Postseason-baseball-induced stress claims thousands of victims every year, but the first step to surviving it is preparation. You may not be able to predict the exact moment when the anxiety, rage, and/or nausea associated with Cardinal playoff baseball will strike, but you can be ready for it by assembling a Postseason Survival Kit ahead of time.
You’ve still got a few shopping days left, so ABOTO has compiled a list of must-haves that should get you through the next few weeks:
1) Rescue Remedy
Rescue Remedy is a gentle herbal formula designed to help ease stressful or traumatic situations. Pipe a few drops onto your novelty foam finger before you wave your hands wildly in the air, and let its calming energy diffuse throughout your den or sports bar! Note that the patented blend includes clematis, which, according to the manufacturer, helps re-center those who “withdraw into fantasy worlds,” so keep some on hand to spray in the face of your irritating friend who says things like “Normally I wouldn’t root for the Reds, but I just drafted Neftali Soto last week!”
You’ll want a powerful anti-nausea aid available for those times when Pete Kozma grounds into a 15th-inning double play or Lance Lynn gets to first base with all the speed of an adolescent comic-book collector who hasn’t discovered mouthwash. There are plenty of options on the market, but Pepto-Bismol is the obvious choice for Cardinal fans, since they already have a Rally Squirrel right there on their Facebook page! (User comment: “Why a squirrel?” Pepto response: “The better question is why not a squirrel?”)
3) The You-Doo Doll
Certain situations—for example, when Mike Matheny lets his beleaguered closer talk his way back into a game when he’s getting lit up and there’s a lefty warmed and ready in the pen and sweet mother of mercy I’m getting mad again just thinking about it—demand something a bit stronger. Enter the You-Doo, a do-it-yourself voodoo doll that you can customize by ironing on the face of a deserving Cardinal before sticking it with pins. You can’t do that with a bobblehead! Hint: Keep an extra You-Doo around; you never know when the next Don Denkinger or Jeffrey Leonard will come along.
4) The SwatComm
There’s lots to shout about, good and bad, when October rolls around, and you shouldn’t have to mute your expostulations just because not everyone on your street or cell block wants to hear them. The Swatcomm is a high-tech selective-listening device developed for use by SWAT teams and other specialized tactical forces, but we’re confident it can be adapted for postseason purposes as well! Now, only your chosen comrades will hear your screams of “WHY IN THE NAME OF JOHN McCAIN’S TWITTER ACCOUNT IS CARLOS BELTRAN BUNTING??” while your neighbors, pets, or fellow churchgoers are spared. Gosh, if only Tony La Russa had had one of these instead of a wonky bullpen phone in Game 5 of the 2011 ohgodpassthepeptoagainit’sallcomingbacktome.
5) The HeartStart Home Defibrillator
Sure, we joke about the “Cardiac Cardinals,” but seriously, how confident are you that you won’t have a heart attack if there’s another Game 6 in St. Louis’s future? (SEE? You had a little one just thinking about it.) Be safe, not sorry, by keeping a HeartStart Home Defibrillator charged and ready this October. This portable cardiac device, complete with Cardinal-red carrying case, makes it easy to revive your fellow fans after a blown save or a devastating TOOTBLAN. (Don’t forget to pass around some blank DNR forms with the Doritos!) (NO REALLY I’M NOT KIDDING WHERE IS MY FORM I CAN’T DO THIS AGAIN.)
6) Cardinal caskets
And if all else fails and your feeble flesh is no match for the rigors of October baseball, you’ll be glad you pre-invested in a custom Cardinal casket. These snazzy coffins are velvet-lined, long enough to fit all but the tallest big-leaguers, and emblazoned with the MLB logo lest you forget that Bud Selig is still calling the shots even after you leave this mortal coil. Don’t wait until you’re faced with a long fly ball to Nelson Cruz or a near-riot by tomahawk-wielding Braves fans to ask “Will my loved ones and drinking buddies know my wishes in case THIS is the game I don’t survive?” Plan ahead.
