Spoartspoartspoarts!!!

Some sportswriter called my mom and I have done nothing since

Jeterghazi

Bitter fans of other teams watched the Yankees game tonight in shocked awe as Derek Jeter hit an opposite field RBI single in his final home appearance. It’s a wonderful moment, but what if I told you that the entire thing was a farce? That the moment was a setup, a joke, a lie? Allow me to break it down.

Evan Meek came into the game in the bottom of the 10th inning and thew three pitches to Jose Pirela, giving up a hit. His velocity, very poor, throwing a fastball at 88, the lowest fastball of the month of September (more on this later).

No one in the crowd understood the magic they were about to experience.

Given the moment, watching Gardner step into the plate, memories of Jeter stepping into the box and winning this otherwise meaningless game floated in everyone’s minds. The Yankees fans waited in intense anticipation.

Having said that, after the Gardner sacrifice, Jeter walked up to the plate and took a few practice swings. Meek toed the rubber, fired a fastball, and Jeter hit it the opposite way for the win.

A suspect finish to say the least, for a number of different reasons. First of all, the Orioles were shaded for Jeter to pull, an odd move for a team which has prided itself on it’s shifts and well placed defenders. Once the ball gets past the 2B of the Orioles, it rolls to Nick Markakis, a right fielder with one of the best arms in baseball, and his throw barely makes it. Mind you, the runner on second is a journeyman call-up from Scranton. That’s not even the most troubling thing.

Zipping a pitch in at 86 miles per hour, Meek threw the slowest pitch of his career, too slow to be a fastball but way too fast to be his change up. He threw it in a location which would be perfect for Jeter to take the other way, to take advantage of the shading. He can’t hit fastballs anymore, so it makes sense that it had to be grooved.

It was a truly manufactured moment, a true shame to ruin an otherwise perfectly good baseball game.

Reflections Upon Viewing Derek Jeter’s Retirement and the Flood of Detritus

"Today’s the day!" I thought to myself with a pathetic sense of smug self satisfaction. The great immortal Captain, the leader, the only shortstop my generation has ever known in pinstripes from beginning to end, Derek Jeter’s career finally comes to a conclusion. On a typical fall New York day, none the less, mid-50s, storming, a bitter cold wind cutting through our bundled clothing — the post climax of the summer like a legend holding onto a career long after the crescendo. Forever living on past performance rather than future returns.

This is the day Derek Jeter puts on the pinstripes for the last time.

For twenty years I sat and watched from the sidelines, a fan of those bastard crosstown rivals, always a joke — never a champion, unlike that genius shortstop. For twenty years I unleashed seething rage time after time toward a man I did not know and would never meet; a man who brought so much joy to countless fans but nothing but bitter jealousy to so many others.

I watched the plays — oh did I ever watch them. I watched as Number Two dove gracefully yet recklessly face first directly into the third row of stands, sacrificing his boyish good looks and gift basket maker for his team. I watched as a young child reached over the fence into play and pulled a towering fly ball back like a starving fisherman reeling in his first catch in weeks. I watched as the shortstop, in an effort that can only be described as “Jeterian,” intercept a throw that missed the cuttoff man and was gracefully flipped toward the catcher.

These three images are the ones that define Derek Jeter. Was he a fraud? These images — diving into the stands as a dramatic finish to a slightly harder than routine play. Leading the Yankees to a World Series title on the back of a home run which should have never counted. Or flipping a ball to a catcher who missed the tag yet the runner was called out anyway.

Absolutely Derek Jeter is a fraud. But he is the benign, forgivable kind of fraud like Robin Hood. But instead of stealing from the rich and giving to the poor, he gave the rich five World Series titles.

Derek Jeter is an easy man to hate from the sidelines. Silent to the media yet beloved by fans, his carefully handled and calculated image allowed his actions on the field to define his legacy off of it. And off the field activities, did he ever enjoy the legions of sexual escapades with beautiful women we have both seen and not seen were equally the stuff of legend. 

Yet here I am, sitting on a cold bitter fall day, waxing poetic about a man who brought me nothing but pain. What is Derek Jeter but an indelible and integral part of baseball lore. As reviled as he was loved; as underrated by haters as much as he was overrated by his fans.

