We can all use a feel-good story

A few years ago, I joined a Korean Baseball Organization (KBO) Facebook group, because I was really just looking for intel on how to get tickets to baseball games in Korea.  Mythical (then) gf was going to Seoul for a month and expressed interest in going to a baseball game while out there, and I figured English speaking Koreans on this particular KBO group would be a great resource to tap into.

I never left the group, and when the coronavirus pandemic started and all sports shut down across the globe, one of the very first professional leagues to get back on track was the KBO, and for a very brief part of summer, all sports-starved eyes of the world were all focused on KBO.  As far as the Facebook group went, the membership exploded, with the most prevalent sector of noobs showing up being degenerate gamblers, practically begging the group for any tips any info to use.  Still, I stayed in the group, because it was Korean and it was baseball, and I enjoyed seeing the perspectives of fans in a completely different realm outside of MLB and affiliated ball. 

A few weeks ago, I saw a post pop up, about a guy who had witnessed a bus hit a dog, and how he was trying to rescue said dog.  Frankly, given my general attention span when it comes to social media, I didn’t even realize at first that it was coming from the KBO group, and then I saw the name of the person who had made the post – a person named Anthony Lerew.

The reason why this name rang a bell for me, is that a long time ago, when I was still early in my quest to visit all 30 MLB ballparks, when my travels took me into Boston, naturally I planned it during a weekend when the Braves would be making a rare interleague appearance out there, long before I realized that I was a walking bad luck charm for the Braves* whenever I traveled.

As was often times the norm back in those days, teams loved to call up pitchers from Triple-A for interleague games, mostly on account of the fact that their opposite league opponents would have zero familiarity with them, and hope that such would give them an edge.  The Braves called Anthony Lerew up from Richmond to pitch against the Red Sox, and I remember sitting in Cheers in Boston, having a massive burger and a Sam Adams, while the game started, relishing in being that tourist with the away team’s hat, hoping for a good game for the Braves in hallowed Fenway Park.

Lerew gave up three earned runs, and the Braves lost 13-3.  As was occasionally the case with Bobby Cox, he had a short trigger with young pitchers like Lerew and pulled him after the second, and let a bunch of trash pitchers absorb the rest of the afternoon.

What I didn’t really realize was that was Lerew’s last appearance for the Atlanta Braves.  He was back in the minor leagues the following year, and I vaguely have some recollection of him getting shelved with injury before being released.  As was the case with many former Braves, Dayton Moore was quick to pick him up and bring him to the Royals, where he had a few more appearances in the bigs in 2009 and 2010, before his major league career ended.

Unbeknownst to me, his career continued on long after his time in affiliated ball, and he kept on pitching wherever his talents could be utilized.  Japan, Korea, Venezuela, the Independents.  He had one particularly good year in 2012, where he pitched 170 innings for the Kia Tigers, while maintaining a 3.83 ERA. 

I have no idea if that one particular year had anything to do with his present, but fast forward to present day, and Anthony Lerew is still in baseball now, where he is on the coaching staff for the Kia Tigers.  This made me happy to learn, as there’s always something so beautiful about the guys that are baseball lifers that always stay involved in the game, even after their playing careers are over.

Anyway, back to the story about the dog, one thing that I learned from my two trips to Korea, is that their bus drivers are among the most reckless drivers on the planet.  I spent maybe cumulatively 20 days in various parts of Korea over those trips, and I witnessed no less than three different incidents of buses hitting cars or guys on scooters, from Seoul to Jeju to Geongju.  The notion of a Korean bus driver hitting a dog and driving off is about as surprising as finding out about pollen in Georgia.

So Lerew came across a badly injured dog, and decided to take it upon himself to try and rescue him.  Unsurprising, costs would be an issue, as KBO salaries are nowhere near pro salaries in America, much less for a non-player coach, so Lerew did what many in the world do whenever they try to raise money for a cause: GoFundMe.

99 times out of 100, I tend to kind of pretend like I didn’t see a GoFundMe, because there’s at any given time so many of them out there that have some degree of personal connection to me, and it’s not that I don’t care about any of these causes so much as I got a second kid on the way, my finances are pretty buttoned up, and I don’t always have the capacity to get involved.