[An open letter to the newest and potentially coolest Cardinal]
There’s so very much I need to say to you, Mr. Axford, and I probably ought to start with an apology for the fact that I used to think you were yucky back when you were a Brewer who was mowing down my team and making Duck-Dynasty-foreshadowing grooming choices, before this happened and I realized that you and I would probably get along just fine.
But my prose, like your hair, is better short than long, so I’ll let bygones be bygones and keep this brief.
I know you like art, since you tweeted about it yesterday and you had a fairly awesome 80-second stint as an unofficial docent at the National Gallery. So, as a gesture of welcome, and as my way of letting you know that I’m already pretty attached to your Simpsons-quoting, film-festival-supporting, hair-donating, Jason-Motte’s-pants-wearing self, I made you this. I call it “Axford in the Leaping Laird’s Den”:
I hope you like it.
P.S. Peter Paul Rubens helped but I did most of it.
On the grand scale of historic tribulations faced by the Jews, the 2013 MLB season probably doesn’t rank all that high, but it’s been a tough time nonetheless for those of us who enjoy seeing the occasional Chosen Person succeed on the baseball field. (I include myself on that list, even though I’m technically only half-Jewish, and my Presbyterian mother is the one who makes the challah that’s to die for.) It’s been one test after another: Ike Davis couldn’t hang onto his spot in the Mets’ lineup. Jason Marquis was lost to Tommy John surgery. Max Scherzer has a fantastic Jewish-sounding name to go with his fantastic 18-1 record, but alas, he’s a goy. And Ryan Braun….just feh.
So I think it’s time for us to appoint an honorary Jew, and I’d like to nominate Matt Carpenter for the job. Yes, the very first thing his Twitter profile tells us is that he’s a Christian, and I want to be clear that I completely respect that choice and understand that he’s probably not going to change his mind and get Bar Mitzvahed based on one blog post. Don’t worry, Matt—Judaism isn’t an evangelical faith and I’m not out to convert you. But I can’t help noticing that you’re the Jewish baseball icon we’ve been waiting for. Here’s a half-decalogue of reasons why:
1. Matt’s a mensch. What’s a mensch, you ask? A person of integrity and character, with a strong work ethic, a clear sense of right and wrong, and a deep sense of responsibility—and, usually, someone who doesn’t call attention to those aspects of him- or herself. That’s a perfect description of how Matt does his job. He cheerfully accepted a reassignment to second base, worked doggedly with Jose Oquendo to become an extremely solid fielder at his new position, and scooted back to third when Kolten Wong was called up from Memphis. As a leadoff hitter, he takes patient, scholarly at-bats, working counts and studying a pitcher’s offerings in addition to getting on base at a rate that puts him among the best in the league. He’s so reliably early to the park that Mike Matheny had to threaten him with a fine in order to keep him away and get him some rest during a recent mini-slump. And remember last week, when he came to bat in the 12th inning with a second chance to finish a natural cycle with a walk-off homer? He didn’t swing wildly for the fences—he took a six-pitch walk and came around to score the winning run a few minutes later. That’s the definition of mensch-hood, right there.
2. He looks the part. The dark features, the Milhouse-esque eyebrows, the thick brown hair that I feel confident would blossom into a Jewfro given the chance, even the rugged hands bare of batting gloves: it all fits. (Oh, you didn’t know he didn’t wear batting gloves? Sorry! You must have missed the eight million times the Cardinals’ broadcasters have mentioned it!) (Not that there’s anything wrong with that.)
3. He appreciates a good meal. By his own admission, he had to ditch a junk-food diet and shed some weight in order to evolve from college prospect to big-league threat, but he still tweets out requests for restaurant recommendations and appreciations of good grub. (I was disappointed when he asked for dining suggestions in New York City and didn’t take me up on my idea of forgoing the restaurants and just eating knishes from the street carts, but maybe next time.)
4. His childhood hero was another faux-Jew. That’s right: Matt’s idol was Lance Berkman, a Christian who has so often been confused for a Jew that a baseball writer once flew a thousand miles to write a feature on the supposedly Semitic slugger, only to discover his misconception when he got to the stadium.
5. I have the T-shirts all ready. You’d buy a “My MVP is a Jewish Carpenter” shirt, wouldn’t you? I’ll make you a good deal on it.
