Yakkin' About Baseball: Live To Bunt, Bunt To Live

In which two gentlemen who mostly slept through the end of the season awaken grumpily to Bud Selig's semi-playoffs.
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David Roth: Hey what up. I just got picked off first base in a playoff game. Feel like talking about baseball?

David Raposa: Looking good, John Candy! It's always the leadfoots with the dumps like a truck that get frisky on the basepaths when it matters most.

David Roth: I don't even know if 'frisky' is the word, there. It was more kind of general livestock-ish wandering. In the moment before he was picked off, Billy Butler was as close to Curious Lamb Chasing Brightly Colored Butterfly as we've seen since Adam Dunn's accidental experiment with edibles back in 2011. The famous "what if Joe West is a pure spiritual unicorn and we're all just an angel's feeings, though" game.

David Raposa: Billy Butts must've smelled someone opening a Snickers down in San Antonio.

David Roth: I do not blame the lamb, David. I blame the syphilitic Walmart heir who is supposed to be his shepherd. If David Glass weren't too cheap to shell out for a border collie as first base coach, like a decent baseball organization would, that inning might still be going.

David Raposa: Thank God for shallow pockets, then. If I had to hear the TBS broadcasters toss out their "new catcher" hypothesis a 342nd time, I'd be perched in a clock tower with a t-shirt cannon.

David Raposa: Almost all of the baseball we've seen this postseason some tedious butt-ass nonsense. Let's talk about the woefully Jeterian regular season that was. You go first; I'm checking out a really cool website.

David Roth: Wow, that is a really cool and unfiltered sunroof on your website, absolutely non-Cylon baseball legend Derek Jeter! I am eager to #assimilate your #content, no Minka Kelly.

David Roth: I mostly enjoyed the season, in the sense that I started missing it after (literally) the last sloppy Mets/Astros game. But also it kind of just passed right through me. I can no more feel a feeling about Derek Jeter—or feel a feeling about other people's Jeetfeels—than I can feel deeply about a photo of a stranger's tasteful sectional sofa. I watched the Mets and kind of barely felt anything except a certain awe at the tiny-ness of Lucas Duda's eyes. The playoffs are different, but they’re also at this point just a weird game of waiting to see how the Cardinals will make me feel some significant-seeming sadnesses. Like they'll beat the Dodgers and it'll somehow mean something about the decline of empathy in our political discourse.

David Roth: I guess the Royals making the playoffs solely on playing the way a 58-year-old comment section dude would want them to is pretty noteworthy.

David Raposa: Ah yes, the AL Central. Where 21st century baseball goes to die (of boredom listening to Hawk Harrelson complain about his golf game as the White Sox take another one on the chin). I put my hopes and dreams into the Pirates doing something this postseason. Even if (apologies to Charles Star) I'm 99.9% sure Clint Hurdle is baseball's Vinny Del Negro. So now I have nothing to watch except the rain, and maybe the gradual thinning of my hair.

David Roth: I guess "Gilmore Girls" is on Netflix now. But yeah, the opportunity to see Hurdle manage against Ned Yost in a World Series would have been amazing. The only thing I could compare it to would be watching Gov. Rick Perry trying to play SIMON. Or, like, Dina Lohan shouting out wrong answers during one of the weeks when Jeopardy has kids on it.

David Raposa: "No, YOU keep YOUR closer from pitching in a high-leverage non-save situation!" "No, YOU needlessly run into outs!"

David Roth: Ned, why did you bring in Aaron Crow to not pitch, but punt the ball with runners on base in the sixth? "Well, Kelvin Herrera's inning is the seventh and field position matters a lot to us."

David Raposa: Baseball is a game won between the pitcher's mound and second base.

David Roth: So true. That's why Alcides Escobar hits so many balls there.

David Roth: Yost seems far worse than Hurdle, to me. Charles makes the case that Hurdle is at least willing to synthesize information the front office gives him on certain things. Yost's whole thing seems to be a poker-faced defiance to do that.

David Raposa: That's what irks me most about this Royals playoff run (Jarrod Dyson Supermanning third base notwithstanding). There's obviously talent on that roster, but the team’s never-ending rebuilding plan's a disasterpiece that's somehow yielded success. It's like a shitty overlong improv comedy bit that's saved at the very end by a member of Joke On It accidentally farting.

David Roth: There is this sense, with Yost, that the whole thing is proving a point. Like, winning virtuously, which somehow means without home runs or walks or the use of any basic and generally understood best practices w/r/t pitching matchups and such.

David Raposa: Winning in the face of self-imposed adversity. Ain't nothing more American than that. (Besides maybe Kate Upton getting cast as Kevin James' wife in a Happy Madison production.)

David Roth: I sense that a good deal of #Yosting—like a lot of the Yost-inspired yowling on the baseball left—is the last grump-bunt of a certain lost-cause revanchism, or some kind of culture war spillover. Grandpa not taking his heart pills because that lady doctor just thought she was so smart.

