Counterpoint: It Takes a Villain to Raise MLB

Mark, you sesame street watching, “we are the world” singing, triple ply with aloe softee.  Villains are a cornerstone of baseball. Some of the best players in history have been villains. Barry Bonds. Ty Cobb(at least according to Field of Dreams). Haywood from Major League.

Do you remember when Superman fought off the nice guy you were actually rooting for? Of course you donʼt…because Comic Books and movies need villains just like sports. How boring would Gotham be without villains?

I think the difference is, sports fans donʼt all have to agree on who or what the villain is.

To Tampa Bay Raysʼ fans, the Yankees and Red Sox are villains. Johnny Damon played for both the sox and the evil empire, and now heʼs our DH. Did we jump right in to that relationship and embrace him as one of our own or did we try to keep him away from us like we were Sarah Conner in Terminator 2? He looks like the same guy who was trying to kill us the last time he was around, and now heʼs trying to help us? Cue the Guns-n-Roses and letʼs run from this player, right? Nope. Heʼs no longer a villain, because he switched to the good side.

Tiger Woods. Brett Favre. Jordan. Eddie Martel, QB from “The Replacements”. The Iron Sheik. Ivan Drago. and now Lebron James who is one loss away from making tons of NBA fans extremely happy. (note…obviously since I wrote this he is now 0 losses away, and tons of NBA fans are extremely happy). Dallas jerseys sold in Cleveland this past week like Budweiser at a Nascar event. Lebron has proven to be as popular as a chaplain on a porno set. And you know whoʼs watching? Everyone.

People tune in for once in a lifetime talents whether theyʼre nice or not…but more people continue to watch when the guy is a d-bag. I hope Bryce Harper continues to blow kisses at pitchers and stare at his monster blasts, because that would mean heʼs still hitting monster blasts, and people will watch that hoping that heʼll be a good guy one day as well as being an incredible player. At the risk of making 2 references to the same movie…

People will watch, Mark. They’ll watch these games for reasons they can’t even fathom. They’ll rush in from their driveways, not knowing for sure why they’re doing it. They’ll turn on their tvʼs as innocent as children, longing for the past. “Of course, I won’t mind signing a baseball for you,” Bryce will say. “It’s only twenty dollars per person.” They’ll pass over the money without even thinking about it; for it is money they have and peace they lack. And they’ll walk out to the bleachers, and sit in shirt-sleeves on a perfect afternoon. They’ll find they have reserved seats somewhere along one of the baselines, where they sat when they were children and cheered their heroes. And they’ll watch the game, and it’ll be as if they’d dipped themselves in magic waters. The memories will be
so thick, they’ll have to brush them away from their faces. The one constant through all the years, Mark, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It’s been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt, and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game, is a part of our past, Mark. It reminds us of all that once was good, and it could be again. Ohhhhhhhh, people will watch, Mark. People will most
definitely watch.

Point-Counterpoint: Does Baseball need Bryce to be ‘Bron

Two days ago, in the face of kiss-gate, Jeff Passan wrote this column arguing that Bryce Harper turning villain would be good for baseball.

I take the point on this: Baseball doesn’t need gimmicks.

Brendan takes the counterpoint: LeBryce would be good for the game. (Due to technical difficulties, Brendan’s post might not be up until later. No, those technical difficulties are not manufactured because Brendan keeps getting the upper hand in these little debates).

 

Point: Theme a Little Theme of Me

By Brendan T. Gleason

Mark, you boring, no fun having, no fun wanting, beginning of the story Scrooge. (you know…before he sees the error of his ways and actually likes things).

Everyone knows that trips are supposed to be fun. I donʼt care if youʼre in a car with a couple buds on the way to Vegas, if youʼre on a train with your significant other to go
antiquing(you know you drag the mrs. from time to time, Heilig) or if youʼre on a work trip with the rest of your fellow employees from Tampa to Seattle(followed by LA and then Baltimore). Make it fun.

We can say that theyʼre already playing a game, and it should be fun because theyʼre making millions of dollars to do something that so many of us would do for monopoly money…and thatʼs partly true. But I say, these guys are playing a game we love, making millions of dollars to do it, I better see the fun off the field as well as on it. Thereʼs a rain delay? go slide on the tarp. Out to dinner after a ballgame? Sign some autographs. Buy some drinks for strangers. Enjoy the fact that youʼre a major league ballplayer. Have a long road trip, throw a theme to each city and show up prepared.