Twenty years is a lifetime. But this day is a special day, for this is the day that Derek Jeter puts on the pinstripes for the last time.

I will always hate you, Derek Jeter. But thank you none the less.

On GamerGate, Art, and Anger

Social media has been buzzing for the past week or so, inundated under a stream of pure bile being spilled under the GamerGate hashtag. In case you missed it, it’s the true 21st century love story of boy meets game developer girl, girl cheats on boy with games journalist, boy vents frustrations  on girl extremely inappropriately and painfully publically, girl receives threats of physical and sexual violence, and we’re now in the realm of anger and frustration about the state of games journalism and the place of social justice in gaming. It’s an intense and overall frustrating battle between those interested in social justice, those interested in removing impropriety from the state of games journalism, and a third group who are more interested in trolling and vitriol than positively contributing.

The second group claims that that the third does not represent them in a meaningful way. However, the defense of “these are the actions of a few bad apples” ignores the conclusion of the phrase “spoils the bunch.”

For whatever reason, gamers are an oversensitive bunch about the wrong things. Years ago, famous film critic Roger Ebert made the blanket statement, right or wrong, that video games aren’t (and can never be) art. Despite the fact that Ebert has been dead for over a year now, this chicken is still being plucked because for whatever reason gamers seem to be somewhat desperate for validation. I understand why – I used to be a gamer in my teenaged years so I understand what it feels like to want mainstream acceptance for  a hobby I loved so much. But things are different now – games are indelibly a part of the cultural zeitgeist; it is a multi billion dollar industry equally as valuable as film and television and other mediums that have reached an artistic threshold of value. Millions watch youtube videos of people playing video games. Twitch, an online streaming service catering to gamers, just got bought for over a billion dollars.

To dismiss gaming as anything but a part of our society and unworthy of critique is absurd.

However, going back to my original point about gamers being angry about the wrong things – this is exactly what they want. To be critiqued by an outside group, those who aren’t a part of these communities, the “social justice warriors”, the feminists, those on the outside looking in and exposing problematic themes and issues within the community and games as a whole, is a part of mainstream cultural acceptance as more than simply a hobby.

My educational background is in film and philosophy so I love to ponder and watch moving pictures but I especially seem to hate money. Film and gaming are honestly very similar, with the quality of the acting and writing and graphics the only major difference at times seems to be that the player gets to control the action on the screen. What is lost, however, is that video games as a serious medium is still in its infancy – if Atari was Thomas Edison and Mario and Luigi were the Lumiere brothers, then perhaps the parallel we have to make between film and games and the evolution of the medium is DW Griffith.

Born in 1875, DW Griffith was a famous film director perhaps best known for his landmark silent film Birth of a Nation. It was a groundbreaking film in the sense of it being one of the first films to actually tell a cohesive narrative in feature-length. It is a remarkable spectacle and I highly recommend tracking it down, but the movie itself was not without controversy. It was a deeply racist film, portraying African Americans as animals, unionists and anti-slavery advocates on the wrong side of history, and advocated the need for the Klu Klux Klan and overall was a pro-slavery film. In today’s society, the best way to describe Birth of a Nation is problematic. It was boycotted and highly controversial still to this day, however, it is still an important lesson in the history of film.

Birth of a Nation was the first time where outside societal critique of the medium became mainstream thereby legitimizing it as a form of expression beyond simply pure visceral excitement.

In a similar way, video games are beginning to head down that path. With GamerGate, there is, in a roundabout way, a serious sociological look into gaming beyond simply it being a game. There is a discussion, an analysis, a critique into the very nature of the medium itself and how it is reported and disseminated by the public and to be honest this is not a bad thing. If this medium wants to be taken seriously it needs to be analyzed beyond the scope of it just being a game to play.

Here-in lies the contradiction. Gamers are angry that there is an outside look into their world. That social justice and feminism have no place in gaming. How can that possibly be the case? If video games can’t stand up to the vigorous critique of those outside of the community, those looking objectively within what is quickly becoming an echo chamber of angry gamers, how can the medium possibly grow in any meaningful way?

