World Series time! Enjoy Premium-level access to most features through the end of the Series!
December 30, 2011
To Live and Die in Three Rivers Stadium, Or: The Face of Michael Cimino
Believe it or not, most of our writers didn't enter the world sporting an @baseballprospectus.com address; with a few exceptions, they started out somewhere else. In an effort to up your reading pleasure while tipping our caps to some of the most illuminating work being done elsewhere on the internet, we'll be yielding the stage once a week to the best and brightest baseball writers, researchers and thinkers from outside of the BP umbrella. If you'd like to nominate a guest contributor (including yourself), please drop us a line.
David Raposa writes about music for Pitchfork and other places. He used to write about baseball for the blog formerly known as Yard Work. He occasionally blogs for himself, and he also tweets way too much.
David Roth is an editor at The Classical, co-writes The Daily Fix blog-column at the Wall Street Journal, and writes "The Mercy Rule" column at Vice.com. He tweets, primarily about things he hates, @david_j_roth and almost never updates his blog.
David Roth: Unless a popular infielder gets busted for giving out memorabilia-packed post-coital swag bags, it's kind of difficult to talk baseball in December. All I've got right now is some irresponsible speculation about where Scott Hairston will wind up and some non-jokes about Andrew Bailey getting traded.
David Raposa: It is thoughtful of Billy Beane to get his name out there, what with the Moneyball Blu-Ray coming out soon. Circle two: What a [great/awful] trade for the [Red Sox/A's]!
David Roth: The best player in this deal is clearly ______ and [GM's name] will be very sad that he gave him up for a [closer/faintly toolsy outfield] prospect.
David Raposa: [CURRENT BASEBALL EXECUTIVE] is a [PROFANE ADJECTIVE] [MEXICAN FOOD ITEM] for trading such a young [ANIMAL] to the [CFL FRANCHISE].
David Roth: Even Ed Wade knows there's no way you trade that baby otter to the Calgary Stampede. Not after that winter league performance.
David Raposa: On the topic of hot stove league maneuvers: Are you concerned that Prince Fielder has not yet signed with a team? Or are you hoping the Wilpons are just rope-a-doping the world at-large and have a plan to sweep in with a multi-jillion-dollar deal for Prince while simultaneously turning Ike Davis into Pedro Martinez circa 2000?
David Roth: It's not about hoping, it's about knowing. The Wilpons are always playing the long game. But the long game they are playing is gin rummy, and they keep falling asleep while playing it and getting their pants and wallets stolen. They start out playing Monopoly and somehow wind up owing Alex Cora $6 million and the parking concession for CitiField.
David Raposa: It would be pretty great if it turns out that the Wilpons bought the Marlins to be their new Triple-A farm team, and that Jeffrey Loria is just a pustulent RealDoll (with miserly kung-fu grip).
David Roth: The Marlins are tough to accept as a real thing. They are The Real Housewives of Actual Baseball Teams. They undoubtedly have the tackiest and most air-conditioned living room of any big-league team, and they're always getting in Chardonnay-fueled arguments about who's "a fake person." They're not talking to the Nationals right now, because "you can't just say things like that about people behind their back and think it's not going to get back to them."
David Raposa: Well, after Albert Pujols turned down the rights to Key West to go play for a better team, Florida does have the GNP of the United Arab Emirates left to spend. And signing Reyes did negate the need to offer that 10-year, $145 million contract to Yuniesky Betancourt.
David Roth: Ah, Yuni. Easily my favorite offseason move, there, just in terms of sheer avant-garde prankishness. It's beautiful. I don't know what to compare it to. It's like if Madonna and Jose Canseco started dating again.
David Raposa: Only if they roleplay with Sean Penn, and Jose has to pretend he's a National Enquirer photographer.
David Raposa: If Moustakas and Hosmer and Gordon continue to develop, you know someone's going to give due props to the veteran leadership of Yuni and Bruce Chen. While Roger Angell composes sonnets to the healing powers of Jeff Francouer's jock strap.
David Roth: It does kind of put other offseason blooper deals in perspective.
