Yakkin' About Baseball: Unwinding The Phil Plantier Position

Spring Training, when fans' minds turn to... pretty much whatever, honestly.
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Excuse me, sir, but have you seen Bobby Valentine anywhere?

Image via Metsblog.com.

David Roth: Funny seeing you here, because I was actually already thinking about baseball. I was thinking about how unusual it was that Ike Davis would contract Valley Fever on Florida's Treasure Coast. All the diseases you can get in Florida, from alligout—a type of gout you get from eating "swamp steaks" too often—to Hepatitis F, and he somehow got that. The Mets are amazing.

David Raposa: Well, it is the Mets' medical staff. I'm waiting for Jose Reyes to admit that he didn't resign with the Mets because he got sick of the trainer asking him about his yellow bile.

David Roth: "Take this vaccine, Ike. We made it in the sad mini coffee pot in our room at the Radisson."

David Raposa: MEANWHILE... "PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla.—While doctors believe Ike Davis has contracted Valley Fever, the New York Mets first baseman says he is not suffering any symptoms of the disease."

David Roth: Sadly, one of the biggest symptoms of Valley Fever is denying that you have Valley Fever.

David Raposa: I am Ike Davis' inability to self-diagnose.

David Roth: Quoting, again: "I feel great," Davis said. "And I don't have any symptoms of it. I'm not throwing up blood. It's not even hard to breathe." HE IS NOT THROWING UP BLOOD. So everyone please chill the fuck out.

David Roth: I'm worried that I've got Dave Valle Fever. I black out and find myself walking around the neighborhood in a chest protector and eye black, demanding that people run into me. No idea how I got it.

David Raposa: The only cure for that is more classic Mariners promos. And maybe less exposure to Mike Blowers.

David Roth: I wish the Blowers thing was even an option. But Valley Fever sounds terrible. And I guess I now know how Ike got it, given that he lives in Arizona during the offseason and Valley Fever apparently just lives in the dirt there. It's kicked up from the soil and then you inhale it and then you get exhausted and throw up blood and blame "illegals" for all the aforementioned. Also you are required by law to wear a sidearm in the shower. Anyway, you should definitely retire to Arizona, it's very dry and pleasant except for the terrifying secret fevers that live in the earth. Hold on, Arizona Tourism Board is on the phone offering me a job. I have to take this.

David Raposa: God damn those illegals, with their adobe architecture, and their spicy sausages, and their airborne fungi.

David Roth: Replace them with indigenous Arizonan culture. You know, breaking into pharmacies in search of Benzos and making a scene at Carl's Jr., Home of the Fuckburger. The one burger to have, when you're later going to hate yourself for considering masturbating to the director's cut of an advertisement for that very same burger.

David Raposa: "Carl's Jr. It's as American as a sweaty Kate Upton lasciviously engulfing a mound of cheese and salmonella." Then cut to Jan Brewer, giving a thumbs-up while racking a shotgun one-handed.

David Roth: We are both getting so rich. I went to a few Carl's Jr.'s when I was in school, and they were nearly as scary as Arizona itself. The lighting alone... it was like if there was a rest stop in Seven, and then there was a bathroom in that rest stop. And something terrible happened in that bathroom.

David Raposa: I'm guessing you haven't seen the movie Rest Stop? It's exactly like what you described, except with a mentally retarded child and Joey Lawrence.

David Roth: I haven't, although that last bit seems redundant. But what you're describing is the dining area at the Carl's Jr. in Upland, California. At least the burger was strictly room temp. I didn't burn my mouth, which was great.

David Raposa: Oh, you got it "medium armpit." That's what you get for not knowing the Carl's Jr. Secret Ordering Options. "Gimme a boner burger with pubes, extra fingering, hold the Sanchez. I don't want it crotch hot, but I don't want it ass-warm, either."

David Roth: "It's okay, sir, we have anticipated your needs. Also we're out of tomatoes and lettuce, so are you okay with triple raw onions? Sorry, that wasn't really a question. This awful burger is covered with thick slices of onion."

David Roth: Wow, I can't be the only one getting super hungry right now!

