Thursday, March 30, 2006

Opening day is less than a week away, so let’s finish off the National League previews, in order of last year’s finish:

1. St. Louis Cardinals 2005 Record 100-62 (805RS, 634RA)

The Breakdown:

Boy do I hate the Cardinals. I hate the Cardinals so much I don’t even know where to start. From the uber-pretentious, self-appointed title of “The Greatest Fans in Baseball” to Tony Larussa being an arrogant piece of shit, to Mark McGwire juicing Roger Maris out of the record book and sticking Maris’ family in the front row to watch it, to powder blue uniforms, to listening to whining about Don Denkinger’s call (especially since the Cardinals thought the call was “No game tomorrow” ‘cause the sons of bitches didn’t even show up in game 7). You pricks realize you haven’t won the World Series since 1982, right? The Royals have won the World Series more recently. And the Marlins and Twins twice each. But you listen to a Cardinal fan carry on and you’d think they were the Yankees. As much as one hates the Yankees, you don’t have any choice but to respect them. The Cardinals just think everyone owes them respect.

The good news for people that hate the Cardinals is that they got worse during the offseason. The bad news is that nobody in their division got better enough to beat their asses on a consistent basis. The Cardinals will score plenty of runs, especially if Lex Luthor Larussa is able to scribble Albert Pujols’ name on his lineup card with any regularity. Albert Pujols isn’t even playing the same game as everyone else. He’s so far better than 99% of major leaguers you can’t even compare him to anyone. He’s the Anti-Brain Dead Carribean Hitter Hacking at Slop Nightly. He’s what Vlad Guerrero would be if he had any control over the strike zone. The only thing you worry about with Pujols is that there’s no way he’s as young as he claims to be. Danny Almonte looked more like a Little Leaguer than Pujols looks 26.
It’s the lineup around him that’s more suspect than in recent years. Larry Walker’s retirement left a big hole that the signing of Juan Encarnacion didn’t come close to filling. Reggie Sanders was a pro’s pro in left and the combination of Larry Bigbie and So Taguchi probably won’t match his production on the field or in the locker room. Jim Edmonds is 36 and has recently reported that he’s having so many problems with his arm, that he can’t even feel his forearm But it is Jim Edmonds, so that probably just means he’s entering an arm wrestling contest next month. Edmonds is the kind of asshole who’d light his own garage on fire just so he could run into his own house and save his kids. If Jim Edmonds was reading this, he’d wait until he had his pap smear appointment, start reading real slow, then plow through the whole column just in time to leave so he could tell his OB/GYN, “Man, I was almost late. I had to read this article, but I just barely got it finished in time!”

Normally, when a team loses Mark Gruzielanek, you’d consider that addition by subtraction, but STL replaced him with former juicemonster, Junior Spivey. Spivey’s played so well this spring that LaRussa may use Aaron Miles at 2nd and LaRussa is the polar opposite of a Catholic priest when it comes to liking young guys. Scott Rolen hasn’t been the same since he ran into Mt. Hee Seop Choi at first base last year. A lot is riding on his busted shoulder. David Eckstein is solid at short and is like a Bizzaro Danny Ainge of Baseball—the guy you hate until he’s on your team. Except you didn’t like Ainge because he was a dirty prick. Eckstein you don’t like because he looks like he should be sweeping the floors at McDonalds and all he does is get big hits. The Cards have some Molina catching for them. I don’t know which one, and frankly, I don’t care. There are so many Molina brothers running around baseball, the Zendejases are shipping their parents a crate of rubbers.

The Cardinals have a strong rotation fronted by Cy Young award winner Chris Carpenter and former Oakland co-ace Mock Mota. Jeff Suppan and Jason Marquis combined for over 400 innings last year. Accomplished wino and batterer Sidney Ponson made the rotation out of camp and is allegedly pitching with a chip on his shoulder since he’s no longer the biggest joke from Aruba. The bullpen is missing some pieces, but with a proven closer in Isringhausen and Braden Looper getting out of NY, they’ll be good enough.

The Prognosis:

As much as I hate these fuckers, there’s no one else in this division ready to win 90 games. Therefore, they’ll finish first again at 93-69. But they’re still fornicators with small woodland creatures .

2. Houston Astros 2005 record 89-73 (693RS, 609RA)

The Breakdown:

If the Astros season goes in the shitter, and it very well might, you can start by thanking cheapass Drayton McLane. While most teams were busy filling holes on their roster, McLane was busy making sure his team didn’t offer arbitration to Roger Clemens and trying to convince the best player in franchise history to hang up his cleats so he could shift the financial responsibility of a guaranteed contract to an insurance company. And then you can thank Roger Clemens. The 6’4” 235 pounder might be one of the greatest ever. But he’s also a huge cockteasing attention whore whose focus is to solidify his own legacy and make a shit load of money being a gate attraction. The guy’s been burned in effigy in Boston, yet his agents are sniffing around for money at Fenway. He played the “I’m Retiring” card in New York for all it was worth, until he got almost $20M a year from Houston to unretire and now he’s feeling out the boss. The guy’s even flirting with the Rangers because he knows how retarded they are with money. I mean, if Chan Ho Park is worth $60M, he might get 3 billions dollars and an ownership stake from Tom Hicks.
The problem is that Clemens doesn’t have enough left in the tank to make it through a whole season—even one in which he skips the first month. He had provisions in his last contract that basically let him come and go as he pleased and he still looked absolutely gassed last October. Don’t get me wrong, what he did last regular season at his age was nothing short of legendary. But to invest such a sizeable percentage of payroll into a guy whose loyalty’s been bought and sold repeatedly. is going to be at least a month late to work, and is clearly on the wrong side of forty seems foolish to me. Unless you’re just trying to sell tickets. And if that’s the case, why not just throw a bearded lady or the Rally Monkey into your rotation?

The Bagwell fiasco was an abomination. How the guy has taken as high a road as he has is beyond me. Are the Astros the first team to get burned on a guaranteed contract? Hell to the no. Suck it up and move on. To deprive the face of your franchise. a strong candidate for the Hall of Fame, and a guy who busted his ass just to get in some semblance of shape that he might be able to lift a bat and pinch hit a couple times last September the chance to see if he’s got enough left to go for one more season is a disgrace. And for what? Money. Some things are more important. And if McLane could unhook his lips from Roger Clemens right ass-cheek for 20 minutes, he might see that.

But whether Clemens or Bagwell come or go, don’t look for Houston to be back in the postseason. The lineup has too many holes and question marks. Wily Taveras could probably beat David Wells to the head of the buffet line—no small feat—but a .325 OBP from the leadoff spot is worse than woeful, especially since he only stole 34 bases when he managed to make it on base. There just isn’t any pop in his bat. Not that it matters since his popless bat rarely comes in contact with the baseball. The best case scenario here is that he goes Bump Bailey up the hill and into flagpole in the opening series and spends the season in a post-concussion support group with Eric Lindross and Troy Aikman. Morgan Ensberg had a decent year last year, but has been inconsistent one year to the next. And if he doesn’t duplicate his success, there’s literally no one to protect Lance Berkman in the order. Berkman missed an entire month but still managed to lead the league in Aw Shucks Likeability and bad cholesterol. Nice job, Lance. But unless the league votes to allow ghost men, there isn’t going to be anyone on base ahead of him to drive in. Adam Everett and Brad Ausmus are serviceable major leaguers, but throwing them out there every day gives opponents 6-9 free outs a game.

Lost amongst the congregation at the Church of Clemens is that Roy Oswalt is simply amazing. If he’s healthy, he wins 20 games. It’s automatic. Andy Pettite, though, is already starting to bitch about retirement and Brandon Backe just isn’t that good. If Clemens isn’t in this rotation, the Astros better break their retractable roof and pray for a hell of a lot of rain. Especially if Brad Lidge doesn’t round back into shape. There’s no reason to think he won’t. He’s saying all the right things. But melting down under the bright lights of the postseason can really fuck you up. If Lidge ends up more Byung Hyun Kim than Mariano Rivera, there’s not much behind him to fall back on.