David Raposa: The Pirates are paying Rod Barajas $4 million?
David Roth: They really laid out for a bunch of dudes who were on the waiver wire in my NL-only fantasy league this year. I want the Pirates to do well. The league is better when there's a team of sketchy-ish dudes from a central time zone city hanging around .500. Blowing into town, winning two of three, clogging some clubhouse drains and getting themselves banned from a TGI Friday's for totally justifiable reasons.
David Raposa: I kinda-sorta had faith that the new-ish Pirates stewardship would steer them in the right direction, but if they continue nickel-and-diming themselves to death with these bottom-feeder kinds of signings, I might have to start rooting for the Astros. And I don't want to waste these laminated backward Ks on Brett Myers.
David Roth: The skuzz-core, mustache-contest Brewers of the early 1980s would be my favorite team right now, easily. All those guys looking like they're trying to sell you something that is very clearly harmful at a Blue Öyster Cult concert.
David Raposa: In that light, the modern-day Pirates are the dudes at OAR shows that always kick the hackysack under that leaky VW van and try to sell you the same bag of oregano they offered 20 minutes ago.
David Roth: And I'm disappointed that they don't want to be more than that. Clint Barmes, come on. I think you mean Sal Fasano, guys. Go get some dudes who look like Sons of Anarchy extras, some real William Forsythe-looking motherfuckers, and start selling some t-shirts. When you're calling Rod Barajas's agent and being like "WHAT IS IT GOING TO TAKE TO GET THIS GUY IN OUR UNIFORM, AND ON BASE 22% OF THE TIME," you're doing it to yourself.
David Raposa: Yeah, if you reached that point, just collate a list of veteran catchers in Triple-A and throw some darts at it. At least suck with fresh blood, not stale bread.
David Roth: I liked them rolling the dice on Brandon Wood and Andy LaRoche and so on. It didn't work, because they're the Pirates and Brandon Wood and Andy LaRoche are Brandon Wood and Andy LaRoche, respectively. But it makes sense. Clint Barmes is, first and foremost, a guy who can give you good advice on ATVs. Do not make him more of a millionaire.
David Raposa: Exactly. For every handful of Andy LaRoches that turn out to be busts, there's a chance (albeit a slim one) of finding another Carlos Pena or David Ortiz. And if there's any team out there that should be dumpster-diving for lottery tickets, it's Pittsburgh. Maybe they are desperate for warm bodies, and maybe spending some money every year justifies their yearly revenue-sharing kickbacks, but a used scratch ticket and $5 million dollars will get you a worn-out Erik Bedard every single time.
David Roth: I guess if we're going to talk about Andy LaRoche, it's kind of natural to talk about the Hall of Fame. My argument for Brad Radke's Hall of Fame enshrinement is that his last name is cool and he gave up a home run to every active major leaguer in 2003.
David Raposa: If we are going to talk Hall of Fame, we need to at the very least mention Ken Davidoff's absurdly reasonable take on the "steroid era" and such. Or we can talk about the Colorado writer that gave Vinny Castilla a pity vote.
David Roth: Is Davidoff refusing to vote for anyone with more muscle tone than Greg Maddux? "Push-ups are a performance-enhancing drug, too, although they are not actually a drug. You know Tony Lazzeri wasn't doing that!"
David Raposa: No, I actually meant “absurdly reasonable!” To quote (liberally): "I think the Hall of Fame ballot is about something else. It’s about judging a player’s performance against his contemporaries, and it’s about considering and understanding the times in which they played. Like it or not, the times in which all players played were quite imperfect. They probably are now, too. It’s life. We’re human. Better to deal with the known, in my estimation, than to rail against the unknown."
David Roth: That actually is absurdly reasonable. And I usually like Davidoff, too, so I shouldn't have assumed the worst. I'm just so used to dudes being like "No way Bagwell grows that goatee without HGH, are you kidding? DO YOU ALSO STILL BELIEVE IN SANTA CLAUS AND F.P. SANTANGELO?"