David Raposa: Look, David, obviously Ned Yost knows what he's doing, because he's been doing this for a while. And what he knows means that he knows exactly what he knows he knows.

David Roth: That is so profound that I just bunted a whole in my television on pure autonomic response.

David Roth: I am not in the business of complaining about more baseball, but I am still not into the play-in games. Of Bud Selig's two greatest innovations—the random extra semi-playoff game and onerous arbitrary suspensions for A-Rod because he just hates A-Rod so much—I maybe prefer the latter.

David Raposa: For me, the wildcard game is "playoffs" the way those late March overseas series are Opening Day games. Though I guess it makes perverse sense for a team to play through a grueling 162-game 6-month schedule for the opportunity to play ... one more game.

David Roth: It's not a good idea. The bummer part, mostly, is that once these things happen they never un-happen. Want to make it a three-game thing, that's fine by me. But once it's on TBS a few times, it's official.

David Raposa: Very “Big Bang Theory” funny.

David Roth: One thing that's strange about watching the TBS broadcasts is that Ron Darling, who I swear is fantastic on Mets broadcasts, somehow turns into Word Power Buck Martinez on national games. How does that happen?

David Raposa: I don't know. It seems to happen to Don Orsillo in reverse. On NESN broadcasts, he strikes me as a media-guide quoting chucklehead perpetually laughing at Jerry Remy's shtick. He goes national, though, and he transforms into an astute and engaged media-guide quoting professional.

David Raposa: As I typed that, Darling just composed another bottomless bowl of word salad. Maybe there's a Gallagher/Gallagher II thing going on and the other, less addled Ron Darling is playing a small theater in Pawtucket right now?

David Roth: Ah yes, the Paxton Crawford Amphitheater. I am aware, by the way, that saying Darling is good at Mets games and bad when everyone else is listening kind of converges on the 'my girlfriend is a model in Canada but there are no photos of her' bit.

David Raposa: Your girlfriend is a drawing by Hideki Matsui. The royal your, obviously. My girlfriend is totally real, and her name is Beyonce Knowles.

David Roth: With Matsui out of the game, which big leaguer do you think has the most impressive collection of pornography, archival OR personal-use divisions.

David Raposa: I've a feeling it might actually be some obnoxiously upstanding manager type. An Ausmus or a Matheny, perhaps.

David Roth: Kirk Gibson's farewell address degenerates into a monologue on the "culture of dependency," a copy of Hustler Presents: This Ain't The Deer Hunter, A XXX Parody visible in his locker.

David Raposa: Brazzers wept (and then hit SEND on an offer sheet to Hunter Pence).

David Raposa: Not to talk about the playoffs again, but is it too "cool" of me to think the non-marquee matchups are going to be more exciting?

David Roth: I think it's objectively so. At least until Angels/Dodgers happens. I would enjoy that, actually.

David Raposa: I mean, if I have to watch the best starting pitcher and best outfielder in baseball square off against each other, I'll find some way to cope. Even if I'm pre-wincing at the Trout/Puig false equivalence nonsense that’ll be streaming, TubGirl-style, out of the press box.

David Roth: Oh hell yes. I am ready for that. Enough one-sentence paragraphs to circle the equator with possibly unintentionally racist aesthetic contrasts. But yeah, most of the American League teams do very little for me.

David Raposa: Kudos to Buck Showalter for turning a scrappy talented overachieving bunch like the 2013-2014 Orioles into generic brand mayonnaise.

David Roth: The Pirates make me happy, and I wish good things for them. I think it would also be nice if, like, WGN would let the Brewers and Athletics play a series against each other in October. Maybe during the day. Just to kind of take the edge off the way things ended. Or maybe not WGN, I assume all those "Mama's Family" reruns are load-bearing and revenue positive. Maybe Fox Sports 1 can pre-empt the show where Donovan McNabb sits in a large chair and ranks things?

David Raposa: So you sensed Oakland wouldn't make it past Big ERA James and friends?

David Roth: I was getting some 2007 Mets Feelings from them. It's inexplicable when it happens, but it happens only one way.

David Raposa: I was honestly a little amazed that they were in it to begin with. Which just means I don't know Josh Donaldson from Don Johnson. Or Dan Johnson, for that matter.

David Roth: Well, yeah. That's what Oakland do. Also the moves they made to improve themselves were weird to me. Not in some Never Trade The Magical Cespedes way, although I would generally avoid trading a Magical Cespedes. It's just that they did all that leveraging and still wound up letting Alberto Callaspo make the infield smell like embalming fluid five out of seven days.

David Raposa: Exactly. How a scrappy hump like Alberto Callaspo is getting 400-plus ABs for the green-and-gold and not Brett's Bunters boggles my mind.

David Roth: I will say that the award for outstanding achievement in the field of I Absolutely Do Not Know Who That Is goes to the Texas Rangers.

