V Vernacular

06/30/2007 (9:34 am)

Good Old Days

Filed under: Videos

I wish I could have seen these films; they sound really funny and interesting. Two things about that article bothered me, though:

“I think the money has changed a lot, and I think that’s reflected in these films,” Filipi said. “Everything just seemed slower back then, and people took the time to appreciate more. It seemed like players really appreciated the ability to be a Major League Baseball player back then, even though they weren’t making that much more than the average person.”

Yeah, you know one thing that has changed about baseball and money? The owners don’t totally screw the players over anymore. Ballplayers make a lot of money because a lot of people pay to attend games, buy merchandise, etc. I’d rather have the players become ridiculously rich along with the owners, if someone’s going to be ridiculously rich either way. And what the hell does “everything just seemed slower back then” mean?

This killed me even more, though:

As usual, the player that drew the most laughs from the audience was none other than Yogi Berra, who was shown having a heart-to-heart conversation with a cat in the early 1960s. The commercial was an advertisement for Puss’n Boots cat food, and found Berra watching in awe as his feline counterpart demonstrated its athletic abilities as part of a gymnastics routine.

“There were great characters back then,” Filipi said of Berra. “It seems like there aren’t characters anymore. Everyone is so conscious of their image [today] that no one would really allow themselves to be put in a position like that.”

Mr. Filipi doesn’t think there are characters in baseball anymore?! Watch about five Braves games and then get back to me, pal. Not to mention villains like Bonds, psychos like Ozzie Guillen, and unclassifiables like Manny Ramirez — dude has his own brand of wine called Manny Being Merlot. The fact that these guys are so obsessed with their images makes them every bit as hilarious as Berra, we’re just laughing at them, not with them. Is he kidding me with “no one would really allow themselves to be put in a position like that”? Sir, may I introduce you to one of the thousands of insultingly stupid commercials Jeter and A-Rod have done during their careers?

The most embarrassingly awkward commercial I’ve ever seen was Ho-Ram’s Texas Pete hot sauce commercial that ran last season. He didn’t have a bunch of cute, needy children with him like Huddy does in this year’s version — it was just Ho-Ram and a dancing bottle of hot sauce. Maybe I’ll see it again someday, in a film preservation society’s collection of videos . . . when I’m 80 years old and bitching about how billionaire robots have completely ruined baseball.

06/11/2007 (10:18 am)

Owl On The Field!

Filed under: Videos

Apparently a recent soccer game between Finland and Belgium was held up for six minutes by an owl who decided to hang out on the field for awhile. There has got to be someone out there who remembers the time this happened at a Braves game. In fact, the owl in this video clip actually looks exactly like the owl I remember landing in right field and delaying our game for about twenty minutes. I would say “maybe it’s the same owl, traveling the world and disrupting sports wherever he can,” but the owl who landed in Turner Field (I think it was Turner. May have been Fulton — I can’t remember what year it happened, but I was pretty young) wasn’t as jaunty and relaxed as this European owl.

The owl who interrupted the Braves game landed out there and just froze. I guess he was scared, because he would not fly away. The grounds crew milled around him for quite awhile, scratching their heads, and finally got him in a grass bag and carried him away. I remember feeling bad for the poor guy. I wonder why he swooped down onto the field in the first place — did he think the Lemmer was a mouse or something?

Only an owl landing on the field could have made that Cubs series any crazier . . .

04/27/2007 (1:07 pm)

Smoltzy’s Here to Stay

Filed under: Frenchy,Marketing,Smoltz,Videos

The news that Smoltz signed a contract extension is not exactly surprising, but it’s definitely a comfort. I really admire him for staying with one team throughout his entire career, and I admire the Braves for being the type of organization that makes players want to stay. I hope it starts happening more often. Smoltzy’s final contract makes me wonder why he stayed while Maddux and Glavine didn’t. Did the move to the bullpen have something to do with it? Was it just a money thing for Glavine, just a Cubs thing for Maddux? Why don’t more players stay loyal to teams who treat them well? Money, obviously, but is there anything major league baseball could do to change that, and should they even want to?

There was a post about this in Alyssa Milano’s baseball blog recently (shut up, it was linked from Fire Joe Morgan). She talks specifically about how losing a free agent to another team can hurt a team’s female fan base. Are women that much more player-oriented? I hate to make a blanket statement, but a lot of the female fans I’ve encountered do seem to get more attached to specific players than male fans do. I personally became a baseball fan by watching my brother’s little league games, and grew up caring more about those games than major league baseball, though I followed that, too. I learned about and came to love the game while watching people I cared about playing it, so I’ve always needed to be invested in players’ personal struggles and victories in order to really care about a team.

