It only took a year (and change)

But I finally have my Montgomery Kimchi cap.  Ever since I found out that the hicks in Montgomery, Alabama aren’t all racist shitheads and decided to have some Korean heritage nights, complete with renaming the Biscuits the Kimchi for a night, complete with new branding and identity, I knew that I didn’t just want to have a Kimchi cap, but that I needed to have a Kimchi cap.

Leading up to the event, I was eventually appalled when informed that there would be no ballcaps available.  “Next year,” is what I was informed when reaching out.   I was crushed, but settled on a Mr. Kimchi mascot t-shirt that was available, in very sparse and limited quantities.

Obviously, short of me setting up a long-in-the-future Google alert or something, it didn’t occur to me to keep an eye out on the Biscuits’ schedule for the 2022 season, but a KBO group on theFacebook that I’m a member of posted something about the Montgomery Kimchi a few months ago, and it jogged my memory to quickly check.  Sure enough, there were Kimchi caps for sale, but by the time I started looking at them, they were basically wiped out, and most definitely my NewEra size of 7 1/2 were all gone.  One again, I was disappointed, but I figured that once the 2022 Korean heritage night rolled up, there would probably be more stock, hopefully.

Except upon further digging, I found out that Korean heritage night had already passed, with the Kimchi emerging (and losing) way the fuck back in April.  I was mortified by this, because surely there was little reason for the team to go out of their way to restock merch for an event that had already passed.  And then the tab I kept open for the specific item eventually turned into a 404, and it seemed very apparent that my window to get the cap that I didn’t want but needed, had closed. 

Funny thing is though, I didn’t close the tab on my phone.  And one day, after a restart of my phone, I noticed that the tab’s thumbnail wasn’t the 404 page anymore, and upon refreshing the actual page, it turned out that Kimchi caps were suddenly back on the table once again.  Unlike 80% of the time I see something I want, but don’t pull the trigger, I didn’t wait at all to get my wallet out.  Furthermore, they still didn’t have a 7 1/2, but I wasn’t willing on taking any chances and risk missing out again, so I actually got a size up at 7 5/8.  A few minutes later, and my order was confirmed – I was finally going to get the Kimchi cap that I needed.

And here we are.  After a year and some change, I’ve finally got one of the greatest ballcaps to my collection.  The funniest thing is that the more prestige I put onto a cap, the less I’ll actually wear it, because I don’t want to risk them getting grungy and dirty or rained on, thus defeating the purpose of caps in the first place, but the most important thing is that I got it finally, and I’ll wear it with pride and joy; whenever the conditions are optimal for me to actually wear it.

No Ian, we won’t

Long story short: Major League Baseball is still in lockout; Cubs’ outfielder Ian Happ “hopes the fans understand what they’re fighting for”

Here’s the actual quote:

The players are so heavily committed to getting this thing back on track and we hope that the fans understand what we’re fighting for.

As the subject of this post says, no Ian, we won’t.  We will never understand what baseball players are fighting for, because we all know it’s just money.  It’s always money, it’s never anything other than money, and anything else that is ever mentioned is just another roundabout way of saying money.

So no Ian, we the fans will never understand why baseball players whose league minimum salary for the even shittiest player on the 25-man roster is practically $500,000, are trying to get even more money.  Especially considering every team’s MLB Players Association rep is usually a veteran player who probably makes anywhere from $4-32 million dollars a year, and is somehow trying to bilk even richer assholes who run the league and the teams out of more money, while prices for parking, food, apparel and tickets continue to rise and rise for the fans that actually fund all this entire racket in the first place.

Up to this point, I didn’t really care that baseball was still in a strike.  Over the last few years, it seems like every major sports league seems to go into some sort of strike, be it players or referees, leading to all sorts of shitshow bullshit, and then the conflicts are settled, and things go back to normal, to the point where it’s no real surprises anymore when some other sport league goes into a strike anymore.

I figured that eventually this MLB strike would end, players strong arm the league and the owners out of more money, who will then turn their losses onto the fans; millionaire players and billionaire owners end up making more money than ever, while the fan experience gets more expensive and the sun rises in the morning. 

