Suspended Disbelief [TeeCoZee’s AL Roundup August 2018]

When I first saw Bull Durham, it was on a moldy couch and my room mate was probably smoking tobacco out of a bong, because college. I was not at all a baseball fan. I thought it was a boring slog for mutants that had equal attributes of jock and nerd. The sport, not the movie. I thought the movie was a boring slog for mutants that had equal attributes of jock and asshole. That was all that I picked up from the movie. It was just a bunch of assholes being assholes to each other and then it ends. I saw no point in it, just like I saw no point in baseball. Years went by, I became older and wiser. I warmed up to the great past time and let it consume my life. But every time there’s conversation about the best sports movies, Bull Durham always comes up. After years of bashing the film, I succumbed to the idea that only true baseball fans could appreciate it. That it’s so well-done that it flies over everyone else’s radar and they won’t see the “point”. Or at least that was jammed down my throat. Out of a lack of anything better to do, I watched it again the other day. Now that I’m a grown adult with a mind seasoned for the finer things, I discovered something about Bull Durham:

It’s a really bad movie.

There’s no plot at all. Susan Sarandon has sex with baseball players, namely Tim Robbins. But she really wants to have sex with Kevin Costner and mildly pouts about it for 2 hours. Costner and Robbins are on a team that sucks, they go on a winning streak, suck again and then they both leave the team. This isn’t your typical sports narrative, because it doesn’t actually follow a team. Usually, there’s a championship to win or a rival to beat. Nothing. There is no point for the team to exist, only as a vehicle for characters to grow in. But there’s really no character development, so the team is totally moot. Our main characters are essentially the same in the beginning as they are in the end. There’s no struggle or moral. And they’re not really protagonists, because inversely, there’s no antagonists. Instead, we get a fly-on-the-wall view of assholes existing. I keep thinking that there are opportunities for growth or struggle, but they just didn’t have the time. It’s almost 2 hours long. They had plenty of time to make an actual story. The film is just a meandering mess. Of the last 10 minutes, 5 of them are various sex scenes. There’s very little sex before that, they just crammed it all in at the end. That’s not how you pace a movie. Even Skinemax Auteurs know to put sex scenes just before every major plot point. But I guess the only plot point is the movie ending, so they did it right. I went to IMDb to find some stupid nugget about production, but was instead enamored by this positive review:

The movie reviews that have been said about this amazing film are quite possibly the least impressive writing that has ever been put down on the internet. If you don’t respect baseball you wouldn’t like this movie. You may like baseball but unless you respect the sanctity of the games with its quirks and its traditions you won’t understand this movie. The plot revolves around what every baseball player dreams of. Sex with an incredible and mysterious women and making it to the highest echelon of players that has ever graced the sanctity of a baseball diamond.

Well, I guess I was completely wrong. People play baseball just so they can have sex with mysterious women woman. I guess I missed the point altogether. With that in mind, here’s what I think about all 30 teams and how laid they’re about to get…

AL East

5th Place: Albert Belle [36-85]
Nobody is getting laid in Baltimore. Not Mayor Pugh, whose wig is 4 times the size of her head. Not Buck Showalter, whose night-time rituals include eating Boston Baked Beans and listening to Peter Frampton cover bands. Not radio broadcaster, Jim Hunter, because he can no longer convince drunk girls at Pickles that he’s Catfish Hunter [nor would they even know who Catfish Hunter is]. Not Chris Davis, as he laments the loss of his beloved teammates and “Crush” moniker while wiping his tears with $5 bills. Not even the attractive tourists that stay at the Pratt Street Hilton. This isn’t because of the vapid rumor that sex was not allowed at this hotel. It’s because the hotel has a view of Camden Yards, a sight so unsexy that even the horniest of newlyweds will fall asleep at the sight of it and dream about a life of which they decided not to have a honeymoon in Baltimore. Nobody is getting laid in Baltimore.

4th Place: BJ Ryan [55-66]
The thing about the Blue Jays is that they’re not good enough to have anything to say about them and they’re not bad enough of make fun of. Their presence is benign in the basest terms. While all the other teams are racing to the top of having bed-wetting competitions, this team breaks the mold. They proudly stand up among the chaos and say “I exist and I am okay!!!”. In other words, they’re the Canada of baseball.