David Raposa: I'd go and find someone still riding that sexy “OMG STEROIDS ARE THE DEVIL” horse, but it's the same old drill, so please allow me to approximate. "I would never let Rafael Palmeiro babysit my children because of the chemicals he put in a needle that he then put in his butt."
David Roth: "Some people ask me why Jeff Blauser was the only person on my Hall of Fame ballot this year. To those people I say: I have seen Jeff Blauser with his shirt off, and he's clean, which makes him a hero on the order of Martin Luther King in this day and age."
David Raposa: "Because of the taxpayer dollars spent to prove that Barry Bonds equivocated on the stand during a federal grand jury investigation, the Iraq War ended three years late, and people died. Barry Bonds is a freedom-hating murderer."
David Raposa: Granted, people adopting Davidoff's mindset wouldn't keep certain curmudgeons from not voting for Rickey Henderson, but more voters with this mindset might restore my faith in democracy. Assuming Bill Plaschke feels the same way about ANWR as I do.
David Roth: I think you're both exactly as dedicated to energy independence. One of the many things you guys have in common.
David Raposa: I, too, would donate reproductive body parts for a walk-on role in a Michael Mann film.
David Roth: I wish William Friedkin would make a gritty, rainy-looking movie about the greenie-soaked MLB clubhouses of the 1970s. Gene Hackman wearing a hat and a cheap suit with Sanka stains on it. Interrogating Bake McBride about something.
David Raposa: To Live and Die in Three Rivers Stadium.
David Roth: Roy Schneider is miscast as John Candelaria, but does his best.
David Raposa: John Cazale would be a brilliant Kent Tekulve.
David Roth: Doomed, vulnerable, wearing sunglasses in the shower. It is good casting. There'd be a dangerous-seeming chase scene with bullpen golf carts. And in the end Dave Kingman somehow gets away with it, because that's the way it works in the big city.
David Raposa: I like movies that make you think while making you side against Dave Kingman. And it's a good thing you picked Billy Friedkin; imagine the budget if Cimino was behind the camera? While I'd love to see a Russian Roulette sequence featuring Bert Blyleven in his “I [HEART] TO FART” tee, I would also like to not cause a double-dip recession in the process.
David Roth: Harmon Killebrew yelling things at him in Vietnamese. It would be harrowing, but not as harrowing as photos of Michael Cimino himself. He looks like Linda Hunt playing David Bowie.
David Raposa: Wow—he should really give Phil Spector his belt-sander back. In his prime, he was like a beefier John Sayles; now, he looks like Yoko Ono.
David Roth: He really does. Mickey Rourke is not the strangest and most artificial-looking person in this photo, somehow.
David Raposa: So it is obvious that we're talking about '70s directors and the Hall of Fame because we're afraid to say anything about modern-day baseball, right?
David Roth: I'm personally afraid that I might praise someone who later turned out to be using performance enhancers.
David Raposa: I mean, yes, I'm pretty sure Kevin Appier is still on the Royals, and Pascual Perez is due to make a comeback any day now, but does that really invalidate my thoughts on the Mike Moore contract? I mean Matt Moore?
David Roth: Not to me it doesn't. And anyway, it's very cold outside. The only stuff we have left to talk about are chase scenes from the Gerald Ford administration and questionable medical treatments.
David Raposa: Like A-Rod and his blood transfusion black magic?
David Roth: I want to know more about that. I have only seen the headlines. But he actually got himself turned into a centaur, right?
David Raposa: It's like The Boys From Brazil, but in reverse, and in stirrups. Essentially, he and Kobe Bryant escaped to the depths of East Germany to have Ilsa, She-Wolf of the SS inject them with a serum made from a mixture of their blood, the ashes of Aleister Crowley, and an Anna Benson breast implant. Hail Satan, and pass the sunflower seeds, etc.
David Roth: Part of me feels bad, as an American, that we are no longer leading the world in sketchy, very expensive treatments for athletes. Restore the pride, Rick Santorum. We need to lead the world in "pancreatic fenestration" again! Also we need to lead the world in The Family.
David Raposa: Our surgical sketchiness is reserved only for the cream of Hollywood's crop. And also the director of The Sicilian.