The Prognosis:

The also-rans of this division are closing the talent gap, fast. The Astros won’t score enough runs to contend. In fact, they aren’t going to score enough runs to finish higher than 4th at 75-87.

3. Milwaukee Brewers 2005 Record 81-81 (726RS, 697RA)

The Breakdown:

The Brewers didn’t finish last? The Brewers finished .500? Congratulations you cheesehead, low-expectation-having pricks. It’s to be expected though. I think the last team that won anything in Milwaukee was Ricky Vaughan and Jake Taylor’s Indians while they pretended County Stadium was Cleveland Muni.
The Brew Crew have finally assembled some young talent but unless the new ownership group is willing to loosen the purse strings and not invest 20% of their payroll in people like Geoff Jenkins, their window of opportunity to win 82 games will close faster than a Miller Park chili stuffed bratwurst can make it from your mouth to your asshole.

Milwaukee has actually become somewhat of a trendy pick to make a postseason push this year. They’re loaded around the infield with Ricky Weeks, JJ Hardy and trendy Rookie of the Year pick Prince Fielder. Fielder’s best days may lie ahead in the AL, because he’s more likely to draw comparisons to Abdullah the Butcher in the field than Keith Hernandez, but it looks like he got some of daddy Cecil’s mashing DNA. He’ll need to bring the thunder since the team traded Lyle Overbay, one of last year’s offensive bright spots to make room for him. New 3rd baseman Corie Koskie came over in that deal (a deal in which Milwaukee didn’t get enough back) and secretly, or not so secretly, Brewer fans have got to be hoping he lands on the DL right about, umm, now to get some more AB’s for Bill Hall.
Around the outfield are the aforementioned money pit Geoff Jenkins, Brady Clark and Carlos Lee. Lee had a monster year last year and Clark was solid. The Brewers definitely have the potential to score runs in bunches, but should see a ton of rally killing whiffs and double plays.

Milwaukee could have one of the more underrated rotations pending the health of Ben Sheets. They locked him up as a franchise pitcher only to see him go down towards the end of last season. Without him in front of it, the rotation quickly looks pedestrian. Chris Capuano won 18 games last year, but his H/9, BB and HR were all high so unless he corrects those, his luck should balance out this year.
The bullpen is average. Derrick Turnbow saved a bunch of games last year, but getting him the ball with the lead could be an issue. Former Brewer closer and Atlanta Brave washout Dan Kolb returns for another tour of duty but doesn’t miss a lot of bats and raises questions in the set up role.

The Prognosis:

I think Milwaukee is still at least a year away from being any sort of real threat to the postseason. The inexperience will play a factor, as well as the lack of depth should anyone go down for an extended period of time. Enjoy another .500 season at 81-81 and an identical third place finish. You still have to be in Milwaukee though, suckers.

4. Chicago Cubs 2005 Record 79-83 (703RS, 714RA)

The Breakdown:

What hurts a Cubs fan most? Watching Boston break their octadecadeal championship drought or all the cuts, scratches and bruises they got leaping onto the White Sox bandwagon? I mean, Hawk and Wimpy were like the only White Sox fans on the planet until about 8 months ago. Now everyone claims they’ve been a Sox fan since birth, even though they wouldn’t drive their Mercedes SUV through the south side of Chicago if it was being pulled by The Flash. But enough about a good baseball team, this preview is about the Cubs.

I’ll give the Cubs some credit: They blew Prior and Wood out so early this year they actually have a game plan that doesn’t depend on either one of them seeing the field any time soon. You can teach a really stupid animal not to do something pretty quickly by busting it on the nose with a rolled up newspaper. Maybe someone ought to try that with the Cubs’ front office. Perhaps a rolled up Chicago Sun Times sports section with a headline that reads “Prior to DL, Again” or “Wood Shelved With Sore Shoulder.” When exactly do you figure out that some guys are durable and some guys are injury prone? Kerry Wood already reached his peak, morons. In his first start. It was bound to be down hill from there. He’s got the fastball of Nolan Ryan but his body is made out of the same stuff Sam Bowie’s legs are. And Prior doesn’t even look like he gives a shit. He’s Captain I’m So Mature for My Age and looks about as happy to be playing ball as a 30 year old guy getting ready to get a circumcision from Stevie Wonder using a hedge trimmer. Yet year after year, these guys land on the shelf, fans shake their heads, and the team fails to live up to expectations.

This year, hopefully, Carlos Zambrano will start getting the run he deserves. Instead of worrying about how many starts Puss and Pussier are missing, Cubbie fans ought to be flocking to the ones Zambrano is making. Zambrano has the stuff to be very, very special and a #1 guy for a long time. He’ll take the pressure off the rest of the rotation, with or without its more fragile components. Glendon Rusch looks like he’ll be a starter this year and with HOF’r Maddux behind him, it gives the Cubs a different look day to day. The rotation should chew up innings and the bullpen isn’t half bad. Ryan Dempster could turn out to be yet another failed starter turned outstanding closer. He saved 33 out of 35 chances last year. The Cubs threw big contracts at Bobby Howry and Scott Eyre and if they earn them, the bullpen could easily turn out to be the strength of the club.

The Corey Patterson experiment is finally over and Juan Pierre is the new, better suited, centerfielder and lead off man. He should easily score 120+ runs with Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez chasing him in. Lee had a breakout year and probably won’t be a legitimate triple crown threat, but he should still go for 30-100 as should Ramirez provided he’s healthy. Rookie Matt Murton is going to be given the left field job and hit well in a look last season. Jacque Jones won’t make anyone forget Sammy Sosa’s best years in right, but neither did Jeromy Burnitz. Michael Barrett hit 16 bombs and drove in 61 last year which was good enough to make the USA World Baseball Classic team, but not Italy’s.

The Prognosis:

For some reason, I’m high on the Cubs. There should be low expectations, especially since the far better team is playing on the other side of town, and this group of personalities might be better suited to playing out of the limelight. I think the Cubs will surprise and finish second, a game better than the Brewers at 83-81. Place your bets now on the date Dusty Baker decides to have Zambrano go both ends of a double header.

5. Cincinnati Reds 2005 Record 73-89 (820RS, 889RA)

The Breakdown:

Did you know that only 3 teams in baseball and no teams in the National League scored more runs than the Reds last year? Did you know that only 2 teams in baseball and no teams in the National League allowed more runs than the Reds last year? The air might be rarified in Colorado, but apparently the ballpark is just too damned small in Cincinnati.
The Reds, after gaining new ownership, are obviously in a transition stage in the front office. It’s a good thing there’s a feasible excuse for after a couple of years of dicking around with their overcrowded outfield situation, they finally deal Willy Mo Pena for Brandon Arroyo. The Reds didn’t really need Pena since they obviously know how to score runs, but Brando Arroyo? Arroyo isn’t going to make anyone forget about Jose Rijo, but he may get people to forget that Eric Milton served up 40 gopherballs last year, because he might double that. I mean, was Jose Lima not available?
There’s no reason why the Reds staff won’t give up close to as many runs as they gave up last year. Aaron Harang is a solid #3 guy, but he’s the best the Reds have. And that’s not good. And when the starters aren’t around after 3 or 4 innings, the bullpen is full of gas cans, retreads, and never-will-be’s.