Seattle is grungy…wear grungy clothes. LA has beaches and a laid back atmosphere…wear beach attire. Wear pajamas to Baltimore because thatʼs where “House Party 2 – The Pajama Jam” was filmed. (truth be told…no idea why they chose pajamas for Baltimore, but I still say go with it!) I think they should wear cowboy gear on the next trip to Arlington. Maybe dress as gangsters when they have a road series against the White Sox. Collectively dress as a full slab of ribs and waddle through the
Kansas City airport when they have a 3 game stint against the Royals.

Why not?

This just in…Major League Baseball players all dress in the same outfits every time they take the field. If your everyday “work” requires you to put on a costume, why should it be a big deal if they want to do it while traveling?

I was fortunate enough to go on a cross country comedy tour with 3 of my best friends. We were on the road for 3 months, stopped in 55 cities, had over 80 shows, and did it
all while traveling in a tour bus for what seemed like 15 hours each day. It was a ton of work, and it could get stressful, but we worked better as a group and got along better as
friends when we were goofing off. Every now and then I would sit back and realize I was on a cross country and back road trip telling jokes to America…how could I not
have a blast with that?

Which brings me to the biggest reason why I think itʼs a good idea…camaraderie! If youʼve ever seen a fictitious baseball movie, you know the team doesnʼt really start to
gel on the field until they gel off of it. Direct quote from baseball movies: “The new pitcher or manager is a kid, we hate everything about our jobs…oh wait, the kid is
teaching us why we fell in love with baseball all those years ago, and now since we get along as people and weʼre having fun, weʼre going to start playing better as a team.” –
The entire adult baseball cast of both “Rookie of the Year” and “Little Big League.”

If itʼs a good enough strategy for a kid who had a medical mistake that made him throw fast and another kid whoʼs grandpa owned a team, kicked the bucket, and left him in
charge…itʼs good enough for these Rays!!

Point: That Decision S*^cks

Mark, you rule loving, “just-the-facts-maʼam” saying, Bronxian prude. Sure, Bronxian is underlined in red right now, but iʼm pretty sure itʼs a proper adjective.

Iʼm not sure how you could side with the Tropicana Field staff on this one. But it makes me think that you side with other ridiculous decisions, like the tuck rule, or the decision to televise “The Decision”, or Rachelʼs decision to end up with Ross. Really? Top 5 worst main characters from any show ever. Seriously…whine more Ross, I dare ya.

I have a couple points on why kicking this fan out of the stadium was a bad decision. In no particular order.

• I have some pretty good friends out here, all of them Dodgersʼ fans, who sent that link around, calling me lame for liking the Rays. Thatʼs how bad this is. Dodgers fans…who saw some of their own brethren beat a Giants fan to within an inch of his life because he was wearing a different jersey, are saying that the Rays are lame because our stadium kicked out a guy for wearing a shirt that said “yankees s#@k”. (I donʼt want to get kicked off anything related to the Rays right now, so Iʼm being careful). Obviously Iʼm not comparing the 2 incidents. One was a stupid thing that will go away in a couple of days, the other was a seriously disgusting act. But it gave my Dodger fan friends something to make fun of me for. So thanks again Trop.

• The Yankees are one of our 2 biggest rivals. They buy players. They buy championships. There are die hard Yankees fans who have never been to New York a day in their life. The Yankees do suck. That shirt was just telling the truth. Would they have kicked him out if his shirt said, “The Taliban Sucks” or “2 and a Half Men Sucks” or “The fact that when people hear the word Friday they think of the stupidest song thatʼs ever been recorded for YouTube instead of one of the greatest movies of all time…sucks”? I donʼt think so.

• Thereʼs no reason for The Trop to kick out ANY fans. Thatʼs like a struggling restaurant kicking out customers for bringing their own straw. The Rays need all the fans they can get or else people will continue to think itʼs always “dress like your favorite blue seat day” at Tropicana Field.

Itʼs not about the Yankees, or the first amendment or about rules so much as it is about stupidity. Dude is watching a game, wearing a t-shirt with 0 curse words on it. The line that weʼve drawn keeps getting moved closer and closer to absurdity, and the people drawing the line are standing on the wrong side.

