Don't Leave Dan Plesac Hanging!

by David Roth and David Raposa

When the full, all-outtakes-taken-in version of Yakkin’ About Baseball is released as a three-VHS set around Christmas (by Vestron Video: check for it!), much will be revealed. How much like a S.E. Hinton novel David Roth found this year’s Royals to be; how much David Raposa keeps steering things back towards the “fact” that the United Nations/Trilateral Commission “set Ugueth Urbina up” for a crime he didn’t commit. But if there is only one lesson to be learned from it, it is that it is very difficult to stay on topic or make jokes — or, at the very least, not type in capital letters all the time — during an Internet-style chat on what wound up being the most hilariously great night of regular-season baseball in the sport’s history. Here, let us show you:

David Raposa: In tribute of Jose Reyes’ performance today, I think we should each write one line, and then abruptly log off. And then sign a multi-year multi-million dollar contract with another online magazine. (Yo, Thought Catalog!)

David Roth: It will be a perfect line, but it will only seem significant to us and everyone else will make fun of us and we’ll deserve it and I know that the Mets are a comedy and not a tragedy — and that Mets fans ignore this at the risk of becoming totally hilarious and sad — but that just made me so sad.

David Raposa: Color me surprised that it was his plan to leave the game! I figured it was the ghost of Vince Coleman, counseling young Reyes from beyond the jaws of the automatic tarp machine thingy.

David Roth: If Terry Collins has one job, it is reminding me of a flustered older lesbian woman. If he has two jobs, it is the first and bunting all the fucking time. But if he has a third, it is talking his team’s best and most likable player out of making a turd out of himself.

David Raposa: I think Collins trying to convince Reyes to let the fans show some love would’ve been the “rub some dirt on it” of effective mind-changing conversations. Did Reyes even run the bases after his hit, or was he pulled for a pinch runner?

David Roth: He was replaced by pinch-runner Justin Turner. He is known on the Mets roster as Infielder Red Hair. He is generally not known. Jose Reyes wound up leaving the field as a batting champion, and in a hail of boos, in what might be his last game with the Mets. Let’s talk about something less depressing. Let’s talk about famine, or some team that waited until later in the season to strap on the clowncleats/bloody-diaper combo that is the Mets’ permanent self-hazing outfit.

David Raposa: Like the Orioles! Or maybe one of those teams in that “other” league.

David Roth: Good lord, picking between the Braves and Cardinals in the Wild Card is like picking whether to sit next to Stephen or Daniel Baldwin on an 11-hour bus ride.

David Raposa: And the only reading material is a treatment for Uwe Boll’s sequel to Postal. Written on Arby’s napkins.

David Roth: There’s a 45-minute layover at a rest stop in Delaware that only has a Panda Express and a Sunglass Hut that sells jerky. Then nine more hours to Jacksonville. I don’t know which team is Stephen and which is Daniel. I guess whichever one likes extreme sports more is Stevie B and whichever likes sweating more is Daniel.

David Raposa: Who doesn’t like a good sitting-still impromptu flop sweat?!? I heard that Delaware rest stop has a sweet vintage Gauntlet console, though.

David Roth: I’ve long hoped for a New York Post headline reading “Pelf Needs Food Badly” about Mike Pelfrey. But Gauntlet references are tough, and I sense that Pelfrey isn’t going to lose weight anytime soon. The fucking National League, man. I love it because I like stupid things, but anything that ends with the Cardinals or the Braves happy is something I would just as soon not see at all. The fact that the only way the Braves can be eliminated from the playoffs is through losing to the Phillies does not help. It’s like this whole scenario was designed by the puppet from Saw.

David Raposa: “Suddenly, Costas Mandylor put down the pint of Ben & Jerry’s Americone Dream and reached for the 30-ounce Louisville Slugger leaning against the far wall, directly underneath the picture of confused Yankee 2nd baseman Chuck Knoblauch …”

David Roth: Only the puppet has Tony LaRussa’s voice coming out of it, and it is talking about immigrants and match-ups. Also, also: the Braves bullpen is basically Civil War impersonators and terrified-looking 16-year-olds. All their position players wear the facial expression popularized by Vincent D’Onofrio in Full Metal Jacket. I am not seeing a long future, here. I will move that we not talk about the National League’s incredible collapsing former-postseason-lock. Let’s talk about that other one.

David Raposa: Oh, yes, let us go then, you and I, where Boston’s playoff odds diminish across the sky like Daisuke Matzusaka’s MLB career euthanized upon the table. Even if RSN & the sports MSM weren’t coughing up the hairiest of hairballs over this “collapse,” I would still be rooting for the Rays.

David Roth: Your regional loyalties aside, I get that. Following the Sox, as I’ve had to for work the last few days, is a harrowing and not-fun enterprise, in large part because it requires reading Dan Shaughnessy. That Hot Pocket of a human being talks about Daniel Bard’s diminished velocity with more rage and passion than any writer anywhere brought to, say, Abu Ghraib. He is as mad about the Red Sox bullpen as Glenn Greenwald is about everything else.

David Raposa: Yeah, it’s that shit, plus the calls for Theo’s or Tito’s head’s, that have turned me into a Red Sox agnostic. It might also have something to do with those awful NESN in-game segments where Heidi Watney is forced to eat concessions crap I wouldn’t feed to a garbage disposal, but I won’t admit to that without my lawyer present.

David Roth: Who is making these calls? Writers? Are people actually calling your home and being like “THEY QUIT ON TITO! WE NEED TO GET PARCELLS!” and you have to be all, “This is not where Ron Borges lives anymore, ma’am.”

