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The top 10 Rick Ankiel tweets of 2013….so far

November 8, 2013

I don’t feel like talking about the World Series, or about the “classy” ad the Red Sox stuck in the Post-Dispatch, or about the macho garbage going on in Miami and the macho garbage being barfed up in the media in response to it.

Let’s talk about Rick Ankiel instead. Specifically, about his Twitter habits, which rank him alongside Peter Gammons on the list of sports figures who use social media to impersonate symbolist poets. Let’s revisit the ten most profound Ankiel tweets of the year to date. (P.S. Sorry for the visual ugliness of this post; WordPress isn’t letting me fix the vertical space. Serves me right for making fun of a guy I actually really admire.)

#10: The unfinished sentence

ankiel 5

Where’s he going with this? “I, Claudius”? “I, Robot”? “I have the most amazing arm you’ll ever see on a ballfield but I do an unfortunate amount of tweeting with my butt”?

#9: Yeah, it was totally the last thing
ankiel 1jpg

You can Google it and stare at it for minutes on end, as I did, if you want to hold out hope that it means something, but….no. Butt-tweet.

#8-6: If only we knew who his favorite football player was
ankiel 2

I’m thinking Peyton Manning. That guy is awesome.

#5: And now for something totally differentankiel 7

Rick, no. Bad Rick.

#4: Here, have a palate-cleansing butt-tweet
ankiel 3
That’s better. And I have to say I love Rick’s commitment to his tweets. Once they’re out there, he stands by them, which is the hallmark of a guy who either understands the meaning of “loyalty” or hasn’t found the “delete” feature.

#3-2: Wait, I forgot who his favorite football player was
ankiel 4
Right. Manning. And in case you thought that the top tweet existed to correct the punctuation in the bottom tweet, notice that they were posted a week apart, so they represent two totally separate thought processes and Twitter-urges.

#1: Butt-tweetankiel 6

Oh, Rick. We never loved you for your literariness, but we’ll never stop loving you, either.

Shakespeare, autumn, and the Cardinals: An off-day sonnet

October 29, 2013

shakespeareI realized, midway through the Cardinals’ NLCS against the Dodgers, that I had two main reasons for desperately wanting them to win the pennant:

1) It was important to me to be able to continue living, and wearing Cardinals gear, in southern California without having to brook the taunts of the minority and the (far more unbearable) good sportsmanship of the majority.
2) I was pathetically, adoringly attached to this team, and I didn’t want to lose their company a day sooner than I had to.

Both, I suppose, have something to do with how I’m feeling today: Discouraged after two flat losses in the final home games of the year, sure, and at least a little bit enervated by the obligation of continued hopefulness imposed upon us by the 2011 team—but mostly, just melancholy. Whoever wins this series, however it goes down, we’re at most two games away from four months of dreary baseball-less-ness, and from never seeing again these same guys on the same diamond at the same time. For a sentimental baseball fool like me, the waning days of the World Series are bittersweet in the extreme, like the turning leaves and early sunsets under which they unfold.

Shakespeare would have understood this, I’m certain (he was an aficionado of the sport, you know, and a Cardinal fan to boot). Thus I hope he won’t be too put out that I’ve twisted his Sonnet 73—one of his most darkly beautiful poems, about love intensified amid decay—into a premature and very dorky farewell to a season I have, indeed, loved very much:

That time of year thou mayst in MO behold
When no ballplayers throw, or hit, or run
Within Busch III, all empty now and cold,
Bare ruined fields, where late the Redbirds won.
In MO thou see’st the twilight of a year
That flourished once, but fadeth in the stretch,
As Papi’s bat and Lester’s emerald schmear*
Consigned the Cards to flail, the fans to kvetch.
In MO thou see’st the dimming of a team
Whose loftiness seems but a thing of yore,
Whose happy flights will be a distant dream
Unless the rookie arms astound once more.
Then pause, though thou still cheer’st them toward the ring,
To love that well which thou must leave till spring.

* No, I don’t think that Lester was cheating, or that Game 1 could have proceeded any more ignominiously even if he had been. I just needed a rhyme.