Counterpoint: National and American Mean the Same Thing (In this Case)

Mark you purist, elitist, baseball snob. The game has changed, and having interleague games sprinkled throughout the season is one of the better changes. I donʼt know why people get so up-in-arms about interleague play, but donʼt seem to care about any of the other modifications that have graced baseball since invention. Sure, the rules have remained pretty similar since the start of the 20th century, but so much about the actual game has changed.

Letʼs start with some boring logistics. The mound height has changed a couple of times…no big deal. With that, in the late 60s, the strike zone shrunk.(both of these first 2 changes had to do with Bob Gibson…that dude was sick!) In 1971 the batting helmet became mandatory. Very boring, but necessary. Like using a 1st round pick on an offensive lineman. The designated hitter came into effect in 1973 (obviously AL only…different debate).

 

There have been some interesting advancements. Pitchers used to pitch every night. Cy Youngʼs Win Record is the safest record in sports. No pitcher will ever touch that. If a pitcher started this season and won 30 games per year for the next 17 seasons…he would still be a win short of the record. This goes hand in hand with my next point…what pitches did the hurlers throw back in the day? A fastball and a slowball. Thatʼs what they were called. And thatʼs why pitchers could pitch every night. Now thereʼs a slider, a curve, a sinker, a slurve, a splitter, and Eddie Harris puts a little Jalapeno up his nose and wipes the snot on the ball when the ump isnʼt looking.

 

Itʼs fun to see New York play New York. itʼs fun to see Chicago play Chicago. Itʼs fun to see Oakland play San Francisco. Itʼs kind of fun, i guess, to see Florida and Tampa Bay battle it out. Itʼs fun to see pitchers from the AL try to bat. itʼs fun to see the NL get a DH.

The biggest reason Iʼm a proponent of Interleague play is, the season is so long. Why not have a few games here and there against the other league? Theyʼre all playing baseball in the majors. If a guy can get traded from one league to the other midseason, then we know the playing field is level. Itʼs the regular season. The AL teams play 18 interleague games. 5 NL teams play 18, 10 play 15, and one team plays 12. Making a grand total of 126 games. If you donʼt like the Interleague play, lucky for you there are 2,304 other games to occupy your time during the baseball season while you complain about the game not being pure.

Point: Trade Bait James

Mark, you sentimental, living-in-the-now homer.

I admit, now might not be the best time to argue in favor of trading James Shields. Heʼs one of the hottest pitchers in all of baseball right now, and heʼs gobbling up innings and wins like a hippo gobbles marbles. But not just any hippo…a hungry hungry one. So why am I taking the side of swapping Big Regular Season Game James? For a simple reason, that might not sound so simple at first. The reason is…I donʼt want to trade James Shields.

Bare with me for a second.

I didnʼt want to trade Delmon Young.
I didnʼt want to trade Scott Kazmir.
I didnʼt want to trade Matt Garza.
I didnʼt want to trade Victor Zambrano.

Ok, maybe not so much on that last one. But the pattern is undeniable. Whenever I want to hold on to a player for emotional reasons, our front office gets rid of him and makes me regret ever doubting them. Why would I be emotional about Shields? Since heʼs been a pro, heʼs always been in the Tampa Bay uniform. It even said Devil Rays for the beginning of his tenure. Heʼs had some rough patches, but heʼs been our opening day starter a couple of years, and has had some incredible stretches of top notch pitching.

Itʼs tough to see a lifer go, but if we are going to trade him at some point, there doesnʼt seem to be a better time to do it. The whole point is to sell high, and i donʼt think there are too many players in the league who are higher right now( since snoop and willie nelson are not officially on a roster right now.).

So my stance is this…Iʼm a huge James Shields fan, and would like him to be a Ray for life, but Iʼm all for trading him if we decide to trade him. It sounds like a silly argument in a debate that Iʼm having with myself. I feel like both minds of Tyler Durden in Fight Club, only if this is a “Trade James Shields Club,” we are breaking the first 2 rules by talking about it, but talk about it we must.

So Mark, you sugar coating schmuck, let me hear all the great things about Shields and why we should keep him, but remember this…We have the arms in the farm league that are ready…we have a front office that rarely makes trading errors, we donʼt have a better time to move Shields to get something great in return and we canʼt put too much faith in a guy who retaliates with a weak pitch at Crisp, and then jeopardizes his pitching arm by swinging blindly when Coco charges. Iʼm glad he didnʼt connect, because he might still be out had that punch landed.

Although “Big Game” is a decent boxing nickname.