Archive for Feast Days

The Feast of Jeff the Fiery

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The hour is late. The party is winding down: the lutist is tired, the half-empty champagne glasses that litter the end tables are flat. In some distant water closet, a man is weakly vomiting. The guests are indolently drunken, somnambulant, gassy. Still, we lift our eyes and murmur a prayer for one last feast day, commemorating the sleeping giant, the man who lived: Jeff Heath.

Life: Heath was born a Canadian in 1915 and grew up in Seattle, where he played baseball. Signed by the Indigenous Peoples of Cleveland, he enjoyed a fourteen-year career of checkered brilliance, accumulating a higher OPS+ (137) than games per season (112). He was prone to both injury and holdout, bickered and fought with his teammates and managers, led the league twice in triples and was given away by three teams. A week before the 1948 World Series against his hated Indians, Heath broke his ankle sliding into Roy Campanella and his career quickly ended at the age of 34. Afterward he returned to Seattle to sponsor the Bar-S hot dog company, broadcast Seattle Rainiers games on the radio, and do celebrity things. Then, he died.

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The ALEX RIOShootthat’sagiantpastramisandwich

Building on yesterday’s post about Hopeless Joe’s Shake Shack Adventure, this post was originally going to be about baseball’s longest hot dogs, perhaps a ranking of them. But it turns out that there is not much of a contest. It’s the 24-inch-long BOOMSTICK down in Texas — originally a tribute to Nelson Cruz, but it became so popular that they kept it even after Cruz was gone. (And the stadium’s concessionaire has brought it to other ballparks for trial runs.) It has even inspired a whole 24-inch-themed concession stand in the ballpark, where the Rangers have offered obscenely unhealthy items like the Murphadilla (after David Murphy), a 24-inch quesadilla, the Rossome Nacho (after Robbie Ross), a BOOMSTICK topped with nacho ingredients, and the Beltre Buster, a 2800-calorie, 1-pound hamburger.

This year, they introduced the Choomongous, a two-foot-long Korean barbecue sandwich.

Clearly, the Rangers believe that their stadium seats are well-constructed and will not collapse under the weight of their fans.

I propose a few new Rangers-player-themed concessions to add to the menu:

1. The ALEX RIOShootthat’sagiantpastramisandwich, a two-foot-long pastrami sandwich topped with mustard, sauerkraut, nachos, and sixteen crumbled up chocolate chip cookies.

2. The DAR-Fish Taco, a 24-inch fish taco, filled with an entire striped bass, two heads of cabbage (shredded), a field of radishes, and four pounds of vanilla soft-serve crema.

3. The Elvis (Andrus), a sandwich made of 24 bananas and thirteen pounds of peanut butter, served between two “records” made of chocolate Oreo cookies, and topped with a game-used home plate dipped in caramel.

4. The Prince Veal-der, a 24-inch veal parmesan hero, accompanied by a bucket of pasta and a wheelbarrow filled with extra tomato sauce for dipping.

5. The Colby Lewis, a gigantic grilled (colby) cheese sandwich, Scott Baker-ed in the oven until all melty.

6. The Mitch More, More, Moreland-and-sea, where two 24-ounce steaks serve as the “buns” for a lobster roll, made from two pounds of lobster meat, four fields worth of celery, and a Costco-sized jar of mayonnaise.

7. The Ron WashingTON-OF-FOOD, a garbage pail filled with whatever leftovers the stadium kitchens have on a given day, pulverized in a blender, and served with a straw (whipped cream topping optional).

Any others?


The Feast of Franklin the Ill-Fated

fg1On Friday, the Seattle Mariners granted Franklin Gutierrez his freedom, as defined by his freedom to not be paid seven million dollars by the Seattle Mariners. A scant four days later, November 5, marks his Feast Day in the latest of an unrightfully-neglected series. Raise a glass to our friend, the Job of baseball, and join us in prayer.

Life: In 2009, his first season with the Mariners, an age-26 Gutierrez posted a six-win season. In the four years since then, he has suffered ailments from his elbow, knee, shoulder, groin (three times), back (twice), oblique, leg, hamstring (three times), pectoral, heel, head (twice), neck, and lower intestine. He also had a bad case of the flu.

It is, one must admit, a novel way to avoid the dehumanization of synecdoche so common in baseball. The man is not just He also, in his brief window of playing time, posted a slugging percentage north of .500. Some team will therefore take a chance on him, and he will either prove to be a winning lottery ticket, or a losing lottery ticket, or not a lottery ticket at all but rather a crude-crayon-drawn map leading to the buried remains of the family gerbil.

Spiritual Exercise: Consider the Protestant work ethic that has made America so great, at least according to your outdated middle-school history textbook. If hard work and talent are what bring people success, how do you explain the misfortune of Franklin Gutierrez? Conjure some moral failing that designates his suffering as justice, and relieve yourself of the crushing burden of knowing that happiness is essentially a series of meaningless die rolls. Then drink an American lager, and think about all the things you’d like to own if you made more money.

A Prayer for Franklin Gutierrez

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The Feast of Joe the Superlative

Today, February 13, we celebrate President’s Day, which by government conspiracy was relocated to the third Monday in February and opened up to all Presidents, due to the secret machinations of the Van Buren descendents. We also, coincidentally, celebrate the latest in our universally beloved, if intermittently scheduled, feast days.

Charboneau

Joe the Superlative

Life: Little is known of Joe Charboneau before he marched onto the field at Spartanburg in the middle of a game and hit a double with the palm of his open hand. After that his legend quickly grew: it was rumored that he was the offspring of a god and a bear, that he could knock birds unconscious with by shouting, and that in his one-bedroom apartment he housed shrine displaying a grisly collection of teeth he had collected in the bar-room brawls that punctuated his adolescence. On each stop on his journey, he fathered countless children, headlined dozens of separate bands, and invented a new drink, the Super Joe, which was a mixture of Budweiser, Miller Hi-Life, Schlitz, a mentholated cigarette, and a slice of sous-vide-cooked bacon.