David Raposa: I am suddenly recalling some exceptionally heinous nachos at a New Britain Rock Cats game a while back.

David Roth: Industrial-accident beef on top, I'm sure.

David Raposa: I don't think there was any meat or meatish filler. It was just particle-board corn chips and some yellow sealant. My stomach received quite the shellacking that day. All that said, barring a catastrophe, I will be attending the Red Sox home opener! Against Tampa Bay! So I am looking forward to stuffing my face at a Remy-affiliated eatery prior to the game, and spending the actual game farting on the feet of those sitting behind me.

David Roth: Will you be cheering for both teams?

David Raposa: I will be cheering for quality baseball, because I'm a equivocating sumbitch. I will also be rooting for anyone unlucky enough to end up on my fantasy team. As well as for the return of Bobby V's spirit gum 'stache.

David Roth: I'm kind of excited for Valentine up there. I know that he is probably not a nice guy in a lot of ways. I know that he probably did not really invent the wrap-style sandwich. But baseball is much more fun with him in it.

David Raposa: Is it too early to suggest that Bobby V is the TLR it's okay to like?

David Roth: I like him, but I don't know if that's okay. The thing I get with Bobby, first and foremost, is tremendous vanity. Which is fine, because it's up front and he's not trying to act un-vain.

David Raposa: He's a good looking dude, especially given his age and the sport in question. If you're as old as he is, and you can rock the manager's uni without looking like Earl Weaver, you deserve to preen a little. What do you think of his trolling technique so far?

David Roth: Beyond the wrap thing, which he's clearly doing to piss off Hank Steinbrenner?

David Raposa: Well, for one, he thinks the Yankees offseason additions are "probably" an upgrade.

David Roth: He's Underminer-ing it. "Oh wow, Michael Pineda! That's exciting for you, a fresh start. I think it's silly what everyone said about his second half last year. I'm sure he'll figure it out eventually."

David Raposa: He is eating the Yankees' mind grapes with some fava beans and horseradish mayo in a spinach wrap that he invented and also made from scratch.

David Roth: "I think it's really big of you, sticking with that bullpen the way you are. That's so mature. You never would've done that a few years ago, when you were so demanding and all about winning."

David Raposa: He has also questioned the awesomeness of the Jeter Flip, to the point that Jeter was actually asked about it.

David Raposa: "We'll never practice that," Valentine said. "And I think (Jeter) was out of position and I think the ball gets (Giambi) out if he doesn't touch it, personally"

David Roth: So Bobby V, and so the sort of thing that'll get Yankee fans on some huffy HOW DARE YOU SIR SCOTT BROSIUS IS A CHAMPION shit.

David Raposa: Anything to reignite a rivalry that doesn't need re-ignition so much as to just lay fallow for a couple of generations.

David Roth: Have you watched any Spring Training games yet? I saw the end of a Mets game recently in which two separate Mets were wearing the number 87, and the Cardinals sent a guy to the plate in a jersey without a name on the back, and a helmet without a logo. It was like one of those unlicensed cards from the bottom of a Raisin Bran box came to life. The whole game was airbrushed, basically. The player of the game was Outfielder Blue and Orange.

David Raposa: I've not yet seen much game play, though your descriptions of logo-free helmets and wide-receiver-numbered jerseys are getting me pumped up.

David Roth: I remember watching a Mets game a few years back where there were windsprints going on in the outfield. Which was amazing. It's really hard to concentrate on anything when Robinson Cancel is hauling his RBI Baseball body through a 50-yard sprint somewhere on your screen.

David Raposa: A friend of mine gave me shit for almost ten years running because of a time I actually flipped from a Final Four game to catch some Spring Training baseball. But there's just something about the janky camera work and lack of crowd noise &andthe propeller planes flying overhead and clearly hearing the hot dog vendor that's just so comforting. Also, I'm pretty sure I flipped just before Billy Packer started in on why college kids don't know how to tie their shoes the right way, so I don't know what the hell my friend was bitching about.

