The Feast of Jeff the Fiery


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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Knot Graphs

Before this blog closes up shop completely, I thought it only made sense to finally detail all of the Knots that we’ve been writing about for all of these years.


Report: Prophet Ned Yost is Predicting More Than the ALCS


Reports out of Kansas City this week have indicated that Royals manager Ned Yost is something of a fortuneteller, a seer of future events. According to Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star, Yost pulled shortstop Alcides Escobar aside in the ninth inning of Game 2 of the ALCS and predicted how his club would score.

Escobar was scheduled to bat third in the top of the ninth against Baltimore, and Yost wanted to share his vision.

Here is what will happen, Yost told him. Omar Infante will lead off with a hit. Yost will insert pinch runner Terrance Gore. Mike Moustakas will lay down a bunt. And then Escobar will record the hit that wins the Royals the second game of the American League Championship Series.

“Great plan,” Escobar replied.

Of course that’s how it unfolded.

Now, confirming a prediction in Magic 8-Ball Monthly, Yost has announced that he is “sharing this gift with the world.” What follows is correspondent Johnny Ondaspot’s exclusive account of the Prophet’s first public event.

KANSAS CITY—Royals manager Ned Yost gazed across the crowded room of eager supplicants, many of whom had traveled thousands of miles to heed his prophecies, and asked for the silence necessary for his endeavor.

“Only with your cooperation,” he announced to his ardent followers, packed into a conference room at the Ramada Kansas City Hotel and Conference Center on Shawnee Mission Parkway, “might I access the mystical sources that inspire – nay, supply – my capacities as an oracular agent, and thus issue the predictions that you have traveled so far to hear.”

Silence promptly followed. The lone sound came now from the washing of the Prophet’s feet – his right foot in Milanese gremolata olive oil and his left in Persian lime, each from The Olive Oilery in Overland Park.

Seated in a velveteen chair on an elevated stage, Yost cleared his throat and announced, “First, I predict that The Olive Oilery will be open Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Saturday from 8 to 5, and that its owners will eagerly renew their advertising contract in the coming year.”

Mystified, the audience gasped and murmured.

Yost looked down at his attendant and whispered, “Hey, c’mon, that tickles.”

Dressed in faux-gilded vestments and a costume-jeweled mitre featuring the likeness of Nostradamus, Yost reached down and swept a piece of toasted bagel through the Persian lime olive oil and drew it toward his parted lips.

“I am hungry,” he declared, nodding slowly and sweeping his eyes across the earnest faces. “And I will tell you that about two hours ago, I knew I would be.”

Again the crowd gasped and murmured. Some adherents nodded at one another, engaging in the mutual recognition of a faith affirmed, while others fainted, whereupon they were dragged into a double-occupancy and charged the standard room rate, which includes a continental breakfast.

Yost called out after them, “You will find that the bagels are delicious!”

Once more the people murmured, their eyes wide with wonder.

Risking censure, a disciple then asked, “How, oh Great One, did you know at such a preliminary stage that you would be hungry in two hours’ time?”
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“KC At The Bat”

The outlook wasn’t brilliant for the KC twenty-five:
They’d barely made the playoffs, and then barely stayed alive.
Against the A’s they came back, then they came back yet again,
And maybe that game turned a team of youngsters into men.

We start with Mike Moustakas, who has never truly shined,
The way that they imagined back when he was first-round signed.
A hacker sent to Omaha with batting average lows,
Now Mike Moustakas hits home runs, each day his legend grows.

Or maybe Eric Hosmer is the one who we should praise,
Up to now he’s kept his owners in a multi-year malaise.
It’s one thing to have potential but one day you must produce,
So perhaps this year’s postseason is what finally sets him loose.

We could run right through the roster, Gordon, Cain, Aoki too,
And of course the crazy bullpen, simply doing what they do,
But in truth we can’t explain it, because this team hardly seemed,
Like a roster built for doing what the other teams all dreamed.

They’re about to run the table– well, at least they’re getting near,
Though their lineup still will never strike the other teams with fear.
But they’re winning– yes, they’re winning– and that’s really all that counts,
And it only makes it thrilling than they win by small amounts.

This could all just be a setup, for an epic, epic fall,
Lose tonight, then keep on losing, yes, they could just lose them all.
But that doesn’t really seem like where this all is heading fast,
When this season’s down to just one team, the Royals could be last.

Jason Vargas takes the baseball, just like Guthrie did before,
And though no one quakes with fear, that just makes this ride even more,
Of a fairy-tale-like ending to a mediocre year,
KC steps up to the plate, and just the heartless cannot cheer.

So I will root for Jason Vargas, much as I can’t understand,
And I’ll root for Mike Moustakas, though his bat is made of sand.
And I’ll even root for Ned Yost, though that’s very very tough,
And I’ll root for Jarrod Dyson, and I’ll hope he’s fast enough.

And I’ll root for ol’ Wade Davis, though I owned him when he stank,
And I’ll root for Billy Butler, though there’s nothing in the tank,
And I’ll root for Sal Perez, though he seems to be quite lost,
And I’ll root for building rosters at a very tiny cost.

