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Home » Baseball

Out With The Crowd: "You're a self-indulgent vulgar slob"

Submitted by on May 21, 2012 – 7:54 PM6 Comments

The minute I decided to do the Out With The Crowd series, I wanted to try to get Old Gator to talk to me about the Miami Marlins — or, as he calls them, "the Feesh." I've loved his comments ever since following Craig Calcaterra over to Hardball Talk, and I particularly wanted to get his take after Reyes went to the Feesh over the winter.

We spoke late last week about Big Z, Canadian delis, and armpit mumps.

Sarah D. Bunting: Who's your favorite Feesh acquisition since last season?

Old Gator: With 20/20 hindsight, it has to be Krazy Karlos Lamebraino — so far. I hated the deal when it happened and I still worry that if he hits a rough spot he'll be headed for another Chernobyl-level (seven, I think, according to the IAEC scale) meltdown. But meanwhile, his old velocity has magically returned — they don't call this "the Magic City" for nothing, but then, they don't call it a lot of other things for nothing either. He's spotting the ball beautifully and he's walking very few. He claims to have had something of an epiphany during the offseason — most likely someone spiked his arepa with datura and banisteriopsis, but I don't think MLB tests for that so it's all to the good. So far.

Yeah, that has been kind of a miracle. My co-GM insisted on him for our fantasy team and now she looks like a genius.

Baseball has gotten weird enough in situ that I have no use for fantasy teams.

I won't either after this season. What a debacle. …Who's your least favorite new Marlin?

My least favorite Feesh, per se, is John Buck. He's grotesquely overpaid, an offensive black hole who's always hugging the Mendoza line like the X axis of a fractal plot.

But as for recent acquisitions — well, despite Reyes's slow start (he's batting around .350 since the beginning of May), and despite Heath Bell's erratic performance so far (he pitched a perfect ninth last night against the Braves), I can't really complain about any of the major acquisitions. Buehrle has peetched well too.

However…I am really disappointed by what the Feesh did not do, which is unload the overrated Tweeter (Logan Morrison, for the non-initiates) and get themselves a solid contact-hitting RBI guy. Morrison ended last season batting .148 RISP and he's barely any better this season. He has the outfield instincts of one of those giant burrowing worms from Tremors and goes after fly balls about as blindly. I know he's a first baseman who was converted under duress, but still — the GMs involved in nearly every proposed trade the Feesh couldn't close in the orf season wanted him, and the Feesh brass treated him like the second coming of the Dalai Lama.

Now, of course, Tweeter's knee is wonky so they'd have to package him with someone who could be valuable. But this team, hot as it has been, is still near the bottom of the league in RISP. So they go out and get Reyes — a terrific ballplayer but still, another get-on-base guy — and sit pat about someone to drive their tablesetters in. They're not going to contend beyond maybe a first-round wildcard this way.

As William Blake famously wrote, enough…or too much. Next question.

Ha! Anyone the brass did manage to get rid of that you were pleased to see go?

Chris Volstad. I figured that, if we were going to be stuck with Krazy Karlos, at least we unloaded Volstad in the process. It just barely netted out for me. But as I noted above, I've eaten some crow on that one. It's not too bad, sautéed with some fennel and butter, but it needs to be well done to kill the parasites. I thought trading John Baker to San Diego was a mistake. He hasn't played well out there — he's still recovering from TJS — but in the long run, I would rather have kept him than Brett Hayes.

Incidentally, I also felt the Feesh could afford to trade Ricky Nolasco for some real pop in the upper middle of the order but they held on to him. He's also very erratic — when he's on he's very good but his evil twin shows up with greater frequency as we get deeper into the season. He pitched like he had mumps in his armpits the other day.

Maybe somebody Strasburged his uniform shirt.

More like a sleepwalking medical student pithed him thinking he was a huge frog.

It's going around. (see: Rauch, Jon) (wait: don't) Anyone you were sorry to see go, then?