David Roth: Yeah, you definitely do not need to worry about that when you're watching some Double-A dude face Eugenio Velez in front of 300 people. Obviously October baseball is great and I love it. I love all-months baseball, and am as such not an accurate measuring stick for any of this. But the slackness and nonexistent stakes of spring training stuff just really hits me right. It makes me want to go play baseball more than anything else.

David Raposa: Me too.

David Roth: The fun of being out there, sort of giving a shit, and waiting for something to happen—which is the fun of actually playing baseball—is so present.

David Raposa: I'm also partial to the announcers being in Tommy Bahama mode: butchering rookie's names, taking at-bat-long siestas, and just letting it all hang out. The only thing that could make Spring Training games greater is if they played with beer league rules.

David Roth: That'd be great. Adam Dunn insists on wearing shorts. CJ Wilson is pitching in Vans and an Earth Crisis t-shirt. A-Rod would still be in full uniform, but everyone would sort of make fun of him. Which is actually also regular rules, but you get it.

David Raposa: Really, I just want to see base coaches tapping a keg and pouring one for themselves while waving guys around third.

David Raposa: I actually wish regular season broadcasts felt more like Spring Training games, if that makes any sense. The more I see of the extreme close-ups of a pitcher's intense ear-hair, or some camera dude running alongside a home run trotter for that dramatic up-skirt angle of the guy touching home, the less endearing it becomes. And the manic CROWD-FACE-CROWD-FACE-CROWD-CROWD-DUGOUT cuts that have become de rigeur in close games drive me to watch CBS procedurals.

David Roth: I do like that the production teams are also playing their way into shape. Everything's sort of out of focus. Lots of shots of fat guys keeping score. Announcers burping on-air.

David Raposa: I saw some folks enjoying the schadenfreude of the recently convicted Lenny Dykstra being referring to as a "former Met."

David Roth: Oh, he just gets Mets-ier with every felony charge. I hope we both live long enough to see him on A&E's "Storage Wars." Darrell Sheets, from "Storage Wars," has a great baseball name. And he does have a sort of Larry Sheets-y vibe about him, albeit inna Inland Empire stylee. The sad region, not the David Lynch movie.

David Raposa: If "Storage Wars" featured Grace Zabriskie talking pretentious nonsense in a nigh-indecipherable accent every episode, that'd be Must See TV.

David Raposa: Wow, Darrell Sheets looks like Rob Dibble's spirit animal. Or the country mouse to Guy Fieri's Dixie-Mafia mouse.

David Roth: He really is like a ne'er-do-well Fieri. It's always good on that show when they turn up a treasure trove of baseball cards, because it really drives home how much stuff is over-valued. Some dude being like "Rod Carew, very popular. That's a $750 card." And it's some shitty Diamond King with an illustration that makes Carew look like Rog from "What's Happening!"

David Raposa: One of the more crushing blows to my childhood dreams was selling my meager card collection—99% late 80s/early 90s crap—for an amount I assume was less than what I actually paid for the packs and boxes. It was at a local card and comic book convention; I rented a table and everything. Sold all the cards in one fell swoop to some presumably cagey youngster. Given that this sale happened about 11-12 years ago, I'm hoping the kid parlayed that investment into a worthwhile degree at a prestigious learning institution. Or at least a couple of lap dances.

David Roth: I had the experience at home, fairly recently, of solemnly taking a bunch of Phil Plantier cards out of their hard plastic cases. Like, "I think we can unwind this particular position now."

David Raposa: But Ben McDonald might still happen! Keep hope alive!

David Roth: He is still tall.

David Raposa: You can't teach height. Or debilitating injuries.

David Roth: What was in the collection you sold? I had a long position on Plantier and, oddly, Chuck Knoblauch.

David Raposa: Definitely not the Ken Griffey Jr. rookie card I traded for a bunch of "long term investment" crap, a la your Plantier/Knoblauch lot, a few years prior. Todd Zeile's meh career kept me from buying a really sweet Chevette. Powder blue, minimal rust damage, intact windows, one working turn signal, reduced-power steering—that car would've changed my life.

David Roth: You blame Zeile for all your shortcomings. LET IT GO, MAN.

David Raposa: You let it go.

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