Baseball Toaster Bad Altitude
The Greatest Play I Ever Saw, and You Missed It
2008-07-08 10:29
by Mark T.R. Donohue

I've been slammed with non-baseball concerns lately, and it's really beginning to eat away at my mental well-being. I've been stacking up questions I have about the rest of the season and reactions to major news for days, but there's always something else on the agenda. I had a retail shift I couldn't get out of on Friday and I missed not only the fireworks but also the greatest comeback in Rockies history. The sad, unused ticket for that game could have gone into my stack of unforgettable Coors Field memories along with all of the playoff games from last season, the game I caught the home run ball during, and the game when the hot drunk girl took off her shirt and ran into center field.

Then the All-Star rosters were announced and justice was served: Aaron Cook got his spot. Cook's inclusion was never very much in doubt since Clint Hurdle was the guy making the call, but hopefully he'll get into the game and give the 99.5% of baseball fans unaware of how great a season he's having a wake-up call.

The point about most if not all All-Star viewers not knowing that Aaron Cook is one of the best starters in the NL this year has wider applications. Every season every national sports website runs one if not several articles about how unjust the All-Star rosters are. I just don't see what the point of making a fuss is. The All-Star game isn't about "real" fans anymore and hasn't been since the 70's. It's now a glitzy bit of mass-produced PR arranged to allow baseball the chance to rouge itself up and prostitute its product for its advertisers for a few days. You know, like the NFL does year-round. I stopped watching the game a few years ago and I haven't missed it. In fact, it's kind of nice having those few days in the middle of the season to not have to worry about keeping track of whether all the teams I care about (which, positively or negatively, is pretty much all of them; I think the only team in either league which I have no feelings about whatsoever is the Rangers) won or lost. Nothing of significance happens during the All-Star Break, and it's a time for actual baseball fans to recharge their batteries, just like all of the players who weren't elected to the game.

The counterargument to the "it just doesn't matter" thing is the World Series home-field advantage aspect. But that's just what they want you to think. The results of an exhibition game played between two groups of players mostly trying to avoid injury with 30-man rosters and pitchers being changed every two innings are no more or less arbitrary a way of deciding home-field than the old system. As you may remember, the involved former method determined which league's representative got Game 7 by whether it was an odd- or even-numbered year. Why they can't just go to the team with the better record like every other sport (that plays multi-game playoff series) has never made sense to me or anyone else.

Few more things, quickly, as my schedule isn't easing up any time soon: I'm really intrigued by the C.C. Sabathia trade, for a few reasons. One is that I used to be a Cubs fan and now that I'm an apostate I really don't want to see them win the World Series; I'd feel like a lifelong Christian who finally threw in the towel and became an atheist only to see the Rapture occur the next day. So I'm pulling for the Crüe for that reason. Also, even though last season's anomaly makes it harder to recognize, the Brewers are a team further along on the same path that the Rockies should be following. If they can win and stay good, Colorado can too.

I have a bunch of relatives attending the Twins-Red Sox game tonight, so I'll be flipping between the Rockies, the Brewers, and that game. Look for my peeps on TV, if you know what they look like. If you don't, well, think of what I look like and then look for the same thing only shorter and less bearded. And balder. (Sorry, Dad.)

I was really broken up when I found out that the Rockies came back from nine down on the 4th of July. Really broken up. I might have even cried a little, you'll have to check with my girlfriend. After I got over the disappointment, though, I felt happy. And refreshed. It felt tremendously good to know that I still cared so much about the results of a single game even in the midst of a blown season. As I decided earlier this summer, I am stuck with the Rockies. They're in my blood now. I don't think I'll be experiencing another conversion like I did after the 2003 NLCS. Good season or bad season, this is my team, and I want to be there for them for the highs and the lows. The fact that I can find highs in a season like this proves my commitment, I suppose.

They called from work this morning -- woke me up -- to ask if I could come in on the 22nd. I looked at my calendar and saw that I have a ticket for the game that night, Rockies and Dodgers. I told them where they could stick it. I'm going back to Coors Field, baby! All we have first is a couple more real games, a few days off, and one fake game.