We then have a chaotic season where there ambitious players who workout privately and/or go apeshit on performance enhancing drugs while testing is off the table are ready for the work stoppage to end and put up ridiculous numbers and highlights through the season, while on the other side of the coin there are lots of lazy players who take their job for granted get out of shape, and get shelled through a season but manage to keep their jobs because baseball teams are suckers for sunk cost fallacy. 

And there are lots of injuries because people are out of shape, or their bodies are in turmoil from going apeshit on performance enhancing drugs while testing is off the table.

But I didn’t really care that the strike was going on.  I’ve got enough on my plate to where baseball is unfortunately an afterthought, as much as I do love the game, in spite of how critical I can get towards it, but it’s because I care, damn it.

But then seeing Ian Happ’s remarks about hoping fans understand why they’re going on strike just set me off, because it’s just a perfect example of how tone deaf baseball players themselves can be when they stop realizing how privileged they are to be making money at all for playing a kid’s game at an incredible level.

Take Happ himself for example.  The guy is set to make $8 million dollars in 2022 that will undoubtedly be less than that because the stoppage.  The guy has already made about $8 million dollars in baseball salary alone at this point, and if he has any bit of IQ outside of baseball, could probably very easily live out the rest of his life very comfortably at the age of 27.

And he wants more money.  All of his MLBPA compatriots want more money.  And the funny thing is that Ian Happ is a pleeb, in comparison to some of the other guys on the MLBPA that is “fighting for,” more money. 

Like Max Scherzer – this guy is legitimately contractually obligated to be paid $43 fucking million dollars in 2022 alone, for throwing a baseball over and over again.  His current career earnings from baseball alone have already exceeded $139 million dollars.  If he stopped playing at the end of his current contract, he will clear $300 million dollars.  And because baseball is full of laughably stupid, idiotic contracts, even if he were to retire in 2024, he would still make $60 million dollars over the following four years because of deferred payment from the Nationals and Dodgers.

This guy wants more money too.

Make no mistake, the end goal of this strike benefits nobody but these greedy fucks who think baseball is absolutely indispensable in the grand spectrum of the world’s needs.  I love the game, and I’ll always love the game at this point, but I’d love to see the owners and commissioner’s office hold their ground, and the season grinds to a full halt. Laughably it would only apply to the MLB season, and as 2020 showed, when ‘Murica needed baseball to watch, they simply outsourced that need to Korea, and ESPN started broadcasting KBO in the states.

Furthermore, Minor League Baseball wouldn’t be affected by this, and if you don’t think television rights to broadcast the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs, the Rocket City Trash Pandas, Montgomery Biscuits, Toledo Mud Hens, Modesto Nuts and all the other gaudy but still competitive minor league baseball wouldn’t suddenly be hot tickets, the Major Leagues would become a fast afterthought.  Casual fans and lovers of the game will find their salvation in the minor leagues, and MLB can go choke on a bag of dicks.

It wouldn’t happen, because at some point, one party is going to blink, but it’s fun to imagine the global baseball power shift if MLB comes off the table at their own greedy volition.

R.I.P. Braves Minor Leagues

Source: Endeavor Group Holdings purchases nine minor league baseball teams, among them the Atlanta Braves’ AAA, AA and High-A minor league affiliates in Georgia and Mississippi

Since few people other than me really gives two shits about Minor League Baseball, how it works is that scattered all across the country are minor league baseball teams, with wacky names, goofy promotions, and smaller ballparks, who affiliate themselves with the 30 Major League Baseball organizations, where the baseball players of tomorrow work on their game and hopefully grow into useful players for the parent Major League club.

However, in a number of exceptions, there are occasionally some minor league teams, that are outright owned by their parent clubs.  The Yankees, Cubs, Cardinals, Giants are examples of teams that one one or more of their affiliates.  The Braves, own four of their affiliates: Danville (rookie), Rome (High-A), Mississippi (AA) and Gwinnett (AAA).  Presumably, ownership of affiliates grants higher control and micromanagement of these clubs, and probably among the highest of priority is geographical lockdown of clubs, so that they never have to play musical chairs with their minor league clubs for when affiliation contracts expire.