Just Baker, really. The Feesh did a lot of buying and not a lot of trading during the weenter, so there was mostly loss by attrition. I will miss those episodes between Mike Cameron and the flight attendants on the team plane, though.

I don't think you'll be lacking for drama.

Well, there's that reality show on Showtime — The Franchise — debuting next month, starring our intrepid Rainbow Warriors and our fearless leader, Che Guillen. Slobbering Ozzie is always good for a few laughs and can be counted on to cause more social issues as the dog days beset us.

AH MAH GAH I forgot about that show. Might have to upgrade the old cable package. The revolution will be televised!

You covered this a fair bit in your comments re: RISP, I think, but is that your biggest worry for the '12 Feesh — that it's all table-setting, no table-clearing? Or is there another, more important issue facing the team?

Possible or potential injuries to the peetching staff notwithstanding, I think the situational-hitting profile is their biggest issue. Third base for the Feesh runners is a lot like the old South Beach in the days when it was lined with deteriorating art deco palaces that had become nursing homes — it's like a holding pen for the afterlife.

You see Tweeter or John Buck coming up with guys on second and third and, if the opposing pitcher is any good at all, you watch from between your fingers. As with most blinded organisms, the other senses take over. You hear the "swish" of the bat swinging through the pitch, or the "thuk" of a bad contact that announces an infield pop-up. As my British wife might say, it gets on your wit.

Well, I'm really interested to hear your answer to the next question, which is where you see the Marlins finishing this year. I spotted them as the team to beat in this division — rooting as I do for the only team with no shot whatsoever — but it seems to be a race for last in the NL Least so far.

They have an outside chance of taking the division if the Feelies totally implode and start selling off their assets like a ludic Tennis Court Oath before the July trading deadline. I think the Mutts will fade pretty quickly; they're playing over their heads right now. The Braves might be better than folks thought they'd be after their Maginot Line act at the end of last season, but they're just not a very good team — their ownership is bottom-line oriented and doesn't give a damn about what kind of product they put on the field.

The beeg question for me is the Gnats. I think it'll come down to a nip-and-tuck contest for them to see who takes the division and who takes one of the wild card slots. I could see the Feesh going either way.

Of course, the Gnats go out and get some boolpen help, I have to give them a slight edge. I think they've got a lean and hungry look about them this season and they're good already — and they can get better by September, too.

That is, if the malign spirits don't unite to kill off all of their catchers…I remember when the saying was, "Playing keyboards for the Grateful Dead is like being lookout on the Titanic." That little zone behind the plate in Washington…

God, seriously. That might be a division-wide thing, though. The restless ghost of Gary Carter.

Awww, you had to mention the Kid, huh? Yeah, he can't like what he's seeing. And of course there's Pudge. There's always Pudge.

Maybe he brought the hex down. Josh Thole probably has a few theories about that. Speaking of theories: who do you see in the Fall Classic this year?

The Rangers, definitely. In the National League, I still have to like the Cardinals. I think the Dodgers are also playing over their heads; they've got Kemp and not much else on offense. I doubt if the NL representatives will finally come out of the sunrise side. But I suspect that this will be the Rangers' year.

That would be nice, paired with Hamilton's 78-HR season.

Hamilton will cool off and have to settle for a measly Triple Crown.

Or he'll break something.

Between his ears.

"CAT scan revealed nothing."

He's still got a lot of fault lines up there.

Any pleasant surprises so far this year? Could be Feesh or…foul? (Horrible pun, sorry.)

Domini domini domini, I forgive you. Most pleasant surprise, for me, was Ozzie's "I love Castro" comment. If you caught my comments on Circling the Bases, you know I "covered" that episode pretty closely. I live deeply embedded in Cuban civilization such as it has taken root here in Macondo. I was delighted with the opportunity to study my ambient civilization under special circumstances like that.

I am pleased to report that, once that particular teapot tempest blew over, it had little or no effect on the cuisine at my local cafe Cubano.

That is a relief.

Indeed. I really need to go to the weendow in the morning for my shot of liquid pacemaker and my guava pasteles, or the rest of the day drags by like an old parachute caught in the bushes.