The Hebrew saying “Ad me’ah v’esrim shana” literally means “May you live to be 120″; figuratively, it’s a statement of appreciation and a hearty wish for long and healthy life. I’d like to amend that and apply it to Matt Carpenter, in the hope that he remains a Cardinal and a marvelous mensch till the bitter end…whether or not he actually decides to swap his baseball cap for a yarmulke.
P.S. Check out this great interview with Matt, and this profile from a few months back.
P.P.S. I meant what I said about respecting his Christian faith, but he’s already tweeting about retirees in Florida, so I think maybe I’m onto something here.
Rejoice, ladies! Bleacher Report founder and CEO Bryan Goldberg has raised $6.5 million to start a website just for us women, as he’s very, very excited to tell us in this piece.
Oh, sure, the commenters on that post and the collective Captain Bringdown we know as the feminist blogosphere—oops, and now NPR too—aren’t thrilled about his new venture, for a bunch of reasons, including:
- the new site’s super-edgy name (“Bustle”), which simultaneously conjures frenetic lady-busyness and a Victorian ass-enhancing device;
- Goldberg’s repeated assurances that he’s going to give us girls “world affairs and celebrity gossip,” “an Egyptian revolution” and “the next ‘Bachelorette’ selection,” all in one easy URL, because naturally we don’t want to chip our nails by having to make multiple clicks to cleanse our news-clogged palates with the refreshing sorbet of Real Housewives tidbits;
- his use of totally non-patronizing and non-distancing language such as “Knowing the difference between mascara, concealer, and eye-liner is not my job,” so we’re all clear that just because he’s going to make millions of dollars off what he thinks women care about, that doesn’t mean that he doesn’t consider it silly in the extreme (and oh by the way he’s totally not gay);
- and his seeming unawareness that the only thing that’s novel about his concept is that he, unlike all the women who have created similar websites in the past, is working with $6.5 million of start-up funding that most of us ladies couldn’t get our manicured hands on quite so readily.
But maybe that’s unfair, and if a guy wants to use his reputation and his resources to create something for women, shouldn’t we be applauding him rather than rolling our mascaraed eyes? Maybe Bryan’s the real deal—check out this question that he asks and answers in his article:
Is this a feminist publication?
You’re damn right this is a feminist publication.
Well then! When I read this, I think of George McFly in Back to the Future saying “Do you really think I should swear?” Bryan seems very serious about this feminism thing. Bryan means business, everyone.
Yeah. He means business. Literally.
Cynic that I am, I decided to try to find out whether Bryan had ever publicly claimed the F-word for yourself when he wasn’t clumsily trying to win over a new female audience—and whether his prior online ventures had done anything to establish the sort of feminist (or feminist-ally) cred that would earn him the trust of his new target demographic. I began with Bryan’s Twitter feed, and dug back a few months looking for any sign of his passion on women’s issues. I didn’t see anything about, oh, the widespread legislative attacks on reproductive rights and equal-pay laws, but I did find this, and this, which, uh, at least acknowledge the existence of the female of the species, I suppose.
Okay—what about Bleacher Report, his immensely successful sports website, which (as he informs us in the article) is worth more than the Washington Post? Bryan created, and has spent several years at the helm of, one of the most widely-read sports sites on the interwebs. In what ways has his magnum opus manifested his feminist passion? Sure, Bleacher Report, like most sports sites, targets a primarily male audience, but has Bryan used this impressive platform to highlight coverage of women’s sports in order to spark more widespread interest in them, or seek out female writers and bloggers, or take a strong and consistent stand against the sexism and objectification of women that permeates too much of popular sports culture?