3rd Place: Josh Hamilton [62-59]
I find it hard to believe, but it appears that the Tampa Bay Rays have historically been one of the most well-run teams in baseball. They have had no major player busts that I can see. In a sport where you would have to decide between crappy players to determine where a franchise went the worst, I had to resort to pointing the finger at a player that didn’t even play for said team. They drafted Josh Hamilton in 1999 and he immediately become a superstar in their farm system. Following a car accident in 2001, Josh checked in and out of the Betty Ford Clinic and was habitually suspended for drug use. As his tale of redemption unfolded, he finally pulled his life back together only to be swiped away by the Cubs, who sold him to the Reds hours later for beer money. But his story with the Rays wasn’t over. On August 18 2007, with a 7-3 lead, Rays skipper and self-proclaimed Pringles Fanatic, Joe Maddon, decided to intentionally walk Hamilton with the bases loaded. It was a good “fuck you” to close out their saga. It was an even bigger “fuck you” to Marlon Byrd, who was on deck at the time. Wait, did somebody say Marlon Byrd? [It was me. I said Marlon Byrd] I guess that means it’s time to play, What Would Marlon Byrd Do?™

WWMBD

Here’s the scenario: You’re playing for the Tampa Bay Rays. Your team has been over .500 for most of the season, but with Boston and New York causing armageddon amongst themselves, you know that you don’t logically stand a chance. With that in mind, you have a very good ball club and you want people to come and see them. What would Marlon Byrd do?

Marlon Byrd would hit dinger after dinger, with each one punching a hole through the roof of Tropicana Field. Who knows, maybe the roof will come off altogether and people can enjoy the warm sunshine? Or maybe the dome will resemble a cheese grater. Everybody likes cheese, even Marlon Byrd. As a matter of fact, Marlon Byrd is gonna go eat some cheese right now. That’s what Marlon Byrd would do.

2nd Place: Jacoby Ellsbury [75-46]
I realize that I complain endlessly about the Yankees penchant towards masturbating in the mirror. It’s something that I just can’t get over. But I found out something that takes the masturbatory cake. On August 17, there’s going to be a giveaway at Yankee Stadium. The first 10,000 fans get a replica of the 1998 World Series Trophy. The hell?!? What kind of nut flex is that?!? This is all very strategically timed. I’m sure the press release goes like this:

I know, bro. Times are hard. Judge and Scary Gary are going to be out for a few more weeks. Our lead behind the Sawx is now double digits. I get it, bro. My stereo broke yesterday. I know how bad it feels to not be able to buy the New York Post, because all the hype beats bought out the Supreme covers. I know, B, times are tough. But you don’t need to go out and buy another thin gold chain. I know what can make you feel better. Come out to The Cathedral on Friday and you know what you’ll get, B? A motherfuckin trophy! We got 27 of them, of course we can just be giving them shits away! How many World Series Trophies does JD Martinez have? NONE! And he can’t even get one of Friday, because he’ll be playing for Stupid Fuckin Boston! Enjoy not having a trophy, chump! You know who else doesn’t have a trophy? BRYCE FUCKIN HARPER! The list goes on and on. But you and me, b? WE GOT PLENTY TROPHIES! Isn’t it great to be a part of the best sports team of all time? YOU BET YOUR ASS IT DOES! Now go polish your Thurman Munson bobbleheads and I’ll see YOU on Friday!

I sincerely hope that they get 100 wins and still can’t make the playoffs. It could happen, right?

1st Place: Pablo Sandoval [83-36]
The Red Sox are just playing on a completely different level right now. While the Yankees have Mario sliding down a grassy hill, the Sox have him dodging the sun and staying out of quicksand. The Indians have Sonic wandering underwater ruins while the Sox have Sonic on the goddamned Moon. As of August 14, they have more wins than the Royals & White Sox combined and they have just as many loses as the Orioles have wins. And they’re not playing in an easy division and they have very few garbage wins. They’re defying everything we thought we knew about baseball and probably some other things. As somebody that doesn’t care too much for them, I’m scared. But as somebody that detests every other first place team, bring it on!

AL Central

5th Place: Omar Infante [37-84]
You can chortle all you want about the Royal’s struggles and I’m sure I’d join you. But man, you gotta feel bad for Ned Yost. Just 10 months ago, Neddy fell out of a tree and almost died. I didn’t read much on the matter, but I’m sure his comeback story is valiant and filled with montages of him trying to walk again to the backdrop of soft piano music. He overcame all the odds, defeated all of the trials and returned to his throne to manage a scrappy team. Did I say scrappy? I meant to say crappy. Because the Royals are really crappy. In order to prevent his worst year of all time, the Royals can only lose 12 more games. By the time I finish this article, they will probably have lost 6. So it’s not looking very bright. But hey, that means Ned can have all of October to spend in a tree! Or maybe some of September!