2008-07-08 12:43:46
1.   Kels
I just ran through every team in the league and the Nationals finished last on my Care-o-Meter…the Rangers would have been there but Ian Kinsler has been carrying my fantasy team.
2008-07-08 14:17:18
2.   Mark T.R. Donohue
1 I used to love the Expos, and still do. I have an Expos t-shirt and hat combo (the old tri-color one, tres bien) and always get very interesting reactions from folks when I wear them out. So I kind of have an affection for the Nationals, even if they're only a shadow of Les 'Spos. I bought a hat and a t-shirt online the day the logos were rolled out. Otherwise:

NL East
Mets- like 'em because they're not the Yankees and their history is really colorful
Braves- hate 'em, mostly for stealing Greg Maddux when I was 12 and being playoff chokers. And "Scout's Honor."
Marlins- like them, because I have sympathy for any team with no money and no fans... also, the way they stuck it to NYY in '03
Phillies- hate 'em, ever since I read Curt Flood's autobiography and read about the racist Philly fans

NL Central
Cubs- Kind of like an ex-girlfriend. They broke my heart but I wish them well in a general sort of way, except I would rather they not win the World Series
Cardinals- Love them, actually, because of their awesome history and fans. And beautiful jerseys.
Pirates- Like 'em. Clemente, 'nuff said.
Astros- Mixed feelings. For some reason during the 80's and early 90's when my dad and I would go to a game, it was the Astros a massively disproportionate amount of the time (particularly given that they weren't in the Cubs' division at the time) and we got sick of them. But then I lived in Houston (for a very brief time) and the only happy memory of the whole experience was going to an Astros convention at MinuteRon Field. I even bought a Brad Lidge jersey to commemorate my leaving Texas permanently. So weirdly, I associate the Astros with getting the hell out of Texas... which is a positive association
Brewers- Big fan, particularly from the year after I quit being a Cubs fan and before I moved away from Chicago (2004). I went to quite a few Brewers games that year and I love the food at Miller Park, Bernie Brewer, "Roll Out the Barrel," and the ball and glove logo that I didn't realize for like 15 years formed an "mb"
Reds- Marge Schott. Rob Dibble. Pete Rose. Joe Morgan (well, as a player there was nothing objectionable about Joe Morgan but the atrocities he's committed in the broadcast booth more than outweigh that). Their stupid running baseball guy logo. The fact that for a time in the 30's they tried to change their name to avoid the association with Communists. Like the Communists, the Reds suck.

NL West
Rockies- I'm a fan
Dodgers- The current Dodgers team I pretty much hate the guts of across the board, but the franchise I admire very much. Jackie Robinson, Sandy Koufax, Vin Scully? You can't possibly be a baseball fan without being at least a little tiny bit of a Dodgers fan. San Franciscans excepted.
Giants- I lived in the Bay Area for five years and went to way more A's games than Giants games, although I went to quite a few of both. I don't like their overrated, ad-laden ballpark or the fact that nobody went to the games when they played at Candlestick and everyone's supposed to pretend that's not true. And Barry Bonds ranks up there among the all-time assholes of the game. But you can't have seen a team as many times as I've seen the Giants (in SF, Colorado, and Arizona) and not have some warm feelings for them
Diamondbacks- Deep, deep hatred. They are coming up on Detroit and Cincinnati fast among my most-hated clubs. (But the Yankees' spot at #1 is probably safe for eternity.) They're definitely the Rockies' archrival, and they think Eric Byrnes is a $10 million-a-year player. They have a championship and they haven't been around as long as my team. I liked them more back when they had Curt Schilling, but I think me and everybody else will forever association Schilling with the Red Sox now. Oh, and Josh Byrnes is a douche.
Padres- When they're not in direct competition with the Rockies, I have mild affection for the Padres. I feel sorry for them having never won it all for way longer than Colorado, I love the city of San Diego, and Tony Gwynn was the bomb.