Dear Cardinals: A plea, in poetry

October 17, 2013

quill pen’Tis the day before judgment, the eve of Game 6,
And Cards fans—let’s face it—are pooping out bricks.
Though spirits are hopeful in downtown St. Lou,
It’s tough to ignore the profound déjà vu
Of watching a three-to-one lead dissipate
To a high-flying team from a westerly state.
Was yesterday’s hurler, in fact, Barry Zito
Dressed up as Zack Greinke and gone incognito?
When A-Gon’s two round-trippers brought down the house,
Did Pablo the Panda become Mickey Mouse?
And what of the baffling moves by Matheny
To let the LA crew escape like Houdini?
No, no, it can’t be! This is 2013
And our hopes didn’t perish in Chavez Ravine;
The Cards have two chances to get back on track
And spare us the pain of a futile flashback.
Now, Yadi! Now, Adams! Now, Carlos Martinez!
On, Beltran! On, Waino! On, matching Molinas!
Don’t GIDP, and avoid the TOOTBLAN;
Restore your RISP magic, and win this for Stan!
A Carpenter double, a Holliday bomb,
A gem from young Wacha (I could be his mom),
A wild pitch from Marmol, an error by Skip
Would all help the Cards book a World Series trip….
An unlikely hero could seal the Birds’ fate!
A squirrel could show up and run past home plate!
A ball could get lost inside Wilson’s gross beard!
Who knows what will happen? October is weird,
But one thing’s for sure: The Cards mustn’t show fear
If they don’t want the Dodgers to pee in their beer.
Let’s rise to the challenge of Kershaw and Puig
And take back the crown of the National League!
(Oh, hey, guys—no pressure, but just so you know this,

T. J. Simers hates St. Louis, Cardinal fans, and probably this kitten too

October 13, 2013

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI’m sorry to be the one to tell you this, but T. J. Simers, formerly of the Los Angeles Times and recently of the Orange County Register, doesn’t like us Cardinal fans very much:

The feeling around the Cardinals is that they do everything right….The local newspaper calls it, “The Cardinals’ Way.”

Hey, I was just thinking that what this postseason definitely needed was a few more people bitching with poor punctuation skills about the Cardinals and their holier-than-thou straw-fans. Can we count on you to come through for us, T.J.? I THINK WE CAN:

Now I’m not the sort to take offense to another city’s attempt to come across as being superior. If the yokels here want to aggrandize a king-size croquet wicket and call it the Getaway Arch, so be it.

With T.J., you can never be sure if stuff like “Getaway Arch” is a mistake because he doesn’t know, a typo because he doesn’t care, or a failed attempt at humor because he isn’t funny. You should, however, be reassured that “yokels” is just as lazy a diss of the folks in flyover country as it appears to be. Don’t feel bad, St. Louisans—he hates Memphis too, and Philadelphia, and Nebraska, and baby pandas, and war widows, and Doctors Without Borders [citations needed].

But there is a certain smugness about this place. Folks like to say the people here are the smartest baseball fans in the whole world….If they are so smart why were they on their feet cheering for a hopped-up Mark McGwire all those years? Are they now pleading ignorance?

Oh, now he’s asking the tough questions! While I prepare my defense, I have a couple to ask him in return: Mr. Simers, by the time Manny Ramirez played for the Dodgers, you were a professional sportswriter and the steroid epidemic in baseball had already been out of the shadows for a number of years. Was it ignorance that prompted you to pen a series of drooling paeans—like this one and this one—to him? How about that time you said “Manny Ramirez was the best thing to hit Los Angeles. And nothing that has happened recently changes that”….after he’d been busted (twice) for PEDs and arrested for hitting his wife?

The answer, of course, is that T.J. couldn’t care less what Cardinal fans thought of Mark McGwire, just as he doesn’t really have any particular animosity toward St. Louis. But he does have a deadline, and syntactically-challenged, internally inconsistent stream-of-consciousness taunting is his shtick, so doggone it, that’s what he’s going to do.

Back to baseball:

I’m not here to defend our well-paid mercenaries. They got clubs in their hands and they’ll do just fine.

Just my two cents, but maybe T.J. should worry less about what the Dodgers do in the visiting team’s restroom and more about the fact that they don’t seem to be hitting.