4th Place: James Shields [44-76]
I wanted to look and see what’s going on with Aaron Bummer these days, but the search results were limited. I have deduced that in the last month, Aaron Bummer has

1) Existed
2) Been considered to be a trade target by some Cheeto eating nerd in a dank basement just outside of Houston
3) Not pitched in the Major Leagues

Even when I try to find dirt on Aaron Bummer, I still end up disappointed. He is a true bummer.

I’ve been carrying on with my life thinking that Aaron Bummer is the true personification of Chicago Basebaw, but that was before I became aware of Daniel Palka. I got one good look at him, did a double take and wiped my face off with a powder blue flag. This man is Chicago. His father was a wet Italian Beef and his mother was a deep dish. He only dates girls named Wendy because his true love is the Wendy Citay. He’s more Chicago than John Hughes and will kick his dead pansy ass if he ever tries to say otherwise. He even has his own snack line, with all proceeds going to the “Bring Back Cutler Foundation”:

palkorn

Second City? Yeah, he’s been to Dallas. But he still thinks Chicago is #1.

3rd Place: Miguel Cabrera [50-72]
The only grasp I have on how the Tigers are doing is based on the pictures I see on Facebook of my high school acquaintances that get crappy seats at Comerica. That said, I haven’t “heard” about the Tigers since early July, so I guess they’re doing really, really, really bad. But looking at their attendance, man Tigers fans are dedicated. Since May 1, Comerica Park’s attendance has only dipped below 20,000 6 times. The Oakland Athletics, a much better team, has gone above 20,000 only 9 times, with 6 of them being attributed to playing the Giants or Dodgers. All in all, I feel bad for both fanbases.

2nd Place: Joe Mauer [57-63]
The Twins continue to do what they do every year. They crash your party, drink your beer, seduce your girlfriend, steal a vase and disappear for a week. The Twins are that friend that will undoubtedly get in a drunken argument about Wesley Snipe’s tax evasion while nonchalantly drinking the last booze in the house. And when he’s done with his rant, there’ll only be backwash left in the bottle of El Toro and he’ll say “My bad, did you want some?”. They’re fun to be around, but nobody would ever consider them to be a friend, nor would they ever count on them to do anything at all. They just simply exist and liven up the room. And just when you think you’ve caught him in a moment of sincerity, they’ll trade Brian Dozier for a sack of bones whip their dick out and claim that it looks identical to Roy Orbison’s. Oh, you Twins. Get out of my house.

1st Place: Nick Swisher [69-51]
To further shove my knife into the stomach of Cleveland, a comparison:

The Cleveland Browns
– Have not won a game since 2016
– The laughing stock of the sports world
– Continued dedication year in and year out to set their reputation on fire
– Front row ticket on the 50 yard line: $518.88

The Cleveland Baseball Squadron
– Have won 171 games since 2016 (which translates to roughly 17 football wins)
– The talk of the sports world
– Continued dedication year in and year out to get their own city to pay attention to them
– Home plate ticket: $46.50

WHAT IN THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU, CLEVELAND?!? YOU’RE CHEATING ON YOUR NOBEL PEACE PRIZE WINNING SPOUSE WITH A SERIAL KILLER! YOU DESERVE UNHAPPINESS, JUST LIKE YOUR PARENTS TOLD YOU!!!

AL West

5th Place: Chan Ho Park [54-59]
You’d be hard pressed to find a team more lopsided than the Rangers. On one side, their offense is having a landmark year. Joey Gallo is hitting above the Mendoza Line and is on pace for 43 taters. Shin-Soo Choo went on a 55,934,058 game on-base streak and somehow has over 20 taters to his name. Adrian Beltre, despite being old enough to be Juan Soto’s dad, is hitting to a tune of .278 and is still a trusted asset at the hot corner. Nomar Mazara is out there being Nomar Mazara, which is fine by me. If they played in the AL Central (or anywhere in the National League), this would probably be enough for a winning season. But they can’t be so lucky. Their team pitching is only out-assed by the Royals and Orioles (or Royoles for short). Cole Hamels pulled a Verlander this year. He shat the bed over and over again until he got traded to a contender. The rest of the rotation is faring much worse. And yet they still refuse to call up Tim Lincecum. So there’s also a sense of false dignity. Being a Rangers fan must feel a lot like going on a blind date of which you really hit it off with the person, only to find out that they burned their house down for the insurance money. But really, the new apartment looks just as good!

