The Pynchonian Bullpen

by David Roth and David Raposa

David Roth: Hello! I am watching the suddenly unstoppable Mets offense bludgeon the Tigers bullpen.

David Raposa: I saw! It looked like every button Leyland tried to push turned out to be either the dashboard lighter or the ejector seat.

David Roth: I don’t even know how to act when the Mets are playing like this. It’s not helping the unreality factor that everyone in the Tigers pen has a name out of a Pynchon novel. Charles Furbush and Al Albuquerque, debating quantum physics in a punny way or whatever.

David Roth: Also for some reason, every Tigers game I watch features really audible hecklers. Some guy just gave a loud, Gob Bluth style “COME ON” after a walk to Jason Bay.

David Raposa: I wonder how many times a game Dave Dombrowski thinks about that Dontrelle Willis contract and says, “I’ve made a huge mistake.”

David Roth: “You’re going to tell a guy in a $5000 suit how to walk a gaunt, extravagantly mis-compensated Canadian ex-slugger?”

David Roth: (Come on.) This game will be like two days old when this finally runs, but I still feel the need to get this down for posterity. So let it be known that Angel Pagan is 8-for-7 in this game with 13 RBIs. And the Tigers just brought in outfielder Don Kelly to pitch.

David Raposa: That’s unpossible! Both of those things! I hope Don’s dad/former Yankee great Pat is watching.

David Roth: Fifth outfielders with knuckleballs make me glad. You know Mitch Maier has a circle-change and Endy Chavez has a deceptive motion and can throw four pitches for strikes.

David Raposa: I’m waiting for the Powers That Be to make a rule change that outlaws hitters pitching. They can paint it on the backstop next to the NO PEPPER ALLOWED text. SHENANIGANS WILL NOT BE TOLERATED.

David Roth: I’m kind of in a positive way with Selig at the moment, as dude is going to war with Entourage-grade L.A. nightmare Frank McCourt. But that could all change if you suddenly couldn’t bring 2B/OF types in to pitch when you’re down seven runs.

David Raposa: If the Jose Cansecos of the world don’t have the opportunity to ruin their careers throwing Pony League curveballs, then the terrorists have won.

David Roth: So, if we’d done one of these last week, I would’ve probably stuck up for interleague play. I’m pretty well over it, though.

David Raposa: Welcome back to the land of indoor plumbing. What made you rejoin the good guys?

David Roth: Too much of a not-that-great thing, I guess. I’ll pretty much watch any game, obviously. And I don’t mind seeing some AL teams. The DH’s are funny. They all look like guys whose frat brothers at Clemson nicknamed them Der Belchmeister or Barfus Maximus. Not like the lithe, Wes Helms-ian athletes you see in the NL. But this feels like it has been going on for a month.

David Raposa: That might be because it’s been about a month. It’s just a shame those gosh darn intraleague series have to get in the way of the good times.

David Roth: Also I mean, I know how this works, but Mariners/Nats is not a good look, even if I understand how it happened.

David Raposa: Never mind that, despite the claims that these games are the spice of baseball life, you know the Fox Game Of The Week will invariably be Mets/Yankees. Or Yankees/Mets. Or Mets/Mets.

David Roth: Every Mets game is Mets versus Mets. Always nice to hear Joe Buck sound glum about doing his job, though.

David Raposa: To be fair to Buck, I guess he has some sort of persistent throat ailment that makes him sound disinterested and hoarse.

David Roth: That’s interesting, because I have a neurological condition that gives me screeching headaches and what doctors have diagnosed as “bile sweats” whenever I hear Buck talk. We’re medical oddities!

David Raposa: So, speaking of things that suck, is it too late to get on the STATS ARE ALL RIGHT bandwagon that Grantland inadvertently kickstarted?

David Roth: Let’s ride. I have actually liked Jonah Lehrer’s writing in general. But man do I feel disdain for sports people who are that scared of numbers. And I’m a writer! Not just that, a ridiculously over-verbose adjective-humping writer whose math skills top out at calculating tips. But for fuck’s sake, enough with the idea that somehow non-counting-stats are preventing people from enjoying baseball.

David Raposa: Just the idea that stats are the problem is sad. All together now: information isn’t the problem; it’s what’s done with the information that causes problems.

David Roth: That NYT article about Simmo mentioned that Simmons doesn’t like baseball anymore because he hates nu-stats. Which is amazing!

David Raposa: Yeah, I understand how seeing OBP next to the Triple Crown stats can kick up the bile sweats.

David Roth: I also don’t like sports anymore, and it’s because the guys on Around the Horn talk too loud, and even though I don’t have to watch that show — and lord knows I couldn’t actually watch that shrieking Men’s Warehouse commercial unless I had Clockwork Orange eyelid-clamps on — just knowing that they’re doing it makes me so mad. I am a grown-up and I am standing on principle.

David Raposa: I know you’re joking but let’s let the record show that I’ve been perilously close to just giving up on the world of sports because of assclowns of the Plaschke/Simers persuasion. Randy Newman should rewrite “I Love LA” to pay tribute to those two shits. Or maybe pen “Short Bald Bitter-Ass Fucks That Are People.” Cars 3 is going to need a theme, after all.