Right now all the smart folks are on their feet clapping and screaming for eight horses pulling a wagon filled with cases of beer around the park. Apparently they are also the easiest fans in the whole word to entertain. I’m guessing many of them still have their pet rocks.

….Someone has to work for what it costs to get into Disneyland these days, and so if the Register will have me for another month or so, that should take care of it.

Some might say that a guy who pays $100 to see a dude in a mouse costume isn’t in a position to call other people “easily entertained.”

(Those two excerpts are a few paragraphs apart in the column, but don’t worry, they make just as little sense in context as out of it.)

You can understand now why there was a county fair-like frenzy in the bottom of the seventh inning in a 2-2 game when the locals started chanting, “Yady, Yady.” Of course I can remember a time when Dodger fans were chanting, “Hee-Seop Choi, Hee-Seop Choi.”

T.J. spells “Yadi” two different ways in this column, and neither one is the right one. That’s because he doesn’t actually follow baseball. If he did, he would know that Hee-Seop Choi (career WAR: 2.6) is to Yadier Molina (career WAR: 26.8) as Simers is to Roger Angell.

But I worry about folks who are urged to scream as loud as they can and do so because TBS is going live to the rest of the country. Why would the smartest baseball fans in the world agree to be used as TV props? Maybe it’s a Midwestern thing, folks living much of their lives in anonymity and thrilled to see a camera pointed their way. Can you just imagine the collective swoon if Alex Trebek showed up for Game 2?

“I’ll take ‘Professional Trolls’ for $400, Alex.”

“Answer: Some say the douchiest sports-scribe west of Joe Strauss is this lazy dolt who was recently fired by the Los Angeles Times.”

[Buzz] “Umm…who is Bill Plaschke?”

“Oooh, I’m sorry. The key words here were ‘douchiest’ and ‘fired.’ Obviously the correct response is T.J. Simers. Simers.”

Now you would think I wouldn’t be enamored with the millionaires who get paid for playing baseball in Los Angeles, while I work to pay off Mickey. It’s true that six of our eight position players get paid more than their Cardinals’ counterparts. Our starting pitcher makes $16 million more to get batters out than St. Louis’ starter. But halleluiah, I say, that’s the Dodgers’ Way. It beats the days when the money went to Jamie McCourt’s spiritual healer. The Dodgers paid Juan Uribe $21 million over the past three years, and that’s just the going rate for a NLDS clinching home run. Unfortunately he just hit into a double play, the fans going wild here as if they just witnessed something never done before. And people say they are the smartest fans in baseball.

ibbu blo90nhhhhhhhhhhhhhh offfffffffffffof3tr44676

Whoops, Carlos the foster kitten (pictured above) just walked across the computer keyboard. I’m leaving it because I want to offer T.J. a standard of journalism to aspire to.

The Cardinals win with a Beltran hit, a millionaire of their own doing the damage and I guess that’s the Cardinals’ Way, any old way just fine by them.

Oh, for crying out loud. Here’s the thing: I can handle criticism of the Cardinals, or their fans, or St. Louis, and I can even enjoy it if it’s smart and/or funny. But I can’t handle sentences like this one, which is constructed about as well as the Angels’ 2013 roster. I can’t handle sluggish, hackneyed jokes about Midwestern hayseeds, which are about as fresh as Yaddy’s knees must have felt after 22 innings of baseball in 25 hours. I can’t handle knowing that I have at least five un- or under-employed friends who write better and know more about sports than Simers.

I can’t blame him for the fact that major newspapers keep paying him to be a troll. I can, however, blame him for being absolutely terrible at it.

And that’s coming from someone who’s entertained by a bunch of draft horses pulling a wagon of crappy beer.

Yadi and Waino: We honestly love them

October 10, 2013

Adam Wainwright and Yadier Molina: The video. (I’ll have more to say when I’m finished grinning about last night’s game and/or treating the ulcers I’m developing over tomorrow’s. For now, enjoy.)

Follow ABOTO on Twitter!

Know what you need? A Yadi-Waino hug.

October 4, 2013

[Update: If you're a Yadi/Waino fan, be sure to see the latest post for more of them!]

