David Raposa: So did you see my public plea to read Frank Deford's abominable plan to destroy baseball?
David Roth: I feel for him. I like Frank Deford as an idea, and sometimes as a writer. I will always ride for an old sportswriter who rocks elbow-patch blazers and acts like someone who rocks elbow-patch blazers. There will not be more like him. It's not like Gregg Doyel is ever going to lose the TapouT tees and Thousand Island-magnet facial hairs and somehow age into class. So it's a drag to see Old Frank trolling.
David Raposa: Even with the well-maintained moustache, pomade, and monogrammed cigarette case, he's only a few cheap shots and pejoratives away from being fully optimized for an "Around The Horn" guest spot.
David Roth: And that's a drag. Getting Woody Paige Pringle-spittle all over him. Deford, at this point, should just be doing his thing, not working as some sort of sports-journo Walmart greeter. He should be sipping old-fashioned vermouth-y cocktails and writing at his leisure about going to steakhouses with Alvin Dark while Eisenhower was president. Still, the piece is terrible and I don't know who really thinks baseball needs tinkering-with right now.
David Raposa: You mean besides the man that has an exhibition game decide home-field advantage in the World Series, makes the Padres play the Mariners every summer, and thinks George Will has worthwhile baseball opinions?
David Roth: Oh, Bud. He just needs something to do. But the game works—it's fun if you like baseball, the teams and league make money, and it kept Milton Bradley off our streets for, like, 12 years. It's not the most popular sport in the country anymore, but I think that's mostly attributable to the populace getting worse, and (thus?) more NFL-friendly.
David Raposa: Exactly. The problem with baseball isn't that it's not like football (or the NHL, which: really, Frank?). It's that it WANTS to be like football, at the expense of its innate baseball-ness. I can't think of a sport whose long, leisurely regular season better complements its general mien than baseball. Though (cheap shot alert) watching football every week does make me feel like I've been repeatedly concussed and chop-blocked.
David Roth: Also, and this is saddest: no one really cares about this particular conflict. Frank Deford's wingtipped ass certainly doesn't care. Also, Deford has to know that owners aren't giving up a month of ticket sales and concessions. So it's silly for that reason, too. We have now written more words on the piece than he did.
David Raposa: Granted, he has a limited space to fill. I imagine he listens to folks like Susan Stamberg and the "Planet Money" team rattle on and on about jewelry makers or upside-down mortgages and wonders how many times he has to get on HBO to earn ten Inskeep-introduced minutes on Rafael Nadal and The Return Of Tennis. Or the overwhelming non-statistical excellence of Jeff Mathis. You quoted me some stat off-chat a few days ago about Mathis' pitcher-like ineptitude?
David Roth: Yeah, he'd rank 10th in OPS among pitchers with 50 plate appearances. Mostly I was just lonely. But I fondly remember a time when all catchers were like that, except for Lance Parrish and Gary Carter. Now we've got all these fancy new catchers that don't have .244 on-base percentages and don't slam tall boys in the dugout during games. Dave Valle and Tim Laudner would serve wedgies to these new dandies all day.
David Raposa: I love me some competent hitters, but I do miss the Tony Pena splits.
David Roth: I think the risk-unto-certitude of significant testicular trauma has led to its demise. But yes, it was exciting to watch.
David Raposa: What do you think all that equipment is for, though? Style points? Rollerball auditions? If your marbles are getting in the way, then you need to do a better job choosing your groupies.
David Roth: I read "groupies" as a euphemism for "balls," there. But what I mean is that if there's a reason to be sad about better stats—as a certain kind of sportswriter invariably is—it's that we don't get to see outlier scrubeens like Ron Karkovice get thousands of big-league plate appearances. Which reminds me, any luck getting Karkovician into the Oxford English Dictionary?
David Raposa: Wow, an actual negative OPS+!
David Roth: If you will it, it is no dream, dude.
David Roth: At the risk of romanticizing shitty things, I liked that every team used to just have these weird random forklift-driver first basemen or catchers with Civil War mustaches in the lineup. It made for worse baseball, but it also made teams more like actual workplaces, which I think isn't necessarily a bad thing. Every office I've been in, there has been a guy with weird scars that he needs to explain to you—"it was one of those old Xerox machines, with a lot of razors in it"—or some dude who never blinked and had a really idiosyncratic take on certain books of the Bible or a pale person with a novel of supernatural erotica that keeps getting left on the printer. Major League lineups need those guys, too.
David Raposa: I almost think it's less that those types aren't around, and more that those types don't get the focus. There are more than a few heffalumps roaming the baseball veldt. And plenty of sartorial facial mishaps.
David Roth: Yes on the facial malpractice, of course. The Reds bullpen, earlier this year, looked like time travelers from Andersonville who had suddenly and inexplicably been thrust into situational lefty roles. But there are fewer old-timey wind-machine "sluggers" or no-hit/no-field humps, I think. Although you know what? Maybe I am wrong.