After the rise, came the fall. Every father teaches their son about Charboneau fixing his own broken nose with whiskey and a pair of pliers, but not many knew about the failed medical practice he set up based on the same principles. Nor did the fledgling SJBL (Super Joe Baseball League) succeed, with its risky combination of baseball, moonshine and bare-knuckle boxing. Eventually, an older, weary Joe Charboneau said goodbye to the country and game he loved, traveled to Luxembourg, overthrew the government and has ruled there quietly ever since.

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Feast of Stanhouse the Very Orange

Today is February 12th, the birthday of Don Stanhouse. That fact, and the fact that I have created the GIF below should be enough to declare today the next NotGraphs Feast Day — the Feast of Stanhouse the Very Orange.

To celebrate, a brief hymn:

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Feast of Wohlers the Very Anxious

Today, January 23rd, we celebrate the life of Mark Wohlers as part of our on-again, but mostly off-again, feast-day series.

Wohlers the Very Anxious

Life: Drafted by Atlanta in 1988 out of Holyoke (MA) High School, Wohlers developed into an excellent high-leverage pitcher, averaging just under 12 strikeouts per nine innings at the height of his career, from 1994 to -97, and posting the highest WAR among major-league relievers during that same span. In 1998, however, Wohlers developed a condition that greatly affected his command, prompting him to walk 13 of 25 batters faced during late July and early August, after which he was placed on the disabled list for “inability to pitch.” Wohlers was traded to Cincinnati the following season, disabled immediately, and treated for anxiety (while also undergoing Tommy John surgery at a later date). He finished his career throwing 139 roughly league-average innings in 2001-02, the latter just his age-32 season, although was never as dominant as in his peak.

Wohlers Defeated
Entirely and defeated are two words you might consider using.

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Feast of Balboni the Ample

Today we celebrate the life of Steve Balboni as part of our on-again, but mostly off-again, feast-day series.

Balboni the Ample

Life: A native of noted City of Champions and Bare-Knuckled Violence (i.e. Brockton, Massachusetts), Steve Balboni parlayed two plus tools (power, mustache) into a major-league career that saw him hit home runs in over 5% of his plate appearances. That his peak seasons overlapped with the increased popularity of card collecting in the mid- and late-80s has likely contributed to his own enduring popularity among the children of that era.


Balboni the Ample teems with animal desire.

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The Feast of Henderson the Prolific Thief

December 25: A big deal. The day Rickey Henderson was born. Let us feast.

Henderson the Prolific Thief

Life: Rickey Henderson, according to Rickey Henderson, was the greatest. He truly believed that. And he was one of them. His career 113.9 WAR ranks 17th all-time among position players. We remember Henderson for his prowess on the basepaths, but it’s important to remember how often he got there, and how often he ran once he arrived. Henderson finished with an on-base percentage higher than Pete Rose, Joe DiMaggio, Cal Ripken, Joe Morgan, Honus Wagner, Hank Aaron, and Willie Mays. He could do a little bit of it all, but one thing better than any man before him, or since.

Spiritual Exercise: A couple of weeks ago, on Twitter, I read a quote from Rickey Henderson, from April 28, 1987, about Texas Rangers pitcher Ed Correa, who threw 7.1 innings of no-hit baseball that afternoon, as Henderson’s New York Yankees fell 3-1 to the Rangers: “He didn’t have anything.” Henderson went 0-3, with a walk. He stole two bases. Rickey Henderson never, ever doubted himself. Ask yourself: Are you the greatest? Perhaps it’s time you started believing you are.

A Prayer for Rickey Henderson

Rickey Nelson Henley Henderson!
One thousand,
Four hundred
And six
Stolen bases.
“Thou shalt not steal”
Never applied to baseball.

H/T: @mighty_flynn. Image credit: USA Today.


The Feast of Oliver the Negligible

Today might seem to be an odd choice for a Feast Day, what with it being Ethan Hawke’s birthday as well as the day that irrevocably alters the fate of the free world and other outlying areas. It is for this very reason, however, that the Mysterious and Capricious Fates have chosen this day to overshadow the life and work of one Oliver Martinez Perez.

Life: If all of baseball is a stage, then Oliver Perez has played many parts. For different people at different times and in different towns, he has served as the anointed, the prince regent, the schizophrenic millionaire, the tremulous Grigory Alexandrovich Pechorin, the disgraced World War One general, Robert Patrick melting silently in the lava at the end of Terminator 2, the drunken ronin who trips and falls on his own sword. Finally, at the age of 28, Perez disappeared in the middle of his own play, stage left, dropped from the tale like a forgotten character in a James Fenimore Cooper novel. The horizon, the sunset, and the inevitable rattlesnake bite were all assumed.

Two years later, Oliver Perez signed a contract to a major league roster for a sum that was nominally higher than the league minimum. Several days after that, you read these words about him.

Spiritual Exercise: Cease, for a brief moment, in computing all the terrifying permutations of the potential loss of your presidential candidate of choice. Instead, consider the long, wayward journey of Oliver Perez, and the psychological tendency of mankind to exaggerate the importance of the near future. While two wealthy men broker with the nation for authority, consider how little the world around you is altered: the universe cools down imperceptibly. The goddamned maple tree down the street is still shedding its horrible little leafy excrement all over your lawn. The sky is still dark by the time you get off work. Oliver Perez gets out lefties. And so it goes.

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Singing, Pizza, Mustache Combo

For some reason, this seemed like a baseball thing.

You know what. With a slight tweak, it really IS kind of baseball-y.

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