Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Mexican standoff.


The guns are already out.

Eyes darting around. Lots of clicking back of the hammers.



Click-click click.

Kid Epstein and The Cash(man) are in the center of town.

The Kid looks at The Cash.

The Cash looks at The Kid.

Cash keeps an eye peeled at the rest of Epstein's Banditos Rojos Medias (Red Socks/Sox) peering from the broken windows of the Lansdowne Street General Store:

Manny Being Manny.
The Bloody Sock.
Big Hoss Josh
The Paper Man.
The Knuckler.
And that New Guy at 2nd.

Manny Being Manny and Ortiz are the ones to never let out of your sight.

Manny Being Manny because he's crazy - he just don't care!

And Ortiz because he's almost always the last man standing. Even after sticking his hands into the fire to save your chestnuts.

Now look at the House that Ruth Built and you'll see that Cash brought Brenner's Black Hats; the business end of their sluggers are peekin' out from Babe's old room. Really Ole George sits in a really ole wicker wheel chair on the short porch - surrounded by very BIG men:

Big Hoss Jason.
Big Hoss Andy of the Cross.
Big Rod.
Smiling Johnny D.
Jorgie P.
Robinson Cano and Melky (Leche).
The Hughes Boy and Baby Joba.

Jeter positions himself out front dressed in the uniform of a union army captain. They say he dove head first into a bar room brawl. Twice. Came up looking pretty. Once. He's an inspiration to the boys.

And don't you forget Mo Rivera - the Sandman so leeeean, perfectly groomed, hat tilted just so, all in black. Black on black. That Pentecostal Skeleton Head may talk to God, but they say he made a deal with the diablo to get his cutter. Sandman steps out from the bullpen without fear. No pistols. Just those deadly throwing knives. He rarely misses. When he does, he doesn't miss again.

George's son Hal does the numbers; he's in the cellar - wearing the green eye shade.

George's son Hank smokes a Winston right down to the knubbin'.

Another thing: That George may be REALLY old, but don't take your eyes off him neither. He still has the BIGGEST gun.

Carl Pohlad (CPA) pushes Johan Santana out of the Pohlad National Bank and on to the street. Pohlad has got Santana lassoed. Partial Hogtie.

Hey, are those sticks of TNT wrapped around Santana's torso?

Carl: I got what you all want right here!

Kid Epstein: Hey, you be careful, we're clicking here!

The Cash: Me and my boys are clicking too!

Kid: Okay, so we've all clicked.

(Something rustles in the General store.)

Cash: Hey don't do that! These are real bullets here in my pistols.

Kid: We've got real bullets too.

Cash: This could get bad if you start something. One wrong move and I might start it.

Kid: Oh yeah?!

Cash: Always that possibility. Don't take your eyes off me.

More Clickety click-click.


Suddenly Omar Moreno rides into town with a posse of MLB Pinkertons pulling a wagonload of young Metropolitans.

The Rojos and Blacks look a bit perplexed. In a squinty Clint way.

George's eyes glint.
He wants to shoot - draw some blood!

Cash and Hank flash him a look.

Hank: We talked about this dad. Melky and Hughes is good people. Family.

Cash (little smile at the corner of his mouth): No worries. Relaaahhhhhx.

Omar rides up kinda slow to Carl Pohlad (CPA).

Omar: I think I have what you need.

Carl: That's it?!?

Omar: What'd you expect?

Carl: I needed a reeeeeeal center fielder.

Omar: Not sure you've noticed, but you don't have many amigos 'round here.

Carl: But your kids are green! Heck, I don't even know if they can fight at all.

Omar (head gesturing back to the Rojos and Brenner Blacks): You want some of that?


Carl: Oh alright. Hand 'em over.

Pinkertons disperse. Omar rides off with Johan in a cloud of dust. It's a long journey back to the National League. Los Rojos and The Brenner Boys back up slowly into their respective properties.

Guns now unclick.


Suddenly a knife (knife POV) flies toward the Lansdowne general store.


Pinning a bloody sock to the front door.

The Rojos spin around, start to reach for their guns - almost startin' the clickin' again. They stop themselves.

It's the Sandman's calling card.

The Sandman smiles.
The Rojos smile.
Everybody smiles.