But over the last two years, and most definitely not at all helped by the pandemic, minor league baseball has been in somewhat trouble, as far as its future is concerned.  Even before the pandemic, there was lots of discussion of cutting large swaths of teams from MLB affiliation, and even rejiggering the whole holistic organization of minor league systems.  If I had to guess, money is at the root of all this, considering the mass whistleblowing that had been occurring about how minor league players and personnel make less money than your average McDonald’s worker, and how cogs in a machine that earns billions annually, can allow this to happen. 

All the same though, it appears that the Braves and several other franchises have decided to cut their obligations, even at the potential expense of control, and sell off their minor league affiliates.  Make no mistake, these are entirely financial moves, and if I had to guess, the teams who have sold franchises probably all feel that the future of minor league baseball is too murky and uncertain for them to want to risk carrying the financial obligations of having their own minor league organizations.  By selling them off now, they are basically betting that these teams will more likely suffer mediocre earnings if not outright fail in business, than becoming the next Dayton Dragons and sell out every game for 18 straight years.

The perception is definitely cold and callous, and to a degree sad for baseball fans and purists alike.  No matter what, money controls everything in baseball as it unfortunately influences most everything else in everyday ordinary life.

However, there is very bright and silver lining to this.  I don’t know who Endeavor Group or their slave companies who will ultimately operate these teams are, but now that these minor league franchises are all cut free from their parent organizations, the world is now their oyster when it comes to promoting these squads.

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I don’t want this, I need this

I don’t want to think about what I would’ve done if I had never known about this until it was too late.  Despite my general ambivalence towards MLB these days, my general love for minor league baseball has never waned, and I feel fairly confident I could go to the grave thinking minor league baseball is vastly superior to their stuffy, corporate, money-grubbing major league big brothers.

But the Montgomery Biscuits, the Double-A affiliates of the Tampa Bay Rays, as in Montgomery, Alabama, one of the largest redneck populations in the country, for whatever reason, is doing a Korean heritage night, where they are going 200% balls to the wall all in on it, to where they’re even changing their name to Montgomery Kimchi for the night.

More importantly, they are releasing a variety of branded gear for the occasion, and even more than the NXT UK Tag Team championship belt replica that I covet that seems like it will never be released, I realize that don’t just want a Montgomery Kimchi cap, I absolutely 17,000% NEED a Montgomery Kimchi cap.

Like, I wanted a Florida Marlins cap before their identity transformed.  I kind of wanted a Chief Nokahoma cap or a fucked up Cleveland Indians cap for their ironic notoriety.  I wanted a large variety of minor league caps from my travels, like the Modesto Nuts, and I actually went to some pretty great lengths to get the sliced bacon cap for the Lehigh Valley IronPigs because I wanted that too.  And I actually have a Montgomery Biscuits cap, and despite being one of the prime centers of the Confederacy, I actually liked the city of Montgomery and their ballpark, and the brand and colors were so gaudy and cheesy that I wanted that too.

But when the Montgomery Biscuits transform into Montgomery Kimchi, I won’t just want a cap, I WILL NEED A CAP.  Full stop, period.

I haven’t been this excited about something to throw money at in ages.  I’ve already got the Montgomery Biscuits’ shop site perma-opened in a tab, I’ve got their Twitter account open and ready to refresh daily to see when they’ll drop.  I will be ready to go to war for a Montgomery Kimchi hat, and make it look like Dragon*Con Marriott room day seem like the demand for a Stryper cover band.

I already had a soft spot for the Montgomery Biscuits, because I liked their park and I liked their identity.  This kind of outreach and promotion not only makes me love them forever, but more apt to become a supporter of the Rays, since the Braves are shit and I’ll need someone to root for that I can give a shit about and not just the pursuit of being right and riding on the hopes that the Padres go all the way just to make me look smart.

Either way, I’m going to be lowkey anxious about my need to get Montgomery Kimchi merch, and probably a little bit crazy until I can secure some.  And I’ll go even more ballistic if I manage to get a Kimchi cap and it turns out to be one of those shitty Elmer Fudd quality caps and my life will be over.  But all the same, I will need a Montgomery Kimchi cap.  And probably a shirt, but the kimchi mascot in a men’s large is already fucking sold out, and I can only hope they’ll replenish and realize that there are hundreds to thousands of Koreans out there that will want them and be willing to throw down cash to get them.

