The MLB Fan Cave: A Eulogy

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MLB announced this morning that they plan to shut down the MLB Fan Cave. It’s currently unclear exactly what they plan to do with the physical space as well as the over 500,000 Twitter followers, but for us here at the Cespedes Family Barbecue the news is most certainly sad. We were lucky enough to spend a fair amount of time at the Cave this past summer and while we were impressed with the awesomeness of the actual facility, what really struck us was the depth and breadth of creative content the people over there had created.

We don’t know why the Fan Cave is ceasing operations, and we might never know, but I think it’s important to recognize some of the amazing content those behind the scenes were able to create. So here are a few of my favorite videos/vines/whatever that they developed over the past four years.

Vlad Guerrero/50 Cent

This is arguably the best baseball-related thing of all time. If I could either watch this or Barry Bonds for the rest of my life, I’d probably pick Barry Bonds highlights, but it’s really, really close. This Vine captures what really set the Fan Cave content apart: it had a perfect combination of the ideas, resources, and abilities needed to achieve a vine as perfect and as beautiful as this one.

Chase Utley Always Sunny

 

I still think about whether or not Chase Utley actually watches the show or if the people at the Fan Cave had to sit him down and make him watch Charlie and Frank fighting over a dog painting that Hitler may or may not have made (I know it’s not the same episode).

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A Bunch of Jokes About Gorby Throwing A Baseball

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This is a picture of former leader of the Soviet Union (and personal favorite world leader) Mikhail Gorbachev throwing a baseball. The photo was taken when Gorby threw out the first pitch at a high school game in Texas when he visited Bush in 2001. There’s so much to say about this photo so I figured I would just say it. Here are some jokes/puns/observations about this amazing picture:

 

  • He threw a Glastnostball to get a Perestroikout.
  • I’m confused about why he’s wearing the away uniform for the infamous men’s league baseball team “The Generic Geriatric Grandfathers.”
  • In classic US/USSR fashion Bush looks like one of those umpires you have in little league who stands behind the mound and judges every single thing you do.
  • Bush is the trainer who was called out of the dugout to check up on Gorby’s nagging injury: fractured pride.
  • In a socialist society everyone gets a trophy
  • Seems to be getting a lot of revolutions on the ball.
  • Ubaldo Jimenez makes Gorby look like David Price.
  • “From Wrigley in the Adriatic to Minute Maid in the Baltic an Iron Curveball has descended across the continent.”
  • IN SOVIET UNION BALL PITCHES YOU
  • The batter was actually Mike Eruzione who hit this pitch over 400 feet.
  • If he wants to get more power on his fastball, Gorby should probably COMINTERN his hips open a little later in his motion.
  • This is Gorby’s last batter, the fans convinced the manager to bring in Yeltsin to face the righty.
  • His win/lost record looks good, but Gorby still has a cold WAR

Top Young Newsbreakers

For those of you that have been following the off-season hot stove action on the famed website Twitter dot com you probably know that there has been a lot of talk about the new young crop of reporters taking the baseball world by storm. Last year, through hard work and an impressive rolodex of #sources, Chris Cotillo made a name for himself. Cotillo’s success seems to have inspired the next generation of adolescent Bob Woodwards. These kids have taken to the Twitterverse to apply their perspective, knowledge, and youth to the hot stove action we know and love. Let’s take a look at some of these wunderkinds:

 

Jake Wesley (@MLB_NL_AL_FederalLeague_NegroLeagues_NPB_NCAAD1_NCAAD2_LLWS)

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Jake Wesley has been the source of controversy this offseason as the validity of his so called reports has been called into question. Whether a result of luck, magic, or hard work, Jake has had success in establishing himself among baseball aristocracy. While at 14 years old Wesley is younger than most established reporters, he is the elder statesmen of this new crop of youngsters and many of these youngsters cite Jake’s success as their inspiration. Jake’s journalistic integrity, spelling skills, and willingness to listen to his mother could certainly use some work, but that’s the case with most 14 year olds. Keep an eye on this leader of the lunchroom because he might be your boss before you know it.

