If you’ve been anywhere near a television over the past 3 months, you’ve probably heard the name Mike Trout. No, it’s not a dish at your local Red Lobster or the brother of Kurt Vonnegut’s most famous recurring character, rather Mike Trout is a professional baseball player for the Anaheim Angels. He has put up legendary numbers since being called up to the Major Leagues and has some fans thinking he might be this generations Bryce Harper. Here are a few things you might not know about Mike Trout….
Mike Trout hit .413 in the month of July making him the first person with an artificial lung to hit .400 for a full month since Claudell Washington did it in 1807.
Mike Trout is the uncle of legendary Hollywood actress Farrah Fawcett.
Mike Trout is the first baseball player in history to score three times on the same play.
Mike Trout has hit 16 homeruns in 2012, more than any other major leaguer since Henry Aaron hit 17 in 1956.
Mike Trout played his entire high school junior season covered in maple syrup.
If you say Mike Trout three times in front of a mirror, you turn into famed novelist Toni Morrison.
Mike Trout is the son of former major league pitcher Steve Trout.
Mike Trout posthumously won the 1976 Best Actor Academy Award for his portrayal of demented news anchor Howard Beale in Sidney Lumet’s classic film Network.
Mike Trout has more RBIs this month than all 44 U.S. Presidents COMBINED
It is a state law in New Jersey that if a catcher catches Mike Trout stealing second base he is to be fined a thousand dollars and can face up to six months in prison.
In the 8th grade, Mike Trout’s track coach timed him running the 100-yard dash in 4.7 seconds. At the time he ran it, he was in a coma.
Mike Trout’s first major league hit came against Confederate Civil War General Nathan Bedford Forrest.
Mike Trout once plucked a dying sparrow out of midair on his way from first to home on a single.
Mike Trout was born with 14 fingers on his right hand.
If Mike Trout continues on his current pace, he will have played in more consecutive games than Cal Ripken by 2017.
Mike Trout is the son of former major league star Vada Pinson.
If Mike Trout left Houston traveling at 20 miles per hour he would in Seattle within two hours.
Mike Trout has been cited by William Faulkner as the major influence behind the novel Absalom! Absalom!
Mike Trout was born without a ribcage.
Mike Trout is the first major leaguer to have no vowels in his first or last name.
Mike Trout is the great-grandson of former U.S. Senator Charles de Gaulle.
(Middle-aged woman with red hair walks on the elevator. I am pacing back and forth. My facial muscles are twitching. I begin saying “Vermont” over and over in a loud voice for no particular reason)
Woman: (frightened) Sir, are you okay?
Me: No. No. I’m not okay. I’m NOT okay. I’m not OKAY ALRIGHT!!!!
You know why? Do you? Moneyball. That’s the problem. Moneyball. I stayed up all night watching that film. Over and over. I read the book. I mean, I loved the book. It fueled my deep and undying passion for baseball stats. It was fascinating. VERMONT! I mean, Michael Lewis is a heck of a writer. But….THE MOVIE!!!! Ehhhhh!!!! Vermont!
Woman: (staring straight ahead in utter terror) The….movie?
Me: It’s absurd. Absurd! They turned the thing into a Merchant-Ivory picture! All the edge of a five-year-old butter knife. All the dullness of Out of Africa with the “fight the system”, Occupy Someplace message that Americans love. Mr. Smith Goes To Oakland. Blah blah blah. Of course, the big climax is the film is the main character turning down a whale’s colon full of money for “the love of the game”. If there was ever a part of me that didn’t want so see Hollywood attacked by human eating vultures it died in that moment. VERMONT!!!!!!
Me: Good lord! How many shots of that stupid “Awwww shucks”, wax-lipped expression on Brad Pitt’s stupid face can one man handle? Who wants to watch this guy do a 2-hour impression of the offensive line coach at Auburn? And the fat kid? What’s his deal!!?!! If I was Paul DePodesta I’d rather them got Anthony Perkins to play me. They even put hipsters in baseball movies now for godsakes. VERMONT!!!!!! And his daughter?!? Good lord! They put her in the movie twice for the sole purpose of playing that god-awful song. TWICE!!! Awful! Those noises she makes. She sounds like a porpoise giving birth…
Woman: (reaching into her purse for either a whistle or pepper spray) Sir, please…….