David Raposa: Granted, I think fearing/hating new things is just a byproduct of getting older and losing touch with what’s going on. So I’ll probably be shitting bricks once the kids are jamming the new Britney Spears Jr. mind transmission on their iMplants.

David Roth: I get that, and I get the wariness towards heavy acronymics. But I’d like to think — and lord knows that you, for your Pitchfork work, have to actually live this shit — that even when kids today are Kids Today-ing it up, an actual adult can at least fall back on the fact that things change and so on. The idea that somehow people critiquing the RBI is making Charlie Gehringer cry dead-guy tears is just ridiculous to me.

David Raposa: True — there’s a way to be nostalgic and stick-in-the-muddy without being a complete charmless turd about it. I mean, I wouldn’t want to hear Vin Scully’s thoughts on WAR vs WARP, but he wouldn’t break out the stat KKK hood and talk up Productive Outs.

David Roth: I just feel like aimless sentimental revanchism is the bummer-est way to be a baseball fan. Just hating everything because they don’t make ’em like Fred Lynn anymore. Nice pastime. Way to have fun with it.

David Raposa: “Jack Morris should be in the Hall of Fame because he pitched to the score and also fuck your ERA+.”

David Roth: Ralph Kiner, I should mention, likes OPS. He is also my favorite imaginary uncle. (He moved all the way into first with the death of Peter Falk.)

David Raposa: God Bless Ralph — he lost his fastball about ten wars ago, but I’m happy he’s still around.

David Roth: It hasn’t stopped him from showing up a weekend or so a month to tell ribald stories about serving in the Pacific Theater and drinking heavily with Harvey Kuenn and Johnny Vander Meer. I’ll take that for as long as he’s giving it.

David Raposa: The best part about all this fear: most stat-haters are shitting on basic math. That’s what really kills me. It’s like long division is the gateway to socialism and civil liberties for cat/dog unions.

David Roth: Yeah, just because you can’t effectively quantify grittiness doesn’t mean it is somehow beautiful or ineluctably significant, or that it is not beautiful or ineluctably significant.

David Raposa: I’m waiting for some Elias-loving luddite to cook up Days Played Hurt to measure that stuff. “Cliff Pennington leads the league with 24 DPH, with a Pine Tar Index of .543”

David Roth: /Receives fifth-place MVP vote from Boston Herald writer.

David Raposa: Should we plug your amazing and wondrous Vice column debut by shitting on Frank McCourt for another 20 lines or so?

David Roth: Does the fact that he nearly bought the Sox make you terrified retroactively?

David Raposa: Why, no, I wouldn’t have had any problem with him trading Jon Lester and Jacoby Ellsbury for Omar Vizquel. To McCourt’s credit, it does take a lot of hard work to make Jeffrey Loria look like a bunny-loving philanthropist. Any other right-wing fuckwits you can compare him to?

David Roth: He’s like Sean Hannity with a really nice pool? Laura Ingraham with more convincing hair? Ann Coulter with a smaller Adam’s apple?

David Raposa: Alan Colmes wants to be him when he grows up.

David Roth: Colmes doesn’t agree with his methods, but respects his results.

David Raposa: And on the subject of respecting results, we didn’t even touch on the Riggleman Maneuver! Like a reverse Heimlich!

David Roth: Riggs! I almost declared an emergency Yakkin’ after he quit.

David Raposa: I was waiting by my commemorative Sports Illustrated phone for your call!

David Roth: “The football phone! A mediocre manager must’ve quit under ridiculous circumstances!” Of all the guys to do it, too. Some dude with a .445 winning percentage in 12 years on the job being like “I want to get paid for what I’ve accomplished.”

David Raposa: What does he think he is, an investment banker?

David Roth: Yeah, really. Fuck up enough that the IMF has to get involved if you really want to get that long money. Anyone in DC could’ve told him that.

David Raposa: So how is it that Jack McKeon at 80 looks younger than Sparky Anderson did in his 50s?

David Roth: Cigars: anti-aging method of the stars. It is kind of amazing that a guy who pencils Emilio Bonifacio into a lineup a few times a week looks so healthy. Centrum needs to sign a deal with that dude.

David Raposa: “When I want to tell Joe West when and where to eat his own dick, I can’t just take any multivitamin.” He truly is the Helen Mirren of baseball. With Bobby Valentine being the Nicole Kidman.

David Roth: Taut, peculiarly anxiety-inducing, still a critical favorite in some quarters. I like that comparison.

David Roth: While we’re doing this: Larry Bowa = Oliver Reed?

David Raposa: Yes!

David Roth: Although Oliver Reed is dead.

David Raposa: And Larry Bowa is pickled. Six of one, two fingers of the other.

David Roth: The logical comparison is to someone hard-living and irascible and cult-figure-ish. Who was also in Ken Russell movies.

David Raposa: The idea of Vanessa Redgrave getting herself off with L-Bow’s charred femur is actually not arousing at all, though.

David Roth: NO IT IS NOT.

David Roth co-writes the Wall Street Journal’s Daily Fix, contributes to the sports blog Can’t Stop the Bleeding and has his own little website. And he tweets!

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.

Photo by Keith Allison.