David Raposa: The Fraternity of Backup Catchers will forever be on some Jimmy Hoffa shit.
David Roth: Basically as long as Brian Sabean has a job there will be a few of these old-school sucktards out there.
David Raposa: You mean the GM that would be starting the most-excellent Buster Posey right now if not for a broken leg? I'm all for giving Sabean's vet fetish a public airing, but give Ned Coletti his due. Hell, he had Joe Torre turn one of the good ones (Russell Martin) into a craptastic banjo hitter seemingly overnight, AND traded a potential keeper (Carlos Santana) for a middleweight third basemen!
David Roth: All true. If Coletti didn't exist, the Mets would be bankrupt by now. There but for the grace of God and Ned Coletti are the Mets not somehow paying Andruw Jones $24 million this year.
David Roth: Also Andruw Jones would weight 315 pounds if he were a Met. He would look and hit like Madea.
David Raposa: I admire Andruw's dedication to inertia, though. He put away the Shake Weights and the protein powders, and simply let the ravages of time and sloth have their way with his preternatural athletic gifts.
David Roth: He got one last contract and then basically decided to embark on his own self-produced season of "Man v. Food." I imagine him making "slugger shakes" in the morning based around lite mayo, Malibu and frozen mozzarella sticks.
David Raposa: I only wish I had the ability to cultivate that kind of potbelly.
David Roth: You kind of need to be an athlete to get big in that way.
David Raposa: Yeah—you must've once possessed a fine-tuned metabolism used to burning 8000 calories a day to be able to go large that majestically. Just replace the wind sprints with Wendy's, and it's go-time at the Big (Not Tall) store!
David Roth: So the guy the Orioles got for Mike Gonzalez at the it-really-doesn't-count-after-this trade deadline is named Pedro Strop, which is a great name for a human and a terrible name for a band.
David Raposa: I heard the lead singer from Jenifer Convertible's new band is called Pedro Storp—so close!
David Roth: Just seeing Jenifer/Jennifer Convertibles makes me want to address this season-long Bob's Discount Furniture issue I have. But I am not going to do it because it is narrowcasting except to point out that Bob could've taken his cellphone bra/holster thing off for the commercial maybe? And also those commercials look like they got shot in Keir Dullea's bedroom from the end of 2001, there's so much white space involved.
David Raposa: So you're saying Bob is The Starchild with a two-car garage?
David Roth: And a creeper beard, yeah. Do you have the MLB Season Ticket? And if so have you gotten to see local-market commercials on different broadcasts?
David Raposa: Yes! Though I have to say, I've been numbed to their charms over the years.
David Roth: The Mets have had some choice ones this year. There's one targeted entirely at older women in ethnic-white Queens. A father-and-son duo of Vincent Pastore impersonators talking about plastic awnings, and these older ladies saying things like "Order these awnings. YOU'LL BE PLEASED."
David Raposa: I've seen a more suburban version of that, except they're for sun porches, they're retractable, their prospective owners brew their own iced tea with lemon wedges the size of frisbees, and they're the perfect accompaniment for the Crate & Barrel furniture you paid too much for.
David Roth: When I was young, that was all NJ cable was. Cheap/freaky puppets trying to get you to go to family-style Italian restaurants. Smutty-ish commercials for hot dog places. A great many uncomfortable-looking Italian men and their kids pitching dinettes and crummy paisley couches.
David Raposa: I'm happy there are still local businesses out there that can't find people to semi-naturally read a cue card. "If John Boehner can do it, so can my 15-year-old daughter!"
David Roth: A nation of aspiring Papa Johns.
David Raposa: Most of the local joints that I can recall from around my parts were simply semi-servicable semi-awkward attempts to sell cars. And then there's Good Old Tom?
David Roth: Disturbing, but great musical score by The Funereal Synths
David Raposa: I can't wait to nominate them for Best New Music-dom! And speaking of music…
David Raposa: Please note the tune in the background. This must've been made before Debussy got those Ocean's 11 dollars.
David Roth: Tom is basically what I imagine Drayton McLane to be like. Only instead of "I'm cleaning out my jewelry box," it's "I'm Brandon Lyon, and I'm mostly pretty terrible when I'm not hurt." And instead of $500, Tom gives you $12 million over three years.
David Raposa: "I gave Drayton a heavy-set Miguel Tejada, and he gave me tens of millions of dollars! Good Old Drayton!"
David Raposa writes about music for Pitchfork and other places. He used to write about baseball for the blog formerly known as Yard Work. He occasionally blogs for himself, and he also tweets way too much.href="http://www.jockish.com">Yard Work. He occasionally blogs for himself, and he also tweets way too much.
Photo by Keith Allison.