And that was the good news. The bad news is that the Reds lineup isn’t anywhere near as potent as it was last year. Joe Randa and Sean Casey are gone, turning the corners over to Edwin Encarnacion and Scott Hatteberg. Hatteberg, of course, is best known for having a whole chapter of a bestselling book written about him. It was a very insightful book and really opened some eyes around baseball. You might have heard of it, it’s called “How to Justify a Roster Spot for a Shitty White Stiff.” I don’t care how many times Hatteberg is going to walk because unless he’s batting ahead of Dunn or Griffey Jr., he isn’t going to get driven in. Encarnacion is best known for having 5 syllables in his last name.
You have to genuinely feel bad for Griffey Jr. He took a below-market contract to play at home when he was the biggest name in the game and was rewarded for it by having his legs turn into cheap stemware. There’s plenty left in Griffey’s bat though. He delivered 35 bombs in only 128 games last year. The Reds might be wise to use him as sparingly this year if they can get that kind of production.
Adam Dunn is one of the best sluggers in the game. He’s what Rob Deer and Pete Incaviglia could have been. The guy does whiff. A lot. But he also walks a lot. And he could easily hit 50 HR.
Felipe Lopez, who I discovered is not the same guy that played basketball at St. Johns, thought he was hot shit, then ended up in the Mexican League or something, Tony Womack, Rich Aurilia, and town drunk Ryan Freel will combine for most of the rest of the AB’s. Told you this was the bad news.

The Prognosis:

There will be better days ahead in The Nati, just not many this year. The Reds are gonna finish dead, stinkin’ last at 71-91. And I hope Joe Morgan agonizes over every single loss. That prick.

6. Pittsburgh Pirates 2005 Record 67-95 (680RS, 769RA)

I was fortunate enough to be able to sit down with new Pirates skipper Jim Tracy to talk about his expectations for the upcoming season. Here’s how it went down.

Me: Mr. Tracy, thanks a lot for taking the time to sit down with someone who very often ridiculed you under his breath and publicly during your tenure with the Dodgers. Tell me a little about your decision to take the position with the Pirates.

JT: Well, if you’re asking me if it was a tough choice choosing between a minor league gig in Butthump, Arkansas or a big league job in a town where your lungs burn of acrid, steel smoke and the ladies’ idea of night-out attire is a Ben Rothlisberger jersey and stirrup pants, then the answer is ‘yes.’ It was a tough decision. But am I excited for the opportunity to play all the percentages to the letter with only 13 fans to care if I manage us out of 4 ballgames a week? You bet I am.

Me: Um. Ok. How are you feeling about your lineup this year?

JT: Do we have some holes? Sure we do. Are we doing the best we can with a payroll lower than the average household income in Flint, Michigan? Of course we are. Does that mean we have to acquire horrible players like our right fielder? You’re damned right. Am I excited to watch that Canadian guy play left field? I’d have to say the answer is yes. Do I think Joe Randa deserves a job in the big leagues? Maybe not, but we have to work with what we have to work with. Is watching Sean Casey run windsprints about as fun as watching two old people fuck? I’m inclined to say ‘yes.’

Me: Jim, you’re beginning to frighten me. How’s the pitching staff look? Were you excited to be able to bring over your old pitching coach, Jim Colborn?

JT: Is our staff the youngest in the league? Yes it is, but we’ve got some good arms down there. Do I wish we had a couple Japanese guys since Colby speaks Japanese? Of course I do, I mean look at how Kaz Ishii turned out. Could I tell you the first name of anyone in the bullpen? Or the last name if it wasn’t on the back of their jersey? Well, I thought really hard about this and the answer is ‘no.’ Do I make beat reporters jobs really easy? Of course I do, I have to be good at something other than having a really weird, stern jaw.

Me: Last question Trace, how are the Buccos gonna do this year and does anyone actually give a shit?

JT: Are we gonna finish last? The answer is no. Is Cincinnati a worse ball club than we are? By a slim margin, the answer is yes. Can we win 90 games? It’s only noon, so I’m not quite drunk enough to say ‘yes’ to that. Will we finish 5th? Probably. Is a record of 75-87 something we can achieve? You bet your booty.

Me: That’s all the time I have Mr. Tracy. You’re a really weird fucking guy.

JT: You punk.

Friday, March 24, 2006

NL East Preview

After the critical acclaim, accolades and Pulitzer Prize nomination garnered by the National League West preview, it’s time to turn our attention to the other coast. Not that anyone on the other coast doesn’t already think we’ve got our attention on them. Eastcentric fuckers.

Once again, in order of last year’s finish:

1. Atlanta Braves 2005 Record 90-72 (769RS, 674RA)

The Breakdown:

The Braves don’t have a closer, or anything really resembling one. Andruw Jones has probably peaked and probably can’t come close to duplicating his career year last year. Leo Mazzone is gone and has been replaced by a guy who’s as likely to give a pitcher a hot foot as polish his slider. They traded for a Colombian shortstop who got his birth certificate from the Dominican Republic.

Seems like every season, there’s a list of similar questions revolving around the Braves in the offseason. And every season, they answer them and win the division. Since the last time the Braves didn’t finish first in the NL East, we’ve seen 3 US Presidents, 2 Gulf Wars and Kelly Taylor anorexic, raped, coked out, nearly burned to death, shot, seen naked by her stepbrother, and saved not-yet-famous Jessica Alba’s baby from being adopted by a couple of gay dudes. So why bet against them?

Well, for starters, they’re damned easy to hate. For a guy my age, the Braves were one of two teams broadcast nationally on cable during the golden age of the “superstations.” They were the self-dubbed “America’s Team.” “America’s Team?” Please. If America had a team, it wouldn’t have human cockroaches like Otis Nixon and Lonnie Smith playing for it. If America had a team, it wouldn’t suck for the entire decade of the 80’s. If America had a team, it wouldn’t wait until 1989 to acquire Oddibe McDowell. And if America had a team, it sure has hell would finish its goddamned games in its allotted broadcast time slot so I could watch NWA Wrestling not “already in progress.”

Just about any team in baseball would trade their top 2 guys in their rotation for John Smoltz and Tim Hudson, but behind them, the rotation and the bullpen are inexperienced. The loss of Leo Mazzone could turn out to be a huge factor or not one at all. But at least National League fans don’t have to watch him convulsing on the dugout bench like Katherine Hepburn with a case of the DT’s anymore.

The core of the lineup is solid if Marcus Giles, Chipper Jones (is there anything more ear grating than listening to Pete Van Wieren nasaly intone “there’s a chopper to Chipper?” Maybe Yoko Ono singing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.” Maybe.) and Andruw Jones are healthy. The corner outfielders are young, but they have some upside. Plus if Langerhans and Francoeur don’t work out, they can always be a European buddy cop show. He’s a no-nonsense tough guy from the mean streets of Munich. He’s a French pastry chef who moonlights as a crime fighter. It’d be like Cagney and Lacey, but less masculine.

The Prognosis:

Bobby Cox and John Schuerholtz have their work cut out for them. The Mets have built a team to win now, but until someone actually finishes ahead of them, I’m sticking with Atlanta to finish first with an identical 90-72 record.

2. Philadelphia Phillies 2005 Record 88-74 (807RS, 726RA)

The Breakdown:

Did anyone outside of Barry Bonds have a worse offseason than the Phillies? I mean you look at Philly’s offseason highlights and it reads like this:

--Hired Stand Pat Gillick to run the team
--Gave Jim Thome away for the good ol’ “defensive centerfielder” and paid a bunch of his salary.
--Couldn’t get anyone to trade for their best player.
--Jimmy Rollins’ didn’t die so his hitting streak isn’t broken.

What does it say about Bobby Abreu that even sabermetricinerd GM’s won’t even touch him? It says he’s about as interested in winning a baseball game as Tom Cruise buying a season pass for the Spice Channel. It says he does a 162-game long Ben Stein impersonation. It says he makes Shawn Green look like Jose Lima by comparison.
But the guy can hit. So can Rollins and Chase Utley. Ryan Howard is having a monster spring and if he carries it over to the regular season and gets over his fear of hitting the ball when it’s thrown from someone’s left hand, the Phils should score a lot of runs.