But once a Brave, always a Brave to me, and I always remembered Lerew from Boston, and when I saw him, he always had the most killer sideburns.

Plus it wasn’t like Lerew was trying to exploit GoFundMe and/or his friends, to raise money in order to pay bills or some sort of debt that was his own fault and was totally avoidable.  He was just trying to rescue an injured dog.  Who doesn’t love dogs?  So I donated a small amount, with genuine hopes that he would reach his target goal of the equivalent of $7,000 USD to pay for surgery, rehab, vaccines and other costs.

It didn’t take long at all for the goal to be met, because clearly there are many out there that love baseball, love dogs, recognized Lerew, or whatever reason.  I think it hit the goal in 2-3 days, and I was pleased to see Anthony Lerew notch a win in one of the many things in the world out there that are more important than just baseball.

The best part about this whole story has been Lerew and his family’s complete transparency during the whole aftermath of the fundraiser.  It’s not that I wouldn’t have trusted him, but in this jaded day and age of scumbags and thieves, I can understand the Lerews’ overcaution with transparency, and they posted updates on a near daily basis of the journey of Oreo (the dog’s new name), updates on surgeries, receipts, and adorable rehab videos; in English and in Korean.

As of today, it sounds as if the worst of the journey is over, and Oreo has been discharged from the vet and is on her way to a life of care and compassion with the Lerews in Korea.

Honestly, I didn’t really know where I was really going with this post so much as I just wanted to share a story of rare positivity and a happy ending in this time of the world that is desperately in need of stories like this.  I loved hearing that Anthony Lerew is still in baseball, and that he’s a person of great compassion, faith and resourceful enough to utilize technology, and that there are many also compassionate people out there who are willing to chip in for a good cause.

lol Barves

Not much to really say.  As a fan of both baseball and human rights in general, I for one stand in full solidarity with the decision to strip the All-Star Game from Atlanta because of Georgia’s turrible voting rights laws.  I hear it’s going to Denver instead, which will probably be good for baseball, because people like legalized weed, and home runs, both of which exist in abundance in Denver.

But in spite of being for lack of a better term “my team,” I’m taking sadistic amusement of seeing ScumTrust Truist Park being forced to embarrassingly remove all mention of the All-Star Game from the ballpark and probably all around the surrounding Battery.  Probably at the airport too.  Oh fucking well.

This is what leadership like Bubba Kemp looks like – big talk, no action, and getting owned.  Yea c’mon~

I’m okay with whenever Braves corporate gets owned

When the topic of Georgia’s recently passed voter suppression laws were fresh, I had plenty of thoughts about it, but no real desire to write about it, because when it comes to politics and racism, it’s a sad and unfortunate feeling of a pointless debate, because it doesn’t matter just how flagrant and blatant it can be, it still inexplicably breezes on through to law and no amount of protesting and action afterward ever can undo it.  That, and the whole I have no time ever thing, to where when I do have a little bit of free time to myself, none of it wants to be spent writing about the futile state of Georgia’s politics.

But the recent news of Major League Baseball plucking the 2021 All-Star Game right out the hands of Cobb County, the Atlanta Braves and ScumTrust Truist Park, as something of a national punishment for being in a state that allowed such flagrant discrimination?  Now that’s some shit right there, that piques my interest and gets some creative writing juices flowing.

In one hand, there’s a sensible portion of me that feels a little bit bad for ultimately, the Atlanta Braves organization, because they’re the ones getting embarrassingly punished for a decision that has next to nothing to do with baseball, and sits on a level way above a glorified kids game.  This is kind of along the lines of businesses threatening to boycott and leave the state because of Jim Crow 2.0, where that might send a message to people that what Georgia politicians did was a bad thing, but it will definitely hurt the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of people who work for these businesses or rely on these businesses to make livings.

But in the other hand, there’s a sadistic part of me that sees the Atlanta Braves organization-real estate conglomerate is this entity that makes a gozillion dollars every year on a variety of revenue streams, and is ultimately headed up by some circle-jerk of old white people who I have no qualms with seeing take a humiliating slap on the wrist on a national level, and hopefully lose out on some large pies that will instead go to like Chicago or Philadelphia or Los Angeles instead.  Sure, the hundreds of people that would be allowed to actually attend in a pandemic ‘Murica won’t spend their money at local businesses, but MLB’s All-Star break is just a few days in which some projected money won’t be thrown about; it’s a vastly different scenario than say the Georgia film industry, uprooting and leaving, forever, killing thousands of jobs in the process.

