Saturday, May 8, 2010

The Mouths That Roared, Part I

  • The Prince of New York's mill of schlock rolls on:

I never realized the potential for stories and themes that can be pulled from the unattended and ignored book hidden in the dust-covered trunk in the attic; held in the palms and blown upon to create an airborne and plentiful burst of floating particles best seen in the ray of sunlight barely peeking through the tiny window, encrusted with blackened grime.

Brushed clean of cobwebs and other remnants of the passage of time, there is immense value in the unused and neglected tome.

(The "attic" to which I refer is my spacious head.)

Helpfully aided by the penchant for absurdity in performance and, more frequently, comments that would be best left kept to themselves, the potential for sequels in the tradition of Sylvester Stallone is endless. Less than a week ago, I presented "Stuff That CANNOT Happen, Part I"; now, I've got a more bountiful cache upon which to draw----I call it "The Mouths That Roared".

I think we're discovering with the increasing number of ways that athletes and people in general can express themselves publicly----and the more people that can see it and respond----the adage that it is "better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt" comes true with greater frequency.

This will provide neverending material. Except unlike most sequels, mine are, y'know, good.

Let's take a look.

Someone tell this kid to shut up. Please.

I agreed with Dallas Braden when he blew up at Alex Rodriguez's encroaching on his territory by jogging over the mound when returning to first base on a foul ball several weeks ago. It was indicative of ARod that he tried to get into the young pitcher's head with a bit of gamesmanship that is usually left to players not in ARod's stratosphere when it comes to talent (A.J. Pierzynski).

Braden had every right to scream at ARod; to tell him to stay away from his mound; even to brush him back the next time the two faced off. After the initial reaction, Braden went over-the-top in what appeared to be an attempt to make sure everyone, everywhere saw and heard Braden spouting off about propriety and territory and other testosterone-fueled garbage.

One would think the intervening weeks would calm Braden down; and give someone with the A's organization----the all-knowing, all powerful Billy Beane; manager Bob Geren; or a veteran player like Ben Sheets----the chance to tell Braden to keep his mouth shut and get him to do it.


In case you missed it, Braden's neither letting the issue die, nor recede into the background.

In fairness, I have to give the aforementioned Athletics employees a pass; I'd be stunned if several people hadn't told Braden to shut up, he just hasn't listened.

Like the overbearing promotion of a Don King fight, Braden will not stop. Helpfully aided by a lurking media secure in the knowledge that all they need to do is mention the name "ARod" to Braden and they'll come out with a story that will gain wide attention, Braden is digging an embarrassing hole for himself and leaving little choice but to follow through on his blustery threats. Emphatically punctuating the nonsense, Braden will....not....stop.

Here are the relevant clips from Braden's latest verbal show of toughness, culled from this ESPN Story:

"There are things that are going to have to happen," Braden told CSN Bay Area on Wednesday. "Out of respect to my teammates, out of respect to the game. I think he's probably garnered a new respect for the unwritten rules and the people who hold them close to their game. But I think you're right, we don't do much talking in the 209."

The 209 is a reference to Stockton, Calif., where Braden is from and attended high school.

To ARod's credit, he refused to get into it again with someone like Braden who, quite frankly, is little more than a blip on ARod's radar screen in terms of talent and resume:

"I think Major League Baseball reads the same articles as we do," Rodriguez said. "Now, look, I really don't want to extend his extra 15 minutes of fame."

Otherwise, Rodriguez tried to stay clear of going back and forth.

"Look, it is tempting to sit back here and go back and forth with the media for the next three months, but I'm not going to do that," said Rodriguez, who reiterated some form of that answer over the less-than-five-minute interview session.

Is Braden really sitting there discussing how tough his high school was?

It's enough. If Braden was so offended; if he's so tough; if he emerged from this area hardened and battle-tested, ready to fight for his turf and his rep, then experience tells me he wouldn't be yapping as much as he is; and instead of yelling and shouting and demanding attention with words rather than action, he'd have gone Kevin Mitchell (a legitimate hard guy from the Mets 1986 championship team) and attacked ARod immediately when the incident happened.

I don't want to hear about the "209".

Amid all of the pampering ARod supposedly received on his way up, it's lost that ARod didn't have a silver-spoon upbringing and only went to a better school with a respected baseball program due to his talent and the generosity of others in cultivating his skills; I'd expect that ARod's neighborhood wasn't a picnic especially as he grew up without a father in the home; and if Braden wants to toss hands, ARod----who unhesitatingly took on a true baseball tough guy in Jason Varitek----the Yankees third baseman would be more than willing to go whenever, wherever.