Phillies Ace Jon Lieber (hee hee, I just like to type that and laugh) fronts a rotation that actually isn’t as bad as it looks when you look at the guys who are in it. They will definitely rack up some innings. And they’re going to have to with Tom Gordon (who’s too old to close) and Arthur Rhodes (who’s too scared to close) being the best arms in a pedestrian bullpen.

Charlie Manuel is a welcome change from redass Larry Bowa and it showed last year when the Phillies managed to stay in contention until the last week of the season since they weren’t plotting the assassination of their manager.

The Prognosis:

It’s going to be a long summer for Phillie Nation. One the positive side, they won’t be anywhere near as horrible as Florida and Washington are going to be. But they won’t be able to run with the Mets or the Braves. So the Fans with the Most Ridiculous Sense of Self-Entitlement in America will do what they always do—take a bronze and bitch that they deserve better. 3rd place, 80-82.

3. New York Mets 2005 Record 83-79 (722RS, 648RA)

The Breakdown:

After last season’s marquee additions of Pedro Martinez and Carlos Beltran, GM Omar Minaya continued his quest to win the hearts and minds of New Yorkers who, for some reason, would rather watch a good baseball team than the Mets. And he’s under the mistaken impression that the entire city and state of New York is as fascinated by Latinos as he is.
He got rid of Mike Cameron for Xavier Nady.
He got rid of Jae Seo for Duaner Sanchez.
He traded Mike Jacobs and a bunch of currency with white people on it for Carlos Delgado.
He gave 47 year-old (and that’s what he’s admitting to!) Julio Franco a 2 year contract.
He agreed to employ tit-on-a-bull-useless Jose Valentin.
He got David Wright to change his last name to Rrrright.
He traded for Paul Lo Duca thinking “Lo Duca” was just Spanish for “The Duck” or something, not realizing he’s a 4 foot Italian dude from Brooklyn.
He lets Jose Reyes play an entire season and he only gets to first base about as often as I did in high school.
He got Billy Wagner because he needed a closer and hey, everyone needs a Scott Hastings type at the end of their bench.
I give it about 6 more weeks before Omar, Cesar Chavez, Vicente Fox and Fernando Valenzuela get in a black van, drive to Fenway Park and forcibly abduct Manny Ramirez from Boston.

Omar may get a little stick for the complexion of his roster, but the guy has put together a pretty good team on paper and one that’s got enough names and personalities to get people to tune into the Mets new TV station, ¡WNYM!.
Beltran is due for a much better year, one year removed from the pressure of signing a contract that Jon Koncak thinks is ridiculous. Rumor has it he’ll be able to afford Uncle Buck’s rat to gnaw the giant mole off the side of his face.
You can write down Delgado’s 30/100 in permanent ink and David Rrrright is poised to jump into the realm of superstardom. Hopefully Mets fans will get to see it before Omar trades him for a pack of tortillas and the Taco Bell Chihuahua. When healthy, Cliff Floyd can be one of the more underrated outfielders in the league. The Mets should definitely put some runs on the board.

Pedro Martinez’ ingrown toenail is a potential disaster for a rotation without a lot of depth. At times, Tom Glavine seems to be hanging around just to pad his win total. He only struck out 105 guys in 211 innings last year. And though he’s never been a huge strikeout guy, unless he starts throwing a knuckler, you wonder how much longer he can keep getting guys out. Much like LA somehow signed the wrong Guerrero (older brother Wilton instead of Vladimir), the Mets ended up with the wrong Zambrano. The good one is dealing at Wrigley Field. Steve Trachsel is so old, I have clear memories of Harry Carey slurring his name.
Billy Wagner is huge at the end and should pick up plenty of saves in 7-5 and 9-6 ballgames. Duaner Sanchez is underrated and will be a solid, if not spectacular setup man.

The Prognosis:

The Mets are built to win in a very small window. If this is the year someone ends Atlanta’s strangle hold on the division title, this could be it. Instead, I give the Mets a second place finish via tiebreaker and the NL Wild Card at 90-72. And if the Mets do somehow win the World Series, the victory parade will have to wait. Until Cinco de Mayo, 2007.

4. Florida Marlins 2005 Record 83-79 (717RS, 732RA)

The Breakdown:

Well, what would a Marlins preview be without a fire sale? The guys that coined the phrase in the 90’s brought some serious lighter fluid and kindling this year. They killed, gutted and violated the corpse of a pretty decent team. All in the name of holding Miami hostage so they can get a new stadium or move somewhere else and get one. I’m not going to debate whether the tactic is right or wrong, because in all honesty, it makes good business sense. There isn’t a lot of revenue flowing through the Fish so it’s kind of hard to pay good players without losing your ass every year.

Gone are….everybody. Dontrelle Willis and Miguel Cabrera are left. They’re trying to sign those two to long term deals, but if you’re either, why would you? If they perform anywhere near their capabilities, they’ll either clean up in arbitration or have enough leverage to sign good dollar 1 or 2 year deals until they can become free agents and go play for a good franchise.

I guess the good news for the Marlins is that they picked up some decent prospects for all the major leaguers they dealt and they’ll get to see if they’re any good sooner rather than later. The bad news is that nobody’s heard of any of the dudes they’re going to be trotting out.

I mean, if the opportunity of watching the development of guys like Jacob Michaels, Wes Kinkade, Miguel Aguila, Chris Stokes, and Alfredo Uggla doesn’t put a little spring into your step as you head over to Dolphins Stadium for another mid-summer rain delay, what’s gonna?

The Prognosis:

I’d predict any Triple-A team that played a whole season in the bigs to finish dead last. So that’s where the Marlins will be: 70-92.

5. Washington Nationals 2005 Record 81-81 (639RS, 673RA)

The Breakdown:

Frank Robinson is a bad mother fucker. The guy was a 13 time All-Star, MVP in both leagues, the Rookie of the Year, won a Triple Crown, only 57 hits shy of 3,000, 4th on the all-time HR list when he retired and the big leagues’ first minority manager. Last year, 70 year old FR, upset that Angels’ pitcher Brendan Donnelly had to resort to sandpaper and pine tar to get his hitters out, not only did Frank Robinson raise holy hell and get Donnelly removed from the game, but he also tried to beat the shit out of Angels’ skipper Mike Scioscia when he gave him some lip about it. And in case you’re not keeping score, Scioscia’s about 25 years younger and 50 lbs bigger than Frank Robinson.

So how does baseball reward such a highly regarded former player and manager? By sticking him in charge of a league-owned, Jim Bowden-run, former Expos franchise that plays its home games in a fucking soccer stadium.

Your welcome, Frank. Thanks for all the good years.

Much has been made of the Alfonso Soriano situation the last few days, and while Soriano is an idiot for being insubordinate and not sucking it up and doing what he needs to do to collect his $62,000 per game salary, General Manager Jim Bowden is equally clueless for trading for a second baseman and banking on the fact that he can be a left fielder. Hey Jim, why don’t you hire me to repair your car? Or grab the wino outside the stadium to fly the team plane? Hell, why don’t you hire Isaiah Thomas to be your assistant? Jim Bowden is a perfect example of Baseball’s Good Ol’ Boys’, errrrrr Good Ol’ White Boys’ club. The same shitty managers and executives keep getting recycled from team to team whenever there’s a need while guys like Ozzie Guillen have to wait for the scraps from the Country Club Kitchen. Or they’ll pass them up for retarded white people like Paul Depodesta.

