Welcome back from the weekend. Sure the weather wasn't the greatest here in Minnesota - although it was hard to argue with yesterday's climatological conditions - but I had a pretty damned good weekend regardless.
First off, I got to see “Iron Man 2” on Saturday. Pretty darned good flick. I'm not sure if it's as good as the first flick - I'll need to see it again before I can make that assessment - but it's absolutely worth seeing. Robert Downey, Jr., is his usual brilliant self. Don Cheadle brings a more believable military bearing to the Col. Rhodes character than Terrance Howard did. Mickey Rourke does the “bad-ass villain” bit quite well. Sam Rockwell does a surprisingly good turn as the “funny/disarming/inferiority-complex-possessing/might-be-a-little-bit-psycho” bad guy. My brother felt he stole the show. Personally, I think that's near to impossible when RDJ is on the screen, but I can see where he's coming from. The only disappointing performance was Scarlett Johansson's. It wasn't totally her fault since there was very little time given to developing her character. Still, the development that existed was wasted by her drab, wooden performance.
Bottom line, if you liked the first one, you'll like this one. Go see it. Enjoy. Thank me later.
Secondly, a belated “Happy Mothers Day” to all the Moms out there! Yes, I made sure my mom got a card and a phone call from me yesterday, so that's not the belated part. But I wanted to take the opportunity to send well wishes to the rest of the Moms who read my blog. If you take care of your kids anywhere near like my mom has taken (and in many ways continues to take) care of my brother and me, then you're more than deserving of hearty kudos from all of us!
Thanks for everything, Mom! I love you!
On to today's column! Lots of interesting stories from the weekend. And what better way to mock them, than Mailbag style!
”Always acknowledge a fault. This will throw those in authority off their guard and give you an opportunity to commit more.”
- Mark Twain (1835 - 1910), American author and humorist
This was a lesson I've only truly-learned in the last decade or so. I've found that if you accept responsibility for a screw-up without excuses, people are so taken aback, they forget to be pissed at you. Yes, even when I'm clearly at fault, I can still be devious!
Time to review the weekend with a...
(As always, none of the following emails were conceived, written, or sent by the individuals named. They're merely figments of my questionable imagination.)
Am I experienced enough now to be allowed to point out when you're being a doosh?
Oakland, CA (via the 209)
P.S. Yes, Grandma actually did tell you to “Stick it”.
First and foremost, congratulations go out to Dallas Braden for pitching only the 19th perfect game in Major League history.
It's been less then a year since Perfect Game #18 was hurled by Chicago's Mark Buerhle, and in one of those strange coincidences that only seems to happen in baseball, both Buerhle's and Braden's perfecto's came against the Tampa Bay Rays. Nobody questioned it last year when Tampa was on their way to a “barely above .500” season. This year? The Rays are in the mix for the best record in all of baseball, so it's slightly more of a surprise.
But in this grand game, anything can happen on any given day. Well pitched Mr. Braden. Well pitched.
None of that truly explains the letter, however. So let's discuss some back-story, shall we?
A few weeks ago, the A's were playing the Yankees. Alex Rodriguez was on first base when a ball was shot down one of the foul lines. Once it was determined to be foul, A-Roid had to go back to first base, and rather than cutting across the back of the infield, he, for some reason, cut across the mound.
I'll admit, when I first heard the story, I didn't know it was an unwritten rule that base-runners are not to run over the mound. I did know that it was an exceedingly odd thing to do, and when Braden protested, I didn't mind it a bit. After all, A-Roid has a history of etiquette issues.
In 2004, he was called out for trying to slap the ball out of the pitcher's glove as the pitcher was trying to cover first base and get him out. That's a big no-no. In 2007, he was blasted for yelling at a third baseman from the base-paths while that player attempted to catch a pop-up. It doesn't take a baseball historian to know that's frowned upon.
What put me firmly in Braden's camp was A-Roid's predictably arrogant response:
“He just told me to get off his mound. I was a little surprised. I've never heard that, especially from a guy with a handful of wins in his career.”
So apparently, Braden's not allowed to protest A-Roid's disrespectful actions because he hasn't been in the league long enough? What kind of sense does that make?!
I compare it to the folks who call the radio station with an opinion and lead with “I'm 72 (or insert any number you like) years old, and I think...” Any time someone opens with their age, I generally stop listening. Look, all age means is that a person has had the opportunity to gain more knowledge and wisdom. It doesn't mean they actually have gained them. The wisest folks amongst us don't need to justify their opinion with their age, because they understand that true wisdom isn't about what you know, it's about understanding how much you don't know.
Just because Braden hasn't been in the big leagues very long doesn't mean A-Roid's actions weren't silly, petty and disrespectful. Perhaps now that Braden's cemented a place in baseball history, A-Roid will take his objections a little more seriously.