Any un-pleasant surprises? (Besides Pujols, but 1) you're welcome to use that answer and 2) I don't know how surprising that is, in fact.)

Anyone who claims they're not surprised by how badly Pujols is playing is either lying, ignorant of baseball altogether or just plain stupid. I'm at least as surprised, though, at how badly the Tigers are playing this season. They came out of the gate like a battalion of panzers and they're playing now like the scrubs from the Bay of Pigs invasion.

As far as the Feesh…the most unpleasant surprise was Josh Johnson's rickety start. Speaking of panzers, he was getting shelled like Isla Culebra.

I'm a little surprised by the Tigers, although that division is another triumph of mediocrity. And I'm not surprised by Pujols's slow start — but his swing looks like hot ass. There's something we aren't being told, maybe.

I don't think so. I just think he's pressing — it's in his head. One day he will really crush a couple and see the light. But I also don't think he was worth those bucks on a ten-year deal.

On the bright side, he's sharing a lineup with Vernon Wells…but yeah, I agree with you there.

That Vernon Wells trade boggles the mind. I can't think of a dumber trade since the Mutts unloaded Nolan Ryan.

Heh. My dad is still mad about Fregosi breaking his thumb like it happened yesterday.

And you have to remember that Fregosi was an All-Star before he came east. Los dioses de beisbol are about as charitable as H. P. Lovecraft's Old Ones.

Meanwhile, you could probably still put Ryan in a tie game.

Heh — if it's a kickboxing match, maybe…

I used to spend summers on Lon Gisland…

"Lawn Guyland," I think you mean. Anyway.

Joan Payson's house in Hewlett Harbor wasn't far from where I lived. We used to drive by her house, roll down the weendows, and scream "trade Fregosi!" at the tops of our lungs.


We really did that. Her house was adjacent to a public duck pond. The ducks would turn and stare at us like a bunch of "Far Side" cartoons.

And here's a nice segue: if you could tell Ozzie one thing, what would it be?

Clean up your mouth. A conversation with you is like blowing a hole in a sewer main. Kids are listening, and you're a self-indulgent vulgar slob. How's that?

Aside from the fact that I was positive you were talking to me, it's great.

Even though children are horrible.

This is reminding me of that comment by Bill James about how revolting Davey Johnson was on the bench. "Doesn't he have a wife?"

Never heard that. But I think it's fair to say that life in a men's athletic locker room makes a stronger impression on your speaking patterns than Strunk and White.

I've never been in a women's locker room. The mop head kept falling off and I never got past the matron at the door.

I'd like to tell you that Paulie Walnuts was right and you could eat maple-walnut ice cream out of the pishadoon. But we're fairly vile as well.

It's rum raisin or nothing. Do you know about that terrific little ice cream parlor on the Isle d' Orleans in Paris?

I do not! Making do with Louie G's for the moment. Heh.

It's right around behind Notre Dame. The stuff is so good that it's mobbed in the middle of the winter…and the owners close the place down for the entire month of July to go to la plage.

And you've always got the Lemon Ice King of Corona in a pinch.

And Mr. Softee. A Chief Crunchie and an eighth.

Never buy ice cream off a truck. So bourgeois.

I live in the 11215. Even the trucks are artisanal. [eye-roll]

Well, at least you have access to real subway-station knishes. You can't even get close to something like that here. The best delis are half-assed. Oh Buddha, and Sammy's Famous Roumanian Steakhouse…pass the pacemakers, please…

Though you've read my glowing reports about the delis of Toronto, right?

I don't think so. I had no complaints with T.O. delis when I lived there. Although if that whole country doesn't shut up about Montreal bagels, I don't know what. Montreal bagels are great. But it needs to not be This Thing anymore.

Ah well, as proudlycanadian would agree, Toronto delis are the best kept secrets in North American. Especially Caplansky's on College Street — oh Buddha, the cabbage borscht…and the smoked meat hash for breakfast… We have a great bagel place just down the street — killer whitefish salad…

I usually wrap something up to take to the ballgames. The hot dogs at Macondo Banana Massacre Field are Superfund sites on a bun. Expensive, too.

