Archive for Feast Days

George Brett Poops Himself

This past weekend at the FanGraphs gathering in Phoenix, Mr. Carson Cistulli stated that he had never seen the George Brett-poops-himself video. I couln’t believe it, so I decided to hook him up. In case some of our other readers have also been deprived of this video, “enjoy.”

[Ed. Note: contains a wide and winning variety of explicit language.]

Original Version

Read the rest of this entry »


The Feast of Carter the World Series Hero

Today, Joe Carter was in our thoughts. And so, tonight, we resurrect, as we are prone to do, our celebrated feast-days series.

Carter the World Series Hero

Life: Joe Carter was, for the most part, an average baseball player. He hit a lot of home runs. Year in and year out, he was good for 30 dingers, a hundred ribbies, and a hundred strikeouts — give or take a few. Once upon a time, he even stole bases. In my youth, had I known anything about on-base percentage, I would have likely hated Joe Carter. I would have gladly taken the home runs, and the RBIs, especially on those deeper Toronto Blue Jays clubs, but I wouldn’t have been too happy about it. Yet I remember Carter most fondly. Everyone in Toronto does. Because of one catch, one walk-off home run, and two jumps for joy.

Spiritual Exercise: Joe Carter ended back-to-back World Series a winner. Literally. Ask yourself: Would you rather have a Hall of Fame career, and never win a title? Or would you rather be slightly above average, with power, and hit a walk-off home run to win the World Series?

A Prayer for Joe Carter

Joe Carter!
You’re one of the
lucky ones.
So many are remembered by the
sum total of their numbers.
Not you.

Why?
Why the hell did Otis Nixon
bunt?
He gave away the final bloody out.

Read the rest of this entry »


The Feast of Snyder the Turbulent

The Feast of Cory the Snyder

Today we raise a glass to the august glory that is Cory Snyder, in this, the most recent of our feast-day celebrations.

Life: It is futile to seek the essence of Cory Snyder from his Wikipedia article, a handful of sparse, high-school-english-paper paragraphs scattered before him like so many crumbs.  Nowhere does it mention the forearms, the lateral incisors, the dazed optimism.  Nor does it mention that final, willful gesture in the ninth inning of the 1984 Olympic gold medal game, when he hit a home run and proceeded to urinate on the plate in single-minded, feral defiance.  Clearly, philosophers have long skirted the questions that the existence of Cory Snyder has pressed upon the human condition.  This display of intellectual cowardice from our nation is, naturally, quite troubling.

 

Spiritual Exercise: Select a tranquil outdoor area suitable for meditation.  Seek the twittering of starlings if at all possible.  Then, the moment before your superficial introspection descends into an unconscious calculation of the groceries you will need to buy, tense every single muscle in your body and hold it as long as you can.  As you do, consider Hawthorne’s rejection of transcendentalism, his belief that it is Nature herself who injects the bad hop into every ground ball.  In such a world, what is the sane reaction?  Is it to struggle against the natural forces bent on your destruction, or to allow Heraclitus’ river to sweep you where it will?

A Prayer for Cory Snyder

Cory Snyder!
Any glance at your 1987 Topps Card
Is immediately drawn to the gaudy glitter
Of the golden bowl that was
Your glory, and your education.

Your flaws did not stay hidden long.
In the blurry shadow-world above,
Your posture is a painfully symbolic gesture
Of the game and the world
That was already tailing down and away.

The moment you appeared
You negated our preconceived notions
As to the finite vectors accorded to time, and hair.
Your golden greatness swirled
And eddied about your shoulders like a mantle.

Your magnanimity was evident at the plate
Where the shortstops, in their reedy voices,
Entreated you to “swing, batter,”
Swing, and swing you did.
You swung at everything you could.


Feast of Uecker, Patron Saint of Failed Endeavors

Today we celebrate the life of Bob Uecker, as part of our long-neglected feast-day series.

Uecker, Patron Saint of Failed Endeavors

Life: Over six seasons and more than 800 plate appearances, Bob Uecker was a precisely replacement-level catcher for the Braves, Cardinals, and Phillies. After his playing career, he was hired by the Brewers as a scout — and has been described by then-owner Bud Selig as the “worst scout I (Selig) ever had.” Since 1971, he has been the radio voice of the Milwaukee Brewers — a platform he utilizes to celebrate the relative merits of American beer and encased meats.

Spiritual Exercise: The ethical mandate “Know thyself” is more or less as old as the Western intellectual tradition, attributed alternately to Pythagoras, Heraclitus, Socrates, and others. The sense is also preserved by Epictetus, who writes in his Discourses (II.6): “It is good to be clear about the level of your talent… Don’t pretend you have a particular skill if you don’t.”