David Raposa: Indeed. I didn't know you could put 10 guys on the 60-day DL.

David Roth: I know they were up against it. But looking at one of their box scores at this point is basically Adrian Beltre and Elvis Andrus surrounded by people I might have gone to summer camp with. Phil Klein I know I definitely did go to summer camp with and I'm glad to see him succeed. Last I'd heard he was pre-law at Michigan.

David Raposa: Perseverance always pays off, especially if an entire level of your baseball organization comes down with ebola before the virus actually arrives stateside.

David Roth: No one will ever believe this team really happened. JP Arencibia OPS+-ing in the 60s in 200-odd at-bats. Kevin Kouzmanoff in the motherfucking building, Scott Baker in the mix, the sound guy honoring a request for more Carlos Pena in the monitors. It's like the last round of a fantasy baseball draft from 2009.

David Raposa: Man, those 51 ABs from the Kouz sure were something. Like a dream, or a tax refund check.

David Roth: I did think it was cool that they gave Garth Brooks a few at-bats at the very end of the season. The team's CUMULATIVE WAR is 19.3.

David Raposa: To be fair to them, that's more than two Mike Trouts.

David Roth: Also Beltre and Leonys Martin are responsible for 12.6 of that. I do not understand.

David Raposa: Leonys Martin's 701 OPS actually translates to a 97 OPS+? That's some "28 HRs leads the league" bullshit. Sweet Christ, bring back the PEDs and snake oil and power bracelets and blood sacrifice already.

David Roth: "Legalize drugs and murder." – Allen H. "Bud" Selig

David Roth: Or bring back Incaviglia, SOMETHING.

David Raposa: Maybe that's why I was so meh on the season. I've been checked out since about early August, if not before that.

David Raposa: I don't need games to be home run derbies or classic River-Kwai-ian Red Sox/Yankees epics to hold my attention. But the entire sport, on every level, seems to be doubling down on some regressive bullshit, like the never-ending "clean up the game" campaign and doing things "the right way" and "respecting tradition" and "unwritten rules" and I don't even know what else. Even when a beautiful, indefatigable thing like Yasiel Puig gets dropped in MLB's lap, the powers-that-be (and their water carriers) try to smother it or bend it to their change-fearing will.

David Roth: I'm definitely ready for some new arguments. The self-policing is the most annoying to me, the rise and deference to this dour Man Code. You are allowed to have a beard, but not allowed to smile if you hit a double. Respect the game, don't ruin it for everyone by appearing to enjoy it.

David Raposa: I'm waiting for someone in the Commissioner's office to suggest legislating bat flips. If Luis Valbuena wants to ejector-seat his Louisville Slugger after dumping a single into short RF, that's his prerogative. It's stupid, but it's the kind of stupid that's lacking in the sport. And if the mud-stuck spittoon-rattling nonsene is going to linger—hello there, ex-Arizona Diamondbacks—then it needs to be neutralized with something enjoyably stupid.

David Roth: I think everyone is sort of waiting for the team that claps and dances too much.

David Raposa: Rest in unemployment, Ron Washington. Your caffeine-withdrawal jogging-in-place antics will be missed. (Your in-game "strategies," not so much.)

David Roth: So is there a fun team in the playoffs?

David Raposa: I'm not sure there's a fun player in the playoffs for the AL, aside from Trout. (NB: I might be taking Miguel Cabrera's unfailing excellence for granted.)

David Roth: You need to try to get more out of the Steve Pearce Era.

David Raposa: Quad-A sluggers making like All-Stars for half a season are the oldest inefficiency. (Moneyball jokes, on the other hand, are just plain old.)

David Roth: It's kind of amazing how every white American baseball player looks more or less like every other white American baseball player.

David Raposa: Caucasians be similar.

David Roth: You've got Jayson Werth on the werewolf speed dealer end of the spectrum, and... I don't know that there's another pole. It's mostly a question of how what kind of jerky the dudes have in their beards.

David Raposa: And what color their chaw turns their tongue. It's all about pedigree in the baseball bro world.

David Roth: I guess given that most baseball players being from the same three regions of the country would naturally converge on this. But it does sell short the rich and natural variegation of bro types across this great land.

David Raposa: What other bro types are there? Are you talking Winklevoss-looking hedge-funding sweater racks? Or (God help us) nerds?

David Roth: The A's do have some unconventional bros. Sogard looks kind of like me, so he's like the Handsome Urbane Literary Ladykiller kind. Craig Gentry looks kind of like a kitten, as has been noted.

David Raposa: Sogard's trying to bring back that Chris Sabo/Kurt Rambis flash, right?

David Roth: Huge endorsement deal with Warby Parker.

David Raposa: The eye's have it (good, with Warby Parker. Check out the new vintage sunglasses collection, now featuring the Balfour and Dyson frames.)

David Roth: /Everyone retires simultaneously

David Raposa: See you in five years, Cooperstown.

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