Me: Look! You asked me what I thought about the film! I hated it. Vermont! If you watched the film you’d think the A’s only had Scott Hatteberg, Chad Bradford and David Justice. They had Zito! Mulder! Hudson! Dye! Tejada! Harang! Ramon Hernandez! Not a one of those guys were Moneyballers. And their division sucked! Those were also factors….don’t you think??????
Me: You’d think Billy Beane had a blind second baseman and 9 year old playing catcher. You’d think Billy Beane climbed Mount Mariah and talked the good lord out of making Abraham sacrifice his son. You’d think he cured smallpox by dialing a few numbers into his computer. VER—–MONT!!!!!
Me: And another thing, what did Art Howe ever do to become the worst movie villain since Jack Nicholson put on face paint? Sure, he wasn’t exactly a great manager, but watching this film you’d think he had Frank Menechino’s liver with some fava beans and a nice Chianti. He’s an American League manager! Of course, he’s cold and disinterested! You would be too if you had to watch 162 games a year without even getting to call one double switch. Let’s face it, it’s the most mind-numbing job this side of being Underwear Inspector Number 8 at the Hanes Factory.
Woman: (angrily) Are you finished?
Me: Am I finished?!? Am I finished?!? VermontvermontVERMONT! You know what stings the worst. The reviews! Reading reviewer after reviewer practically break their collective arms trying to heap praise on this piece of garbage because the director “gets out of the way and let’s the film tell it’s story.” According to most of the Gatekeepers of Good Taste, the best thing an American director can aspire to be is irrelevant. Where are the 12-minute tracking shots? Where is the juxtaposition between Billy Beane and a Chicago Slaughterhouse in the 1890s? No homage to Eisenstein’s Odessa Step Sequence? Only two films get made in Hollywood anymore, the one about the likeable but eccentric character triumphing over some overblown problem or the one about the co-ed trapped in an elevator who can only survive by gnawing off her own leg. America used to stand for something! Is this really the best we can do? VERMONT!!!!
Woman: (finally looking at me with a deeply concerned expression)This is my floor. I’m going to go now.
Me: Thanks for listening.
Woman: You bet.
(Editors Note: The following was written during Mr. Spillett’s regular Saturday journey to Quarg, a parallel dimension located in the Glyming Galaxy. In this dimension, fortunately, Tebow Time and Tebow Mania do not exist)
Things keep getting worse for the New York Mets. Following a dreadful 2011 campaign, the Mets most reliable starter, R.A. Dickey, was consumed this week by a pack of snarling mountain loins on his quest to climb Mount Kilimanjaro. Dickey, who finished 2011 with a sterling 3.28 ERA, was ripped to shreds only moments before he reached the top of the mountain leaving the Mets 2012 playoff hopes in tatters.
However, things might be starting to look up. The Mets today signed knuckleballer and former NFL quarterback Tim Tebow. Tebow, who was released by the Broncos yesterday after throwing 12 interceptions in the first quarter against a Pittsburgh Steeler defense that was using 11 defensive linemen, was snapped up immediately by the pitching starved Mets.
Tebow, who hasn’t pitched a baseball game since he was an 11-year-old little leaguer, was shocked at first by the offer. He had counted on spending a good portion of his adult life underthrowing open receivers in the NFL. But, a chance to pitch for an organization poised on the brink of greatness, like the Mets, was too much to refuse.
The question is, can Tebow pitch in the majors? Sandy Alderson certainly thinks so. After watching Tebow throw wobbly, erratic passes to no one in particular, the Mets GM began to believe that he is a natural knuckleball pitcher. Scientists have studied the motion of the ball leaving Tebow’s hand and are at a loss to explain it. “It’s as if the ball is being guided by a drunken stumbling vagrant,” said NASA Chief Physicist Aaron Bowles. Alderson, however, believes its trajectory is reminiscent of how the ball used to leave Phil Niekro’s hand.
Alderson believes that if Tebow could make a baseball do what he does with a football, he could be virtually unhittable. Beyond his potential, Alderson was impressed by Tebow’s willingness to pitch for free. The Mets, who project their payroll to be somewhere around 150 dollars next season were looking for a low risk, low reward signing to eat innings for them. Tebow seemed to fit the mold perfectly.
Alderson also admitted he was excited about the idea of Tebow bringing positive attention to a franchise that has spent the better part of the last five years being treated like a leper colony. “Who wouldn’t be moved by the story of a kid from an upper middle class family, who represents the most popular religion in the United States defying the odds and becoming successful? The chances were one in a million. He’s an underdog in every sense of the word,” said a teary-eyed Alderson.