Art evokes emotion, both strongly and negatively. Everything inherently in art has some sort of meaning or it stands for something. This is a part of storytelling; it is metaphor, saying one thing while meaning another. If games can’t do this, if they can’t be analyzed in a way that questions the very foundation of the medium, then what is the point of even trying? If gamers want critics out of gaming then the very form itself is not worth discussing or improving.

My three favorite games are Grim Fandango, Half-Life, and Grand Theft Auto Vice City. These are considered by many to be seminal works in the oeuvre of gaming. But Grim Fandango is a retelling of Casablanca in a world based on the Day of the Dead. Half-Life is a decent science fiction story but one in which the protagonist adds absolutely nothing to the story other than fixing everything for reasons. And Vice City, as the rest of the Grand Theft Auto series, is a mish mash of pop culture satire told through tales already written in Scarface and other gangland movies.

If gamers want video games to be taken seriously as an art, they have to mean something beyond gameplay and graphics. They have to contribute to society in a way other than being a game or a distraction. If you can’t critique the state of games under a microscope of differing opinions, than video games are nothing more than high tech board games. Would we consider Monopoly to be “art”? Probably not. All because something looks good doesn’t mean anything if there’s no soul behind it.

Inherently, this is the issue with GamerGate. If the medium wants to be taken seriously, those who want it to be have to understand that not everyone will agree with your personal opinions. That’s completely fine. But to threaten physical and sexual violence because there is dissention is not a way to be taken seriously. The line between hatred and trolling is tact and it’s clear that the majority of these people lack that.

If you want to prove Ebert and others wrong, act in a way that proves that gaming is a worthwhile endeavor worthy of analysis. If you can’t do that, then you have proven all those who doubt the validity of your medium absolutely correct. 

Depression

Let’s chat about mental illness. Not the typical Hollywoodification of the mentally ill, nothing of that sort. Let’s talk about the real mental illness that eats away at the very soul of human beings. The monster inside that can’t be controlled, that can’t be kept at bay — the one that constantly gnaws away and is a grindstone whittling down to a broken stump. Making human beings not unique beautiful creatures but fleshy bags that would just as soon embrace nothingness before beauty.

After Robin Williams’ suicide, I had a whirlwind of emotion about such a wonderful and brilliant comic, a man I had never met but was most certainly a part of my life. I knew that he had his demons — he spoke very openly about them — but I always felt that comedy was the key to keep them at bay. But once one perceives that the coping mechanism no longer works, it seems to be very easy to give into the darkness.

Humor is such an interesting beast. The more jokes I make, the more detached from the pain I become. I am depressed. I have suffered from depression for as long as I can remember. And the only way I can cope is with humor. Detachment and humor is the easiest mechanism to cope with sadness and while there’s nothing wrong with that, I wonder if that is the refuge of the exhausted or if it actually does help.

There is something to be said about bringing joy to others. Legitimate joy, as in making someone laugh so hard they cry. In a way, that crying is cathartic. If I can’t cry myself and let that out, making other people cry laughing is a release. 

I’ve done some pretty horrible things to myself recently that I don’t really can get into. I know what triggered it — my car was ran off the road on the Garden State Parkway and I lost control, crashing into the woods. My car ended up okay with a big old dent in the bumper, and while I was physically fine, something wasn’t quite right. As the car was spiraling out of control (a great metaphor! I should write that down and use it for a story or something) I felt absolutely nothing. In that moment, I was okay with dying. And it scared the ever living hell out of me when I realized that. 

At the same time, though, it woke me up. Sometimes it takes hitting rock bottom before making your way back to the top. At the very least, you get too exhausted to continue digging.

That’s where I’m at. 

I was told once that humor is a way for people to be loved without actually being loved. In other words, it is an attempt to gain hollow acceptance with your peers rather than forming real bonds. I do not feel that this is true, but I can see where that opinion could be formed. For all the wonderful people who suffer from depression who are also funny and cannot see the goodness in themselves, perhaps there is something to that. Like the class clown in school, always making people laugh but also always getting in trouble. 