Seeing free agents leave teams has affected my interest in the past. Maddux was the one who really killed me. I didn’t watch much baseball in 2004 or most of 2005, but it wasn’t some conscious decision I made out of anger, I just lost that obsessive interest I’d once had. I continued to follow the Braves casually, and didn’t really get back into it until the end of 2005 when the Heap and Frenchy era began. My loyalty has really always been to teams first, though I do get wistful when I hear the names of guys who’ve left the Braves mentioned. And there are some players I’ve always liked regardless of team; I still love Moises Alou, even as a Met, though I can’t really root for him anymore. It’s complicated.

Milano wonders if less free agent team-jumping would bring in more female fans. I’m not sure, but I do think women approach the game differently as fans. If something (God forbid) happened to Heap (GOD FORBID) and Salty came up in his place and was amazing . . . I’d still be heartbroken as all hell. Guys might feel bad for him, but would it really bother them to see a favorite player replaced by someone who ends up being just as good?

The difference with losing someone I liked to free agency would be that I’d initially be a little pissed. I think both male and female fans would eventually say “to hell with him” if a player abandoned their team for more money. If Andruw leaves, he will basically become what Maddux has become for me now: someone I once really liked (though I never liked Andruw as well as Maddux, sorry, Druwski) who I will still be glad to see doing well if I hear his name on Sportscenter, but I won’t search for news about him or really care all that much. I won’t be hateful — it’s fine, it’s part of the business — but I won’t respect him as much as Smoltz, who stayed. I expect male and female fans would have identical reactions to a free agent leaving: brief annoyance followed by hopes that we can find someone good to replace him.

Anyway, just in case your Friday afternoon hasn’t been weird enough, please enjoy a video of Frenchy speaking to a church group (thanks to Leah for the link). Doesn’t sound all that weird? Well, he’s also pacing furiously and talking fast enough to be almost incomprehensible, though he does talk about the dangers of looking at “pictures that aren’t right” at one point. Also, the stage he’s on is taken like, directly from the set of Saved!, and I was so waiting for him to pick up one of the many guitars lying around and start rocking out. Maybe next time.

04/25/2007 (7:56 am)

Quotable

Filed under: Bobby,Frenchy,Heap,Redman,Videos

This is probably obvious, but I’m ridiculously fond of ballplayers’ quotes in throwaway articles about their performances. The whole exercise is a little insane when you really think about it, and reminds me of an old episode of Dr. Katz where a Conan O’Brien-type late night host is interviewing a model and says, “So, you’re very beautiful. How do you do that?” Post-game interviews aren’t quite that absurd, but they’re always funny, and can be a little excruciating when players have to come up with an explanation for a horrible game. I can’t fault the players for offering stupid sound bytes, or the beat reporters for collecting them, because as a fan I certainly look forward to them. Last night’s crop was rather excellent:

“Geesh … whiz … I don’t know what to tell you,” Cox said, trying to find words to evaluate Redman’s performance. “Balls were hit hard. He’s got to get inside [with pitches] more. … I still have confidence in him.”

I like how Dave included that “sh” to save Bobby the humiliation of a literal “gee whiz,” and yet, with the “geesh,” does the “whiz” really make sense? Anyway, “balls were hit hard” is a great response to a horrible outing for a starter, and Bobby is so good about sticking up for his guys in the press, even when you know he’s giving them hell in the clubhouse.

“Some nights you’re going to have pitching, some nights you’re going to have hitting,” said catcher Brian McCann, whose sacrifice fly in the sixth provided a 7-6 lead the Braves wouldn’t relinquish. “Tonight we scored a lot of runs.”

Heap usually sticks with the obvious. Good strategy. Sometimes there is pitching, sometimes there is hitting, sometimes you score runs. You can just picture Heap smiling politely and walking away during these quotes.

Redman has faced the Marlins twice in 12 days — and given up 13 runs and 13 hits in 5-2/3 innings. “They have my number,” he said.

Well, yeah. Who doesn’t? I think someone in major league baseball has been writing your number on bathroom stalls, Redman.

Speaking of ballplayers and the press: just in case I’m not the only one who is fascinated by lengthy Christian media interviews with Frenchy, here’s a good one. This is the second one I’ve seen where he tells the interviewer that his biggest temptation as a professional athlete is cursing. Oh, Frenchy. You’re so good at this it’s scary. Though actually, while his solo interviews are charming works of art, if you’ve ever seen him interviewed alongside Heap (hopefully everyone saw the Katy Temple one last year, with the nachos and the cheese fries? If not, I’ve got it transcribed and can post a link), he becomes a hyperactive five year old and interrupts everyone constantly. Which is also charming, in a way.