Well, let’s look at the evidence. While Bleacher Report does generally steer clear of obvious and repugnant sports-adjacent misogyny, their track record where the womenfolk are concerned is not so shining as to persuade me of their CEO’s feminist cred. They’ve run a number of articles and posts about the impact of sexism on women in sports—but they also saw nothing wrong with publishing a horrific 2008 piece ranking the “hottest” female Olympians. (The post was slammed throughout the progressive parts of the internet, but I can’t find any evidence that Goldberg or anyone else associated with the site ever responded or apologized.) They ran this piece rightly bemoaning the fact that MMA star Ronda Rousey’s “superlative grit and athleticism” had been overshadowed in the media by raunchy sexist headlines that trivialized her achievements….but they’ve also taken every opportunity to notify their readers of Rousey’s appearances on the cover of Maxim, her assessments of other fighters’ “racks,” and male fighters’ assessments of her hotness. As I glance over the BR home page this morning, I’m heartened not to see any photos of token babes in bikinis (I’m looking at you, Sports Illustrated and ESPN), but less excited to realize that every single one of the almost eighty athletes, media figures, and columnists pictured on the page is a man. (If I want to read about women’s sports, I have to click the “Other” tab at the top of the page.)
The point isn’t that Bryan Goldberg is an outright misogynist; I don’t believe he is. The point is that as far as I can tell, he was never—in his public persona, at least—a “you’re damn right” feminist until he had a pile of venture capital and a marketing plan to back up that worldview. I’d be more inclined to give him a mulligan on the obtuse launch article, and to acknowledge that it’s not really his fault that a straight white guy can get the sort of financial backing for a women’s website that most women can only fantasize about, if I saw much evidence that he’d used his existing web empire to promote the cause of women, actively and without self-congratulation, in an arena where sexism and inequality are still the champions.
P.S. If you’re interested, the top stories on Bustle this morning are “Hooters chain deems Bob Filner too sleazy,” “Incarcerated women may be making your underwear,” and “Learn to breastfeed while you dougie.” So, that’s $6.5 million well spent, then.
In case you hadn’t gotten the memo, it is a requirement that every story in the media this week must be about Alex Rodriguez. That’s easy enough when we’re talking about the Biogenesis scandal or Bud Selig’s newfound chutzpah or Brian Cashman’s potty mouth, but it gets trickier when, you know, there’s actual news happening.
In an effort to help my fellow journalists—and to distract all of us from the nightmarish, PTSD-triggering memory of Carlos Freaking Beltran BUNTING with two on and none out last night—I’d like to demonstrate how a little game of connect-the-dots can, in fact, link everything taking place in the world today with A-Rod.
Example No. 1:
- Four former Republican chairs of the Environmental Protection Agency have issued a strong statement in favor of addressing climate change.
- Climate change was brought to the attention of many Americans by Al Gore.
- Al Gore founded and chaired the Current TV network.
- Current TV used to air the show Viewpoint with Eliot Spitzer.
- Eliot Spitzer’s former madam and current political opponent is Kristin Davis.
- Kristin Davis reportedly supplied call girls to (and herself dated) Alex Rodriguez!
Example No. 2:
- The National Security Administration is spying on Americans.
- The “warrantless wiretapping” program was the brainchild of the George W. Bush administration.
- George W. Bush used to be part owner of the Texas Rangers.
- The Texas Rangers spent almost as much unnecessary money on Alex Rodriguez as George W. Bush did on the War on Terror!
Example No. 3:
- Notorious mafia figure Whitey Bulger is on trial for racketeering.
- Whitey Bulger was turned in to authorities by his Boston neighbor, model and actress Anna Bjorn.
- Anne Bjorn was in the movie More American Graffiti with Mary Kay Place.
- Mary Kay Place was in Starting Over with Kevin Bacon.
- Kevin Bacon was in A Few Good Men with Demi Moore.
- Demi Moore was in Charlie’s Angels 2 with Cameron Diaz.
- Cameron Diaz used to date Alex Rodriguez!
See? Everything really IS about A-Rod! Please feel free to add your own news stories in the comments; if you’d like to work out the connection, knock yourself out, and if you want me to give it a shot, I’ll be grateful to you for giving me a project to occupy my mind during tonight’s fist-clenching, soul-crushing buntfest.