I like to think when I’m really depressed that I’m playing life on a higher difficulty level. That the game is harder for me and all the other people who suffer from depression and that makes us stronger. For all of our relationships that have suffered and opportunities that we have missed because of our disease we still truck on and survive. There is an honorable strength to that, a sort of meaning despite feeling meaningless and passed by.

A lot of people I know posted on social media after Robin Williams’ suicide that if you are feeling sad or depressed to get help. But why does the discussion have to happen only upon viewing tragedy? If you see someone suffering or dealing with internal anguish, why don’t you tell them to get help out of legitimate concern for the person rather than platitudes after the fact? 

But that’s fine. Many will never be able to understand what it’s like. And that’s okay too. Because everyone has their own battles and struggles and in the end the only thing that matters is that we end up getting through it. 

the journeyman and the bottle

two poems.

for fifteen years he went up and down
the journeyman reliever
a frequent flyer and rider
on buses and in planes
traveling across the vast American plains.
number 58, 25th on the depth chart
lefty, lanky, an elder statesman
he was never truly good
but he stuck around, tried as hard as he might
never won a ring but still was here
which to him, might as well have been a ring
as he threw in a tin of Cope
he reminisced upon his career
viewing each and every strikeout
from low A to here
his delivery like a whip
with a fastball that didn’t crack
a slider that slid which is all I can say about that
as he sat in the pen
spewing little brown streams of hate
he looked back
reminisced
which is all a journeyman reliever could do
he remembered his love
not of the game but of a woman
the one with the late autumn hair
but the distance one travels
could not make up for the distance
that two former lovers feel
why would anyone love a veteran journeyman reliever
when there are so many other all stars and superstars
out there in the world
as his name gets called to start warming up
it’s time to mop up the mess
so the reliever grabbed his glove and started hurling
getting ready to perhaps not save the day
but at the very least stop the bleeding
and as he ran to that mound
his favorite song fills the atmosphere
he remembered at once of those days
as a kid
long tossing with his old man
never imagining that one day his left arm would bring him here
the first batter steps in he’s ready to go
and the journeyman winds up
as he releases that first pitch he let’s go
a pop, a stab, a knife in the arm
at once he knew he was done
the trainer came out and examined his arm
the witch doctor saw his pain
and the reliever knew that tommy john was soon going to call his name
as he walked off the field one final time
there was a small sense of relief
he would be back, he knew that
maybe as a coach or
as a dad bringing his son
to a ball game
maybe he could have more success
but as the reliever went into the clubhouse
he knew that the journey was done

i went into the bottle
and i said
it’s comfortable
in here
it’s warm
and it’s cozy
finally I belong
somewhere
slowly i broke in
rap tap tap
the things that
one person who
can’t control
anything
but inside i sit
a genie inside
the lap which will never
be rubbed
by anyone
because i don’t want them to
maybe it was the blue
angel that was
sent to me
who I thew away
maybe it was
the first one
who i carelessly stole
maybe it was you
but who knows
you may say
please come out
there is happiness
somewhere in the world
that you
can experience
maybe
not with me
you say
but with someone
else
one day
if you work
hard enough
and
try hard enough
to see it
but i have
never seen it
or believed it
enough
to be
or be willing
to sell
this amber home
which has claimed me
to be nothing but
most importantly
feel nothing
at all

In less than a week, I will be turning 27 years of age. With this turning of the clock, it signifies my mid twenties gone, the good times never to return; I am closer to my 30s than my roaring and uncaring college years. To my 22 year old post graduate self, I am now the old creepy guy at the bar. I am by no means an old man – 27 hopefully isn’t even half as long as I will live – but I have lived hard so I hope that my insight, while insignificant and generally rambling, will be of some use to someone.

Throughout my life, there have been two topics I have refused to discuss in public. Politics and religion. I allow others to speak to me about them – to be honest, it’s nearly impossible to avoid it in any public gathering – but I will not divulge the way I feel about them. I have lived in bliss this way. With seething anger on the inside as someone explains to me the value of trickledown economics, I would swallow my pride and calm the beast inside me who wanted to strangle the very throat that was espousing the words directly off the pages of Atlas Shrugged.