All head to the Sultan's Saloon, laughing, back-slapping as they push through the swinging doors. Manny being Manny shoots his pistols in the air, cackling. Nobody stops him. Just Manny being Manny.

All head to the Saloon but Carl Pohlad (CPA), who trudges off to his farm, pulling that wagonload of green Metropolitans.

Thanks Steve of PacNorthWest & Joel of Ditmas Park.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Real Heat vs. Cheatin' Heat: that's what I call this one.

Goose Gossage got voted into The Baseball Hall of Fame.

And I loved his game.

Now I love his honesty in saying that he might have used steroids if they had been the trend during his meat and potato years. And I really appreciate his view that abusers should come clean and move on - draconian punishments not needed.

I haven't changed my opinion that the corp-politico complex (mgmt) is unfairly making the players (artists) pay the whole invoice for our culture of collective greed. And keeping up with those willing to take shortcuts encourages the less willing to become users too.

My chain of blame goes up. The more powerful you are in the process, the more blame I'll lay on your doorstep.

With that in mind: Roger Clemens is on top of the player food chain. And he seems to be handling his power like the John Wayne warrior that he is - macho talk backed up by no real tours of duty. My sympathies are not with this player.

Andy Pettite said he dabbled with HGH to bounce back from injury quicker. It's a team thing. That might sound slightly disingenuous, but I'll take it from him. It fits his 'gamer' profile.

With Clemens, the choices, as per his mercenary profile, are about him. With all the appropriate Blackwater Texar-fascist stylings.

Clemens' sitch now almost completely parallels Bonds' - because they both obviously did more than dabble in better performance with science. They both could have admitted their mistakes, but instead chose the big lie.

Clemens won 3 Cy Young Awards before the inevitable slide of a power pitcher whose hamstrings become less powerful. But after the Red Sox GM let Clemens got to the Blue Jays - saying his career was on the downs - Clemens got that suspicious second wind. He left humanity behind to become a robo-Clydsedale in Bladerunner pursuit of landmark stats. He bagged what he hunted: 4 additional Cy Youngs, the 300 wins.

Bonds had his 3 MVP years. Like Clemens, he was already headed for the Hall, but was predictably starting to spend more time in the shop (trainers room or disabled list) than he did as a younger player. And then Bonds suspiciously added 4 additional MVP awards after Mac and Sosa 'stole' the power spotlight in '98.

Gossage brought the high heat of a Clemens to his role as a game closer. But Goose's power was in service of the game, the team game.

His stats slid later in his career -and stayed slid. He could still contribute, but wasn't a centerpiece, had to travel more - change teams more often. And get paid less for his services.

He said he might have been tempted to use performance enhancers. But they were already readily available towards the end of his career, and he chose not to abuse.

I recall his entrance into a game.
He made an average contest an event.

And added serious amp to a good, tight, important one.

Gossage was indeed dominant.
But in a fun way.

He usually got the job done.
But if he didn't, it wasn't a crisis bigger than himself.

To whit: Goose badly wanted to convert the last outs of the classic 1978 Yankee/Red Sox playoff to make up for his weaker showings earlier in the year, but modified that self-motivator by telling himself that 'millions of people in China don't give a rats ass either way.'

With the unnecessary stress lifted, Goose added more moxie to his fastball. His catcher Thurman Munson ribbed him during the post-game champagne shower: 'What took you so long meat?'

Gossage put up valid numbers. But he was a great player in a real way. I recall his impact more than his stats.

When he threw the ball, he didn't look anywhere near his target - not at the mitt, plate or hitter. He was a big boy. That handle bar moustache mountain ranch hand swooping down from the Rockies all long goose-neck-arms-now-legs, the batter swings way too late, says 'shee-it what the hell was he even lookin' at?'

Fear factor?

Yet tellingly, Goose was not known as a headhunter.

He had pretty good control considering how hard and fast he threw; it was only his style that said ''maybe I'm not completely in control."

Clemens is a headhunter.

For a guy with good control, he hits lots of helmets. One of the crappy things about Clemens beaning Mike Piazza: it was not a rare event.

Not cool.
Not sport.

Clemens is like prize fighters who draw lines in the sand, only to cross them whenever they see fit. That kind of boxer is not just trying to win, trying to get a knockdown to add points and make more $$$ in less fighting time. The Clemens fighter wants to humiliate a man by bringing him closer to death.

The Goose knew it was just a game.