We’re baaaaaack…

Hey dick biscuits!

You’d think that a blog named after a baseball player would’ve been busy all spring and summer talking about baseball.  Well, it turns out that baseball is boring to write about.  I think we all know it’s boring to watch unless you’re watching the team you root for.  My Cardinals have kept me captivated, as I’m sure Mex’s Red Sox have, but Hernandez’s Mets opened their new stadium with a season in crap. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Mets have a ‘Shit the Bed’ promotion later this month, where the first 5,000 paying fans get to head down to the field and excrete on a custom-built 90′ by 90′ mattress.  I’ll be selling chili and whiskey outside.

Yes, I know the Mets were plagued by injuries this year.  But usually one of the richest teams in baseball goes out and spends money on new players when these things happen.  The Mets just rolled over and died.   Is this because owner Fred Wilpon got hosed by Bernie Madoff?  Boohoo, Freddy.  You should’ve invested your paycheck in rent, booze and tacos like the rest of us.

That felt good!  It’s been a few months…

Anyway, baseball’s not IKH’s favorite subject to write about.  I don’t find it boring to read about, and there are a great number of excellent baseball writers who write about my Cardinals.  But I’ve come to the conclusion that the guys who write that stuff do a lot of research, present even-handed arguments, etc.  They have a lot of time and semen on their hands.

So what better day to get back to insulting you and entertaining ourselves than the opening day of the NFL season?  Let’s do this!

First order of bidness:  NFL picks.  Hernandez and I did this last year, we had a blast, and he got a free burger out of it.  This year we’ll add in Mex, so we may need to switch the prize to all-you-can-eat tacos.  And that reminds me–if you come to IKH for tepid, diarrhea-causing jokes, you are in luck, my friend.  We have grand plans for you.

Keith’s pick!  Steelers -6

Sunday picks coming soon.  I need to charge my phone and find out where the hell everybody is.

Advertisements

Cards/Mets 3 of 4 (Hernandez’s team takes on Keith’s team)

Yesterday, Hernandez answered my 5 questions about the Mets, and tonight, I answer his Cardinals’ questions:

1.  I don’t really know anyone on the Cardinals besides Albert Pujols, Rick Ankiel and Yadier Molina. (And I only know Ankiel because of his meltdown against the Mets in 2000 and Molina because of his lucky-as-fuck HR to beat the Mets in Game 7 of the 2006 NLCS.) So who should I be keeping an eye out for in this series? Sleepers, rookies, under the radar guys, etc.

The first guy you should look out for is Adam Wainwright, who struck out Carlos Beltran on a looking curve ball in the 2006 NLC– wait, you’ve probably heard of him.  You’re just being coy.

The main guy to watch right now is 22 year-old CF Colby Rasmus, who is the highest-touted prospect in St. Louis in awhile, and a viable Rookie of the Year candidate.  He has decent power, great speed and a decent eye at the plate, but he also patrols CF in a way that reminds me less of Jim Edmonds and more of Beltran — he always takes a great path to the ball, has great range and as a result never has to or tries to make highlight-reel circus catches.

The other guy to watch is Cardinals ace Chris Carpenter.  After winning the Cy Young Award in 2005 and pitching extremely well in ’06, he missed almost all of ’07 and ’08.  After a 6-week injury at the beginning of this year, he’s been lights out.

SS Brendan Ryan has hit two of his five career homeruns against the Mets; one in his first MLB game at Shea and one in the first game of this series.  He’s nothing special, but seems to love it in Queens.  Also, he wears a neck chain made out of bicycle chains and cockrings.

2. How have the Cardinals fixed the bullpen woes you alluded to? Is it because of the genius of Dave Duncan, who we all know is actually the brains behind the overrated drunk Tony LaRussa, or is it something else? However it happened, kudos to them for not overspending to fix the bullpen like the Mets did with Putz and K-Rod.

LaDunc had nothing to do with it.  Journeyman and ex-juicer Ryan Franklin has emerged as a bona fide closer to the point where he may get some All-Star consideration, and it’s one of the reasons we’re lucky to find ourselves at the top of the NL Central.

Beyond that, the Cardinals have “fixed” the bullpen by carrying 13 pitchers all year.  We’ve seen a hodgepodge of unproven rookies (Motte, Hawksworth, Boggs, Perez, among others), promising but recently injured guys who haven’t quite come back (McClellan, Kinney) with a couple of veteran leftys.