Bowden gave big contracts Vinny Castilla, who’s since left for San Diego, and Cristian Guzman, who’s since forgotten how to play baseball worth a shit. He made the aforementioned Soriano trade which makes a ton of sense since they’ll be paying a guy $10M to play out of position in a horrible hitters’ park and who’s eligible for free agency next year. It might make some shred of sense if Soriano was a piece that was going to put this club over the top, but they’re playing in the same division as the Mets, Braves and Phillies, their ace looks like he just ate Bartolo Colon and Wilson Alvarez and washed them down with Lake Erie, their 3rd baseman has all of 80 some odd days of professional experience, their right fielder has spent about 80 days on the suspended list the last couple of years, and they lost a key bullpen piece for the year in the World Baseball Classic. All I’m saying is that the $10M he’s paying Soriano could have been much better spent—like greasing some Senators’ pockets to get a stadium deal done.

The Prognosis:

They’re going to win more games than roommates DC United and they can’t be as bad as Florida. Can they? I’ll pick them 4th at 76- 86.

Tune in next week when we get to make fun of the Cubs and the Cardinals!

P.S. All those players for the Marlins I mentioned, aside from Dontrelle Willis and Miguel Cabrera are completely fictional. I just mixed up first and last names of random guys on the 40 man roster.
Bet you didn't even notice, did you? Fuck them.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Baseball's Back: NL West Preview

Well, I’m back from hibernation. Just in time for baseball season. Which means 6 more months of beating my head against a wall.
In what may turn out to be a full National League preview, here’s my 2006 NL West Division preview in order of last year’s finish:

1. San Diego Padres 2005 Record: 82-80 (684RS, 726RA)

The Breakdown:

The Padres feature a murderer’s row of Brian Giles, Mike Piazza, Vinny Castilla, and Ryan Klesko. Well, if it was 1999, it would be considered a murderer’s row when that group combined to mash 133 bombs, drive in hundreds of runs, and rammed 385 doses of bovine growth hormone into their collective ass cheeks. But in 2006, these has-been fucks will have combined for 144 years on the planet. The only good thing about that is that none of these dudes are Dominican, so at least San Diego can feel good about their actual ages, though Vinny Castilla’s immigration status could be a problem should California get strict with the border security issues.

The Padres should catch the ball with Dave Roberts covering left field and Khalil Spicoli at short. Mike Cameron will provide excellent range in center which will not only help cut down doubles in the gap, but also prevent guys stealing second from scoring when Piazza throws the ball into right center. The “X’ Factor will be how Cameron’s range will be inhibited by his wearing a football helmet on the field.

The top of the rotation is strong with Jake Peavy and Chris Young. Peavy is one of the most dominant pitchers in the league period and a preseason Cy Young candidate. Chris Young is trying to build off of a very successful rookie campaign in a launching pad of a ballpark. After the top two, the rotation falls off a cliff with castoffs Woody Williams, Shawn Estes and Chan-Ho Park. You’ve gotta feel for a guy like Chan-Ho Park. When you think of his career, what immediately comes to mind? The $60M contract he didn’t even come close to living up to? The flying judo kick during a fight at the mound? Serving up Barry Bonds’ record breaking home run? Tossing some pus right down the middle of the dish to Cal Ripken’s Corpse in the All-Star game? Or maybe you’re like me and you just wonder if he’s related to the venue where the Cubs have spring training—HoHoKam Park. Either way, it’s not been a great career for Mr. Park. But look on the bright side—his government just waived his mandatory military service for Korea’s performance in the World Baseball Classic.

The bullpen is once again anchored by 38 year-old Trevor Hoffman. Seems like it’s been going on 5 years that everyone expects Hoffman to finally fall victim to Padre Tiempo, but all he does is go out and dominate with one of the greatest changeups the game’s ever seen. The K/BB ratio and ERA aren’t what they once were, but the guy went out and went 43 for 46 in Save opportunities last year. He’s one guy I wouldn’t bet against.
The guys who are supposed to get him the ball with the lead is another story. Take a walk down memory lane with me. Remember back when you were a kid and you’d open a dozen packs of Topps cards and when the wax and shitty gum had settled, you had 2 good cards and 15 each of some guy who barely made the 40 man roster, who you’d never heard of, yet somehow he’d managed to stitch together a career? That’s the rest of the Padres’ bullpen. It’s Hoffman and a handful of Al Pedriques, Tim Teuffels, Vance Laws, and Craig Lefferts.

The Prognosis:

The Padres were way upside down last year in their Runs Scored vs. Runs Allowed and backed in to the division crown on account of everyone else being shittier. They really are the epitome of the boardroom scene in Major League:

“I ain’t heard of half these guys and the ones I have heard of are way past their prime.”

“Some of these guys never had a prime.”

This team is older and worse than they were last year, but due to the expected continued mediocrity of everyone else, they’ll finish 3rd, at 78-84.

2. Arizona Diamondbacks 2005 Record: 77-85 (696RS, 856RA)

The Breakdown:

Arizona could be the sleeper team of this crappy division or they could just as easily be battling Colorado for the basement. They’re very left-handed in the projected lineup with Mr. Rush Counsell, Chad Tracy, Luis Gonzalez, and Shawn Green all starting when healthy and on non-Jewish High Holidays. However, with Counsell battling shoulder problems, there’s a strong possibility that rookie Steven Drew could start the season at short. If Drew turns out to be a durable, non-pussy version of his older brother JD, AZ could have itself a franchise SS. The aforementioned Green and Gonzalez are clearly on the downside of their careers, but if healthy should have no problem combining for 40 HR and 140 RBI. Chad Tracy is poised for a breakout year, but will he put it together or fall victim to the hype? The local media has been fawning over this guy since he was brought up a couple of years ago. If this team is going to succeed, he’s going to have a big year. Orlando Hudson and Eric Byrnes will provide quality defense and energy up the middle, but Troy Glaus’ 37 bombs are going to be sorely missed. Phenom Conor Jackson won’t be having his glove cast gold any time soon, but the 1B job is his to lose, relegating Tony Clark, his 30+ homers, and his amazingly prematurely aged dome to a reserve role. Conor Jackson also represents the beginning of the Era of the Generation of Pretentiously Named Fucking Children. Expect Caleb Jones, Bailey Smith and Carter Brown to round out the infield in the next couple of years.

This staff is what experts and pundits like to refer to as “a fucking mess.” Brandon Webb is a younger, Arsenio Hall-shaped headed version of Derek Lowe. Minus the World Series heroics, no-hitter and 20 win seasons. Webb is a #3, #2 at best who’s been stuck in the #1 hole due to the lack of options. Now that Chan Ho Park’s deal is coming off the books, Russ Ortiz is now the proud owner of the worst contract in baseball. Ortiz is the 3rd highest paid player on the team and probably like the 39th best player on the 40 man roster. Plus he looks like that fat punk kid from your little league team who could throw ok but he was the coach’s kid so he got to pitch all the time. Boy, what a rat-faced fucker he is. Oh yeah, he’s got nothing left in his arm either. So just keep trying to pitch up in the zone, dick, when your 4-seamer’s topping out at 87.
Did I mention Ortiz is #2 on the depth chart? Filling out the rotation are Miguel Batista, back for a 2nd tour with AZ (from Tor. in the salary-dumperrific Troy Glaus deal), El Duque, who’s winning his bet with Fernando Valenzuela about who can get away with lying about their age by the biggest margin, and whoever picks the winner on the Jumbotron Ketchup, Mustard, and Relish race.

The Arizona bullpen is in much the same same as San Diego’s, except without the Hall of Famer anchoring it. Arizona’s closer is Jose Valverde whose nickname, we’re told, is “Papa Grande.” “Papa Grande” is brought to you by the same corporate weenie nicknaming group that brought you The G-Force (an ‘homage’ to the Astros’ Killer B’s), Bank One Big Flies (a corporate shill of a home run call) and D’Baxter D’Bobcat (worst mascot in history from the town that is home to the Phoenix Suns’ Gorilla and ought to know better.)

The Prognosis:

This team might score the same amount of runs but there’s just not enough pitching here or on the horizon. Arizona has some exciting impact position players near ready, but there aren’t any arms at high A ball. They’ll be in the scrum in the middle of the pack, my prediction: 75-87, good for fourth.