Uecker’s greatest strength is his capacity not just for acknowledging, but celebrating, his weaknesses. Ask yourself what your weaknesses are. Instead of fleeing from them, become intimate with them, buy them some drinks, introduce them to your work friends.

A Prayer for Bob Uecker

Bob Uecker!
During a 1979 appearance
on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson,
millions watched as you resuscitated
a dying man using only
half a Miller Lite
and some grainy images of Bo Derek
eating poutine sensually.

In German, I’ve learned, Uecker is a noun
meaning “one who impregnates women
competitively and is celebrated as a god
for doing so” — is that true?

A medical doctor I know said you
suffer no effects of gout but have
transmitted it to dozens of partners
sexually — is that even possible?

Read the rest of this entry »


Whither Now, Ronnie Belliard?

I wanted to wait — but I just couldn’t — until Fat Tuesday (aka Mardi Gras) and dub it the Feast Day of the lovable Ronald “Ronnie” Belliard, who was know for approaching most days as though they were the last before a prolonged period of fasting, and for sex scandals — two things at the core of the contemporary Pardi Gras.


French fries.

Some of you might recall a 2007 extortion case in which some bloke demanded $150k from poor pudgy Ronnie in exchange for keeping the fact that the infielder had impregnated his (i.e. the extortionist’s) daughter. You probably won’t remember (unless you are me or one of the ten kids I hung around with) the rumors I heard as an adolescent, when Ronnie played for my beloved Brewers: that the Ron-dog paid one of the Brewers’ bat boys to keep him well-stocked in porn vids. Read the rest of this entry »


The Feast of Papelbon the Ridiculously Flamboyant

As regular – and stupendously handsome – NotGraphs reader and commenter Yirmiyahu pointed out in an email to our underground headquarters over the weekend: We must feast. Especially during the offseason.

#Feastmode!

Read the rest of this entry »


A Prayer for Milwaukee on the Eve of the LCS

The author, having lived in Wisconsin for only slightly more than a year and owning no previous ties to the region, has nevertheless found himself smitten with the present incarnation of the Milwaukee Brewer ballclub. As an entirely eager, but equally unaffiliated, Believer, he (i.e. the same author) has developed a convert’s zeal wherein said Brewer club is concerned.

Below is a product of that zeal: a prayer for Milwaukee and its baseball team on the eve of the League Championship Series.

A Prayer for the Milwaukee Brewers on the Eve of the LCS

Milwaukee Brewers!
You removed the fig leaf from existence momentarily
and revealed all the wild kindness beneath it.
You published a new version of the OED
with only the words marked “vulgar” from the bigger edition.

I heard you declared “dance party” as a business expense
on your income taxes, is that the case?
I heard you voted Malcolm in the Middle for president.
I’ll admit: I didn’t even know that was a thing.

I’m so excited, I’d like to devise
a creation myth from your current roster
if I have time this week.

I’m so excited, I’d like to eat
hitherto unknown encased meats,
inundated with equal parts kraut and magic.

Let’s get a drink sometime, how about,
during the next lunar eclipse or whatever.

I’ll be the one at the bar
wearing 10 fake beards as a joke.
You be the ones all high-fiving,
shouting “good game” indiscriminately
to every last person who’ll listen.


The Feast of Hampton the Persistent

#Feastmode.

Hampton the Persistent

Life: Mike Hampton could pitch, man. When he wasn’t injured, at least. And he could swing the stick, too, a baseball player born to ply his trade in the National League. It’s hard to believe now, looking back, that Hampton, from 1995 through 2004, was good for, at the very least, 150 or more innings. Mike Hampton, defined by injury, threw over 200 innings a year from 1997 through 2001. He pitched, and he pitched well, to the tune of 3.3, 2.4. 5.1, 4.4 and 2.9 WAR those five years, respectively. In 2001, in 86 plate appearances, Hampton hit seven home runs, scored 20 runs, and drove in 16. He hit .291, and put up a wOBA of .366. Mike frigging Hampton!

Spiritual Exercise: Mike Hampton disappeared from baseball in 2005, only to return in 2008, to give it one more shot. And another shot after that. Ask yourself: Faced with adversity, richer than your wildest dreams, would you leave the game you love, leave it behind, and throw in the towel? Or would you have surgery after surgery on your elbow, in order to one day pitch again?

A Prayer for Mike Hampton

Michael William Hampton!
You were so much more than the injuries.
Yet they’re what define you,
And what I remember.
Why?

You won 22 games in 1999.
You have five Silver Sluggers to your name.
Fuck the injuries, I say, Mike Hampton.