Tired of being hounded by the press about his interest in the Ohio State head football coaching position, Ohio State coach Urban Meyer today unequivocally denied any interest in taking the Ohio State job. Meyer, who only weeks ago signed a contract to coach at Ohio State, denied that he has had contact with AD Gene Smith or that he was even aware that Ohio State existed. Meyer claims that the recent press conference where he was introduced as the Head Coach was “a complete and total fabrication.”
Earlier today outside of his office in the Ohio State football complex, Meyer decried the media’s rampant speculation about his plans and willingness to report rumors instead of solid facts. “They just take a few pieces of information and run wild with them,” said Meyer decked out in his brand new Ohio State coaching jacket. After a Buckeye Booster Club Luncheon and a long day of preparing for next year’s home opener against Miami of Ohio, Meyer declared that he was looking forward to taking the next year to spend time with his family.
Ohio State University, already reeling from NCAA imposed sanctions for 2012, now faces the unenviable task of hiring a new coach even though they have already hired one who is currently coaching the team. In a press release issued by the University, the Athletics Department stated definitively that they are “Looking forward to celebrating several championships in the Urban Meyer Ohio State era even though it will not be taking place.”
Meyer reacted frostily to the claims of some reporters that he has been wavering in his commitment to Buckeye football. “I have been very clear about my intentions of not not not not not not coaching at Ohio State next season. I’m not sure what else I can say.”
ESPN, which is already inundated with several major stories about pre-season NBA basketball and reports of Tim Tebow drinking a glass of water, led their SportsCenter broadcast with 55 minutes of coverage of Meyer’s denial. In an interview with ESPN’s Shelley Smith, Coach Meyer denied ever issuing a denial. “I am obviously currently the Ohio State Head football coach. I am not,” said Meyer in an attempt to clarify the news reports about his interest in the Ohio State job that he took last month.
Ending The Suffering In Style: Mets Promotions That Might Actually Get People To Citi Field in September
Sandy Alderson and I have been in a regular Friday night card game for the past three years. It’s a pretty low stakes game, but things got a bit out of hand last week. Sandy, or Santino as he likes to be called, went all in on a straight flush that never materialized. Long story short, Santino owes me 20 large. I know for a fact that he owes some very dangerous guys some serious coin, including an ungodly amount to a guy out in Staten Island that they call Joey The Lamppost. Anyway, I told Santino that if he lets me run the promotion side for the Mets for the last 6 games of the year, a god awfully unbearable home stand against two deeply disinterested teams, that I’d forgive what he owes me and talk to a few friends about allowing him to arrange a payment schedule that doesn’t involve forfeiting his kidneys. Basically, I get to create whatever promotions I want. I personally think this will be a good thing, because only a diehard baseball fans and flashers will be out for most of the games. These promotions might just get a few folks out to say farewell to another season of mind-numbingly awful baseball.
Friday Night vs. The Phillies
(Night of The Old Timers)
Most baseball teams have an old timers day, so this is not a new idea. However, few teams have actually ever had their old timers team play the actual game. The Phillies will have already clinched the division and will be resting everyone who is even marginally relevant to the team’s success. Why not have some fun? What could be more enjoyable than watching 66-year-old Eddie Kranepool trying to leg out an infield grounder or 67-year-old Ron Swoboda trying to hit a Brad Lidge slider? Imagine Cleon Jones trying to make a sliding catch and having to be revived by paramedics. Could 74 year old Choo-Choo Coleman throw out fleet-footed Catcher Brian Schneider as he was stealing 3rd base? Who knows? Who cares? They are 26 games out of first place for God sakes.
Saturday Afternoon vs. The Phillies
(Come, Come To The Sabbath Saturday)
Anyone who has spent more than 5 seconds on this blog has to have figured out that I am completely obsessed with metal artist King Diamond. Imagine all the players dressed in King Diamond face paint reflecting the many eras of the King’s career. David Wright wearing the King’s Conspiracy look. Jose Reyes rocking The Puppet Master era top hat and backwards cross paint. Free orange sherbet to the first 500 fans (so, basically everybody who will be there). About two thirds of you just collectively said, “What on earth is this fool talking about?” They will probably stop reading at this point, thus depriving themselves of a golden opportunity to hear about Ruben Tejada fighting a bear.