I have always been frustrated, angry, disappointed even, whenever a close friend of mine would begin to talk to me about their far right leaning attitudes. I used to be a conservative, way back in high school, borderline naïve at a small all-boys Catholic preparatory school. Hell, my mom regales me with a tale of when I was small child, I asked her to buy me a small stuff animal and she refused. I started ranting about Clinton’s taxes and how unfair it was that a young rotten child like me couldn’t get exactly what he wanted. My dad, at the time a staunch conservative, was blamed for this. “Genetics…” my mother would mutter under her breath as she dragged me out of the toy store.

As I have gotten older, however, I have seen what far right conservative attitudes have brought us. It’s not very far. And it’s terrifying to see how so many have been brainwashed by those with the power to do so and have bought into the narrative.

We live in strange times. Every generation says this but at this point I firmly believe it. We’re advancing further and further both scientifically and technologically to a point that had previously only been imagined in fiction. We will live longer than any other generation on earth. We will, in theory, be healthier and will have the ability to (but sadly, probably not the access to) have treatments for ailments that would have ended our lives just a few short decades ago before I was born. At the same time, we live in a society that, despite all the advancements, has regressed to a point not seen since Upton Sinclair.

Unemployment is down, but part time employment has skyrocketed. 40 hours plus with no benefits, no future, no pension, no real ability to save. Almost every person I know, myself included, is trapped within this area. But we’re all scared. I may not implicitly state when talking to people in general “I am terrified for my future” but goddamn it I am absolutely terrified. I have no student loans mind you, imagine what someone with actual legitimate oh-fuck-I-have-to-hand-over-one-hundred-and-fifty-thousand-goddamn-dollars issues has to deal with on a daily basis. We are derided and mocked for still living with our substantially more successful parents in my generation yet there is very little way to escape the nest without good luck or extreme poverty. In the eyes of the right, this is what we should be — slaves to the free market. Unable to think or breathe or act as independent individual human beings, instead drones to capitalism paying our dues to the God of the Dollar so that we too can have a little bourgeois family and a four door bourgeois sedan and a little bourgeois white picket fence. We’ve been told that we should just be happy for work in general and not complain – take what you’ve been given. So we do. We deal with it and we survive.

This allows the corporations to increase their bottom line – look we’re hiring! But the positions are now part time. The recovery is a fraud. Once a worker outlives his usefulness as a part timer and eventually makes too much hourly he will be let go and replaced by someone younger, less experienced, but equally hungry and willing to learn and after a little bit of training will be substandard to the original employee but close enough that no one will notice any more than a slight drop off in quality. Meanwhile, the right has shoveled the bullshit down our throats that if we simply work hard enough and prove their worth, they will succeed. Straight out of the playbook of Rand. We’re living in John Galt’s wet dream and there’s absolutely nothing we can do about it. They’ve sold us the idea that we’re all just one or two breaks away from making it big and that by rocking the boat we’ll ruin our chance at winning that lottery so don’t upset the status quo.

We’ve been taught that the only way to make money in this world is to do something practical. STEM. Be unable to critically think as an individual or a human being and instead only be able to look at the bare bones bottom line of just about everything. What good is critical thinking outside of abstract mathematics? If you can’t provide anything of real value to the world via your degree you are worthless. What value is that? What are we teaching everyone where this is okay? That someone is sub-human for entertaining the thought of becoming a part of the humanities? Because people literally cannot think for themselves without appealing to the authority of Glenn Beck or Rush Limbaugh or some other dingus who is only famous because they can talk louder than other people?

I’m angry. And I’m scared. And there’s absolutely nothing I can do about it.

Perhaps most despicable of all, the right has co-opted religion as their excuse for this control. They are using religion to push their regressive agendas to keep the rich in power and numb the general masses from the fear that they are feeling every day. The evangelicals promising damnation for all those who do not follow the strict path that a thousands upon thousands of year old book set forth for our culture. It is humorous to me that conservatives appeal to the authority of ancient thinkers like those who wrote the bible and our country’s forefathers when they had no concept of what society would become, no understanding of the scientific majesty of the cosmos – these people didn’t even know what a fucking germ was for Christssakes – but yet these are the people we should turn to for our understanding of the universe and how we should treat others.