[UPDATE: I see that one of the commenters quoted below has taken it upon himself to link this post from the blog in question, and to notify the other commenters that I am "ripping them to shreds." I find this puzzling, given that I 1) specifically declined to name them so as not to make them out to be "bad guys" when they're really just representing some common and misguided attitudes about rape, and 2) deliberately used gentler-than-usual language and pointed out that these are basically well-meaning folks. In light of that, I think it's pretty awesome that I'm the one he's accusing of "oversensitivity." Carry on, and welcome, new readers!]
A quick primer for those responding to allegations of athletes, celebrities, or anyone, really, accused of rape or sexual assault (with the usual disclaimer that everyone is presumed innocent until proven guilty):
The news today that two minor leaguers in the Colorado Rockies’ system have been charged with first-degree rape has prompted a wealth of reaction on the intertubes. Thus far, I’ve managed to stay away from the sites that I’m guessing are generating 31 flavors of victim-blaming (twenty bucks says I could find five different iterations of “She probably thought it was cool to bang baseball players and then regretted it the next morning!” within ten minutes of searching), and that’s not the sort of extreme and obvious Wrong Response I’m interested in discussing today.
No, I want to call attention to a kind of reaction that’s simultaneously better and worse—less overtly misogynistic and cruel, but potentially more subtly dangerous, in a way, because it’s offered in an ostensibly supportive spirit. I’m talking about those folks who agree that rape is a very, very bad thing….but who have their reasons wrong. They are the Almost-Allies, and they’re so close to being real allies that they might as well just go all the way.
Here are some examples, taken from—I assume—well-meaning people :
“Sad. To be 23 and know that your life is over.”
That is sad. It’s especially sad when you’re 23 and you know your life is over because, say, you have terminal cancer. It’s a lot less sad when your life is over because you made the choice to commit a violent crime and now you’re facing a lengthy prison term. You know what else is really sad? Being raped. In fact, it’s even sadder to me than being the rapist. [ETA: Yes, this commenter later added his sympathies, which I do believe are entirely genuine, for the victim. But the point is that he didn't do that until he was reminded. That doesn't make him a bad guy. But I question his framing of the rape.]
“What a shame that these kids get such an amazing opportunity to play professional baseball and they blow [it] just by doing something stupid like that.”
Okay, we’re getting a little closer. But again, look who’s missing from this sentiment: The victim herself. Isn’t it more of a shame that they violated and injured her than that they wasted a shot at playing in the bigs? Further, I’m not convinced that first-degree two-on-one rape is best described as “stupid”—not when we have adjectives like “repugnant” and “sadistic” available to us at the same cost.
“You have absolutely no game if you play professional baseball and need to rape a woman to get laid.”
Here’s another guy who understands that Rape Is Wrong but has completely misunderstood (or, alternatively, is willfully misrepresenting) why. Let’s review: Rape is not about a lack of “game.” Rape is not about wanting to “get laid.” Rape is a crime of violence and domination, and discussing it in fratty dudebro language only perpetuates the rape culture.
This one’s a bonus—directed at me minutes ago by the same commenter who posted the first comment quoted above, after I responded to a few of these postings on the other blog.
Apparently he still needs to be reminded that there are any women involved in this rape story.
I can’t help noticing that a great many people are jumping on some highly questionable bandwagons lately. It’s not that they’re aligning themselves with actively hateful people or causes, necessarily, just that they’re using their activist energy (of which most of us not named Wendy Davis have a finite supply) on stuff that is, how shall I put this politely, really quite stupid.
But I’d like to take their interest in good faith, so in the spirit of positive reinforcement, I thought I’d offer some recommendations, Amazon reading list-style, of causes that might be every bit as satisfying to them and a lot less infuriating to the rest of us. I welcome your suggestions of others in the comments.
If you’re tempted to defend: Paula Deen
Then you must be passionate about: Fair employment practices for people who prepare food!
So maybe instead you should support: Hakima Arhab, an Algerian immigrant and food-service employee at the Oakland Airport, who contends that she and a number of her co-workers were fired from their jobs after blowing the whistle on a number of unfair and illegal labor practices. Don’t worry—Paula Deen has millions of dollars to live on while she tragicomically attempts to rehabilitate her image (and let’s be clear, she didn’t just “use the N-word once thirty years ago!!!”, and there are plenty of southern women of her generation who are totally clear on why it’s not okay to use racist language or, sweet lord, muse wistfully about how great a plantation-themed wedding would be if not for the touchy media’s certain overreaction). Hakima was making somewhat less money working at Subway, and now she’s not even making that, so she’d probably appreciate your support in any form. Read her story here and click “actions” to attend a rally or help the cause!
