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To Bartolo Colon, On Your 44th Birthday

By: David G. Temple

Mr. Colon:

Wednesday — the day I am writing this — is your 44th birthday. I’m reminded of so many family members that shunned any birthday past the age of 40. I’d say that you are embracing it, but you have done nothing — at least in the public eye — but embrace every minute of your life since as long as we’ve known you. I’m not sure 44 means anything to you, but it apparently means something to us.

If I’m being totally honest, and I feel like I can considering all we’ve been through, I never quite got your appeal. Personally, I like the oddball stories. I like Rich Hill’s story or Rick Ankiel’s story or that of Christian Bethancourt. Your tale is really just that of a journeyman pitcher — one who has remained a starter through all these years, but a journeyman pitcher nonetheless. You’ve had some good seasons, you pitched for the Expos, and you stole a Cy Young from Johan Santana. These are the main bullet points on your CV. And yet, fans and social media seem to adore you. This is never quite something I understood until very recently.

You are old, Mr. Colon, and you’ve persevered to a point and I believe that is why everyone loves you. Forty-four is certainly not an old age for someone of your means, but it is considered an eternity for an athlete, especially someone who is called upon to move your arm in such unnatural ways every five days. You certainly had some injury concerns in your mid-30s, but have been a beacon of consistency in the last few years. I think that is what is so appealing. You picked a profession, stuck to it, and made it work — even as younger talent was threatening.

It seems crappy to treat you like a metaphor considering you are a human person, but I believe that’s what a lot of us see you as. You are a beacon of hope in a world that has seemingly turned against us. We are constantly bombarded by doubt and depression and an ever-eating feeling that whatever we’re doing isn’t the right thing to do. Our parents and our children and our Twitter accounts are constantly reminding us that we’re either screwing up or that whatever noble pursuit in which we are currently engaged isn’t enough. We need more or we should have less. We are in love, out of love, or pretending to love to avoid hurting others. Perhaps all three.

But you, Mr. Colon, you pitch and you smile and and you hit a single home run and everyone loses their minds. You are the future us and we are the past you. We can accomplish in our mid-40s. We don’t have your money but we can have your disposition. We can — and I hate saying this — swing for the fences regardless of age. You are old and you’re not terribly good at your job and that’s honestly all we can hope for at this point. Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos and Malala and Beyonce — these are our aspirations. You, Mr. Colon, are a slightly-enhanced version of our reality. I feel like I can speak for most of us when I say that we wish you luck in your future endeavours, and we hope that you can inspire our children and our children’s children to be slightly above mediocre. It’s honestly all we can ask for, in the end.

Yours,

David G. Temple


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Go Cubes Go

By: Rian Watt

We are only sold what we allow ourselves to buy.

There is a moment, about 30 seconds into the Bryzzo Souvenir Company’s recent “outtakes” video (you’re kidding yourself if you don’t think these “outtakes,” carefully edited and released online, are just as commercial as the commercials themselves), wherein Kris Bryant, towering over the off-white divider of a some nondescript cubicle, asks teammate Javy Baez, leaning against the same wall a few feet over, “how those TPS reports are coming.”

Baez, who like all big-leaguers has an uncommon ability to tune out all that does not demand his immediate focus and attention, barely moves a muscle while delivering the kicker: “What’s that?” Bryant cracks up immediately, and Anthony Rizzo—a third giant, hidden between them—echoes his answer. “Yeah, what is that?” A beat, then Bryant: “Yeah, I don’t know.” Laugh, and cut.

Most of us aren’t friends with big-leaguers. But most of us are familiar with cubicles, or at least familiar, through the Transitive Property of Memetic Symbols (a thing I just made up), with what cubicles are supposed to mean to us. Four decades after shots of manufacturing floors served the same purpose, cubicles in commercials are meant to stand in for the banality of our everyday lives, the kind of thing we experience everyday and escape from, in part, by watching baseball.

The Bryzzo Souvenir Company commercials (one above, two, and three) play off the symbol perfectly, allowing us to briefly imagine that these enormous, enormously wealthy men could be—or are—our friends and coworkers; that we share with them the same experiences of life; that their glories are our glories; and that all that separates us and our lives from them and theirs is the uniform they are for some reason wearing to the office today.

And there’s nothing wrong with that, or inconsistent with the commercials also being fun pieces of harmless entertainment. After all, we buy into sports teams because they allow us to share in their successes and failures, and reflect them onto ourselves, without the high stakes that our day-to-day life demands as a price of entry. The Bryzzo commercials do just the same, only without the bother of actually playing a full game of baseball as part of the package.

But the symbol cracks, a little bit, when Baez shrugs and admits ignorance of a TPS report, a reference he has no earthly reason to know or care about. It cracks further when Bryant and Rizzo do the same and look, smiling, towards the camera for guidance. Of course they don’t know what a TPS report is. That’s the joke. They are not like us, these brilliant ballplayers, despite their welcome presence in our lives, and the commercial is only selling us what we wanted to buy.


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How Edible Is My Hat?

By: Zack Moser

Last night, I was miffed at an interference call on a Jason Heyward swinging bunt. You see, Matt Moore fielded the ball and threw to first, but home plate umpire Jeff Nelson called him out on interference. I didn’t think that Nelson interpreted the rule correctly: Heyward ran as directly to the bag as possible, and he likely would have been safe anyway.

On Twitter, I expressed my displeasure thusly:

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Fellow Short Relief contributor Mary Craig thought that I might turn this promise into content, and I am not one to back down from such a juicy dare. And so, I present to you:

How edible is my hat?

Pittsburgh Pirates, pillbox: It ain’t a Primanti Bros., but it’s serviceable as far as hats go. The extra yellow lines that circle the cap look like the french fried inexplicably shoved into sandwiches, but don’t be confused. 5.5/10

Milwaukee Brewers, ball in glove: Great taste, but less filling than other hats. Would recommend a thirty-rack of these bad boys if you’re planning on a weekend of hat eating. 4/10

Minnesota Twins: The interlocking “T” and “C” are classic. They stand for “tasty” and “could you bring me another serving of this tasty hat please.” Wash it down with some warm milk. 7.6/10

Hillsboro Hops: Pour it into a tulip glass: trigger the juicy aroma! A nice straw color that almost tilts into orange. Mouthfeel is full-bodied but clean, unlike most hats. Opens with some light citrus notes, mostly grapefruit. The bitterness arrives soon after, reliably American hops. Little bit of piney resin in there, like Addison Russell grabbed it and tacked it up beforehand. 4.64/5

San Diego Padres, brown and mustard: This hat is both a hot dog and a sandwich. 10/10

Montreal Expos, white panel front: Tastes like poutine, tinged with regret. 8/10

Fresno Tacos: Despite its appealing name, this hat is inedible. Fibers get stuck in your teeth; there’s no nutritional value; you look really stupid while trying to chow down on it. Seriously, it’s a hat. Don’t eat it, dumbass. 0/10