When the day is over, I’m glad that Atlanta lost the All-Star game. Aside from being a newer ballpark, and MLB loves to award All-Star games to newer ballparks, the Braves or the city, or this fucking state hasn’t done shit to deserve getting a cash injection that an All-Star game tends to bring, and I’m not going to lose any sleep over the city getting owned, as a result of a crooked choice made by the state.  Because let’s be real here, in spite of their efforts to remain politically ambiguous, most records revealed just how much of the Braves brass leans right, and so they kind of indirectly did this to themselves.

No matter the fact that I support the baseball team and want to see them succeed, I love hearing about when the Braves business organization gets owned.

Oh Miami (Marlins)

For as hip of a city Miami thinks they are, when the day is over, the pursuit of money tends to run roughshod over everything else, like the naming rights to a fancy, high-tech baseball stadium.  And I’m not entirely sure why, perhaps I just sometimes feel that no other team is capable of making boring, square-like business decisions other than the Braves, but I guess it should be of no surprise that the long-awaited naming rights to Marlins Park have finally been sold, and moving forward, will be loanDepot park, the home of the Miami Marlins.

And because identity is everything, it will be in that precise format, with lowercase L and lowercase P, with an uppercase D in the middle, which is appropriate, because the stiffs that chase the dollars that ultimately go to them are typically dicks to begin with.

Maybe it’s because Derek Jeter is among the ownership group of the Marlins, that I thought that perhaps even they would break from the timeless tradition of chasing dollars, and actually name the park that isn’t something as soulless and boring as loanDepot park, but as stated above, when the day is over, money rules the world, apparently even for a guy like Derek Jeter, who often played every game like it was his last.

Because there’s little reason to believe that whatever hundreds of millions of dollars loanDepot pay the Marlins to be a giant billboard, will actually invested into the team itself, and the baseball organization will continue doing what the Marlins have historically always done, which is rely heavily on their scouting department and development to continuously find diamonds in the rough at an impressive clip to keep the team remotely passable while ownership swims in pools of money like Scrooge McDuck.

Honestly, this is no surprise, but it’s always a little bit sad to me whenever any ballpark or venue sells out to some regional no-name corporate entity that makes them sound lame as shit.  The Braves have a bank and two different regional HVAC companies that own the naming rights to various facilities of theirs, and all across the country, whether they’re sporting venues or event spaces, they’re all just named after boring companies as if the impact of their advertising is anything but residual name recognition.

Long gone will we see another Fenway Park or Veteran Stadium, or venues with names that roll off the tongue, or at least are capable of having interesting nicknames, that help mitigate the lameness of corporate greed.

And after four years, in spite of Yeah Jeets’ acquisition of the Marlins, the culture of the team hasn’t really changed as much as I thought it would, and as a closeted supporter of the team, it is sad to see them just kind of falling into the status quo of obscure lower-middle class teams.

A great way to start the MLB season

Impetus: umpire Angel Hernandez loses lawsuit against Major League Baseball, accusing them of racial discrimination

If you’ve watched a season, or at least a regular month of steady baseball, there’s a good chance you’ve heard the name Angel Hernandez.  He’s an MLB umpire, and there’s a very good chance that he’s blown multiple calls for the team you’re rooting for.  In all fairness, he holds no bias against any particular team, as he has been consistent in the sense that he fucks everyone over at some point, regardless for whom they play for.

Also consistent, is that he is widely regarded as the worst umpire in all of Major League Baseball, and it’s not just my opinion; he’s literally been voted as such and for other (dis)honors for years at this point.  A cursory Google search will return not just links to stories about how he’s the worst umpire in MLB, but there are all sorts of video montages, memes and various forms of mediums that frustrated baseball fans have created throughout the years to share their opinions justify the notion that Angel Hernandez is the worst umpire in all of Major League Baseball.