Rough loss today, huh? After dominating the Pirates yesterday, the Cards played an uninspired game this afternoon, marked by miserable defense, shaky pitching, and near-complete helplessness at the plate against Gerrit Cole, the latest in the neverending string of rookies who have managed to make this otherwise fearsome team look small and timid.

Let’s cheer ourselves up with photos of Yadier Molina and Adam Wainwright hugging each other.

I know it’s fashionable to root against the Cardinals right now, but really, how can anyone root against this smile and these dimples and those big tattooed cannons wrapped around that high-altitude neck?

yadi waino

That’s the traditional version of the Yadi-Waino hug, but there’s also the hand-on-top-of-hat variation, which conveys more of an “Attaboy, I knew you could do it, you big adorable dude” message, I think. You’ll note by looking at Wainwright’s right hand in these photos that this is no “bro-hug,” no rapid series of fist-pounds followed by a “no homo” disclaimer, but a real embrace. I assume they teach proper hugging technique in the minors, because that’s The Cardinal Way, but clearly these two have (as they say on reality TV) taken it to the next level.

Adam Wainwright, Yadier Molina

I have no idea if these two are buddies outside the park, but I like to imagine them getting lunch in the off-season and greeting each other like this before ordering three different entrees and eating off each other’s plates:

Atlanta Braves vs St. Louis Cardinals

Remember when they were just young exuberant things and their hugs had takeoffs and landings?

yadi waino 5

These days they’re less rowdy and more quietly affectionate, less fireworks-display and more evening-by-the-fireplace.

yadi waino 7

The original caption on this next one says that Yadi and Waino are “celebrating,” but celebrating is when you pump your fist and pop a champagne cork. This? This is love. This is I’m never more myself than when I am in your arms. This is It’s totally cool that your blog post is turning into bad gay erotica because we’re just that comfortable with how much we adore each other.

yadi waino 4

“Wait, which arms are yours and which are mine?” “Does it really matter?” “No. No, it doesn’t. Never leave me.”

yadi waino 6

I feel better already.

yadi waino 8

Three ways to pass an off-day

September 26, 2013

wainoAn off-day? What kind of cruel joke is this? Just when the Cardinals are whipping up some Mike-Shannon-grade momentum and the Reds and Pirates are trending in the other direction, just when the magic number’s finally been shaved down to 1, all three teams are grinding to a halt for one barren and excruciating Thursday. What’s a Redbird fan to do? Here are a few humble suggestions to get us through to mid-morning, at least….

Instead of….
Tying ourselves into knots over the possible postseason match-ups ahead

How about we….
Have a dance party with the Cardinals! Click right here; that’s the page of results you get from searching “St. Louis Cardinals dancing” on Youtube. Watch a few of the clips. Watch the rest of the clips. Fall even more deeply in love with this utterly lovable team.

Instead of….
Grieving over Michael Wacha’s oh-so-close-to-a-no-hitter on Wednesday evening

How about we….
Take a few moments to marvel at how young this guy really is, and how many years he’ll have ahead of him, assuming he stays healthy, to get that 27th out. Seriously: Wacha was born on July 1, 1991, one day before Axl Rose trashed St. Louis’s Riverport Amphitheater and five weeks after Thelma and Louise first visited the Grand Canyon. This is his Little League picture, and it was taken after the turn of the millennium. These are his parents, and they aren’t in costume—they were actually children of the 1980s. Wacha figures to be around for a while, and there’s a better-than-average chance that we still haven’t seen the best of him. (If you need something else to marvel at, how about the fact that Wacha’s brilliant performance was only the second-best start we’ve seen from a Cardinal rookie pitcher this season?)

Instead of….
Fretting over the long and ever-shifting list of injured Cardinals

How about we….
Read this beautiful article by Derrick Goold about how Jason Motte lost his season to Tommy John surgery but found a whole new calling, helping kids with cancer. This isn’t your standard-issue heartwarming story, and Motte isn’t your standard-issue celebrity do-gooder. If you’re not sufficiently verklempt after that one, check out this sweet piece about a Cardinal fan club whose members, all suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, still enjoy connecting with one another over their memories of Redbird highs and lows from decades past.


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