Seriously though, fuckin’ Alabama of all places in United States to throw Korea a little bit of love.  Montgomery, no less, where the actual fucking White House of the Confederacy still stands to this very day, is the city that realizes that Koreans are a massive untapped well of cash willing to go gonzo over a little bit of love being shown.  But it’s working all the same, and I’m ready to go to war to get my kimchi cap.

Cancellation of Minor League Baseball kills my soul

Primarily thanks to coronavirus, Minor League Baseball has officially cancelled the 2020 baseball season.  I say primarily, because the insinuation is that it was not the one and only factor in this decision; because prior to the world going into the shitter on account of a pandemic, MiLB was already at risk, because Major League Baseball is full of greedy cocksuckers, and they were trying to kill off associations with a large chunk of existing Minor League organizations.  Coronavirus just gives MLB a convenient scapegoat to push the whole thing under the rug for the time being, and possibly come back later to put the nails in the coffin at a later, easier time.

But commentary aside, the reality is that in 2020, there will be no Minor League Baseball, and that fact alone hurts my soul in a variety of ways.

Obviously, my love for the minor leagues throughout the years has easily made me prefer them over the MLB product, despite being but cogs in the grander machine, but there’s no denying the appeal of the more laid-back, relaxed culture of MiLB, where everything is not taken so seriously, and there’s vastly more accessibility and intimate closeness with the players and the teams, than their MLB parents.

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JONNY VENTERS IS BACK

As the 2018 baseball season began to take shape, I had earmarked April 28th on the calendar.  Instead of jet-setting off to some other city to watch baseball somewhere else, or catching a Braves game at still-newish Racist ScumTrust Park, it was actually a minor-league game up in Lawrenceville that had my interest: The Gwinnett Braves Strippers Stripers versus the Durham Bulls, the triple-A affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays.

It was kind of the best option of all worlds; I’m a baseball hipster that prefers minor league baseball over the majors, I could check out the newly enshrined Stripers and possibly get a new baseball cap to add to my collection, and I could check out the future of the Braves in uber-prospect wunderkind Ronald Acuña, who laughably was held in triple-A for obvious financial and team-control purposes.

Above all else though, it was actually a guy on the other team that I was more interested in: Jonny Venters, he of the former Braves all-star relief corps with Craig Kimbrel, but with the ridiculous power sinker from the left side that I had the luxury of watching for three straight years as he made MLB look like his own personal playground whenever he took the mound.  That is, until he got hurt, blowing out his elbow not just once, not just twice, but three total times in his long and arduous journey back to baseball.

Now he’s in the Rays organization, and at the start of the season, he was assigned to triple-A, presumably to keep warm and ready for whenever the Rays would need to get some reinforcements, he would be high up on the list.

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Only the Braves

Back during the summer, the Triple-A Gwinnett Braves announced they were going to change their name, moving forward.  After sifting through the dank and salt for viable candidates, the final ballot was narrowed down to the following six options:

  • Gwinnett Buttons
  • Gwinnett Big Mouths
  • Gwinnett Gobblers
  • Gwinnett Hush Puppies
  • Gwinnett Lamb Chops
  • Gwinnett Sweet Teas

Obviously, none of these were particularly fantastic options, but I figured Buttons would’ve won easily, since it was the least over-the-top campy name, and that there was the historical element behind it, as Button Gwinnett was whom the entire county was named after as well as a signer of the Declaration of Independence.

Regardless, at the county level and those who were remotely interested in the distraction of a dumb story like this, there was much debate, but more pettiness when it came to the topic of renaming the Gwinnett Braves, that really could be summed up with the fact that all available options were pretty shitty.

So naturally, the winner of the contest ended up being the Gwinnett Stripers.

What’s that you say?  It wasn’t an option?  By golly, it wasn’t!  The Braves blindsided the fans yet again, with the bat of no-transparency, and went ahead and made choices without the people that sign their paychecks!

Continue reading “Only the Braves”