Sunday Afternoon vs. The Phillies
(Ruben Tejada Fights A Bear Day)
I have yet to find a use for Ruben Tejada. People often tell me that he has a great deal of potential. He looks to me like a back-up middle infielder who, if everything goes perfectly and he manages to join a Santeria sect capable of utilizing functional spells, could one day hit .290. Why not have him fight a bear? Who wouldn’t love to watch little Ruben battle one of nature’s most terrifying beasts? Have the fight in the 5th inning and whoever wins gets to play second for the rest of the game. Imagine watching a bear, barely finished digesting Ruben Tejada trying to turn a double play. Some groups would call this cruelty to animals, but truthfully, unless there is a group that tries to prevent cruelty to moderately talented, light hitting second basemen, no one will complain too loudly.
Monday Night vs. The Reds
(Franz Kafka Night)
Imagine it…an entire baseball game dedicated to the demented mind of Franz Kafka. The game starts in the 4th inning. In the first inning, which follows the 8th, second base is removed mid-inning leaving the players to contemplate how to get to third. Pitchers refuse to pitch for hours cynically watching the batters prepare for a pitch that may never come. On a 3-2 fastball down the middle, the umpire randomly yells out “SQUID!” No one knows how to proceed. Jason Bay randomly turns into a giant turtle while running to first base after hitting a single. The game ends with both teams being swallowed by a choking fog that descends onto the field and disappearing into a vast and cruel nothingness.
Tuesday Night vs. The Reds
(Retiring Juan Samuel’s Jersey)
Do you remember the year that Juan Samuel led the Mets to the playoffs by hitting .400 down the stretch including a game winning homerun against the Cardinals to clinch the division? Or the time he picked up his third consecutive MVP award and led the Mets to back-to-back World Series victories? Of course you don’t. The Juan Samuel trade was a Hindenburg like catastrophe that managed to rip the heart and soul out of a once great team and all but ruin my childhood. Most teams retire player’s jersey because he performs at a high level. Listen, we are Mets fans. If there’s anything that epitomizes the franchise it is devastating trades that hamstring the organization for decades. Why not celebrate what we do best?!?!
I have no idea what his jersey number was. I don’t even think he remembers. We certainly could retire his batting average with the Mets in 1989. From this day forward, no one will be allowed to hit .228 again!
Wednesday Night vs. The Reds
(The Stoning of Mr. Met Night)
You know that Pepsi commercial they have now where all the great baseball players from different eras in a Field of Dreams type set up? While most clubs are represented by some great player like Randy Johnson or Dennis Eckersley, the Mets are represented by a dude with a baseball on his head. As if to say, the best thing that your storied franchise can produce is a silly mascot. Personally, I find the whole bit insulting. I have a deep hatred for mascots in general, but Mr. Met causes my heart to pump pure bile. The only way to truly end this fiasco of a season properly is by having Mr. Met pelted to death with stones. Thousands of them! It’s the only rational solution.
Wound him to the point that no thinking person will ever put a giant baseball on his head in the Tri-State area again. Make an example out of him! Send a message to baseball that goofy mascots will not be tolerated. Lets remind America that we can again become the unruly demented mob that trashed Shea Stadium after clinching the division in 1986. Turn Mr. Met into a human piñata, then we’ll start winning some championships.
The Greeks today announced that star warrior Achilles would be out indefinitely with a torn Achilles tendon. The news came as a shock to many Greek fans who believed Achilles to be invincible. The injury, sustained when a stray arrow fired by that skinny little punk Paris hit him in the foot, could potentially be career threatening. Achilles struggled to his feet and limped away into the distance cursing Paris as well as the god Apollo, who he blamed directly for his injury. In a 2 PM press conference an enraged, tearful Achilles swore an oath “upon the throne of Zeus” to be back in time for the playoffs.
The news of Achilles injury is another in a long line of stories about the troubled, mercurial but amazingly talented superstar. Achilles has just recently returned from a two month hold out because of The Greeks’ failure to guarantee his war prize and love Briseis in his contract. He also was recently suspended by commissioner Roger Goodell for the flagrant destruction of Hector’s Body and his refusal to return it to The Trojans. Achilles is a wildly popular figure among the fans of the Greeks, but many warriors from around the league have grown tired of him acting like a heel.