As for the post-script? Yes, Braden's grandmother was on hand to watch her grandson's historic performance. After the game, the two of them spent a special moment hugging and celebrating, during which Braden broke down on her shoulder. It was something to watch.
After the game when Grandma was asked for her reaction, she said “Stick it, A-Rod”.
I couldn't have put it better myself.
Why don't people believe that my neck injury is real?
Don't they realize I wouldn't be sucking up a storm like this if I was 100%?!
P.S. You try sleeping on a couch for six months and see how your neck feels!
Wow. Lot's of post-scripts this week!
Tiger withdrew from The Players Championship over the weekend, after only seven holes of his final round, complaining of neck pain that made it impossible to continue.
Do I believe him? Yes. Do I feel he deserves every bit of the doubt and sniping that's come pouring forth from fans and pundits? Absolutely.
I believe him because, no matter what character flaws the man has (and they're plentiful), he's still the single greatest golfer I've ever seen. A 100% healthy Tiger Woods doesn't miss six of the seven fairways he aimed at on Sunday. Yes, he can be wild from the tee, but not that wild.
Let's remember, the man was involved in a car crash that was significant enough to prevent him from opening the doors of his vehicle. Even if he was wearing a seat belt, a crash like that can easily screw up someone's spinal alignment.
I find it interesting, however, to see folks coming out of the woodwork not just to question the voracity of his claims, but also to bring up that other “Q-word”: quitter.
The rumblings started after he missed the cut at the Quail Hollow Championship the weekend prior. His disastrous 7-over 79 on that Friday cost him the opportunity to play the weekend. That 79 included a very un-Tiger-like 43 on the back nine. That led some folks to suggest that as he got towards the end of that round and realized he wasn't going to make the cut, he gave up and mailed it in, hence the 43.
Now, withdrawing from a tournament where he'd made the cut, but clearly wasn't competitive, will only stoke the fires of those claims.
This can be mostly put to rest if there's an MRI that shows a bulging disc in his neck. People can barely stand straight with a problem like that, much less hit a golf ball straight.
Of course, given the way Tiger's handled his business over the last six months, he'll probably have the MRI, and then refuse to allow anyone from his camp to comment on it. He'll issue some vague statement on his website, and then ask for everyone to respect his vertebra's privacy.
Keep digging, Tiger. Keep digging.
Oh my god, the Twins split a series with the Orioles!
What does that mean? Does Minnesota suddenly suck? Should we push the panic button?
Should we? Should we?!
Over-reactionary Twins Fans
Okay, I might be exaggerating the reactions of some Twins fans after their disappointing performance over the weekend, but the fact that there was any reaction at all troubles me a bit.
What does it mean that the Twins split a 4-game series with a team that was 7-21 coming into town?
Nothing. It means nothing at all.
Most of Baltimore's young talent is centered around their pitching staff, and sometimes some of those kids are going to have good days.
The Twins were minus their MVP catcher for three of the four games (though he did pinch hit in the second game of Saturday's double-header). That forced rookie Wilson Ramos to do most of the catching, and we quickly found out why he was hitting in the .170's at AAA-Rochester: “Straightball I hit it very much. Curveball, bats are afraid.” (Copyright, Pedro Cerano)
Pitchers have clearly adjusted to the kid after his torrid start. Now it's up to him to adjust to their approach. In other words, as soon as Mauer's ready to start catching, we'll wish Ramos a safe trip back to upstate New York.
J.J. Hardy missed the entire series with an injury which meant a healthy dose of Brendan Harris at shortstop. Sure Hardy's only hitting .250/.699 (Batting Average/OPS), but Harris is hitting a meek .184/.591. Don't underestimate the difference there.
Moreover, I shouldn't be making excuses at all. This is baseball. Over the course of a 162-game season, every team is going to have a rough-patch (if that's even what we're going to call this) or two. There's an old baseball adage that says, “Every team is going to win 60 games. Every team is going to lose 60 games. What they do with the other 42 determines their season.” If you approach a season with the notion that at a minimum, 60 games will be loss, then splitting a 4-gamer with the Orioles becomes a lot less significant.
I'll tell you what I liked about the series. After wasting another Pavano gem and losing a game where FranKKKie Rodriguez proved he's still human, the Twins battled back to earn the split. It would've been easy to drop the second half of the Saturday double-header after the way they scuffled in the first two games. Losing three of four would've really had the panic brigade howling. Instead, the Twins kept their heads, didn't panic, stuck to their plan, and won two straight to get the split.
The Hammer keeps saying it, and I'll keep repeating it: it's way to early to panic folks. Save that for the Yankee series this weekend. That'll be much more telling!
That's going to wrap things up for today. I'll be back on Wednesday with... well something for you. Who knows what? That's the fun part though, right? You just never know!
Until then, thanks for reading!