyn Bridge shut down, a mobile infantry division of police and vans, helicopter support and airspace denied to news helicopters, press stripped of credentials and removed from the park — it's difficult to view it as anything other than suppression, both of coverage and of the Occupy Wall Street movement itself.

Monday, November 14, 2011

The Man Who Wouldn't Learn


It is October 11, and ESPN's Buster Olney has opinions about things. Specifically, he thinks the list of candidates to fill the hole Andy MacPhail has left in the Baltimore Orioles' front office has six names on it: Tony LaCava of the Blue Jays, J.P. Riccardi of the Mets, Dan Jennings of the Marlins, Gerry Hunsicker of the Rays, Josh Byrnes of the Padres and Thad Levine of the Rangers. All Assistant General Managers or the equivalent, all men with rock-solid backgrounds in player development, all men with proven success in that role. It is a good list.

Local media sources in Baltimore, the Sun's Peter Schmuck most prominent among them, suggest that perhaps even this list is too long—that the Orioles are working off a list of five and do not intend to add any more candidates.

Then the madness begins. In a matter of days, Jennings and Riccardi drop off, replaced almost immediately by De Jon Watson (Dodgers) and Jerry Dipoto (Diamondbacks). Hunsicker indicates he isn't interested in the job by way of the not-a-blog of ex-New York Times sportswriter and current baseball grump Murray Chass.

Then Logan White (also Dodgers) and Al Avila (Tigers) pop up as candidates, as does Darren Oppenheimer (Yankees, and only the Scouting Director). Byrnes and Levine disappear as quickly. There are whispers that the Orioles even want to speak with Tony Reagins, the last general manager of the Los Angeles Angels—the guy who traded for Vernon Wells on purpose and, one would hope, while sober.

But that's fine; by October 25 the top two candidates on the list, Dipoto and LaCava, have already visited the large brick warehouse looming over Camden Yards' right field and have not only met with the Orioles search committee but also spoken with owner Peter Angelos himself. Most have Dipoto as the favorite for the job, with LaCava a very strong second. Both men are supremely qualified, relatively young and very highly regarded in their field. For the first time in years, things in the Baltimore front office are looking up.

One week later, Angelos and his Orioles are again the laughingstock of Major League Baseball.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

VICE: 'Herman Cain—One of the Good Ones!'

If Herman Cain knew his greatest value to the GOP was providing distracting cover for "reliable" candidates, he definitely overdid it. Too hardworking and Republican. If only he'd been a "liberal black" about it—lolling his stupefied, unemployed head in squalor and super-fertility, in between compulsively voting for Clintons—he might still have only one sexual harassment allegation and a weird campaign ad starring Joe Camel's sickly cousin, Joe Weasel.

Instead, he apparently tried to grope everything female in the United States, up to and including those so designated only after gender reassignment surgery. So now he's only got one real use: race-based tokenism!

Click the Herm below to be taken to Vice:

Sunday, November 6, 2011

The Final Beauty of David Freese


David Richard Freese is 28 years old and looks a bit like a young Sean Penn. He was born in Corpus Christi, TX, but grew up in the St. Louis, MO metropolitan area. He grew up a Cardinals fan, of course. He almost went to school with Ryan Howard; he was four years behind Philadelphia's first baseman at West Lafayette High.

In a way, Freese is lucky: born in 1983, he drifts through the bittersweet 1985 and 1987 postseasons. The Cardinals began October in first place in the NL East both those years under manager Whitey Herzog, forced Game 7 of the World Series both years—and lost. Here's a sign of how much times have changed: in 1985, they were bested by the Kansas City Royals; in 1987, by the Minnesota Twins.

It is October 28, 2011. The Twins' and Royals' seasons ended almost a month ago, both bitter disappointments, but David Freese is still playing. In fact, he's less than twenty-four hours removed from the best game of his life, when he tripled in the bottom of the ninth with two strikes, two outs and two on, to tie the game, then ended it in the eleventh with a walk-off solo shot to straightaway center.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

VICE: 'Herman Cain: Gaffer Credit'

The good people at, or at least one of them, asked me to start writing for them about the politics and the goings on and things these days. It's exactly like being Andy Rooney, except with a bigger word count, more facts and hundreds of thousands of dollars less. Although, as was the case with Andy, being concerned about what I think also portends senescence and death.

Because he's been dominating the news cycle lately, I was asked to share a few words about Herman Cain, who's doing his damnedest to create the political version of Napoleon's march from Moscow. Click the Herm below to be taken to Vice:

A "Part II" may follow next week, depending on how Cain and his supporters in the GOP punditry respond to the deepening allegations of his sexual improprieties.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Bankrupt Politics and Occupy Wall Street


On October 15, 24 Occupy Wall Street protesters walked into the Citibank at 555 LaGuardia Place with the intention of closing their accounts and, presumably, taking their money elsewhere. Because this completely legal act by a group of peaceful demonstrators was admittedly difficult to distinguish from a bank heist, they were locked in the bank and then arrested by the NYPD.

Media coverage of the confrontation—both local and national—was quite thorough. But while reportage on the Occupy movement has been impressive in its breadth, there has been an utter dearth of analysis from these same outlets. Indeed, if not for the heavy-handed response from the police, this action would almost certainly have gone unnoticed by the media. Meanwhile, questions like, "What did 24 protesters think they were accomplishing by withdrawing their money from the bank?"; "Do such lifestyle decisions constitute substantive politics?" and, "Can such politics pose a realistic threat to the prevailing political-economic order?" go unasked and unanswered.