My favorite of the bunch is definitely Motte.  He’s an ex-catcher who won the closer role in spring training but got bombarded in his first few save opportunities.  He still isn’t pitching that well, and it’s because he only throws one pitch:  a 96 mph fastball.  But he has that crazy catcher’s delivery like he’s hallucinating Speedy Gonzalez stealing home on every pitch that makes me root for him.

But none of them have been that effective.  In short, don’t worry about the bullpen.

3.   Along those lines, why do the Cardinals only have the 17th highest payroll in MLB? Their fans are supposedly the best in the league. (Just ask one – they’ll definitely tell you!) St. Louis also has a brand new ballpark that practically prints cash, and an owner who is a huge George W. Bush backer. So what gives? High payroll doesn’t automatically mean a better team, but shouldn’t a rich owner be putting more of that money back into the club? Do St. Louis fans even care, or is their self-righteous image as the most forgiving, mild mannered fanbase more important to them?

A doozy!  Let’s break this one down.

Their fans are supposedly the best in the league. (Just ask one – they’ll definitely tell you!)

No argument there.  We are the best fans in baseball, and it’s gracious of you to say, Hernandez.

St. Louis also has a brand new ballpark that practically prints cash

and thank Fredbird for that!  Let’s hope other franchises don’t build new ballparks to make money and accidentally name them after financial institutions that are living off TARP money…oops!

an owner who is a huge George W. Bush backer,

Ouch, and correct.

So what gives? Why do the Cardinals only have the 17th highest payroll in MLB?

Albert Pujols.  Before this year, the Cardinals have had one of the top 10 payrolls in MLB.  Albert is only under contract for two more years.  Diehard Cardinals fans like myself have to believe that owner Bill DeWitt is making space to offer Albert the chance to stay with St. Louis for the rest of his career, because what other hope is there for this franchise?

Do St. Louis fans even care, or is their self-righteous image as the most forgiving, mild mannered fanbase more important to them?

Well, of course we care!  Uh, we care… right?  Maybe we should move on to the next question.

4. The Cardinals lead the league in pitchers who have suddenly died during the season. Which member of the current roster do you have next in the Dead Pool?

Whichever member of the bullpen charters a plane in New York this weekend, and convinces the Big Bopper (Joba Chamberlain) and bespectacled Buddy Holly (K-Rod) to join in.

That, or lefthander Dennys Reyes.

280px-DSC04792_Dennys_Reyes

He’s an Egg McMuffin away from getting his number retired.

5. How disappointed will you be when Albert Pujols is finally exposed as the steroid cheat you know deep down that he is? As disappointed as you were in that other Cardinal fraud Mark McGwire, or less?

You know what?  I’d feel relief.

Believe me, I’d be extremely, extremely bitter that the best hitter I ever saw with my own eyes was juicing, especially because he’s been the core of my team for so long.  But if he *were* juicing?  At least then, all of baseball would know that Albert was cheating, and would know why he’s been the best hitter on the planet.  There’d be that same reaction we had to the years that  McGwire,  Sosa, Palmeiro, Clemens, Bonds, Giambi et al. had way past their prime; the same reaction to that time Brady Anderson hit 50 HRs; the same reason we know why A-Rod appealed to Madonna and other muscular strippers (other than his unique lactating ability).

But if Albert is juicing, he’s done a Hall-of-Fame job of keeping the dosage consistent.  No one in baseball has put up the numbers in the first 9 years of their Major League career as a hitter.  And yet there’s no evidence of crazy peaks in his numbers.  He hasn’t spent too much time on the DL.  This year, his home runs have been up, but at the same time he hasn’t been able to extend his arms and hit the other way on outside pitches like he did so effortlessly earlier in his career.

My feeling is that Albert is the real deal. But no matter how long he plays or what numbers he puts up, there will always be doubt in his abilities because of the era he’s playing in.

How can I explain it?  Albert Pujols is like Mr. T.  It doesn’t really matter to me what he does or doesn’t do anymore.  He’s godsauce.

1. I don’t really know anyone on the Cardinals besides Albert Pujols, Rick Ankiel and Yadier Molina. (And I only know Ankiel because of his meltdown against the Mets in 2000 and Molina because of his lucky-as-fuck HR to beat the Mets in Game 7 of the 2006 NLCS.) So who should I be keeping an eye out for in this series? Sleepers, rookies, under the radar guys, etc.

2. How have the Cardinals fixed the bullpen woes you alluded to? Is it because of the genius of Dave Duncan, who we all know is actually the brains behind the overrated drunk Tony LaRussa, or is it something else? However it happened, kudos to them for not overspending to fix the bullpen like the Mets did with Putz and K-Rod.

