Blowin’ In the Wind

My good friend Dylan – original thefoulline.com fantasy league member and Foul Line contributor – and I have a tradition where we go to at least one spring training game a year. This has been going on for several years, and it’s always a great time. The thing about going to a game with Dylan is that something crazy/fun/outlandish happens every time. That, and I’m pretty certain that we’ve never witnessed a Red Sox victory. During the years of going to games with Dylan, some of the highlights have been seeing the two Red Sox World Series trophies and getting great pictures with them, getting interviewed by MLB.tv, the Jed Lowrie foul ball game, meeting Nick from the Penalty Box bar in Rhode Island, the Great Ellsbury Birthplace Debate, and meeting Dewayne Staats. But today’s game may have been the craziest. Today’s game will be known as “the one where we almost watched someone die.”

The best thing about going to a game with Dylan is the constant banter. All the topics are covered: baseball, personal lives, politics, travel, The Foul Line. It’s always witty, and I’m constantly laughing. It makes for a great baseball viewing experience. A few weeks back, Dylan texted me and asked if I wanted to go see the Sox and Cardinals play on February 26th at jetBlue Park in Fort Myers. He was going to get standing-room-only Green Monster tickets. Of course I was in.

I picked him up at his house for the five-minute drive to the park. Upon getting to the stadium an hour and a half early, we noticed a strong 30-mph wind blowing straight out to center field. It was going to be a bad day to be a pitcher. Dylan grabbed a sausage & pepper sandwich with a Sam Adams. I opted for the Fenway Frank and a 312 wheat beer, and we made our way to the top of the Green Monster. The thing about jetBlue Park is that that everyone working there is a prick. I didn’t see one person smile the entire day. They’re working at a beautiful stadium, watching the most beloved team in all of sports, and they treat everyone like they’re wearing an “I love George Steinbrenner” shirt. It’s bizarre.

Anyhow, Dylan and I grabbed a spot on the wall and started watching the Cardinals take batting practice. Balls just started launching out of the park. Texas-Leaguers were carrying in the monsoon-like winds. At this point, more and more people were making their way to the top of the Monster with hopes of catching a BP ball.

It was the typical crowd: the 45-year-old dude who brought his mitt and was chasing down every ball with Jim Edmonds-like enthusiasm; the dad with his kids trying to score two souvenirs for his baseball-loving boys; the middle-aged woman who flinches and ducks at any ball that hints at hitting the wall; and Dylan and me, eating our food, sipping our beer, and watching ball after ball fly over our heads.

As the Cardinals were wrapping up their batting practice, some unknown player started crushing balls over the wall, one after another. The souvenir-baseball feeding frenzy was in full effect. People were chasing down balls like they were the Wonka Bar golden tickets. Dylan and I continued to watch and take it all in.

As Mr. Unknown was winding down his impressive power display, he launched one more ball high over the wall. As the ball carried, it appeared to be hit so well that it was going to leave the entire stadium. At the last minute, an overaggressive ball-hound jumped up for the ball and began to tumble over the rail to a 25-foot fall. When he was half way over the wall and on his way down to certain peril, the 45-year-old, with his mitt still on, dove and grabbed the guy’s legs, saving him from having a really bad day. It was the best and most important catch of the day.

This led to me saying to Dylan, “Damn, that guy almost died!”

To which he replied, “And that’s why I don’t chase after BP balls.”

And here are your Dylan-centric Quick Hits

  • Due to predicted lousy weather, both teams put all their scrubs in the starting lineups. When Daniel Nava is the big name, you might be in for a snoozer.
  • The experience of watching a game from the vantage point of the top of the Green Monster is unparalleled to any seat at any sporting event I have ever had. I highly recommend it.
  • Sox starting pitcher Ryan Dempster was on the mound today. With the scrubs backing him up in the field, Dylan commented that he hoped Dempster had his Eh game. You know, because he’s Canadian. It’s funny, eh?
  • There are fewer things I enjoy more than a Fenway frank, a cold beer, and watching baseball.
  • Dylan was able to turn two standing-room-only tickets into two prime seats on the monster, just by being in the right place at the right time.
  • (For the confused Rays fans, “Standing Room Only” seats are when your team sells all the seats at your park, and your only option is to stand.)
  • 312 beer is poured using an old telephone receiver tap. I’m not sure why, but it was awesome.
  • We’re still waiting for the final three spots to get filled on thefoulline.com fantasy league. Clock’s ticking.
  • I’m returning to the Yankeehaters team name. It was fun being the Boston badboys for a season, but the Yankeehaters just feels right.