3. San Francisco Giants 2005 Record 75-87 (649RS, 745RA)

The Breakdown:

First off, let me say, “Fuck the Giants. Fuck them with a dirty syringe”

Ah, that felt good.

Next let me say, “Holy shit is this team ever old!”

The only thing more cliché when talking about the Giants than bringing up the ‘roids is their age. But holy shit is this team ever old! Let’s get the Barry Bonds thing out of the way: Blah blah, this team will do as well depending on how much Bonds plays. It sucks not to have much more insight than that, but it really is true. And the way things are looking right now is ‘not good.’ The Giant’s spring training camp is having wet dreams over the fact that Bonds scored from first on a double. That’s like giving the C- student the attendance award at school—you gotta accentuate the mediocrity.
Newcomer Randy Winn better be ready to cover a lot of cavernous ground at TPFKASBC-Park with Bonds being fitted for a walker in left and Moises Alou in right. Moises Alou is so old teammates can’t distinguish him from his old-ass father who manages the team. Felipe Alou is so old he can’t distinguish himself from his son who pisses on his own hands and often has to be returned to the dugout by the right field line ball boy when he goes wandering off in an Alzheimeric stupor on his way out to the mound. The 4th outfielder is Steve Finley who’s older than Alou and who’s production went off the cliff last year like the paper mountain climber on Price is Right. Omar Vizquel is still class at short and Pedro Feliz has some upside offensively at third, but Ray Durham is on the way down and Lance Niekro only walked 17 times in over 300 PA last year.

Matt Morris was a high-profile acquisition and should provide a solid 1-2 punch with a supposedly healthy Jason Schmidt. But Schmidt’s velocity has fallen victim to the Bermuda Triangle or the Juice Monster and has had to learn to pitch without the plus fastball that made him a Cy Young candidate in the early 2000’s. Noah Lowry had a solid 05 with a sub-4.00 era and 200 innings which is exactly what you want out of your #3 spot. Matt Cain projects to be in the rotation but needs to demonstrate better command (19BB in only 46IP).

Tim Worrell returns to the Giants’ pen after a stint in Philly and combines with former Cardinal Steve Kline for some needed depth behind Armando Benitez. Benitez’ 05 season was destroyed by injuries and he’s already reporting a barking knee in Spring Traning. The Giant division and wild card winners of the recent past had a rock solid Robb Nenn closing games and with a young rotation behind Schmidt and Morris, the bullpen has to step up for them.

The Prognosis:

With the distractions and the health problems, it’s hard to see Bonds playing more than 100 games, and even then, how many AB’s is he going to get? He should still preoccupy an opposing manager when in the lineup but there are too many if’s and too many miles on this team to see them finishing any higher than 2nd. But Brian Sabean has gotten more out of less before. My prediction: 81-81, 2nd place.

4. Los Angeles Dodgers 2005 Record 71-91 (685RS, 755RA)

The Breakdown:

LA is the trendy pick (and my pick because I’m a shamelessly biased bastard) in the NL West. Choose your “expert analysis” as to why:

a) Ned Coletti infused a horrible locker room with character guys who know how to win, shed the bad seeds, and didn’t tie up dollars blocking the paths of one of baseball’s richest farm systems

b) (*stat-lover bitch alert*) LA is due for a massive regression to the mean injury-wise. No team was as close last season in games lost to injury. There’s no way it can be as bad as it was last year (as a lifelong Dodger fan, let me tell you, it can always be worse than last year).

c) Everyone else is really fucking bad.

LA is still sorely hurting for power bats. Jeff Kent is the steadiest presence, but like many guys, the age shoe is ready to drop. Throw in a wrist surgery late in the winter and Kent could easily struggle to put up 20HR this year. JD Drew spends his days in church thanking his Maker that Russ Ortiz makes as much as he does so someone in the division is overpaid more than him. People will say Drew was unlucky last year to have been hit in the wrist and have it broken. I say “bullshit.” Drew misses months and months every single year for one reason or another. One idiot’s “luck” is another man’s “trend.” And he’ll miss a bunch more games this year. When Drew lands on the DL after severing a finger opening his Happy Meal, the lineup features a huge dearth of power. Nomar can’t be expected to regain his old stroke, especially playing as many games as he will at Dodger Stadium, Petco Park and Not-Candlestick Park.
Rafael Furcal is an impact free agent and should set the table along with Kenny Lofton, but Coletti lost his bet when he gambled on Gold Glove winner Cesar Izturis’ recovery time from Tommy John surgery. Izturis is the best defensive shortstop in the league, possibly in baseball. He’s projected to return to major league action by early may rather than the All-Star break. This has the makings of exactly the kind of locker room disaster Coletti tried to avoid by getting rid of basket case, Milton Bradley. With a healthy Izturis, you have one excellent shortstop sitting behind an above average one who happens to make $10M more than he does. Izturis doesn’t want to move to 2nd. Kent sure as hell doesn’t want to move to 1st. Nomar’s head is still spinning from learning to play first to move to the OF. Nomar should make it easy by blowing out his knee playing X-Box next week though.

The rotation expects to be solid, though unspectacular. Brad Penny, one year removed from vaginosis of the biceps, claims to have regained the snap on his curve. Derek Lowe is going to try not to wreck his home with any more reporters. Odalis Perez looks like he had his stomach stapled in the offseason. Brett Tomko is an ex-Giant fuckbag who is still very much Vince McMahonly in cahoots with Brian Sabean and is going to throw every start he makes against them. Jae Sao fills the #5 spot and wears glasses on the mound that he couldn’t break if he threw his fastball at them.

No player in baseball outside of Barry Bonds means more to his team’s success this year than Eric Gagne. Gagne is the face of the franchise, and not in a patronizing, look at the cute little guy hustle Paul LoDuca-y kind of way either. The guy has the sickest stuff outside of RBI Baseball on Nintendo. Much has been made of his velocity drop, but even in the low 90’s, Gagne can easily dominate with the best changeup in baseball or his Bugs Bunny curveball. If Gagne comes back to save 40+ games, it cuts the games to 6 or 7 innings and prevents Grady Little from having to make an actual decision. Danys (Danys?) Baez has closer stuff to fill the setup role and push one-pitch pony Yhency Brazoban back an inning.

The Prognosis:

Although 162-0 is definitely doable, I don’t want to damage my credibility by making such a bold prediction. LA is definitely the favorite and will have to face the expectations and perform. My prediction 87-75, 1st place.

5. Colorado Rockies

Fuck those shitty fuckers, I’m not wasting my time with them.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Alright Redneck Fuckwads, Here’s You’re Chance

The government really is out to get you! They know where you live, from deepest darkest Kingman, AZ to Unabomberville, MT. They know about your 14 automatic assault rifles, 32 shotguns, 4 Tek-9’s, the Ted Nugent signature model hunting bow with the Bo and Luke Duke Exploding Arrows, the Nazi bayonet you picked up on eBay, the tow-behind howitzer, and the anti-aircraft installment under the hay pile behind your trailer. And they know they can pry them all out of your cold, dead hand (as soon as your hand, along with the rest of your compound, stop being on fire).

The Fedrill Guvment IS using your tax dollars to eliminate the white race.
The Fedrill Guvment IS covering up the fact that they blew up the Pentagon themselves.
The Fedrill Guvment DID take Hee Haw and The A-Team off the air.

And now they’re raising Outbreak chickens in Nixon’s secret rice field plantation in Vietnam with a nasty bird flu, just so they can release it on you and make you give more money to Big Pharmaceuticals!

Well what the fuck are you gonna do about it, Jethro?

Git on your phone, horse or pick-em-up truck and get hold of all your crack-head buddies and tell ‘em to quit cooking meth and start cooking Tamiflu.
You telling me you degenerate fucks can figure out how to turn some bleach and cold medicine into speed, but you can’t figure out how to make some flu medicine?
There are 330 million Americans who want a piece of that because the Fedrill Guvment ain’t done shit to help them out—way more people than your junkie ass is normally dealing to.