The major injury to Achilles is part of a rash of recent injuries that have hampered the Greeks. In the past week, several pivotal performers have sustained serious injuries including tight end JerMicheal Finley (hamstring), King Agamemnon (axe through head) and Patroclus (death). The Greeks will be relying on their heavily depleted bench in order to defeat the great Trojan War Machine this Sunday on the frozen tundra of Ilium. Las Vegas odds-makers have moved the line from Greeks by 5 to Trojans by 2 since news of Achilles injury hit the wire.
As every sports fan knows, August is the month in which the media spends an inordinate amount of time discussing whether Brett Favre will stay retired or not. This has been a solid tradition in American sports journalism going back to the 1920s. I was a bit concerned that the month was almost a day old and I had not heard a Favre story. Then came this morning’s press conference. As a service to the American public, who would surely collapse into fits of stifling depression without their hourly Brett Favre fix, I present to you the transcript from today’s press conference.
Brett Favre sits at a table in front of a microphone wearing a tee shirt, a baseball cap and jeans. Hundreds of excited journalists sit drooling with blind, wild, animal enthusiasm coursing through their veins.
Favre: I don’t want to take too much of your time today. There has been some speculation that I would be returning to the NFL this season. I want to set the record straight. I am retired, I will stay retired, and that’s the end of it. I have no idea why people keep bringing up my return to football, but to be clear, I am not coming back.
Reporter #1: Mr. Favre, is their any truth to the rumor that you considered returning to the Green Bay Packers this season?
Favre: Well, I’ve been in negotiations with the Packers for the last two weeks. I’d like to take this moment and officially announce I will be returning to the NFL as a Green Bay Packer this season.
Reporter #2: But, Mr. Favre, I don’t understand, you just said you would not be returning to the NFL this year?
Favre: See, now you are putting words in my mouth. I called this press conference today to announce that I will be returning to the NFL as a New York Giant. The Giants don’t need a quarterback, but they have told me I can be their punter.
Reporter #3: Wait, Mr. Favre, so….please help me understand.
Favre: This has been a difficult decision, but today, I’m proud to announce that I have decided to become a professional baseball player. I will start out in Birmingham with the White Sox minor league affiliate and hopefully will be in the majors by next spring.
Reporter #4: But, Brett….I…….What?!?!?!
Favre: Thank you so much for coming today. I would like to take this moment to announce that I am going to become a real Viking. I plan on dressing up like Leif Erickson and exploring Nova Scotia.
Reporter #5: Wait….wait…Mr….
Favre: There has been a lot of speculation as to my plans for next season. I want to make it clear in no uncertain terms that I plan to move to Burma. There, I will be working to overthrow the military junta that controls that country. I was considering returning to the NFL, but this cause is much more important.
Reporter #6: Mr. FARVE….please…..help us….we all have stories to write……we can’t deal with this sort of uncertainty…..please….help us…..
Favre: Let me be clear. There have been a lot of rumors about my return to the NFL. The media just seems to run wild with irrational ideas. Let me be 100 percent clear with you. I plan next season to undergo surgery that will merge my body with a mountain goat creating a Minotaur-like creature.
Reporter #7: Okay…okay…you’ve said a lot of conflicting things here. Please settle on one story…
Favre: You know…I don’t appreciate being pushed to make a decision. I called this press conference to end all of the wild speculation. So….let me announce today, without a shadow of doubt, that I plan on becoming the color orange next year. Wherever there is orange, a small bit of my soul will appear. I will be in orange paint, orange juice, oranges, orange sherbet, orange tee shirts, basketball rims….everywhere! I will be orange!
Reporter #8: It’s not possible for a human being….wait…
Favre: Listen, I want to end all of the speculation right now. I have never actually existed. I am a collection of illusory particles sent to earth from the planet Zuhro in the Nubuloid sector of Bode’s Galaxy. All the memories you have of me were implanted in your minds as a practical joke. There never was a Brett Favre. My fellow Hehroites was simply having fun at your expense. You participated in a long-term collective hallucination in the hopes of amusing beings that were very bored.
And with that, Favre disappeared in a giant burst of blue light….
Some people dream of having their own twenty-room mansion, some fantasize about owning a yacht, others imagine purchasing their own tropical island. If money was no object and I could buy anything I wanted I’d immediately purchase the Colorado Rockies. Here’s the thing, I’m not even a Rockies fan and I’ve never been within 300 miles of Colorado. So, why would some multi-billionaire Mets fan want to purchase the Rockies? Because it would allow me to put into play a baseball system that would forever revolutionize how the game is played. I like to call the system Moronball and it could be the greatest innovation in how the game is played since the creation of the curveball.