Thanks to all for reading! The baseball draft is ONLY 4 weeks away! Start prepping now.

Follow @thefoulline on Twitter.

Order of the Universe

George Steinbrenner’s mentally handicapped son and current Supervisor of Baseball Operations for the Yankees, Hank Steinbrenner, voiced his displeasure the other day to the New York Times “Play” magazine about the most popular fan base in all of sports. For those who missed it, Hank said: “Red Sox Nation? What a bunch of [expletive] that is. That was a creation of the Red Sox and ESPN, which is filled with Red Sox fans.” Hammerin’ Hank continued, “Go anywhere in America and you won’t see Red Sox hats and jackets, you’ll see Yankee hats and jackets. This is a Yankee country. We’re going to put the Yankees back on top and restore the universe to order.”

Now, we’ve let Hank say his piece, and we hope that he feels pretty good about himself. But here at thefoulline.com we would like the opportunity to respond. First of all, Hank, you are a complete and utter jackass. I thought that your dad was a whackjob, but you have now earned the title of “Craziest Steinbrenner To Run a Baseball Team.”

The reason that ESPN televises more Sox games than Yankee games is that people want to see a winner play. Not a group of overpaid, aging, lying, steroid-enabling has-beens. America likes that Boston players keep their noses clean and stay out of the tabloids. This is a good thing for the game of baseball. Having twenty current and former players on the Mitchell Report, an adulterating third baseman and left fielder, and a tax evading shortstop on your roster, on the other hand, is not.

After Hank spouted his line of crap, younger brother Hal decided to add this little gem: “The defending World Series champions have a lot of talent, and [have] done very well the past few years, but let me put it this way: I don’t think [they] wanted to play us in the ALCS. So I will concede nothing. I think we’re better than [them].”

Well Hal, allow me to retort. Boston would have LOVED to play your team in the ALCS. Winning a World Series title is nice, embarrassing the Yankees in the process is even better. Your stellar lineup, with its seven-game playoff losing streak, scares no one. Add an inconsistent rotation, an unreliable bullpen, and the annual playoff choke-job known as Alex Rodriguez, and your team can count on another early exit next year.

The thing is, they may be right about the number of fans out there. But there is a huge difference between Yankee fans and Red Sox fans. Sox fans wear their hats and jackets all year long, regardless of their wins or losses. Yankee fans hide in their parents’ basements until their team starts to lead the division, and then they dust off their Yankee gear and reveal themselves as the obnoxious idiots that they are.

Hank and Hal, you are fortunate to live in the greatest nation in the world. Unfortunately for you, it goes by the name of RED SOX NATION. And I think it’s time you were deported.

He made them an offer they can’t refuse

The New York Yankees announced today that George Steinbrenner is giving up control of the team to his sons Hank and Hal. Something tells me the apples didn’t fall too far from the tree. Hank’s first order of business was to announce Joba “the Hut” Chamberlain will be a starting pitcher next season. You read it right. Not re-signing Joe Torre. Not negotiating with the 2007 AL MVP. Not trying to re-sign Jorge Posada or Mariano Rivera. He decided to focus on a lard-ass rookie pitcher who gets unraveled when a few bugs fly around his head. Hank’s a chip off the old block.

With Steinbrenner getting older, I knew his time running the Yankees was coming to an end. I was disappointed I wasn’t going to see or hear from this whack job any more when his team starts losing games. And what does he do? He turns the team over to his two sons. If one nut job is good, then two nut jobs must be really good, right?

For some reason, I keep seeing this unfold in a Godfather-esque fashion. But instead of turning over the power to someone smart, ruthless, and powerful like Michael Corleone, George turns power over to Fredo, the dumb, no-common-sense imbecile. And we all know how it turned out for Fredo.

We may have seen the end to this once proud franchise. It now looks like the New York Yankees sleep with the fishes.