3. Along those lines, why do the Cardinals only have the 17th highest payroll in MLB? Their fans are supposedly the best in the league. Just ask one – they’ll definitely tell you! St. Louis also has a brand new ballpark that practically prints cash, and an owner who is a huge George W. Bush backer. So what gives? High payroll doesn’t automatically mean a better team, but shouldn’t a rich owner be putting more of that money back into the club? Do St. Louis fans even care, or is their self-righteous image as the most forgiving, mild mannered fanbase more important to them?

4. The Cardinals lead the league in pitchers who have suddenly died during the season. Which member of the current roster do you have next in the Dead Pool?

5. How disappointed will you be when Albert Pujols is finally exposed as the steroid cheat you know deep down that he is? As disappointed as you were in that other Cardinal fraud Mark McGwire, or less?

Cards/Mets! Keith’s team against Hernandez’s team (2 of 4)

mets-cardinals-nl

As Keith posted earlier, he and I are going to do a Cards/Mets back and forth this week as our favorite clubs do battle over four days at New Shea. Here are Keith’s five questions for me, and my answers. We’ll have my questions and his answers tomorrow. Enjoy.

1. David Wright leads the National League in hitting, but he’s not hitting with any power.  He still hits doubles, but he’s also on pace to strike out about 150 times this year.  Is he turning into Ichiro, or worse, Jeter?  And does it bother you that when the Mets’ lineup has been so injury-plagued that he’s not stepping up?

Wright’s lack of power doesn’t bother me. He’s gone through long home run droughts before, most notably in 2006 when he only hit 8 after the All-Star break. That weak second half came after Wright was the runner up in the Home Run Derby, leading millions of dickhead Mets fans to blame the derby for messing up Wright’s swing. It was taken as gospel truth that he suddenly developed an uppercut because he wanted to hit a home run on every pitch. “He’ll never be the same!” they all cried. Except he hit 30 and 33 hr’s the next two years and had his two best seasons. God, I hate Mets fans.

I’ll admit that Wright only having 4 homers this season is a little troubling, but not nearly as much as the increased strikeouts. I don’t know what’s up with that, other than the fact that the whole team is hurt and he’s trying to do too much. A lame excuse, but it’s all I’ve got. Either that or he’s getting too much pussy. Or not enough. Pick one.

2. I see the Mets put Carlos Beltran on the disabled list the very same day that the Cardinals come to town.  Yeah, I know he’s hurt, but the timing is pretty awful, considering that after the Cards series you guys face the Yankees this weekend.  I’m putting part of the reason down to the fact that he choked so hard in Game 7 of the 2006 NLCS.  Adam Wainwright isn’t even pitching in this series.  Why is Beltran such a pussy?

He’s Puerto Rican.

(BTW, am I supposed to be afraid of the Yankees? The same ones who just dropped two straight series to the Nationals and Marlins, and who would’ve lost the Subway Series if not for Luis Castillo’s colossal fuckup on a game-ending popup? Wake me when they stop padding their stats at that ridiculous joke of a new stadium they play in.)

3.  Two-parter.  In many ways the Cardinals and the Mets are very similar.  The Mets have obviously been hit by the injury bug a lot harder this year, but both our teams feature shit-the-pants starters at the back of the rotation, and are coming off years where the bullpens absolutely sucked.

Two differences I’ve noticed: The Mets are relying on veterans like Castillo, Cora and Tatis to pull them through, while the Cards are giving some new faces a chance.  Are those old Spanish guys blocking anybody who deserves a chance right now?

Second, the Cards have been lucky to stay atop the division due partially to the Cubs’ dismal performance in the Central. But the Mets have to deal with the Phillies, who have owned them the last couple years.  How much of a factor is that?

A lot to digest. As to the first part, those old Spanish guys aren’t really blocking any of our young Spanish guys. (The entire Mets organization is pretty much Spanish, if you haven’t noticed.) Our top prospect Fernando Martinez, a 19-year-old outfielder, has actually been with the big club for almost a month. He’s not ready for the majors yet, but they’re desperate for bodies right now. Shit, we’re relying on Gary Sheffield to be one of our top players, which tells you all you need to know about how bad things are.