Moronball is a system that utilizes several idiosyncrasies within the game to the greatest possible advantage. It is similar to the Oakland A’s Moneyball system in the fact that it tries to achieve success without spending a large amount of money. The difference is that instead of creating a team built around a boring, clichéd goal like winning; Moronball is built around creating the most bizarre and entertaining possible experience imaginable.
The first and most obvious question is, ‘Why Colorado’? The homerun is the most critical offensive component in Moronball. Therefore, we will try to create a team that will hit the most possible homeruns and in the process sacrifice nearly every other important offensive category. The thin air of Colorado can offer a possibility of a nearly endless stream of homeruns if the fences are moved in a bit. Right now, you need to hit the ball 415 feet to get a homerun in straight away center. That’s ridiculous! Nobody wants to go to a game to watch long outs. We will move that that to about 350 and put a 275 foot short porch out in right and left field. As Founding Father and diehard baseball fan James Madison once said, “Chicks dig the longball.”
The next step is finding players that fit the system. Homerun hitters tend to be a bit overpaid unless they lack speed, the ability to hit for average and anything approaching average defensive ability. The Moronball Rockies are going to resemble a 35 and up beer league softball team. My outfield will feature athletes like Wily Mo Pena (5 HRs in 46 AB this year), Andruw Jones (14th on the active list of homeruns per at bat with 1 per every 17), and Matt Stairs (25th on the same list 1 HR per 19 ABs). I’d even talk to Barry Bonds about coming out of retirement to roam the outfield. Granted, what I have just outlined is the worst defensive outfield in the 150-year history of baseball, but the point is to win games 22 to 17, not 3 to 1.
At third base would be Russell Branyan (7th on the active AB/HR list with 1 per every 15 ABs) and our first baseman will be Cubs power hitter Carlos Pena (anyone who can hit 26 homeruns with a sub .200 batting average like Pena did last year belongs with us). Pena would cost us somewhere in the neighborhood of 10 million per season, but, honestly, we’re not really paying anyone else all that much so why not shell a little money out for a guy who could potentially hit 75 homeruns in our ballpark. Many, many records would fall in Colorado.
It gets a bit tricky when you get to shortstop and second base, because the bloated power hitters are either making too much money for us or have been moved to the outfield. However, keep in mind that we are not committed in anyway whatsoever to playing anything that would even remind a baseball fan of defense. Therefore, I would use Spring Training to convert some Triple A power hitting phenoms who can’t make the show into middle infielders. Mike Hessman, who is currently playing in Japan, is the active minor league homerun leader. I bet that he’d be willing to play second base if I promised him an everyday gig. Shortstop would be manned by power hitting journeyman Bill Hall who is, ironically enough, actually a shortstop. Our catcher would be slugger Miguel Olivo who does almost nothing but hit the ball out the park.
Our starting pitching staff will be another unique facet of Moronball. 3 knuckleballers. That’s it! Tim Wakefield, R.A. Dickey and Charlie Haeger. Jim Bouton once said that knuckleballers pitch better when they are tired. These starters are going to be looking at logging something in the neighborhood of 40 starts so they will be completely exhausted. One of the most entertaining things to watch are knuckleballers, so I say, give the people what they want to see! We’d then carry 9 relief pitchers who could come in and throw hard in order to capitalize on the fact that seeing knuckleballers all day long will cause the opposition’s timing to be a bit off. They can all be flame-throwing journeymen; I really don’t care. We could even have a contest and put a fan on the roster as a middle reliever for the entire season. As long as our team ERA is somewhere below 15.00 we are going to be competitive or, at the very least, fun to watch.
The Rockies have a great amount of talent. I’m sure I could get the players I’ve mentioned because I strongly doubt teams like the Red Sox are going to turn down an offer like Troy Tulowitzki for 44 year-old Tim Wakefield. With the players I’ve mentioned and a few bench players, I think I can keep the payroll somewhere around 35 million per year. I will invest an additional 5 million in order to find the best steroid doctors in the world. If it means forcing our players to inject substances that would have made Mr. Ed win the Kentucky Derby, we will do it.