And I’ll root for Big Game James, and I’ll root for Holland, too,
And I’ll root for all the rest of them adorned in Royal Blue,
And it’s making quite a story as the Royals are redeemed,
Though now perhaps the story’s better… if for the next four games, they’re creamed.

Emil Cioran Quotes Over Images of Disappointed Ballplayers

In which a pessimistic declaration from the Romanian philosopher’s oeuvre is attached to an image of a ballplayer exhibiting some manner of distress, either external or on the inside.

Today, Darren O’Day from Game One of the ALCS:

ODay Meme

Oral History of the Citi Field Fences


In honor of the Mets planning to move the fences in at Citi Field for the second time since the stadium opened in the historic year of 2009, I decided to conduct some interviews for a brief oral history of the stadium’s fences.

RIGHT-CENTER FIELD FENCE: I was pretty happy when Citi Field opened and I was 415 feet from home plate, since I’m scared of the ball. It’s tough to grow up as a fence scared of balls hitting me, but I figured I lucked into the perfect job being so far away, and in a stadium where Mets players would be doing most of the hitting. Luis Castillo was my favorite player back in those days, though who couldn’t help but be a fan of Alex Cora and the 308 plate appearances he got that year, slugging .310? My life was pretty perfect, except for the fact that I lived in Queens, until after the 2011 season, when it seemed like everything was going to change.

THE FAMOUS HOME RUN APPLE: You know, the Mets are one classy organization. Most teams, when building a new stadium, would just send guys like me packing. But the Mets, although they intended to get rid of me, were eventually swayed by the fans and put me in a lovely spot sort of near the subway station. It’s pretty neat over there. I get a lot of mustard thrown on me though. I was pretty psyched to be close to the stadium that first season, before they moved me. And then they moved the fences in, so I was even farther away from the action. Wait, this is about fences, not apples– why are you interviewing me?

LEFT FIELD FENCE: Thirteen feet. They uprooted me so they could move me thirteen feet back in 2011. At least I wasn’t the Right Field fence, which got moved three feet. That’s pretty ridiculous, making a fence give up everything it knows, the dirt at its feet, to move thirty-six inches. Sometimes it’s almost like the team has no idea what it’s doing.

RIGHT-CENTER FIELD FENCE: So, yeah, from 415 feet to 390 feet, after the 2011 season. And I was quaking in my planks. But I should have remembered– it’s the Mets! So, sure, Ike Davis scared me a few times, but a third of the regular lineup in 2012 was Ruben Tejada, Josh Thole, and Andres Torres, so, uh, it was still okay to be me. But now they’re saying they’re moving me again?

STADIUM ARCHITECT: This was the first time a team had ever approached me asking if it would be possible for the fences to be a negative distance from home plate. Like, could the center field fence be negative 50 feet from home plate, and would that mean that the players might hit a whole bunch of home runs. I sat them down to explain some math to them, but it all went over their heads. “We know math,” they insisted. “An eighteen percent guaranteed return on stock market investments even in a down year means we should invest all of our money and not ask any questions! We know math! Also, lower salaries mean better players, right?”

LEFT FIELD FENCE: They say they’re not moving me this time, but maybe I want to move! Maybe I want to move to a different freaking stadium. Oy.

THE FAMOUS HOME RUN APPLE: My son, the current apple, is getting so fat because he never gets to exercise. He rarely gets to pop out of that hat. He’s totally out of shape. And I think he has worms.

STADIUM ARCHITECT: Hey, any more communities looking for downtown revitalization and don’t want to read the studies showing that a stadium really doesn’t make much difference? Because if you just want the prestige of a sports team without worrying about economic impact, I have some awesome new features I’d love to tell you about….

RIGHT-CENTER FIELD FENCE: Yes, Elvis Andrus would be a perfect addition to the team, totally. Alcides Escobar, too. What’s Luis Castillo up to these days?

I.M. Bitterman’s Acerbic Guide to Watching the %*#@! Playoffs


My name is I.M. Bitterman, and I’m here to tell you how to watch the stupid playoffs and all the stupid sons of bitches who are playing in the stupid playoffs. First, some background: I am a bitter man. The surname is not a coincidence. Upon arriving at Ellis Island, my great-great-grandfather Ignatius Meriwether Biedermann was suspected of having a “struma,” which is now called a goiter, and detained for a further inspection. Embittered, he poisoned authorities until such time that they gave in and permitted his entry, but not before they changed his name to Bitterman and suggested he move to Alaska, which, by coincidence, was called “Struma” at the time.

So, basically, bitterness is a Bitterman birthright. And if you’re anything like me, you’re pretty damn bitter that the Princesses, the Birds, the Birds and the Elephantiases are in the playoffs and your team isn’t. Why do their fans get to have all the fun? I mean, instead of watching that magnificent son of a bitch of a doctor on old House episodes, you sit there 162 times for four hours at a stretch and watch your crappy team play, and what do you get in return?


You get bupkis, while all those other fans are all, “Ooooh, look at me, my team is in the playoffs, I’m better than you, I’m great, I’m the best person, ooooh, look at me!”