Wow, that got long. I guess I'll do the AL later. If I forget to, briefly:

White Sox


really don't care:

deeply complicated and involved feelings:
Red Sox

2008-07-08 15:49:47
3.   Kels
Ok, I'll play

Rockies – kinda of consume my life

Ok with me for other reasons (just like or like/liked a player or a friend likes them and I want them to do well because of that):
Yankees – My dad went to High school with Goosage…so I grew up a Yankees/Mattingly Fan
Padres – you nailed it, they're just blah but San Diego rocks
Cards – I work with a HUGE Cards fan…but in the good way not the annoying Red Sox way
Brewers – Friend likes them and I don't really care
Royals - underdog
Pirates – super underdog
Braves – I loved watching Maddux pitch when I was growing up
Angels – Saw a Yanks vs Angels game in Anaheim years back, had a good time
Indians – Saw a game a Jacobs field 9 years ago, Sexson hit a home run, I think it was his last one
Twins – Kirby fan

Neutral (depends on who they are playing, but pretty much no feeling at all):
Rangers - whatever
Rays - whatever
Marlins – screw them and their championships
A's - whatever
Mariners - whatever
Blue Jays - whatever
Reds - whatever
White Sox – not the cubs
O's – Almost forgot about them, that says everything.
Nationals – I couldn't name 5 players…and I watch a LOT of baseball
Giants - whatever

Hate (Just hate or hate/hated a player or a friend is in love with them so I hate them):
Cubs – "yummy and sweet…the tears of unfathomable sadness." The team I actually don't mind, it's the fan base.
Red Sox – I hate everything about you.
Dodgers – 25 piles of douche
Phillies – quickly catching the Red Sox and Cubs for #1 Douche
D-backs – don't really know why, other than they are desert douches
Mets – over-rated like no other. Bad team that gets excessively covered
Tigers – Leyland.
Astros – hate their field…trains, hills, no left field…it's retard.

2008-07-08 16:39:09
4.   luck
Mark - what are your thoughts on the Cubs after their trade for ol' Dead-Arm Harden? Gallagher was poised to a be a good #4 (with residual clubhouse antic benefits), so I'm wincing at this a bit.

Additionally: I saw a Scott Podsednik (Crew) bobblehead at the Kane County flea market this past weekend and thought of you. But it was missing its screw-off bat, and thus I knew I couldn't cop it. Still interested?

2008-07-08 17:09:53
5.   Kels
Was Holliday invited to the Homerun derby but not accept? or was he just not invited?
2008-07-08 18:03:30
6.   Mark T.R. Donohue
4 I think the Cubs trade was better for the A's, but Chicago had to do it. They'd been jerking around Murton for years and there just seems to be something in the water there when it comes to developing pitching prospects into major league studs. The chances that Rich Harden is Mark Prior all over again are very high.

Believe it or not, but I HAVE a Brewers Scott Podsednik bobblehead. The one you saw probably is one given away at the same game I got mine at. I only have two bobbleheads, Kirk Hinrich and Scott Podsednik as a Brewer. That is really weird.

2008-07-12 06:15:53
7.   spudrph
Great thread.

I have always said that to Philly area people who ask why I still follow Boston sports to the extent that I do-your boys are your boys. I rooted for the Patriots when they were 1-15, I rooted for the Sox when they were 81-81, I rooted for the Celtics when they were coached by ML Carr, I rooted for the Bruins, well, always...yeah, it's rooting for laundry. So what? At least I'm rooting for something.

I can't say I actively dislike any team other than the Yankees, and even there I recognize the greatness and the history. I can respect somebody like Billy Crystal worshipping Mickey Mantle, even though I personally would have rooted for Ted, or eventually Yaz, to beat him.

2008-07-12 17:20:05
8.   monkeypants
0 "As you may remember, the involved former method determined which league's representative got Game 7 by whether it was an odd- or even-numbered year. Why they can't just go to the team with the better record like every other sport (that plays multi-game playoff series) has never made sense to me or anyone else."

Since the leagues did not used to play each other, it would have been been unfair to reward the team with the best record home field advantage for the WS (why should the Yankees, for example, always get HFA just for beating up on the Senators and Browns). So, they went with an arbitrary mechanism instead.

That said, just about any system makes more sense than using the outcome of an exhibition game to determine HFA for the WS.

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