Baseball purists will hate our team. The commissioner will threaten to close us down. Announcers will lambaste us every time they watch us play, but a Colorado Rockies game will be the most exciting 6 hours the fans have ever seen. We will put hills in the middle of the outfield, place a giant sinkhole between first and second base and even mine the infield grass, whatever we need to do to make Rockies baseball the greatest show on earth.
The LeBron Hate Machine has officially been cranked up to 10. Welcome to The Narrative, sir! Here’s how the next five years of your life are probably going to go. Most of the mob will hate you today, that is for certain. They’ll say you’re no Kobe, they’ll say you don’t have Nowitzki’s heart, they invoke the ever looming specter of MJ. They tell you you’ll never be as great as the ones that they remember. You’re not old school. You’re not committed enough. You’re arrogant. You called your own press conference. You left the folks in Cleveland high and dry. You think you are bigger than the game. You need to be taught a lesson.
This will go on for a little while. Then, you will win. The Narrative will shift. You’ve learned your lesson. You’ve been humbled. You went back to basics. You did things the right way. You overcame the odds. You have been redeemed. You are a champion.
Once you’ve seen the puppet show once or twice, the strings become remarkably annoying. We’ve done this dance so many times before. Remember when Kobe was an obnoxious, spoiled kid who didn’t know his place? Remember when Dirk was a soft-boiled choke artist? Heck, do you remember when Muhammad Ali was a dangerous, radical anti-American draft dodger? What did they do to rehabilitate their image? They won.
Redemption awaits anyone who can help his or her team score more points then the other team when the big spotlight is blaring. Redemption is a pretty easy formula. Time plus rings. Not exactly calculus. If you doubt the truth of what I’m saying, just watch the lovefest that is waiting just down the road if Tiger or Michael Vick get to the Promised Land. It makes you wonder what OJ could have done if he still had a good 40 time.
Maybe this time it will be different. LeBron has an opportunity to do something that has never been done. There is one trick left that they haven’t seen. They need to be introduced to the true Man in Flight. The Running Man. The person who finally takes the Narrative by the throat and squeezes. LeBron James can become the first Post-Rational Superstar.
At first, LeBron would have to follow some very well-travelled ground. He could start on the path that trailblazers like Dennis Rodman and Charles Barkley journeyed before him. He could become the zany, outspoken Bad Guy. The Heel. The difference between these guys and a Post-Rational Superstar is that they stopped there. They found their niche and they road it to the bank. What I am suggesting would be far more radical.
Next season LeBron starts the show by cursing at a few fans, hanging with some edgy celebs, coloring his hair blue, punching a reporter, whatever. Once the mob gets used to that, he flips the script. He becomes a highly pious, deeply caring man. Donates a year’s salary to charity. Gets photographed helping an old lady across the street. Donates a kidney. Whatever gets them to start loving him again. Then, when everyone is comfortable, he slams on the brakes! LeBron joins the Communist Party, starts quoting radical Islamic clerics, gets a backwards cross tattooed into his forehead, and becomes every red-blooded American sports fan’s worst nightmare.
Once there have been enough Bill O’Reilly interviews calling him a monster, he flips it again. Begs the forgiveness of the mob. Saves a child from a burning building. Donates the other kidney. Starts a mission in Peru that saves victims of toxic megacolon. Gets himself photographed with the Pope. Figures out a way to cut unemployment below 5 percent. Captures and kills an Al-Queda leader. Once they get comfortable with the New LeBron…..BAM! He joins the Church of Satan, projectile vomits on a referee and pour yaks blood over his head after each win. He keeps flipping and flipping and flipping until people want to get off the ride.
And here’s the best part, LeBron….No matter what you do, if you win, they will find it in their hearts to rationalize your actions. They don’t see you for your game or your stunning personality or your greed or your kind heart or your selfishness. They aren’t watching you at all; they are watching what you represent. Your biggest fans just love you because they want to be associated with your victories and your worst enemies just want to take some measure of credit for your defeat.
Turn the mirror on the mob. Let them see them see the carnival in all of its venal absurdity. Don’t let them rationalize you. Run The Narrative off of a cliff. When they say they’ve had enough, give them more. Make every icon equally worthless. Destroy any logical assumption that can be made about you or anyone who comes after you. Give them everything and nothing all at once. Confuse them to death. Leave nothing standing. The one thing a superstar can still provide the sports world with is an understanding of how insane its basic cultural assumptions and beliefs are. And the best part is, if you win, they’ll still love you.