How predictable was Chip’s mention that Frenchy got advice from Heap in the batting cage just before he went on his four hit tear on Monday? You tell him, Heap. Keep him in line! And please work on Diaz while you’re at it.

04/05/2007 (8:06 am)

Let the Wacky Races Begin!

Every now and then, the Braves play a game that comes off looking like an episode of the Wacky Races. A Wacky Races game necessarily involves extra innings, some combination of weird errors and amazing plays, and fans acting like morons. Usually, it also involves the Cubs. Like that game last year, where we hit nine homers in twelve innings, Reitsma gave up about eighty runs at some point, a crazed Cubs fan ran onto the field and got tackled, and we ended up winning because of a Cubs error that involved a ball bouncing off an infielder’s head. This was also the game where Reitsma ate part of a towel in the dugout.

So anyway, that game, last night? I can’t believe we’re pulling out the Wacky Races shit this early in the season, I love it! Not only was game play weird, there was a ton of crazy crap going on all night.

At first, it was just a great pitching duel. I hate Cole Hamels, but I have to admit he looked good, and Huddy! Where have you been all my life? But there were little pockets of weirdness even early on. I was listening to the audio from the radio, so I didn’t hear the explanation for this if there was one, but just WHAT was Chuckie doing with those cups of coffee?? Cause he certainly wasn’t drinking them, though he looked like he might have had about eight cups before the game. He was pretty constantly jumping, when he wasn’t mysteriously pouring coffee back and forth between two cups. And Heap calling time for his eyedrops was pretty bizarre, too, though I sympathize with him. My contacts drive me crazy on a regular basis, and I don’t go to work in a huge bowl of dust and dirt every day.

Is is just me, or is Chipper stepping up to coach our relief staff while McDowell naps in the dugout? He again came over to give Gonzo advice during that crazy ass 8th inning. I was starting to think Heap and Gonzo were intentionally acting like they were out of their minds to scare the hitters (it didn’t work, but the runners may have been affected). Heap chucked the ball into center while trying to throw out a runner, and Gonzo was pacing all over the field, muttering to himself. But of course, the inning ended pretty memorably, cause he wouldn’t be Heap if he didn’t instantly redeem himself, and the Frenchy-Kelly-Heap tag at the plate was just lovely.

And speaking of Pitching Coach Chipper Jones, when Chipper snuck up behind Wicky and scared the shit out of him??! Yeah, I haven’t laughed that hard in awhile, though I was also laughing hysterically after Heap’s ninth inning home run. I don’t know, there was just no way Heap was going to hit a two-run homer off of Gordon on the first pitch, but then he did, it was funny.

Of course, the Philly fans, in their typical classy fashion, immediately began throwing “debris” onto the field after Heap’s homer. And the Sports South broadcast replayed the little dip thing that Heap does with Andruw now (you’ll know if/when you’ve seen it, it’s dorky) almost as many times as they replayed him tagging Howard out at the plate.

The Philly fans were really giving Frenchy hell over there in the corner, and I hope I’m not the only one who caught the psycho-killer grins he gave them. Only Frenchy punching a drunken Philly fan in the face could have made this game more wacky. If only they let ballplayers get away with that kind of thing, I’m pretty sure he would have been up for it.

Anyway, it was a really fun, satisfying win, with Thor as the 11th inning hero. If this is the way the games are going to go this season, bring it the hell on. I’m starting to think the whole season is going to be one long Wacky Race.

On a slightly different note, thanks to reader Daniel for directing my attention to this amusing video of Andruw drinking whynatte (coffee and Jagermeister). And speaking of coffee, seriously, someone explain what was up with Chuckie and that coffee. I wouldn’t be too surprised if Jagermeister was involved somehow.

03/12/2007 (7:22 pm)

“They Seem Like They’re Annoyed”

Filed under: Chipper,Davies,Heap,Preseason,Videos

We lost to the Cardinals today, but Smoltz was great, Heap went 2-3, and Chipper’s injury sounds pretty minor. Yates somehow managed to give up a home run to Rick Ankiel, of all people, which is probably not a good sign. Frenchy is continuing to hit pretty consistently in these spring training games (he got a couple of hits today), and hopefully he’ll keep it up. We beat the Cards yesterday: Davies fooled around out there with quite a few walks, but ultimately didn’t give up any runs, and Gonzo was again underwhelming, but I’m not too worried about him.