Screw them. And if you’re one of them, screw you. Go play in traffic.

But yeah, if you’re anything like me, you still enjoy baseball and want to watch the stupid playoffs, despite the fact that you also want to torch entire cities and let all the animals out of the zoo and also punch walls in the dark.

So, what do you do? Here’s what you do:
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Hopeless Joe’s End-of-Year Fantasy Chat

Q. Danny Salazar — should I protect him?

A. Tough to say. Wouldn’t we all like to be protected by someone? But as we grow up, we realize it’s hard enough to protect yourself, and to expect someone else to shield you from all of life’s traumas and disappointments is, frankly, unrealistic. Danny Salazar had a terrible start to the season, but then rebounded quite nicely. Without your protection. So I think he may be more equipped than we realize to handle the ups and downs. He doesn’t need your protection, my protection, or anyone’s protection. Which makes him lucky, in a lot of ways. I think he’ll be just fine. Unless, of course, he gets Ebola.

Q. Any sleeper catchers for 2015?

A. Looking at a typical catcher’s body type, I think they all have pretty decent potential to be sleepers, permanently. Especially as you reach middle age and start to see people around you suffer the misfortune of illness and death, you quickly recognize that even if you want to ascribe it all to active choices and obvious causes — poor diet, alcohol and drugs, etc. — life doesn’t always work that way. There are accidents, there’s fate, there’s random misfortune. And catchers, despite their major league salaries, are just as likely as any of us to find themselves not waking up one morning. I’d keep my eye particularly on Mike Zunino, though. Especially if he gets Ebola.

Q. Rank these pitchers for 2015: Shields, deGrom, Iwakuma, Cashner

What a strange collection of four pitchers with seemingly little in common, except that they are all good at pitching. I rank them all tied for first, since they all have jobs pitching in the major leagues while the rest of us suffer through our lives only wishing we had such fortune. Unless any of them get Ebola, in which case I would move the others ahead in the ranking.

Q. Will Brian McCann rebound?

A. Can any of us ever really rebound from a down year? The trauma inevitably stays with us, implanting itself on all of our memories. McCann might or might not improve his production in 2015, but I don’t think he will ever be the same, mentally. Or physically, if he comes down with Ebola.

Q. Where do you think Lester is likely to sign?

A. Depends on how many airports start screening for Ebola, because, honestly, I’d be too scared to pass through one of those, accidentally fail the test, and get thrown into close quarters with people who really do have it. That’s the biggest fear, I think. Next to actually being in an airport with someone who has Ebola but isn’t getting tested, I guess. So if he moved to Oakland after the trade, I think he should probably just stay there. Travel is scary. Wow.

Report: Angels Also Gathered in Bar After Game 3


You probably saw the report that after their ALCS-clinching defeat of the Angels on Sunday night, members of the Royals journeyed to a local bar and partied with happy fans, spraying them with champagne and generally making sure that those fine folks would be late for work the following day. The report you didn’t see, because we are publishing it now the first time, is that members of the Anaheim Angels of Orange County, California, U.S.A., also gathered in a bar – namely, the Rough Landing Tavern at the Kansas City International Airport – to share the moment with a few of their own supporters while waiting for the grounds crew to remove the “Royals Rule!” and “Angels Blow!” graffiti from the team plane.

What follows is an exclusive report from correspondent Johnny Ondaspot.

KANSAS CITY—Albert Pujols leaned on the long oak bar and stirred his whiskey sour with a short plastic straw, its dry end scarred with the bite marks he’d administered during a soundless hour of gloomy contemplation.

“Man,” he muttered at last, and darkly, with a shake of the head. “I just…”

Finally, amid the tinkling of ice that had melted less quickly than his World Series dreams, Pujols turned to Julie Widenour, 26, of San Clemente, and said, “Could you pass me those pretzels? I probably need to eat something.”

A moment later, as the lifelong Angels fan passed the bowl of Rold Gold to the big first baseman, Widenour shook her head and bit her lip in efforts to stifle the tears. Turning to a reporter, she whispered hoarsely, “I really thought we were going to win that series. Instead, as you might’ve noticed, we lost. Now, rather doing body shots off of (Angels bench coach Dino) Ebel and Jagerbombs with (shortstop Erik) Aybar, I’m sitting here next to Pujols as he eats stale pretzels and stares blankly at The Weather Channel on a TV with its volume turned down.”
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Three Ways The Nationals Will Beat The Giants in Game 4 Last Night


1. Time machine/drugs. We go back to the moment before the game, and spike the Giants’ pre-game Gatorade with antihistamines. Drowsy, they become an easier opponent. The Nats win. The space-time continuum hopefully does not get destroyed.

2. Mind control. Didn’t the Nationals win last night? Of course they did. No one could possibly believe they didn’t. Not even the players themselves. Because the Nationals won. They did. Really.

3. Video editing/protest/mass killings/forfeit. Quick, someone edit the game video to show Buster Posey injecting poison into Matt Williams’s brain. Or something illegal like that. Then the Nationals file a protest, baseball feels pressure to invalidate the game result, then before the game is replayed someone kills all of the Giants, and the Nats win by forfeit.