I’m a fan of God, don’t get me wrong. I was born Catholic and survived almost 20 years of Catholic education. I am also now an atheist. But I am willing to admit, that if I am wrong, and God does exist, I will accept the punishment of whatever non-believing will bring me. But I can be a good person without the existence of God. The Bible exists as a foundation to tell us how to act as human beings. It is nothing more than a social contract so we don’t kill each other (which, shocks of shocks, we do anyway). As Galileo said, “The Bible is a book that tells us how to go to heaven, not the way the heavens move.” In other words, learn your ethics from Jesus but don’t believe that some dingus built a giant boat and then saved two of every animal you fucking moron.

But yet we’re too interested in picking and choosing based on our own agendas than believing the whole of what the Bible tells us. Gay people are bad, the Old Testament says so. Well guess what, the Old Testament has some choice things to say about women on their period too. Or that you shouldn’t eat pork or shellfish. Or that you shouldn’t even have a single sexual thought for a women unless you’re married and if you are married and think someone else is sexy hoo doggy man are you screwed. The framers of the Bible didn’t understand human nature because they were closer to goddamn Neanderthals than human normal contemporary human society. This was not a brain trust here.

And yet, somehow, the right wants us to believe a book rather than science. And people fall for it. People believe that the earth was legitimately built in 7 days. I’m not trying to disparage anyone’s personal beliefs here but in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary, to sit there and go “This isn’t true I don’t care” I hate to say it but you aren’t noble, you’re just ignorant. This is where conservatives really get me. In the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary of nearly all of their beliefs, they can sit there and go “Well I have the right to say that.” You don’t. I can’t look at the sky and go “Guess what guys, the sky is green.” No Andy the sky is blue. “I don’t care, that’s my beliefs.” Are you kidding me? How absurd is this?

The left isn’t free of blame either. Where are the balls on the left? Why isn’t there a single person who stands up and calls these people out on their ignorant and wrong opinions? What are we so afraid of that no one can stand up for themselves? I see suffering every day working in Manhattan. I have watched homeless people die right in front of me. But yet we can’t have social programs because some people can abuse them. We should “drug test people on welfare.” This is really great stuff. If we judged people based on gaming the system, what about all the rich people who ship all their money overseas to avoid paying taxes. Where’s the anger about that? We can only use gaming the system to dog whistle? We can’t use it to expose the fraud that these other people pull?

Why doesn’t anyone stand up and say this is not the way the world should work? Why is there no voice that is there that tells the right that acting like a victim does not mean that you are a victim?

The left’s reform voice is suddenly Occupy Wall Street, which is either trolling us with Justine Tunney or doing absolutely nothing. Instead, we have trolls like Tunney telling us that unions are evil? That technology is the future for the value of society? It’s the same hidden bullshit that the right feeds us about work and worth. Tech workers are wage slaves just like the part time workers are – all because you get fed Fillet Mignon at lunch and get personal shuttles and nap rooms don’t make you any more of a wage slave than the rest of us.

Obama offered us change and nothing changed. And the right hates him for even trying. What do we do with an entire political movement not based anywhere in reality?

To which I ask: why isn’t anyone else fed up with this? How are none of us not mad as hell? How do we take this anymore?

Drunken Prospectus: DuClaw Sweet Baby Jesus

I headed out to the Bottle King liquor store by my house today after returning from my former home of Scranton, PA, in search of something strange and delicious. After a night of getting faded with one of my best friends and previous star of an earlier Drunken Prospectus Random John, slinging bottle after bottle of Southern Tier Creme Brûlée at impossibly low Northeastern Pennsylvania prices, and drunk texting my entire phone book how much I loved them, I needed a second round. Upon entering the craft beer section, the angels trumpets themselves sounded from the heaven as apparently today was delivery day and the shelves were stocked with delicious, delicious craft brews. It was a beautiful sight.

