Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Welcome Back, Me

Hi there, Nato here, I'm back on this blogging thing, hopefully a good once or twice a week from here on out. It sure has been awhile, specifically late July, since I've posted here! This is primarily because I've spent the last couple months with rather sporadic internet access, and not enough time to devote to good lunchbucket blood and guts blogging, the kind you expect from me.

And the twin parallel worlds of rock and roll and baseball have most certainly not ceased to function merely because I temporarily ceased to post here! So let me see if I can't recap what's piqued my interest in the last couple months...

1. I moved to a new neighborhood in Minneapolis - "Nordeast" if you will - and there's a record store about a mile away from me! The last thing I bought from there, The Return Of Roger Miller, is currently blasting through the hallways of my house. Yes, that's the album that has "(And You Had A) Do Wacka Do" and "You Can't Rollerskate In A Buffalo Herd," as well as the immortal "King Of The Road" (but my copy skips horribly on that song only). Great stuff to begin your day with, first cup of coffee music and all that.

2. Apparently one of the best bands in the world right now, The Goodnight Loving (from Milwaukee), ended up being popular in SPIN Magazine? Or something? Well regardless, all of you should get their new album, The Goodnight Loving Supper Club, and their previous album, which is self titled and has a picture of them with dogs on the cover... and hey, get their first two albums, too! You can find 'em on Dusty Medical Records, a lable from Milwaukee. Hey, do you like the Byrds? Do you like punk rock that isn't played through Marshall half-stacks? If you answered "yes" to both of these questions, then you're probably fishing right now, and I wish I was you.

3. The National League East, West, and Wild Card races are fascinating and awesome! All season long, I kept saying that I didn't "believe" in the Padres, whatever that means, but I felt that the descriptor was apt for a team named after a bunch of child molestors/Mayan killers... oops I mean Jesuit priests... but that's neither here nor there. I STILL don't believe in the Padres, and fully expect that either the Rockies or the Giants will win the NL West, while the Philadelphia Phillies win the NL East, and most likely the Atlanta Braves but quite possibly the Colorado Rockies snag the Wild Card. My sentimental favorite in the National League (absent the Brewers, of course), is San Francisco, mainly because I like a bunch of the players on the team, and I have a bunch of friends in the Bay Area. However, it's pretty hard to bet against the Phillies right now, with that offense, and the best 1-2-3 punch from a starting rotation available in the Major Leagues, or any other.

4. Let's say you're the Chicago White Sox. Your manager, operating on the principle that the DH spot in the lineup is a good place for position players to get a sort of half-day (i.e. need a rest, Alex Rios, from that demanding center field job? Ok buddy, you're DHing today, we'll toss Brent Lillibridge into center field and you can get a rest from all those fly balls you've been scampering to catch), lets Jim Thome - who is a future Hall Of Famer and a still-ultraproductive power hitter - vanish into free agency, and makes no push to resign him. So, during the disappointing 2010 season, during which your offense is probably the biggest disappointment next to Jake Peavy, you end up with the most DH plate appearances going to Mark Kotsay, with an OPS of .678... and he is your DESIGNATED HITTER, mind you, a player whose only real job requirement is HITTING (ok, a little baserunning too, but come on - Mark Kotsay has an OPS of .678 this year!). And while guys like Carlos Quentin and Paul Konerko get the occasional DH assignment, you also end up with such powerhitting luminaries as Gordon Beckham (OPS .695), Juan Pierre (OPS .649), and Omar Vizquel (the real slugger of the bunch with an OPS of .701) clogging up the DH every so often. This is not a plan which guarantees success at the plate. This is a plan which guarantees that the Minnesota Twins will run away with the AL Central by mid-September, which is exactly what happened.

And the Twins? Yeah, they're the team that signed Jim Thome as a DH-only part-time player for $1.5 million... the same Jim Thome who, as a DH-only, leads the Twins in home runs with 24 and a Lazarus-like OPS for a 40-year old man of 1.027!

Let's say you're the White Sox. It's late August, the Twins are playing like it's 1991 again, and your team is struggling to keep up. What do they have that you don't? A slugger at DH. So, you go out and sign known 'roider (incidentally, Jim Thome has never been linked to steroid use) and suspected aging skill-sink Manny Ramirez, and take on approximately $3.8 million of his salary for the rest of the year. And what does Manny give you? Weeks without an extra-base hit or a RBI. A home crowd booing his every at-bat. A circus. An OPS of .768. Well, at least it's an improvement over Mark Kotsay. The Chicago White Sox will enjoy a quiet October, because their manager and organization forgot two important yet often-overlooked facts about baseball:

i. Steroid guys age very quickly.
ii. The only thing a designated hitter should be able to do is hit.

The Minnesota Twins, with a somewhat old-school manager and a thrifty GM, kept both these things in mind, and are currently competing for the best record in all of baseball.

5. Delmon Young has a Misfits tattoo! "I've got something to saaaayyyy... I hit two homers today and it doesn't matter much to meeeee, as long as weee wiiiinnnnnnn...."