 

Ricky Shaw (@NewCubsNews)

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While this prepubescent insider might not seem like much at first glance, to overlook Ricky would be an enormous mistake. The kid has fight, fire, and firetrucks in his room and is “dedicated to putting the work in.” His aptitude with modern technology could be called into question as the phone he is holding in his profile picture seems to have been made in 2004, but Ricky makes up for what he lacks in electronics with his immense collection of tri-colored Under Armour shirts. His impressive wardrobe coupled with the astonishingly wet nature of his hair means that Ricky truly is a kid to be taken seriously.

 

Fetus To Be Named Later (@FetusInsideMLB)

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Now this is downright impressive. The only MLB reporter still physically connected to his mother, Fetus To Be Named Later, or FTBNL as he has been called, has been able to take the baseball world by storm without the help of a smart phone, mouth, or fingers. After breaking the Clint Barmes signing, FTBNL tweeted out that he couldn’t wait to actually see Clint play once he finally got out of his mother’s birth canal. Even though he has never seen a baseball game in person, his mother has been swallowing baseball cards so FTBNL has been able to get a good sense for the ins and outs of the game. It’s really amazing what this thing has been able to do so far in his young “life” and I’m excited to see what he can do once he actually gets out of the womb.

Oscar Taveras Tribute Video

Sick. That’s how I felt when we heard the news that Oscar Taveras, the future Cardinals superstar, had died tragically in a car accident. As the news broke and was eventually confirmed on Twitter, it felt like someone had sucker punched me in the stomach.

I assume this is how most of the baseball community felt as well. The World Series, however riveting it may be, suddenly felt unwatchable. At the core, baseball is a game played by young men, and the fact that one of these young men lost his life instantly becomes more important than whatever Madison Bumgarner is going to do tonight.

I’m not sure what the “proper” way to react to this news is. Maybe this video is insensitive and if it offends you I’m genuinely sorry, but in times of sadness it’s helpful to find comfort in the tangible.

Oscar Taveras was going to be a superstar. Scouts and prognosticators all agreed that this kid had the potential to do amazing things between the lines. The thing is, he had already become something amazing. Hundreds of thousands of young Dominican kids dream of one day playing in the big leagues. Taveras died having already fulfilled that dream.

I didn’t know Oscar Taveras. Chances are neither did you. But for whatever reason, right now, it feels like we did. Our thoughts go out to his family and friends. May they find peace in this difficult time.

Rest in peace, Oscar. You were fucking awesome.

 

The Things We Do For Sports

Sports are a silly thing.

 

I just took an overnight bus from St. Louis to Kansas City just so I could see my favorite team, the Baltimore Orioles, play one more playoff game against the Kansas City Royals. My roommates dropped me off on an abandoned street corner in downtown St. Louis at 12:45 where the bus stop was supposed to be. They had a chemistry exam to study for so I was on my own, except for the homeless man who oddly enough asked me if I wanted HIS jacket. After a good 20 minutes of confusion, my vehicular steed appeared out of the night. The Megabus had arrived.

 

Once seated upstairs, I began to doze off into slumber when I was suddenly awoken by the driver of the bus. Apparently someone had put a dog into the luggage compartment below and the driver was determined to deduce the identity of the owner. “WHO DOG? WHO DOG? WHO DOG?” he bellowed across the cabin. All of a sudden and to no one in particular he yelled, “HEY TRINA. CALL THE POLICE. WE GOT DOG.” Whether or not this man understood how to use the word “a” was extremely unclear. Eventually he grew bored of his crusade and returned to the steering wheel beneath me. It’s a shame too, I guess we’ll never know “WHO DOG” it really was.