DuClaw brewing, located in Baltimore, has probably not watched The Wire because it is a brewing company and it therefore cannot watch television. Hidden in the six pack section which I never really venture, was a container that proclaimed “Sweet Baby Jesus!”. My friend Tim, “The Beer King” himself, told me about it and I greatly respect his opinion when it comes to beer. The bottom of the six pack proclaims that for buying this beer I have awesome taste as well as both “wise and incredibly physically attractive” which is all very much the absolute truth, confirmed by beer.

The beer is a chocolate peanut butter porter which was a sweet change of pace from The Bruery’s Oude Tart which was a bitter masterpiece. DuClaw claims that “one sip and [I’ll] be saying Sweet Baby Jesus”. After a couple sips I have not ejaculated that yet; however I am very confused.

It’s tasty, eminently drinkable. Sweet, chocolately, peanut buttery. If you love Reece’s Peanut Butter Cups like I do you will adore this. It’s a liquored up version of that. The smell is enough to kill someone with a peanut allergy, it instantly hits your olfactory nerve with an overwhelming Skippy aroma. It’s dark, heavy, delicious, but not something you want to drink a lot of. Maybe it’s my old age, maybe it’s my crippling hangover, but after two of these all I want is something different.

Dessert beers are always a little too much. Last night with Random, we both agreed that we needed something to switch things up after slinging down the Creme Brûlée. And after the second bottle each and we almost brawled with some dingus who decided to act tough in front of his girlfriend who later dramatically broke up with him in front of us, all I could think was that 9.5% alcohol is a little heavy and also that the girl at the bar missing a couple teeth (the NEPA smile) was looking more and more attractive with every sip.

Anyway, while I am enjoying this beer, like the Creme Brûlée, it is a little much. I like chocolate. And I like peanut butter. But would I spend all night drinking both? Probably not. At least not without something in-between. If something can be too delicious for it’s own good, a beer like this would be an apt example. It makes me long for hops and beer flavors and things that actually taste like a real beer instead of candy.

At least now I don’t have to raid the leftover Halloween candy.

On Sanctimony, Drugs, Revenge, and the Hall of Fame

Now that the Hall of Fame fallout has settled and three warm bodies will actually be attending an induction ceremony in Cooperstown, the sanctimonious hand washing can come to an end. Score another victory for the morality crew (but not Jack Morris, thank the good lord); the ones who were too silent to speak up when the problem spread like cancer and all too eager to make a mockery out of The Process. In order to honor the game, those deemed the best need to be respected and the fact that certain players have been cast under the induction threshold due to whispers and rumors is completely unacceptable.


There is an inherent impotence to sports writing. Writers love the game but couldn’t play it; media members with access to teams have to play nice and be non-confrontational in order to provide the best information possible. As a member of the media, you can’t fight back and stand up for yourself when you get mocked by an overgrown adolescent jock who went 0-5 and is taking it out on you.

I took a sports writing class in college, when I was younger and naive and had hopes and dreams that one day I could be a distinguished and talented writer instead of a disgraced former blogger, and one day the adjunct professor taught us about confrontational interviews. We watched tape of hilarious outbursts, you know, “I’m a man! I’m 40! Come after me!” so on and so forth. Then it was our turn; the teacher made believe he was an asshole coach and had a mock press conference. I came in completely unprepared, asked a very stupid question, and got absolutely buried much to the enjoyment of my peers. This was a fake exercise and I was completely embarrassed. This wasn’t even real; I can’t even fathom what it feels like in a real world setting.

In 2011, after I said some nasty things to Jeff Pearlman on twitter and he called my mom, I met him at an event in NYC. He was speaking at some Deadspin sponsored sportswriter symposium at some bar in Greenwich Village. He spoke about a player who, when he was first starting out as a writer, made fun of him and refused to talk to him during a Spring Training many years ago. I didn’t strike me until years later that perhaps all of the steroid sanctimony could have nothing to do with taking a stand or doing what was right, but instead being a revenge fantasy toward the players who treated these writers wrong.