I found this Topps trading card video with some pretty funny interviews of Braves players. You get to hear Moylan’s accent, and Diaz is wonderfully dweeby as usual. McBride’s voice kind of shocked me — I didn’t expect him to actually sound like a grown man. I love the photographer they interview at the end, who says players “seem like they’re annoyed” when they get dragged in to have their picture taken. That kind of honesty is rare in major league baseball.

03/01/2007 (5:16 pm)

The Rise of the Silver Catcher

It’s promotion schedule time! This year it’s mostly the old standards — a night where you can win the game worn jerseys (tastefully abbreviated as JOOB on the schedule), t-shirt giveaways, bat nights, hat nights, and plenty of kids running the bases all summer long. They also offer a sneak preview of the Heap statue they’ll be giving out on July 19:

I guess it’s silver because he got the Silver Slugger last year? Either way, the likeness is astounding.

More than any of these other giveaways and special events, everyone must make sure to mark their calendars for the September 9th game against the Nationals, when the Braves will have Bark in the Park (one of TWO Barks scheduled in the Park this season!), Pet Calendar Night (if you don’t have the 06-07 calender that features Rent staring lovingly at his goldfish, “Little Edgar,” you’re really missing the hell out) AND Girl Scout Night. I know, you’re thinking, Girl Scout Night? What’s the big deal? Well, last year we happened to show up on one of the Girl Scout days, and they had five hundred little girls parading around the field with their mothers before the game, and who had to walk out into right field to practice throwing with the starting pitcher while all of this was going on? Why, Heap, of course! He looked like he was afraid he was hallucinating. Then a rogue mom broke away from the crowd and ran to him before the security people could stop her, got his autograph and ran back, dragging her poor daughter with her. It was fantastic.

I listened to most of the game against the Dodgers on MLB radio today. All good news: we won 7-2, Davies had a good mini-start. Brayan Pena and Thor both benefited from really hustling down to first, beating out tags that would have been made easily if they hadn’t. Corky Miller, Escobar, Salty and Frenchy had some of the more memorable hits, and Paronto and Yates were fine to close it out. On the Dodgers side, Betemit was making errors all over the place, and LaRoche’s ridiculously good looking younger brother played a little third base.

A few pictures from the two games played so far

Am I the only person who can’t get enough awkward videos of Heap signing stuff for people? Probably, but do enjoy the above if you’re so inclined. I particularly like the part where Heap picks up that guy’s used tissue and inspects it curiously, and I love how the kid immediately sniffs the card after Heap signs it (for authenticity purposes?), then accuses him of signing it with glue.

02/10/2007 (12:46 pm)

A Few Videos

So, I was planning on posting this lengthy video interview with Smoltz and Francoeur before I heard about Smoltz’s divorce last night, but it’s kind of interesting to look at it now in light of that. The interview was done at a Baptist church in Augusta back in November. It’s about forty-five minutes long and pretty good, about 50% Christian testimony and 50% baseball.

Smoltz comes off as quite intense but not too preachy, and actually pretty funny – I liked the joke about his family being atheists, which no one in the church laughed at! Frenchy of course is all sincere and adorable. I’ve never seen him look so nervous and fidgety before an interview, though.

A few of the more interesting bits:

-Frenchy quit baseball when he was 12 to play golf for a year! But I thought that was the year he met Heap?

-There’s a pretty good anecdote about the day of the draft, when Frenchy was watching it live with his family and waiting to see who would pick him, and right when the Royals’ turn came his phone rang and they all freaked, but it was his brother.

-Frenchy talks about how his first major league hit, a three run homer, came on a 3-2 count and he almost pulled a hat trick, then says he’s “had a few of those since then” and gets this totally depressed look on his face for a moment, which makes me hope that maybe he’ll listen to people about looking at pitches? Maybe?

-The best part: Frenchy makes a comment about Smoltz taking him under his wing when he came up, and telling him “about everybody and certain guys and where [he] need[ed] to watch [his] back.” Whoa! Who’d he warn him about, I wonder? Hampton, definitely, but who else?!

I liked both of them better after seeing this video. Smoltz had always seemed a bit snobby to me, but he doesn’t really come off that way here (except for bragging about playing golf with Tiger Woods). He mentions that he and his wife were trying to open a Christian school in Atlanta (and had been since 2001, I think), so I imagine that must have been pretty stressful. I hope he won’t be too bummed out this season.

Anyway, on a much more cheerful note, please enjoy a video of Heap at Fan Fest, where he gets confused by someone who wants to shake his hand.

Not as awesome as the time he got confused by rally caps and had to have Hudson fix his for him, but as far as Heap getting confused by things on camera goes, it’s pretty good.