So get cracking, Cracker. If not to make money, to piss off Uncle Sam. Or Big Brother.
Or whoever the fuck you’re paranoid about.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

You can take my Bling…when you pry it out of my cold, black hand.

When I first got wind of David Stern’s new dress code, I logged my prediction on a message board I frequent that within 24 hours, someone would play the race card.
I’m not precisely sure when Stephen Jackson opened his mouth, but the memo went out Monday and the press is reporting it first thing Wednesday morning, so I’m pretty damned close.

Stephen Jackson isn’t pissed about do-rags or sport coats or dress slacks or anything like that. He’s pissed that he can’t sport his bling. And in his head, that’s racist.

The NBA’s dress code, in and of itself, is not a racist policy. In any stretch of the imagination.
A company has a right to insist that its employees dress in a certain manner, provided it’s reasonable. And it’s perfectly reasonable for David Stern to expect his young, successful millionaire employees to dress like young, successful millionaires.

The dress code is not about race, it’s about what’s good for business. Right, wrong or otherwise, there’s a growing segment of NBA supporters that don’t like the hip-hop look. And that segment is usually the one whose corporations are buying the courtside seats and the luxury boxes. And that segment is probably, predominantly white.

So if you want to play the race card, start with the people who are scared, intimidated, disgusted, or whatever by the lifestyle/culture that the hip-hop style of dress represents. The fact that hip-hop scares Whitey IS grounds to play the race card, because it’s a symptom of how far we HAVEN’T come.
Shit, I remember when I was in high school and the USA Today ran a cover story about Public Enemy and I was scared of the way they looked in that picture. Flavor Flav had his silly clock thing going on, but the guys behind him were in full military garb with dark sunglasses and a stone-faced look that was screaming at my young, ignorant, white ass “We hate you, Cracker, and we’re going to get you.” Since then, I’ve grown up and realized how irrational and silly that may have been, but I guarantee I wasn’t the only one who thought that way. And although I’m not the only one who’s grown up to know better, sadly, there are too many who haven’t.

It’s almost like Americans have transferred their racist tendencies and feelings off of the color of someone’s skin and on to hip-hop culture itself because it provides and easy, semi-plausible though flawed excuse.
“I don’t hate black people, I just hate THAT kind of black people.” Which in my opinion, is the same damned thing.

I don’t follow hip-hop, so I’m not someone who can explain what the culture actually represents, but if I were to turn on the TV and go strictly by what I see in the popular media, it’s about misogyny, excessive displays of materialism, and a “don’t fuck with me” attitude.

But if I turned the clock back to 1987, I could write the exact same sentence and replace “hip-hop” with “rock music” or “heavy metal” since those were the predominant pop music of the time.

Yet no one was scared shitless that Axl Rose and Bret Michaels were going to rape their daughters and shoot their children.

And that double standard of fear is a perfect example of the underlying racism that has led to David Stern’s dress code. Pop music is about selling an image and lifestyle to kids. And that’s what so many NBA players are now—they’re just kids. In the NBA’s heyday, the younger kids were in the minority. The older guys dressed professionally and the younger guys followed suit. Now, the “older guys” are only in their late 20’s and they still dress like younger guys so that expectation of how one should dress as a professional NBA player (as Stern’s dress code tries to establish) is no longer something that’s created and enforced by influential veterans, so the Commish has stepped in and made a policy change.

So if Stephen Jackson or anyone else wants to play the Race Card, they need to dig a little deeper and get to the heart of the issues creating and sustaining racism. Not the fact that you can’t wear your $40,000 necklace on the team bus anymore.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Predator vs. Total Recall


Long before Arnold Schwarzenegger became the Indian, Mexican and household pet-hating Governor of California, he actually made some pretty fucking sweet movies. Not the ones where he’s playing with kids or being pregnant or something stupid like that. It’s debatable where Arnie hit his cinematic apogee, but I’m willing to narrow it down between “Predator” and “Total Recall.” Both movies manage to make you forget about “Junior” for 90 minutes and they pretty much kick ass.

Which is better? Let’s break it down, all scientific-like. With apologies/thanks to Nick Bakay.

In “Predator,” Arnie and his merc gang fly to some jungle country to investigate some missing people and end up getting hunted by a dreadlocked starfishfacedfanged thinger from another world. There is much blowing up and killing, including the wanton destruction of an innocent jungle canopy where one of the characters empties 17 billion rounds into the brush. And doesn’t hit anything.

“Total Recall” is about a guy who wants an exotic vacation on the cheap so he has some spy adventure implanted in his brain and we never really know if what transpires is real or his delusion. There is much blowing up and killing, including a dude who gets his arms ripped off in an unfortunate elevator accident.

Edge: Slightly to “Total Recall” for the fact that in a flashback scene in which he’s suffocating on the surface of Mars, Arnold makes the Large Marge Face. And that’s exactly how it reads in the screenplay too.

Supporting Cast:
“Total Recall” had future Hollywood megastar Sharon Stone before she catapulted to stardom on the strength of her conviction to expose her vagina on celluloid. Negative points because she’s a nagging, harpy shrew who won’t let Arnie get his ass to Mahs without bitching about it. Whore.
“Total Recall” also has the guy who would later be immortalized as Capt. Carmine Lorenzo, the airport cop who tows John McClain’s mother-in-law’s car at the beginning of Die Hard 2. He has a great line here, spoken with the textbook NY Italian accent, “Don’t fuck wit’ yer brain, pal.”
Because you should always take psychiatric advice from the guy in the sleeveless flannel shirt operating the jackhammer across the quarry from you.

“Predator” had Apollo Creed and Jesse the fucking Body Ventura. While Carl Weathers was merely using “Predator” as a springboard to the following year’s megahit, “Action Jackson,” Jesse the Body parlayed this shit into the Minnesota gubernatorial election. Do you think on election day, Minnesotians were lined up at the polls remembering his snappy campaign ads or him wrestling around in his skivvies with Bruno Sammartino?
Hell no. Suburbanite St. Paul mom’s wanted to live the dream of pulling little Johnny off the sidewalk after he fell off his bike because he’s a fat little fuck who sits inside and plays X-Box all day that he doesn’t have time to bleed. And most of all, they all wanted to carry around a gun that needs to be mounted on a helicopter because it’s so fucking big. I’m no ballistics expert, but I imagine a normal man would have been blown to Argentina by the recoil of that thing. But not Jesse.

Edge: So fucking “Predator.”

One Liners:
It wouldn’t be a Schwarzenegger flick without some one-line cheese. He was a one-trick pony in that regard and he rode that thing into the ground. Hell, he’s still riding it in his political speeches. “Dee Indeeins ah ripping yoo off!!”

“Predator” had a few good ones. Like when Arnie throws a knife at a guy that goes completely through his chest and stakes him to a tree and tells him to “Steek around.” Was it obvious? Yes. Was it unsophisticated? Yes. But do I still laugh every single time? Yes. But what do I know---I still roll when Butterfingers starts laughing and his drink comes out his nose in “Hudson Hawk.” Everybody likes “Yoo ah one ugly mutha fucka.” too. But I think that one is more because it was still kind of edgy to say “mother fucker” in a movie back in ’87. Nowadays every fucking two-bit hack will fucking throw around the f-word for no fucking reason and think he’s fucking funny because of it. Assholes.

When Quaid offs Sharon Stone in “Total Recall” the script says either “Consider that a divorce” or “Consider it a divorce” or something like that. What comes out of Arnold’s mouth is a combination of every possible permutation of that sentence and it ends up being something along the lines of “Conseedaditdadadivorce.” Some actors come up with genius ad-libs that end up being memorable parts of movies (Harrison Ford shooting the swordsman in “Raiders” for example). Arnie can do it with his pure butchering of the English language. And dude, how long have you been in America now, like 30 years? Speak English!

