More Cowbell Than You Will Ever Need II
I've been "on hiatus" from work for a couple of weeks but believe me, I've been busy. Between the Red Sox trying to catch the Orioles while holding off the charging Yankees, three exciting 2nd round NBA playoff series when none were expected, and biting my nails in anticipation of tonight's season finale of "The OC", my plate is full. Oh yeah, I've been occupied with that whole fatherhood thing, as well.
Once you've had kids, your friends without kids look at you differently. They shake your hand, pat you on the back, and offer their sincere congratulations, but their faces say "you've got a kid now -- so much for taking spontaneous trips to Vegas! We'll have to go without you next time because you've just lost a large chunk of your freedom!". Expectant fathers think those thoughts a thousand times in the last weeks before the birth. It's just like the Colts losing at Foxboro in January -- you mark the date on your calendar months ahead of time, you know it's coming, and there's nothing you can do to stop it from happening. And when the big day finally comes, you can do two things. You can walk around looking bewildered, wearing a Peyton Manning "I can't believe I lost in New England again" face. Or you can realize that you haven't lost freedom, you've gained freedom. Look at it this way -- I've got a readymade excuse for attending any baseball game I want. What's the point of having kids if you can't take them with you to Fenway Park?
The most interesting thing about the baseball season so far has to be the confirmation of the Ewing Theory with respect to closers. Granted, closers aren't exactly superstars, but they get treated like it by their teams. Closers lose their jobs all the time, year in and year out, and yet every time a guy get appointed as his team's closer it gets treated like a coronation. When James Eckhouse left 90210, he wasn't replaced. Like a closer, he played a small, but high profile role on the show. He got two or three minutes with which to put his stamp on each episode, and nobody complained. In fact, he was quite often praised for it. So the producers were smart enough to know that they couldn't make a big deal about trying to replace him because the fans wouldn't a) accept an incoming father figure as though he was a big deal, and b) respect him. Case in point -- five years later, they inexplicably tried to parachute Joe E. Tata into the father figure role, attempting to transform a bit player into the wise sage of the show and worthy of his own spot in the opening credits. Look how that turned out. See what I mean?
You can't just name somebody as the closer and expect the fans to accept it. Like with Britney Spears, she can't name some trashbag guy as her husband and expect her fans to accept him and watch a reality show centred around their daily minutiae. By the way, did you *see* "Chaotic" on Tuesday? The Unintentional Comedy scale doesn't come close to covering it. This past week, I think we saw the dawning of a new era of bad reality TV. My favourite part was Britney's huge 300 pound bodyguard saying that his first impression of Kevin Federline was that he was interested in her for the fame and nothing else. My head exploded when I heard that and my insides leaked into the pile of diapers on the couch next to me (oh no, I promised that I wouldn't be one of those columnists who talked about fatherhood all of the time). On second thought, maybe my favourite part was Britney taking inspiration from cinematography of "The Blair Witch Project" and using it as a vehicle to tell us about art appreciation. I couldn't make this stuff up if I tried. Who thought that it would be a good idea to put this stuff on TV? Did Ian from Survivor:Palau negotiate the TV deal on behalf of the network? And despite all of this, why can I hardly wait for next week's episode?
So, in line with the principles of the Ewing Theory, closers are treated like royalty in baseball and yet teams are managing to win without them. The Cards are running away with the NL Central despite injuries to Jason Isringhausen. The Dodgers have been near the top of the NL West all year without Eric Gagne. NL saves leader Brandon Lyon is about to go on the DL -- imagine how good the Diamondbacks will be without him! My buddy Hench heard the news about Lyon and immediately got 3-1 odds in Vegas that the Dbacks will have the league's best won-loss record by June 1. Baseball GM's have countless different strategies for assembling a winning team, but from what we've seen so far this year, I think that Joe Garagiola Jr.'s "lose 110 games, start strong the following year, injury to closer" method is ready to take off.
The Braves are ready to claim their annual pennant even with Danny Kolb as their closer. Kolb's ERA has been struggling to stay below Barry Bonds' hat size all year, and yet the Braves keep winning. He's so awful, they might as well not even have a closer. This was obvious to seemingly everyone except for the Braves, but finally they wised up and removed Kolb from the closers role this week. Look for them to run away with their division from here on in.
And in Boston, you'd think people would be concerned with injuries to Schilling and Wells, Manny Ramirez hitting .230, and Rob and Amber's wedding. But they're not, because all anybody talks about is how much Keith Foulke is struggling. The whole year has been a race between Foulke's ballooning ERA and the pathetic ratings for "The Contender", but the Red Sox are six games over .500 regardless. Tom Cruise's flying skills improved after the Goose went down, so why can't the Red Sox improve without Foulke? We don't have to seriously hurt him. One day, maybe he could fall against a table while pulling on a pair of cowboy boots? Can somebody see to it that he has a nightmare about spiders and sleepwalks through a plate glass window, pitching hand first? Are there any hypnotists out there who can make this happen?