4th Place: Josh Hamilton…again… [62-61]
In speaking of houses on fire…

sciosciaretire

3rd Place: Chone Figgins [70-52]
Want to know how good the Mariners are doing? When Robinson Cano came back from an 80 game PED suspension, they threw him at 1st base. Because he just isn’t necessary. It’s a rather empowering story if you ask me. In a typical season, we would’ve just expected the M’s to lay down and die the second Cano got popped. Instead, they went 46-34 in the games without him and still have a firm standing in the AL West. To be honest, they probably should’ve tried to trade him for an elite starting arm. It’s not like he’s eligible to play in the postseason. They literally have all of their bases covered. It should’ve been time to move on.

2nd Place: Billy Butler [72-49]
I couldn’t tell you how the Athletics are winning all these games. Last month I tried pitting it on some guy named Martini, but that probably wasn’t right. For lack of any better ideas, I turned to my girlfriend for her take on the team:

“They got that Oakland grit, mang. Also, Krush Davis. With a K. I feel like Oakland is the middle child in the grand scheme of California baseball. The Padres suck and they’re like ‘aww, they’re trying’. The Angels suck and they’re like, ‘aww, but at least they have Mike Trout’. The A’s suck and they’re like, ‘eh, that’s expected’. The A’s win and they’re like ‘eh, good for you’. That’s the epitome of being a middle child.”

Which explains why I never have shit to say about them. Because I’m the youngest and everyone loves me!

1st Place: Jim Clancy [74-47]
This is a topic I didn’t want to bring up, but now it’s right in front of our faces. No, I’m not talking about the Astro’s total dominance and prospective repeat. I’m also not referring to Brian McCann being a sack of human trash. I am of course referring to Roberto Osuna. If you already know the story, you probably already know my opinion, so you can probably just close this article now. If you don’t know, well, you’re about to. In a nutshell, Blue Jays closer Roberto Osuna was charged for assault in early May. We don’t know many details about the assault, as all the info is locked up in the Canadian Judicial System. But we do know that the victim was a woman and he received an unprecedented 75 game suspension. The fact that he was hit with such a stiff penalty and he didn’t contest it only proves that whatever happened was brutal and definitely his fault. Apparently, there is footage of the incident stowed away and one person commented simply, “it’s bad.” Naturally, the Blue Jays wanted nothing to do with him and was more than happy to trade him to any bidder. This is where it gets even shittier. Although he was suspended for a great amount of time, he is still eligible to play in the postseason. And terrible person or not, he was still one of the most elite closers over the past couple of years. So the Astros scooped him up knowing damn well of the moral implications. Here we have a player that does not deserve to be on a ball diamond and yet he’s going to be rewarded by pitching on the biggest stage all because the MLB brass didn’t do their due diligence when writing the rules.

To put it simply:

Robinson Cano tested positive for Furosemide, a chemical that COULD BE used to MASK other performance enhancing drugs. So he didn’t take a PED, he just took something that could mask PEDs. Basically the equivalent of being caught with an unloaded gun. He will not be able to help his team in the postseason because of this.

Roberto Osuna caused physical harm to a woman, which is inherently a low and dastardly act regardless of the amount of force used. He could still throw the last strike to win the World Series and be lauded as a hero.

That’s not to say that the Astros are totally getting away with acquiring him. This was all done to the disdain to a good portion of the clubhouse, most notably Justin Verlander. He has gone out of his way in the past to put assaulters in their place. It appears to have made a rift in the team chemistry. Combine that with their key players being on the DL and you have yourself a good ol’ fashioned freefall! Since Osuna’s first appearance, the team has gone 3-5 and are suddenly only 2 games apart from Oakland (who, surprise, is playing them this weekend). Could this be the beginning of a wonderful curse for Houston or will it all just be a blip in another storied season? Only time will tell.

Join me next month when I reminisce about the time the Astros lost 5 games and how great that moment in time felt.

-TeeCoZee

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