It’s not even that he’s one of those stereotypical blind umpire who misses calls all the time; to me, it’s mostly because most of his decisions seem like reflexes, but the instant he’s challenged, he buckles down and absolutely refuses to change his mind, and the act of challenging his decisions is a personal attack to which he will hold a grudge for the remainder of the game as well have a harshly reduced trigger when it comes to ejecting players and coaches from the game.

This is nothing really out of the ordinary for all umpires in general, it’s just the perception is that Angel Hernandez relishes in it, seems to instigate incidents that have actual impact on the outcomes of games, and as Chipper Jones once opined, he tends to occasionally try and make the game about himself, instead of baseball.

Basically, it’s not hard to find evidence that Angel Hernandez is a pretty detested human being, but as long as he’s physically capable of doing his job, it doesn’t seem likely that he’s going to be going away any time soon, much to the dismay of fans and baseball players and personnel alike.

Anyway, just because he wasn’t content with everyone hating him as an umpire, Angel Hernandez decided to wander a little out of his realm to try and stir up more shit, and decided to sue his employers, Major League Baseball, and accuse them of racial discrimination, specifically towards him, because he is Cuban by birth.  He cited the fact that he was repeatedly overlooked to work World Series assignments as well as be promoted to crew chief status as means for discrimination, not considering the fact that World Series assignments are typically reserved for umpires that don’t suck at their jobs so that umpiring doesn’t impact the most important series of the year, and that MLB umpires literally go until they die, and there are still multiple guys with more seniority ahead of him for crew chief status.

Well, it only took four years because America’s legal system is fucking efficient, but the U.S. District Courts wrapped things up and sided with Major League Baseball, giving baseball fans and probably all sorts of MLB personnel and players a shit-eating grin of a victory against an asshole everyone wanted to stick it to for years but couldn’t, because umpires are given such absolute power on the field.  But frankly Hernandez made a huge mistake taking this battle off of the playing field, where he would be vulnerable and by god did the legal system capitalize on it.

Hernandez’s handful of cherry-picked examples does not reliably establish any systematic effort on MLB’s part to artificially deflate Hernandez’s evaluations, much less an effort to do so in order to cover up discrimination

The use of the phrase “cherry-picked” leads me to believe there’s a hint of vitriol in the judge’s remark, and seeing as how the judge is a man originally from Lexington, might’ve been a Reds fan, whom at one point witnessed a game (or many games) where Angel Hernandez turned the screws to his team, so he had a very easy opportunity to return the favor.  Completely coincidentally, the photo I used just so happened to be Angel Hernandez in action doing just that, to a Reds player.

I think the best part to me is that this wrapped up the day before the regular season was to begin.  There’s something about it that feels like MLB saw an opportunity to get this shit rushed and concluded right before a season was to begin, and give Angel Hernandez a humiliating loss, but at the perfect time where he wouldn’t have time to lament about it, since he has to get right back to fucking work on Opening Day no less, and take the field after being slapped with a defeat where he wasn’t omnipotent.

I can’t commit that I’ll actually watch any real amount of baseball this season, as I am a terrible fan plus I will have two kids by the time the playoffs roll around, so most likely I’ll be one of those guys that’s invisible throughout the entire regular season, and only show up in October when the Braves go back to the usual status quo of getting bounced in the NLDS, if they even make the playoffs at all.

But as far as the start of the season goes, Angel Hernandez getting bitch-slapped and put in his place by Major League Baseball, that’s a great way to start it, no matter how you look at it.

TFW your BAC is higher than your career BA

It’s that time of the year again in spite of the fact that like a year ago, it’s probably still not a very good idea, but because Major League Baseball is a machine that demands its financial tithe, the 2021 season is a-go, and it’s Spring Training all over parts of Florida and Arizona, or wherever each team is actually deciding to try and get their bodies into shape for another unnecessary season of sports while a pandemic is still very much in play.

But the specific time in which I am referring to is that with Spring Training afoot, it’s only a matter of time before a baseball player, personnel, executive or alum, makes the news having gotten a DUI, most likely from a little too much fraternization and/or having a good time with the boys.

In this case, it was an alum, in former All-Star outfielder Johnny Damon, getting pulled over and arrested for driving under the influence in Florida. And naturally, because it’s completely relevant to the conversation, the article makes sure to mention that in his baseball career, he had 2,796 hits, 235 home runs, and a career batting average of .284.