In addition, most of the Mets best prospects are pitchers, not position players. The organization generally drafts everyday players poorly, which is one of Omar Minaya’s biggest faults. (The other is that he’s a straight up racist.) To compensate for this weakness, Minaya uses the team’s financial clout to sign older, more expensive players to provide depth. While I prefer giving younger guys a chance, as the Cardinals routinely do, I’ll refrain from slamming Minaya totally on this front. His strategy mostly looks bad because all of those veterans are starting right now. But if they were backups no one would have a problem with it. Such is life.

As to the second part, you’re wrong about the Phillies owning the Mets. Sure, the Mets choked a donkey’s dick the last two years, but it wasn’t because of their record against Philly. Here’s the breakdown:

  • 2006 – Mets win season series 11-7
  • 2007 – Phillies win season series 12-6
  • 2008 – Mets win season series 11-7
  • 2009 – Mets lead season series 4-3 

Not as lopsided as you’d think. It’s the fucking Marlins who have killed the Mets the last two years.

4.  What’s it like having Livan Hernandez as your #2 pitcher?  Any cold sweats?  Liquid shits?  Have you switched off of light beer yet?

I feel a sense of serenity when Livan takes the mound, knowing that he will give us a quality start and/or pitch until his arm falls off. You’ve gotta admit that not many 53-year-olds compete the way he does. Sure, sometimes he gives it up like an East St. Louis whore, but all is forgiven, especially when I’m drunk on light beer.

5.  I hear your new stadium’s nice, and I look forward to checking it out with you on Thursday.  But I’m guessing there are still a lot of Long Island Iced Teabaggers in attendance.  Isn’t giving this franchise a new ballpark a little bit like putting shiny new tits on a crack-smoking DP whore?

Yes.

Cards/Mets! Keith’s team against Hernandez’s team (1 of 4)

20mets600.7My Cardinals came to New York this week, and Hernandez and I are attending the last game of this series,  and right now it’s slated to be Cardinals ace Chris Carpenter vs. Mets ace Johan Santana.  This is also the week where Hernandez gets his complimentary Donovan’s burger for beating me at football picks last year.

Leading up to that Thursday game, Hernandez and I are going to engage in some good old-fashioned trash-talking.  I’ve sent him 5 questions about his badly underperforming team, which he’ll respond to shortly.  Then he’ll return the favor, asking me 5 questions about my equally flawed team, which I’ll respond to a day later.

Summer: Lakers 3, Magic 1

calvin-vacation

Hola.  IKH is more or less on summer vacation.  Sure, there’s great stuff to talk about year ’round, and there’s lots happening.  But from May to August in the Northeastern American United States, hundreds of thousands of women emerge from a springtime of insecurity to weather their bodies with muscle tone and Coppertone.  As the sun shines on abs and calves, it gets a little ridiculous to worry about Kobe Bryant’s legacy, Manny Ramirez’s shrinking nutsack, and the like.

Let’s get one thing straight.  playing professional sports is about two things:  making shitloads of money and tagging the honeys with the Oh face mural.  It wasn’t always that way (because players used to be underpaid) but it is now.   Adrenaline = testerone.  We call our mothers and sisters on Mothers’ Day, and then we go out to get lost in skirts who traffic in margaritas and umbrella drinks.

Hernandez’s and Mex’s mileage may vary.  Hernandez believes in a thing called hockey, but when Game 7 of the NHL playoffs takes place in June and hinges on an asshole named Crosby (didn’t he use to be in Ratt?), I’m not buying it.  And Mex is a Red Sox fan which makes him part of a legendary group that I’d characterize as an eternal AA meeting without a 12-step program.

But I thought I’d stop by to gloat on my NBA Finals prediction that the Lakers would win the trophy this year, which is going to happen sometime next week.  Which, admittedly, I didn’t make on this site.  But Hernandez will vouch for me, or I’m lacing his celebratory Donovan’s burger. Continue reading

In the Mouth a Desert

Just a few of my diamond-sharp observations about sports and culture.

-Congratulations Randy Johnson. 300 wins is impressive, and it may be a while before we see that done again. I still, for whatever reason, can’t fucking stand you, though. I know, it’s weird. And it has nothing to do with your Yankees stint. Maybe it was that fucking haircut you wore for so long. Or that you’re tall. I wish I was that tall. But you’re an accomplished pitcher, you’ve remained reasonably consistent for a long time, and you suffered in Montreal and Seattle for long enough. You’ve got your ring, you have your Hall of Fame credentials, and I expect you to retire at season’s end. Continue reading

A Helluva Town: Counterpoint

dan_aykroyd

Hernandez, you ignorant slut.

Continue reading