 

Four and a half rocky hours of sleep later I arrived in Kansas City at 6 AM. Thankfully enough there was a diner right across from the bus stop where I was able to procure a hot meal. I’m currently sitting in a Starbucks, where I plan to be for the next hour or so until the library opens so I can finish Tolstoy’s War and Peace snag a quick nap. I spent over 250 bucks on the bus, hotel, and tickets for the game. And for what? So I can take a cab out to Kauffman Stadium to watch my team finish its swift playoff disintegration? So I can surround myself with (rightfully) ecstatic Royals fans who so eagerly anticipate their first AL title since 1985? So I can return to St. Louis defeated and dismayed?

 

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Kansas City at 6:45 AM

 

The Orioles could very well win tonight, tomorrow, return home and take game 6 and 7. They could win four straight and become the second team to ever come back from a 3-0 deficit. They could continue that momentum into the World Series and roll over the Giants/Cards. They could ignite the entire city of Baltimore with their resilient comebacks and memorable performances. Adam Jones could put his name up there with Cal, Brooks, and the boys by bouncing back from a rough start to the postseason and lead his team to the Promised Land. Nelson Cruz could further cement his argument as the greatest postseason power hitter of all time. Ubaldo Jimenez could get a World Series ring (LOL). By winning four straight this team could make an entire generation of O’s fans forget about a decade and a half of painful Augusts and boring Octobers.

 

Unfortunately, chances are that none of this happens.

 

The Orioles will probably lose this series. Jason Vargas will probably turn into tubby Kershaw 2.0 or James Shields will be James Shields or Terrance Gore will hit a walk off home run or any other number of absurd possible alternate realities will take place. I, and the rest of the rational baseball universe, know the Orioles don’t have a good chance, but I’m here in Kansas City nonetheless.

 

Baseball, and baseball fandom in particular, is all about the idea of possibility. There’s a reason fans make a premeditated decision to go to Florida or Arizona in the spring. There’s a reason Opening Day is sold out at almost every park. There’s a reason I’m sitting in this Starbucks on only 4 hours of sleep. We as fans latch on to hope and possibility, clinging to the edge of the cliff until survival is no longer possible. We all cherish the fact that one day, just maybe, that team lifting the trophy will be ours. We hold on until a championship team is mathematically impossible. We do these seemingly irrational things because sports provide us with comfort, community, and a sense of shared experience.

 

Tonight hundreds of thousands of Orioles fans will gather around their television sets, hoping that they won’t be doing so for the last time this season. They’ll suffer through numerous references to the fact that the “Royals just have it this year” (They actually do, and good for all the Royals fans. You really do deserve it). Enduring Adam Jones pop-out after Adam Jones pop-out they’ll remain in front of their TV’s because until that final out, there’s always a chance. Until a youthful throng of Royal blue races towards the pitchers mound in jubilation and until Kansas City is coated head to toe in mediocre champagne, there’s a reason for O’s fans to watch, there’s a reason for Baltimore to believe, there’s a reason I’ll be decked out in all my Orioles orange at game four later tonight.

So you’re sayin there’s a chance, eh?

 

Goodbye Professor

Our dear friend and colleague Jason Parks announced today that he is leaving Baseball Prospectus and more importantly the internet to take up a scouting job with Chicago Cubes. We here at the BBQ have a special place in our heart for Professor Parks as he was the man who gave us our start. Last June we had about 83 followers on Twitter and working in baseball was merely a pipe dream. We met Jason at the Baseball Prospectus event in DC. He thought we were funny and tweeted out that people should give us a look. Eighty-three followers became 160, which became 1,600, which became 16,000. We, and many other members of the baseball internet community, owe so much to Jason because he gave us a shot before anybody. Jason, that eye for talent will treat you well in the real world. Best of luck Professor, your presence will be missed.

#RIPJason

 

CFBBQ OFFICIAL STATEMENT: Yoenis Gets Traded to Boston

“Well, I’ve been afraid of changing
‘Cause I’ve built my life around you
But time makes you bolder
Even children get older
And I’m getting older too” 

- “Landslide” by Fleetwood Mac

Change is a horrifying, inevitable part of life. People are born, people die, the world moves on regardless of whether you want it to or not. Humans take what they are comfortable with for granted, which makes sudden change devastatingly difficult to deal with. Perspectives are forced to shift as settings previously considered unthinkable now become a stark, unwelcoming reality.