It’s one of my favorite clichés about professional athletes getting in trouble with the law.

However in this case, it actually does provide a little bit of interesting context, because batting average is a decimal number measured by three digits, much like a breathalyzer test, and in the case of Johnny Damon’s two tests, he allegedly blew both a .300 and a .294, to which I hope most people can do the math, is well past three times the legal limit of .080. I mean, anything over .000 is illegal in the state of Georgia and I’m okay with that frankly because (in a non-pandemic world) ridesharing has made any sort of driving with any booze in the system completely unnecessary.

But back to the topic at hand, not only is .294 a staggeringly high blood alcohol content that literally states that nearly 30% of his body’s blood diluted by booze, it’s higher than his career batting average. Which is ironically impressive, because a career .284 batting average is actually pretty quite good, so the fact that he was able to surpass his batting average on a night out is pretty amazing.

Obviously in the grand spectrum of things this is really pathetic; most baseball fans know Damon as kind of face of the 2004 Red Sox that came back from the 3-0 deficit to the Yankees and ultimately won the World Series, but now he’s this sad sack of retired professional athlete with too much time, privilege and money to do stupid shit, like get trashed three times the legal limit. More than likely Damon won’t do any sort of time or get anything more than a fine and slap on the wrist, whereas any ordinary American would be in pound-me-in-the-ass prison by now, most definitely if it were any sort of person of color. But since there’s little anyone can actually do about it, all we can really do, is make jokes.

I am basically the Oakland A’s

I’m going to attempt to do an exercise of writing something that gets to the point in a short window of time before it’s time to wake up my child from her nap.

Despite the fact that I am always perpetually tired from chasing around an infant child as well as balancing working from home for demanding tyrants who lack a lot of basic human traits, you’d think the weekend would be the perfect time to steal and extra 60-90 minutes of extra sleep once I put my daughter down for the first nap of the day. 

Most of the time, I do, but then there are days like today in which I think that I could be so much more productive in this 90-110 minute window in which my child is sleeping and I don’t have to be working, so I forego the nap, and I do one of numerous things that I know that I’ll have to do at some point in the day, but with the mentality of getting it done now so I don’t have to worry about it later, so that I can relax and enjoy my free time once my child is down for the night.

Like for example, today, I decided to go for my every-other-day treadmill jog session, which is basically the furthest opposite from a nap there could possibly be, but among the few things that I am completely staunchly opposed to deviating from, it’s my every-other-day jogs, because I need to do them in order to maintain a modicum of physical well-being seeing as how I haven’t been to a gym since like March 10, 2020.

I finish my jog, and I’m thinking, hey, I could probably still steal like an hour or so of a nap before my daughter is up, but then my mind is racing, and I’m thinking of other things to do instead to make better use of the time, and promising to myself that tomorrow will be the extra sleep day.  So I do a few chores, make a grocery list, and plan out things that will make later possibly easier, at the cost of now, and I realize that this is often times a self-repeating cycle of foregoing the present for the sake of the future, but often times losing sake of the present because when the future comes it’ll be the present and then everything repeats all over again and I never actually relax or wind down.

I’m basically the Oakland A’s of . . . well, I’m basically the Oakland A’s.  A baseball organization that so often times gets fixated on the potential of the future, that they’re always sacrificing the present and seemingly losing sight of the things in front of them, in their present possession. But then the future arrives, and they’re still in this mindset that they’re still not ready to go for it, so they do more tinkering, more trading, more holding over, and then they never actually contend beyond these stop-gap seasons of marginal success and have never threatened true World Series contention.

I know that this is an inherent flaw in how I operate, but at the same time I think I take great enjoyment when I’m being efficient with my time, even if it’s coming at the cost of resting my body and mind.  I guess I don’t hold as much priority into well-being, or at least I seem to think that the rewards of high efficiency and time management outweigh the rewards of resting.  But I know that our bodies are machines that do need the occasional rest, and if I don’t figure out how to break the cycle of being the Oakland A’s every now and then and actually capitalize on my opportunities to gain some rest, then it could be detrimental to my general well-being.

Am I done?  Did I get to the point?  It appears so.  Very verbose me, keeping it short(ish) and with no mention of recent political bullshit.  Hooray me!