Everyone knows that there is an extreme inconsistency to how PED users have been treated by the members of the media. Some guys get vilified while others get a pass, no questions asked. Barry Bonds was a huge well established jerk. Probably still is. But he’s also the greatest of all time. A-Rod, Clemens, Sosa, McGwire, Manny — guys who did steroids but were also, for a lack of a better word, douchebags. These are the guys deemed unworthy and evil, while guys like Andy Pettitte, David Ortiz, Jason Giambi, well, you never really hear too much about their useage. They’re all considered nice guys, good clubhouse guys, fan favorites who are engaging and played nice with the media.

Mike Piazza and Craig Biggio, I have no idea what kind of people they are. Both have been surrounded by the idea that they cheated. Piazza has had whispers forever about his personal life and he’s probably a jerk. If you work long enough in sports, you know that there are plenty of stories about players that get whispered but can’t get reported because they can’t be verified. Go to the Winter Meetings or talk to someone who has worked directly with a team, be regaled  with tales of players buying bar tabs at 3 am, infielders sleeping with their team’s sideline personality, recreational drug use, stories of unbelievably mean behavior. By extension, all these rumors and half whispers, there has to be a reason why these reporters feel the way they do and can’t come out and say — there is certainly an opportunity and possibility of bias. It appears, at least to me, that poor treatment lead to the desire for revenge.

Jose Canseco tweeted earlier something to the effect that the Hall of Fame voters have already inducted PED users. While I have no idea which player he is insinuating used, I think Canseco is a poster child for this bias. The man is a clown. Clearly. His twitter account is an embarrassment and the way he acts, while not my business, is not the way a serious person conducts themselves. This being said, he has been absolutely right in almost every name he has provided and has been laughed at, derided, and mocked despite the fact that his accusations have been far from baseless. In a sense, the way that he has conducted himself toward others has ruined any chance he has at being a legitimate source of information.

This bias has festered and bled into the unchecked voting practices of the BBWAA and the obnoxious proselytizing that the Hall of Fame voting season inevitably brings. If we don’t — and can’t — know the full story but we do know that certain players who have been kept out and forced out due to inconsistent voting practices have been not necessarily the best of people, I don’t believe this is a difficult conclusion to jump to. 

The name of the game has become revenge — that these cowardly scribes can’t come out and exactly say why they dislike a certain player but also couldn’t fight back at the time of the original indiscretions. Years later, in a passive aggressive attempt to make up for this, they have used an easy excuse to attack, tarnish, and bury these players.

No wonder the print media is dead.

Subway thought 12/31/13

I know why you don’t smile
anymore
not like you did
in all those old photographs
of better times
and immature bliss
of brutal nights
and broken hearts
love found and love lost
searching for one for the night
but as you look
watch as the room is drawn to you
fine china skin and hazel eyes
and a sadder world
without you flashing that smile
the one that doesn’t show
anymore
no matter how ugly you
thought it was
I wish that I could
you know
give you the answers to all this
raise my hand
and hope you’d finally pick me
but I know why you don’t smile
anymore

Bonus Subway Thought 12/22/13

I had a lot of free time today. Maybe I’ll make this into a regular thing if people actually like it.

11)
the muscles slightly rip
and tenderly tear
upon the pounding of the 200 pound truth
of metal and steel
it was supposed to be easier
I thought to myself
as the blood and tears and sweat
mingled into a primal cocktail
intended to get me drunk
on my own self worth
certainly ive had my handful
of one night last stands
but the terrifying banality
of meeting someone new
just doesn’t speak to me anymore
im older, wiser
more cautious
more afraid of your carefully laid trap
you’re falling into it now im afraid
so while the muscles grow and swell
and the heart is a muscle right?
a muscle that has been exercised too hard, for too long
from the jealousy of your love
it’s not your fault
that my anger gets the best of me
and im too impatient for you to come to me
but that’s fine, it’s just an exercise
for when the game actually begins
the more you protested
that you were different
from all the ones that came before
the more I knew you
were the same
kindred spirits are never meant to be, i understand
and while the one muscle
I didn’t exercise
should have made the decision for me
i look at what I chose to do instead
while looking at myself in the wall length mirror
I feel a little regret growing
underneath these taut muscles
and the half baked dreams of my mid 20s
wash away with each drunk mashing
of that cursed send button
scorching the earth
and salting the plains
making sure nothing grows back again