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?

 

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CFBBQ Pony Playoff Pump-Up

The playoffs are right around the corner and we are pretty excited so we made a video that should pump everyone else up for the playoffs.

-Music by Ginuwine

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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