I was pleased that Citi offered veggie dogs…but of course they're cooked in the same place as the beef tubes. So I can't eat those either. What of your faux-Hindu fans, Wilpons?!

I get tofurkey dogs here. I also do most of my own cooking, especially Indian. The eastern European Jewish recipes I gleaned from my grandmother and aunt will kill you but they're good stuff in measured doses.

Okay: last question. What's getting on your nerves? Can be anything: Red Grooms, Feesh middle relief, McCarver, Lawrie. (That last one's mine. It's a non-story, folks. Drive through.) …Actually all of those things are kind of on my nerves except your bullpen.

McCarver never bothered me. I met him once at the American Airlines Admirals Club at LaGuardia and we had a great conversation about Shelby Foote's Narrative History of the Civil War. McCarver is a big Civil War buff.

I say this all the time but he used to be really good on the Mets broadcasts in the '80s.

But as to what does get on my nerves — the rape of public resources by Major League Baseball for stadium construction, and the irremediable whorishness of our public representatives in knuckling in to it.

Then again, compared with Fran Healy…

Yes, he was actually a superb broadcaster once. I grew up with Barber, Mel Allen, Phil Rizzuto (a god of mine), Kiner, Nelson and Murphy…

Aw, Murphy.

…and Howard Cosell…an uber-deity of mine.

I miss Al Trautwig. He still calls hockey around here, but I enjoyed his snittiness. (Not to blow past your actual answer, because: seriously. Both new stadia here were built two feet to the left of the old ones, and I like Citi, but why did you KEEP THE DAMN THING IN THE FLIGHT PATTERN.)

Never been a hockey fan. Same as soccer. Backandforthandbackandforthandbackandforth…

It's great at the rink. On TV, unwatchable for me.

I loved the planes at Shea. I'm a licensed pilot so planespotting was part of the fun.

I didn't mind them back in the day. Post-2001 I tend to think any plane is flying way too low.

And coming right at you.

But I guess it's a feature, not a bug.

OG is a retired college professor who taught English lit, American studies, Jazz History, and film studies. He has a pet baby pygmy rattlesnake named Friendo. Read more of his hilarious comments on Feesh and food at Hardball Talk.

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  • […] If you've been around here a while, you may have observed that our friend and Commenter Emeritus Old Gator has a few opinions.  Well, you're not the only one. Sarah Bunting of Tomato Notion noticed too, and interviewed OG. […]

  • Kathy says:

    Hello Calcaterra said "Sarah Bunting from Tomato Notion". Please set him straight Sarah.

  • Sarah D. Bunting says:

    I saw that after commenting myself. I'm going to see if anyone else notices it before I point it out to "Colcotorro." Hee. Y'all feel free, however.

  • FloridaErin says:

    Before I started following baseball heavily (Which I never saw coming, frankly, and amuses my husband's parents to no end) I HATED Ozzie. Seriously hated him. Probably didn't hurt that he was with a division rival at the time, but still. I don't really no how it happened, but I've developed a soft spot for Ozzie. I could do without the excessive cursing in public, yes, but other than that I find him endlessly amusing.

    We're hoping to get down to Miami this summer to catch a game in the new park. I have to see that outfield eyesore with my own eyes, and my husband's company did work on the tracks for the roof.

    Speaking of being shocked by the Tigers performance this season, if you want to be entertained, read the comment sections of any article about the team these days. Our fans are in a really spectacular level of panic right now. Personally, I'm surprised but not shocked. Did we learn nothing from 2008, people?

  • FloridaErin says:

    "know" not "no". Jesus. I need more coffee.

  • Whitney says:

    Finally someone to back up my "McCarver used to be an enjoyable broadcaster" argument. Even as late as the mid-90s, when he and Joe Buck were just the Cardinals TV guys, they were fun to listen to. I say this to people now and they look at me like I'm nuts.

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