If you’re tempted to defend: The Busch Stadium mound cross
Then you must be passionate about: The right not to have your religious symbols messed with!
So maybe instead you should get mad about: The Tennessee mosque that was burned to the ground in 2007, an act of terrorism that continues to inspire and invigorate the anti-Muslim brigade six years later. The removal of the Cardinal cross was sad for some, but in the end, it was a business decision made by the parent club, which incidentally, has won four games in a row since John Mozeliak made the call. (You may be thinking “Is that really a sign from God, or just a sign that the last four games were against the Marlins and the Astros?”, but who do you think made the schedule, huh?) By contrast, the arson and bomb threats that took place at the mosque in Murfreesboro, 350 miles southeast of St. Louis, destroyed property, jeopardized people’s safety, and drove deep wedges into a community, to the delight of the American Freedom Defense Initiative (translation: “White People Afraid Of Brown People”), who protested the recent community forum hosted by the American Muslim Advisory Council, and cheered the mention of the burned mosque. Send AMAC a note of support, and if you’re a Cardinal fan, keep in mind that it’s in our best interests to keep Tennessee as safe as possible, since that’s where we stash our Wongs and Taverases.
If you’re tempted to defend: The Tomahawk Chop, Chief Wahoo, the Redskins….
Then obviously you care about: Freedom of expression, even when it offends people!
So maybe instead you should stick up for: Sarah Slamen, who just yesterday was escorted out of the Texas statehouse for speaking out against the ongoing war on women’s agency. Her main crime, it seems, was pointing out that an ophthalmologist was not the same thing as an OB-GYN, but of course, this incident is just the latest reminder that the GOP is deeply offended by anything to do with ladyparts unless it’s legislation to control them. Hey, there are already plenty of het-up sports fans who feel very strongly that their right to enjoy an ugly team logo or an irritating ballpark cheer (with disturbing “sieg Heil” overtones) far outweighs an entire oppressed race of people’s right not to be used as a gimmick or a caricature. Why not redirect your energies and stand up for women’s rights to enjoy our own body parts rather than fighting over them?
If you’re tempted to defend: George Zimmerman
Then obviously you’re passionate about: Floridians’ right to stand their ground in the face of potential threats!
So maybe instead you should speak out on behalf of: Marissa Alexander, who in May was sentenced to 20 years in prison for firing a warning shot into a wall after a physical encounter with her estranged husband. Alexander was in her Jacksonville home with her children present when her husband, who was not living with the family, confronted her about texts she’d apparently sent to her ex. According to her, he cornered her and tried to strangle her; she went to her garage planning to drive away, but had no keys and grabbed her gun instead to scare him off. The warning shot did the trick without hurting anyone, but a jury took 12 minutes to convict Alexander of aggravated assault, which carries a mandatory 20-year sentence, anyway. We don’t know exactly what happened here, just as we don’t know exactly what happened between George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin, but we do know that in one case, a non-black guy with a gun killed a black kid without one on a public street and may very well walk free thanks in part to “Stand Your Ground,” whereas in the other, a black woman with a gun caused no bodily harm to an unwanted visitor in her own home and will now spend two decades behind bars. You know those conservative friends of yours who keep posting fake photos of Trayvon on their Facebook pages because they’re apparently okay with killing teenagers as long as they have tattoos and facial hair? Maybe they’d like to join you in pulling for justice for Marissa Alexander and her three kids instead.
Are you following me on Twitter? You should, because my feed is a weird mix of Cardinal-related expostulations, feminist musings, and rantings about whatever the right-wingers have done now (BECAUSE IT’S ALWAYS SOMETHING), and I don’t know why you wouldn’t want to be part of that.
Thanks to my good buddy Matt for brainstorming with me on this one. Go Padres!