Edge: “Total Recall”

Stuff That Was Cool Because You Were Too Young to Know Better:
There’s all kinda stuff from back then that you thought was cool because you weren’t old enough to know any better. Like Michael Jackson.

Back in ’87 you could throw on the MLB Game of the Week and see Lenny Dykstra with a big wad of tobacco in his cheek and black gunk all down the front of his uni. Christ, could you imagine playing CF against Lenny’s team? It’d be like a damned minefield out there. I wouldn’t be diving in that shit.
And you could still go down to the Circle K on the corner and buy a pouch of Big League Chew.
And Jesse the fucking Body Ventura permanently had a chaw of chewing tobacco as big as Salma Hayek’s left tit in his cheek the whole movie long.. Why? Because that stuff will make you a goddamned sexual Tyrannosaurus, just like Jesse.
Man, I don’t think I even knew what a sexual Tyrannosaurus was, but I thought it was about the baddest thing on the planet and I wanted to be one.
Now TV shows me clips of guys stricken by Chewing Tobacco Cancer and I realize that nobody wants to bang a sexual Tyrannosaurus that’s missing half his throat and his left cheek.

When I first saw “Total Recall,” getting my ass to Mahs was almost beyond my imagination. NASA fucked that all up ‘cause now they send robots and cameras there every other week. Getting your ass to Mahs is so passé now.

Edge: “Predator,” with the Jesse factor again.

Bad Guys:
The Bad Guys in “Total Recall” were like the interstellar Wal-Mart or something. Big, corrupt, rich corporation who kept people hostage by concealing the alien technology that would create a livable atmosphere on the surface of Mars. ‘Cause there’s a lot more money in keeping a bunch of deformed degenerates in a big Thunderdome than putting up a Super Cohagen-Mart on every street corner of Mars. Assholes.

The Bad Guy in “Predator” was a supreme badass. He could see heat. He had a shoulder mounted laser thing that could blow a man’s chest cavity out. And he had a nuclear bomb on his wristband. That’s a one man wrecking crew if I ever saw one.
I only take points off because I think I liked watching F. Murray Abraham hunt Ice T in “Surviving the Game” a little better than watching the Predator hunt down a bunch of Mark McGwire-looking mercenaries. I guess it’s because F. Murray Abraham didn’t have a nuclear bomb on his wristband. Makes the battle seem a little more fair.

Edge: “Predator” again. The Predator didn’t need to cram a Lo-Jack up someone’s nose to keep an eye on them. He could see their fucking souls.

Every good action movie doesn’t waste time fleshing out characters. They just pick a 2 dimensional stereotype that we’re used to seeing so they can save time for more explosions.
“Total Recall” had Richter, the one-track minded corporate henchman who’s always one step too late. There was Benny the Black guy who, of course, drives a cab, acts all subservient to Quaid, then betrays him because he’s got 17 kids to feed. If that’s not a racist indictment, I don’t know what is. And when is a 3-titted chick ever gonna get a break from Hollywood? They’re always portrayed as whores. This is no exception.

“Predator” has Billy the Super Indian who can smell invisible interstellar creatures in his sleep and navigate a dense jungle with no compass. Then he commits noble savage suicide by machete-ing his own chest heroically calling out the Predator so he can just buy the farm on his own terms. What a hero.

Edge: “Total Recall” gets the nod here because Billy the Super Indian should have been drunk the whole movie.

The Woman, Because There Had to Be a Woman in There:
If there was ever a movie that had absolutely no use for a female character, it was “Predator.” Yet there she was—some no-name, no future, marginally attractive female supporting character that added nothing to the movie. What they should have done is use her as bait and catch that Predator in a crossfire and spill all that glow-in-the-dark blood.
I think her name was Lupe or Juanita or Maria.

“Total Recall” was just about the let down of all let downs. Quaid goes under and gets to create his ultimate fantasy and this Melina broad is what he ends up with? Recall better offer some sort of money back guarantee because that’s the best looking dame they could come up with? I mean jeezus, “The Running Man” came out that same year, couldn’t Arnie have at least inked Maria Conchita Alonso for a 2nd picture?
Flat-chested Sharon Stone and a woman who’s supposed to be a whore for a living but looks like a community college statistics teacher. For shame, Ahnold, for shame.

Edge: Feminists—for worming their way into an alien jungle movie and for keeping the T&A confined to mutants and midgets in the Mars brothel. We know you are women. Please quit roaring during non-Miramax movies.

Unintentional Comedy:
In any Schwarzenegger movie, there will always be unintentional comedy. And there’s a 99% chance it will be due to Arnold trying to do some serious drama chops. The equation is pretty much: Arnold + effort to be dramatic = Really memorable moment for the wrong reason.

1 part from each movie make me laugh just thinking about them:

“Gooooo! Gedoodahchoppah!!!”


“Dey ah peepil dyeeng. Get deez peepil sum ayah!”

Edge: Push. There’s no way I can make that decision. Feel free to express your own opinion on it because I’m completely torn.

So unless someone can give me a compelling case for an Unintentional Comedy victory, this battle has ended in the double count out of movie battles. Don’t blame me, blame the feminists.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Culture of Life—At What Cost?

The Cult…errrrrr… Culture of Life is an interesting group of cats. They’re the repressed white dudes that want to bring you such awesomeness as Intelligent Design, wars, and state sanctioned religion in addition to coat hanger, back alley pregnancy termination.

But at what cost? Sure, that would suck that a 13 year old girl that was raped by her carnie uncle would have to visit a guy that got his Ob/Gyn from the internet and operates a clinic out of the back of his Volkswagen conversion van. Sure, that would suck that an entire generation of children would be much stupider by attending science classes at their school. Sure, that would suck to have your fucking legs blown off in the desert so some little-dicked elected official has a grudge and all kinds of complexes and decides he needs to change the world order. Sure, that would suck if freedom of religion became the new Jim Crow. Sure, that would suck to continue a 5 week vacation while an entire major city has gone Atlantis. Who am I kidding? Taking a 5 week vacation would fucking rock!

But who gives a shit about all that? Really?! We’re talking cash here. Hasn’t anybody stopped to think about how much the Culture of Life is gonna cost us in cash? Who knows? I do!

And it all stems from a little problem that develops when a fetus is the same as a person:
We have to completely redefine the concept of a birthday.
Why do those crazy old white bastards want to have some sort of annual festival to the wonder of having your head shoved through a vagina? (or your feet if you were breach, or Intelligent Designer-forbid you’re celebrating being surgically removed from the womb.)
Because that’s all celebrating a birthday really is if a fetus is a person. Your just cheering the Rite of Vaginal Passage or Womb Extraction if That Was Your Particular Method of Parting the Womb.

And that brings to my point.

There are an estimated 295,734,134 people in the United States. If even 25% of those people have been issued drivers licenses or state ID’s or passports—well, we gotta change “Date of Birth” to “Date of Vaginal Passage or Womb Extraction if That Was Your Particular Method of Parting the Womb” on all those 73,933,533 forms of ID. It costs me $5 bucks to get a new Drivers License, so at 5 bucks a pop times that many ID’s, that’s: $369,667,667.50 right out of the economy. Maybe Jesus can cut us a check to cover it.

Or we can spend some more money to just redefine “birth” and have it read “see: ‘conception’ “. But if that’s the case, we need to spend the $369,667,667.50 on top of that because we need to tack ¾ of a year on to everyone’s life to cover the 9 months of frolicking about in placenta.
Maybe they’ll go this route because they could cut a pretty good deal with the science book publishers to do the dictionaries for them too since we’ll be revising all of those.
So anyways, feel free to reference this to get out of buying birthday presents for all those hypocritical Culture of Lifers. Fucking assholes.