But it’s hard.
Colorado won’t forget, they can’t forget.
And after signing you to an eight-year, $121 million dollar contract,
The richest in pro sports history at the time,
Can you blame them?
I don’t. I can’t.
But I don’t blame you either, Mike Hampton.
I would have signed that contract, too.

Tommy John surgery in 2005.
Goodbye, 2006.
“I’ll be back as good as new,” you said.
And I believed you.
A torn oblique muscle in 2007.
Then, the unthinkable: More elbow pain,
Another elbow surgery.
Goodbye, 2007.

Read the rest of this entry »


The Feast of Drungo the Oriole

It’s been a while, I know, but today seems as good as any to resurrect NotGraphs’ award-winning feast-days series.

#Feastmode!

Drungo the Oriole

Life: Drungo Hazewood’s actual, real-life name is Drungo Hazewood. Actually, it’s Drungo LaRue Hazewood. Even better. He major league career was six games long, in late September and early October, all the way back in 1980. Five at-bats. No hits. Four strikeouts. But a run scored: Drungo the pinch-runner.

Spiritual Exercise: In the minor leagues, Drungo could hit. He only got a cup of coffee in The Show. But at least he got a cup of coffee in The Show.

Prayer for Drungo Hazewood

Drungo Hazewood!
I wonder: What was going through your mind,
When after you hit .583 in spring training in 1980,
The Orioles still sent you down.
Earl Weaver kept it real:
“I’ve never cut a guy hitting that high before,” Weaver said.
“But he was making the rest of us look bad with that average.”
Oh, Drungo!
Even back then, the Orioles were the OrioLOLes.
Were you mad?
Sad?
Resilient?
You worked hard, and earned your call-up.
But it didn’t last long.
They never last long when you’re only 21-years-old.
“I’ll be back,” you must have said,
You must have thought.
You have to believe.
Three years later, Drungo, your baseball career was over,
Without a hit.
Damn, Drungo.
But it wasn’t all for naught;
There was the Drungo Ice House,
In Austin, at the University of Texas,
Named in your honor.
But, wait, that’s gone now, too.
What’s left?
The memories, Drungo.
And the statistics.
Six games, and five plate appearances.
You’ll live forever.

Image courtesy The Great Orioles Autograph Project.


The Feast of Jefferies the Disappointing

It’s August 1, the Boxing Day of baseball.  Fans everywhere are waking up late, stumbling downstairs to the tree, and realizing that the ballplayer they were so excited about yesterday looked a little better when it was still in the box.  For others, there are unfulfilled wishes of prospects uncollected, and moves unmade.  This somber disquiet sets the perfect backdrop by which to partake in a little feasting, and reflect on the true meaning of disappointment.  It’s also the perfect opportunity to pay tribute to that elfin figure of the past, Gregg Jefferies.

Life: As a rookie in 1987, Gregg Jefferies had six plate appearances.  In the process he raked two singles and a double and earned a 0.1 WAR. Fans over the world extrapolated these numbers into 600 at-bats and a ten-win season, and reacted accordingly.  In an era when a pack of baseball cards cost forty or fifty cents, his rookie cards sold for upwards of eight dollars, a princely sum.  Owning a Jefferies rookie card was a mark of pride, a membership card into the collecting elite.  Sadly, the precocious Jefferies was never able to match the twenty home runs he hit as a teenager in Double-A, and went on to produce an ironically undistinguished fourteen-year career. Jefferies hit for decent average, wielded a little power and a splash of speed.  If he had stayed with the Mets, he may have developed his own local legend, but instead he was sent into exile, wandering from team to team.  In the end, the man seemingly predestined for the Hall of Fame received two votes.

Spiritual Exercise: First, if you have any rosebuds around, gather them as ye may.  Once that’s done, reflect on baseball as a symbol for the fleeting nature of youth, and the psychological significance of a system in which 97% of teams struggle for six months only to result in definitive failure.  Ask yourself: is Gregg Jefferies a victim of society?  Should we prize the naiveté of the shepherd Daphnis, or the Machiavellian cunning of Odysseus?  Did Gregg Jefferies fail the city of New York, or did New York fail Gregg Jefferies?

A Prayer for Gregg Jefferies

Gregg Jefferies!
You were the golden ticket of a generation.
Your face, ink pressed into cardboard
Instilled a sense of vitality and promise
The possibilities of summer.
Your face matched the youth of our own.
Greatness was something ephemeral
And inevitable.

As we grew older
And left (collectively) for college
To earn our business degrees
You disappeared somewhere between
Philadelphia and Detroit.
Your visage, encased in vinyl,
Frozen in its impish, hopeful grin,
We left in the attic to slowly depreciate.