All Braden's doing is putting himself into a position where he has to do something. If he doesn't, he's going to look like a prison-yard punk spouting all the self-serving promises of retribution and failing to follow through.

ARod's right. The league is reading the comments and when the teams face each other again, warnings will be issued to discourage any shenanigans before the series starts. The media contingent will be heavy in anticipation for the confrontation----a horde that a barely mediocre team like the A's; and an unestablished pitcher like Dallas Braden----doesn't deserve.

Braden's done what may have been heretofore impossible----he's made Alex Rodriguez into the good guy; a sympathetic and mature figure.

ARod was wrong in what he did, but Braden's a clown. The more he says, the thicker the makeup and bigger the clownshoes become and he's well on the way to being a punchline and getting punched.

209 or no 209.

If Bengie Molina wanted to be a Met, then why is he not a Met?

In his first trip to Citi Field after shunning the Mets contract offer, Giants catcher Bengie Molina had a lot to say about the way the negotiations went. MetsBlog has the details here.

Molina's rationale, that he wanted the security of a 2-year deal; that he was looking for a place to live in the area; and was studying the Mets pitching staff are indications that he----in theory----wanted to join the Mets. But if he truly wanted to come to the Mets, then he could've accepted the contract offer----an offer that was worth $500,000 more than what he accepted to return to the Giants.

With Molina, I got the distinct impression that he would've preferred to stay on the West Coast, where he'd spent his entire career; that he was only talking to the Mets----as others have in the past----to get a higher salary in his selected locale.

And there's nothing wrong with that.

Putting aside the solid and clutch performances of the Mets catching duo of Rod Barajas and Henry Blanco, for too long, the club has signed players whose hearts were elsewhere because said players had few options to get their desired contract duration and salary. This exemplified the perception that they only joined the Mets to get paid.

This is exactly what the Mets needed to avoid to improve on the last three seasons of disappointment. Even if it cost them a player----like Molina; like Ben Sheets; like Joel Pineiro----in whom they had interest, it's better to bring in players who truly want to be part of the Mets organization for reasons other than money and desperation.

In the end, it comes down to looking into a player's eyes and determining whether or not he wants to be here. With Molina, despite his protestations to the contrary, he wanted to get paid; to receive the extra year on his deal. With the Mets steadfast in their offer and secure with the market offering a similar player at a lower price in Barajas, they did the right thing. Molina's bitterness is evidence that they made the right decision before and after; more than the big hits and veteran leadership provided by Barajas.

  • Phillies 7-Braves 0:

I only saw brief snippets of this game and judging from the line of Jamie Moyer's performance, it was a masterpiece----complete game shutout; 105 pitches; 71 strikes; 2 hits; 0 walks; 5 strikeouts----but the Braves have a disturbing disconnect with one another and their retiring manager Bobby Cox.

Falling behind in Citizens Bank Park, no matter the score, shouldn't imply that a team just bags it and goes home; and that's what the Braves seemed to have done. All due respect to Moyer and his craftsmanship, he's not Roy Halladay. If Halladay was pitching, I can see the team saying, "Y'know what? Let's get 'em tomorrow."

It was Jamie....Moyer!

Derek Lowe was awful again for the Braves, and anyone referencing the Braves lineup sans Brian McCann, Jason Heyward and Yunel Escobar had better take a look at the players who were in the lineup and wonder why they're not hitting and/or act as if they don't care.

Are Martin Prado, Chipper Jones and Nate McLouth not enough to muster more than the 2 hits provided by Troy Glaus?

The Braves had better do something to right this sinking ship. Soon.

  • The Prince on the Podcast:

Listen to my Podcast appearance with Sal at SportsFanBuzz from a week ago Friday----Prince on the Podcast link.

Also, my book is still available on Amazon, I-Universe and Barnes and It's available for download as an E-book here.

You stand to win everything.

Call it.



She-Fan said...

You just gave Braden more than his 15 minutes. Don't write about him and the world will be a better place!

the Brooklyn Trolley Blogger said...

The "209"?! He was kidding right? Is that akin to Bonilla showing the Bronx? I could get into the baseball of it, but I have to be honest, I'm finding the situation hilarious - Keep it up Braden. Alex needs to take a page from Frank Robinson's book and hit a come-backer through the box; you know.., give em the ol' Charlie Brown treatment.

Jeff said...

Braden Braden Braden Braden!

Why not? I mean, yeah, I'd say he should probably shut up now... but his perceived old school persona is a breath of fresh air, in my opinion.

And that's comin' from the Acting Boss, based in the 312... where things can get... ugly.