This morning, our hero and namesake Yoenis Cespedes was traded from the Oakland Athletics to the Boston Red Sox. Most importantly, Yoenis is still healthy, safe, and making boatloads of cash. He is going to love the Green Monster and looks wonderful in turtlenecks. Yoenis Cespedes is going to have a bit of an adjustment period, but he is going to be okay.

We are also going to be okay. First things first: we aren’t changing the name. “Cespedes Family Barbecue” is a moniker completely independent of any Major League Baseball organization. The 20 minute video of him working out, dancing with his family, and roasting a gigantic pig over an open fire is, and always will be, the most enlightening and life-changing video on the internet. Take a deep breath; the BBQ lives on.

For those of you less familiar with what we do, we are not, and have never been, an Oakland-centric blog. We enjoy watching the A’s and appreciate the way they operate their fan-interaction and public relations, but we are not in any way A’s fans. On that same subject, we are not going to, in any way, become a Boston-centric blog. We will continue doing exactly what we’ve done for the last year: provide you guys with free, mediocre, baseball-related humor. It’s just the colors around the words that might be a little different.

Yoenis had an amazing few years in Oakland. He shot dingers to the moon and pegged lasers to the plate. He single-handedly captivated an entire metropolitan area with his manicured eyebrows and charming Cuban smile. It’s time for Yoenis to tackle a new, more Bostonian challenge. For the BBQ, business continues as usual.

Goodbye Oakland. You were a fabulous host to our hero. You treated him with respect and we thank you for that with all of our hearts, minds, eyebrows, and biceps.

#YoKnows

(thanks to Ryan Dunsmore for the Yoenis/Boston photoshop)

 

A Night With Daniel Bard

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The night began just like any other. A gaggle of young talented athletes with hopeful futures took the field, while oversized 40-year-olds and their children pretended to watch them. Fleet-footed Dominican infielders gracefully roamed the grassy landscape like gazelles as monstrously large first baseman with hitches in their swings drop their back shoulders on hanging sliders. This is Low-A baseball, the first full-season step on a long Minor League journey towards The Show. It is a place where dreams are supposed to begin to actualize. But on this night, for Daniel Bard, it was an experiment in perseverance.

Daniel Bard threw the greatest pitch of all time. It was a 99 mile-per-hour two-seamer that broke like a reverse slider. Nick Swisher looked like a blind person because Daniel Bard wanted him to. For a two-year period Bard was one of the best relievers in all of baseball. With a fastball that sat in the high 90’s with sharp run and a slider that made babies cry, Bard could look absolutely unhittable at times. When the Red Sox tried to convert him to a starter to extract greater value from Bard’s studly arm, it all began to go downhill.

After two unsuccessful half-seasons with the Sox and then the Cubs, the Rangers scooped him up at the start of the year in a low-risk, possibly high-reward move. After spending some time in extended spring training rehabbing from an offseason rib surgery, Bard was sent to Low-A Hickory to begin his climb back up the ladder. In his first appearance, two days before we saw him, Bard faced four batters. He walked one, hit three, and exited the game before recording an out. Aware of his struggles two days prior we sat full of curiosity and anticipation amongst the otherwise mostly oblivious Hickory crowd.

On the very first pitch of the inning Bard nailed the West Virginia hitter in the back with a 95 MPH fastball. The next two batters each walked as Bard struggled to locate his fastball, slider, and past successes. He got behind 2-0 to the next hitter before throwing his first strike of the game, a 96 MPH cutter on the outer half that looked like it belonged in Arlington and not in Hickory. His next offering was an 80 MPH slider down the dick that the 20-something year old batter had no chance at. Another swing and a miss on a cutter under the hands and Bard had his first out of the year.

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