David Raposa: It’s mostly been fans, from what I’ve seen. Although I don’t doubt that Shaughnessy’s got a few column templates on his Windows 95 machine for just such occasions. He just needs to CTRL-F for any Lou Gorman references.

David Roth: Shaughnessy is a very disturbing presence on TV. I saw him in that ultra-ponderous Bartman documentary, and thought at first that I was watching an episode of “Nova” about a corned beef that had learned to talk with a hilarious Somerville accent and miss the point.

David Raposa: DS has bitter-beer soul.

David Roth: So, what’s your diagnosis been on the Sox during their Falling Down The Stairs Period. Mine is a severe case of the common sucksies that hit at a really bad time.

David Raposa: That’s my theory. I actually had a little snit fit on an online baseball forum regarding this turn of events. Which has never happened in the history of the Internet. The snit fit, I mean. And maybe the collapse as well. But mostly the snit fit.

David Roth: Just to impress girls, I assume?

David Raposa: Chicks dig the long textual ripostes.

David Roth: If they didn’t, why would I do this? Or have those words tattooed, Brandon Inge-style, on my forearms? So: the snit-fit.

David Raposa: It bubbled up because of a handful of Sox fans that seemingly wanted some Salome-styled satisfaction based on A) a month-long slump and B) a four-year World Series drought. In my mind, the Sox were clearly not as bad as their 2–10 start made them out to be. But they also weren’t as good as the 81–42 stretch that followed. Also, holy shit they went 81–42 between mid-April and the end of August.

David Roth: Wanting to fire Theo is like the secret shame of that whole fan base, it seems like. What exactly is the justification for it, besides the fact that he might read books?

David Raposa: I will slap anyone that suggests they should’ve gone after Doug Fister (who has been Doyle Alexander-like for DET after Seattle traded him) or brought Bartolo Colon Zero back into camp. The Theo thing, to me, seems like some combination of the out-of-whack sense of entitlement that’s slowly seeped into the being of Boston sports fandom and whatever the hell’s gotten Allen Barra’s boxer briefs in a twist with regards to all versions of Moneyball.

David Roth: Oh boy. Old feller’s got it bad. Nice to see the Hirsch brothers in his Journal piece. Those two and their goofy anti-metric book showing up in a piece is the baseball equivalent of a political columnist citing “California-based activist and dentist Orly Taitz.”

David Raposa: “And now, to talk about why the home run is ruining baseball, here’s speedster Alex Cole and former Twins infielder Al Newman.”

David Raposa: I also love that Barra (in his WSJ piece, and possibly in his Daily Beast piece OR his Atlantic piece) claims Moneyball didn’t change anything because … the league-wide OBP has decreased by 8 percentage points since 2002. As it’s been said many times before: THE BOOK IS NOT ABOUT ON-BASE PERCENTAGE. (I needed to Caps Lock that, in the hopes that maybe someone not reading this could hear me.) It’s about the stultifying orthodoxy of the status quo, and someone deigning to go against it, and succeeding (to some degree) in spite of all the conventional wisdom that suggests he’s a fool for trying.

David Roth: Tommy Craggs had the last word on this, in GQ. Basically Moneyball is a business book. With the same thesis of every business book: a visionary exploits a market inefficiency and succeeds. But the problem with having a game of Telephone in which Michael Kay and Joe Morgan and sour, codgerous sportswriters who are moved to tears anytime someone mentions Willie Stargell’s name is that 1) they do not ever read books and 2) they are suspicious of people who read or write books. How was the movie? How was Royce Clayton’s performance?

David Raposa: He didn’t not earn his SAG card. I really believed he wanted a soda from that vending machine.

David Roth: How was Gary Oldman as John Mabry?

David Raposa: He was fine, but the kimono and hair buns (and that accent!) were a bit much. But given that I’ll street-team for Aaron Sorkin’s grocery list, I was predisposed towards liking the film. That said, I was still pretty impressed that it got away with as much inside-baseball stuff as it did.

[At this point, the Tampa Bays have more or less erased a seven-run deficit against the Yankees, and we realize it is time to talk about things that are happening]

David Roth: Are you on this Rays game, which is suddenly a game? Watching games at the Trop always makes me think my TV is broken. Everything’s very flat and de-saturated and Soderberghian. Not fun-Soderbergh, either. Strictly Contagion in that place. The stands are (half-)full of exasperated off-duty cops. The fans I just saw looked like Ron Swanson going as Doug Jones for Halloween.

David Raposa: Every time an announcer suggests the Trop isn’t all that bad, I have to wonder if they used to be an umpire.

David Roth: And it all comes down to Dan Johnson and his small sample-size .108 batting average.

David Raposa: He was clutch once! [Johnson looks terrible on a meaty fastball] I would love to know what Dan Johnson is looking for. Because it obviously isn’t “low-grade fastball over the heart of the plate.”

David Roth: He’s sitting forkball. [Johnson homers. Capital letters excised]

David Raposa: Like I just said! “[…] clutch […]!!”

David Roth: What is that sad sound they play when a guy hits a homer there? “The doom-schooner is leaving the port!”

David Raposa: “The Gordon’s Fisherman just brought in a shit-ton of fishsticks!”

David Roth: “You’re going to want to microwave these for, like, 45 minutes, because no one was really all that excited about the processed whiting-slurry in question.”

[Time passes. Amazing baseball on like four channels at once. All of this happens.]

[Oh, and we realize the futility of the whole enterprise.] [We realize this belatedly and do not care, because we are glad.] [See you in the playoffs!]

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 Debby Wong, via Shutterstock.